Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Catching up...

I have not been the best blogger this month. But I'm here to catch you all up on what you've missed...

Finals - I had one final and five, yes FIVE papers. I managed to finish them all before the deadline and enjoy Christmas break almost as soon as it got here.

Jacksonville - I'm in the South until Jan 10th enjoying some well spent family time and getting to see friends from Savannah and Ft. Lauderdale while I"m home.

Disney - I made my annual trek with my mother to see my friend Lauren perform in the Hoop de Doo Musical Revue at Ft. Wilderness. Beforehand, we all went to Epcot and had yummy sushi in Japan.

Christmas - was a sweet time with just the four of us, although it did feel strange not to have Bridgett with us!

Support Raising - please pray. And if you would like to hear more on how you can be a part of my ministry in Germany, please email (allistroud78@gmail.com) or FB me.

And now enjoy some pics taken in the last week :)





Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Not an Orphan

I got to go home this past weekend to sing for my dad's choir concert at his church.  While there, I was also privileged to hear my aunt Reina speak at our church's women's Christmas banquet.  She told a story that completely spoke to my heart and something I've really needed to hear in the last two months.

Some of you know about Mindy Love, the little girl from Haiti who my cousins fell in love with while doing ministry there.  Mindy Love was adopted into a family and her adopted mom told this story to my aunt.  I think it has much to do with our relationship with our Father:

When Mindy Love was first adopted, she didn't know how to act.  She would drop a toy and pitch a fit, throwing herself on the floor, kicking and screaming.  Her mother would pull Mindy Love into her lap and hold her while the little girl kicked and screamed, sometimes bruising her mom.  Eventually, Mindy Love would calm down and rest and just let her mother hold her.  Then she would look up and say "Ok! All better!" and jump off her mother's lap and go and play again...


Isn't this just like us?  We fight with God because we think we know better and want our own way.  Yet, He holds us while we fight and then lets us rest when we give up.  And then we decide we can do it all on our own again, jump off His lap, and go and play on our own.  We act like orphans and are unsure if God really loves us when really we are children of a King who desperately wants us to crawl into his lap and cry out to him.  I know that I am a perfect example of the aforementioned story.  Always kicking and screaming, begging God to let me do things my way because it would get done better and faster if I could just do what I wanted.  Then I ultimately make a mess of it and run back to Him when I'm at the end of my rope.

I don't think this pattern can ever change because of how depraved we are as human beings.  We will always think our way is better, even when we don't want to admit it.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Thanksgiving

This marked the last Thanksgiving I'll have in the States for a while.  My friend Joel was gracious enough to host at his apartment in Boston.  There were only five of us, but it was so much fun and very special to me to spend this last Turkey Day with people at GCTS who are like family.  We stayed over all day, watched all 3 original Star Wars movies, and had a lot of fun just being together!








Saturday, November 19, 2011

Sometimes...

This semester has been stressful.  Physically.  Emotionally.  Spiritually.  I've needed to get away and find rest.  True rest and peace.  And so last week I made the decision to take a little getaway trip to see the Antrims in Pennsylvania.



I mentioned before about transitioning out of life in the States into a new life for next year and this family knows all about that since we served together in Germany 4 years ago.  Last night we went and saw a play at the kids' high school and then came home and just sat in front of the TV doing nothing.  It was the most relaxed I'd been in a while.

This morning I slept in until 10 and we went and got breakfast at a little cafe up the road.  And now I should probably be working on assignments for class but I'm just enjoying the peace and solace of sitting on an oversized couch and listening to Ashleigh & Dale as they play on the Wii.  This is what my soul has needed for a while.  Just a time to reflect and pray and RELAX.

Ready for this weekend to be long and relaxing!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Support Raising

...is not an easy task, but completely faith based.  It continues to grow my faith daily as I begin this process.

Please let me know if you would like to hear more ;)

Alli

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Transitioning Out

I have six months left in Massachusetts and eight left in the States.  I realized that last night.  I also realized how much it has been affecting me.

Transitioning out is a tough process.  You're excited for the future that awaits, yet you also realize that the saying good-bye part is coming sooner than you would like it to come.  It kind of feels like a part of you is being asked to not exist anymore in the present but you have to because you're in that present.  And the other part of you knows you're existing in the present but is ready to move on to what is next because you know what is there.  You know what's expected and are ready to embrace it.  But because of where you are, you have to take a step back and live where you are, reminding yourself that the people and places around you will be around you for the next six months and you have to stay here in that realization.  Everyday you are awake, you know that the next day is just another day drawing nearer to the good-bye.

Not that everyday here has been cake.  There have definitely been struggles and as most of you know, it's the process that God has used to keep reminding me of His infinite grace and how big He is.  But I still love my friends here and the ones that have walked with me in those struggles are the ones that I am already mourning the loss of.  I know that I will see them again, that's not a question.  It's being in each other's lives on a day to day basis, watching the struggles and hardships, sharing a lot of laughs, tears, coffee, frustrations...and then one day you wake up and these people that you've spent all this time with, these people that know you better than a lot of other people, are gone and you have to start all over again in a new place, a new life, a new chapter.

The journey here has been rocky but at the same time I look back and I can smile because of who I got to share that journey with.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

What I'm learning...

My strength is pretty poor compared to His

My heart is wicked and unjust and in need of His Love

Self-pity is a big form of pride and of that I'm guilty

Acting like an orphan and despairing is relying on myself and not on a Father who wants me to put all of my trust in Him

What does it really look like to trust Him?

Just because something didn't turn out the way I wanted it to, that shouldn't mean that my whole day is ruined

He loves me.  No matter what.  Even when I screw up.  Which I do all the time.

He longs for me even when I don't long for him.

I need Him

He rejoices over me

When I feel shamed, that isn't from a loving Father, but from the enemy, who wants me to believe I am awful and have to fix it on my own.

There is a difference in guilt and conviction

Jesus. Loves. Me.

No matter how hard I try, I will never live up to the expectations I set for myself.  It's impossible.

He is enough. Period.

Pruning will never be an overnight miracle.  It's going to take the rest of my life because of the brokenness I live in.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Henri Nouwen

If you've not ever read anything by this man, go now and pick up one of his books.  This is what I read recently & it spoke so much truth into my life.

If you are being sanctified right now, just remember it's happening for a reason.

"You must avoid not only blaming others but also blaming yourself.  You are inclined to blame yourself for the difficulties you experience in relationships.  But self-blame is not a form of humility.  It is a form of self-rejection in which you ignore or deny your own goodness and beauty.
When a friendship does not blossom, when a word is not received, when a gesture of love is not appreciated, do not blame it on yourself.  This is both untrue and hurtful.  Every time you reject yourself, you idealize others.  You want to be with those whom you consider better, stronger, more intelligent, more gifted than yourself.  Thus you make yourself emotionally dependent, leading others to feel unable to fulfill your expectations and causing them to withdraw from you.  This makes you blame yourself even more, and you enter a dangerous spiral of self-rejection and neediness.  Avoid all forms of self-rejection.  Acknowledge your limitations, but claim your unique gifts and thereby live as an equal among equals.  That will set you free from your obsessive and possessive needs and enable you to give and receive true affection and friendship."
Henri Nouwen

Friday, October 14, 2011

Time Management

I've never been good at it.  Ever.  I can't seem to think back on a moment in life where I knew that I was managing my time wisely.  Today was one of those days.  I had a project due at midnight tonight.  I started it at 2:30pm and finished at 8:30pm.  I have to admit, I do kind of like the anticipation of procrastinating because it helps me actually finish.  I know that's not really something to brag about and I know that I should try and learn to manage time better.  With support raising literally right around the corner, I really have to focus and find the time to manage myself better.

Any suggestions?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Germany...For Real

So this has been in the making since I got back from Austria & I couldn't say anything until I got the official word, which was today....

I'm moving back to Germany next year to teach at the Black Forest Academy (BFA) in Kandern, Germany.  I'm not going to be far at all from where I was previously, which excites me even more.  I'll be teaching music and drama to Middle Schoolers and will be raising support so yet again this little blog will change names & be about my support raising efforts as I prepare to go on the mission field again.

What about seminary?  I'll have 4 classes left to take and I can do those on SemLink (distance learning) and still graduate when I was supposed to graduate all along.

Hands down, best early birthday present ever!!

Stay tuned...

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Hawelka

There's a cafe in Vienna that is pretty famous.  It's called Cafe Hawelka.  This was probably my favorite cafe this summer.  The roomies and I frequented it a few times for some delicious bread and jam and of course the coffee.  There's no menu at Hawelka.  You simply tell the waiter what you want.  I woke up this morning craving a semmel and apricot marmalade, which made me think of this wonderful place.   I sometimes still think it's hard to believe I can't just pop out the door, hop on the Strassenbahn, and walk down Kärtnerstrasse to Hawelka and Stephansdom and all the wonderful things in Vienna that I miss right now.

I'm learning a lot lately.  I'm learning that God isn't finished with the pruning inside of me.  I'm coming to find out that there's a lot of junk left that I still have to let go of.  And I may never see the end result.  But it started this summer.  And it is a process I love and hate at the same time.

So, since I can't go to Hawelka, I decided to just post a picture of our last breakfast there the day before we left Vienna.  Try not to crave ;)


Saturday, September 24, 2011

Wondering...

...if I should change my blog to a Posterous blog.

Thoughts from any of you that read this?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

This is Exactly What I Needed...

Thank you to my sweet friend Cathy who wrote this blog...I hope it brings you peace as it did me:

Cathy's Blog


Sunday, September 11, 2011

I Remember

The night before 9/11, my friends and I had gone out for my roommate, Erika's birthday.  Her actual birthday was on September 11, but for some reason, we had decided to celebrate the night before.  We went to the Cheesecake Factory in City Place and then went back home for drinks.  Everyone went to bed that night not thinking that the next day, our world would be changed forever.

I didn't go to class the next morning.  I think I might have not felt good or was just using up one of three skip days to chill at home.  I signed online and was still trying to wake up when I saw the pictures of one of the World Trade Centers on fire.  Underneath the picture was a caption that read "Commercial airline flies into World Trade Center."  Honestly, my first thought was "What idiot would do that?  Was the pilot asleep?"  Right after that, my mother called me and told me what was going on.  I remember feeling numb and knowing that I'd never forget this moment in my life.  I think this was the first time I ever remember not feeling safe in my own country.

I tend to think of 9/11, especially when I'm in an airport going through security, knowing that the reason security has been so guarded is because of what happened.  I think of it when I'm walking off the plane and how ten years ago, people could actually meet you at the gate and not at the front of the airport.  Even now, it's still eerie to see a picture of New York City with the towers still rising above and knowing that was "before 9/11."

A lot has happened in 10 years and there are many experiences I've forgotten about.  But I'll never forget where I was and what I was doing ten years ago today.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Cape Cod

This last weekend I went to the Cape with a few friends from GCTS.  It was probably one of the most relaxing weekends I've had in a long time.  We didn't do much of anything but sit on the beach and read and catch up with each other's summer stories.  On Saturday night, Nathan made his famous stromboli and we played a few games.  On Sunday night, we all grilled out and had more friends stop by for dinner and then a bonfire on the beach.  I even managed to grab a sleeping bag and sleep outside for a few hours.  All in all, it was a great start to a new year here and I was so blessed to have shared it with some pretty great friends!









Monday, August 29, 2011

How Was Austria?

This has been the question I've been asked the most since we returned nearly 3 weeks ago.  It is a question I both love and hate at the same time.  I love it because I hear "Austria" and a billion wonderful thoughts come to mind.  I hate it because I know there's no way to describe the time I had in a few short sentences.  We went over all of this during debriefing before we left and when we returned to Philly.  But it's still hard to put into words.  I hope I'm not coming off too aloof about it or like I don't want to talk about how glorious it all was.  I guess I'm just still processing it all.  Sometimes, I wake up and I still feel like I should be able to walk outside and down to Stephansplatz.  Other times it feels like I've been back for ages.

I don't really know how to end this post other than to say to please keep praying for me and for my other teammates as we continue our transition.  I don't think I'm alone in this process because we are all transitioning differently.  I've noticed I've become more reflective and pensive about it and I want to share in the joy that it was with my friends and not feel like it's such a dreaded thing to talk about.

Oh yes, Irene did hit but she was so weak that it only caused our power to go out for a few hours around here.  After having been in numerous hurricanes most of my life, this was one of the more tame ones I've lived through :-)

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Summer's Gone

Well almost.  I'm sitting in the Atlanta airport waiting for the next 3 hrs because my flight to Boston was delayed.  Obviously, I've had time to reflect and internalize, something that I really learned to do in Vienna over the summer.

I miss Vienna.  I miss the summer there.  And I know I've not even been back a month yet, but it already feels like it was another world in another time.  I thought I might be over reverse culture shock, but I"m not because yesterday I went to Wal-Mart & was wondering why my aunt wasn't bagging her groceries...and then I remembered that we don't bag our groceries in the States.  Duh.

Soon I'll be getting back into the groove of school and life at seminary.  It all went by so fast this summer. I still feel like I was just getting on the bus to get to Philly.

Here's to you Summer 2011!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Not Guilty

Mom & I went to the beach and then stopped by Reina's to see Jay & Diana before they left for their big move to California on Friday.  Jay is starting grad school out there at Stanford.  So proud of him :)

Towards the end of our visit, Mom & Reina were talking about something while I was surfing some really great clothes.  I only caught the last of the conversation but Reina, as always, said something quite profound.  It is Jesus' love that compels us to want to go and talk about Him.  Well, I don't know if those were her exact words, but pretty close anyway.  This is what I'd learned this summer and Reina summed it up in a short sentence.  That should make us all breathe a sigh of relief, you know?  Just because we shouldn't be guilted into "having to do something for Jesus."  It's because of the way He loves us that makes us want to talk to others about Him.

I would never want to be guilted into going out and doing something for God.  No.  I want to go because I am compelled to go.

But more about "going" later...

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Saturday

Tammy came to Jacksonville last night and it's been such a relaxing visit since she's arrived.  I had my Supporter's Dessert as well and was able to share some precious moments from Austria with a few of my supporters.  I even made a German Streusel cake and apparently it turned out great which was a shock to me since I have zero baking skills ;)

Today we got up, worked out, and then sat around the house drinking coffee and catching up.  It was so nice to just sit and have a conversation with my dear friend that I don't get to see so much.  Then we headed to the pool, laid out for a bit, and finished off the afternoon with YogaBerry (sorry Kim Brown! I caved!) and a pedicure.  Tonight we're going out for drinks.

All in all, it's been a perfect day.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Week

I've been back now in the States for a week.  Actually, a week and a day since we landed on Tuesday.  I'm still very tired during the day, but have been filling the time with some hard core workouts thanks to my trainer Kim Brown.  I forgot how sore I get doing these types of exercises but I'm glad that I'm able to fit them in (even if I can't feel my arms anymore).

I'm still trying to keep the same type of schedule I had in Vienna as far as retreat times go and so far, I've failed all but one day. It's so easy to get caught up in the old regime of things and I was hoping that wouldn't happen.  I still have 8 days to get that into place before I fly back to Boston.

Here's our latest family photo taken at my mom's bday party the other night :)


Sunday, August 14, 2011

Flannery O'Connor

A great quote was given to us during our Sonship Retreat a few weeks ago.  I'd like to share it with you:

"All human nature vigorously resists grace because grace changes us and the change is painful."


As we go through life we are always going to be bombarded by change.  It's only through grace, and God's grace alone, that we can learn to ride the waves of change in a healthy way.  It's never fun and even if you are one - like me - who doesn't mind change, it still disrupts us and the path that we think we should be moving on at that specific time and place.

I'm sure we're all of us going through some type of change right now.  Changing schools, changing jobs, changing friends, or, like me and several others I know right now, changing back to a home culture.

These past few days have been full of change.  Some days have been easy, other days have been painful.  And it's through the painful days I've needed to rely on Him even more.

I hope you'll do the same.

Friday, August 12, 2011

Reverse Culture Shock

This is something I'm not a stranger to in the least.  It happens when you return from a period of time from another culture & country & are trying to get used to life back in your home culture.  Yesterday, I was sitting at Barnes & Noble w/a friend and saw someone walk by in a Jacksonville Jaguars tshirt.  My first thought was "Oh they're from Jacksonville!" and I got excited and then remembered that it didn't matter because I was in Jacksonville and not Austria anymore.  Also, when I first entered Barnes & Noble I was a bit taken aback at how BIG it was.  I know some of you are probably thinking I'm exaggerating or at worst "being dramatic" but 2 months, as short as it sounds, really is a long time.  And I had been shopping in bookstores that were the size of convenience stores.  Amanda texted me yesterday to say she'd almost had a nervous breakdown going to the grocery store because of how large it was as well.  I'm glad to know I'm not alone right now!

Jet lag is still very much present.  I slept in til 11:30 yesterday and felt fine up until about 7pm and then wanted to crawl into bed.  It was 1am in Austria and I could feel it!  I managed to stay up til 11 and slept til 7:30 this morning.  We'll see how long I last today.

It's my mother's birthday today and we're celebrating at Reina's tonight.  It will be Bridgett's first formal family celebration.  I guess I totally forgot to mention that the weekend I was in Prague, my brother proposed and he & Bridgett will be getting married on June 2!

I'm having some quiet retreat time right now at Barnes & Noble while my mother is off meeting with someone about Premier.  I miss my little window at the Starbucks on Kärtnerstrasse.  But this table at B&N will have to do for now.

More later.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Thoughts From the Airport

We landed yesterday in Philly after some delays in the air.  However, my teammates and I didn't mind since we were bumped up to Business Class & were quite comfortable :)  It was quite hard to say goodbye in Vienna and very hard to say goodbye to my teammates today.  When I got to my gate here in Philly, I was on the verge of tears and didn't know why.  I then realized this was the first time in 2 months that I had been without Allie, Amanda, Brie, & Eva.  We of course had our retreat times once a week where we were alone for a good 4 hours, but that was different.  Because at the end of those 4 hours, we'd reconvene and go out for dinner or watch a movie or do something together. And here I was now knowing that, other than Brie, I didn't know when I would see the others again.

I'm in the throes of reverse culture shock and it's weird to hear english spoken everywhere.  When we were coming back from the airport last night to WHM, I looked out the window and my first thought was "Oh there's the Donau" but it wasn't of course because we weren't in Vienna anymore.  It is still hard to believe that I'm not within walking distance to the Graben or Stephansplatz.  That I won't be going to New City Wien on Sunday.  And that I won't be sharing in the precious community I've had this summer.

I'm about to board a plane headed for Jacksonville.  At this time I am extremely jet-lagged and want nothing more than to climb into my bed and sleep.

Please keep reading this blog if you like.  I'm still going to update and obviously, I had to change the title of it since I'm not in Austria anymore.  But I figured Going Places was an appropriate description of the path my life seems to take me :)

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Auf Wiedersehen, Austria

I'm about to get ready for one last Austrian breakfast with the other girls.  We're going to Hawelka, a famous cafe in the 1st district and one that we've frequented a lot in the last 2 months.  Then we're taking in the city one more day before coming back to the apartment to be picked up by the team.  We're going up to Kahlenburg, which looks over the city and then to dinner together at a heuriger.  Tomorrow we fly out at 7:55am, connecting in London, and landing in Philly at 3 in the afternoon.  

I still can't believe I won't be here tomorrow afternoon.  Yes, I'm excited about seeing family, sharing stories, catching up with friends...but at the same time I'm sad to leave the life I've known here for 2 months.  And although 2 months doesn't sound that long, it was long enough for each of us to build memories with each other, to get to know the people at our church, the kids at English Camp, and the city of Vienna.

I'm grateful that God granted me this summer here and that it is yet another tool He has for bringing me back to a continent that I love.

So long, Vienna.  Thanks for the memories.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Debriefing

We spent the night outside of Vienna in the town of Bad Vöslau last night, reflecting on the summer and what we went through here.  I can't believe that in nearly 48 hours, this will all be over.  This summer that I waited to happen has happened and on Tuesday we'll be flying back to the States.  I have loved every single minute of this experience.  Even in the conflict, the tears that were shed, and the days when I wondered how on earth I'd survive living in the same space with 4 other women, I still count this summer as one of the best.
Here are some pictures taken in the last week here:




Thursday, August 4, 2011

Yesterday

I meant to write a blog for everyday of my last week here but we've been so busy that I just realized this morning I needed to catch up on one!

Yesterday was one of my last days in the city.  I woke up and went to meet a friend from New City Wien at Starbucks.  Usually on the Strassenbahn I either read or listen to my iPod.  However, yesterday I just watched the city and my neighborhood pass me by.  It's definitely little things that I will probably remember and miss the most.  We have an on running joke among us about the "Tram Man", the automated voice we hear on the Strassenbahn whenever there's a stop coming up.  Apparently, I do a pretty good imitation of him or so I'm told ;)

After meeting up with Tabea, I went back towards our district and met up with Brad & Stacey for one last discipleship session.  It was hard to believe this was my last time doing discipleship this summer.  It was a great time laughing and just sharing all I felt I'd learned this summer.

Amanda and I met up at the hammocks by Museums Quartier.  There's this display there until October that is about 4 stories of hammocks that you can go and lie down in for as long as you want!  It overlooks Museums Quartier and is quite relaxing.  I read for a little while and then took a short nap before heading for the University.  Amanda and I wanted to get a few pictures there because we'd heard how beautiful it was.  We then made our way towards Votifkirche and went inside as we'd yet to see it.  Our last stop was getting a coffee at McCafe and talking about how we were going to have to say our goodbyes soon.

We met up with Allie and Brie at Karlskirche and went to take a look inside.  Unfortunately, they were holding Mass and we all felt a little bad about wandering around while services were going on.  Brie found a room to pray in while the three of us went back home and ate dinner.

Last night was a night we'd all been looking forward to for a while.  There's this really fun bar at the top of one of the buildings in the 1st district called SkyBar.  It overlooks the city and there's a great view of Stephansdom lit up at night.  The five of us went with Lindsay and her friend, Whitney, and sat and talked for a good hour or so.  It was a gorgeous night outside and I got some great pictures of Kärtnerstrasse.

We're all pretty tired this morning and we have a major cleaning job ahead of us.  Tonight we are hosting a Dessert Night for the church at our apartment so our place needs to be spic and span.  Tomorrow we leave for our Debriefing Retreat and will be gone overnight.  I'm hoping today I'll get one more chance to walk around my favorite parts of the city.  Pictures to come later.

Monday, August 1, 2011

One Week Left in Austria

I'm sitting at Starbucks off Michaelerplatz (I probably just butchered that spelling) across from the Spanish Riding School.  Today is our Retreat Time and I started it off at "my" Starbucks on Kärtnerstrasse.  I got a seat by the picture window which is my favorite spot.  Quite fitting since this is one of my last times there.  From there, I walked along the street to Stephansdom and sat inside, listening to music and reading from 1 Corinthians.  It was pretty sacred and I spent a long time just pondering a lot of "stuff."  I left Stephansdom and then headed down to the Jewish Quarter.  There is a big memorial there to the victims of the Holocaust, listing all of the concentration camps where Austrian Jews were killed.  We had visited this on our first day here in Vienna, but I hardly remember that as I was severely jet-lagged!  I walked back to the Graben, one of my favorite spots and then down Michaelerplatz to the Starbucks where I'm sitting now.  I'm a/b to meet up with the girls at the Rathaus for dinner and then a drink at Museums Quartier.  I know that this week is going to go by very fast because that's just how time has moved here all summer.  But today was peaceful and just like Saturday, I enjoyed some much needed "me and God" time.  Tomorrow we're going to pray at the Int'l Christian School of Vienna and tomorrow night will be our last Family Night.  It's all very bittersweet but at the end of the day, I'm so grateful that I had this opportunity.  More to come later ...

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Savoring

Today was a day I took for myself.  I left the apartment around 11:30 and headed into the 1st District.  I walked along Kärtnerstrasse and went into all 3 H&Ms, Pimkie, and a few souvenir shops.  I ended up having lunch at the famous Demel Cafe and then strolled back to the tram stop across from the Hofburg.  I decided to have a latte at one of our favorite spots here, BlueOrange, and then headed back home to start preparing for the Game Night at New City Wien tonight.  It was a perfect day and one I've been craving to have for awhile now.  I know I won't have much longer here and God only knows how much longer I'll have to wait before I return to Europe, so every single minute of every day left I'm trying to savor and take in as much as I can.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Schladming and Sonship

We just returned today from a five day retreat in the Austrian Alps town of Schladming.  Schladming is an hour from Salzburg and is situated in the heart of a ski village.  It reminded me a lot of the village I used to live in in Switzerland.  So yes, it was gorgeous and beautiful and I fully expected Julie Andrews and the seven children to come skipping down the mountain singing "Do-Re-Mi" at any moment.

For five days we were holed away in this little hotel with no internet, no phone, no connection to the outside world...and it was wonderful.  We had 6 intense sessions of Sonship with Jeff McMullen, a Sonship director from World Harvest who came over to lead the retreat.  If you've not heard or done Sonship, I encourage you to check it out on www.whm.org.  I was shown the Gospel in a whole new light.  There were many tears, many realizations, and many aspects of my life that I've come to see are idols of my heart.  And it hurt to admit that.  You don't tend to see what your idols are or that they even are idols until you come face to face with them.  

Probably the most convicting talk was the talk on Confrontation and Forgiveness.  As you all are probably aware, I hate confrontation, hate confronting anything, and run from it whenever there's a chance.  But I've had to confront this summer twice and both times were not easy.  Yet, I learned that the Gospel was bigger than my fear of confronting someone else.  The talk this week gave me the confidence and peace of the cross to overcome that fear.  It was truly a blessing.  We are in a continual process mode of how to take what we've learned this summer and apply it to everyday situations when we come back.

The week wasn't just full of intensity.  There were also many laughs and fun times with each other.  Yesterday, the interns took the Hunter kids and Jeff's son, Ewan, into Schladming and up the mountain to do a Ropes course.  We then went to another mountain and rode go carts down an Alp.  It was crazy and something I probably won't ever do again, but it was fun and I can say that I rode a go cart down an Alp!  This morning we went to an indoor water park and went down a slide numerous times as well as swam before we packed up to go back to Vienna.  

This next week marks our last in Vienna.  I'm going to enjoy it to the fullest.  Here are some pics from our week:





Sunday, July 24, 2011

Tomorrow

We are leaving for our Sonship Retreat in Schladming.  It will be a week of intense Bible studies, fellowship times, and reflection.  I'm glad we won't have internet or phone for a week so that we can truly "retreat."

I leave you with a few pics taken in the last week...



Saturday, July 23, 2011

In the last week..

...we have done a lot!

Monday-was our last German lesson and afterwards, Inge, our instructor, went with us to a Sri Lankan cafe near our apartment.  If you've never had Sri Lankan food it is DELICIOUS!!  After lunch, we had our retreat time and I headed to Starbucks and then walked around the 1st District

Tuesday-we took some of the older kids from English Camp to a toboggan run here in Vienna.  I went down at least 4 times!  On Tuesday evening we had our weekly Family Night at the Hunters and our theme was Raclette and The Sound of Music!  I will never tire of that movie!

Wednesday-Brie and I met up with an English Camper and her mom, grandmother, stepfather, stepbrother, and cousin to tour the Natural History Museum.  Afterwards, we ate at a Viennese brewery.  It was so great to be able to talk with the family and hang out as this was what I had envisioned on this trip!

Thursday-was Bible study and Thursday night we had roommate game night.  We played Telephone Pictionary, Story Hour, and Balderdash.

Friday-Brie and I went to an old cemetery where Beethoven is buried with Ewald Ring and his family.  Ewald is a Gordon-Conwell grad and is from Vienna.  We had a great time with them!  Last night Lindsay came over and made fajitas and sangria and then we all watched Baby Mama together.

Today-I slept in and then went to Schönbrunn Palace to take a tour.  It was beautiful and I enjoyed hearing more about the Hapsburg family and their empire.  I had a wonderful time afterwards window shopping and venturing to parts of Vienna alone that I hadn't made it to yet.

Monday we will leave for our Sonship Retreat in Schladming, a little town about 3 hrs from Vienna.  I'm looking forward to this but at the same time, I know that when we get back on Friday, I'll have just a little over a week left in this amazing place...

Friday, July 15, 2011

Alli's in Prague!

We were given a weekend off from our internship and so the five of us all went to different places.  Eva is in Brussels, Allie in London, Brie stayed in Vienna with friends who are visiting her from Deutschland, and Amanda and I took the bus up to Prague.  We've been up since before 6am this morning and that was after neither of us getting to bed until after midnight.  However, we walked all over the castle grounds and did some fun shopping in the Old Town today.  Tomorrow we're taking a tour of the city and might possibly hit up a few museums.  Pics to come soon.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1/2 Way Point

Exactly 4 weeks ago today we left for this adventure.  Arriving to Vienna we were wide eyed (and jet lagged) and excited with anticipation to get this summer started.  We've been through a lot in the last month.  The excitement of being in Europe is still fresh on our minds, but we've also been living life together in community.  We came into this apartment as five independent women with completely different personalities.  And yes, they've come to a head more than once.  But in the end, I have discovered these amazing new friends that I laugh and share joy with but at the same time can cry and be myself.

We have 3 1/2 weeks left.  I plan to get as much out of this internship as is possible in the remaining time here.  But at the same time, I don't want the adventure to end so soon.  You can definitely pray for me as I get ready to return, but that I would also be able to live out this adventure with Him in the most exciting ways possible!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

This week...

...was the busiest week I've had in quite some time.  We did an entire week of English Camp with 40 Austrian kids and had a team from St. Andrews Pres in FL come over to help out.  It was such a blessing to watch these kids being loved on and them loving on us as well.

On Friday, we went to the Prater and had a picnic and played on this AMAZING playground there.  European playgrounds have no rules and get away with a LOT...which means a LOT of fun :)  Check out that slide...!




Saturday, the roomies and I took a day trip over to Bratislava, Slovakia.  Bratislava is a small town but worth the visit.  It was a former communist city and there are several buildings that you can see across the Danube that have that "communist feel" to them.  We climbed up a large hill (in 90 degree heat!) to the castle that overlooks the city and before that, had a traditional Slovakian lunch.



When we got back to Vienna, we headed to the Stephansdom Cathedral to hear Handel's Messiah.  It was beautiful and the music was stellar.  However, this morning we were dragging and I think we are all grateful for a slower week these next few days!