Being here at Haus Edelweiss, many say, is a little piece of heaven. Getting to fellowship and worship and spend time in prayer with brothers and sisters from so many nations and people groups gives us a small glimpse of what we will experience for an eternity in heaven. And this helps me make it through a day like today.
Today we say goodbye to the students, these friends we have made over the past week. We sent them off the way we welcomed them – with warm greetings and a time of prayer. It’s amazing how hard it is – we’ve known each other such a short time and some of us can’t even speak a common language, but we all share a love of Christ and this is a very strong bond. If you’ve served on a mission trip before, I’m sure you can relate – you might be exhausted, but you are having such an incredible experience and building such great relationships, it is very hard to see it end.
Praise God that we know it is just a temporary goodbye. Praise God that this parting is but a brief blink of an eye. Soon we will join our King in heaven and be reunited with all of our Christian brothers and sisters, those who live around the corner, and those who live around the globe. In the meantime we gather our tissues and smile through the tears at the fond memories we will treasure.
Tonight we had a lovely time of praise and prayer with the volunteers and staff. Tomorrow we will work very hard to clean all the student dormitory areas and get them ready for the next session, which starts later this month. Much to be done and only one day left!!
Please be praying for the students of TCMI. Pray for their families, their ministries, their countries, their churches. Pray for the Kingdom work to be done where they live and work. Pray that they would return home energized and ready to serve the Lord with even greater fervor. Many serve in very difficult situations and they covet our prayers for them. Thank you for your prayer support. It means so much.
Despite the beautiful surroundings, don’t be fooled. We are working hard here in Austria. We go to bed each night with tired legs, tired backs, tired feet, but happy hearts. And this is all because of the students. The students are why we came, who we serve, and what motivates us on. Their humble gratitude is so inspiring.
Everyone has a story. There is Christian from Romania, who lost a child last year and could have lost his way, but stepped out in faith and has resolutely focused on finishing his TCM education so he can dedicate himself more fully to the Kingdom. He quit his job so he could devote more time to his studies and complete his degree. There is Brad from Czech Republic who left behind home and family to serve God and share the gospel. There is David from Romania who, together with his wife, desperately wants to start a family, but she has fought cancer and diabetes and may not be able to have children. So they wait to see what God’s plan is for them and meanwhile serve Him with joy and gladness among the youth of their church. There is Evgheni from Moldova who co-pastors a church with Serghei – serving the Lord in one of the poorest nations in Eastern Europe. There is Eszter from Hungary who just started working as a home health care aide because she knows this will help her practice compassion so that when she finishes her TCM education she is better equipped to go on the mission field. She wants to go evangelize to tribal people in whatever part of the world the Lord sends her to. There is Alexandr from central Asia where the Muslim religion is so dominant, but this is actually opening doors for him. There is Nimrod from Hungary who is a TCM student and a medical student and just wants to compassionately serve. Everyone has a story. These are just a few.
What is your story? What is God calling you to do? How is God calling you to serve? What will He inspire in someone else through you today?
Blessings to you all! Thanks for praying and following our journey!
It is a beautiful day here in the Vienna Woods and I pray you are having a beautiful day, too. One of the blessings for the students when they come to study at Haus Edelweiss is that it is like going to school and going on a retreat. They can sit outside and study, walk in the woods, or just spend time fellowshipping out in the beautiful environment. With such busy, hectic lives, this is a much needed release.
Yesterday was a very fine day here as well. We had a heartfelt worship service led by the students from Hungary. We were blessed by the offering of their gifts of teaching and music. It really excites me for the ministry of TCM because this is what it is about – energizing and training up these church leaders and teachers and musicians and workers so that they can go home to their country and be effective not only where they worship, but where they work, live and play. It’s thrilling to be part of the ministry of these gifted individuals! God be praised. Jim Buckley, a pastor and TCM professor from California provided the message. Last year, Jim answered God’s call to walk across America to bring attention to the need to get Jesus back into American homes. The testimony of he and his wife Glenda about their trip is very powerful (learn more at invitingAmericahome.org).
Sunday evening we were again blessed, this time with a the traditional campfire fellowship. For many students and short-term workers, this is a highlight. Just like the campfires back at church camp, we sit around and sing praise songs and tell stories. Anyone who wants to grab a guitar can play or lead or request a song (in English or their own native language) and anyone who wants to share a testimony is free to do so as well. And then we have marshmallows!! These are brought over all the way from the US, as you don’t find them here in Austria. It’s a fun special treat for everyone involved.
Today it is back to work full speed ahead as class is winding down for the students, who will be finishing class and leaving Wednesday. What a whirlwind week they have!
Thanks for praying and thanks for following along.
After a few days of traveling and settling in, we are so happy to report we are working!! What does that mean on this trip? Well, for some of us today that meant making beds, dusting, and other preparations for students. For others it is moving washers and dryers out of several buildings in anticipation of new washers and dryers being delivered tomorrow. With 45 to 60 or more students coming to 9 sessions of class per year, plus one session of graduation, you can guess a lot of laundry gets done here at Haus Edelweiss! The current machines are very old and have been repaired many, many times. It is a blessing and answer to prayer to have new machines to use to better care for students while they are here. And finally some workers prepared food for today’s meals and meals we will have later this week. What a joy it is to serve.
The Austria mission trip is so different than other mission trips because you do have so many comforts of home and while you are in a foreign country, you don’t have the same culture shock because so much time is spent with other Americans preparing for students to arrive and then doing work after they leave. For some, this makes it a good introductory mission trip because it is not quite so overwhelming. But it can be very dangerous. Just as people in developed countries can lose sight of where their hope and provision lies, we can easily stray from our purpose and let distractions guide us. We can forget we are here to serve, not here to enjoy the view. Please pray that we would stay focused on mission, focused on service, and most importantly, focused on God while we are here (and beyond). Bless you all and thanks for following along!
I admit it. I get defensive. When you consistently get the same reactions upon telling folks you are going on a mission trip – to Austria – it does that to you. We have a perception of the mission field as being primarily composed of third-world countries. Not so. Case in point: people in our own backyard need the saving message of the gospel and the US is one of the most prosperous nations in the world.
It takes a bit of explaining to understand the trip our little team is taking. Three of us have traveled from TPCC to Haus Edelweiss, the campus and base of TCM International Institute. While here, we will serve students from 11 countries in Eastern Europe and Central Asia. We’ll work alongside volunteers from elsewhere in Indiana, Michigan, Utah, California, and Arizona and the full-time TCM staff. More to come on exactly what we’ll do all day, but it won’t be twirling around the Alps or singing our way through Salzburg. (Can’t wait to learn more? Visit http://www.tcmi.org and read first hand about the mission of TCM)
At the end of our time here, the students we serve will return to their home countries (as will we) better equipped to serve our Lord and share the gospel. Countries where we as Americans do not know the language, do not know the culture, do not have ties to the people. But these students do and can go home and have an immediate impact. And, having served these students, fellowshipped with them, prayed for them, a little piece of us as volunteers will be going to their nation too. So I see this not as the “sissy” mission trip (even though we are blessed with lovely surroundings and facilities), but the super mission trip. Eleven countries – no jet lag, no language classes, no visa required. Eleven ripe mission fields. What an opportunity! Thanks for joining us.
Hello from Haus Edelweiss in Heiligenkreuz, Austria. Our team of four: Tricia Fortin, Luann Hostetler, Linda and Paul Hagan, have been at the Haus since Friday, April 13th. There are fourteen short-term workers from Colorado, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee serving at the Haus during this 2nd teaching session of the year. We have been spending our time learning our responsibilities on each of the teams we have been assigned. There are five classes being taught at the Haus during this session. The professors are from Indiana, Belgium, Austria, Romania, and Australia. The students, approximately 50, are from thirteen different countries. The final student count is to be determined as some students have been delayed at some country borders and are not allowed to continue their travel. You can’t imagine how much of a disappointment this is for them and for us at the Haus.
The student arrival at the Haus is delayed one day this year as the Orthodox Easter was celebrated on April 15th as many of the students needed to be in their home church. Classes start on Wed., April 18th and the activity at the Haus really ramps up.
Our Sunday evening church service was special in many ways. What a joy it is to praise, worship, and fellowship with our brothers and sisters here. As I write this it came to me that our service started at 1700 which was 11AM Indy time. We all worshipped together. It was especially encouraging to hear stories the students had written about their times/feelings while at the Haus.
Keep the TCMI ministry and session 2 in your prayers.
The rest of Traders Point’s mission team has finally arrived on May 13, bleery eyed but excited to get started after traveling for two days to get here. Tricia Fortin, Paul Hagan, Andy and Tracey Hensel, and Greg and Karlene Kashman came through the gates of Haus Edelwiess at 1:30. It’s good to see reinforcements, even road weary as they are for the mountain of work ahaead of us.
Paul writes of their their trip:
“Our ten-day TCMI short-term mission trip to Haus Edelwiess started on Wednesday, May 11th.
Our flight from Indy to Washington DC (Dulles Airport) was scheduled to depart at 2:25 PM. After boarding and deplaning from two different airplanes and waiting on repairs to be completed on the second, we finally departed Indy at 9:20 PM. Missing the final flight for the day over the Atlantic, we overnighted outside of DC. We then were rerouted from our original itinerary and arrived at Haus Edelwiess Friday afternoon. OUr original itinerary had us scheduled to arrive the day before around 10:00 AM.
Though late in arriving, we were thankful for the travel safety God provided. Through the challenges put before us, it was readily apparent how God answered each one of them. Now the challenge is to recover from the jet lag and prepare for our time of service.”
With a graduation taking place and people arriving from all over Europe, it’s no time to sleep now. There is work to be done. As John Wayne would say, “Saddle up and ride. We’re burning daylight.”
Part of the Traders Point short-term mission team has arrived in Haus Edelwiess on Thursday, May 12, one day later than planned but ready for the first day of training and working with TCM‘s staff. Word has gotten to us that the larger group will be coming in tomorrow. Until then we will learn the history and logistics of this forty-eight year old ministry that has been equipping Christian leaders in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Northern Africa and what is expected of us during our service here.. We have been told that in 2008 TCM International Institute was granted accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association.
On the outside it’s a quiet piece of heaven located approximately sixteen miles outside of Vienna in the foothills of the Alps. Inside the activity happens at a feverish pitch. There are classrooms to prepare, grounds to manicure, facilities for the graduation to be set up and furnished. Meals have to be prepared and support staff to be assigned to the various needs surrounding the ceremony. In the midst of all this activity, the Murphy’s still manage to do some souvenir shopping for their (our) granddaughter back home in Indiana. The staff here is so appreciative, professional, and just plan fun to be with. The team here from Greenwood Christian Church are well matched to the needs here as well.
Where is the rest of our group from Traders Point? Stuck in the Dulles International Airport. Maybe we’ll see them tomorrow.
It’s Monday morning, May 9, and Glenda and I are flying “stand-by” to Vienna, Austria to serve at TCM’s Haus Edelweiss for two weeks. It seems that the combination of the Kentucky Derby, the 500 Mini-marathon, and Mother’s Day have filled the flights between Indy and Philadelphia. Waiting and praying for seats to open up. It’s always an adventure traveling this way. God builds patience and character through this.
The rest of the team will be leaving on Wednesday. With confirmed seats. There are eight Traders Point people, and nine from Greenwood Christian Church. What a neat group of people that have been brought together for this trip. And what a privilege to serve God this way. We as a couple have talked about serving as short term missionaries to TCM for many years, and now are seeing God taking us there at last. We just don’t know when we will arrive. It’s in His hands.
Bumped off of two flights today, but looking forward to repacking, rearranging, and trying again on Tuesday. What an adventure God has started us on.
Each morning after breakfast, we break into our assigned work teams. Our team always begins with discussions, devotions and prayer. At the beginning of each discussion time, we learn about a couple of countries where TCM has students. It is interesting to learn the basics such as the physical layout of the land, population, the types of crops grown, the weather and other general information. Often times, the conversation then takes on a somber tone. Today was one of those days as we listened to and discussed the oppression some believers face in their homelands. After our work time began, I found myself reflecting on just how much we have as Americans, specifically our freedom of speech and freedom of religion. We can openly and freely talk about our beliefs and can sing songs of praises and not have to fear for our safety. We are truly blessed.