Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Constant Change

The interesting thing about language schools is that they operate month-to-month. In some ways, this is great. At the end of every four weeks, you have the opportunity and freedom to decide if you want to keep going, switch schools or take a month off. It's nice to have the flexibility and to avoid committing to long stretches of time. But this is also difficult. As soon as you get used to how things are in your class, they change!

Our class in May, with our entertaining teacher in front!

We had a good rapport with our group in May. It was a small class, which offered us lots of opportunities to speak and practice. We have a fun group that laughed a lot. But sadly, things needed to change when the month ended. 3 students decided to wrap up their studies (at least for the time being) and about 5 new students joined the group. We are still getting used to the new "vibe" in the classroom, as well as having less opportunities to speak. We are also starting over with new relationships. It's hard to keep starting fresh and experience constant change, but such is our life here now!

Please pray for us as we get to know new people. Pray that we would be willing to invest, even when we know some people will only be here in our lives for a short time.


Monday, May 20, 2013

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Meatballs and Language Confusion



On our anniversary a few weeks ago, Nate took me out to a Spanish tapas restaurant in our neighborhood. The food was delicious, and it had a great atmosphere. We will definitely go back! The only drawback, however, was my language confusion...

You see, before I learned German, I learned Spanish. I got through Spanish 5 by the end of high school and was fairly proficient with the language when I graduated. Then it sat dormant in my brain for 10 years. Now fast forward... when I began learning German last year, my Spanish vocabulary kept popping back into my head, because the "foreign language" part of my brain was functioning again! It was a problem only at the beginning, and it didn't take long before German overtook Spanish in my brain. Sadly, now I am completely inept at Spanish. I tried to speak it with a friend a few months ago and none of the words came out - only German. I guess my brain only has enough space for one foreign language right now!

So, back to the restaurant. We're sitting there reading the menu, which is in Spanish and German, and my brain starts to get confused. My foreign languages collide! The two language are mixing in my mind while Nate and I are speaking English together, trying to decide what to order. And we literally had this conversation...


Bethany: (recognizing the German and Spanish word for a food item) Mmm, that looks good. We should order that.

Nate: What does?

Bethany: Umm... umm. I forget how to say it in English. (scratches head, thinks really hard). What do you call a ball made out of meat?

Nate: ....a meatball?

Bethany: Yes! Yes. Meatball. Wow.


There you have it folks. I forgot the word for meatball, yet I could describe it as "a ball made out of meat." This is what happens to your brain in language school when your foreign languages collide - your mother tongue goes downhill.


Photo credit: Alvimann from morguefile.com

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Churches Coming Together

This past Sunday, we traveled a bit further than we usually do on a Sunday morning to attend a large multi-church gathering. All of the churches in the Vienna area who are a part of our church association came together for a combined service. It was really great to see many of our friends, colleagues and church contacts in one room worshiping together. We heard from a special speaker, but also got to hear about the association's vision for the evangelical church in Austria and we heard stories recounted from a few specific churches. God is working!

Here are a few photos from the service:

The view from the back of the Auditorium

We were led by a very talented worship band. The music was great!

The main speaker

Saturday, May 4, 2013

What Keeps You Sane...

Running a 10K race in Atlanta on July 4, 2012
During our training at MTI, we talked a lot about staying healthy while on the mission field. Not just physically healthy, but emotionally, spiritually and mentally healthy. It was reiterated many times to us that it's important to discover the things that you need to stay healthy, the activities that best rejuvenate you and help keep you sane.

When Nate and I were raising support, we tried to regularly make time for things that we enjoyed and that were restful. We needed these things to help carry us through a stressful time of constant transition. It was really helpful for me to discover these things for myself before we got to Austria, so that when life has gotten stressful here, I know how to refocus and how to care for my mind and body in the most effective ways. For me, those things are running/exercising, organizing/getting small tasks done (removing from my space so I can relax), cooking with Nate, and being alone (I'm an introvert!).

Our first month back in Austria this spring was stressful. It wasn't necessarily that we had deadlines to meet or a very full schedule all the time (we were mostly making our own schedule), but I felt an underlying level of stress for several weeks. And now looking back, I can very clearly see why. I wasn't able to spend much time doing any of the things in that list above that help me relax and keep me sane. Our apartment was unfurnished, chaotic and full of clutter, with boxes and furniture assembly happening everywhere. I couldn't fix this and that meant I couldn't really relax in our home. I got sick with Bronchitis for 3 weeks and wasn't allowed to exercise. We couldn't do much cooking, because all we had to work with were 1 small pot and 1 pan. Although from the outside, my life may not have appeared stressful, I realize now that without those things, I struggled to release my stress in a constructive way.

This last week has been wonderfully rejuvenating for me. I have returned to running, we've been cooking with all of our beloved kitchen utensils, our home is organized again, and I've been able to rest and relax. My time with the Lord has improved and become more regular now that my stress level has gone down. Once again, the importance of these activities in my life, the things that "keep me sane", has been re-confirmed. 

I may need to re-learn this lesson over and over again, as we enter new phases of life, but I'm thankful that MTI and support raising prepared me for this. They armed me with the self-knowledge to stay healthy on the mission field.