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 ...