Saturday, August 18, 2007

6 Months eMail from Gardner

Hi All,

I must first apologize for not writing sooner. I was planning on writing a note at about 6 months . But we have already been here Germany for almost one year now! How do I know that? I know because Ian's birthday is in two weeks, and Ian was three weeks old when we arrived in Germany at the end of September last year.

Well, here is the 6 months update, and a my excuse for not writing at six months.

Our time here in Germany has been wonderful. It has been awesome to be back where Tamara and I first met 16 years ago. I can now relate much better to couples who go out to eat, for example, at an out of the way pizza joint at the far side of town, because that was where they had their first date. It has been wonderful to get to know Tamara again here in Germany. It has been like getting to know her all over again.

Here's the short list of "new" things she's had to do since being here: how to be a mom to German school children, how to cook with new and exciting ingredients (I'll tell you one funny story about cooking below), how to relate to German teachers, neighbors, church members, etc. And she does a fabulous job. And it has been enjoyable to see her grow and succeed.

One funny example of the of the changes in cooking is the oven we have in our house. I remember when Tamara first went to bake something nine months ago. She pulled out our trusty American baking pans. They were pretty standard from what I remember as I saw them at several friends houses back home. She put the goodies on the pan and then put the pan into the oven, and was ready to go, except for one minor problem - the door would not close. So she turned the pan the other way. No luck, the pan wouldn't even go into the oven in that direction. She came up with a clever solution though, she uses 9 1/2" x 11" cake pan lids as pans. Those fit and we have used them for about 9 months now.

Now to my excuse for not writing at six months, and another reason why my love for Tamara has grown since returning to Germany.

Tamara suffers from Anemia, which is a shortage of iron, B12, and folic acid in the blood. The doctors told her about this while she was pregnant with Ian and she thought that the problem would improve or go away after the pregnancy. This is why she stopped taking her vitamin tablets after the pregnancy. But the problem did not go away and the lack of vitamins and minerals in her blood led to Tamara getting very tired, easily frustrated, and not being able to function at a normal level. This downward cycle hit really hard in late winter and early spring.

As you can imagine, this would be difficult and challenging for anyone (always tired, frustrated, and worn down, and not seeing the connection as to why it is happening). But for a mom, with five children, in a foreign country, whose husband was in Sweden every 2nd or 3rd week, and hardly at home due to late hours the other weeks, whose children were struggling mightily with the adjustment to the new culture of German schools, whose two babies still wanted to eat and have clean diapers, among other things, this time was extremely difficult.

I remember being quite lonely and that we struggled mightily as family during this time. I didn't know why it was so hard. I remember thinking if we can just make it six months, then we will be alright, but the seconds just couldn't move fast enough to get to that mark. We probably would have had some of these same feelings no matter what our challenges, but the longing and struggle were magnified for us by not having Tamara's full abilities, spirit, and enthusiasm.

In springtime we finally came up with the brilliant idea to have Tamara go to the doctor. This came after we prayed and fasted for Tamara as a family. After praying for that weekend, Tamara felt she should look up some of her symptoms on the internet. Based on her research, she thought it was Anemia and decided to go to the doctor. The doctor determined that the source was, in fact, Anemia and was able to get Tamara the proper Vitamin and minerals combinations. She is doing much better these days, for which we are very grateful.

In short, I am very grateful for my wife, which I re-learned through this wonderful and challenging time. I am very grateful to be with her and our children in this wonderful country of Germany.

We think of you often and hope you are doing well.

With Love,