InterMission Team Visits Vienna

Hofburg Palace showing off for the InterMission Team.

Hofburg Palace showing off for the InterMission Team.

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.

Tobias and his new bird friend (who is filled with Catnip).

Tobias and his new bird friend (who is filled with Catnip).

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.

Bubble-making street performers outside Hofburg Palace.

Bubble-making street performers outside Hofburg Palace.

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.

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The Koois Are Back In Town

airport

Getting ready to come back at last

Well, after 3 months of being in the U.S., after pages and pages of emails and many conversations with lawyers, embassy employees and Memorial Road staff and elders, and after hours of prayers and waiting, we are back in Vienna at last.

And we couldn’t be happier. In some ways, it’s like we never left. Our apartment is still here, complete with half-finished projects we abruptly left behind (and our cat). Our friends are here, as well as everyone in the church. Some things are different, like the snow, the lack of Christmas decorations and the knowledge that three months have passed by in this city without us, but in reality, we’ve jumped right back in like there was no break. You can read about some of the things we’ve gotten back into right away in some coming blogs.

ice skating at the Rathaus

Ice skating at the Rathaus

We’re sure most of you are aware, but our situation is not yet resolved, although it is somewhat close to being so. We are here in the EU as tourists again, leaving us 3 months before we have to leave again. We’ve had a couple of meetings with our immigration lawyer here and will be applying for a 1-year social worker permit very soon. We hope to have our permit before we have to leave again in May, but it is much more likely that we will have to leave and wait outside of the EU for our permit to be issued, which could be anytime from May to August.

However, if we do have to spend time away from Vienna, we do not want to spend it in the US like the last three months. We’re working through a couple of possibilities for us to visit another mission field during any forced time away from Vienna. Instead of feeling like we’ve essentially wasted 3 months of our 2 year commitment, we’re excited to be useful and help out another mission field in any way we can while we wait for our permits to be issued to us.

Holly reading

Holly reading to the EKC kids

In the meantime, we are so thankful to be back, as well as thankful to everyone who thought about us, prayed for us and supported us these last couple of months. On that note, please continue to pray that our residency permit application goes well and is filed quickly, and that we receive the permit in a timely manner so that we ideally do not have to leave Vienna again in May.

will teaching

Will teaching English words

Like I said, we’ve jumped right back into our work like we were never away. Part of the work we did while in Oklahoma was plan English Kids Club’s curriculum for the remainder of the spring semester, which we have now launched into action. So far the kids have learned about the solar system, mountains and the rainforest, going off of this spring’s theme: “Our World – Air, Land, and Sea”. English For Adults (EFA) began (again) March 5th, and was very successful. This spring is kind of a learning semester for us, where we will see how our class goes and the best ways for it to work before we hopefully expand to even more students in the fall. We returned to Vienna with very helpful materials and are looking forward to not only teaching English, but getting to know our wonderful students as well. Please pray for this new project that we are trying to grow.

Well, Vienna is a lot more like Oklahoma than I thought. 3 weeks ago it was snowing, last week it was about 60 degrees, and today it’s snowing again. So, something familiar for us, I guess? Whatever – we’ll take whatever we get, as long as we’re back here now. Plus, it’s beautiful.

Vienna in snow

Downtown in the snow