Monday, December 31, 2012

Gearing Up for the Big Day!

As many of you know, January 2nd is an important day for us.  

It's the day we apply for our Austrian visas! 

We will begin waiting in line in front of the Visa office on January 1st (tomorrow) in anticipation of submitting our visa applications the moment the office opens for 2013. We anticipate being outside on the street for at least 18 hours. It is crucial that we are one of the first 60 people to get in line, and that is why we are willing to wait outside for so long. We must get a good spot in line in order to stay in Austria!

We are gearing up for our "big night" with some important supplies...

Over 100 pages ready to submit as our complete visa application!

 A full bag of snacks and goodies!

Hand warmers - a "must" (for me, at least...Nate is a furnace!)

Four sleeping bags and 2 camping chairs, borrowed from teammates

Thick socks and warm clothes
I'm ready to jump in and begin this crazy on-the-street adventure!

If you think of it, please pray for us during this time (We will be waiting to apply from approximately 8am ET on January 1 to 2am ET on January 2): 
  • Pray for stamina as we wait outside overnight
  • Pray that we would line up early enough to be two of the first 60 people to submit applications
  • Pray for favor in the eyes of the Austrian government
  • Pray that we would receive our visas in a timely fashion, at least by the end of June. Pray that we would be surprised by receiving them early!
 P.S. If you're reading this and you live in Vienna, come visit us! The office address is Dresdner Stra├če 93, 1200 Wien.  

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Celebrating with our Team

We have the privilege of enjoying a Christmas party with our WorldVenture team yesterday. We ate delicious food, played games and had a fun-filled white elephant gift exchange! (And Nate and I are proud to share that our gift was awarded the prize of the "best gift of the year".)

We're so thankful for our team here and the support they provide. They're welcomed us in!

(And if you're wondering why there are so many people in this photo...almost the whole Schneider family was in town. 6 out of the 7 kids were here for Christmas!)

Friday, December 21, 2012

December Video Update: a Christmas Transformation

It is amazing to watch Vienna be transformed to celebrate the holiday.

But what Vienna really needs is a deeper transformation. Watch this month's video blog to find out how you can pray for our city.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

We Passed!

At the end of November, we took a "ground level" German exam. Although we were told the test would not be too difficult, we were still nervous! If we didn't pass the test, we could not stay in Austria! A passing score was required for our visa application.

And yesterday, we received the official word...we passed with flying colors!

We both got high marks on our tests and received formal paper certificates AND plastic cards to go in our wallets! (Not sure what to use these for yet...).

Praise God for a huge answer to prayer!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Getting Acquainted with Failure

Language learning has been a great experience for us so far. We are having a lot of fun, and it is amazing how quickly we are progressing. It is encouraging to look over the last two months and see how much we have grown in our language skills. I still remember what it felt like to have an entire conversation in German for the first time. I didn't understand everything, but I was able to express my ideas and understand the gist of what the other person was saying. Cool! But here is the thing. Even in the face of all this learning, we have also become close friends with failure.

We fail all the time. We make mistakes in class, when we are doing our home work, when we write anything or speak to anyone. We can't get away from it no matter how much we try. If we were to completely form all of our sentences and check them against every grammar table and dictionary, we would never say a word. One phrase has really stuck with me from our language training in Colorado: "You have to destroy the language on your way to mastering it."

Failure has become a close friend as we continue to live with the language barrier...but pressing into our failure also brings about humility. In our language class, there are lawyers, architects, and micriobiologists - all highly educated, highly competent people. And in class, you find us all speaking at a kindergarten level about zoo animals and going to the super market. We are being humbled. We know that we need to make 1,000,000 language mistakes on our way to mastering German, and so we have decided to start now and get as many as we can out of the way! We want to make accepting failure a step towards success, and this is the perfect testing ground to work out that idea.

Photo credit: lyns from

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Worshipping in German

We had a great morning at our new church today! After arriving to the service late last week and having to leave early (not a good combination...), we made sure to get to church early today so we would have time to meet some new people and chat. We survived quite a few German conversations and met the pastor for the first time. We saw some familiar faces after the service and connected with people we knew. It felt comforting to be there and see ourselves progressing in terms of feeling "at home" in this new community.

One of the highlights for me was getting to sing some new songs in German - familiar melodies that we sing in English but with new words! Singing a song I'm already familiar with in this new language really helps me to understand the meaning and connect with the message I am singing. One of those songs today was "You are the Lord, the Famous One" by Chris Tomlin. Just to give you a taste of what the song sounds like in German, and to show you our church, I took a quick video. Enjoy!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Learning to Wait

Waiting is tough. When Nate and I first got married, we waited for a year until we felt it was wise to apply for missionary service, though we were eager to start. Then, we waited to get accepted. Then we spent 18 months raising support, waiting for the day when we would be ready to launch. Now that we are here in Austria, we are waiting to apply for our visas and, eventually, be able to stay here and find a place to live.  It is hard to wait.

No matter our life circumstance, we are always waiting for something. Whether it is the next stage of life, the next stage of ministry, our next competency level in German...we (especially I!) have a tendency to look forward and impatiently wait for the next phase to come. And we have many other people in our life right now that are waiting for important things - friends waiting and hoping to get pregnant, teammates waiting on important documents from the Austrian government, others waiting for acceptance letters...the list goes on. So lately, my thoughts have drifted to the idea of waiting...and what it means to wait well.

I struggle to wait, but I also believe that God does some special things in the hearts of His people when they wait. In times of waiting, we learn to trust in the Lord's timing. We learn to be patient. We are reminded that life is truly not in our control. I depend on God more when I wait then when everything "goes my way" and "according to plan".

Yesterday, we were studying Isaiah 42 in our WorldVenture team prayer time. For centuries, the Israelites were waiting for a savior to come and make things right between God and man. They heard prophesies and waited expectantly for them to be fulfilled. They also waited for the Promised Land, wandering for 40 years in the desert. How much harder must it have been for them to endure these long periods of waiting, sometimes for things that would not come to pass in their lifetime?

As I contemplate the arrival of Christ, the savior of the world, during this Christmas season, I hope I can continue to meditate on the work God is doing in my heart as I wait on Him. May I learn to trust in God's ultimate plan, rather than impatiently demanding my own. God is true to His promises and He sent His Son at just the perfect time. Our plans may not happen in my timing, but they will happen in His.

What are you waiting for? What is God doing in your heart while you wait?

 "Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
    my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
    he will bring forth justice to the nations.
He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
    or make it heard in the street;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
    he will faithfully bring forth justice.
He will not grow faint or be discouraged
    till he has established justice in the earth;
    and the coastlands wait for his law."

- Isaiah 42:1 - 4

Photo credit: paulabflat from

Friday, December 7, 2012

Transformed...but still needing transformation

It has been amazing to watch Vienna be transformed over the last few weeks to celebrate Christmas. The city goes all out, with Christmas trees and lights on every corner and store front! And there are at least 10 - 15 Christmas markets scattered throughout the city selling delicious food and handmade crafts.

On the one hand, it's amazing. I love how beautiful the city looks right now, I'm enjoying visiting the many Christmas markets, and I appreciate all of the history and tradition tied to how Austrians celebrate. Nate and I have had fun taking walks in the city at night and looking at the lights. And we've already visited at least 6 different Christmas markets, some multiple times, buying gifts for family and friends.

But on the other hand, some of this saddens me. Like in the United States, for many people here celebrating Christmas is about family, tradition, presents, food and special times. But it is not about Christ and the reason He was born on this earth. For many Austrians, going to Christmas mass is a tradition that brings them into a Catholic church for probably only the second time this year (Easter is typically the first). So as I walk around and look at the decorations, I am reminded to pray for a  nation who may celebrate Christmas and call themselves "Christian", but don't live their lives transformed by the gospel of grace. Although it's a "transformed" city physically this Christmas, it is still in need of real transformation.

Here are some photos from how the city has been transformed:

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Adventkranz - An Austrian Tradition

On Friday night, I joined about 30 women at New City Wien (a bilingual church in Vienna) for Adventkranz binden. Translated, this means "Advent wreath making". It was a fun time of meeting new people, learning about Austrian advent wreaths and getting to know the two girls I had invited better. One friend was from our German class and the other was the girlfriend of a fellow student.

Now that we have an Adventkranz at home, Nate and I will be lighting a new candle each Sunday of Advent and reading passages from the bible in English and German. We're excited to start this tradition in our family!

Verena, Dora and I working on our wreaths

Verena and I posing at the party

All of the ladies getting instructions on how to make an Adventkranz

The supplies!

My finished product