Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Our Vision for Church Planting

We are excited to share our vision for church planting with you this month! This video was produced by a talented WorldVenture media team that visited us last month. They helped us put together a piece that encapsulates our new church planting project and upcoming transition into this new type of ministry. We hope you enjoy it, and we welcome questions and comments!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Processing and Reflecting

a view up in the Alps
16th century castle ruin near the camp
Last weekend, I had the opportunity to travel to Reutte and go see our interns. Reutte is in Tirol, which is in the bone part of the "chicken wing" of Austria. It is also in the Alps. It was an trip filled with extreme beauty as I took the long bus ride through the small villages and town. It is also the kind of place where you take a picture, look down and realize that it just doesn't capture what you are seeing. 

As much as I did get to see a few things, my primary focus was not to ride through the mountains. My main focus while there was to check in with our interns on the second leg of their journey in Austria. The first half of their time here is encapsulated by this post here.

view from the ruins
So I set off to spend the weekend there and connect with our interns. It was a great time of encouragement and seeing the work that God is doing among the students at camp. I got to do both a large group debrief with all of our interns at once as well as one-on-one times to check in with each individual intern. Through all these conversations a few key themes rose to the top. As I have processed through these ideas, I realize how important they are, not just for short term camp ministry, but also as general life principles. In my next few posts, I hope to discuss some of these ideas and draw out some of these connections.

There is a climbing section
in the grocery store
As I talked to our interns, one topic that came up over and over again was expectations. The more time I spend in cross-cultural ministry, the more I see how our expectations of a situation shape how we experience it. In our missions training, we talked often about how difficulty can be compounded based on our expectations of a given situation. When we walk into a situation expecting it to be different, expecting it to be challenging, expecting a curve ball, we often are not surprised when things don't go smoothly. But if we expect things to flow smoothly, it hurts all the more when we have to adapt and change. In this way, it is like a rubber band around our waist. The farther apart our expectations and reality are, the more the "snap" hurts.

One of the major challenges to this is it is often a backwards looking thing. We don't often get to know or understand that our expectations for a situation are violated until after we feel the snap. *So often that emotional difficulty is a signal to us that our beliefs or expectations have been violated. But if we just focus on the the experiential side of it (what happened and how does that make us feel) - we can miss the chance to explore our beliefs and expectations. We miss the chance to see what is usually unconscious and learn more about ourselves.

This applied in so many ways to the interns. They were navigating cross-cultural relationships with campers, staffers, and even with co-counselors from different regions of the US. They had so many opportunities to evaluate their expectations of relationships and situations. Everyone that has worked at camp knows how intense it is working together closely with people from all different backgrounds. If we had given our interns a pad of paper and a pen before they left for camp, they probably would not have been able to list the expectations that they are now processing through. 

In my next few blog posts, I'll explore other factors and topics from our debrief time with the interns and how they shape cross-cultural experiences.
*I first heard this taught at a college group at Friendship Church in 2006 or so. I have tried to track down a book or teacher to attribute this to, but to no avail. If this sounds familiar, I'd love to know what book this comes from.

Friday, July 22, 2016

Transition to "Rural Living"

Our new home - the town of Gerasdorf
As we wrote in our last update, we are preparing to relocate for our first church plant. We have known for almost a year that the northern part of Vienna (the 21st District) would be the target area for our church planting project and when we returned from our home assignment, we started looking for housing.

It turned out to be quite difficult to find something in the city close to our target region.

Townhouse kitchen
Most of the housing there was limited and there weren't any houses for rent in our price range. We were able to give up the search and wait until the spring to relocate, but then we decided to look just outside of Vienna, in a small town called Gerasdorf bei Wien. Gerasdorf is just over the border and offers trains and buses to the last subway station of the U1 in Vienna, so it's a direct suburb of the city.  There was more available there and because it's not as urban, options tended to be houses and townhouses, rather than apartments.

We are excited to share that we found a townhouse that seems like it will be a good fit for our ministry and our family. We have not signed a lease yet (still negotiating the details), but we have a signed offer agreement regarding the rental amount which is pretty binding. So we officially feel comfortable sharing this news.

We are excited about moving into this townhouse for a variety of reasons:
Back of townhosue with terrace and balcony

  • It is only 1 kilometer from the Vienna border and the area we'd like to focus on for church planting
  • The townhouse has a small yard for grilling and entertaining, plus an open layout downstairs. Both will allow us to host bible studies and show hospitality more easily than we can now
  • The townhouse can be reached by bus without paying an extra fee for in-Vienna travel (it is inside the same "zone"), which means it won't cost extra for anyone to get to us
  • We can still walk to one grocery store and bakery. This was important to us!
  • We will have enough space now to accommodate an office for Nate & a guest sleeping area (basement) and three bedrooms for our family. We hope to be in this house for a long time!
  • Moving to a suburban area means we are going to buy a car. This opens up new options for us in terms of getting around, travelling and accessibility
  • We will have more storage space, which will be a wonderful blessing to our family. It has been hard to find space in our apartment for baby toys, clothes, suitcases and camping/climbing equipment. Soon, we will more easily be able to access these things!
  • Townhouse backyard  and garden shed
  • We will have space for some "luxury items" that I've been dreaming about, such as a dryer and a deep freezer (since European fridges/freezers are small, this will allow me to freeze meals before the baby comes or buy food in bulk, taking advantage of sale items)
We have found a potential car to purchase and will soon be busy packing, disassembling furniture, taking down light fixtures and getting ready for the big move. We will have both our apartment and the townhouse in September, so we can take our time relocating and painting both places.

It is an exciting time for us, but every transition comes with a bit of uncertainty and trepidation. We have really enjoyed living in our current location, right in the center of the city with easy access to shops, restaurants and public transportation. I (Bethany) am a bit nervous about feeling isolated out in the "country" with a big open field right across the street. 

Open living area downstairs
Despite these reservations and the time it will take to adjust to a new lifestyle, we are confident that this is where God wants us. We have submitted to Austrian church leadership and through conversations with them, we feel good about taking this next step. Would you please pray for us and with us, as we experience yet another major life transition? Please pray for...
  • A smooth transition and plenty of help with relocating, painting the new house and painting our old apartment white again
  • Grace and patience as we adjust
  • That we can feel settled there before the baby arrives. Pray that the baby stays in for long enough! (Due date is October 11)
  • Pray for energy for Bethany throughout the move and transition
  • Pray for Ellie, as she also adjusts to living in a new place
  • Pray for God to prepare the way for us in this new place!