This Friday night was our first formal attempt to reach out to our neighbors. A musician who is friends with a few of my family members, Jason Harrod, reached out a few months ago because he was attempting to plan a small European tour. I helped him organize a concert at a bilingual church in Vienna, and then we decided also to host a small living room concert as a chance to invite our neighbors over. (House concerts is a common way that Jason performs and that was his suggestion.)
We decided a bit last minute to host this performance, because we wanted to see how we were coping with a newborn at home. Since things were going smoothly, we decided to go for it...but that meant we only had about a week and a half to invite people. Once we printed invitations and started going door-to-door, that meant just a week for people to decide to come and RSVP. We think this was a bit of a hindrance to people coming.
Austrians also tend to be very private people, so our expectations of attendance were low because of this. It's rare someone will come to an event not knowing anyone else personally. However, despite these obstacles, inviting people to the event became a wonderful opportunity to introduce ourselves to our new neighbors and to "break the ice". Even for those who didn't come, we at least can put names with some faces and start to greet people we see in the neighborhood!
Four neighbors and one American friend attended. We had a great time laughing and talking before the concert and because it was a small group, there was much more time to get to know each other. We were able to tell everyone why we moved to Gerasdorf, why we are in Austria, etc. and also explain some of the tenants of the evangelical faith that make it unique from Catholicism (the branch of Christianity Austrians are typically familiar with).
Overall, it was a huge success. For us, it was about relationships and not about numbers. God truly answered our prayers, and we are hopeful this will give us the momentum to be able to continue inviting neighbors over for fellowship and deepening relationships. We want our neighbors to know us as welcoming, inviting, hospitable, and most importantly of all, loving in a way that points directly to Christ.