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