When I was six weeks old, we moved to Germany as our then family of four. My dad grew up speaking German in his North Dakota home, studied and taught in Germany, and greatly desired to raise his family there. My 23 year-old mom was up for the adventure and off we went. My dad’s initial employment plan fell through and he ended up getting a job selling insurance to the military – a job he had zero passion for, in a country that fueled his passions. Seven years later, the Berlin Wall came down and my parents felt an urgency to leave. We sold everything we owned and moved to Canada with the financial help from my grandpa. The German economy was suffering and my dad was about to lose all his clients and most likely his job. My dad: was a spy during the Cold War in Germany, joined the LDS Church in Germany, was nearly in the 1972 Olympic Summer Games in Germany. My dad left his heart in Germany – a concept our family has became very aware of over the years.
Four months before I knew about the Chuuk opportunity, my parents and I planned a trip to Germany around Thanksgiving. This trip was a highly anticipated trip before Micronesia, and a bright light at the end of the tunnel during the first half in Micronesia. In my life, I have been blessed with many opportunities to travel, and was very much looking forward to traveling with my parents this time. I was most excited to capture pictures of my dad in his happy place! I had not been back in 26 years and could not wait to re-visit our old home of Wurzburg.
November 18th finally came!
The visits and sights were incredible, the journey was rough.
Our first day in Germany, my dad expressed he was feeling an unexpected flood of emotions and felt as though he could not stay long. He quickly fell into a visible funk and never quite recovered. For him, being there was a reminder of the life he once had; speaking German on a daily basis and living in the country that gave him so much meaning, while also disliking his job and feeling a great financial strain and responsibility to support his family.
As I felt a surge of nostalgic memories, I determined that I was going to have a different experience and chose to focus on the positive.
I’m grateful for the lessons one can learn about themselves and others while traveling and the change that can happen by applying those lessons. I’m grateful I’ve had a current passport since I was six weeks old. I’m grateful for the ability to document memories, feelings and thoughts. I’m grateful for my childhood experiences and the extremely supportive parents I have been given.