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A 40 year journey

June 3, 2024

I came to the USA in June of 1984. Born in Germany and going through a tumultuous childhood and youth I came with a music team to give concerts on the West Coast and Canada. I still remember arriving first on the East Coast and being overwhelmed by the heat and humidity of Washington DC, the miracle of air conditioners and grocery stores being open late into the night. I remember flying to Los Angeles and not speaking English yet, having to spent the night in the airport because of a miscommunication with the team. I remember my first swim in the ocean, my first baseball game (it totally overwhelmed me how people got fired up over people running on a field with a ball). I learned English in West Virginia, went to school in Pasadena CA, where I met Jim. There are many memories I recall, but the overall feeling for me was "I have a chance at a new beginning."

Here we are 40 years later, we are homeowners, have lived in China, traveled to other countries, and had meaningful jobs (including working as in-home support worker, working for a doctor's office, and working at Gateway Church). I got to choose my jobs, learned things and expand my horizon. Now I get to run a non-profit to empower under-resourced neighborhoods to thrive.

Here are some of my take aways: When I came, America still had an abundance mindset, that there is enough to go around for everyone. It was a country that did not hold your past against you and where you could become almost anything. It was a country where you can go back to school even if you only have an 8th grade education. It was a country that was open to helping me succeed and where people rejoice when I do well. It is a country where I could start again.

None of this would have been possible in Germany, our set of rules had no pathway for educational advances if you were not in a certain track, Germans work in the same job all their lives (even if you did not like it). Germans (during my time living there) did not have a way to change careers and do something else. I don't want to sound arrogant or pompous, but I think I have contributed to help America be a better place in some small ways.

America is a country that is made up of immigrants, each person bringing something good to this part of the world. Last week I was in Texas where I helped train 100 pastors to engage deeply with their communities and be an asset to their neighborhoods. There were 20 countries represented and it made for such a rich environment. There was so much heart and passion in these people, such a joy to live in such a time as this. We prayed the Lord's prayer together and 17 different leaders stood up to pray in their own language. What a joy!

When I came to America I was a broken person, the struggles of my childhood created scars that made it hard to breathe. 40 years later, I still have scars, but the opportunities for me to grow and develop in this amazing country made the scars bearable, and maybe even beautiful.

THANK YOU, for letting me in and joining me in the journey of life.

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