Greetings from Kandern, Germany! We are Mike and Loralee Hill and serve at the Black Forest Academy here in the southwest corner of Germany. If you’re new to BFA, you can find out more on the BFA website: www.bfacademy.com
I (Mike) was raised in central PA and began attending the Hershey Free Church in the early ‘80s. I quickly became involved in youth ministry there under Bob Sproul and later Mike Wagner. I also became involved in worship ministry under Bob, as well. To this day, I consider Bob to be my mentor as a worship leader. I can still remember watching him closely as he prepared and led worship in various settings. (That is, watched him in a totally non-stalking kind of way!) Little did I know that almost 15 years of volunteer ministry at HFC would lead to a move overseas to work and teach BFA, a school primarily for MKs. (I initially came with Mike Wagner for 10 days to lead worship at the school retreat. That was over twenty one years ago!)
Loralee, on the other hand, headed overseas as a mature three-year-old when her parents answered the call to missions in Bavaria, Germany. (About 4.5 hours from BFA.) They ended up serving as church planters for thirty four years not far from Munich. Loralee attended German school through the ninth grade, when it became apparent she was going to need some education in English geared more to North Americans in order to help her transition to the States for college. It was off to boarding school at – you guessed it – BFA.
She had such a great experience at BFA that she wanted to give back to the system that helped her so much. After seven years in the States for college and teaching experience, God led her back to BFA itself. Twenty nine years later she’s still here, teaching and mentoring students as well as reaching out into the German community.
If you’re doing the math, you already know that we met here. We’ve been so blessed to do these past 18.5 years of life and ministry together. 🙂 (And still honeymooning!)
We’ve not had a lot of change this past year concerning our job responsibilities here. Loralee continued in the language department, teaching German levels 3 and 4, as well as developing her role as senior class advisor.
She also continued developing relationships with Inge, Daniel and Mario, BFA’s cooks, as well as with Daniel’s girlfriend and Mario’s wife. A German guy on our maintenance team has also become a part of this “gang,” and we’ve gotten to know them better over the past year. Pray that they would come to know and love Christ.
I continued, as well, teaching AP Music Theory and private piano lessons in the context of the Performing Arts Department. I wasn’t able to continue teaching at the Schallwerkstadt, a local German theology and music school, simply because of scheduling conflicts with BFA. But I did enjoy starting up a one-semester introduction to music theory class.
Leading worship at Black Forest Christian Fellowship also helps to keep me busy. I enjoy leading solo or working together with students and adults on worship teams. I also picked up a “job” working as BFCF’s administrator about 12 hours a week. It comes with a small stipend, but is enough to help our support a bit.
We’ve enjoyed spending time with our first “grandchild” over the past year. Grant is now a little over a year old. He is the first child of neighbors and coworkers. Although we won’t have biological grandkids – mainly because we have no biological kids of our own! – we are totally taken with Grant and are try to get in as much Grant-time as we can.
BFA continues caring for MKs year after year. We celebrated our 60 birthday in November. The school threw a great party with, of course, Loralee working on the team of planners. A great time was truly had by all. The evening included nostalgia, contests, music, fellowship, and the mother of all cakes. (Made by our own BFA cooks mentioned, above!)
We’ve wrestled with health issues over the past couple of years. Loralee’s had shoulder, back, knee, and feet issues, mostly connected with her diabetes. Neuropathy in her feet and lower legs have stolen much sleep from her. Bone spurs in her shoulder resulted in surgery on her shoulder this past summer. Healing is slow in coming, but it IS coming. She’s a trooper, though, and most people wouldn’t know she’s had such health issues. I’ve been dealing with a frozen should for some time now, but think I’m on the downward side of that. A bad foot sprain last week was a good distraction from the frozen shoulder.
In addition to these, the cold and flu germs seem to be working overtime this year. That’s not only been a battle in our house, but in the dorms and BFA community, as well.
Loralee had mentioned to BFA’s director that it would be nice to attend an ACSI conference sometime, since BFA often hosts the Europe conference. Which means we’re always working the conference. Which means we don’t get to attend anything. This conversation took place at the beginning of November. Two weeks later we were on a plane to Hong Kong, as the school decided to send the two of us. It was a great conference and we thoroughly enjoyed the speakers and the teaching. We were only there long enough for the conference, itself. Maybe we’ll go again in another 25 years and schedule in a little sightseeing!
We don’t know where the years have gone, but we’ve seen God’s faithfulness over all those years. We are grateful to so many who have been used by God to keep us here. (Either for missional reasons or just to keep us out of the US.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. If society tells us anything, or even family life in the world of missions, you know that we have total job security and that our jobs – or “jobs” – will never be over.
That’s just about it for the past year. Thank you, again, for your prayers and support and your partnership with us as we work for the Kingdom here at BFA.
Much love from us here in Germany…
Mike & Loralee
23 Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.
1 Thessalonians 1:23-24 ESV
Mike & Loralee Hill
Tel: +49 7626 97 05 51