Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Mental Exhaustion

After our 2-week trip to Austria in April, we were often asked about our trip and what we learned. And I think the best way I’ve come to describe it is to explain the sheer mental exhaustion we felt at the end of some days in Austria. We were learning and absorbing so much every day that by 8 or 9pm, we were eager to turn off our brains and crash into bed! Conversations with missionaries on our team, missionaries from other countries or organizations, church and ministry leaders, and Austrians were consistently teaching us new things and it was a lot to process, but SO VALUABLE

I believe we came home from our two weeks better equipped to share and answer questions about Austria. Before our trip, all of our knowledge came from the words and stories of others, but now we can share our own stories and speak from personal experience. We learned a lot about…
  • Cultural expectations, traditions, and standards in Austria
  • Church dynamics in Austria and the differences between Catholicism there and in the U.S.
  • The complex ties between church and state and how is has affected many Austrians perception of the “church”
  • What evangelical church looks like in Austria and how the gospel is manifested in their culture
  • The role that missionaries play in the evangelical church in Austria and why more are needed
  • The challenges we should be prepare for when crossing cultures
  • The adventure of language acquisition and culture study, which will be our focus for our first 2 years in Austria
This only scratches the surface of what we absorbed. Our learning may not be something we can tangibly show someone as a result of our trip, but I believe it was the most valuable part of our time there and the take-away that will most impact how we prepare over the next year.

I'm sure this is only the beginning of our mental exhaustion. Once we begin two years of full-time language school, I'm sure our brains will feel "fried" at the end of the day most times as we try to master the German language. But it is all so worthwhile and even though it will be hard, I'm so excited to begin. Bring on the exhaustion!