Monday, July 22, 2013

Church Announcement (Hear us speak German!)

At the end of every church service at our church here, there is a time where people get up and share prayer requests, praises or thoughts on what God is teaching them. So on the 14th of July, we got up in front of the church and shared our exciting news about being pregnant. It was the first time for both of us speaking German in front of such a large group (probably about 75 people), so we were a bit nervous and our German wasn't perfect. But it was a great accomplishment and it was fun to share the news with our church community.

Here is the video of our announcement, with English subtitles. Enjoy!

Monday, July 15, 2013

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Practice, Practice, Practice!

Some fellow students on the hike (being around high school
and college age kids can make you feel a little old.)
**Note: click the images to see them full screen!

Last Friday, we took part in an adventure with our language school. Our language school offers a large variety of opportunities to visit important cultural locations and learn about the history and cultural significance that goes along with those places. We also get valuable time to speak the German language both with teachers and other language learners.

This time, a large group of us took a bus up to a local mountain called Kahlenberg. It has a beautiful church on top that commemorates the famous Siege of Vienna and the Polish king Sobieski who rescued the city. We got to see the beautiful view and then hike down the mountain (the hike up is a lot more intense than the hike down). I (Nate) would like to ride my bike up it some day, even though it is pretty challenging!

 An important part of the outing was getting to practice German as we walked down the mountain. It is very important that we have these opportunities to speak outside of class and practice naturally expressing our thoughts and experiences. It is also fun to get to know classmates and teachers outside of the more structured classroom setting. We learn everyday words that may not come up in class (like the word for mosquito) or ways of expressing ideas or experiences. So take a look at the photos and enjoy!

The view from the top!

You can just see famous buildings in the main part of the cities.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

A Typical Sunday

As I was sitting in church this morning, I felt so thankful for our community here in Vienna where we now feel comfortable and welcomed. And I also realized that our experience on a Sunday morning is a bit different that what church used to look like for us in the States. So I thought I would share those things!

Here are some things about our church in Vienna that are a bit different that our U.S. church experience...

1. Relaxed pace. Sunday services are usually somewhere between 1.5 - 2 hours long and the length is determined by what needs to happen on a typical Sunday. If there is more going on, then the service goes longer. This has been a refreshing change for me. Because we're a small church and have only one service each Sunday, there's no need to worry about how long the service goes. It ends when it ends!

2. Group prayer. After a few songs at the beginning of the service, we always have an open group prayer time. It's an open-ended time where anyone can pray aloud. Since the room isn't very big, it's easy to hear everyone share. The purpose of this time is not designed to lift up specific prayer requests, but to praise God for who he is and what He's done for us.

3. Birthdays.  Every week, the people who have birthdays that week are announced and a special verse is chosen for the group to encourage and bless them.

4. Sharing time. At the end of the service, there is an open mic and anyone is welcome to come up and share. People often share prayer requests with everyone or updates on previous requests. This is also a time to share what God's been teaching someone or some specific thoughts based on that day's sermon.

5. Lots of music. I'm pretty sure we sing at least 6 songs each week, which is more than I remember singing in most churches in the States. They are scattered throughout the service time.

6. Simultaneous translation in two languages. We have two unique groups of people in our church who benefit from translation. Up at the front right side of the room, there is a group of hearing impaired church attenders and a translator who translated the entire service for them into sign language. It's so fun to watch! We also have several Romanian families in the church and there is usually a young person in the church (fluent in German and Romanian) who translated the service into a microphone. The Romanians who need translation listen to the Romanian version with headphones.

7. Social time. Austria is a very relational and social culture. They love spending time chatting and are laid back about how long this time lasts. After the service, most people stay for at least an hour or more to chat and socialize with other people in the church community.

8. Pot-luck lunches. Periodically (about once a quarter), we have a big lunch after church where everyone brings something to share. And of course, there is always tons of food and desserts to go around. This lasts at least 2, maybe 3 hours. In my experience, Austrian culture is a bit less schedule-oriented than the U.S., especially when it comes to social time, so these lunches can last for as long as people will stay!

I've really grown to love these aspects of our church experience here and as we become more and more comfortable with the language, I feel able to worship more and more on Sunday morning. This is a huge blessing and a feeling I had looked forward to for awhile. God truly blessed us when he led us to this church!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

A Royal Pup

This morning, we met a new family member - our first puppy! We have been wanting to get a dog for years, but were waiting until we got here and were settled. This month, we are taking care of a dog for some friends, and we've really fallen in love with this breed - the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel. They are sweet, calm and love to cuddle. They are also at the top of many lists we've read for the best apartment dogs. So we did some research and found a breeder in Austria!

We picked an adorable male puppy from the litter this morning and put down a deposit. They are only 6 weeks old now, so we will be able to take him home in the middle of August, when he's grown a bit more and gotten the nutrients he needs from his mother. But it was fun to meet him!

We haven't picked a name yet, but we're researching popular names in Austria. Feel free to comment with your ideas!

We have always been told that getting a dog is a great way to make new friends here and meet neighbors. Dogs are really popular here and when we take the dog to the "dog park" to play, we can make new friends, too! We'll see!

The puppy meets Nate.

Isn't he just adorable?!