Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Better is the End

Today in my (Nate) Bible reading I finished up Ecclesiastes. Solomon's words rang true in my heart as I read, "Better is the end of a thing than its beginning." Today we closed the first chapter of our interns' summer here with us in Austria. This afternoon they got on a train with one of our former interns and her sister and headed to the Salzburg area to start the second half of their ministry.

suitcases packed and ready to meet their next challenge!These times are always bittersweet. We know that God has been working in their hearts. It is fun to see their understanding of the culture grow and to see how their questions change as they learn and experience more and more. We are blessed and honored to be able to build into these gals and serve them through their time here. 

As we sent them off, we prayed for the students that were going to be in their cabins, that they would continue to seek them out, that they would work hard to build relationships with their campers despite low language confidence and busy schedules. We prayed that they would have energy and push through when times are challenging. 

We are excited to go and visit them after their first full week of camp. We know that this will be a great debrief time to process with them the things they are learning.

Will you pray with us and for them in this season of ministry? Thanks for lifting them up!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Gospel Reality or Cultural Expectations?

One of the questions we are constantly confronted with here is the interaction between Gospel and Culture. What do I mean by that? There is some percentage of my expectations for "what church is" that is dictated by my cultural background. This can be practical things like, "should we stand up during our singing time?" or "How long is our service?" or "how planned out or spontaneous is our service?". There are theological points to be made as well, but we wouldn't be telling the truth if we said churches express cultural preferences and expectations only in small and subtle ways.

This also moves over into leadership decisions or styles. Many church leaders (and this can be good or bad) take on the leadership values of the culture in which they find themselves. It isn't surprising that many American churches have a CEO-style pastor that manages the ministry. I am not necessarily criticizing this model, but more making the observation: there seems to be a correlation between American cultural leadership values and structures and the churches that exist within that culture. This comes out in how leaders behave, what we expect of leaders, and even churches' attitudes towards larger authority structures like denominations.

This all leads us to an interesting conversation I had with an American church leader here in Austria. He was talking about the many of the young American pastors he has seen coming to Europe, who often see no need for denominational connections. They bring with them their American individualism, but also the recent history of the American church moving away from denominations and towards independent non-denominational churches. Because of that, many of these young pastors arrive in Europe and don't think much of the denomination to which their church belongs.

My friend explained that many of the national pastors he encounters, on the other hand, are so thankful for their denominational support. Many of these leaders grew up in countries and cultures where they were one of the only believers they knew outside of their local church or maybe a local youth event. They often feel isolated or on the margin. In the States, there are many different conference options - smaller local conferences, camping ministries, big national conferences with big name authors and speakers. In the German speaking world, we are blessed with a great deal of opportunities for fellowship and encouragement, but much less than in America. There are many other places in the world where those denominational structures that many Americans have moved away from are a critical lifeline for the local church to stay connected and find accountability.

I found a few things fascinating about this conversation. I often encounter situations living and working cross-culturally that I could have never expected or seen beforehand. This is one of those things. I am not sure I could have ever expected such a tension to exist. Now that I see it, I completely understand how it could come to be, but before moving here I would have had no idea.

The second thing is the continual push back that some of these American pastors give towards something that is a positive thing for their national colleagues. This is a key point here: there are many times in cross-cultural ministry when we have to set aside our personal cultural preferences or expectations for the sake of someone else. I have to ask myself, "is this a gospel reality or a cultural expectation?" This question is key in helping me understand a situation. Another key question is, "what are the cultural values undergirding this decision?" Often with enough patience and the right line of questions, it is possible to acquire the cultural value behind a decision.

Can you think of an example of something in your church has primarily cultural roots? 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Summer 2017 Video Update

And this month...a video update! We put this together for a supporting church (hence the introduction at the beginning), but we felt it was a good overview of what's been going on and how you can pray. Take a look!

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our Summer Internship is in Full Swing!

The interns having lunch with our colleagues, Peter and Celeste
 Our summer interns, Dani and Kyla, arrived on June 1st, and they've been going non-stop ever since! We are truly blessed to have them join us this summer, and we really have enjoyed watching them learn and process their experiences as they are experience missions in Austria for the first time.

Visiting the Oasis Refugee Center

Our overall goal for the internship is to expose our interns to a variety of different ministries and needs in Austria, as well as give them a "taste" of missionary life. They are taking German classes, navigating public transportation in a foreign city and handling their own grocery shopping, among other things.  Their weekly schedule also includes the following ministry opportunities:

  • Volunteering weekly at a refugee center, helping with a women and kids' group
  • Prayer walking around the local refugee camp and in the neighborhood where we will be church planting
  • Visiting a local anti-sex trafficking/trade ministry and helping them with organizing clothing donations and childcare during an African womens' bible study
  • Attending German class and looking for opportunities to talk about their faith with their classmates
  • Meeting with Bethany for weekly discipleship & discussion time
  • Meeting up with other missionaries in Vienna to learn about how God led them here and what they do
With other volunteers at the Oasis
Their schedule has been full! In between activities, they manage their own time, deciding how to prioritize rest, German study and reaching out to people they've met to meet up. In just 2 weeks, they hop on a train and head west to the Salzburg area to serve as counselors as a Christian English camp ministry, returning to Vienna afterwards to debrief on their time here this summer. 

This is our second year having summer interns and we are so thankful and blessing that God has led Kyla and Dani to serve here with us. We are learning many new things, too, as we walk with them through this significant cross-cultural and ministry experience. God is shaping us into better leaders and disciplers through this experience, and we know God will use this journey to better equip us for our new role as Team Austria field leaders. Praise God for how He is working!

Monday, May 22, 2017

Langham Austria

I was able to get some fresh air during a break and hike a bit.

A few weeks ago, I headed off to Schloss Klaus for a great week of training and learning. If you read this blog really carefully you may remember me (Nate) attending a Simeon Trust workshop at my brother-in-law's church in Atlanta while we were on home assignment. Well Langham Preaching is a sister organization to the Simeon Trust through All Souls church in London.
the main session room overlooking the mountains

What is Langham? It is an interdenominational group focused on increasing the quality of preaching and teaching in the church. They focus on expository preaching - which means focusing on a specific text in a sermon/teaching versus a topical framework. Over 100 church leaders from all over Austria met at a beautiful castle retreat center called Schloss Klaus to focus on the way we interpret and teach the four gospels. It was a very special time of sharpening and encouragement. These leaders came from a pretty broad spectrum of backgrounds. We had BEG (our church association), Lutheran, Brethren, and non-denominational International churches represented. Just like my time at Simeon, I think it is tough to call this JUST a preaching conference. Ultimately, these conferences focus on the fundamentals of good teaching and preaching. We focus on good hermaneutics. 
Stairs were every where at the Schloss
staying there is a good workout - if only the
cooking didn't taste so good!
For many that is a scary or technical word. Who needs "hermaneutics"!? I just study the bible, they say. That word just means the "science and art of biblical interpretation."  If understanding the bible is a football game (to borrow a metaphor from some of my college text books), and the game itself is the act of studying the text, preaching would be the color commentary - the explanation of the game. Hermaneutics is just the rules of the game. When can I throw a forward pass? When do I score a first down? The rules tell us these things. 
The main speaker and his translator
For the bible the questions are things like, "how do I read this poetic text?" and "how is that different than how I should read a historical account?" 

These ideas aren't just important for preaching - though they can make or break a sermon. They filter down into how someone teaches in a youth group setting, with middle-schoolers or even how you teach Sunday school. It goes into the very core of how we communicate the scriptures.

Here are a few ideas I took away from our time there:
1. When we teach the gospels we have to avoid some key dangers. The stories are familiar to us, which is dangerous, and we have to key into the specific details of the story and how the gospel writer tells the story. We have to continually ask the question, "what is the gospel writer trying to emphasize here?" We can often give brief summaries of the stories but every time we study them we can unearth details that we may have missed before - details that are key to really truly understanding the text. Another danger is moralizing the stories. Jesus quotes scripture in the face of temptation in the desert and so should you. Except Jesus only quotes from one book in the Old Testament, and really just a few chapters. So is it possible that there is more going on there? It forces us to focus on the text and understand it, instead of making a list of rules. 

2. The New Testament is saturated in the Old. If our New Testament text refers to the Old, and we don't go back to that reference, we can't possibly hope to understand our text. So often the nuance of what Jesus is doing in a specific story is lost, because we don't go back and understand the Old Testament context. In a recent sermon, I wrote on Luke 7 the Old Testament context was the key to the passage. Without the Old Testament context the story is just Jesus healing a widow's dead son. That's pretty amazing, until you realize that they story parallels a story in 1 Kings 17 where Elijah also heals a widows dead son. The core of the text is then "The prophet Elijah needed to cry out to God for healing, Jesus is the prophet who proves his deity by healing with a word." The first statement isn't wrong but it is incomplete.

 3. Lastly, the gospels are not primarily a list of propositional truths; they are stories. We must learn how to tell those stories with all of their twists and surprises. Jesus often does unexpected things and we need to learn how to communicate that.

These conferences (and the concepts that undergird them) are really important and will lead to more faithful and relevant proclamation of the scriptures in our churches. Please continue to pray for all of those that faithfully teach God's word from the Sunday school children's hour to the pulpit.

Special Time with Family

Last week, we were blessed to be visited by my brother and his family. It was so special to have them visit us here in Austria and get to share a bit of our life with them! They combined the visit with some touring in Germany and the Czech Republic, visiting some Reformation sites (in honor of the 500 anniversary) and a concentration camp. They spent 3 days with us here in Vienna and then we enjoyed 5 days together in the Alps.

Ellie LOVED playing with her cousins and it was so special to watch them spend time together. One of the hardest things about living overseas is missing out on time with family. Saying goodbye was hard, but we are so thankful for the memories we were able to share together.

Here are a few photos from our time last week!

The cousins together at Schönbrunn

Eating traditional Austrian food together

Hiking above Hallstatt

Touring the salt mines

The cousins together! 

Above Hoher Dachstein, one of the highest peaks in Europe!

Our First Prayer Meeting

Church planting can be an undefined, uncertain ministry. Each day is different and the way God works to plant each new church is also different. Many questions arise at every stage...What does each day look like? How should we start? How do we take tangible steps, while also relying on God? How do we remain culturally relevant, while also "pushing the envelope" and taking risks? When do we ask people to join the team and when do we communicate more indirectly, as is common in this culture? I've found there are more and more questions, as we move further along in the journey.

So far, we have relocated to our target geographic area and started making intentional connections with Christians in this area. We are attending a local church and serving there, with the hopes that we will soon have a team of believers ready to step out and join us. In the fall, we hope to start a bible study of people who want to reach out local area.

Two weeks ago, we took another important step and started hosting prayer evenings for this church planting project. We invited local pastors, Christians nearby who have expressed interest in the church plant, those from our former church who want to pray for us, other missionaries, and anyone else who we thought might want to pray. We did not ask people to commit to joining the church planting team - these evenings will primarily be about praying for this new church plant and for our efforts to reach this region. We know God works through prayer, and we also believe He will use these times of prayer to start forming a team of people who will join us.

We were so encouraged by all of those who attended our first prayer evening! There were about 13 people in attendance (including us) and it was a diverse group of people - potential team members, local pastors and church leaders and others who want to pray for this area. We took time to pray in segment for the region, the project, and the team. Nate also gave a devotional at the start and took time to explain some of the reason why we are targeting this region of Vienna.

We are excited for this start and will be hosting a prayer evening every 3 - 4 weeks to build momentum. Please pray with us for this church planting project - for God to work through us, for people to be reached and for a thriving, gospel-preaching community to be established!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Power Up Conference

Every few years WorldVenture, our missions organization, plans a regional conference for everyone working in Europe. We missed the last one, because it was just a few days before Ellie was born. That conference took place over New Years with child care so that families could attend without school issues and bring their kids along. This time around, they chose a different model that we are really excited about. They are putting the exact same conference on twice, once in the spring and again in the fall so that families with small kids can attend, with the parents taking turns. Bethany is looking forward to having Maya weaned and having a new gal arrive on our field so that they can go together in the fall, so the spring time was my turn.

The conference was called Power Up and took place in Vilnus, Lithuania. For those that think this sounds like a really exotic location, remember that A) This is still EU, which means easier travel for most of us who already have EU visas and B) it is a lot cheaper than having something like this in a place like Switzerland or France, where everything would be more expensive from food to lodging. It was a really pretty city and a place that would be fun to go back and visit. There was an interesting mix of old world monarchical history and the recent soviet influences. It is still a country stuck between and influenced by both Moscow and Europe. The old city was a great place to just wander around and find little corners and shops.
the view of the city from our hotel
evening wandering in the city

The conference itself was on interpersonal communication. This is a topic near and dear to my heart and something I find very important. Here were a few key takeaways that I gleaned from our time.

1. The first thing I wanted to share was from a session called "Loving Listening." They talked about how we can show people we love them by making them feel truly heard. There was a quote from David Augsberger: "Being heard is so close to being loved, that for the average person they are almost indistinguishable." We often don't realize the power that we hold, simply by listening to people. Life can be so hectic and full of running from thing to thing, that there is a huge relational power in stopping what we are doing and truly listening to what another person has to say. Not just hearing them, or trying to break in and make our point, but listening to them and understanding where they are coming from. This can help all of our relationships from casual acquaintances all the way to the people that are dearest to us. How can we show the people around us we care for them by listening to them?

2.  Another key group of sessions was about the book Crucial Conversations. They defined a "crucial conversation" not necessarily as conflict, but just like the subtitle of the book says "when things are at stake." When we disagree and decisions need to be made, we get into the realm of a crucial conversation. One of my main take-aways was a pretty simple observation. It is the idea that when we are in a conversation and someone says something we don't understand or it seems to be negative or critical, we create a narrative in our own minds about what that could mean. We set their statement in a context which answers the question "why would someone say something like that?" Often the answer can be something like: "They think I am stupid" or "they don't believe I am capable of succeeding here." We then go forward with that internal story and begin to believe it is true. But what happens if that isn't true? Do we really take time to expose those underlying stories to the light of day and check if that person really believes that? There are often totally reasonable explanations that also fit the facts of a situation, and it is our personal fears or insecurities that drive it forward.

There were many other key takeaways from the time there from personal soul care and rest, building trust in relationships, and personal moral purity; just to name a few. I am very excited for Bethany to be able to go to the same conference in the fall so that we can debrief and compare notes.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring Getaway 2017

We just returned from our annual WorldVenture team retreat. This is a longstanding tradition for team Austria, allowing us to get away together for 4 days for a time of learning, refreshment, prayer and retreat. Here are a few highlights from our time together:

Team game time
 * We played a few games together that Ellie could participate in. It's important to us as a team to include the kids in activities and time together, so they feel like a part of our team as they grow up. Ellie had fun with "hot potato" and a game where we guessed what objects were that we picked out of a bag while blind-folded.

* We watched video messages/sermons each day as a team and discussed them.

* Each family had a time of sharing about the last year and how we could be praying for each other. We had a focused time of prayer for each family.

Being commissioned as the new field leaders
 * Nate and I will be stepping into the team Austria field leadership role in the coming months (something we will write more about in our coming updates and probably a separate blog post). The group prayed over us and commissioned us as the new field leaders.

* Ellie got to spend our meeting times playing with our friend Mallory, who joined us for the retreat to provide childcare. They did lots of crafts, played on the playground, went swimming and had an all-around great time together.

* We took an excursion to a local chocolate factory and samples lots of delicious chocolate.
* We went swimming almost every day. Ellie is obsessed with the water, so she begged us everyday to swim in the hotel pool! Maya had her first swim and loved it.

* We survived four days staying in a hotel, despite some horrible night sleep from Maya. After several weeks of sickness, Maya was struggling to get back to sleep on her own at night. This has improved since returning home and we hope it doesn't repeat itself in the future when we travel! Unfortunately, the sleep deprivation made the week a bit difficult for me...but such is life with a baby!

Overall, it was a good time away. We will be planning the Spring Getaway for our team next year, so
we will soon begin to think about where and how we will spend our time in 2018. We hope to continue the tradition of getting away as a team to worship, pray, rest and spend time together.

Monday, April 17, 2017

Brains and Sponges

Ellie's first day of kindergarten
This is a photo of Ellie on her first day of Kindergarten back in early January. In Austria, Kindergarten is the name of the pre-school/child care programs provided from birth through age 5, up until they start first grade around age 6. Ellie started attending kindergarten in German 5 days/week from 8:30 - 12:30 the day after she turned 3 on January 7.

Word cannot express how proud we have been of her for jumping in to this new experience with very little fear. Although she started the program not knowing any German and not knowing any of the kids in her class, she was excited and eager to play and learn. When Ellie was younger, she was very attached and struggled with separation anxiety for a long time. She was also very shy. But we have seen a lot of change in her in the last year, as she has learned to be apart from us and come out of her shell. She is really blossoming into an outgoing, sweet and friendly little girl who brings joy to many!

Sitting at the lego table
It has been so interesting and neat to watch her language acquisition begin. Her teachers at school both speak a little English, so they spoke quite a bit of English to her at the beginning when it was important that she understood what was going on. But they are doing this less and less, and it has become clear that she understands more and more simple sentences and commands in German, even after just a few months.

Ellie's English language skills have always been ahead of the curve, and she started speaking English so well so early, because she has always repeated almost everything we say. She was like a little parrot starting around 18 months old, and her vocabulary in English has continued to increase for this reason. (If you know Nate and I, this probably isn't a surprise. Knowing our personalities, we always assumed our kids would be bookish and very verbal but probably not very good athletes!)

Playing a game with her teacher
So far, her German learning seems to be progressing very similarly. She has started throwing around German phrases at home, even when she has no idea what they mean. She repeats German words and phrases that we say and is eager to experiment with the language. Unlike many adults learning a foreign language, Ellie is not afraid of making mistakes or saying things perfectly. She just tries and experiments and repeats. Her brain is truly like a sponge, soaking in and learning a lot of information very rapidly, and it's incredible to watch. I can already hear her pronouncing German words with correct sounds that are hard even for me to reproduce properly. Within a few years, she'll be speaking fluently with absolutely no American English accent, and I'll be jealous of her language skills!

We are so thankful for how God has blessed us through this kindergarten transition, a change that could have been difficult. We are praying that she not only acquires the language, but also friendships with the kids in her class. These friendships could lead to play dates, which could lead to relationships between us and the other parents. We are praying that Ellie will be a light for Jesus at her school and that God will use these connections to help us find community and share our faith with the families in our neighborhood. Please pray with us!

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Oops! Sorry for the delay....

Hey friends! Life has been pretty hectic around here lately and, hence, there's been a break in our blogging. Sorry about that! In an attempt to catch up a little, here is our life in photos recently...

Nate preached his first sermon at the Floridsdorf Church, where we've been attending
Maya started eating food (or trying to)

We went out on a date for the first time in a few months

Maya got bigger and snugglier

Ellie learned to write her name and has started learning German in her pre-school
We led worship together at a church planting conference in Vienna

We made connections and heard challenging messages at the church planting conference

Maya enjoyed her exersaucer

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A Long Term Focus

There are parts of life that are easier to assent to intellectually than they are to experience. Simple statements with a great deal of meaning behind them, like "early parenthood is hard" or "moving is usually stressful" are true by themselves, but fail to encapsulate the difficulty of the actual experience. The simple question "how?" unlocks so much of what is hidden behind one of these statement. For example, if you ask the question "How is early parenting hard?" one way you can simply answer that question is with one word: SLEEP.

The same has been true for us with church planting. We came to Austria with some very key values and things we didn't want to be. We value partnership and submission to national churches and leadership. We are not the solo rogues out on the end doing whatever we want to do. We are not the people that come in with money and say that it is "our way or the highway" just because we can fund our own work. We also value team and want to see a church planting effort here in Austria that is not just German and American missionaries running the show, but is truly a partnership, a cooperation between churches across borders and continents. Additionally, we know that we have to have a long-term focus in this culture. Austria is a history-focused culture (compared to American forward thinking - When's the next iPhone coming out?). So we know that we have to maintain a long-term focus.

It is this last statement, this "long-term focus", that we have started to realize is different to pay lip service to versus actually living it out. We have started to ask the question, "what does it mean to have a long-term focus?" or simply "how?". We are realizing it is easier to say it than it is to be in the middle of it. We are living this out and experiencing it in an existential way, which is far more complicated than simply saying that it is true. We know it objectively, but the subjective experience is different and difficult.

The short answer to the "how" question is: "slower". Slower than it would probably go in the States. Slower because relationships take time. This doesn't mean that things are on pause, but simply that we aren't starting tomorrow or the next day. We know that this process will take time and we accept that. We live in this tension of wanting things to move faster but knowing that there are no short cuts. We know that if it is worth doing, it is worth doing deliberately and in God's timing and not our own.

This leads the second answer which is, it may be slower, but it is also in God's timing. We have seen God on the move and we are continuing to pray that he will reveal himself and his timing. We know that our desire to "get things moving" can move us outside of God's timing. Our desire is not to run out ahead of God.

Ultimately, we continue to seek God and work towards the church planting project, but we recognize that it will happen in His timing and at His pace. It can be hard to wait, but we eagerly await God's work and are excited for how He will move in our community. The church here was founded as a prayer movement, and we want to see another generation of young people encounter God in prayer and in His word.

Monday, February 6, 2017

Why Does Austria Need Missionaries?

Emily Roth visited us as part of the WorldVenture Media Team
We spoken and written a lot over the years about why Austria needs missionaries. It's a topic, though, that we regularly come back to because European countries are still in desperate need of more workers and for many Christians, it is still a new idea to consider Europe a mission field.

Last summer, a 2-person team of media interns from WorldVenture visited us and put together some great videos for use in recruiting and getting the word out about our ministry. (You can watch them here and here.) Emily from the team also took a lot of the ideas that we discussed and put them into a great article about Austria, which just went live in the WorldVenture website. We will post the beginning of the article here, but encourage you to read all of it by clicking the link at the bottom!

Why Austria Still Needs Missionaries
In a historically-Catholic country, WorldVenture workers follow God to plant a church.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Calling All College Students!

We have an important announcement! As of today, there are still 4 spots available for our summer intern team here in Austria. Our summer internship program is an excellent way for students and young adults to serve here in Vienna, as well as get exposed to the spiritual needs in Europe and discern if God has a future place for them in cross-cultural ministry.
The summer intern includes:
  • 5 Weeks in Vienna
    • German classes with other foreigners and the opportunity to reach out to these students in English via relational evangelism
    • A tour and prayer walk of a local refugee center
    • A weekly English cafe ministry, where relationships are developed in English through a local church ministry
    • The opportunity to attend Austrian churches and interact with Austrian believers
    • The chance to meet a variety of missionaries serving in Vienna to learn more about the unique needs of this huge metropolitan city
    • Other ministry opportunities, as they arise!

  • 3 Weeks in southern Austria in English Camp Ministry
      • 1 week of training to serve as a English camp counselor, a program where students are reached with the gospel message, as well as given the opportunity to improve their English language skills
      • 1 week of middle school English Camp and 1 week of high school English Camp
        • Teaching English courses
        • Developing relationships with the kids in your cabin
        • Helping with music or cooking, as giftings allow
        • Sharing testimonies 
        • Working alongside Austrian counselors and students 
    • Several days of debriefing in Vienna to conclude the internship
    The internship runs from approximately June 1 - July 31 and total funds to be raised is between $4,000 - 5,000. Our English Camp ministry here in Austria is especially in need of counselors for this summer. Please spread the word! You can express interest emailing Bethany at bethanyjohnson83@gmail.com OR using the contact form here on the WorldVenture website.

    If you would like to contact one of our previous interns from last summer to get firsthand input on their experience in Austria, email Bethany and she will put you in touch.

    Do you know a college student looking for a summer internship or ministry experience? Do you know a young adult considering missions but not sure where or how God is leading them? Are you, yourself, looking to serve and make an impact this summer? Contact us or pass along this post to the right person!

    Tuesday, January 17, 2017

    Family Visits

    We were so blessed to have both sets of parents visit us after Maya was born. This also meant, because of the timing, that we had family here for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Ellie's birthday! It was really special for us to celebrate all of these holidays with family, because these can often be the most difficult times to live overseas, when we have to be alone for a holiday. It was also neat to show our parents our new neighborhood and what our life is like, now that we have relocated outside of the city. They have a better sense of our everyday life and ministry now.

    Here are some photo highlights from Nate's parents' visit ("Oma & Opa"):

    Playdoh with Oma!

    Visiting the Christmas markets, sometimes one need a break from all the walking

    Baby snuggles

    Oma and her girls

    Baking Christmas Cookies

    Raclette dinner with the Kosse family, here on a Vision Trip and now joining our team

    Thanksgiving Dinner

    Nate, Oma & Ellie hiking through vineyards

    Here are some pictures from our time with Bethany's parents ("Grammy & Grampy"):

    Grampy sitting by the presents and our "fireplace"

    Playing Candyland

    Walking to Schönbrunn Palace, with Ellie's doll in her baby carrier

    At the mall

    Our day trip to Bratislava

    At a Slovakian restaurant

    The view from the Bratislava Castle

    At the playground

    Maya's baby dedication at church

    Dedicating Maya

    Ellie's third birthday