My name is Suzanne, and I am 31 years old. I grew up in the Dallas area, went to college in Arkansas for 4 years and graduate school in Wichita (which is how I found my church, River). I went to River for 5 years before moving to Germany to teach piano at Black Forest Academy (BFA).
When I was 12, I went forward at a chapel service to tell God that I would be his missionary. I think in the back of my head I thought if I volunteered then surely I wouldn't get sent to Africa... I half expected a letter in the mail the next week with my assignment. It took 15 years for that letter to come. (Hmm... sidenote: I remember reading somewhere that it took an average of 15 years to see answers to prayers... where was that again? interesting...)
In the meantime, I figured out that I really liked playing the piano and that I was kind of good at it. My friends, parents and teachers encouraged me in playing, so I decided to pursue it in college. Then I got a masters degree in it as well.
It was in graduate school at Wichita State that I discovered a love for teaching. The more I taught, the more I wanted to play. The more I played, the more I wanted to teach what I was learning.
It was also in graduate school that I found out about BFA (www.bfacademy.com), a school in southern Germany - in the southwestern corner, within 20 minutes of France and Switzerland). I found out they had an opening for a piano teacher the next year as well. Since I had had an interest in learning German after childhood trips to Europe with my family and a semester abroad in Austria in college, and I would get to hang out with youth and love on them - this seemed like the perfect job for me!
So what did I do? Nothing. I didn't check out the website. I didn't write them. Nothing. I still really can't explain why, but fear definitely played a role. My friend Dwayne, who had grown up at BFA, had to tell the personnel director to call me. I talked to him on the phone and was CRYING.... oh, I was so weepy. After that conversation, I knew I was supposed to apply to teach at BFA. Something was stirring in me. Someone was stirring me.
So I applied in 2003 for the open piano teacher position. I began raising support for summer training and getting myself over to the land of bratwurst and sauerkraut. I told friends, family and neighborhood pets that I would be leaving for Germany the next fall. Goodbye parties in my honor were being planned, people were telling me what a good person I was for going to the mission field, and the day before I was to fly across the country to training, my mission called to tell me that my application had been rejected...
Why was I rejected?
How did I end up getting to Germany?
Was I angry?
What did it feel like to have to give money back to people and explain my rejection?
Why is teaching piano in Germany considered missionary work?
Did I like the Dixie Chicks' remake of Landslide better than Fleetwood Mac's original?
For the answers to these questions (and others you might have), you'll have to stay tuned for Part 2.