Well, our time in Austria has come to a close. I think that I can speak for everyone on our trip when I say that we were very sad about leaving the “storybook” city of Vienna. Our time in Europe was a whirlwind of excitement. We did a lot of shopping, indulged in fantastic foods, explored historical sites, and attended the local Apostolic Ministry Training Courses. Each weekday had just about the same schedule. During the day, we would have the freedom to explore the city and navigate (or at least try) the public transit systems. We did everything from eating at cafes that dated back to the 1800s, to touring the Schönbrunn palace to playing “American football” with the local youth group at a beautiful park. Each evening during the week, we would attend 4 different classes. Each one had a different focus such as Church History or Spiritual Leadership. Many of our students and instructors had the opportunity to teach these classes. Our weekends were also a blur of exhilaration. Our first Saturday in Austria, we traveled to a quaint town called Salzburg. Nestled between the Alps, we got to explore the beauty and uniqueness of this lovely place. The next Saturday, we divided into two groups. One group hiked the Alps and the other explored parts of the city that they had not yet seen. Their weekend church services were POWER PACKED! From the music that was sung both in English and German to the wonderful sermons preached; everything was amazing. The same spirit that is at work here at home is evident in Vienna as well! God moved mightily during our time overseas, and we are excited to see what He has in store for the future of The Church of Acts (COA) and Austria as a whole!
- Faith Strawn, Junior
The United States might be 7+ hours behind Austria, but we are a few days behind on the blog and posting. We have had a very busy weekend full of stories and memories that we are excited to share with you. On Friday, we toured more of Vienna (yes, more), Saturday we traveled to Salzburg, Vienna, and Sunday we went to church and spent some time with the wonderful people of the Church of Acts (COA).
Can there really be that much to see in Vienna? We are convinced there really is. It seems every day we see and experience something new. Friday was just another one of those days. Sister Whitney took us on another tour of the city to see Heldenplatz, Hofburg Palace, Herrengasse café & chocolate shop, Volksgarten, Parlament, Rathaus and Beethoven’s House. One of the most notable parts of this day was when we were able to visit the very location where 250,000 people listened to Adolf Hitler give the ceremonial announcement of the Austrian Anschluss to Nazi Germany on March 15, 1938. It is surreal to stand where such a huge part of history took place. Later that day, we joined the COA again for another series of Apostolic Ministry Training Center (AMTC) classes here in Vienna.
Saturday was a long day that began very early. We all met in the hotel lobby at 6 am to catch our train to Salzburg, Austria. We arrived in Salzburg around 10 am where we started exploring the city, grabbed lunch in the market, took a tour of Mozart's house, then met up with our Salzburg tour guide around 2 pm. This tour included a few stops within the city, but our favorite part of this tour included the stops outside of the city - the Alps. Before heading back to Salzburg, we were able to sit down for a quick dinner in a little city in the middle of the beautiful Alps. That evening, we arrived back to Vienna around 10 pm. Although it was an extremely long day, it was also an exciting day that none of us will forget.
Sunday morning, we joined COA here in Vienna for their church service. Our Program Chair of Christian Education, Cynthia Ticas, taught adult Sunday school, and one of our Christian Education students, Carina Fellman, taught the children in Sunday school, along with the help from a couple of other students. In addition, we were given the opportunity to sing as a group during the worship service. We are thankful for each opportunity to serve in various capacities. For lunch on Sunday, Brother and Sister Pace took us to Vapiano's for where they serve fresh pasta and make your food in front of you. It was delicious. After lunch, the COA youth took our students downtown for some gelato and exploring. Spending time with the youth of COA has been fun. Our trip never would have been this incredible without the great people of COA.
Day 3 and the adventure is only beginning. Today the Associates in Missions, Whitney & Sarah, joined us for breakfast and then took us on a tour of the city center here in Vienna. Navigating Vienna is much easier with these ladies helping us; we are extremely thankful for all of their help and hospitality. During the tour, we were able to see the Opera house, Kärntner Strasse & Graben shopping streets, as well as the beautiful St. Stephen’s Cathedral. For lunch, we stopped at Chattanooga in the city center and tried some of Vienna’s classic meals. If you are curious, we can assure you the food in Austria is not disappointing. After lunch, Whitney and Sarah knew we American’s fighting jet lag needed a pick me up before we headed back to get ready for classes, so they took us by Starbucks for a “taste of home.” No one was mad about it.
This evening we headed to the church around 4 pm to practice with a music team put together by one of our students that graduated in May with her Bachelor degree in Christian Music, Brooke Roberts. Every evening the church serves dinner at 5:30 pm for the Apostolic Ministry Training Course team and students, then classes start at 6 pm and go until 10 pm. Most of our staff and a couple of our students are serving by teaching in the classes, while other students are involved in childcare and assisting the kitchen staff. This is what a typical weekday evening will look like for us while we are here. We are grateful for this opportunity to serve at AMTC and look forward to all that will unfold.
For the next two weeks, ninety-two instructors from North America will be partnering together with twenty-four missionary team members and 8 missionary kids all working in unity to serve twenty-two Apostolic Ministry Training Center campuses with an estimated three hundred and fifty students across Germany, Switzerland, Belgium & Austria. It was nearly two years ago that Texas Bible College was invited to teach and serve at the AMTC campus in Vienna, Austria and here we are today, having accepted the invitation, traveling across the globe with a group of twenty-two people that include staff members, students, and alumni who plan to put into action what has been taught and learned in the classroom.
We will take some time and share what we have been up to since we arrived. We made it to Vienna on Tuesday, May 14th, after a 9-hour flight from Houston, Texas to London, England and then a 2-hour flight to Vienna, Austria. Upon arrival, we were met by the sweetest Associates in Missions who took us to our hotel via train. We had a couple of hours to settle into our rooms and then we were off to dinner before classes started at the church. Many of us did not make it through all of the classes that evening due to 11 hours of flying with only a few hours of sleep. However, those who pushed through the fatigue were the real winners. At the end of Brother Gary Carter’s lesson, he allowed for a time of prayer where a young lady who had been seeking to receive the Holy Ghost for over two years was filled with that wonderful gift. There was not a better way the first night could have ended.
Wednesday morning everyone met for breakfast where orange juice was served in a cup about the size of an orange cutie; this dilemma is the biggest culture shock we have experienced so far. We had a quick briefing and then everyone was eager to start exploring the city. Two groups went out exploring and both came back with many stories to tell of how they learned to navigate the public transit system, interacted with the locals, and experienced some of the Viennese culture. At classes that night, 4 more students were filled with the Holy Ghost and one was baptized in the name of Jesus! This particular night, Brother Charles Robinette, the Superintendent of the German-Speaking Nations, was teaching. We asked for 5 minutes of his time to have him speak to our students and he was more than willing to give that. Then he went the extra mile and asked us to join him at his favorite Kasekrainer stand for a midnight snack. To say we were honored to spend time with Brother Robinette is an understatement. We are thankful for men of God like him that are excited and willing to expose young students like ours to the mission field.
We are excited to see all God has in store for this trip and invite you to follow us on this journey as we post daily updates on our social media platforms throughout the next two weeks. If you have supported a staff member, student, or alumni to be on this trip, we thank you for your support. Experiences like these would not be possible without people like you.