Our first two weeks here went pretty smoothly, so smoothly in fact that I was a bit surprised. The kids weren’t really complaining of missing home much and were throwing themselves into new activities and experiences. John and I were finding the courage to go out and do things that needed to be done. The house was slowly getting set up. And I was surprisingly emotionally stable. Sure there were those odd little moments when I found myself in tears, but those actually were very few and far between. And I can handle a few tears, I was just glad not to be dealing with anxiety as well.
And then week number 3 started. Friday morning I had to drag Will out of bed to get him ready for school. After several clues like asking permission to only eat one small piece of waffle for breakfast and continually finding spots to lie down, I took his temperature. You guessed it, he had a fever. Our first German sickness. Well, that is to be expected. He just started Kindergarten in a new country, it is normal for him to have picked up something. Of course this was the same day that John had left for his first day of language school, early in the morning before any of us had gotten up. So Will’s illness completely changed the course of my day. I cancelled my much looked forward to first counseling appointment and after we took Elise to the bus we settled down for a restful day at home.
By Sunday morning Will’s fever had gone, but I woke feeling like a cold was taking over my body. I stayed home from church with Will (in case he was still contagious) and Seth, Elise and John went to church. The kids were off of school Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday, so we took it easy those days, the whole time I was feeling like I was fighting a cold in my throat and chest. Oddly enough Tuesday I thought things were improving, and we even went on an IKEA trip which was a lot of fun. I figured I was on the mend. But by Thursday morning when Elise and Will were supposed to start school again, I was still feeling quite ill. We walked down to the bus stop Thursday morning, but of course the bus was late. So as we waited and waited and waited I started feeling worse and worse. At one point I thought I might throw up and then I had to sit down because I felt suddenly faint. “This is not good,” I thought to myself. “There is no way I am going to make it up the hill to Will’s Kindergarten and then home again.” I asked another mom at the bus stop to make sure Elise made it onto the bus and said I was headed home. Another mom offered to walk Will to Kindergarten for me. So Seth and I walked slowly back home where I made myself a cup of hot tea and collapsed on the living room armchair.
One thing I have struggled with since we’ve been here is asking for help. Oh, I’ve done it plenty of times because I’ve had to. We don’t have a car, so I’ve needed rides to get to places. I don’t speak German so I’ve needed help filling out forms and figuring out everything from utilities to trash. We don’t all fit in our host family’s car, so sometimes we’ve needed to ask for help taking care of the kids. And we’ve been offered help by many people, and given it gladly when we’ve asked. But somehow I always feel guilty, perhaps even more so than I did at home when asking for those types of things. I think perhaps because I am the new person here. I just arrived and I need tons of help and I have very little to offer in return. Eventually I will hopefully contribute enough to the community here to deserve such kind favors in return, but for some reason it is hard to ask for the favors before I’ve had a chance to earn them.
I know that probably isn’t what people are thinking, but it remains there every time I decide that we could use some help. But yesterday I knew I had little choice but to ask for help especially as Seth had started running a fever as well. And so I asked, and thankfully a kind friend who has helped us out many times before picked Will up from Kindergarten and Elise from school. Even though I hoped that today I would wake up feeling tons better, I went ahead and cancelled my counseling appointment again. Instead of waking feeling better, my throat ached with pain forcing me out of bed early to make a cup of hot tea. And so again I had to ask for help. And again it was eagerly given. This time the Greathouses were kind enough to walk Elise to the bus this morning and to pick her up from school (it was another half day today). After Elise had left to meet them on the walk down to the bus I got a ring at the door. It was Noah Greathouse with a box of muffins and hard boiled eggs and the promise of chicken soup for supper tonight. After he left and I peaked inside the box I dissolved into tears.
This morning, I had taken comfort in the following verses: “I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:13-14.
And suddenly I was blessed by the hands and feet of the LORD. I’ve been throwing myself such a pity party, that I know I don’t deserve it. But God has chosen to show himself to me today and all the days since we’ve been here through his people. I have been humbled as I continue to realize that I can’t do everything on my own. And He is showing me slowly, painfully, that He isn’t asking me to rely on myself, but rather on Him. He is here, caring for us. And he has surrounded us by a multitude of family.