Now that we know we are going to Austria, I've begun educating myself. Here are a few things I've learned...
1. The official language of Austria is german, but I have heard from the missionaries that live there that the german spoken in Austria is slightly different than that which is spoken in Germany. Austrian german is a bit of a dialect.
2. Austria borders Italy. I am horrible with geography and until a few weeks ago, all I knew was that Austria was somewhere in central Europe. Now I know that Austria borders Germany and the Czech Republic to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Switzerland and Lichtenstein to the west, and Slovenia and Italy to the south. I absolutely adore Italy (only been there once and can't wait to go back) and I'm excited to be so close to gelato, tuscany, and Cinque Terra.
4. The spiritual need in Austria is huge. I had a sense of this going in, but the more people I talk to who live in Austria, the move amazed I am at the spiritual darkness that exists there. Things like alcoholism, abortion and suicide are prevalent, and Austria is becoming a hub for sex trafficking from eastern European nations. The population is less than 1% evangelical Christian. Most Austrians appear indifferent to religion and spirituality, and others are dabbling in the occult or converting to Islam. Living and doing ministry there will be hard and slow.
That is only the beginning. I have so much to learn and I am excited to see how God will shape my heart with a love for this beautiful, culturally-rich nation.