Our newest video includes highlights from the summer.
Where did the summer go? I feel like I blinked once in mid-July and now September is racing around the corner to greet me. The summer’s heat hung around much longer than we would have liked it to, so with that in mind we welcome September with open arms. However, the rapid disappearance of the summer months is a mystery. How were we supposed to accomplish that hot pink paint job in what felt like just a few days? It’s impossible! Oh well… Can’t do it all.
This summer is one for the books. If I could frame each moment in which I felt immense joy, beginning from Kinderlager until now, our apartment walls would be filled with pictures from floor to ceiling. This summer has been solely focused on people – relationships – friendships. We’ve become friends with families we at first only knew from a distance. Friendships we’ve had for the last year and friendships we’ve had for only a couple of months were deepened beyond what we expected. We experienced multiple meals and coffee talks that were completely centered around the works of Jesus in this city. We witnessed gifts and talents shine in different ways each week – some through hospitality, leadership, service, kindness, encouragement. We’re grateful and indescribably thankful to have been a part of these months of growth and good works.
We welcome back the Haskew family this week! They arrived in Vienna yesterday, safe and sound, greeted with a fabulous welcoming committee. Unfortunately my wand of organization magic never made it over to Jake’s desk, but I’m sure he’s more than okay with that. I’m still working on a few things in the office but for the most part I accomplished my bigger goals. Will and I are hard at work this week as we prepare for our September programs as well as for family. My parents are visiting us for the first time in Vienna! They get in on Saturday morning, followed by Will’s mom who gets in on Sunday. We’re starting the fall off right!
We’re still consistently praying over English Kids Club and would love your prayers over it as well. As you know we graduated the majority of our group in the spring and are now trying to boost our numbers back up by our start date on September 17th. Pray that God will send some kids our way!
I’m not really sure if we’ve delved too deeply into what our day to day life is like here. We’ve given broad updates on things we have going on, but haven’t given a good picture on what we actually do on any given Monday (or Sunday).
First of all, it should be noted that every week is different and no day is the same. One of my favorite parts of this job is that it’s not really a 9-5 affair. We have an office that we’re based out of, but sometimes our work is going to a Bible study in the evening, or meeting someone for lunch, or going to an event on Saturday. One of the things I had to get used to – after coming from a regular office job where we logged our hours by the quarter-hour – is that a lot of different things can be considered “work”, and “work” is not just sitting in an office until 5:00. “Work” could be helping someone move, or designing a poster, or having coffee with someone, or buying supplies for an upcoming program, or giving someone a tour of the city. That’s one aspect of ministry that threw me off at first. In the beginning, I couldn’t believe that some things counted as my work, and Jake and Josh had to tell me not to come in the next morning because I had gone to an event the night before. But I have since grown to love the randomness and variety.
So, I’m going to attempt to use an actual week from our lives, but know that this is not a “typical” week, since those don’t actually exist.
10:00 – Church, in our office. It takes us about 20 minutes by subway and tram to reach our office. We start off with half an hour or so of coffee, cake and fellowship before the actual service. The service usually lasts about an hour and a half and is very informal. Depending on the week, someone may preach, or we may just all have a discussion based on the topic we have for the month.
1:00 – Since we have the rest of Sundays off, Holly and I usually go home, have afternoon naps, make dinner and prepare for the week. Sometimes we have a date night on Sunday nights, where we go find a random restaurant downtown, or maybe see a movie.
8:30 – We get to the office by 8:30 to see Hermine, a woman in her 80s who was baptized in January and has been coming to our office every day for about 4 years now. As part of her regular schedule, she comes for coffee after shopping every morning, and we talk and read the Bible for about an hour and a half. Afterwards we help her carry her groceries to her apartment.
10:30 – Holly and I go to the store or the mall to get last second supplies for the next day’s English Kids Club. We’ve written about EKC on here before, so I won’t delve into too much detail.
6:00 – We meet up with one of our language partners, Thomas, for dinner at a random restaurant somewhere in the city. As is typical of a language partner meeting, we speak all in German for an hour and half while Thomas corrects us, then we speak all in English while we help him. Becoming fluent in German is very important to the ministry here, as our church services are completely in German and many people that we meet only have a basic grasp of English.
8:30 – Meet with Hermine
10:30 – Spend the next couple of hours preparing for English Kids Club
3:30 – Oklahoma Christian students arrive for EKC. As part of their missions credits, the students help put on a specific activity or center at each EKC.
4:00 – EKC starts. A typical EKC consists of songs, games and crafts based around a theme for that day. This semester, every week is based around a different part of the world, like the jungle, mountains, or desert.
5:00 – EKC ends. We clean up and prepare for our English for Adults class.
6:00 – EFA starts. This free course is still being crafted and perfected. We use a combination of TEFL materials, Let’s Start Talking materials and the Bible to teach English to anyone who wants to learn. Right now we only have three people, but we’re hoping to grow it in the fall.
7:30 – EFA ends. We go home, and grab a pizza on the way at our favorite Turkish pizza place. Since Tuesdays are our busiest days, we don’t have time to cook, so we’ve made Tuesday evenings our pizza night.
9:00 – Once a month on a Wednesday we have our team meeting. This used to be at the Hensals’ house, but because they’ve since moved, it will now probably be at the Haskews’ house or the office. During this meeting we talk about upcoming events, new plans and ideas, and spend some time in prayer for the ministry.
12:00 – We maybe go to lunch with a church member or a language partner.
2:00 – Office time. On days when we’re in the office, I will usually work on advertisements, blogs or video, while Holly works on plans for our programs or the OC missions, or helps organize the office.
7:00 – Bible study at Chuck’s apartment
8:30 – Meet with Hermine.
10:00 – Private English lesson with a local woman, who can’t come to the regular class
12:00 – Office time. Maybe lunch with a church member
3:30 – OC students arrive for Sports Kids Club
4:00 – Sports Kids Club starts. This is a free weekly program designed to give our office exposure in the neighborhood and give neighborhood kids something to do once a week. We play games and any sports with about 10 – 15 kids for 1 1/2 hours, with the help of the OC students.
6:00 – Go home, cook something delicious
Fridays are a lot more flexible than the rest of the week. Sometimes we go into the office to see Hermine, sometimes we’re running errands around the city, sometimes we’re meeting with people, sometimes we’re working from home on plans and other things. Fridays are our days that are most different from week to week.
6:00 – On Friday evenings we try to have a date night when possible, by eating in the city or going to an event or music festival. Sometimes we meet up with Thomas, or Holly meets up with her friends, or sometimes we stay home, make homemade pizza and watch a movie.
Saturdays are technically our off days, although sometimes we do also work, sometimes by doing service projects or meeting with someone. If we’re free, we either try to do a day trip somewhere outside of Vienna, do something touristy like visiting a museum, or (Holly’s favorite thing) we stay home and clean the apartment. Bleh.
That’s a rough view of our day-to-day here. Like I said, every day is actually very different, an aspect I have grown to love. Not many jobs have so much flexibility and variety. We’re very thankful for this opportunity we’ve been given.
This time last year, we were spending each and every morning of the work week in an old, hot classroom for 3 hours at a time soaking up all of the German we could manage from the best German teacher we could’ve ever asked for. Now we’re German class free (though we miss it a lot!) and looking for things to do that could best benefit the church as well as our fall and spring programs for the coming year while we’re here for the summer. This summer feels especially odd to us because we’re, well, alone. Not alone-alone, as quite a few of our Austrian friends are still around on and off depending on who’s taken a holiday; but as far as our work is concerned, it’s just us holding down the fort. Frightening stuff, I know. The Hensals left for the U.S. on July 5th, followed a little over a week later by the Haskews and the Rybinskis (both on furlough). The Rybinskis will be back with us shortly, and the Haskews will return later on this month which gives us plenty of time to paint the office walls hot pink and trade in all of the sofas for giant beanbags. (<– Joke)
While our friends and co-workers are away, we’re going to continue working in the office as usual but will be focusing more on organization, rearranging, and hopefully if all of my dreams come true, a deep cleaning of Jake’s desk, as well as some other spots in the office that I hear calling out for help. Most of the EKC and SKC plans for the fall have been made and are ready to launch, but we will spend time looking over those plans to see if and where improvements need to be made. We are continuing our English For Adults class through the summer, though these classes will be more sporadic depending on the summer schedules of those who attend. And we’re excited to say that we’ve added two more people who are interested in learning English!
As was said in our last video blog, it is our goal to make more video blogs about our life and work in Vienna so that you are able to see firsthand what’re up to. Will takes video on a daily basis and already has ideas for our next few video blogs, so stay tuned! We will work on getting these up throughout the summer so you can be brought into the fall semester right along with us. I do believe our next video blog is going to take you on a tour of our apartment, and the one after that, I think, we’ll be mostly in German with English subtitles, just for fun. We will of course continue to write to you more in depth from GutenMorgenWien about our summer activities and new experiences, so keep checking back with us for more updates. We hope everyone is having a fantastic summer, and we are thankful for each and every one of you!