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Jan

It’s been a while, I know. But now, we return to our irregularly scheduled mission team reports. At the rate I’m going, I’ll have to hurry to finish these before the mission team goes out again (without me this time, though).

After two days in very rural Slovakia, we headed to Vienna, Austria.

Thoughts about Vienna:

Happenings in Vienna:

We arrived at our host church in Vienna, unloaded a bunch of stuff, checked e-mail, grabbed our concert clothes, and headed off to a nearby town (I think it was called Krems) for supper and a service at a Romanian Baptist Church. The church people took us out for genuine Wiener schnitzel before the service. The schnitzel were amazing–they tasted wonderful, and they were huge. So we stuffed ourselves on wonderful schnitzel, and then we went back to the church for dessert. Really. I think there was lots of left-over dessert.

The people at the Romanian church were friendly and fun to talk with. Their building was new, and they were really trying to reach out into their community. They especially wanted the local German speakers to know that they were welcome (i.e., the church isn’t just for Romanians). Hopefully our service helped with that. We certainly didn’t sing in Romanian!

Kai and Missy Soltau were our main hosts in Vienna, and both of them had just lost a parent. They were kind and encouraging to us, even though they were hurting. They were a walking testimony of God’s grace while we were there, and I hope that we were able to encourage them in some small way.

The next day we had a whirlwind tour through Vienna. There was no way that we could visit everything, so first we drove around, and Kai pointed out the important buildings. We all went to St. Stephen’s Cathedral (Stefansdom), and we got permission to sing a few songs inside! This was particularly cool, because Haydn and Mozart both performed there. We always try to sing inside cathedrals, but sometimes it doesn’t work out, especially in the bigger ones. This was definitely a big cathedral, but we got permission to sing, and a crowd gathered. We were able to testify about God’s love, and several people asked questions afterward.

After Stefansdom, we got gelato, and visited as many buildings as we could. Then, we went back to the church for supper and did a service at Kai’s church.

Jan

“But you denied the Holy and Righteous one . . . and you killed the Author of life.” Acts 3:14-15

Injustice bothers me. I’ll see people who seem to get away with terrible things, and suffer no consequences. Sometimes, my sense of injustice makes it hard for me to function. I’ll become obsessed with an unjust situation, and find it hard to think about anything else.

When I read this passage last night, I thought, “This is injustice.” We rebelled against God, and then rejected the One He sent to save us. We killed the Author of Life. Justice demands punishment. God did satisfy His own justice, but not by punishing us. God showed mercy to mankind and to me personally. He let me live and allowed me to see what Christ was really for.

We killed the Author of Life, but that didn’t stop Him from His purpose. Still, He gives us life.

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Jan

Today when I was using Google Insights for Search, my Google toolbar observed that the page was in Ukranian and helpfully offered to translate it for me.

Thanks, Google, but actually this page is not in Ukranian.

Google thinks the page is in Ukranian.

Google thinks the page is in Ukranian.

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Jan

These turtles illustrate one of the very important roles that parents must play–reality coach.

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Dec

You might want to read this article on willpower. It might get you thinking in a different direction.

Then, visit 6 changes to explore a different (and quite possibly more effective) approach.

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Dec

Strange title, huh? Yeah, that’s what I thought when I first saw this BBC article about octopuses snatching coconut shells and running across the ocean floor. If you want to find out what they use the shells for, you’ll have to read the article! Make sure you watch the video too. Octopuses are such funny creatures!

disclaimer: I thought the video was funny, but I did not “almost drown laughing” like the scientist in the article.

Dec

Trent at Simple Dollar writes about something that’s been on my mind a lot lately–distractions.

Facebook, Bejeweled, and Google Reader are all distractions for me. A few weeks ago, it got so bad that I downloaded LeechBlock. LeechBlock allows me to block things like Facebook for a set amount of time. The thing is, once I set LeechBlock, I hardly ever have to use it.  I won’t even try to go to the site, because I remember that I’ve blocked it.

So why can’t I just decide that I won’t go to Facebook until I’ve finished my work?

The problem is that I’m focusing on the unpleasant process instead of the exciting goal. We’ve been doing some work in our house recently, and so far, I love the results. The process, however, is less than thrilling. Sometimes I think, “I hate all this mess. I can’t stand it. This has to change, now!” I could just clean up the mess and put everything back where it belongs, but then I would not have improved the house. No, I have to be willing to deal with some uncomfortable things while we improve the house. Those things are worth it if I focus on how I’ll love my house when this is done.

With all of my work, I need to focus on reaching my goals instead of listening to how I feel at the moment.

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Nov

Our time in Slovakia could hardly have been more different from Prague. We went to work with a little mission in the village of Sus. Our hosts there are missionaries sent out by Swiss Faith Mission, so they speak German (and some English, fortunately!). The people in Sus are all farmers, so the missionaries farm too. I think our time in Sus would have been quite shocking if we hadn’t been to Guetli already. Sus is kind of like Guetli, but more primitive.

Saturday evening we sang at a church in a nearby village. I gave my camera to one of the girls from Sus, so I have lots of photos of that service (for a change). We were a little nervous about that service since it was our first time singing in Slovak, but the people were very kind (and said that they could understand us!).

Saturday was July 4th, and on the way back from our concert, we had a private celebration in our van. Amy Corey brought glow sticks, and we turned up the patriotic music. Strangely, I think it was the best July 4th celebration I’ve ever experienced. I guess being in rural Slovakia helped me see how much I should be thankful for my country.

We had our own service at the mission Sunday morning, and then Sunday afternoon we helped with the mission open house. Normally, they invite all of the village people to come over for a Bible study and have refreshments afterward. Since we were there, we sang, and then someone from the mission preached, and then we had refreshments. It was an exciting day, because lots of the village people came! Unfortunately, we didn’t get to stay to talk to people afterward because we had to be in Bratislava that evening. I think most of them probably didn’t speak English, so we couldn’t have talked much anyway.

Sunday evening we sang at a church in Bratislava, the capitol. We gave a concert after the evening service, and not everyone stayed. At first, I felt a little disappointed, but I remembered that God can work no matter what the size of the audience. We sang “It is Well” that night, and several of the audience members seemed especially moved by that song. Actually, it seemed to be a favorite all summer, in all languages.

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Nov

After Kirchberg, we had to drive to Slovakia. It’s a long way to Slovakia, so we spent the night in Prague. It was a terrible trial, and we suffered greatly, I assure you. We especially suffered during the several hours when we went sight-seeing in Prague.

I love sight-seeing in Prague, but I can’t say that I love Prague as a whole. There’s a lot of dirt in Prague, and a lot of scary people. And it took three different keys for me to get into my hostel room. Three keys! I can’t decide whether that makes me feel very safe (No one’s breaking into my room!) or freaked out (Why on earth do we need three different keys??).

But still, it’s Prague. It has lots of shopping and old buildings, which make me happy. I wish I had a good picture of the market where we did most of our shopping, but I was too busy shopping to take pictures. Funny how that works . . .

I do have obligatory pictures of the astronomical clock, the St. Charles bridge, and a church. There’s also a picture of the cafe where we had pizza for supper. It was a nice day.

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Nov

We spent several days in Kirchberg, singing there and at other churches in the area. Unfortunately, my computer ate my pictures from those days. Since my pictures are gone, my memories are a little fuzzy, too.

In Kirchberg, we sang across the street from the market, and then went into the market to pass out invitations. There were several vendors who were unhappy about our presence, so I was very excited when the bakery stand lady stopped me and said, “If you will give me a stack of the invitations, I’ll give them to my customers.”

We had several good concerts in the Kirchberg area, but I don’t remember much about them. I met an interesting lady who teaches handicapped children. We sang in a town square and a shirtless man who acted drunk sat on the fountain in front of us and kept clapping and talking to us.

We had Bradley’s birthday celebration (not during a concert). It was so funny that I cried.

Oh, and food. I do have lots of Kirchberg memories centered around food. First, there are the sandwiches.

I’m sure our hosts from the previous stop gave us sandwiches to eat on the way. When we arrived at Kirchberg, they said that we were going to have kaffee and kuchen, but it turned out to be kaffee and sandwiches. That was ok, but for some reason, the team seemed to have reached our sandwich limit. So we didn’t eat very many sandwiches. But, the church people kindly left them at the church so we could have them for a snack later.

That evening, we were singing at a church in another town, and having supper there. When we arrived, there were lots of bottles of Fanta and beautifully arranged platters of sandwiches. It would have been funny, except that I think the church ladies must have made 7 sandwiches for each of us, and we were only able to eat about 1.745692 sandwiches apiece.

It’s not that we have anything against sandwiches, especially the beautiful ones that the German ladies make. And really, we were ever so grateful for their hospitality. It’s just that American young people can only eat so many open face salami (or cheese or egg or smoked salmon or bologna) sandwiches with a bit of butter and an artful slice of pepper or cucumber.

We also had sandwiches at a different church, and hot dogs at another. I thought we did a great job of eating the hot dogs, but one of the serving ladies didn’t. I think she cried when she saw how many were left over. I felt sad for her, but really, they didn’t need to make approximately 87 hot dogs for us. I think they got confused and thought they were feeding starving children from Africa. That, or a basketball team. At any rate, they expected us to eat ten times more than we actually can, and to eat it 30 minutes before we were supposed to sing an hour-long concert.

We were all staying at the church in Kirchberg (not in host homes), so when other churches weren’t feeding us, we cooked for ourselves. That was fun! We had pizza one day, and schnitzel another. Oh, and Dr. Dad made scrambled eggs for breakfast. Germans don’t generally make scrambled eggs, so this was the only time all summer that most people on the team had non-boiled eggs. And yes, we did eat those like we were starving. I think Dr. Dad made 100 eggs for the team. It was something ridiculous like that, anyway, and I think we ate them all! We did skip lunch that day, though.

Finally, there was an actual kaffee and kuchen (this one included coffee, and cake, and no sandwiches at all). There’s a very sweet couple in the church in Kirchberg that hosted me and Tim last year. This year, we stayed at the church with the rest of the team, but they invited us and Heather Davis and the Drs. Parents over for kaffee and kuchen.

Dr. Mom wasn’t able to go, because she wasn’t feeling well. So, there were just 6 of us at the table. But for the 6 of us, there were 3 kinds of ice cream, and a huge strawberry cheese shortcake and pastries and bread with butter and probably other things that I’m forgetting. We were expected to eat the entire strawberry creation, along with huge quantities of icecream and pastry. These people are so sweet, but I’m glad that they aren’t my grandparents. If they fed me on a regular basis, I think I would be dead. Oh, and on the way out, the lady gave me and Heather a box of chocolates!

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