Sunday, November 13, 2016

Our First Outreach

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.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Family Photos

We had the opportunity to have a photographer come to the house to capture our family of four. We are so thankful for these beautiful photos and for how well the photographer captured the early days of Maya's life. We are enjoyed this cute, snuggly addition to our family!

Do I Really Need to Learn this Lesson Again?

Patience. It's something that I definitely lack, and I don't think I'm alone in this. I've always been a do-er and a task-oriented person that likes to complete things. This has it's advantages: I get things done quickly and efficiently most of the time. But it's disadvantages are also numerous: sometimes I do tasks too quickly (and not carefully), and I don't like waiting for things to be done. When something is moving more slowly than I'd like, it's tough for me to be patient.

Since August, our patience has been greatly tested with two things in our life: our car and our basement. Even as I write this, these things sound mundane and minor, but I've been surprised how much stress they've caused me and how much I am struggling to be patient with these two things.

First, the car. We purchased the car in early August and it has had persistent problems ever since. It has broken down on the road once and returned to the mechanic at least 5 times for more repairs. We've spent much more money on repairs than we planned, and there have been many days we have not had the car available to use, because it was being fixed. The car story just seems to drag on and on. What's more, driving the car has been stressing Nate out, because he has been worried about it breaking down again. The day he picked Maya and me up from the hospital to come home, the car was sputtering, and he was praying, "God, please just let me get my wife and newborn baby home safely".

Then there's the basement. We had flooding in our basement the night we moved into our house. This was on September 10th, and the basement drying process isn't done yet. A professional company was hired by our landlords to get all of the moisture out of the basement, especially the standing water under the tile floor. Each time a deadline is set to remove the equipment from the basement so we can use the space again, something goes wrong: an appointment is missed, the drying is not yet complete, the devices need to be name it. Having these professional drying devices in the basement means that it's approximately 95 degrees F down there, and Nate can't work in his office space. It means our basement guest room can't be used, and we have our first guest coming this Friday. It means the whole basement is a mess, and this drives me crazy. This also means we've been dealing with our renter's insurance company and our landlord's insurance company, which is stressful (especially in a foreign language). We're still not sure who is going to fit the bill for this professional drying process.

I've been asking God a few questions through all of this...first of all, why does all of this stress me out so much? And why do all of these challenging things seem to hit at once, while we're dealing with a move, a new baby and a new ministry? But more importantly, why haven't I learned to be more patient already? Why do I still struggle with waiting and trusting? God, can you help me keep these small things in perspective?

There is something about living cross-culturally that adds a level of difficulty and stress to all of the normal stressors of life. It magnifies small struggles and makes them bigger. This is why we need God's patience and peace to pervade our attitudes and reactions even more. Please pray for us during the times when our patience is tested, that we would display Christ-like attitudes and not our own!