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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Two years and six months

Last Saturday, October 18th, marked two years and six months since the accident. I believe I have come a long way since those first months when all I wanted is not to be around anybody and just cry and cry. I am experiencing healing as the months and years pass me by. 

Taking a break while in Asuncion and having fun

Somewhere in Colorado in 2006

Timothy helping with baking in our second home
This month, Timothy would almost be 9, while Julie would have turned 38 past July. My prayer lately has been: God, now what? How will you be using my story for a higher purpose? 

Here are some pictures that I treasure when I celebrate the life of the wonderful wife and son God allowed me to share for over a decade.

Christmas 2002. Just arrived in Paraguay

Julie with my Priscila and Nila

Extended family vacation in 2003

Trip to Arizona, Texas, furlough 2006. Having fun
I treasure the memories with Julie and Timothy and keep them tucked in my heart, knowing that many more good things lay ahead. 


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Interruptions

If you are a missionary or someone that has lived outside the northern hemisphere, you can probably relate to the inconvenience of power and internet outages.

As I traveled over the past months in the USA and a few places in Europe, I never faced a power outage, and rarely even an internet shortage. Now I am back in Paraguay, and just this weekend I had to postpone one of my emails seven times. Internet comes and goes. With the rain and strong winds, we have had at least 10 power outages in the last two weeks.

Getting used to this new routine that’s so disruptive is taking me a little longer this time around. To maximize my time, I am starting a list of assignments for the phases of a typical day that includes power failures, internet outages, water shortages, knocks (many of them) at the front door, and unexpected services (speaking at funerals, filling in as a translator without notice).

Here is the list so far (Julie would be very proud of me):
·       
  •       When the power is out: Work on fixing things outside, all manual work.
  •       When internet is down: Work offline and rush to post during small windows.
  •       When people aren’t knocking at the door: Get my house organized.
  •       When it does not rain: Rush to hang the laundry outside.
  •       During Anahi's naps: Rush to get concentration/thinking work done.
  •       When the water is gone: Get water from a nearby pond for bucket showers.


I am seriously considering using solar power to keep some of my equipment running during the power outages. I am also considering putting a sign out front with visiting hours.

As I am writing, the clouds in the sky are telling me that rain and winds will probably shut down utilities in the next two hours . . . so I need to respond to urgent emails and get this post in before interruption #22 happens.

Another not-so-obvious interruption? Driving 7 hours to the capital city on Monday to send important mail sent out and do paperwork.


Norberto

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Spring and Birthday at the House


Last week Anahi turned four. Her birthday coincides with the beginning of spring in the southern hemisphere. After our recent sabbatical we are excited about entering into a new season of our own.

On Sunday, September 21, we spent a couple of hours celebrating Anahi. We sang, laughed, and blew out the candles, knowing that every new year and every new season is a wonderful gift from God. It was a sunny and ideal spring day. I ordered two cakes, one for our family birthday celebration and one to share with Anahi's friends at preschool.

As Anahi and I enter into a new year of life and embark on a new season, we are both in expectation of God's leading in our lives. While Anahi is growing into a beautiful, smart, godly little girl, I am moving toward beginning to minister, live, and embrace a new chapter and a new season in my life.

Happy spring to my southern friends, and a colorful fall to all of you north of the equator.



Norberto and Anahi Kurrle

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Back to my roots

In 2011, Julie and I began saving money to celebrate our 15th wedding anniversary. Our hope was to leave the children with grandparents and go on a romantic, explorative trip of a lifetime. We made plans to see several European countries and visit the places from which our ancestors came. Under very different circumstances, I am on this trip now with Anahi.

Our trip of a lifetime started in Interlaken, Switzerland, two weeks ago. I had the privilege to participate at Breathe, a 10-day conference targeted at missionaries from around the world who are living in regions in conflict and going through major transition. Learning from missionaries working in the underground churches of closed countries encouraged my faith.

This week we stopped in Rotenberg, Germany. This was the home of my great-grandpa Wilhelm, who, at age 19 in 1891, left the small “dorf” (town) of Rotenberg to explore new lands to raise his family. Now we are moving northward to where my grandma’s roots were.


We have also visited the vineyards where some of my other relatives still make a living, as well as a World War II bunker in Rotenberg. Entering the cement structure, built under a rocky hill in 1943, when Allied forces where bombing Stuttgart, left me literally cold and emotionally startled. Older people vividly remember the horrific nights when they had to evacuate their homes and rush for shelter with their little ones.
I am now in Fritzlar, the place where my father, brother and sister went to school. A family in the church is helping me caring for Anahi. We go on walks in the evening and interact with locals who are always eager to share about their culture and lifestyle. 

Being away from my Paraguayan world for this season has been a blessing. Anahi and I have continued to bond. We have each other throughout this trip. I think another layer of healing is taking place as we explore new places and meet new people. 

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Rest, regroup, refresh


I checked some stats on pastoral burnout and found that:

 ·  25% of pastors' wives see their husband's work schedule as a source of conflict.
·  33% felt burned out within their first five years of ministry.
·  75% report severe stress causing anguish, worry, depression, fear, and alienation.
·  80% of pastors say they have insufficient time with their spouse.
·  90% work more than 50 hours a week.
·  94% feel under pressure to have a perfect family.


After my tragedy two years ago, I am more intentional in creating space and healthy habits as I journey into this new chapter of my life. I remember talking with Julie only two months before our accident and agreeing that we needed to put a hold on the increasing responsibilities of ministry. At that point we had been working very hard for 10 years, only to stop for very short periods to rest. 

 
There was much to do, people to see and places to go, meetings to attend, and projects to oversee. We agreed that our next trip back to the States was going to be one to reassess and regroup. We were going to establish stricter boundaries in various areas of our life. 

As I write this I am coming out of seven weeks of having stopped all major activity and having spent quality hours with my daughter and by myself, jogging, reading, and reflecting. I have asked God, "What is next? How do you want to use my life and my tragedy to bless others?" 

 
I am feeling more refreshed, and I believe some important changes are taking place in my life. One of those is realizing that I will be turning 43 this month, and I need to conserve energy and keep my health in check as well as continue growing as a person. Exercising regularly, eating healthy, and getting on a learning track, these are factors I am seriously including in my decisions. 

Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordero, has particularly spoken to me in this season. Leading out of abundance is something that apparently can be done. I have been reading about what the Bible says on taking a day off and on seasons to refresh—body, soul, and mind. 



I am grateful for the time I have been given to temporarily step away to rest, regroup, and refresh.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

May 8th, my mother’s 70th birthday


My mother turned 70 years old last week. Born Tabitha Mary Meier, she grew up as a missionary kid in Brazil. She speaks four languages and plays the accordion, flute, piano, guitar, and clarinet. She attended college at Anderson University in Indiana and later earned her master's degree at Purdue University. She returned to Brazil to continue the missionary work that her parents started in 1935, and it was there, at a youth convention in 1968, that she met my dad, Martin Kurrle, a young man who had just returned from Germany and was initiating his ministry as a single pastor. They were meant for each other and were married a year later.

Today, after 45 years, four countries (the U.S., Argentina, Brazil, and Paraguay), five kids, and several grandkids, they continue loving each other and serving as missionaries in southern Paraguay. Together they have been involved, directly and indirectly, in starting 12 congregations, a school, and a radio station, which until recently was the only Christian station in southern Paraguay. They love the people of Paraguay and have given their lives to spread the good news of Christ in this nation.

As the years go by, mothers get frail, and we often forget their sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the midnight feedings, the nursing hands, and the countless hours they poured into our childhood years. It’s easy to get busy and have little left for moms who, in spite of their age limitations, are still here to serve for God's purpose. During high school, college, and seminary I spent my time geographically far away from my family, but I thank God for the seasons during which I had the chance to live closer to my mother.

Today I love and admire my mother more than ever. She not only gave her all to us when we were kids but continues to do so by working so that others find hope in Christ. And I strongly sense that she is not done yet—retirement is simply not in her vocabulary. She is one of those people who has the gift of service, and is happy when she can help others accomplish their work. As she moves into her new decade, I believe she will keep on ticking and doing Kingdom work.


Thanks, Mom. Happy birthday, and happy Mother's Day.

Friday, April 18, 2014

On the second anniversary of Julie and Timothys parting

Looking back, these have been the longest two years of my life. On the day of the accident we got up early, like many other mornings before taking a long distance trip. We got in the car, said a short prayer and got on the road. It was a normal start to our day. An in that normal day, everything was about to change.



A little over one hour into our trip, on April 18th, 2012, the accident happened. Everything changed dramatically since. The first months were mere survival, struggling between getting up in the morning, asking hundreds of questions, working out all the legal aspects of the accident, and trying to do the job of two. Some days getting thru the next hour seemed overwhelming. Two years have passed since that dark morning. This week I have given myself some space and intentional time to process another layer of what happened. My hope is to bring more closure and healing.


I am writing goodbye letters addressing areas that I felt needed closure. I am writing out excerpts of conversations I feel I wanted to have had with Julie and Timothy. I am apologizing and expressing things I wish I could have said in person. From others peoples experience of loss, this is a good thing to do. The more I face the pain, the more healing takes place.

I remember how during the week of Easter we lost electric power for three days. This is common in Obligado where we live. Julie and I had long conversations. We stayed home. Julie was a very fun person to be with. She was a very hopeful and optimistic person. After that week she wrote , in one blog entry, "this was a quiet and dark easter".

Julie was not a complainer. She found daily strength in her devotional time. She would take a day every week to fast and pray for her family, future kids and the various ministries she was involved.  Often I woke up at 4 AM and Julie was reading her bible or on her knees praying. She seemed to be caring a burden for others at various seasons of her life.

Its unique that this anniversary falls during good Friday. This is a day that symbolizes pain, love, forgiveness to millions who believe in Jesus Christ as the incarnate son of God. Gods willingness to give up his only son and see the pain before and during the moments on the cross is beyond me. This act of God alone, transcends all reasoning and should be enough to draw us into His presence. His love goes beyond the best written theology or the most self sacrificing acts of any human being.



Fathers and mothers who have lost a beloved son/daughter, know very well the human pain involved. It does not seem fair, it goes against all logic. Timothy was the joy of our home. He welcomed Julie and me to the world of parenthood. All I wanted to do is spent time with Timothy. And we did spent a lot of time together. The night before the accident we still shot a home made cannon which we had built following a YouTube tutorial video. We had so much fun with that.

Timothy's lights was snuffed out too early for me, but perhaps in Gods ordained time. I feel that Timothy represent so much unfinished work for me. I had all the desire and will to raise him, help shape him and one day see him get married, and take off with his own wings. I loved this kid soo soo much.



I must end by saying, I recognize that Julie and Timothy will never be back on this earth. But I am not hopeless because God has given us the promise of eternity which is the  longing and quest of every human being. He promised us a new heaven a new earth. He promised us He would be preparing a home. He is the beginning and the end of all things. And He promises us He will be with us until the end of times.








So as the future unfolds and new memories, people and activities occupy Anahi and myself, we will trust and continue to zoom into the glimpses of eternity displayed in creation in the people around us and my relationship with HIM.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

As the second anniversary draws close

I woke up exactly at 5 am on Friday April 11th. I go to my office and write this. It was so unique, since I was not planning to be up this early. But I was so awake and ready to get up that I just got started with my day. Usually I sleep until 6 or 7 AM. I realized I woke up at exactly the time the accident happened, one week before the second anniversary. It’s almost like I sense Julie and Timothy saying to me, we are with you and want to walk by your side during this week in a special way


Over the past months I have felt the need to stop everything. I have intentionally taken time off to pray, think, grieve, cry, journal, reflect and pause. I have sensed an increasing need to pause this month. I have set aside, delegated and minimized all my responsibilities and duties. I believe this month will bring more healing to my soul and help me move forward.

After getting up and having a wonderful time with the Lord, I decided to get up at 5 am every morning until April 18th. I will take this time to be alone with God and to hear his voice. I look forward to this week as I believe it will mark an important before and after moment in my life.

I am aware of my loss, and I know things will never be the same. but I am also aware that I need to intentionally bring closure. As I do this more and more Anahi and I are, and will be picking up new routines and continue to create memories. 

We know God must have a purpose in all of this, and we need to continue regaining strength and the love for God and for living and enjoying the gift of life.


Thanks for reading and for allowing me to share this journey with you.

Time with family 02

I spent last week with my Aunt Gisela in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She is one of my favorite aunts.  She has the gift of hospitality. Staying at Gisela's house is like being on a retreat, and it’s very easy to be spoiled by Gisela. She serves you tea in the morning and takes lunch orders at 9 a.m. She makes everything from scratch. She serves you by not only opening her home and making things for you, but also by giving you the gift of her time, which is a lost trait in many homes.


She sits down and asks questions and is honestly interested in you as a person. I believe that good hosting includes an ingredient of personal involvement. I have become aware again of how often I overlooked this aspect as Julie and I hosted people in our home over the years. I think that the gift of personal time exceeds all possessions and services.

I asked Gisela about her years of caring for my grandmother, Emily. Emily lived with Gisela from age 84 to 101. We agreed that my grandma's great health and positive outlook had a lot to do with Gisela's incredible acts of love and service.

In a nutshell, this is what Gisela said was their daily routine: Tea time (yerba mate tea) in the morning and scripture reading together. After breakfast, Grandma Emily would do her own dishes and plan lunch with Gisela. Then she would walk in the backyard, do laundry, or do some cleaning. At noon, they had lunch, and then Grandma took a long nap. In the afternoon, Emily would care for her garden, write some notes, or help Gisela with chores. At about 4:30 p.m. it was time for coffeecake, often homemade bread with homemade jam, cheese, and cream.

I remember during one of my visits in the past, the evening routine was sacred. At 7 p.m. sharp, Emily would sit by her shortwave radio and listen to one hour of German programming from HCJB radio. Interestingly, my grandmother never learned Spanish even though she lived 80 years in Argentina. Gisela would then give Emily a hug and pray with her before she went off to bed.

This was Gisela and Emily's daily routine for Emily during the last 15 years of my grandma's life. On a side note, Emily was never admitted to a hospital for more than a few hours to get a general checkup. Only in her last two weeks of life was she taken to the hospital to die in peace.

Gisela raised five children. They are all grown and are taking off in life. Gisela poured her life into her family and has the same love for God as Grandma Emily had. I thank God for godly grandparents and relatives who have lived wonderful lives, and who have become beacons and references for living out my faith today.





Thursday, April 3, 2014

Time with family 01

This morning I had a conversation with my cousin whom I have not seeing in years. He lives in the beautiful city of Buenos Aires, the cradle of tango. He took time from his busy schedule to talk. It was so neat to hear about his church plant in the city of Buenos Aires Argentina, and how after a crisis of faith around age forty, God brought out some of the most fruitful years of full time ministry.

I find myself in some kind of a benchmark moment, believing there is something else (mission, ministry) out there for me in the years to come. I believe that God has so much to teach me. I am just scratching the surface. One thing I have been asking God, is to renew my joy to serve HIM.

After reading Leading on Empty, by Wayne Cordero a few weeks ago, I realized too the importance of making some important schedule changes in the years to come, and continue for forge sound habits, that keep God, family and ministry-work in the right order.