Monday, March 2nd – Vienna, Austria
Vienna is about three hours away from Salzburg. Upon our arrival, we thought to ourselves, “Was this really worth the effort?” It didn’t help that we got a parking ticket within, literally minutes, from the time of our arrival. As we were checking in, the hotel clerk, whom we couldn’t decide whether he was yelling at us or being nice to us, told us how we needed to be careful about the parking. There were no signs, no meters, no indication whatsoever that we shouldn’t park there but as he was explaining things when he suddenly declared, “You could have a ticket right now!” Apparently he knew what he was talking about. We were convinced he pushed a hidden button and someone jumped out of the bushes and slapped an 18 euro ticket on our windshield. Welcome to Vienna!
The main sight we went to see was St. Stephen Cathedral. After some confusion about the streets, thinking we were at St. Stephens, we asked a girl who spoke English and was attending ‘university’ which is what they refer to college as. We walked with her to the University of Vienna and then began to see some of the most spectacular buildings I have ever seen. You can see by the pictures how amazing the city is. It was definitely worth the stop.
I have to confess that one of the highlights for me was when we were walking down the streets of Vienna, munching on some sort of sausage stuffed in a french baguette, and a good portion of mustard seeped out of the bun and on to Brad’s shoe. It was hilarious. Brad took it all in ‘stride’ (no pun intended).
We didn’t realize how tired we were when we got back to the room. I suggested we take a little snooze, figuring I would get up in an hour or so and plug in my devices to charge up. write a post for the blog and it would all be good. Well, things didn’t quite work out that way and about six hours later, I woke up around midnight, and then went right back to sleep for another two hours, never got out of my clothes. Truly, it was the most I had slept since arriving, and I might add the best night’s sleep yet
The Lord really has a way of working all things for good. I started working on my blog, Brad woke up and worked on some things and we were able to be on the road by 5:30 AM. This meant we were able to spend more time with Frank and Judy and get into Leipsig with plenty of time to tour Leipsig and have dinner with Pastor Kurt
Tuesday, April 3rd – Schlammersdorf with Frank & Judy and Leipzig
It was so good to see Frank and Judy. They had only been there a few days and things were well on their way to being set up, including a little Easter egg tree in their yard that their daughter Mandy had set up for them. We got w full tour of the house. Frank had placed yellow sticky notes with german words for various things, all around the house. Knowing Frank, he will be fluent within a couple of months. Their place is awesome and after a tour of the house, the town of Schlammersdorf as well as a coule of other small towns, we stopped at the home of Brian and Aimee Kleager). Brian and Aimee are missionaries with Cadence, a para church missions organization that focuses on supporting military chaplains in ministering to the needs of the troops who are deployed. They have home bible studies, fellowship dinners, family camps and all of those things that the chaplains aren’t able to do because of being under staffed. I was really glad I got to meet Brian. It was just another open door to connecting with God’s people outside our four walls…in fact outside the four walls of the U.S.
I think that Frank and Judy were very happy to see us, even though they had only been gone for a short time. We had a great lunch over jagerscheitzel (Weinerschietzel with mushroom gravy) and a local restaurant. It was so authentic that the waitress didn’t speak any English and needed to solicit the help of one of the patrons.
We had a great time sharing the things we had been learning along the way. After dropping them off to go look for a car with their neighbor we were off to Leipzig and my first attempt at driving on the autobon. I was able to get it up to 195 km which translates to ? mph. Even at the speed I had to stay in the middle lane as cars were speeding past me. Needless to say it was a blast.
Driving the countryside of Europe is some of the most spectacular country I have ever seen. The charm is alluring. We arrived in Leipzig, Germany (a very large city of around 550,000 people). It was by far the most modern city if all we had visited, with the exception of Vienna. We arrived early enough to check into the hotel and tour the city a bit before meeting with Pastor Kurt Ibbotson, the pastor of Calvary Chapel Leipzig.
We got a quick ‘guided tour’ of the city and learned a number of things. The foremost being, that up until the fall of the Berlin wall on October 9, 2010, Leipzig was in East Germany and therefore communist. The implications of this for ministry in Leipzig is significant. Many of the older people, I was 36 at the time, have never fully recovered and quite angry and mistrusting. Certainly this must be kept in mind as consideration is given as to how to minister to these dear people.
We saw the church where the fall if communisim in Germany began and guess what? It began with a 24/7 prayer meeting that r time grew to over 700,000 people. There is no question that God moved through the prayers of His people. The name of the church is St. Nicholas.
Another highlight of the tour, was seeing the church where Johan Sebastian Bach was the worship leader for 40 years. Apparently, he and Martin Luther were friends, and Luther were teach occasionally at Bach’s church. Imagine a church service where Bach opens with a little worship and then Martin Luther throws down the message. Wow!
Wednesday, April 4th – Leipzig and Calvary Chapel Leipzig
We had breakfast with Tiffany Ibbotson, Pastor Kurt’s wife) on Wednesday morning as Kurt was not feeling well. It was really good to hear from her how things were going and how we could best support them. She told us that the best thing we could do is pray. It inspired me to put even more effort into establishing more prayer in our church. She told us the heart that her and Kurt have for supporting other missionaries and how they had held a missionary kid’s retreat for several missionaries. It will be fun to see how the Lord might have us be involved in that in the future. She said that the missionary families we’d so grateful that they hoped they would do it again next year.
By the afternoon, Kurt was feeling better and gave us another tour of leipzig. We were able to buy him a late lunch (it was his birthday that day). He took us to a favorite lunch place of his, Turkish food, where he had developed relationships with the owners. It is exciting to walk in with one of the missionaries and hear them speak the language and interact with the people as friends. Kurt and Tiffany have been in Germany for 13 years.
We concluded our evening by attending their Wednesday night service which started with a fellowship time of food (breads and spreads) and then worship at 7:00. They have a very nice set up, around 30-40 adults plus kids in attendance. They have a children’s ministry problem (some challenges in the ministry are universal) and seeking some solutions. Unfortunately we had to leave right after worship, and after them praying for us, we were off to Frankfurt, for one last very ‘short night’s sleep’ and then flying back to Seattle in the morning.
Words cannot even begin to express the impact that this trip had on my Christian life. I learned so much about the need to care for our missionaries and how we can best support them. I also had the Lord confirm the things we decided to implement several months ago, regarding narrowing our missionaries down to a few and really getting behind them financially, prayerfully and physically. I thank God for each of your prayers and support while we were gone, and that I have been able to share the trip with you via this blog. I hope that it was encouraging to you. I look forward to the day when we can return and take many of you with us.
In His unfailing omnipresent love,