Also known as: Vienna, where we became missionaries
I have a confession to make: I think that out of all places I went to in Europe, Vienna was the one I got to experience the least, in terms of doing touristy stuff or photo opportunities and all that. Looking back at my photos, I realized that I hardly had any photos of myself there, save for some I took of myself when I just woke up (I know, lame).
I can only attribute this to two things:
- Traveling is stressful. Going from one country to another with only a few days in between (and it’s not even rest) is exhausting, so by the time I got to Vienna, I still wanted to sleep. Since I did not sleep for the night before I flew, I was completely knocked out during the plane ride and I was tired for most of the day.
- Vienna was really more of the mission place than a tourist place, unlike how the visits to Geneva and Paris had been. So this is really where the term “mission trip” comes to reality. We actually had something to do here.
Oh, and one more thing: our last day in Vienna was “stolen” by a 13 hour train ride from Vienna back to Geneva. So…there.
But the short time I was in Vienna to do the mission was quite enlightening. It was my very first time to go on mission, because whenever I wanted to join mission trips back in college, I always couldn’t join because classes in my university started too early. So I had to adjust my mind set when I got to Vienna that I was there for a mission and not just a tourist.
But much thanks to our hosts, SFC Vienna, for making us do touristy stuff while we were there, though. :)
When we left Paris, it was raining and it was so cold, so I was sort of prepared for a cold Vienna, too. Nope. The weather played tricks on us again and it was terribly hot in Vienna. Kuya Glenn fetched us together with his two girls, Gwyneth and Gré, and after brunch, our first tourist stop was The Schönbrunn Palace Garden Gloriette:
Kuya Glenn let me and Irvin roam around on our own for a while since he promised his girls a trip to the zoo. So Irvin and I went…but we did not exactly roam around because we were so tired. I didn’t get to sleep the previous night, so after some picture taking, we settled down on the grass with other people and took a nap.
I know, right. What a way to spend our first few hours in a new country. :P But that was a pretty nice nap.
After we had our nap and Kuya Glenn and his girls have returned from the zoo, we went to a nearby McDonald’s to meet Ate Sheh. That was when we found out we were supposed to give a talk the next day for the SFC Covenant Orientation. And because God has been so generous to me in the past days in Europe, how can I say no?
We met Kuya Glenn’s wife, Ate Gamai, as well as Kuya Raynard, who now picked up on our being tourists and brought us to the 1st District. He had to pick up some Nespresso capsules so we got to have some free coffee (and met a Filipina working there, too), and he also treated us to some ice cream. Yes, God’s love is for free. :)
When it was around dinner time,we headed for Ate Donna’s house where the SFC Covenant Orientation was happening, and where Irvin and I were staying too. Honest moment? I can’t remember what happened to my own SFC Covenant Orientation. I liked that it was the time I got to listen to it all over again. :) After dinner, there were the talks, and then we finally got to rest.
Oh, also, this sounds mundane, but I absolutely felt God’s love and blessing when I finally got to shower after a long day of traveling and walking. Ah, thank You, Lord. :)
The next day, we did some more touristy stuff in the morning. After a huge breakfast (thanks, Ate Donna!), Irvin, Ate Sheh and I headed off to other places with Kuya Loy. It was time to try Vienna’s transportation system, yahoo!
Just like in Geneva, we only had to buy one ticket that was valid for 24 hours and it works for all modes of transportation in Vienna (except for cabs). We rode the metro back to Stephansplatz (I think — sorry I forgot!) and roamed around again. We got more ice cream and more food and did some shopping before the CFC Vienna General Assembly in the afternoon. Kuya Loy had to leave us after some time since he was a part of the service team for the GA, but we were pretty fine going around on our own (and Ate Sheh had a phone so we were not really in any danger of getting lost :D).
There were several ways people make money in Vienna, and by far the most entertaining were these street performers:
After walking around and shopping at Tiffany’s to get Irvin’s dad a present (lots of pretty, pretty things there :D), we headed for the CFC General Assembly. We arrived just in time for the Lord’s Day, and being missionaries, they made us share something. Haha. The temperature decided to plummet that afternoon and so we shivered in the open grounds while the Lord’s Day was happening and while we were eating. Brr.
When the general assembly was done, we headed over to Kuya Raynard and Ate Leah’s house for the second part of our SFC Covenant Orientation. This time around, I was giving a talk about Financial Stewardship, of all things. Thank God for the words — it’s been a long time since I have given a talk, too! :) Irvin gave a talk on working with the poor after we had an awesome dinner (KFC!) and then they served us waffle dessert. And more wine. Yes, God’s love is for free! :)
And then it was time to say goodbye to them, because the next day was our train back to Geneva. It was a 13 hour train ride, and we cannot take the night train since it was not that safe. It was a terribly cold night to head back because of the rain, but it was still fun. Community always makes it fun — it was then I started wondering why I ever disappeared in the first place.
The next morning, we woke up bright and early for our 9am train ride.
The thirteen hour train ride to Geneva did not include any food, but we had some spare chips to eat in the train later on, and we figured it shouldn’t be that hard, right? But on our way to train station, Ate Donna asked us to wait at the metro for a while so she could meet her boyfriend because she had to get something.
And then she comes back, and she bears an entire bag of breakfast food from McDonald’s (where her boyfriend works) for us to bring on the train! So, so, so thankful!
So we ride the train and we were finally on our way back to Geneva. The trip was winding down, and honest moment? I was mostly asleep in the train because suddenly, I was so tired.
But I did manage to get some train shots:
Before we know it, we were back in Geneva. We had one more dinner thanks to the Bendo family, slept, and then went off again to fly back to Madrid the next day. Like I said: I don’t think I’m cut out for Amazing Race — all these travels just exhausted me.
Like I said, out of all the places I went to, I think Vienna was the least I got to experience even if I stayed there a bit longer than Geneva and Paris. So it makes me a bit sad that I wasn’t able to make the most out of it. Still, I realize that of all places in Europe I went to, it was in Vienna where I really learned that God’s love is for free. It’s been proven again and again in the previous places I went to, but in Vienna, it felt like God went all out on us. And so, danke. :)
And as with all Europe entries, I would like to take this post to say maraming salamat to SFC Vienna, especially Kuya Glenn, Ate Gamai, Kuya Raynard, Ate Leah, Kuya Loy and Ate Donna for hosting us and driving us and giving us food and touring us around your beautiful city. Thank you, thank you! I hope, just like in the other places I visited in Europe, to be back there soon (and stay longer, too). :D
Wir sehen uns bald wieder!1
- See you again soon! — danke, Google Translate :D [↩]