Where have we been for the last four weeks? Here are three of my favorite stories:
Applying for our Austrian Residence Permits?
Austria has more restrictive immigration policies than you might have guessed, and we definitely experienced the truth of this in January. In order to be within the first 60 people to submit their residence permit applications, we anticipated cuing up at the visa office in Vienna around 6am on Monday, January 2. Mid-afternoon on January 1, a colleague received a tip from a friend (what a blessing!) that a line had already formed. A hectic hour later, Gregory was standing on the sidewalk with two colleagues (and around 30 other expats), where they spent the next 15 hours! Thankfully, the rain ceased as they arrived, and the temperatures, though chilly (mid 30s), could have been so much colder. Another wife and I joined the men in line at 4am. By around 10:30am, we had successfully submitted our applications, just barely within the 60 person limit for the year! We now await word from the government as to whether our permits will be granted or denied this year.
From Vienna to Emporia, Kansas
After 12 weeks in Vienna, we had to say goodbye to our new colleagues and friends, language, and beloved city. But it was an exciting goodbye as we eagerly anticipate our return to Vienna before summer! We flew out on January 7, almost missing our connecting flight in DC due to lines in border control and customs. Nathanael was amazing and entertained quite a few passengers by his countless walks/runs up and down the aisles. The most entertaining part of the flight for me was Nathanael's reaction upon our arrival into Kansas City. My parents (with whom we've been living mostly for the past year and a half) met us at the gate, and as we were walking down the jetway, Gregory and I finally spilled the news to Nathanael that his Grandpa and Grandma were waiting for him down the hallway. Running full-speed out of the jetway in his Superman pajamas, Nathanael emerged from the gate, saw his grandparents, and began barking exuberantly in their faces. Everyone around was laughing at this entertaining and unexpected scene! Apparently, Nathanael thought his Grandpa and Grandma should have brought their black labrador retriever to the airport as well. He did get over that disappointment quite quickly though, and the evening was full of grandparent/grandson hugs.
Training near Colorado Springs
A week after returning to the States, we packed up again and drove out to Colorado Springs for five weeks of cross-cultural and linguistic training. We were able to see some of my family in Western Kansas on the way out here, and that was a huge blessing in the midst of the craziness of travels. We have now completed the first three weeks which were focused on cross-cultural training. It was completely different from what I expected, especially after having gone through similar trainings in the past. This one was much more focused on self-discovery and relational health -- what an incredible opportunity to spend three weeks delving into these areas! The timing was great for us as we were able to "debrief" our twelve weeks in Vienna (how we responded to various stressors, conflict styles with each other and colleagues, healthy and unhealthy patterns of work and rest, etc.) and make some practical plans as to how we will proceed when we return to Vienna. We're thankful for God's sovereignty in the timing of this training; He knows -- so much better than we do -- our needs.
Colorado pictures will come later, as I apparently forgot the camera cord. Ugh!