As though August hadn't come with enough of its own shine, September signs a host of new beginnings. To fill in the gap, though, between our last post and this one, I'll share a little of what's been going on in the Barkman household, Kandern edition. The waning half of August was spent largely in interpreting our place in the new space, and negotiating the terms, rules, and schedules that would make up our home environment. It was busy either with orientation or with work; the Communications Office was responsible for a number of media elements used in and around the start of the new year, so there was already a pull to begin work during the orientation meetings. Life was busy with shopping for staple foods, for home supplies, and for school supplies. It was busy with sorting out our transportation, by foot and by bus. This I can say with both satisfaction and optimism, that we're learning the ropes on our yet-new voyage.

We were fortunate to close out August with a visitor and a birthday. It was great to have Auntie Ev join us in our home for a few days, and the kids were thrilled to have her here. By our best guess, Nadia and Auntie Ev baked around 35 dozen buns in her room, sitting on the floor. I haven't seen any of the buns, so I can only assume that they also ate all of them. I'm sure that if Abe's reading this, he'd have a word or two to say about all that bread.

Keegan's birthday was a special day for us and for him. It was celebrated on a small scale, as has been the norm around our place. He spent the afternoon with a good friend, Ian Cagwin, and they enjoyed pizza and peanut butter sandwiches. I can't say enough how much I love Keegan. He's extremely sensitive, and what he occasionally lacks in spatial awareness, he more than makes up for in emotional awareness. A great example of this came when we asked him what he wanted to eat for his birthday meal. He thought for only a moment before suggesting peanut butter and jam sandwiches, because those were Ian's favourite. Kee rarely eats PB&J sandwiches, but his first thought was to prepare something that his guest liked best. I love him. Anyway, we rounded it out with ham & pineapple pizza, because that's what we know is Keegan's favourite. It was a good afternoon, and he enjoyed watching the many video messages left for him via Skype. What a wonderful tool, leaving short video messages. His smile as he watched them all was heartwarming, and he would occasionally whisper responses to the friends and family on the screen. We can't thank you guys enough for that gift to him. It was awesome.

And then there was school. Keegan has just begun his classes, and I'm sure we'll have more to write about in the coming days and weeks. Nadia, we think, will begin kindergarten next week, and our schedules are all starting to come together. I'm helping coach the tennis team, which is big enough this year that we'll have to make some cuts. They practice every day, but I'll help out on Tuesdays and Thursdays, filling in other gaps when possible. I'm looking forward to getting to know some of the students on a bit more of a personal level, and, of course, to make people run lines. ;)

As if that wasn't enough to keep us busy, one of the things that has had a big impression on me early on has been the impact of the Residence Life staff. Dorm Parents and Resident Assistants (RAs) are on the job almost 24/7. While the kids are at school, they're planning, cleaning, shopping, and cooking for the voracious appetites of growing adolescents. There's almost always a shortage of help, and so Christal and I are hoping to help with a nearby dorm that houses 20 high school boys. Of course, there's always the matter of our own family, but in so much as we can, we want to help. These kids are here, while their parents and families are far away. I can't imagine being so far away from my own children, and if we can provide a little bit of relief for the dorm staff, well then why not. We want to guard our time, but it's time that God has given us, so we have to be equally wary of being overprotective of it.

On that note, a few prayer requests for the coming weeks are:

  • Wisdom as we continue to refine our level of involvement, on and off campus.
  • Health as we adapt to our new modes of transportation, schedules, and dietary habits.
  • Patience as we seek to grow in our understanding of both God's call for us here and the German language itself.

We'll start to sort out blogs/mailings, etc., soon, and we appreciate your patience as we set things up. We're looking forward to home phone/internet service in a couple of weeks, and I assure you that not all of our blog posts will be this long. I'll also throw up a few pictures with captions below, for you to get a sense through images of what we've been up to. If you're into Instagram or Facebook, we've been able to push things out on the fly to those services. Feel free to find us there. For now, enjoy the pictures, and we'll post again soon.

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