Every story begins somewhere. There can be more than one and sometimes those stories connect. One begins in small southern towns in America. Another starts in a village in northern Germany. One started in the early 60s and the other in the late 70s.
Wyman was born 1962 in Virginia, while Andrea was born 1977 in Kiel…though raised in a nearby village. A small town southern boy never thought he would end up living in a northern German village. A German village girl probably never thought she would marry an American. Then add that they never could have imagined a short time ago the most wonderful son named Glenn Jolson Brent. For young Wyman, escaping his home was a priority. Traveling through North America and then Europe as a way to discover different people and different cultures followed, always looking for his calling in life. The first time to Europe was 1990 with the life changing first journey to Lithuania taking place in 1994. in 2011, after seven years of hard work and collecting books from many different countries, Wyman's dream of a Jewish library in Lithuania opened its doors. The Vilnius Jewish Public Library is the first Jewish library in Lithuania since 1943.
Andrea has a similar background, growing up in a world she did not really fit in, torn between the ideals of physical labor and her own longing for education. Like Wyman, Andrea turned to books and began traveling at a young age to discover a world far away. She went through a long journey of education, studying German literature and media studies, philosophy and art history.
Although coming from two different worlds, we have several essential traits in common: sensitivity, empathy, creativity and a strong will to overcome obstacles and to fight for values different from the ones they grew up with.
The two travelers did not meet on the road. We met thanks to the modern miracle of the Internet. Wyman discovered Andrea’s documentary filmmaking website www.aj-images.com. Wyman not only discovered fascinating films about Al Jolson, he also found his future wife. We both dealt with Jewish culture at the time, each in their own way: Wyman with the Jewish library he tried to establish in Lithuania, Andrea with her passionate interest in Al Jolson - who happened to have been born in Lithuania. We met on November 8, 2010. One day later, we attended Kristallnacht commemoration ceremonies in Kiel, an event Andrea had invited Wyman for. By the time we had started to collect books for the library together, we had already become a couple. The wedding took place on August 22, 2012, and Glenn Jolson Brent made his debut on the world stage on September 25, 2013.
We settled into our new life with our little bundle of joy. The first years were rough, not knowing whether the choice of a rural lifestyle was a permanent one or not, not knowing how to handle an extended family living on two continents. The first years were years of losses, Little independence and missed opportunities. We had planned to visit Wyman's mother after Glenny's first birthday. When we finally had the funds together, we booked a flight for May of 2015. Unfortunately, Wyman's mother passed away in February of the same year. Her passing was unexpected and the circumstances behind it were cruel. The chance to say goodbye to her was not given to us and Glenny missed out on meeting his grandma in the USA. It was a haunting experience and it shook up our lives a lot. Not having Wyman's mother taking Glenny in her arms a few years after Wyman had reconciled with her, will remain a pain in our hearts.
The pregnancy had been rough, yet despite being blessed with the best thing that has ever happened to us, the first three years were difficult as we were facing many problems on different levels: Settling in Germany, finding a job, a home and a place in our families were difficult. Step by step we got dragged back into what we once escaped from. We both got sick, with Wyman's illness unfortunately being incurable and already taking its toll on our everyday lives. We decided to stop sitting at home and having others making decisions for us. We wanted to take our lives back into our own hands and get out in the world. We still had dreams and wanted to provide the best for our little man. We made serious plans to move to the USA. We looked at houses and checked into financing it. Then came Trump.
At a time, when we wanted to move somewhere else, a young guy named Mirco (18 at the time) stepped into our lives. He was looking for a place where he could open his horse riding school. Andrea saw a lot of herself in him and got her father to let Mirco rent the fields and parts of the barn. As painful as it was for her to see a "stranger" being granted to open a business on the property (unlike her when she was his age), as fulfilling it was to become a part of this. We cleaned up, repaired things and helped Mirco in many different areas from actual physical labor to graphic design and social media services. He helped us to see a future on this property, the home Andrea grew up at maybe could become our son's home after all.
But times got rougher. Andrea's mother got very ill and passed away a few months after Mirco's arrival. She never saw the changes, the life coming to the property, a property that was finally woken up from its long sleep. Her mother's death turned Andrea into a crisis, a crisis she tried to work through with finding some sense, some purpose. She pushed herself to actually graduate (after almost having given up on that plan) and forced herself to pursue her long-buried dream of working in the theater. Once again, she found herself torn between her rural roots and her longing for intellectual stimulation and artistic creativity.
While deciding that we wanted to make an extensive trip to the USA (instead of moving there) to have our son encounter his father's roots, Wyman's Dad passed away before he could meet his grandson. Things did not look as bad at first, and then it was too late, once again. Shaken up ba that, we both forced ourselves to focus more and more on our home. We obtained the property and step by step set up a visitor's farm. We started with chickens and then had geese, rabbits, sheep, ducks and a dog. Lots of work and responsibility, yet a home to put our devotion and energy in. Seeing the life on this property is fulfilling, seeing our son spending a childhood of freedom and developing empathy and feelings of responsibility for the well-being of our animals is fulfilling. It is fulfilling to see that instead of being this shy little girl his mother once was and the insecure little boy his father once was, Glenny has the chance to live and flourish among his many animals while meeting new kids every day.
We are still in the process of establishing our visitor's farm where we offer sponsorships, show children around, have them play and run around, help with the animals if they want to, or even celebrate their birthdays on our property. We also plan to offer similar experiences to aeniors. Most of our animals are rescue animals. We founded an association and do all of this on the basis of voluntary donations.
You find us here, on Facebook, on YouTube and hopefully very soon on roads through the USA. We decided to not choose between one world or the other, but to have them all. Just as Glenny's parents have different roots, yet many things in common, we do not want to live a life of an "either this or that". It is Germany and the USA, it is a rural life and culture, physical labor and intellectual creativity, settling yet traveling, even a break-up, yet remaining to be a family. With Wyman's lung disease progressing, we need to focus on the NOW and live life to the fullest - for our son and for ourselves and for many others along the way.
Join us on our big family adventure!
To find out more about Andrea and Wyman, here are their professional websites: