KFA: The Irish Edition

Will, Jo and me at the park in front of Hofburg Palace.

Will, Jo and me at the park in front of Hofburg Palace.

Last November while we were at Rothenburg, we struck up a deal with our Ireland-based missionary friends to bring their crafty selves to Vienna and host one of our Kreativer Frauenabends (KFA, Creative Women’s Night) which took place over the weekend. Jo and Denise, both extremely creative and talented women who serve on the mission field in Dublin, Ireland, flew to Vienna Friday evening and left early this morning, giving us the whole weekend to spend quality with them. Will and I took Jo around Vienna most of Saturday morning and afternoon. Because Jo considers herself to be a “terrible tourist”, we spent most of our time together walking through or sitting in parks by Vienna’s famous palaces – not a bad way to experience Vienna by any means.¬†We had the best time swapping ministry stories and dreams as well as ministry struggles and questions. And the weather was absolutely gorgeous adding to the Viennese atmosphere and the all-around great time we had together.

My nursery hoop art "Oh Happy Day". I can see why people enjoy sewing I guess... ;-)

My nursery hoop art “Oh Happy Day”. I can see why people enjoy sewing I guess… ūüėČ

Jo and Denise hosted KFA on Saturday evening and did such an incredible job. The chosen craft was embroidery hoop art and all of the ladies got really into it, so much so that we spent 4 hours in the office together sewing, chatting and taking frequent Velveeta & Rotel breaks. Jo and Denise brought some examples to get everyone brainstorming about what they wanted to create and ultimately everyone did something completely different but family specific. For example, one woman’s hoop art was a representation of the meaning behind her family’s last name while another’s hoop art was for her children. Mine was created specifically with our new nursery in mind. It was awesome to see so much varied creativity all geared toward the same theme. Ah, beautiful.

Unfortunately because I was concentrated on not ruining my hoop art, and because I have a tendency to talk too much, I forgot to take pictures of us all¬†sewing together. Just picture women laughing, snacking and asking for help (me, constantly) surrounded by tables full of colored thread and pretty fabric and you’ve got our evening. I wish we could do this every weekend (Whoops, I think Will just fainted from shock)! But if and when I get ahold of the¬†pictures the other ladies took of KFA, I’ll be sure to share them.

Though this weekend was centered around having fun and sharing creativity, what I believe to have been further demonstrated is the beauty and blessing that can only be encapsulated in having a family in Christ; the kind of family who, even when we don’t see each other for months and months at a time, we know we can call upon one and another for encouragement, love and advice; the kind of family who, even if they live countries or oceans away, we can ask to bring their talents and abilities to a community who could benefit from what they have to offer.¬†What a family we have in Jesus!

Eating gelato, of course!

Eating gelato, of course!

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Teen Talk: Being A Friend

As we wrote in our last blog, it’s been a goal of the church to create a Bible class opportunity for the pre-teens in our church. The first time we – the youth group and leaders – met was a couple of weeks ago for a small period of time to explain the overall hope for the next several months as well as throw around some topic and outing ideas. And yesterday was the first “real” youth group class. Going into it, Will and I were admittedly a little nervous. We both have several friends who have degrees in Youth Ministry and therefore are equipped with lots of knowledge in this area, and we… Well, we don’t have degrees in Youth Ministry. We figured our first actual class would either be surprisingly wonderful filled with lots of thought and discussion, or not so surprisingly long and very silent. We decided if we could find a key topic in which all the teens could relate, then maybe our first class wouldn’t be altogether boring.

We decided on the topic of Friendship, or Freundschaft as it’s said in German. Many of us, when we remember our early teenage years, may shudder at the memories. Being a friend and having friends during the teen life stage can be difficult, even painful, and our pre-teens are already experiencing these trials right now. We wanted to join in with the parents of our church who are in the midst of helping their kids, our pre-teens, through this up-and-down time by helping to equip their kids with the tools they need to be a good friend even when it’s tempting to act the opposite; how to be a friend like Jesus and glorify God through the toughest and most unpleasant of trials.

So we’re looking to James (Jakobusbrief) for advice. Yesterday we began in James 1:1-18 as he opens his letter acknowledging the presence of trials and temptations. We thought this was an especially good place to start as a way to let our group see that we all have trials and temptations we go through, and we might even share the same ones. We wanted them to understand that no one of us has it all together or is better than the other. We hoped personal barriers would be lowered and stories would be shared. And here’s where I’m still not over yesterday:¬†Those things happened.¬†More stories than we could have asked for were shared willingly and with great detail. The questions we posed were answered with great wisdom and deep thought. The group spent a considerable amount of time helping each other out by offering up ideas and giving advice. Honestly, Will and I hardly needed to say anything because they basically taught the class themselves. We were in awe.

By the end of class, the group realized that they are each going through nearly the exact same trial. We didn’t even make it to the temptations part of the scripture because the group had so much to say on the subject of trials. We were absolutely blown away by the wisdom and hearts of this group, and we feel so lucky and blessed just be among these young people. If you’d like, join us as we read in James over the next several weeks. We don’t meet again for another 2 weeks, so you have 2 weeks to read and study James 1:1-18 along with us and the youth group. We always welcome your prayers, but if you’d like to be especially involved in this new and important endeavor, we would love for you to share any and everything God speaks to you as you learn along with our youth group. It’s important to us that you too feel connected to our pre-teens even from an ocean – or wherever you are – away, so if you have a prayer to pray over our group, or an “Aha!” moment in the midst of your scripture reading, or a relatable experience to share, please do so through email or commenting below. We will keep you all updated as we go from topic to topic and scripture to scripture.

You might have also seen that the youth group went bowling yesterday for their first youth group outing. They had so much fun together and bowled incredibly well. We’re hoping for a warm outdoor outing when April rolls around!

Thank you for your prayers over our youth. Christ is working and shining through them already!