Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Language Milestone

Before Ellie arrived on the scene, I tried to get as far as I could learning German. I wasn't sure what life with a baby at home would look like, but I rightfully assumed it would make language learning more difficult than before. And I was right. Because it is important for us that Ellie learn English as one of her first languages, and because being home with a small child takes up a lot of time and energy, I found that my German language opportunities in Ellie's first year were quite limited. I was often at home with her, speaking English to her.  As time went on, I definitely became concerned and fearful that I would regress, either in my language proficiency or my confidence in German, if I didn't do something to move forward or set some new goals. 

After our church relocation project wrapped up, Nate had a little more flexibility in his schedule and we agreed it would  be wise for me to go back to school for a 2-week intensive German class. It was a wonderful refresher and a challenging two weeks. Although it was exhausting, it was also very fun to be learning again and it jump-started me back into German learning. When I asked my teacher if she thought I could take the C1 level competency exam in German sometime in the fall, she encouraged me to definitely pursue it. (Actually, I asked her if I should take the level below it instead and she said, "absolutely not! That would be way too easy for you!")

So from the end of July to the end of October, I met regularly with her as a tutor and studied at home to prepare for the exam. It is a 4 hour exam, with reading comprehension, listening, writing and speaking components. Not for the faint of heart! You can read about the different language levels here. I was testing at a level described as "Effective operational proficiency or advanced", one step higher than the level needed to study at the University. It was a little intimidating, to say the least!

I needed 60% to pass and when I got the email with the results, I was standing in O'Hare airport on our layover to Minneapolis. To say I was excited about my 90% result was an understatement. To me, doing well on this test meant much more than acing a test. It meant that all my hard work had paid off, that I was still equipped for life and ministry despite being a stay-at-home mom, and that I could be confident in my abilities and not let insecurities hold me back. It was truly a gift from God, a confidence builder that I needed to continue feeling secure in that fact that God led us (not just Nate) to Vienna to minister. 

I wouldn't normally brag so much about an accomplishment like this, but I felt it was important to share to assure those who follow along with us that it's not just Nate who is out there, preaching, teaching and progressing. It is important to us that we are a team in Vienna and are both equipped with the tools we need to share the gospel. God has been faithful in this and I praise Him for it!

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

An Update in Pictures

We have been here in MN for 3 week already! Time is already flying by and we've had a full schedule. We have been very busy developing content to share with small groups, supporters and churches. We have been writing thank you notes and sermons, making posters and PowerPoint presentations, and everything in between. They say you are supposed to rest at the beginning of your Home Assignment, but so far it hasn't been possible! But we look forward to things slowing down in December for us.

Here are some photo highlights from our time here so far (can you tell Ellie is pretty popular around here?):

Our little "Ellie Bear" trick-or-treating

Touching fish at the MN Zoo

Ellie playing in the box from Oma and Opa's new dishwasher

Nate helping to install a new dishwasher in Mom & Dad's house
Sticker and coloring time

Riding a train at a local mall 

Our table set-up at the Friendship Church missions conference

Nate and his brother, Neil, playing with our Austrian table decorations

Enjoying the playground near Oma & Opa's house

Before the Chaska, MN Turkey Trot 5K

After the race. Go, Team Johnson!

Doing the monkey bars

Down the slide with Papa

Playing during "toddler time" at an indoor sports center.