That´s the name of a novel also known as the Hobbit by the english author J.R.R. Tolkien. It is the story of Bilbo Baggins and his adventurous journey from the shire to the lonely mountain where he helps Thorin Oakenshield and a company of dwarfes to reclaim their kingdom. On this journey he learns a lot, reaches new levels of maturity, faces difficult quests, makes new friends and his horizon is widened considerably. The little Hobbit collectes a rich treasure of experiences and his heart is full of precious memories that will last forever. But when asked how he would feel after his return, he also said: „I feel like butter that has been scraped over too much bread. I feel like I need a holiday“.

We, the Heer family, could also give that working title to our last few years. „there and back again“

Since fall 2016, we have apparently been turning loops geographically. In Altensteig I (Suse) did my DTS, afterwards we went for a short time to Herrenberg, where Philippus grew up. From there we went to the USA for a year. Tyler in Texas became the birthplace of our daughter Hadassah and we all learned a lot in Texas. Philippus also went to Brazil to teach and have his practical outreach and after the bible school in Tyler was officially finished we drove across the USA to visit friends on the west coast. From California we then started our return journey to Germany via Tyler, landed in Herrenberg, did a short tour through Central Germany and are now back in Altensteig.

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Phew, so many changes of scenery within quite a short time, moving house between two continents twice with the included culture shock, reverse culture shock and all that with two small children… That is quite a lot. We now understand Bilbo Baggins‘ feelings quite well, because travelling is not even remoetly the same as taking a holiday. Indeed they are completely different things. Our life is intense and full, we are grateful for many revelation moments, the great experiences, the new friendships, everything we learned, the breathtaking views, the challenging desert times that have shaped us and put us closer together as a family, and so much more. We have experienced so much blessing over the past year and were able to be a blessing to others as well. Our hearts are full of funny stories, amazement, moving moments and beautiful encounters with strangers. Only our bodies are a bit tired now.

In our last blog post we shared the plans for our last weeks in the US. And just as we had planned we had a really nice roadtrip through the south of the US all the way to San Diego, where we visited Krysta, a fellow student of Philippus and her family. All of us but especially the children enjoyed the swimming pool, the new friends (Grandma Andrea, Grandpa Gary, the Jones Tribe), the ocean and the beach. At Santa Monica Pier, where Route 66 starts, Philemon rode a Ferris wheel for the first time in his life and we kept the ticket as his first souvenir. Hadassah has learned to dive and loves the water. The Colorado River and the Grand Canyon have given us a completely new idea of the size of America, as have the giant cacti in Arizona. With De Anna, Mike and their family we had a lot of fun and many good conversations. We were on countless playgrounds, exploring a petrified forest, very often it was incredibly hot and the children became absolute motorists champions. It was a really good family time at the end of our year in the US. The travel gene is activated very early in our family , because Hadassah was only 7 months old when she first sat in a plane, or better: slept. As an American AND German citizen she now has German ground under her feet for the first time. Many thanks to all our hosts and friends. We enjoyed and treasure our time with you very much and the memories will last forever!

On the day of our arrival back in Germany Philippus‘ whole family came together, but unfortunately for a sad reason: The grandmother passed away. At almost 90 years of age she had a full life and we are grateful that we could all say goodbye to her.

For our short caravan tour through Germany we were blessed with an untypical but lovely and warm late indian summer. The relatively short driving distances and the great German Autobahn have made it a lot easier for us to enjoy this trip in the caravan although it was really crazy of us to do this kind of travel several times in a row. But the meetings with family and friends and in Hessen, Thuringia and Saxony were absolutely worth it! Thanks to all our friends and family for your spontaneity, your hospitality, your friendship, your time, your questions and your genuine interest in what we do and how we live.

Since October 1st we are back in Altensteig, where it comes full circle. During the DTS 2 years ago we started our family reorientation and it is nice to be back here again. We were warmly welcomed and accepted into the team. Arriving is always felt to be much easier when you have been to a place before and that’s the way it is now. Our current housing situation is also a huge blessing: We have moved into a privately renovated spacious and sunny apartment as an intermediate tenant, because the family that usually lives here and has furnished everything with such a classy and cosy atmosphere and style is currently travelling in New Zealand, Fiji and Tonga. So we didn’t have to do a „real – big time“ move, but had it made. God provides! The children have sooo much great toys and even clothes that we can only marvel how well God takes care of us. The landlords are also living directly in the house and are absolutely wonderful people! We liked each other right from the start. Last week we had a small house-warming party where all of the guests got a guided tour of the whole house.

Philippus works diligently in his various fields and it is a great pleasure for him to see the fruits of his work. In the next weeks he will send out a separate email to explain what he does in more detail. Since it is about rather sensitive contents, we have decided not to do this here on the blog. (If you would like to receive this email, please contact us). Suse helps with cooking in the kitchen at the ywam base, we all helped to renovate the new seminar room and we both have the great honour to be mentors for one of the DTS students each. And our 24/7 full-time job as parents of two wonderful toddlers also keeps us busy. The doors to our apartment are always open for everyone who wants to be a part of the chaotic family bustle and many of the younger staffs enjoy to hang out with us, the conversations or the view from our living room window.

Philemon is already 3 years old now, wow! He is in the middle of the „why“ phase, wants to know and understand everything and asks a lot of questions. He is very polite and has a gift for languages. Right now he is often overwhelmed with his feelings and reacts like many children at this age with crying, whyning, being stubborn. But in the evening when it´s time to go to bed he always cuddles up close to mum and dad and makes sure he gets his lovetank filled up.

Hadassah is a fast learner and in many things she is absolutely ahead of herself. At only 11 months old she can already stand freely, walk around furniture or crawl through the apartment at high speed. She laughs a lot, loves to cuddle mum and dad, can clap and wave, says mum and dad and hi and talks a lot. She is our sunshine. We are so grateful for our two great little personalities who touch and warm so many hearts around us.

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Well, here we are… back again – transformed a little, our horizons broadened, our perspectives different, our memories full of precious moments, our hearts full of gratitude and a little tired – almost like Bilbo the Hobbit. 

For the coming weeks we hope you have many enjoyable encounters with the people around you, many little moments of rest, and enough strength for every day. Be blessed.

Many greetings from Philippus, Suse, Philemon and Hadassah aka DasHeer.