Independent

Our chefs for Independent Living Brunch!

I run to the Independent Living classroom from the Bible class where I’ve spent first period giving a test to sophomores. The room feels full, even though there are only the normal number of students, because everyone is running in frenzied circles trying to get ready for today’s final cooking project, the Tea Party. I am here to help grade, an extra set of eyes, ears and taste buds for one of the two teams preparing a small party for themselves and few staff members.

Independent Living, this generation’s Home Economics, is a required course at BFA, sometimes over the protest of students trying to get into Yearbook or a third AP course. Since many of our students spend high school mostly out of their parents’ homes–places where presumably cooking, home maintenance, sewing and personal finance instruction might take place–we seek to provide them with these critical skills before they enter the big world of college life. The hope is that no college freshman is forced to subsist on ramen or to throw away the shirt that has lost a button. All complaints aside, students generally agree in retrospect that Independent Living was important to their quality of life after high school.

The team I’m observing has set their table with a travel theme, festooned with hand-painted international flags and little paper airplanes for place cards. At precisely the right time they greet their guests and introduce their fare: Swedish meatball “boats” with cheese and toothpick sails, deviled eggs, blueberry scones and tiny cheesecakes. Once the guests have eaten, I take a few bites of each treat, and record on my grading sheet that they are universally delicious. These students have been well taught.

I’ve sat in on a few Independent Living classes and hosted many of their community dinners, in which a pair of students plans and prepares a meal for a family. Though taking the class would have meant dropping one of my eight semesters of orchestra, I confess that there are times when I’m almost envious of these students, getting to spend class time learning something of such practical value to their lives. Many of the truisms that they patiently write down and reproduce for quizzes I had to discover by trial and error, a few mistakes at a time.

Still, I have to wonder what we mean by the title: Independent Living. Are our students truly “independent” once they’ve mastered this course? Or do we just hope they are? Certainly, many of them will touch down in foreign cities–foreign either by passport or lack of experience–in a few months, ready to take on a host of new impressions, procedures and expectations. Have we prepared them, we wonder, to meet these challenges?

A few months ago, a senior girl exclaimed to me that she would make the “worst wife ever” because she didn’t know an arcane detail about the proper storage of garlic. “I would just put it in the refrigerator!” she wailed. “How should I know that it’s supposed to be a room temperature, with air circulating around it?”

I laughed then, and reassured her that I didn’t know it either when I was her age, and that even if she never learned about garlic she still wouldn’t be the Worst Wife. I did, however, tell her and the students around her that learning–independent life skills–don’t stop accruing. Ever. As long as you’re paying attention, you can keep learning for the rest of your life.

Yes, I learned to use a sewing machine when I was eight. But I never  mowed a lawn or changed a tire until I was 21, and such skills were necessary to maintain the house and car I’d suddenly acquired. I mastered pizza dough at age 25, and salad dressing the next year. What I eat now is almost completely different than the things I prepared for myself when I was twenty years old, living in my first rental house and eating tuna melts and pasta with jarred alfredo sauce.

At this time of year, we’re eager to get in our “last words” to the graduating seniors, and in many ways this is fitting. There is supreme value in words of blessing, this benediction that they carry with them to their next chapters. But the contents of their final exams, the last lessons that we teach? We can see in their sun-soaked eyes that those aren’t what they’ll remember.

The students are victorious when they finally start to clear the table, aware that their job was well done. And it was, I tell them. I’m not their teacher, so I resist telling them that what they’ve really learned here is not how to make deviled eggs, a trick that they’ll drag out for parties once a year, but how to follow a recipe. Our students are truly independent only when they have the tools to keep learning, when they can follow a recipe, research a topic, ask a coherent question, have an intelligent discussion.

Perhaps they’ll graduate, these seniors, without remembering exactly who Henry David Thoreau was, just quite the formula for discovering the volume of a sphere, or the proper method for measuring butter exactly. If we’ve done our jobs well, they’ll still be fine; their journey is just beginning, and we’ve taught them how to read the map.

East

Five years ago, I left the Pacific Northwest. I was alone and excited, seeking adventure and responding to calling on this quest eight thousand miles east. In a few weeks, I’m going back, married and expecting a baby, but with the same sense of calling and adventure as I retrace my steps back to the North Cascades.

 

East

 

This is my letter to the East,

Who always called to me.

 

Driving south were Mickey Mouse,

In-N-Out and Grandma’s house.

North meant order,

Cool green border,

signs in French and ferry rides.

And West was only water.

 

But ghostly East,

You lurked beyond

The penciled hills that hid the dawn.

To lands where anything could come,

Your roads rolled infinitely on.

 

Later you told tales wild,

Of castles fair and colonies,

Battlefields and Bible lands

Were all with you, and always true.

You were real and reeling me

To shores appealing, feeling

I could sail to you,

If only I’d go far enough.

That Narnia and Normandy

Shared some secret, eastern shore.

 

And now I’ve chased you,

Near and far,

From home to home, by

Plane, train, car,

I’ve read a nation backwards,

Halfway, saved the start

For later days, the older part.

I’ve skipped the seas, and skimmed the globe,

A round stone,

Touching down, covering ground,

In shimmering rings and splashing sound.

 

Still, wild East, you call to me:

There’s more to walk, to hear, to see.

In two-named towns and creaking trains,

Find onion domes and Mongol plains.

You tempt me with your grey-green steppes,

That climb forever, back in time,

A curious and endless debt,

Of exploration now is mine.

 

Perhaps—someday—I’ll find you, far,

I’ll recognize your eastern smile.

You’ll tell me that I’ve learned it all,

And let me sit and rest a while.

But now, my East, you’re not a place,

You can’t be found or reached by road.

A mystery that makes me wait,

That pulls me west, and back, and home.

A new adventure, small, not grand,

In a pacific, emerald land,

Where soon I’ll hold a tiny hand.

You draw me back where I’ve begun,

So West is East, your face, my sun.

 

 

A Sunset

Sunset in the Dolomites

Dreizinnenhütte in the Dolomites

…But I didn’t want to say
the heart breaks, even though I know
it’s true & the breaking
can be a good thing
sometimes, like the way
my heart shatters
a little each time
I think of my friends
& how lucky in life
I’ve been to get
to know them, to have
had the time to laugh &
drink & dance & to argue
& feel hurt too.

Gina Myers, “For N&K”

We wanted to watch the sunset. At the end of a long day of hiking, which took us from our Austrian hotel up and up, through echoing, stony valleys to this Italian pass at 7300 feet, we were exhausted but committed to the darkening sky.

I’d gone to Austria to hike with my parents, starting their 40-day trek through the Italian, Austrian, German and Swiss Alps. In the midst of a slow summer, I took the train across Austria, and now tottered up the trail behind them with my week’s worth of clothing, while they trotted along gaily, minimalist packs bouncing. We hiked much of the day, stopping for lunch in a sunny, green meadow and arriving at our destination, Dreizinnenhütte, a few hours before a massive three-course dinner. Full of the improbably delicious feast, we wandered outside with cameras and coats into the chilly evening, hoping for a show.

Dolomites 2Dad explored the top of the cliff, finding the best shots of the stony surroundings from every angle as the midsummer shadows lengthened. Mom and I sat down on a rocky ledge, our backs to a cliff and our feet far from the next edge. Across the valley, the Drei Zinnen–three battlements–stood in a stately spotlight, watching over the lodge perched precariously on the pass behind us. We leaned against the sun-warmed stone and watched.

And talked. For an hour or more.The sky changed from blue to yellow to pink, then again to blue, casting deep shadows across the wrinkled mountain faces before plunging them into black silhouettes against the last light. Far above, the first stars began to sparkle as our conversation deepened, like the night sky. To future, past, marriage and family.

Dolomites 3Though it wasn’t even a year ago, I don’t remember everything we talked about, but I remember basking in the luxury of a long conversation, side by side and gazing at a sunset instead of a computer screen. I marveled for the hundredth time at this wise, gracious and courageous woman who raised me, and felt the unspeakable good fortune of being her daughter, being here in the Italian Alps with her, sharing a sunset.

People used to ask me often–and now slightly less often–what it’s like to live “so far from home.” It’s a complicated question, more complicated than they know, because home has become huge, enveloping oceans and continents in its wake, borne all over the world by the people who’ve helped create it. But that night, up in the mountains sharing sunset and stories with my mother, that’s what I miss. The unpressured beauty of time in the same place. It’s rare and precious, not to be wasted or taken for granted when nights like that one come along.

Dolomites 4And even over the telephone or through the grainy windows of FaceTime and Skype, I am the most fortunate daughter. To have a mother who makes time across time zones, who listens and loves, who encourages me in this calling that’s taken me far away, and who has a home where we’ll bring our new baby into the world in November.

If I’ve begun to learn anything in this three-month venture toward parenthood, it’s been that life is unpredictable, and every day is precious. I’m sure that my 26-year-old mother, pregnant with her first child and moving to San Juan Island, never imagined that thirty years later we’d be sitting on a cliff in Italy watching the sunset. But we did, and for that, and for her, I’m endlessly thankful.

Hiking with my parents, summer 2014

Hiking with my parents, summer 2014

Waiting for Spring

Early Spring

Early spring forest

 

This is the spot:—how mildly does the sun
Shine in between the fading leaves! the air
In the habitual silence of this wood
Is more than silent: and this bed of heath,
Where shall we find so sweet a resting-place?

William Wordsworth, from “Traveling”

I walked the woods for months, looking for it. In the delicate, soft browns of the leafless trees. In the pale sky, crisscrossed with branches that let in every diffuse beam of monochrome light. In the damp earth, silent underfoot, without crunch of frost or splash of mud to whisper up from dusty boots. Spring was nowhere to be found, though winter had long ended.

Even back in Seattle days, spring was my least favorite season. I’ve grown fonder of it here, because warmth comes sooner and deciduous trees and wildflowers lend a bookend transformation to the splendor of autumn, but even so it doesn’t come soon enough. I am happy with winter–with real, colorless winters of snow and frost, mornings so cold they take my breath away–but sometime in March I stop wanting it.

I want spring to fall on us suddenly, like a screen at the back of a stage, a change of scene, temperature, everything. I don’t want to linger here, as with autumn, when I cling to the shortening days like the last leaves grasping their branches in a final splash of color. No, I’d like cold to warm, all in one go, please? Not William Carlos Williams’s “sluggish, dazed spring.” I want E.E. Cummings, “puddle-wonderful” and “mud-luscious.”

This March, deep in the frustration of early spring, I found out one morning that I was pregnant. Am pregnant. With the realization came delight and excitement, the new thoughts whirling around Timmy and me, our own little tornado of unfamiliar hopes. We whispered in the pre-dawn dark our prayers for this sesame seed of a person. It was a lovely moment, the first day of our spring.

And after that came the cold and rainy days, outside and inside. The new fears and worries, the sickness and weariness that I’d read about but never truly understood. Many days, it was only this sickness that reminded me something was happening, since there was nothing to see. I felt better when I was outside and moving, so I kept walking through my forests, still bare and bright and leafless.

One day I walked high above our town, to where a particular stand of trees fills a dent in the hilltop and the undergrowth is especially thin. On snowy days it is elegantly striped with white floor and black trunks. In autumn it is a blaze of yellow, top to bottom.

I hadn’t really come to see these trees on this lackluster spring day. This spot that I loved was simply on the way. Yet when I got there, though the slender trunks stood where they always had, the ground was completely new. Covered in fine green carpet, dotted with white and yellow stars of flowers. A bare forest, but not quite. There was life under my feet, all around me. Somewhere, a single bird was singing.

And I thought, this is me these days. Full of life I can’t see, but life real and important, all the same. Life below the surface, beginning slowly like the first spring days. How much easier to have it all at once. Not a baby right away, perhaps, but maybe a lovely round belly, with feet I can feel stretching inside of me, reminding me with undeniable kicks that something new is coming. Instead I wait, with the practice of thirty springs before now, for the new life I cannot yet see, or often feel.

Now, several weeks later, Kandern is soaked in warm rain, the leaves unfurling their highlighter greens on every branch, as promised. Spring always comes, even when I’m impatient. As for my spring, it’s lime-sized and slower in unfolding, but here with me all the same. Teaching me to wait, to hope, and to thank God for each new day of this new season of our lives.

Later spring

Later spring forest

May: News, Thanks and Prayers

Kandern

News and Dates:

  • May 4-15: AP Testing
  • May 5: Student Council elections
  • May 8: Junior-Senior Banquet
  • May 25: Senior Girls’ Tea
  • Curriculum for May: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, College Essays

I’m Thankful For:

  • FaceTime, for helping keep Timmy and me connected during this month apart.
  • Contemporary literature like Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close, which allows my students to engage in writing about events that have happened during their lifetime.
  • A great group of volunteers that made our Sadie Hawkins & BFA’s Got Talent event a huge success.
  • Continued health this spring, as many students and staff have struggled with various illnesses.

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • Timmy in South Carolina. Timmy is currently in week one of a six-week chaplaincy training with the Air Force. Pray that the time is encouraging and enriching for him, and for great communication between us over distance.
  • Professional Development. Pray for me as I work to complete my recertification process in the next month or so, for discipline and for details to go smoothly as I renew my Washington State teaching certificate.

We are so deeply thankful for your prayers, encouragement and financial partnership, all of which make our ministry here possible. If you have a prayer request or questions about life or ministry in Germany, or if you’d like to become a financial partner in our ministry, email me at kristi.dahlstrom@gmail.com.

Peace in Christ,

Kristi & Timmy

Places as People

75906_692742706330_1174899592_nAnd having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities…

Carl Sandburg, from “Chicago” 

I take the long way to Penny Markt for romaine lettuce and a baguette, back behind the hill and past the dairy farm and Italian villa on the edge of the golf course. I’ve come this way because today is sunny and I’m extraordinarily busy. My day began with a meeting at 8:00 AM, and it won’t really end until my senior small group leaves around 9:00 PM. Or when I finish the mountain of dishes, a good half-hour later. A long Monday, with just this hour for walking and groceries, so I seize it feeling too busy not to go for a walk.

The green hills don’t disappoint, today exploding with apple blossoms that fall in graceful showers around me with each breath of gentle spring breeze. I might be in heaven, I think for a fleeting moment, or I might simply live in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. This, I remind myself for the thousandth time, this is home.

As I walk I’m thinking about the poems my students wrote last week, “city poems” inspired by Carl Sandburg’s 1914 mixed-message ode to his hometown. Sandburg personifies Chicago throughout the poem, creating of his native city a burly, bare-chested young man who is at various times “wicked,” “brutal,” and “crooked,” a “husky, brawling” youth that would frighten as quickly as inspire. Halfway through the poem, however, Sandburg changes his tune. Chicago is all of this, he admits, but look again. Is anyone more alive? A better fighter? Cleverer or with more self-awareness? This is my city, Sandburg seems to claim, all of him.

“And it’s only when you know a place, really know it,” I told my students, “That you can manage this. Places are like people, when you know them.”

I briefly sketched what sort of personifying poem I could write about Paris–having visited for only twelve hours–pouring on details of a baguette-clutching, wine-swilling, haughty mime, bringing shudders from the French students.

“I don’t know Paris,” I admitted. “It’s not a person to me. It’s flat, like a map. No layers. People have layers, and so do places, when you know them. And you know places that most people don’t. Pick a place. Make it a character.”

With a few understanding nods, students began their poems by jotting titles on their pages: “Bishkek,” “Calhoun, Georgia,” “Dubai” and others I’d even heard of. Word by word, people climbed out of the pages. Old and young, rich and poor, naive and threatening, innocent and criminal. Not all of them ended with Sandburg’s defense, but every poem expressed the deep knowing that comes from calling a place home, if only for a little while.

But sometimes knowing is a journey, not a destination. I sit down and reread my poem, “Kandern,” written a few years ago. It’s not wrong, exactly; when I wrote it, this was what I knew of this place I’d come to live. Now I’d write a different poem. “Knowing comes in layers,” I reflected more than four years ago, back at the beginning of this season. I haven’t gotten to the bottom of this place, of any place, just like I haven’t gotten to the bottom of any person. There will always be more to know. There will always be more home to have.

I round the corner behind the dairy farm, still under the canopy of apple trees, and pause. This is a beautiful place, a place I’m just getting to know, even after five years. But there are other places, other years. The journey from home to home, so familiar now, continues again soon, taking us both back and forward.

“We shall not cease from exploration,” wrote T.S. Eliot. “And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.” In two months we’ll be in Virginia; in three we’ll be in Washington. Those places where we started.

We’re excited to know them again.

April: News, Thanks and Prayers

 

On the tube in London!

On the tube in London!

News and Dates:

  • March 27-April 13: Spring Break
  • April 23: Senior Transition Day
  • April 24: Sadie Hawkins Swing Dance & BFA’s Got Talent
  • April 25: Home soccer games and track meet
  • Curriculum for April: The Glass Menagerie, Modern poetry

I’m Thankful For:

  • Traveling with students to London last month. We had a wonderful time exploring museums as a culminating trip with the AP English and European History students. Love exploring with our students!
  • A restful spring break, with time to relax and work on preparing our house for transitioning in June.
  • Great friends with whom we’re delighted to share this season of life in Kandern.

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • Moving Plans. Pray for Timmy and me as we prepare to move our belongings into storage for the next year. Pray for wisdom in what to keep and what to sell, along with the details of moving, packing and cleaning to be done before we leave in June.
  • Professional Development. Starting this April, I’ll be taking a class in differentiation and literacy through Seattle Pacific University’s ProCert program. Pray for focus and energy as I balance this class with my teaching responsibilities.
  • Chaplaincy Training. Pray for Timmy as he will be leaving for further chaplaincy training with the Air Force toward the end of April. Pray for safety, health and the learning that he’ll experience while there in South Carolina for the month of May.

We are as ever deeply thankful for your prayers, encouragement and financial partnership, all of which make our ministry here possible. If you have a prayer request or questions about life or ministry in Germany, or if you’d like to become a financial partner in our ministry, email me at kristi.dahlstrom@gmail.com.

Peace in Christ,

Kristi & Timmy

A Million Right Turns

Making a butter dish! Photo: Donna Dahlstrom

Making a butter dish!
Photo: Donna Dahlstrom

“I don’t get attached until after it’s trimmed,” my classmate tells me, looking up with apprehension from the pottery wheel across from me, where she’s just finished shaping a tiny cup.

It’s seventh period in the ceramics room, where I spend the ends of most days taking Ceramics 3 as a student. Though I’ve taken the classes slowly–three in the last four years–I’ve come to love these sweet hours in the clay studio, times full of creativity and casual, pleasant conversation with students I love. This semester has seen us beginning to make–or throw, in ceramic terms–ever more complicated forms on the pottery wheel.

Mom with her finished pot.

Mom with her finished pot.

The language of pottery is familiar to me. I grew up listening to my mother tell stories about her own ceramics classes in high school and college, and saw their artifacts all over the house. In our retreat-center days, I remember watching-dozens of times–an anonymous potter’s hands on an evangelical video that drew heavily on the metaphor of Potter & Clay. Towards the end of my own college career, Mom went back to take more ceramics classes at Seattle Pacific University, filling our cupboards with earthy bowls in blue, green and grey. When the opportunity came for me to “audit” the classes at Black Forest Academy, taught by two dear friends, I jumped at the chance.

Still, I know what she means, my classmate leaning over her just-finished cup. My own work today has been uneven. One cup with an uneven rim slumped over before I could even get it off the wheel, and now I hold my breath as I slice this one–still imperfect–off the slowly rotating surface. It will have to dry, first right-side up and then upside-down, before I can even approach my classmate’s least favorite step, trimming the bottom into a smooth, grooved foot.

Jennifer throws in her studio.

Jennifer throws in her studio.

I recall a conversation I had with my mother in September, when she came to visit and spend the day with Jen and me in the studio. “There’s just so many points it could go wrong,” she said then. “From when you’re throwing it at first, to moving it, to drying, to trimming.”

“And you still have to glaze it,” I had sighed, citing my least favorite part. “You could want it to look one way, and then it could–well, look like anything else.”

Mom laughed. “Now you understand!”

I did then, and the thought has lingered ever since. Here’s something that we do–for fun–at which we can be thwarted half a dozen different ways before the end. There’s so much that can go wrong.

I’m drawn to metaphor–perhaps more than is good for me or anyone–and tempted to think beyond pots. How much of life consists of such endeavors, projects threatened by disasters, seen or unseen. What if? But that could… How will I know if…? If I’m looking hard enough, trouble is lurking everywhere, enough to make it feel like a miracle that anything works out, ever.

1185700_10205290413484064_565090307768442962_nMy own cup comes off of the wheel in reasonably good shape, and I set it in the cupboard to dry, turning my attention to the finished pieces that line the shelves around the room.  I have things to glaze, but I don’t like glazing, so I stare at the glazing done by others. Even some of my own work catches my eye.

I remember what I thought each piece would look like, almost never the abstractly-colored pieces that ended up warm in my hands. Sometimes my vision of perfection was met, but seldom. Occasionally this ended in disappointment, just another wrong turn, but more often something unexpectedly beautiful emerged from the flames. More interesting and complex than I could have planned for, glaze works mysterious magic without the help my imagination.

Practice and plan though we might, we can’t always avoid the ways things go wrong. This has never seemed more true than this last week in Germany, as every day brought a horrible new revelation of a plane that crashed for a reason no one ever worried about. It’s as if one of our whirling hunks of clay flew off and caught fire spontaneously. We hadn’t even thought of that.

The glaze, though, is the rest of the metaphor. There are many ways that everything can go wrong, but just as many unforeseen ways for it to go right. I can’t avoid every wrong turn by worrying, but I’ll miss many of the right ones if I’m not paying attention. A million serendipitous turns have taken my breath away with their unforeseen joy, a rightness infinitely better than the right I’d been planning. And though I’m still not wild about glazing, that imprecise variable, it’s brought more beauty than heartbreak when I’m willing to step back and see it.

Walking Towards Waterfalls

HikingThe trail turns steeply upward once we’ve left the road.

We’ve been walking along a creek in Lenk, Switzerland for a while, carefully skirting the edges of the path to avoid marring the smooth grooves of the langlauf, or cross-county skiing tracks. Now, the signs take us off the wide, flat track, into deep snow that clings to the side of a ridge.

It’s a brilliantly sunny Saturday in the Berner Oberland region of the Alps, where the entire student body and an entourage of about 50 adults have retreated for a weekend of laughter, teaching and worship in the mountains. I jump at the chance to go hiking after lunch, falling in line near the back of an enthusiastic group of students, eager to hike “to the waterfall.” That none of us have ever been there is no concern; we trust our guide, and besides, this waterfall is rumored to be frozen. We concoct grand visions in our imaginations, visions that now pull us up the hill.

IMG_3492I’ve grown up in the mountains, so this walk is familiar. Even after I left the Cascades behind for the hills of Seattle–Phinney Ridge, Crown Hill and Queen Anne–I’d get away every chance I could, seizing invitations to camp, hike and rock climb in the summer, to snowshoe and ski in the winter. I’ve never been on this particular path before, seen this particular waterfall, but I know what this feels like, sinking into snow up to my knees, peering up a wooded slope and searching for the horizon of the summit.

When we crest the hill, coming out onto a wide, snowy field occupied only by an icicle-edged barn, the students can talk and breath again. The path widens, and we walk side by side. I hear from a new junior about her home in Albania, the place she knows best of all. Former students ask me for book recommendations, and want to know why I became an English teacher. A senior tells me about her old school in Central Asia, which this year was performing a musical she loved.

IMG_3506“I used to do that,” she says. “The musicals.”

“Do you miss it?” I ask.

She nods thoughtfully. In many ways, she reflects, BFA offers opportunities she wouldn’t have had back there. But yes, it’s hard to leave it behind. Always hard to leave behind.

Our path takes us up a wide, gentle valley, as we follow painted poles through the snowy wilderness. I strikes me that I don’t know where we’re going, but I can imagine it, because I’ve been places like it before. My students, international and less lovers of the outdoors than I, have only seen frozen waterfalls on the Internet and, well, Frozen.

The same, I suppose, is true of the paths that they’re walking on now. I could imagine what college would be like, because I chose to go to one in the same city where I’d grown up. I hadn’t been a student, but I could readily picture the transition. The seniors I talk to as we walk through the snow, they’re applying to universities all over the world, many in countries and states where they’ve never even visited. One young woman tells me that she and her siblings live on three different continents.

“How is that?” I ask her.

“It’s… hard. But when we are together,” she adds with a grin. “Then it’s very special. Very close.”

IMG_3507I’ve been volunteering this year with a women’s mentoring ministry called Walking Together. When we named the ministry, we discussed how the most important mentorship often springs from our willingness to come alongside one another in whatever circumstances fill our lives.

As staff at Black Forest Academy, we wonder often what we can do to prepare our students for the transition away from here, how we can equip them with the faith, joy and strength to make them resilient followers of Christ wherever they go next. The short answer, I think, is that we can’t. We’re not the sources of faith, joy or strength. The best we can do is keep walking with them towards frozen waterfalls and foreign lands, sharing our lives and pointing them back to Christ, their strength and joy wherever they go next.

March: News, Thanks and Prayers

With my small group on High School Retreat in Lenk, Switzerland

With my small group on High School Retreat in Lenk, Switzerland

 

News and Dates:

  • March 9: Spring sports begin
  • March 19-23: AP English and European History field trip to London
  • March 20: End of Quarter 3
  • March 27-April 13: Spring Break
  • Curriculum for March: American author research project, The Glass Menagerie
  • Timmy has recently received word that he’ll be attending a reserve chaplaincy training in South Carolina for the month of May. This is an exciting and important step for him in his service with the Air Force Reserve, allowing him to more fully engage in service on base here in Germany.

I’m Thankful For:

  • High School Retreat and the many prayers that brought about a rich weekend together in the mountains, full of fun, conversation and transformation.
  • Holly Dahlstrom and Chris Prairie, who were able to visit us in February. Wonderful to have sister bonding time together in this special place!
  • Mark and Susan Powell, the heads of TeachBeyond’s Member Care team here in Kandern, for the wisdom, care and friendship that they have shown to us this year.
  • The BFA Junior Class, students full of humor and good questions, for filling my days with laughter and thought.
  • Our parents, and the wisdom and support they’ve shown us as we plan for our furlough in the U.S.

Please Be In Prayer For:

  • Health. BFA continues to struggle through the cold and flu season, so pray that both staff and students would get the rest they need to recover fully.
  • Student Mentoring. Both Timmy and I serve as mentors to several students on campus. This brings great opportunity for conversations regarding faith and future, as our students navigate very real questions about how to follow Christ into adulthood. Pray that we would be good examples for them, and that we would turn to the Holy Spirit for guidance in these conversations.

I’ve been so thankful for the emails of encouragement, the financial partnership and for the prayers I know cover us, making our ministry here possible. If you have a prayer request or questions about life or ministry in Germany, or if you’d like to become a financial partner in our ministry, email me at kristi.dahlstrom@gmail.com.

Peace in Christ,

Kristi & Timmy