This past week we were blessed by the presence of Memorial Road Church of Christ’s “InterMission Team”. For this trip, the InterMission Team (IMT) consisted of two families: The Harts and the Shorts. The Harts were missionaries in South Africa for 18 years, living through the South African “Struggle” as well as the freeing of Nelson Mandela, the rampant spread of AIDS, and the birth of the “new” South Africa. The Shorts were missionaries in Taiwan for 13 years where they learned Chinese (how amazing is that?) and faced both personal and missional hardships of many kinds, while of course experiencing the sovereignty of the Lord as well. Throughout the many years of work on the mission field, both families encountered the painful experiences of saying goodbye to longtime teammates who made the decision to leave the mission field, saying goodbye to friends as they themselves made the decision to the leave the mission field, and finally, watching their children face the challenges of acclimating to a new culture as a “Third Culture Kid” (TCK).
As many of you know, the Hensals, a family of 6 who have been here in Vienna since the mission began 6 years ago, are in the process of transitioning back to the States, the move taking place at the beginning of July. Knowing all that they do now about healthy transitions, Third Culture Kids, re-entry shock, and all of the emotions in between, the InterMission Team was created, and visited our team simply to be with us and help us all, especially the Hensals, ease into this time of transition as smoothly as possible. The IMT met with each of our families individually in different settings as well as with us all as a group. We talked, we laughed, we cried, and have now gained a little more insight as to what July will bring.
The IMT met with us on Wednesday and we were together the entire day. While we did talk about our purpose here in Vienna, ways we can best support the ones we’re here to serve, and our role in the team’s transition, we mostly spent the day having tons of fun together. The IMT brought us goodies from the States, including but not limited to peanut butter, Mac N’ Cheese, a Thunder T-shirt, hot wing sauce from Buffalo Wild Wings, and even toys for Tobias. We took the IMT all over Vienna, showing off our favorite sights. We ate lunch at a kebab stand and introduced them to Almdudler, a Viennese soda favorite. We stopped for coffee and cake at Cafe Central, oo-ed and ahh-ed with them beneath the enchanted ceiling of Stephansdom, toured the majesty of the Belvedere Palace, and stuffed ourselves full of schnitzel at an authentic underground Viennese restaurant. We concluded our evening by having one last cup of coffee (decaf) and piece of cake at Cafe Griensteidl. The six of us were completely exhausted in the best way, to say the least.
This week was packed full of blessings and we’re immensely grateful for the time these two families were able to spend with all of us. There is so much involved in leaving a culture and returning to one’s home culture correctly that we often forget or simply don’t think about all the details and possibilities, and for that we are doubly thankful for the gentle spirits and servant-like attitudes of the IMT who not only helped us all to think of all the details and possibilities, but allowed us to work through them with their support as well. It is because of families such as the ones on the IMT who went before us and experienced “a crash landing” and are now able to help and bless other families and teams avoid the crash and instead land softly. Join us in prayer over these next several months as the team, the church, and our individual families transition together.