Thursday, June 30, 2011

These are a few of my favorite things...

...walking around the 1st district
...melanges in random cafes
...people watching at Starbucks on Kaertnerstrasse
...seeing the Opera House as the tram rounds the corner
...smiling every time I see the point of St. Stephans on one with roommates/teammates
...finding bargains
...eating at the Naschmarkt
...worshiping at New City Wien
...speaking German
...public transportation
...retreat time with Him
...meeting new people
...taking pictures of literally everything I come across
...finding myself in love once again with Europe and German-speaking countries


In the last few days I've felt it.  I know that there is a specific reason for Him bringing me all the way across the world.  As much as I'm here to minister, He's ministering to me, too.  Pruning is never fun, nor is it ever easy.  But it's necessary for us if we're ever to be the person we were created to be.  I read this today in Hebrews:

"No discipline seems enjoyable at the time, but painful.  Later on, however, it yields the fruit of peace and righteousness to those who have been trained by it" Hebrews 12:11

Well, that's the truth if I ever heard it!  Of all the days to read a passage like that.  Yesterday, I blatantly said to God "I don't want to be exposed over here.  I don't want my teammates to see me being mean or pouty.  So I'm just going to hide it." And right away, this is what I got from that "You hide it all the time. So if you keep hiding it, how am I ever going to transform you into what I created you for?!"

I'm going to be blatantly honest:  Pruning sucks.  It hurts.  It's certainly not something I am enjoying right now.  But in the end when the "fruit of peace and righteousness" finally spring up, it will be something that was worth it.

Oh and also--just because I'm being pruned in this absolutely beautiful and gorgeous city certainly does not make it any more fun or exciting.  In fact, it probably hurts worse because I'm out of my comfort zone.  But when I return, I hope to be a different person because of it.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Comforts from the Cross

I cannot say enough about this book.  I have been reading this nearly everyday since before arriving in Austria and then everyday here.  Today I read something that really hit home:

"We are so frequently misguided about God's plans.  Day by day we measure our progress toward anticipated goals;  we judge God's faithfulness and our performance by the proximity of the desired accomplishment.  'Is everything progressing as it should?'  'Am I getting through this rough patch?' 'Are my kids achieving?' ' Am I paying down my debt?' 'Is my boss finally appreciating me?' And then the kids fail (again!);  foreclosure looms;  we discover that the boss not only doesn't appreciate us, but he's actually considering demoting us.  'Hold on!' we think.  'This isn't what I signed up for.  This isn't right.  I've followed God.  Where is he now that I really need Him?  What happened to all the plans we made together?'  We suffer because we mistakenly believe that God's goals and our goals are identical.  Into this confusion and sorrow, your Savior, who isn't insensible to your pain, speaks. 'I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace.  In the world you will have tribulation.  But take heart;  I have overcome the world'." (John 16:33).

I'm pretty sure everyday I think I've gotten it right or that I've figured God out.  I think about the future.  My goals, dreams, aspirations, getting frustrated that I haven't accomplished what I think I should have accomplished by the age of 32.  If I could just remember that His goals are certainly not the same ones I have set up for myself.  THANK THE LORD!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Fun on a Friday Night

Last night we went to a benefit concert for a friend from New City Wien.  She put on a magnificent performance and Eva & Brie also participated in it!  Afterwards we went to the church for falafel and pita and some great laughs together.  Here are some pics from our evening:

 Julie & Eva playing together
 Brie jamming on the box drum
With our awesome and amazing German teacher!!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Living Life

The last three days have gone by so fast that I forgot to post on our week anniversary here.  It doesn't seem like a week.  It seems like we've been here much longer, but in a good way.

Tuesday night we had our first Family Night w/the Hunters and Lindsey.  We ate tacos and then had family worship and played Apples to Apples.  We ended the evening with an episode of Modern Family.

Yesterday was our first Discipleship time w/our mentors.  Stacey is my mentor and I felt so blessed to be so open with her upon our first meeting.  We had breakfast at a little cafe in the 10th district of the city and I got to share my heart with her during our time.  It was great!  Last night we all went to see The Magic Flute at the Opera House and afterwards had Sacher Torte at the Sacher Hotel.  We ended the night with the movie Hitch.

Living life with these four other women has been great so far.  I am loving our times together and our life in Vienna.  Here's a few pics from yesterday:

Monday, June 20, 2011

On the Way Home...

So Allie and I heard that one of the store's on Kaertnerstrasse was having a 50% off sale today.  Since sales are few and far between in Austria, we both jumped on it.  We told our other roomies we'd be back in time to help cook dinner and that we'd only be gone an hour and a half.  Well, this was before we saw H&M next door to Mango (where the 50% off was taking place).  We spent some time looking in there and finally left about quarter til 6.  We were doing good on time and hopped on the tram, thinking that even though it was going in the other direction, it would make a loop.  (Looking back at when I lived in Switzerland/Germany, I should have remembered that most trams do not do this!).

After a while, I told Allie that this was not going to be as we thought.  We ended up on the other side of town at the Prater!  There was nothing we could do and so Allie called Eva to let her know we'd be late for dinner.  We walked through the park until we started noticing the familiar rides from the Wurstelprater.  We saw the sketchy rollercoaster and both of us laughed about how we had no idea whether or not the lap belt had locked.  Then, Allie looks at me and says "Wanna ride it again? We're already late!"  It didn't take much coercing at all.

We rode the sketchy roller coaster (named the Super Acht) and still aren't sure if that lap belt locked or not.  But we were laughing the entire time and then on the U-bahn home just about how random it all was.  We got home close to 8pm, the roomies had already finished dinner.  I felt a little bad about not being there to help cook but we washed dishes and besides--how many times can you ride a roller coaster on your way home?

...and the world passes me by

On Mondays we are to find a spot and have our quiet time with God.  I woke up earlier than usual this morning to shower and have breakfast and then walked from our apartment down to Kaertner Strasse.  At first I went to Aida Cafe and thought that might be a prime spot.  I ordered a Melange (traditional Viennese coffee) and got out my journal and Bible.  However, the chair I was sitting in was not so comfortable and I couldn't justify spending the next 3 hrs there.  I decided to give in to my American roots and went to Starbucks.  I know, I know.  I'm in the coffee mecca of the world and I went to Starbucks.  Does it make it better that I am sitting by a huge picture window facing the Opera House and the Sacher Hotel?

I've been reading through Comforts from the Cross today and the chapter I read was on suffering.  I was reminded of the people I know right now who are experiencing loss or hardships.  I was also reminded of myself and the way I whine and stomp my feet when things don't go my way and I like to call it "hardships" when really, it boils down to the fact that God is still pruning me.  A few things stuck out to me as I was reading:

"Jesus is more interested in our eternal cure than he is in our temporal relief."
"He is not capricious, picking petals off a daisy: 'I think I'll help them, I think I won't'."
"Hang on to him in faith...somehow in some way hidden to your weak eyes, your suffering if making a way for that to will see something you never could have imagined."

When I want answers, and I always want them right away, I will remember what Fitzpatrick says: "Jesus is more interested in our eternal cure than he is in our temporal relief."  Because what I think is going to be the best cure or answer for me may be the worst decision I could make for myself.

As the world passes me by next to this picture window, I'm reflecting on what that means for me.  I hope you will, too, for yourself.

Sunday, June 19, 2011


Yesterday, Amanda, Allie, Brie & I went to Wurstelprater.  Wurstelprater is an amusement park set within Prater park that used to be hunting grounds for the Habsburg family (if you don't know who the Habsburgs are, Wikipedia has a whole page on them! Worth looking at!).  It is famous for the Wiener Riesenrad, a ferris wheel that you can eat dinner on!  We didn't do that as it's quite pricey (100 euros!), but we did do a few other rides which were awesome!

Our first ride was this sketchy looking roller coaster.  You be the judge:
It was fun, but as soon as we got on, Brie turned to me and asked "Does this handle lock?" talking about the lap handle.  We're still not sure if it did or not.

We then went on this ginormous swing that was 300 something feet in the air.  It was a beautiful view of the city (and possibly Germany, Slovakia, and other surrounding countries!).
There was another ferris wheel that only cost us 3 euros and gave us a great view as well.
Our next ride was like the Tilt-a-Whirl or Mad Teacups on crack.  I never get sick on rides but this one made me queasy.  No pics of that ride.
Our final destination was this restaurant we'd heard about called Schweizerhaus (Swiss House).  They're famous for pig knuckles.  Yes, you read that right.  None of us got pig knuckles.  I enjoyed the true Viennese treat of Wiener Schnitzel
It was raining when we finished dinner, so we headed home and had a relaxed evening of checking email, skyping, and phoning family in the States.

This morning Amanda, Eva, and I were the first to rise and had a leisurely breakfast and devo time.  Our church service starts at 5, so we don't have to be at church til 4:15 which is nice.  I think all of us have adjusted to the time change, but it's still nice to have time for relaxing :)

Enjoy your Sunday!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Lazy Saturday

So today was the first day we had off since arriving in Vienna.  We all agreed last night that we were going to just CHILL this morning and not have any major plans.  It was glorious to sleep in until 10am and feel REFRESHED!  I got up, made some coffee, enjoyed some devo time, and checked email.  I was hungry by that point and just finished some delicious eggs.  I love the eggs in Europe.  There's definitely a difference in taste and they are even more yummy!

It's overcast today but I'm about to go on a run and then we're going to Prater for the afternoon.  I'm loving this day already and I haven't even gotten out of my pajamas!!!

Friday, June 17, 2011

Groceries & a Street Festival

This morning we got up and Lindsey took all of us interns grocery shopping.  It was so fun to be back in a European grocery store!  I was fondly reminded of shopping with Anne in Germany 3 years ago and even purchased a few items that reminded me of our grocery trips together :)  We had orientation again at the church and even saw the spot where Mozart composed The Magic Flute!  Tonight we went to a street festival and then went back to Brad & Stacey's for chips & salsa, a fire pit, and an unbelievable view of the city!  Brie & I stayed a little longer and played Apples to Apples with Stacey, Lindsey, the kids, and some family friends of theirs.  We're now all chilling in front of the TV watching Friends at our apartment and enjoying a relaxed night.  It's been a wonderful last three days.  The pics below are of the street festival and our time on the terrace of the Hunter's apartment.  Gute Nacht!

Savannah Stroud 1998-2011

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Pics from WHM & Our 1st Day in Wien

 Relaxing in the "puton"
 Allie, Caroline, & Kristen at the bonfire
 First glimpse of St. Stephansdom!
just something gorgeous in Vienna (I didn't find out the name of the building or the statue but I really liked it!)

We're here :)

The plane flight was smooth, the transition from Heathrow to Vienna was just as smooth, and now I'm sitting in my living room in the apartment I'll share with four other girls for the next two months.  It still seems surreal right now.  I honestly feel as though I'm in a dream.
Our apartment is pretty sweet.  Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen, washer/dryer, dishwasher...yeah, God is good!
We're going out with the rest of the team here in Vienna tonight for dinner and then coming back home for a much needed night's rest!  I have yet to sit down on my bed yet for fear I'll crawl into a ball and go to sleep!  As tired as I am, I cannot wait for the rest of the summer to begin.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

And we're off!

So the past two days have been a whirlwind...literally!  I got into Philly around 2pm, grabbed a bite at the train station, and then hopped on a train for Jenkintown and the Sending Center.  It was so good to see all of the interns I'd met in February as well as my fellow Vienna girls!!

On Sunday evening we had a fantastic Philly Cheesesteak dinner on the terrace and played a round of Apples to Apples.  You will relieved to know I found a puton here at WHM ;)  Pics to come later!
We crashed when we got to our host home and were blessed with a delicious breakfast the next morning along with an amazing cup of coffee!!

Monday we left for the SPADE Retreat Center outside of Philly and had two intense Bible studies.  We also made a life map which was extremely therapeutic!!  Monday night we had a cookout and bonfire (this is my 3rd bonfire in a week!) and then some of us girls went back to our room and shared our life maps with each other.

We returned to the Sending Center today around 10 and had a prayer meeting with the WHM staff, sharing our hopes for our different internships.  Right now, we're killing time before we have lunch and then the Kenya & Vienna interns are going to the airport!!  This time tomorrow, I"ll be in my new temporary summer home!!

Pictures of our weekend to come soon but for now I need to go grab food and then get ready to leave!!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

It's almost farewell time..

Last night my friends and I got together at The Lobster Pool in Rockport to share one last meal together before I head off. The Lobster Pool is a fantastic seafood place with great views of the sunset.  After we ate, we enjoyed a bonfire and roasted marshmallows.  It was such a fun time and I had a blast getting to visit with my sweet GCTS friends!  Tonight I was supposed to go see New Kids & BSB in concert together in Boston.  My friend Kristie had scored me a free ticket.  But it's raining pretty bad here and all around yucky.  I also am not keen on driving Yetta the Jetta too far anymore.  Oh and the one little detail I've left out--I haven't finished packing.  Or started for that matter.  Last night we got back late and then played Rock Band and by the time I got back to my room I was exhausted.

Tomorrow morning I leave bright and early at 7:45am on a bus headed to Philly.  I'm hoping to meet up with Eva, one of the other interns, at the train station and we will take the train to the Sending Center together.  I can't believe it's almost here.  In three nights I'll be sleeping on a plane and waking up in a part of the world that I adore.

Enjoy some pics from last night:

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

A Puton

I'm about 4 days from leaving Massachusetts now.  Nothing's packed yet, though I have spent the last week moving rooms and am finally (almost) settled in a new room at the end of the hall.  My new place is spacious and has more of an "apartment" feel to it.  I like it.

One of the best things in my new set up is this awesome "mushroom chair" I got from Trevor & Steph.  I can't think of its actual name, nor could I think of it the other night when I was explaining it to Melissa & Christine.  So I called it a "puton."  The name stuck and so now any type of comfortable chair is aptly named a "puton."

Every morning I've been able to have a cup of coffee, sit in my puton, and read Comforts from the Cross by Elyse M. Fitzpatrick and Hinds Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard.  Both books have spoken to me greatly and I can't seem to put either down.  I love snuggling up in my puton with my coffee and my books and relaxing this week.  I feel like everyone should find a puton.  Maybe it doesn't have to be a chair.  It could be a couch.  Or just a place that you can relax.  Wherever or whatever you make of it, I hope you find a puton for yourself and take time out to breathe.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A week from tonight...

...I'll be with the other four Vienna interns in Philly.  I can't wait to reconnect with them and talk about our summer together.

It's almost here.  In nearly a week I'll be boarding a plane to Vienna!!!