Such a funny word. Funny and uncomfortable and hair pulling and yes, even painful. Still in the end it’s usually laced with a little bit of cotton candy.

Here’s the thing about living in Germany. We’ve been here for over a year now and in that time have finally put down some social roots. It takes time to make friends. Sure, you can do dinner with someone once or twice or see them at church socials. There are baby showers and group luncheons and MOPS and half a dozen other ways for a woman to dig in and bind herself to a place.

But those aren’t the places friendships are made. Friendships are made in the wreckage. It’s the friend who gives up half a day to come and clean before your company comes, who isn’t afraid to tell you the top of your fridge is a mess and doesn’t hesitate to lecture you on storage solutions. It’s having girlfriends who can tell you with love and honesty that yes, the comment you made last week to someone could probably use a follow-up apology.

We have no family on this continent and it’s taken a year to really bond with some families, find couples that we love to be with who have kids our kids can play with. That does not come easily. Thanks to church and a wonderful ward here in Germany we have been blessed with absolutely incredible friendships. I can think of at least ten girls from church I could call at the drop of a hat who would be there for me, and I for them. This is our family. These are the women who were there to pick up my pieces after the car accident and support me through home school and culture shock. Our ward family has provided a much appreciated net of love and safety.

So you can imagine how I felt when Jason came home last night and told me that they’ve asked us if we’d be willing to leave our ward and move to the Baumholder Branch. It’s called a branch because it’s too small to be a ward. I’ve been there, I’ve seen how empty the small chapel is and how desperately they need warm bodies and friendship.

I am being so stupid. This is what we signed up for. When we first decided to move abroad we prayed to find a place where the church actually needed members, where we could use our faith and enthusiasm to help and serve. Now here we are, a year and a half later and happily tucked into a massive military ward, and the Lord is calling us on our promise.

Long term, I’m not going to be sad about this. I refuse to whine or lament about leaving our Ramstein ward (okay, I might cry a little, like right now). Frankly, our big ward’s membership is so swollen I don’t think a single person there will even notice our absence. We’re just one more family fighting for a padded bench on Sunday.

And you know what? We aren’t even justified in drawing a comparison to those other saints who made other sacrifices, real ones that required leaving far more than a decent ward choir and two dozen friendly faces on Sunday morning. In the big scheme of things this is a small sacrifice that will bring us great blessings (I keep hearing a slightly obnoxious voice in the back of my head reminding me about the blessings bit).

But today it sucks.

And I’d really like to avoid the lectures on how glad we’re going to be about it or how lucky we are because I’ve already decided that it’s going to be awesome. We will love this transition. I am giving myself permission to be sad about leaving my friends at church right here, today, on my blog. This move is our choice. The End. More friends will quickly follow and I know my old friends aren’t dead.

Transitions come with mixed feelings and sometimes we get to feel all of them. Sadness, frustration, anticipation, joy in knowing Heavenly Father can count on us to embrace this with excitement and warmth–opposition in all things includes mixed feelings.

I know it’s going to be great, just ask me tomorrow and I’ll tell you all about it.


  1. Oh, I can’t even imagine! I started to cry while reading this (I’m sure the pregnancy hormones have nothing to do with it…) because I too live in a ward that I adore. We’ve lived here for almost 16 years and ours roots and friendships are strong. In fact, even though we’re outgrowing our house (like forever ago) but we keep turning down great houses we’ve found because they’re not in our ward boundaries. So I have no words of comfort even though I’m absolutely sure the Lord will bless you in many ways. I’ll just cry for you instead. 🙁

  2. I hope that you help make the new branch a full fledged ward full of sweetness. You are awesome.

  3. I hope you love this new adventure and your enthusiasm works wonders on your new little space.

  4. You know in five months there is going to be a woman from that branch making a blog post about how her life was changed when this wonderful woman was transferred into her ward named Annie Valentine :). You’re a great lady– no wonder the Lord wanted to share you with another group. Those few ladies are going to be counting their blessings to get you among them! Best wishes on the transition

  5. Dear Annie Valentine,
    I don’t know how I stumbled upon your blog a few weeks ago, but I am already receiving you post via email. We lived abroad in Switzerland for a few years (before kids). I love reading about these transitions. I love hearing that other people have growing pains and can face them bravely and positively. I love hearing that there are Mormon Americans in Europe:) Your a great writer and I love your blog- any chance you are going to altitude design summit in January?

  6. I’m sorry. It sucks to have to leave good friends, even if you know you’ll make new ones. Tearing up roots hurts, no matter how much better the new ground will be for us. Best of luck!

  7. Some of my sweetest experiences came from the twig we attended when I was little (it wasn’t even big enough to be a branch). My grandma was my Primary teacher, and I was her only student for about five years.

  8. It’s your own fault for being so totally awesome that Heavenly Father wants to share you with other people! Love you, and I know you know you’ll be fine but I’m with you, transitions do completely stink for awhile!

  9. Now that’s the Annie Valentine I know. I can hear your mother’s teachings coming through with every word in that post. But more than that, I can see the woman you are and I love you!