Friday, June 24, 2016

Our First Intern Experience

This summer marks the first time we have hosted WorldVenture interns. In fact, it has been many years since anyone from Team Austria has hosted interns for the summer. In truth, it seemed a little intimidating to us when to consider hosting interns after just 3 years on the field. We still feel like missionary babies in many ways...are we ready to oversee college students here in Austria? Do we know enough about ministry and the culture here to guide them through a cross-cultural experience? What do we have to offer?
God placed three wonderful female interns on our team this summer. I'm pretty sure going in, they knew they were our "guinea pigs" in this process. We are all just figuring things out as we go along and enjoying the journey together!

Having the interns arrive here just a few days after we did was definitely a bit exhausting. We were still settling in to life here when they joined us, and it was a busy first two weeks with them. However, it has also brought us so much joy to watch them learn and process their experience here, to see them offering valuable assistance in a variety of ministries, and to discuss all of their learning with them. I have especially enjoyed meeting with them once a week to do a bible study together and check in about what they are learning and how they are doing.

We knew this summer would not be perfect and that we would likely tweak the intern program after our first time through. It has been hard to watch them struggle at times and to wonder if we should have done things differently. On the one hand, cross-cultural living and language learning naturally comes with some struggle. If they weren't being challenged, they wouldn't learn as much. But we also don't want them to flounder, feel overwhelmed or come away from their summer experience feeling negatively about the time and resources they invested in their time here. 

Their biggest area of struggle has definitely been learning German. Because of the calendar, they unfortunately had to start in German class a week later than the rest of the students. Most of the other students in their class had already lived in Vienna for awhile, so they naturally had more language understanding than our interns, and the girls were frustrated with feeling behind and incompetent in the classroom. That was hard to watch, and I wondered if we should have done things differently. At the same time, seeing them struggle reminded me how hard language learning is at the beginning, no matter how many advantages you have going in. Perhaps struggling a bit was a valuable experience for them in understanding missionary life and cultural assimilation. And sure enough, the class did get a bit easier as they caught up and got more experience and time with the language.

We are excited to see what God does through this summer experience in each of their lives. And may He continue to guide us as we guide them!

Making fresh pasta in our kitchen

Dinner with the interns

Kylee on the team scavenger hunt

Friday, June 10, 2016

Reflections: Our First Week Home

We are home! It has been a very busy but productive first week back in Austria. Being back here feels just as good as I was expecting. There is something about being back home that gives me a sense of peace and a feeling of being settled that I have missed so much over the last 7 months.

Although we didn't have long to get over jet lag and get settled before life picked up again, we at least had a few days to run errands, sleep and get organized. Some things we accomplished included:

  • Picking up Ellie's visa that I applied for back in January. All set!
  • Unpacking and finding spots for everything we acquired while we were in the U.S.
  • Sorting through our belonging at home and putting back all of our decor items that were moved while we were away
  • Buying groceries and stocking up on basic household products, like toiletries, paper towels, etc.
  • Planting our balcony garden with herbs
  • Planting our community garden plot
  • Getting lots of items ready for the interns, like binders of documents, cell phones and a gift basket
It was a busy busy few days, but we are all settled and back into the swing of things, with our interns here and Nate preparing for a sermon at the end of the month.

Here are a few photos from our travels and our first week back!

On the plane! We had a very smooth flight. Ellie enjoyed activities and then slept for about 4.5 hours.

We're here in Vienna! With so so many bags....

Planting and watering our balcony garden

Back at the dog park with Mozzy. We were so excited to be reunited!

Ellie decorating signs for our interns

Baby is 22 weeks! I had swollen ankles after the flight, but now things are back to normal. 

My helper planting our vegetables in our community garden plot (in a raised bed).

Visiting Schönbrunn Palace with our interns and seeing the roses.

Our interns are here!!

Nate got an immersion circulator for his birthday in March and has been so excited to try it out!