Monday, March 31, 2014

A Visit from Nate's Parents

As promised, here are some photos from our time with Nate's parents. It was a very special visit - their first time to Vienna and meeting their first grandchild! It was hard to see them go, but we had a wonderful time exploring the city and showing them our life here.

Celebrating Ellie's dedication at church.

Exploring the Naschmarkt (outdoor market)

Walking through Prater park on a beautiful day

Enjoying architecture downtown

Apple strudel at Schonbrunn Palace

The Vienna Zoo

I love this picture that Mom took of me reading to Ellie

Riding the Ferris Wheel and getting a bird's eye view of the city

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Visits from our Parents

Since Ellie's arrival, we've been blessed to have both sets of parents come to Vienna for 2-week visits. For both, it was their first visit to Vienna and their first chance to see our life here, as well as meet Ellie. It was so special, and we are so thankful that they were all able to fly over!

For me, having my parents here was wonderful but also really difficult. Difficult because it was so hard to say goodbye. When we first left for Vienna in the fall of 2012, it was just Nate and I and saying goodbye wasn't too hard. We knew we'd be back for visits and we had Skype to communicate. We were excited about this new adventure. And as adults, we don't change much, so we didn't feel like our families would be missing out on any of our life milestones that needed to be seen in person. But now that Ellie is here, it is so different. She is changing everyday, and it is hard to accept the fact that our families will miss out on seeing that. Saying goodbye to my parents was heart wrenching for me. We know God wants us here, but it's painful for my parents to have a grandchild so far away (for Nate's parents, as well). It's hard not to feel guilty for taking her away from them, in a sense, and it's hard to not be able to call them when things are tough and ask them to come over and help. Living here in Vienna is a blessing, but this is one of the things about it that is most difficult.

Nevertheless, we had a great time together. Here are some photos from my parents' visit (photos of Nate's to come in a later post!):

Eating tortes at Cafe Central. Ellie's in the stroller!

Ellie and Grampy, bonding

Naschmarkt (outdoor market)

Kahlenberg, overlooking Vienna

Dinner at a wine tavern our last night

Out to dinner for Wiener Schnitzel!

Ellie's Dedication

This morning, we dedicated  Ellie during the church service. It was a very moving ceremony for us to experience, bringing her before our church community here and asking for their and God's help in raising her and modeling Christ to her. We prayed that she would one day come to know Jesus personally and then share his message with the World. We acknowledged that we are very imperfect parents who will (and already have) make a lot of mistakes. We thanked God for the gift of Ellie and the gift of His grace that we depend on.

Here are a few photos from this morning:

Being prayed for by Dieter, representing the church body.

We planned the dedication for when Nate's parents were here visiting. It was so special for them to participate!

Ellie was worn out afterwards and took a nap.

Out to lunch afterwards to celebrate.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

This May Never Change

Yesterday, Nate stayed home with Ellie while I spent a couple hours sitting at a coffee shop by myself. Having the chance to get some things done at my own pace was a refreshing change to most days, spent caring for Ellie and Mozzy (yes, Mozzy makes my life difficult, too!). Ironically, I was seated at a table in the coffee shop next to a screaming baby...but at least I didn't have to do anything about it! But I digress...

At the end of my few hours, I asked the waiter to pay. (You always need to ask here. It's their way of respecting your opportunity to stay as long as you want.) The waiter told me the total for my latte would be $4.10. Typically here, very little tip is given in a restaurant and costs are usually rounded up, so the waiter was expecting me to give him $4.50 or $5 for the drink. However, I was in a good mood and he gave good service, so I handed him 6 euros and told him he could keep the extra. This decision I made was completely intentional - I understood how much the drink cost, but wanted to give more.

He looked at me oddly and said again, more slowly "$4.10". I said, "Yes, I know." He said, "No, $4.10" and handed me back the extra euro I had given him, assuming I had not understood him correctly. It was awkward. I said to him, "Well, I wanted to give you more, but ok." and the conversation ended.

This may not sound like anything significant, but the situation frustrated me. The reality is that no matter how fluent I become in the language or how well I understand the culture, these situations will continue to happen. Someone will hear my accent and make assumptions about my lack of understanding. They will try to clarify, attempting to be helpful, but only reminding me that I am an outsider. They will hear my accent and switch to speaking English, thinking they are making my life easier, when they are actually making me self-conscious about my German.

This may never change. In fact, our colleagues here in Vienna who have been here for 30 years have said this still happens to them sometimes. The real challenge is just letting these situations roll off your back and giving someone the benefit of the doubt...praying for patience once more and for God to give you the strength to accept that, yes, you are an outsider and yes, this is where you are meant to be...allowing these situations to remind you that, in reality, we are all outsiders in this world, bound for a much better place.