Friday, May 13, 2011

Hans: manager of disasters

Hans, Hannah and I moved back to the US almost a year and a half ago after teaching English in Japan for 3 years. In some aspects Japan was kinder to us than our homeland ever was. For the first time in our marriage we were both working full time, and pulling ourselves out of debt rather than falling further in. Japan also gave us the best health care we'd had since getting married, and consequently we decided to have Hannah while we were there. We met some of the kindest, most loving and selfless people we've ever encountered - Megumi and Miwako (whose affectionately given  nicknames are "Baba" and "Wakan") - who helped us through the toughest aspects of living and giving birth in Japan. If not for them we probably wouldn't have stayed as long as we did, but life has a funny way of connecting us with the people we need in order to thrive in our circumstances.

Other aspects of our life in those 3 years were not so kind to us, and our homecoming wasn't as triumphant and momentous as most would have liked it to be. With broken spirits and a rather bruised relationship, we felt truly lost coming back to Kansas. On top of it all, America's economy was grim at best, and finding employment would prove to be a long and arduous journey. Hans had begun online graduate work in Emergency Management while in Japan, and upon our return tried for months to schedule a meeting with Leavenworth's Emergency Manager to see if there was some kind of internship he could do while taking classes. Meanwhile he worked for the Census Bureau (which would only last the summer), attended networking gatherings at bars where he was completely out of his element, and applied, applied, applied for anything and everything. But nothing.
This is how we found him most times of the day. :)
Somewhere along the way, Hans was advised that the best way to get his foot in the door in the the local Emergency Management field was to get his EMT and paramedic licenses and volunteer or take part in the various branches of emergency response in our town. So, in a single semester he finished his EMT license and volunteered at the fire department, for which he is now on call two nights a week. While continuing to apply for jobs as an EMT, dispatcher, intern for FEMA, and about a dozen others, winter came, and Hans and his brothers chopped and sold firewood for a little extra money, and were rather good at it too. They called themselves the Lumberjack Guild, and they are lucky to still have all of their limbs in tact.

As a doting wife, I'm ashamed to admit I'm a bit out of practice. I don't think I will ever fully understand or appreciate the pressure and stress that husbands and fathers endure in order to provide for their families and be called "Real Men." In fact, I'm not sure I give much credence to the title "Real Man" in the first place. Hans is a Good Man. For 8 months of late-night studying, odd jobs, volunteer work, and rejection, he has been patient, determined, focused, and optimistic. Somehow he has managed to keep himself pulled together and happy, and subsequently, so have we. It has been no small feat, and I admire his sheer gall and courage which have taken him this far. For that, and for being a giving, affectionate father to Hannah and bearing with me through the most difficult time our marriage has seen (and hopefully will ever see), I should probably take more time out of my own trivial schedule to dote, and dote often. There are more disasters in the world than we know what to do with, not only natural disasters and national security threats, but disasters of the heart and mind that take years of forbearance and dedication to manage, clean up, and heal. It's a good thing he specializes in this stuff, because I would be lost without his steadfast bravery and love.
It's true.
We finally heard back from two of the four employers he was really hoping for, and this week he began work as an emergency dispatcher for Leavenworth County. So far he loves the job, and even better, he loves the people he's working with. This is still only one step on his path to becoming an emergency manager, but it is a big step, and I am so, so proud.


Samantha said...

This is awesome. Good for you guys. And also, if I may add, a bit brave to share so much about the last few years being rough, b/c as you know, stuff is rough for most people I think. Thanks for sharing. So sweet. Congrats Hans!!

Brandon and Cody Roper said...

Oh Suz, there's some good solid wisdom gushing from that post, I wish you would have written 10 times more. Thank you. I think I'm going to dote on my Good Man tonight. Tough times are the times that define relationships and I'm so grateful for the tough times my Good Man and I have gone through that have irreversibly woven us together.
Hey, you are a sweetheart for thinking about this growing belly of mine. I'm 18 weeks and no kicks yet. We get an ultrasound on May 24th and I'm SO excited to call "it" a "he" or "she" finally! I'm hoping Brando's grandma will teach me to knit at our annual cabin trip this summer so I can try my hand at this:
I'm in total love with all the cute little animals you're making, mad skills girl, mad.
Love you guys!!!

Anonymous said...


Well said. All of it. Thank you.


Erin_Skidmore said...

i also seem to forget the severe pressure that must be on the shoulders of the hard working men trying to support their families! way to go suzie, love your post!

Our Party of Five said...

as I was reading, I knew i wanted to comment on the "real man" topic. now I see that I am just going to be echoing a few people! Obviously that just shows how little we think about it-how scary, but rewarding all at the same time.
Tough times ARE what define a marriage (Thanks Roper family!). What a wonderful example you are setting for Hannah!
Thanks for this post, Suzie.
much love

Suzie said...

Thank you, ladies!

whitney said...

Congrats Hans!! Hard work and perseverance really does pay off... in job hunting and relationships. Thanks for that awesome reminder Suzie.

Linda said...

Dear Suzie,
Thank you so much for your message about the giveaway, I have now chosen a 2nd reader winner and have posted the name on my blog:) As a huge thank you to you for bringing this to my attention, I would like to gift you with the alpaca pattern too. If you could send me your email address, I will mail it through to you.
Take care and thank you so much:)

qiviut-queen said...

Hello Suzie, 'Lovely Family blog'.
You are the winner of the Arctic waves shawl kit.....please contact us with your details.....Thank you. best regards Lorraine

WeAreTheRopers said...

SUZ! Brando told me he talked to Hans... please will you give details!!?! Men are horrible with these things!

Suzie said...

Cody - what kind of details? I don't even know what Hans said! I can tell you I've been making cute baby things for you ever since I heard you were on bed rest. :)

softearthart said...

Just lovely, life sometimes is hard, but you both shine out into the world, love and light Marie