VIDEO: A Place Anyone Can Call Home

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Walking into the International Christian School of Vienna is like walking onto a movie set. This kind of diversity doesn’t happen often! The 250 students come from 50 different countries with different backgrounds and religions, and different reasons for living in Austria… and they all have a place at ICSV.

There is a contagious energy in the hallways and classrooms of this school; the staff, students, and parents love ICSV and see it like a second home to them. We were so warmly welcomed in our few days at the school; they made our job easy with all the smiles! Take a look at the video we created for the International Christian School of Vienna.

Learn more at http://www.icsv.at

From One Adventure to the Next

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We hit the ground running when we left for China last October. Though we spent the majority of 2012 dreaming, learning, and planning for this crazy-sounding, overly ambitious year, we knew so little. That became more and more evident as we went from country to country, back to back to back. I didn’t know where Slovenia was. I didn’t know my Arabic numbers. I didn’t know a lick of Mandarin, or Indonesian, or Thai. On top of doing interviews and learning about the local ministries, we were learning about the country, too. There was no time to plan for the future.

Looking back, I wish we had time to reflect during the trip. A time in isolation, away from everything new, where we can write down all we’ve learned and heard, all we’ve thought about. The histories and testimonies are blending together in my head, if not just gone altogether. (The history part doesn’t surprise me… I retained absolutely nothing from any of the histories classes I took in school). If you’re planning a jam-packed trip, please take this advice and give yourself time between big cultural changes!

I still feel like I can see things pretty clearly in my head. When I drive down the streets here in Costa Rica, I see little scenes that remind me of specific spots in Romania or the Philippines. It’s the facts that I’m losing fast. Thankfully there’s always our library of 60,000+ photos — plus Google, Wikipedia, and Netflix — to refresh my memory.

Now that we’re at the end of the trip, it’s been more difficult to live in the present without thinking about what’s next. The past two weeks have been going by in slow motion because of all the anticipation of finally going home. We were home twice earlier this year, but this time it’ll be different. This time we’ll be on the grid, in our house, unpacking all of our things. 2012 and 2013 were full of change, and everything was neatly blocked off in my Google Calendar. Now that it’s over, our future is just this big fat question mark. But you know what? I’m not freaking out about it. This is post-trip Claudia speaking — a toughened, less-panicky, more confident version of myself — and I’m really, really looking forward to getting settled into our home, processing the past year, and figuring out what I want to do next.

Just because the trip is over doesn’t mean the blogging will stop! Like I said, I have a lot to process, so I still have plenty to share. Plus, we have some fun trips coming up that we want to tell you about.

18 Interviews and All of This

We had 4.5 days in El Salvador to get to know all about a place called Semillas de Nueva Creacion (Seeds of a New Creation). Semillas is a multifaceted, super talented little organization that’s really hard to describe. They offer training for local pastors/leaders that really changes their worldview; it encourages them to see things in a new light and work together with other leaders to improve the community. So many great things have come out of or benefited from these trainings, and we saw a little bit of what’s possible when you work in a network of like-minded leaders. Here’s a little taste of our time with Semillas.

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Pupusas are the traditional fast food in El Salvador. Corn or rice flour with beans, cheese, veggies, or meat filling. So tasty!

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Monday morning Bible study at Casa Semillas

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Church in Quezaltepeque

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See the chicken feet?

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Saul’s sports ministry in Quezaltepeque

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This school is an excellent addition in the La Iberia community. The school semester is over but the kids still have to practice for their graduation performance!

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The girl in the blue tried to teach me to pronounce “perro” correctly. Fail.

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Pax Noticia is an online newspaper that shares the good news, too. They have their office as Semillas.

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This man holds math and Bible classes for the blind at Semillas. We had a great interview with one of the students.

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First time seeing someone write in Braille. So cool!

Obviously, 4.5 days is not nearly enough time! We really value the friendships we made in just these few days, and I’m glad our time was packed full of interesting interviews and trips to various projects. Next time we’ll have to squeeze in some sightseeing! And, next time we’ll make sure to be fluent in Spanish. I am really inspired now to relearn the language. When I get home, it’s going on my to-do list.