Wednesday, June 2, 2021

Where in the World are Jim and Lina Miller?

We are in the eleventh week of our one year "exile" from Germany. Just to remind you, we need to be out of Germany for one year every 5-8 years, in order to retain our US Social Security. So, here I sit in Chicago reflecting on the last 11 weeks of homelessness! 

Last time I wrote, we were in Bangladesh with our daughter and son-in-law, Emily and Alpha, along with our incredible grandson, Noah. We were to be there for 4 weeks, but just about 24 hours before we were to fly out, the airport was closed because of Covid, and we were able to stay for 2 more weeks! What a joyous time as we watched Noah learn to crawl, take his first steps, and get his first tooth! His Omi and Poppy truly love him!


Jim working hard in Bangladesh with Emily, Noah, and Ember (the dog) keeping him company!

Leaving Bangladesh 2 weeks later than planned meant we missed the time we were to spend in Idaho with Jim's parents and sister's family, as well as one of our supporting churches. We are looking to make up that trip a little later on.

We landed in Chicago May 4 and took off the next day for our Josiah Venture Spring Conference at Gull Lake in Michigan. The conference was online so that everyone from the 16 countries of Josiah Venture could attend, but we were able to gather with the over 50 other missionaries that were here in the States at the time to experience the conference together. What a blessing, especially after not being able to gather together for over a year!

From there, we visited family and supporters in Michigan, Indiana, and Kentucky. During this time we celebrated Jim's 60th birthday, and our three kids got together and bought tickets for us to visit the Noah's Ark Encounter in Kentucky! What an incredible place!

The Noah's Ark replica was huge and built to the size as recorded in the Bible!

We returned to Chicago for a few days before flying out to the Josiah Venture Leaders' Meeting in Cappadocia, Turkey. Again, after over a year of not being together, the leadership team was able to meet in person. The meetings were held in Turkey because the leaders from each of the 16 countries were able to travel there while other boarders and countries were closed to many of us. 

Cappadocia is such an intriguing place! Along with the "other worldly" rock formations crowding the landscape, it is also the place where the Church Fathers hammered out the Doctrine of the Trinity! What rich history!



Cappadocia is know for its rock formations and its hot air balloons!

The people of Cappadocia would carve out the large "Fairy Towers" for their houses and even their churches! We saw many beautiful frescoes on the ancient church walls!

By Georges Jansoone JoJan - Own work, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2642263

We are now back in Chicago since Sunday, May 30, and leave tomorrow for one week in Colorado, then 2 weeks in California, then back to Colorado to stay until September. We are so looking forward to meeting our little granddaughter, Emma Grace. Being born on April 15, almost 3 months early and only slightly over one pound, she is growing fast and doing so well!!! She is now 3 pounds 3 ounces!!!!

Emma Grace on May 23. 
Prayer Points:
  • Please continue to pray for Emma Grace, that she will continue to grow and will be able to get out of the hospital on her due date, July 4.
  • Pray for us as we continue discipleship and training sessions online with our dear friends in Germany.
  • Pray for our teammate, Rachael, as she will be heading up the two camps we will be having this summer.
  • Pray for Julie, our summer intern, that this will be a rich summer for her as she partners with Rachel to help out with the camps.
  • Pray that the camps will be able to happen and that God will bring many young people and touch their lives through the camps.
  • Pray for our busy travel schedule, that God will continue to give us health and strength.

Saturday, April 17, 2021

Our New Granddaughter and Extended Time in Bangladesh

 We are so excited that our granddaughter, Emma Grace Miller, was born two days ago, on April 15. She was so impatient to meet everyone that she came early. She was born at 28 weeks and 4 days and weighed in at 1.19 pounds and 11.5" long and is superseding everything the doctors could hope for!  

Baby Emma Grace with Caitlin's hand.

Emma never had to be intubated, but was just on an oxygen-rich CPAP machine. She is breathing so well that she has now been moved to having "room air" which is just the regular oxygen mix that each of us breath in a regular room! She has been taking some of Mamma's breast milk in her mouth on the end of a Q-tip! We are so thankful for how God is growing and developing this little baby!

Caitlin feeding Emma with a Q-tip.


Nate and Caitlin are such great parents. Caitlin is recovering well from her C-section. The hospital there in Colorado Springs is wonderful. Emma is in a private room with a bed for Nate and Caitlin in the room! Nate has stayed with her since she was born and Caitlin will move over once she is recovered well enough from her C-section and is released from the other side of the hospital, but she is able to be wheeled over every day to spend time with Emma.

Nate and Caitlin with Emma Grace!




In other news, Jim and I are still in Bangladesh! Our flight was cancelled 27 hours before we were to fly out on April 15, due to Covid and the graciousness of our Heavenly Father! Although we were scrambling and changing all kinds of plans, I now see what a blessing it is that we are here with Emily and Alpha while receiving all the news and updates about Emma Grace, instead of being in the air and in airports during the almost 2 days of travel it takes to get from here to the US! Plus, we get to spend more time with Noah!!! 

Although we are still working while being here in Bangladesh, it has been in the context of Noah getting his first tooth, starting to crawl, standing on his own for a short time, and taking his first steps!!!! How can a baby change so much in such a short time.

It has also been an incredible opportuning for hanging out with the guys in Alpha and Emily's band, as well as the young people who live on their compound. Jim has become the "Bible go-to Man" for every Bible related question! It's so fun to see him in theological conversations with the young people here. He also has become "Pastor Jim" to the church here and has preached 4 times, 2 at church and 2 during Alpha Studio's online "Worship Live".

Emily and me with the girls in our Sarees ready for church.

Eating and hanging out with the young people at the church.

Jim built a shelving unit for Emily and Alpha. Sorouv, one of the boys on the compound, worked with Jim on the unit, sanding, sealing, and varnishing. He is the one in the shelving unit. The others are Sinthia, holding Noah, and Joy.

The unit installed in Emily's laundry area. It adds a whole lot of much needed storage space!


We look forward to eventually resuming our travel plans, hopefully within the next week, but since things seem to change every day, we are thankful to hang out here with family!

Prayer Points:

  • Pray for continued growth and health of Emma Grace. If you want to keep up on updates, you can go to her CaringBridge site where we will post the most up-to-date information. 
  • Pray for Caitlin's recovery and for her and Nate as they stay with Emma Grace in the hospital until, most likely, the first part of July.
  • Pray that we will be able to start traveling, and that we will stay safe, healthy and Covid-free!
  • Pray for JV Germany as we continue to minister from afar during these next 11 months!


Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Leaving Germany for One Year!

Today you will hear from Jim about our up-coming plans for the next 12 months: 

We hope this finds you well and looking forward to Spring.  We are still currently under a tight Covid Lockdown here in Germany.  Yet the Gospel is unchained as we minister online and one-on-one with individual students.

Empty Closets for a family to live in our home for one year. 
We are writing to you today to inform you of some decisions that are impacting our plans for the coming 12 months.  There is something called the "Totalization Agreement" between Germany and the United States.  It is a document meant to coordinate and protect nationals living in the other country from being double taxed for Social Security.

This document stipulates that a person may live and work in another country and maintain their payment to and anticipated payment from their home country in regards to Social Security income.  This is typically 5 years with the option, here in Germany, of requesting a 3 year extension.  

We have been compliant with these requirements and were anticipating having to begin our one year exile from Germany in October 2022.  Yet in conjunction with Josiah Venture (JV) leadership, we are aware that we currently have two families raising support to join JV Germany and us in 2022.  With that knowledge the decision was made to have us go earlier rather than later.  So that means we will do our exile now, in hopes of returning just as the families will be ready to move to Germany.



This has been a relatively short decision making process.  We are making preparations to leave Germany March 16. We will continue to work remotely online with our contacts here in Germany during this year.  We will also be able to take some time to visit our daughter Emily and Alpha and our new grandson, Noah in Bangladesh.  Then we are planning on spending the summer in the States before returning to work from Czech in September through the end of our exile (March 17, 2022).  In addition to working with our contacts here in Germany we will be working with JV leadership in areas of HR and Member Care across the 16 different JV countries.

Jim packing van.
All of the other Josiah Venture countries affected by this Totalization Agreement only have to leave for 6 months.  Germany is special in that we have to leave for one year.  Yet at the end we will be granted a new certificate of coverage for 5 more years.

During the previous three weeks I have sought information from other mission organizations with Americans working in Germany hoping to find an exception. But in the end they all said this is what you must do to remain compliant and eligible for Social Security in the United States upon reaching retirement age.

We are trusting the Lord to accomplish His will in our lives and the ministries that we are partnered with.  We are so thankful that Rachel Berkebile, our teammate will be here working during our exile.  She will host two evangelistic camps this summer, Lord willing.

In personal news, Lina had her gallbladder removed 2 weeks ago.  She is recovering, tired, but doing well. 


Our friend, Simeon, helping us pack our van.
In short:
  • We must leave Germany for one year, beginning March 16, 2020 through March 17, 2022.
  • We will be in Bangladesh for one month, March 18 - April 15.
  • We will be in the States working remotely, traveling, and being there for new granddaughter to be born, April 17 - Sept 14.
  • We will be living in and working from the Czech Republic Sept. 15, 1021 - March 17, 2022.
Prayer Points:
  • Pray for us as we travel, especially with all the Covid 19 restrictions, that we will be able to cross boarders and travel without a problem and with good health.
  • Pray for Lina as she is still recovering from gallbladder surgery.
  • Pray for time with family and friends while in the States.
  • Pray for continued good connections with young people we are discipling, youth workers we are training, and youth groups we are involved with in Germany.
  • Pray for a healthy rest of pregnancy and delivery of Nate and Caitlin's little baby girl.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

A Few Months Late, but Not Short on News!

Do you know how easy it is to get out of a good habit? Really easy! I've been doing this blog at least once a month for the last 5 years! Yes, 81 blog posts, and yet, the last few months... (crickets sound here)... I will assure you that it is not because nothing has been happening!

October was full of wedding travel and preparation, and ended with Nate and Caitlin's delightful wedding! It was beautiful, intimate, and so much fun! We are so blessed with Caitlin as our daughter-in-law! Of course I must include one funny story. A woman came up to me and very excitedly told me how happy she was to be there and to see me! I smiled at her, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out who she was. I politely said, "I'm so sorry, can you remind me of your name?" She pulled down her mask and I instantly recognized my cousin, Pam!!!! Oh, the trials and tribulations of a Covid wedding!!!!!

Such a beautiful wedding and absolute joy to our family!

Wedding Party. Yes, that is Jared next to Nathan.

We returned to Germany and dove right back into ministry! Most of our meetings are online, but we are allowed to meet with one person face-to-face at a time, so we have been taking full advantage of that! I admit we have cut it very close a few times! One day, Jim and I each planned a meeting, without the other knowing it and, although one of us can usually go for a walk in the park with our "one person", this day was way too cold. So Jim headed over to Steffen's house, rather than Steffen coming to us, and Lisa came up the stairs just as Jim left. We were having a wonderful time, when suddenly the doorbell rang, and Elli was at the door. She was off work early that day and was here an hour before I expected her! What to do! I now have 2 people in my house! We socially distanced, prayed together over a cup of tea, then Lisa quickly left and we were legal again! 

I have also been taking an Intensive German course 4 mornings a week since November. This has really helped push my German forward! Last Friday, February 19, I had my gallbladder removed and was in the hospital for 4 days. I few months ago this would have been much more stressful, but I was able to handle it all in German! I am recovering well and taking it a bit easy over the next week, but I was so encouraged by being able to communicate and understand in a very important situation!

The next few weeks are busy, as we plan the coming year. We are excited about what God is doing and will continue to do in our ministry here. We will update you on a few things over the next few weeks as plans start to solidify.

Oh, and one last thing, I can't leave without a picture of our new grandchildren...yes, that's right, grandchildren!!!! (Can you say happy Grandma!)

Nate and Caitlin's little girl coming this summer!!!

Emily and Alpha's Noah, soon to be 6 months old!

Prayer Points:

  1. Pray for my continued recovery from Gallbladder surgery.
  2. Pray for us as we finalize plans for our coming year.
  3. Pray for our ministry as we continue meeting online and restrictedly in person.

 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Thoughts from a Grandmother

This will be the most unsurprising post from a grandmother. It will be filled with 3 things: 

First of all, God provided my visa to fly to Bangladesh! Thank you to so many of you for praying for that! It was such a privilege to be there. 

Secondly, we are now in the States, preparing to celebrate Jim's parents' 60th anniversary and our son, Nathan's, marriage to Caitlin Henry (I'm sure next blog post will be filled with pictures from that!) 

Lastly, pictures of Noah Ullash Samaddar and his incredible parents, Alpha and Emily. Really, there aren't all that many. Only a dozen or so!

So, without further ado...


Alpha, Emily and Noah



Alpha's first glimpse of Noah

Wrapped up in Grandma, Anjuli's Saris 

Ever notice how long you can just stare at a new baby?
When we ask Ember (the dog) where his puppy is, he runs over and licks Noah's feet!


Dressed up to match for the picture. Two minutes later he spit up all over his photo outfit!
Grandma, Anjuli and Grandpa, Arabindu


Yes, still looking!

The praying baby


Grandma (Omi), Mom and Smiley baby!

Looks like an angel holding him.



OK, last one (for now)

Stay tuned next post for wedding pictures!


Monday, August 3, 2020

End of Summer? How can that be?!?!?!?

For a summer that started out looking like we may not have much of a chance for contact ministry, we sure had a surprise waiting for us! Originally we thought we would have 4-5 camps and 4-5 interns. Then we thought we would have zero camps and zero interns. My, weren't we surprised!

Though neither our US interns nor our US church teams could come, God provided us with two incredible "twinterns". Our Ukraine-born, German twin-sister interns, Anna and Sofia, graduated from German high school this year. Together with another young man, they have been leading the youth groups in Eisenh├╝ttenstadt and Guben the last two years. We are so thankful for them!!!!

Anna and Sofia on Graduation Day

The new style in Graduation Attire!
We also ended up having an INCREDIBLE camp, with the Twinterns' youth groups, as well as three other youth groups. You may have heard us refer to this as the Brandenburg Area. We have been doing this camp for 4 years, and feel so blessed to have had it again this summer! We had 32 campers, over half of which are not yet believers! We sure love these kids and have enjoyed our two follow-up activities of a lake-side Bar-B-Que and a Kayaking day!

Fun play on the mask theme, we had a Masquerade Dinner!



True Covid proofing food service!

Such a great group of kids!!

Jim, the Kayak-King!
We also saw 5 of our students from our Leipzig youth group graduate and the Leipzig youth band did a concert for some new youth groups in another city in Germany.

Leipzig youth band leading worship at youth group.
All in all, it has been an incredible summer of unexpected ministry. We feel so blessed to be here and be used of God in these young peoples' lives.

Prayer Requests:

  • Pray for us as we finish up our summer ministry with some "Action Days", a three-day, in-city camp in Magdeburg.
  • Pray that Lina will be able to get her visa to go to Bangladesh on August 23 to be with Emily as our first grandchild is born. (Emily and yet-to-be-born baby boy are doing great!)
  • Pray for our Twinterns, Anna and Sofia, as they leave us and start University.

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Personal Time During Isolation

I've given you a window into what ministry time looks like for us under lock-down, but...and I know this will surprise you...I also have been doing some fun personal things during this time.

As you know, Emily and Alpha are expecting, so I have been able to merge two of my favorite things into my free time...creativity and babies!!!!

Emily on their rooftop, starting her third trimester.
So, the sewing machine has come out, and not just for my grandson, but for other babies as well!

It all started while we were in Bangladesh over Christmas. Emily and I each made a quilt, then I just couldn't stop! So here is a quick window into my happy times here:

So, this is the Bunny/Heart quilt before baby.



And this is after baby!!! This is Hannah Abigail Roney, daughter of David and Katka Roney! But just wait...there's more!

Dream Big quilt before baby...
And this is after baby! Timothy David! Hannah's twin brother!!! Soooo precious!!!


This is a puff quilt I made for our little grandson as a floor mat for him to lie on to soften their tiled floors! Pooh Bear is trying it out!
This is the quilt Emily made for her little boy while we were there over Christmas, with some fabric I brought from the US, as well as some from Bangladesh! A mixture of the two, just like he will be!!!
And of course, you can't have a lock-down without pulling out an old UFO (Un-Finished Object). Yes, this was started when Nate and Emily were toddlers and, hopefully, will be finished today!
Emily and I also had fun doing an online class together making these two cuties!

My Brother Fox
Emily's Puppy Dog
So, what is next? I'm starting a 30 day quilt challenge, making 1 square a day for 30 days. But don't worry, it should only take me about 130 days, since I DO need to continue working, too! So, this is what is it supposed to look like when it's through. I'll let you know, but don't hold your breath!!! 


By the way, if you would like to participate in an online shower I am doing for Emily, you can find her Amazon Baby Wish List here

Just be aware that this is the Amazon German site. To translate it into English, click the icon to the right of the search bar at the top of the site. We are asking that you stick to the list, as I will be taking the items over and have a weight limit (and you know how that is with all these quilts to take!!) You can also purchase a Gift Card on the wish list. It is called "Geschenkkarte".

Also, we would love to have you send a gift of words for Emily, Alpha, and their baby, a childhood memory, a memory of one of your children, a blessing, a prayer, advice, etc. We will be putting these in a book for her. You can send it to my email here.

So, have some fun in your own happy places during this crazy, beautiful time!!!