To say we’re thrilled to have our own Christmas tree and ring in the New Year from Vienna is an understatement. We are ecstatic. Sitting in our living room is a small little Christmas tree whom we’ve lovingly named Francis, for unknown reasons. Francis is decorated in lights as well as red and silver ornaments. A few Christmas presents sit beneath him on a substitute blanket we’re using until we find a Christmas tree rug. We’ve collected some Christmas decorations here and there to make our place feel a little more celebratory. Christmas music has been playing nonstop since Thanksgiving, of course. We have visited many, many of Vienna’s famed Christmas markets and collected an embarrassing amount of coffee mugs from them. We’ve also snacked on too many greasy but oh-so-delicious foods from these markets, but I promise we also made good use of our time, were good sons and daughters, and bought gifts for our families (which we accomplished before Thanksgiving, might I add!) Now all we need is a Christmas Eve snowfall, and we’re good to go.
We’ve been asked several times by loving people if we’ll be okay this year, being that this is our first Christmas not only without family but also away from the country in which we’ve always celebrated this festive time of the year. While it does feel a little strange to not watch “Elf” for the first time without my best friends, or not have “Christmas Pajama Party” on our calendar, we’re feeling, as I said, ecstatic to be here, as well as stable and not homesick. Not yet anyway. Plus, we’re not “alone” this year for Christmas in any sense. There are parties coming up, meals to be shared, and most exciting of all – we’re celebrating two Christmases. I didn’t know this until a few months ago, but Austrians mainly celebrate Christmas on the 24th, not the 25th (like a lot of continental Europe). You all know our good friend Thomas, as he’s pretty famous in this blog – he and his sweet family have invited us to spend their Christmas with them. We can’t wait! We’re excited to not only add an additional Christmas to our agenda, but more importantly, we’re excited to still be spending time with family. They may not be related to us, but we love them immensely and know that we’ll feel like we’re family as we celebrate together.
Tomorrow is our English Kids Club Christmas Party, which concludes EKC for the year of 2013. We survived the year! Though we weren’t fully present for it (all of January, half of February), we had an amazing year with our past and present kids, and we’re already looking forward to what 2014 will bring beginning a couple weeks into January. Continue to pray over our sweet EKC kids. Also be praying for the Oklahoma Christian University students who left us last week to go back to the U.S. It was difficult as always to say goodbye to another group, but from the pictures we’ve seen of their return, they’re doing pretty okay with being back with their families and friends. Our Adult English Class has also wrapped up for the year and is scheduled to begin at the same as EKC next year. We’ve discovered that by the time December hits, most people around here are booked up through the month, so we thought it best to give everyone a break from their “studies”, and enjoy the season. It’ll be a good refresher for us, too.
In case you find yourself with some extra time to stay on your computer, be sure and check out our newly designed (by Will!) Kreuzung website. (Use your Chrome translator or something similar to read the text.) Though Will designed the site, he was graciously helped by several friends at church with translations, edits, and suggestions – so a huge thank you to those people! You can view the site here: www.kreuzung-wien.at. Also, Tamika Rybinski and I recently launched a new blogging website called “Whispers in the Calm”. Its purpose is to serve as a safe and encouraging place for women in ministry and missions. We’ve been live for a little over a month and have already received several posts from women who have felt called to share their stories with others around the world. In honor of Christmas, we’re currently running a series we’re calling “25 Days of Jesus”, but once the New Year hits, we’ll be back to writing on ministry and missions-related topics. You can find us here: www.inthecalm.org.
Thanks for stopping by and may you all have a blessed week!