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  • Writer's pictureAudrey Ann Masur

Germany and a Greenery Business: Interview with Cristi Boyer

Q: Hello, Cristi! Can you tell us a little bit about who you are and the moves you've made?

A: Audrey Ann, thanks for giving me the opportunity to tell my story. Brad and I have been married twenty-three years and have four kids--Drake, born in Germany, Lillia(Lilly), Dane, and Kade. I homeschool the younger two since the pandemic, and the older two go to the area public high school.

Brad and I were set up on a blind church date. We were engaged a month after meeting and married a year later, with only my student teaching remaining. While engaged, we purchased a home on seven acres in Logansport, Indiana USA and gutted and remodeled it. I should have known then I was in for a wild ride!

By our seventh year of marriage we had moved nine times (various towns in Indiana, then to Germany and now Tipton, Indiana). I also lived in Dallas for a few years as a child and went to college one year in Pensacola, Florida. In 2004 we built our dream home on a pond in Kokomo, Indiana.

About the same time Brad starting hearing talk of an exchange with a German man from Mercedes-Benz. Brad is an engineer by trade and was working at the time on satellite radio and predictive learning in cars. We were almost passed over for the opportunity in Germany because of our new home, but we were up for the next adventure and sold our new home it in a heart beat. We had even planed and stained every board on our staircase! Everyone thought we were crazy!

From seventh grade until I was a senior in high school, I went on a missions trip every year (including a reservation in North Dakota, Mexico, Cabrini-Green in Chicago, Spain, and Peru, South America). My grandparents were missionaries in Peru for Wycliffe Bible Translators. I have always loved foreign cultures and am intrigued by the diversity and the sociology. So, when we chose to spend the next few years in Germany, we decided to have full emersion experience. We received a brief nine week session of German, visited for a “look-see”, choose a home, and moved in the next month.

Q: Wow! That sounds like an amazing whirlwind. So what were some challenging and rewarding aspects of moving to Germany?

A: We had not had any children up to this point, so why not have a baby?!! I was home for the first time, after teaching special education for five years. We were pregnant within a month! Nothing like moving to a foreign country, not knowing the language, choosing a village without a train, not having a car, and having a baby! We even tried to attend a German-speaking church, but quickly realized we needed to hear English and some friends we could relate to. Through networking, my army wife cousin was able to find a nearby church for us to attend, near a military base. I also met with a group of older German ladies at a coffee shop weekly so they could practice their English, and I taught English at a preschool as well. I acquired the most German from the preschoolers--hearing them speak so basically and repetitively.

I have a million stories I could tell you about our time there and the lessons and experiences we had--cultural differences, our naivety, and once again the language barrier. Some of the funniest stories being: taking a beautiful wreath to a friend when we went to dinner and later finding out it was a burial wreath, nakedness at public swimming areas, nursing Drake group-style, like a giant milking barn at the hospital, not realizing we had to validate our ticket to get out of the parking garage, “recycling nazi’s," stinky cheese, eating pate while pregnant and not realizing what it was and SO, SO much more!!

I was very grateful for four years of Spanish in high school and two years in college. It really gave me insight into languages and understanding how they work. The combination of German and Spanish has opened my eyes to the importance of Latin, root words, and understanding how languages work hand in hand.

We began to dream in German after being there for several months. We finally jumped on a plane to England for a weekend just to hear English. Everything was hard. We couldn’t even read the letters that came in the mail about utilities and speeding ticket--everything had to be translated. We lived there for 18months, but it feels like years more! Every experience was meaningful and monumental.

Q: Wow. The language barrier is a game changer for sure, as well as all the other differences, both pronounced and nuanced, of living abroad. Was it hard to move back to the States, or were you ready?

A: It was a hard transition when coming home. You wouldn’t think so, since it’s home, right, but all your friends continue with their lives while you are gone and you have to find your place again. I returned to teaching, but soon became pregnant again. We also ended up changing churches because the fit at our old church just wasn’t right anymore. Of course God works all things for good, and within a year we had a new community had established new roots.

Q. I love seeing photos of your holiday greenery business. Could you tell us more about what you do and why you love it?

A: Germany is what inspired me to start my greenery business. The people never left their flower pots bare, in winter they were always covered in some type of pine, holly or cypress. Flower shops were found on every corner. Beauty was their way of life--always having a flower arrangement on their table, and being a weekly grocery purchase (part of the reason I love visiting Whole Foods).

After Brad and I had three kids, around our fifteenth anniversary, we decided to go on a Hawaiian cruise without kids. We had the money to pay for the cruise and flights, but were short on funds for the excursions. I had to dig deep in my mind of creativity to devise a plan to make some extra cash. Being a stay-at-home mom and living on three acres and loving to garden, my mind quickly returned to our days in Germany. Our property is surrounded by pine trees. I made up a few greenery swags and took them up to the local hardware, boutique and brokered a deal.

I was able to make enough money that winter to pay for the excursions, and a business was born. For the past 8 years it’s been a side gig, but as my kids are now school age I am little by little expanding it and considering my possibilities. What’s the old saying, if you do what you love it’s never work?! Also growing up on a farm, dirt and hard work are in my blood. I started making hydrangea arrangements on the front porch in an old milk can as a child. Maybe that was telling!

Q: I love how you integrate who you are as a farm girl from Indiana and what you learned in Germany and on other travel adventures. Do you feel your time in Germany changed you in any way or influences you to this day?

A: My time in Germany added another piece of glass to the mosaic of life. My thoughts and opinions about the importance of things, family, culture and travel were all enhanced.

Even my business logo was inspired by my time in Germany. I started collecting handmade pottery pitchers there and throughout Europe. I have an entire collection of them. I love to use them for floral arrangements and last year commissioned a local pottery to make be an assortment of pitchers, mostly in white, to use in my sales. I love to decorate with treasures that tell stories that have a meaning. I rarely buy something new from a shop, but love a hunt. I would travel to a new place every month if I had a chance. So many places left to explore! My life verse has always been: Matthew 6:19-21 “For where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”

>>Thank you for reading this interview with Cristi! If you'd ever like to share your story, please reach out to me via the share-your-story box on the main page.

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I’m Audrey Ann—a writer who treasures the gift of travel, and I’m a mama who endeavors to love where I live one playdate, grocery trip, and sunset at a time. An island girl with heartland roots, I currently live in the Cotswolds of the United Kingdom. 

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