Legal At Last

We just wanted to update everyone with the knowledge that at long last, we are legally able to live and work in Austria. I travelled last week to Vienna on a whirlwind trip where I picked up my work permit, registered with Austrian social security, and signed my employment contract all in the span of a few short days. But with that done, I was able to fly back to OKC with the first peace of mind in this area we’ve really felt since first coming to Vienna almost 30 months ago. We are so thankful to God for having this process go relatively smoothly, despite the long wait. This is just more affirmation for us that he wants us in Austria.

There are still a few more steps. We’ve applied for Elliott’s passport and are currently waiting on it. When we go back to Vienna in a few months, Holly will have to pick up her permit (a simple process) and we will have to apply for one for Elliott (a little more complicated but should be straightforward seeing as we both have permits now). And then – we’re home free!

With that out of the way – praise God – our main focus now is fundraising. We are doing well but have a little ways to go. We would appreciate prayers and, if you are someone or know someone (or a church) who might be interested in partnering with us in our work, please contact me. Please direct anyone interested to our fundraising website at www.viennateam.org.

Many thanks, and pray for us as we get ready to move back, this time for good and with a newborn baby in tow.

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Rolling With The Punches

The ability to be flexible is one of the most important lessons God has taught us over these last two years. It’s not hard to find times when Paul had to be flexible to extreme degrees during his missionary journeys, and though we’re certainly thankful we’ve never been put in prison for our beliefs, or because of our visa issues (!), we’ve learned a great deal about what it means to roll with the punches, as Paul had to do so often.

Overall, we’re doing well. Staying here for 4 months wasn’t the ideal plan, but because we began to imagine this very possibility since before we even left Vienna back in May, settling in and adjusting to Plan B has been much, much easier than we anticipated. The lack of news we’ve received has not been a shock, and the fact that we’re way past my fly date no longer feels devastating. And the more we take a step back and reflect for a moment on the positives of being here versus the positives of our plan, the more we’re able to see that, yet again and as always, God’s plan was better. It is better; and we’re ready to put His plan into action.

Our latest apartment decoration thanks to The Chalet Woodshop.

Our latest apartment decoration thanks to The Chalet Woodshop.

To begin with, we’ve moved out of Will’s parents’ house and into a lovely little apartment on Oklahoma Christian University’s campus. Some of you may know our particular complex as Tealridge Assisted Living which is still home to many precious seniors, and more recently several other young married couples who either work for or attend the university. The apartment came completely unfurnished which at first was a little daunting since we sold all of our own furniture before we even made the move to Vienna 2 years ago. Plus, we spent several weeks in July selling other possessions that we didn’t want to take to Vienna with us like our kitchen utensils and home decor. We sold most everything at our garage sale, which was awesome, but we quickly realized how nice it would’ve been to have those same items back… Ah, the irony. But so many good friends and family came to our aid and provided us with exactly what we needed from shower rings to a couch to a stroller. We feel very at home, and I was even able to create a nice little nursery for Elliott – something I had been waiting to do since the day we found out about him.

Our view from Tealridge. Not too shabby.

Our view from Tealridge. Not too shabby.

After we got ourselves moved into our temporary home, we began looking for ways to work. We recently Skyped with the Haskews and had a fantastic team meeting about things Will and I can be doing from here in order to benefit the work there, as well as unburden the Haskews as much as possible. Our programs in Vienna will slow down a bit, and some will even pause for the fall semester, but these changes, as far as we can see, are in no way harmful to the work, and the Haskews are strong people who are ready to take on the challenge. From here, Will can continue to serve the team by designing advertisements for programs, staying on top of website upkeep, and communicating to supporters through social media and newsletters while I write the curriculum for English Kids Club 2015, blog, serve as a project manager when needed, and moderate OC’s missions involvement with the team. Will has also been working at Memorial Road during the week, specifically on all things fundraising.

We’ve also been looking for ways to get fully plugged into various ministries taking place right here in Edmond. On Sundays we’ll attend MRCC’s International Class and will lead table discussions each time, and on Wednesdays we will read with any international students who are interested in learning English. We also hope to be as involved with any class preparation as possible – providing food, helping with tasks, organizing events, etc. Our first big involvement took place last Sunday as we, along with the current class members, welcomed at least 30 international students who flew in from different parts of the world, such as Burundi, Kenya, Japan, China, and Rwanda to attend Oklahoma Christian University. It was a great event that we all hope blessed the new students immensely. On Sunday evenings, we’ll be QGroup hopping which we began last Sunday as well. We hope to stop by yours!

Setting up for International Class.

Setting up for International Class.

Full room!

Full room!

And last but not least, we’re preparing for Elliott’s arrival. We’ve got less than 5 weeks before he gets here! The time feels like it’s going by so fast yet so slowly at the same time. We’re so excited for him to get here and a little nervous, too. But I think we’ve got all the things we need to make him comfortable, and we’re definitely surrounded by the love of our friends, family and church family. He’s going to be one loved little guy.

Preparing for baby Elliott...

Preparing for baby Elliott…

That pretty much sums up what are hopes are for the fall and what we’re currently working on or toward. As we said in our last post, we’d love to get a meal or coffee with you during our stay, so please don’t hesitate to contact us if that’s something you’d like to do. If you have any questions relating to our work here, the work in Vienna, fundraising, or something else about our ministries, please let us know.

Just To Clarify…

Dearest Amazing Subscribers,

Please accept my (Holly) sincerest apologies! It didn’t occur to me until after we had already written and published the post that you would then receive an email alerting you to the new post but with no way of knowing how on earth to read our latest news. Had I remembered this fact, I would have changed the title to something much less deceiving, maybe to a title like “We Don’t Have The Permit Yet” or “We Have News But Not The Permit” or even “This Post Is Password Protected, I’ll Explain Why, Email Me For The Password”. Sigh… Can I play the baby brain card?

So, just to clarify, we do not yet have our permit. The reason the previous post, “We Have News”, is password protected unlike our other posts is because it’s much more detailed and contains somewhat sensitive information (nothing negative or scary, just official) that we’d like to keep private for now just for good measure. If you’re still interested in reading that post, please email me or Will and we’ll send you the magic password. You can find our emails listed under our contact information.

If you’d rather just have the short version of what “We Have News” says, here it is:

SHORT VERSION: We DO NOT yet have the work permit and therefore will not be boarding a plane anytime soon. We have plans to go back to Vienna in late fall if everything goes accordingly.

Again, for the long, detailed version of the post, or if you have any questions or concerns about our latest news, shoot us an email. And I apologize once again for any and all confusion caused! Thanks for sticking with us!

Thank You

Well folks, we’re down to the wire. We either hear something about the permit (positive news, ideally) by Friday and board a plane next week, or we hear nothing and stay here in Oklahoma for the next several months. This “living in limbo” phase we’ve been in for so many weeks now has been challenging and occasionally difficult, but regardless of the outcome, we’re sincerely thankful for each of you. We’re thankful for your support, encouragement, comments, love, and most of all – your prayers. We have absolutely treasured the words “We’re praying for you!” each time they’ve been said to us, always packed with immense love and faith behind them. Those words have lifted our spirits and impacted our own faith. Thank you for checking on us and providing for us, and thank you for loving the city of Vienna!

If we hear something today, tomorrow… or midnight on Friday, you’ll know it. And if not, well then we look forward to spending more time with you, as well as introducing you to baby Elliott in September.

Updates On Baby And Permit

A question I didn’t include in last week’s FAQ post but has been asked probably more times than the others is:

How’s baby Elliott?

I didn’t add it to last week’s list because, though I assumed he was doing well, I wanted to hear those words from a doctor before writing about him. Now I have that answer, and it is – Elliott’s doing great! After over 2 months of waiting for an appointment, I was finally able to see someone this morning over at the new Mercy Clinic (which is very snazzy-looking). This appointment was mainly for me to get my glucose test taken care of – a totally gross, sugary experience – but it was also a chance for Will and me to meet our potential new doctor in the case that we are here to stay to have Elliott. I was admittedly nervous about meeting this doctor in the first place, simply because I didn’t have any time to get recommendations or do much research on doctors in Oklahoma City. Plus, this was my first baby-related appointment in the U.S. and I wasn’t sure what to expect other than I probably wouldn’t get an ultrasound – something that is done at every single appointment in Austria. But I knew God had led us to this clinic and this doctor as soon as we met the staff. We connected right away with the nurse whose daughter has done mission work in Wales and is looking to do more in the Philippines. Then, upon showing the doctor my all-German records, she said she had seen these kinds of records before and recognized and understood most everything as she sees many Austrians who work for Tinker. We’re a perfect match.

The overall experience was wonderful and filled Will and me with great peace. We explained our work permit situation to the doctor who said that if we do have to stay, she’d get us fixed up without any problems. We’ll be able to ease right in as if we were with her practice the whole time. As for me, my blood pressure, which hasn’t been taken since May, is totally fine. My glucose test has been sent off to the lab and we should hear back about that next week. And as for Elliott, he’s been measured and given a thumbs-up. He gave me a pretty good jab in the ribs a few minutes ago, so, he’s letting me know that he’s doing well, and also mad that he had to taste the glucose drink. Blech.

With the doctor’s confirmation that July 30th is the absolute last day I can fly, we did go ahead and schedule our next appointment for 2 weeks from now, ultrasound included. As we were getting that taken care of, the nurse told us the next available slot would be July 30th. Ha, of course. But we figured, if there’s anything that could lift our spirits after not being able to fly back on Austria that day, it’s seeing our baby boy on the ultrasound screen.

We unfortunately don’t have any real updates on the work permit at this time. We did hear from our lawyer a couple of days ago for the first time since May, and he gave us a very small update saying that “they” (those who are processing our permit) need more… [fill in the blank]. We’re not sure what they need other than “more” of something, but now we’re specifically praying that whatever is needed is easy to get and is the last piece of the puzzle. We’ve got 13 days to get this thing.

Answers To Your Questions

We’ve been getting some really great questions concerning our time here in the States as well as our future in Vienna. If we haven’t yet talked to you about those plans individually, here’s a quick FAQ to help answer some of the unknowns:

How long have you been in the U.S. so far?

We’ve been in the U.S. since mid-May and in Oklahoma since the beginning of June. Close to 2 months total.

Are you here for good, or are you going back to Vienna?

We’re going back! Shortly after our interviews, we were informed that we would be returning to Vienna to join the team. We got ice cream after we heard the news.

What have you been doing since your arrival to the U.S.?

Our first 4 weeks in the U.S. were spent with our Austrian friend, Thomas, who had never been to the U.S. before and wanted to see the big sites. We first flew from Vienna to NYC and stayed with friends for a few days before Will and I flew to Atlanta to see my parents ahead of Thomas who stayed behind to do more sight-seeing. Thomas joined us in Atlanta later on then made the journey over to Oxford, Mississippi with us for my brother’s wedding. The three of us arrived in Oklahoma on May 31st where Will and I immediately began interviews with the committees at Memorial Road Church of Christ. Thomas went back to Austria, and Will and I have since finished our interviews and are now working to get to know more and more people within the Memorial Road congregation, as well as complete work requirements such as psychological testing and meeting with MRCC staff. We are also traveling to different congregations for relationship building and fundraising purposes.

More recently, we’ve ventured into the Kooi’s attic in an attempt to retrieve possessions we left behind 2 years ago. The mothball stench is almost unbearable! We’re going through our boxes trying to decide what goes, what stays, and what we should sell at our upcoming garage sale. (You’re all invited to said garage sale.)

And of course the World Cup has been on almost non-stop.

For how long will you be in Vienna this time?

We’re signing on for 5 years.

Will you have your baby in the U.S. or in Vienna?

Our hope is to have him in Vienna.

If you have your baby in Austria, will he have dual citizenship?

No. He will be a U.S. citizen.

When are you going back?

Short answer: We’re not really sure. Long answer: Our goal is to be back on July 30th as that is the last day I’m able to fly because of how far along I’ll be in my pregnancy. However, our departure is uncertain due to the long wait involved for our work permit. We applied for the permit in early May and the entire process can take anywhere from 6-12 weeks. We have now entered week 8 of the wait and have yet to hear any news. If we don’t hear anything by July 30th, or if we are denied the permit altogether, we will stay in Oklahoma until sometime after our baby is born. We have a Plan B outline of sorts but are holding off on putting it into action until it’s absolutely necessary.

Are you enjoying your time in the U.S.?

Yes! Very much so. We’ve enjoyed seeing family and friends, as well as eating at all of our favorite restaurants. We are starting to feel a bit homesick for Vienna, though.

Will you be deported again?

NO.

Also hoping to be back soon to see this guy.

Also hoping to be back soon to see this guy.

We hope this has been informative and helpful. If there are any questions we missed, don’t hesitate to ask. And if we haven’t seen you yet, please contact us so we can make that happen!

Please pray over our work permit and the timing involved with it. We’re praying daily (hourly, minutely, secondly…) for news so we can get back to Vienna safely and legally. Thankful for all of you!