The most difficult day. 

Today was the day we have all been dreading, the day we had to say “see you later” to our German family. Lena does not believe in goodbyes, when she left America three years ago, she would not say goodbye, but simply see you later.  Uncle Frank and Uli (Lena’s dad) both came from work to see us off at the train station. After a few tears and lumps in our throats, we parted ways.  Unfortunately the G20 summit was in Hamburg Today and they didn’t clear it with the Sutton’s Holiday (European for vacation) and our travels back to Switzerland started with another hiccup, as our first train was delayed for 40 minutes.  Frank offered to drive us to Hannover as he was headed there for work. I could get used to this autobahn thing!  We topped out around 230/km/h (143mph) and made great time! We connected on our second leg of our journey from Hannover to Basel.  We then thought we had clear sailing, until our train broke down 30 minutes south of Hannover. So we had to switch from the high speed train to a commuter train. We saw every station between Mannheim and Basel! We could not all sit together, and I had a lovely conversation with an older lady who lives in the Black Forest area. She then pointed out some mountains that she claimed were in France!  After arriving in Basel, we figured out the train ride to Aarau and got some lunch.  Unfortunately our trials only began at that point, as we left Basel and had only three stops to our destination. As we entered the first train station, a man decided to jump onto the tracks and laid down to take his own life. Before the train engineer could stop it was too late. Fortunately we did not feel, see, or hear anything other than the engineer’s attempt to stop the train quickly. Carson immediately wanted to pray for the families involved once we found out what had happened. He and Jennica are both struggling tonight with this traumatic experience. Please pray for both of them! We then were stuck in Switzerland with no clue What to do and without speaking the language.  Fortunately, God sent us Miriam. She is a lovely lady who figured out our strife and committed to making sure we made it to Bernadette’s house in Aarau. She interpreted for us, offered to pay for an UBER for us and ultimately got on two separate trains with us to get us to our destination! We told her she could just point us in the right direction but she stated no, her ambition was to get us to Aarou safely, and she did. We could not thank her enough! We ended the day at the festival Bernadette wanted to take us to and it was fun, and busy! We are thankful for God’s provisions and His care for us throughout this trip, especially today. Please also pray for safe travels tomorrow for us and for the Porter family as they travel to Chicago to come pick us up! We have so many pictures and memories to share when we catch up on some sleep! 

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Last night in Germany

Today we celebrated Lena and Sarah’s 21st birthdays. We shared lots of laughter and spent time with friends and extended family. Tomorrow we travel back to Aarau, Switzerland before Flying home on Friday. We will be sad to leave, but are thankful for the experience that we have had here in Germany. It is easy to see why God gave us Lena for a year, and now our family is a little (ok a lot) bigger. 

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Shopping

Today, we slept in a little, then we had the famous “Anja pancakes,” which we call “Lena pancakes” when we’re at home in the U.S. Yum! 


 Next, the girls went shopping and the boys hung out at home. It was fun to experience a German mall and other little shops too. Andy and Carson watched a movie, rode bikes around the village, skipped rocks at the river, packed a little, and then met us for ice cream and to look at a nearby “dome,” which is a big beautiful church. It’s interesting that both families wanted to show us nearby churches…you can just walk in and out of them because they open them to the public during the day. We’ve seen lovely buildings with a lot of history, including this church in Verden. 


We ended the evening with another bike ride for the kids, some grilled bratwurst (which andy eats but not the rest of us), and a nice 65 degree evening on their terrace just visiting. Nice. 


Jennica found some chips she loves. Crazy girl bought two bags today at the store. Lol


Check out this before and after picture. A little has changed in three years, but not how much we love this girl (and now her family too!)  ❤️

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Cuxhaven

Today we traveled to Cuxhaven, to see the North Sea. It may have been the craziest thing we have witnessed on this trip! The tide goes out so far you cannot see the ocean and you can walk on the mud/sand for several kilometers! We walked about two miles out into the North Sea and could not see the Water! You can even take a horse ride 12 kilometers out to an island! Tomorrow the girls shop and the boys get to bicycle around town and relax!  The star on the map is about where we turned around! We ended the day by visiting Lena’s grandparents and then visiting and playing games. 

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Church 

This is Jennica, my phone is not posting right now so I am using my mom’s phone. 

Today Carson and I got up with Sarah and Lena to deliver newspapers. They’ve been doing it for over 6 years and we decided to go with them because we’ll probably never get to do it again. Then, we went to church with the family. It was a Lutheran church. Most of it was in German, but they were very welcoming and they even did part of the service in English for us. After that, Ulrich (Lena’s dad) took us on a ride on one of the village fire truck and it was really cool. Then, we played at the park and had some yummy bread made by Anja. We went to dinner at a Greek/Italian restaurant and of course I had to get pizza! All the food was really good. When we left the restaurant, Carson and I rode with Sarah and Lena. It was really fun because we listened to music and danced around. Definitely memories being made. When we got home, Carson, Lena and I took a bike ride around the village. It’s fun to hang out with our older sister. We had a great time. Finally, the Hopmann family dressed up for us in their traditional Bavarian outfits, which they usually only wear for celebrations. Thanks for your continued prayers. I’m excited to get back home to show you pictures and share stories.

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Handball and bicycles

Today we got to sleep in. Of course I, Andy, woke up at 7:30am and got to spend a couple of hours visiting with Lena’s parents. Thank goodness for Google Translate!  Lena braided Jennica’s hair, and then we went for a bicycle ride to the fire station, and to the local river locks. 


 We then came home and visited with Lena’s grandpa and Uncle and had dinner. The kids, Lena, Sarah, Lars, Jennica, Carson, and Kim then went to play Soccer and Handball. 


It was the day of rest we have all been needing, and the more time we spend together the more our families have come together. We hope someday they will come to visit us in America! 

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Hamburg

Today, we went to Hamburg, Germany with Lena and her parents. We went to a place called Miniature Wonderland. They’ve spent more than 760,000 hours creating these little villages that highlight various countries around the world. We saw the US first…and carson was quite happy to see a covered bridge (it’s brown toward the top of the picture). 

It was really amazing to see the details put into these displays. 

They would dim the lights and create “night,” which was especially cool with certain cities. 

Pictured above was the mini model of a castle in Germany. It’s the one that Disney used as a model. We mentioned it in an earlier post because Bernadette took us there. How cool that we got to see the actual one in person! Many cool buildings! 

Lovely sites to see, despite the rain! 

Our sweet Lena! 

Lena’s family has made us feel very welcome. We feel like we’ve known each other for a long time and have already shared many laughs. Here we are next to the sign for their “village” with her parents. They are so great! 


Lena’s brother, Lars, and sister, Sarah, played with Jennica and Carson for a while. They are very fun too! It’s easy to see how Lena fit into our family so well…and how God has brought us all together through her. 

We plan to relax and rest a little tomorrow. We are looking forward to that! 😊

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Germany 🇩🇪 

Today we came to the point of our entire trip, we were reunited with our Lena! It was so good to see her and meet her Germany family. (Except for Sarah, whom we will meet this weekend). 

We had a long day of traveling, but thanks to Bernadette and her dad, we were able to navigate our way through our first time traveling by train. We only had one small glitch, but were able to get it resolved before we left Salzburg. We traveled from Salzburg to Munich, Hannover, and finally arrived to the station where Lena and her parents were waiting for us. For our Carson, it was a huge day as he loved all things trains. Our high speed train reached 251 km/hr which is almost 156mph. We even got to ride on a double decker train.


We also managed to play some cards, rest a little, and have some fun along the way. Anja had a wonderful meal waiting for us and we had dinner with Lena, Ulrich, Anja, Lars and his girlfriend. We then spent the evening sharing laughs and stories around the table. We will see what tomorrow brings!


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Ice Cream for Dinner?! 

We started the day off with going to Hellbrunn Palace and to its water games. Basically, the Arch Bishop (in the 1600’s: the ruler of the palace and city) he wanted to trick his friends and visitors by making trick fountains throughout the palace to spray them as they would walk by. Carson got soaked! Next we toured the castle and learned about the history. After that we climbed up a hill and saw this awesome stone theatre. It had a back stage and cool entrances to get onto the stage. On our way to the car we passed the pavilion used in the Sound of Music where they sing “Sixteen Going on Seventeen.” We went back to the house and had some great homemade pizza made by Monica. Next, Bernadette had a surprise for us which was going to a salt mine. It was really cool and there were fun slides to go down deeper into the cave. Next we went on a ski lift to get up a high mountain. (I sat by my mom and she was freaking out) Then, we rode on little carts all the way down the mountain. (I’m not going to lie, it was a little scary) But, Carson loved it!  Finally, we got some delicious ice cream for dinner. (My dad’s dish looked like spaghetti) When we got home we just visited with Sebastian because this is our last day in Austria. Thank you for all of the prayers! This has been an amazing trip so far! 

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Cog railway 

This is Carson. Today, we went on Austria’s steepest cog railway in St. Wolfgang. It was very awesome. It had awesome views. It was cool to be on the train. Then, we went into town and walked. There was a beautiful view over a lake. Then we ate out and it was very good. Next, we drove to HallStatt. We went up a very steep mountain that used a pulley system. It was a fun ride up and down. The views were fantastic. Only my dad and I went up on that one. So far the trip has been great and I’m really going to miss these exciting places. 

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