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Kathryn Eckler: Meditations from Vienna – A Pledge Actualized

Working with Projekt: Gemeinde is a true adventure. Each day brings a surprise. My summer has been filled with church retreats, construction projects, church leadership meetings, meal preparation, and wholesome conversations with people from all over the world. This mission experience is one where everyday occurrences become extraordinary.

The primary goal of the projects here in Vienna is to “live life together.” Conversations turn into times of testimony. Sharing a meal together creates fellowship and camaraderie. I have been challenged to see these times of conversation and fellowship as my “mission.” I am learning that mission work is serving the needs of the people that I am surrounded by— even if that means having a long conversation about alpine skiing.

During our retreat, I helped to keep the kitchen up and running!

When considering mission work, I was drawn to the GA (Girls in Action) motto that I learned when I was in elementary school: “As a GA, I will do my best to live a missions lifestyle that honors God by learning about missions, praying for missions, giving to missions, doing missions, and participating in the work of the church.” While in Vienna, I have often meditated on this pledge. I have come to apply the term “missions” with “community building.”

The pledge begins with the phrase “to live a missions lifestyle.” Living a missions lifestyle is to share life with those around you with a sense of grace, compassion, and service. As I have embarked on small service tasks here, such as cleaning the church before a service, I am reminded that living as an active member of the church is to make the “little things” a priority. Participating in the work of the church is not just a calling, it is a way of life.

Completed tile work at the Donauhof.

My experiences here in Vienna are a compilation of “little things.” On our church retreat to Forchtenstein, Austria, I helped to make sure that everyone had enjoyable meals. From helping to fix chili for forty people, to marinating several kilos of chicken, I made sure that everyone had something tasty to eat.  During the week, I have been helping with small construction projects. I even got to try my hand designing a tile pattern. On Friday evenings, I have been able to lead a beginners Bible study.

Each of these small tasks has shown me that missions truly is a way of life. Whether in Vienna, Austria or in Buffalo Junction, Virginia, Christian communities require dedicated individuals who believe in the work of the church. But do not be quick to forget the GA motto: “Go Forward.”

I am excited to see how I will be able to “Go Forward” during the remainder of my time here.

-Kathryn Eckler