So where's the snow?

Muddling through in Austria; God, life and a small black dog


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The Living Sacrifice

Weird clouds as the storm departed

This is a repeat of an earlier blog series as I’ve just increased where the Blog appears.

Living Sacrifice – what a mouthful and what a daunting expression this is, especially to someone not really knowing the Bible. There is the picture of something being slain on an altar which is horrible and as Andrew Wommack says, the trouble with a living sacrifice it keeps on getting off the altar.

This expression is found in Romans 12, 1 -2 and a lot of preachers make a lot of this, I quote below from the NIV;

‘1. Therefore, I urge you brothers, in view of God’s mercy , to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship. 2. Do not confirm any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is –his good, pleasing and perfect will’

The series then unpicked this statement, and to be a LS, is basically come to the end of your self.  And I have so done this!  God’s allowed me to follow my own desires in my writing, my degree work, although he showed me his purpose in working at the Fortune centre.  Here I’ve learnt patience, about my arrogance, my low self esteem, and the commensurate high sense of self importance, I’ve learnt how to clean bogs and be the invisible member of a team (well nearly).  I have this sense that there is nothing left but God, and I’ve made him my last option as I’ve slowly built a spiritual wall around myself, which I can see neither over or round.  I would counter those who would say that God has broken me – for I am not broken, I am his beloved and he has shown me these things in a way through my spirit so that I’ve come to recognise them and pray against them and learn, even though at times I’ve let them run while still being aware of them.  He’s let me discern and I feel has said that he made me, some of these things are damage and some things – like my love of control are not necessarily bad if used in the right way. I am at the end of myself, I lay myself on that altar and say I’m yours.  Do with me as you will, no holds barred. I know there are times when I’ll try to crawl off, as this self of  body  and soul (my thinking) which lives in the present time and space rears its physical needs, desires, cravings and will against that of God spirit of God who lives inside me, but I know I just have to climb back on board.  Its not a bloody place. When I get what is called a ‘Flesh flash’ of me wanting to do things for me, the Spirit will help me deal with it. As the series went on, more and more insights came to me and at last I’ve begun to get on the next stage.  I laid down my blog writing as a symptom of self, but I believe he’s given back to me this burning desire to share with people in this way through words so here I am.


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Oh no, not an Erna Blog……….

More Burg in the snow

As I write its only 3 and a half weeks till the end of the season at the Burg. I’ve moved on so much in the last few weeks and gone backwards too!  On one shift with Erna, she was just so completely mad that I lost all respect for her.  She’d been told we’d cleaned the Chapel the previous day but insisted on going in and sweeping.  When I challenged her, she said everything was so dirty, she had to do it, but 30 seconds later came out.  She even re-swept some stairs Michaela had just done, she must have realised she’ done them.   This was the point she ceased to matter to me. In respecting her as a co-worker, who was senior to me, it had to be my fault when something was amiss.  Now I don’t value her opinion, I feel nothing about her, the past is forgiven and forgotten, after all the pain she has caused me this season, it’s over.

The real end came when one day she exploded in fury at us in the shower rooms.  We hadn’t realised some bar on the shower door could be raised, and so was dirty underneath.  I don’t know what you do all day, its only me who can clean, just one more thing and I’ll go to Rosie (the Head cook and her mate, our boss actually is Helmuth!) she screamed more in dialect I didn’t get.  I’ve never seen Michaela so upset, she was all for leaving, but she decided to hang on till the end of the season.  So now, its me working with Erna while Michaela absents herself, she wont speak to Erna, and you know, I don’t mind the situation!  I speak to Erna when I need to ask something, otherwise we work in silence.  I think the penny has dropped that she has shouted at us once too often.  Now I’m the one in the middle!

Both Michaela and I are leaving, enough is enough.  I’ve prayed that if I’m wrong, to have some message/knowledge from God and similarly if I should apply for the job of ‘Burgrat’ or manager at the Burg.  So far nothing either way, except more attacks of the unexpected, unexplained sadness which hits me sometimes, whose cause I cannot pinpoint – or maybe it is that I should stay.  I pray on…..

The other day, someone spilt candle wax all over the Rittersaal floor, which on the old wood just seeped in and solidified.  I think maybe the solution is to use an iron  to reheat the wax  through newspaper which will absorb it. Of course, I got the ‘look’ when I said so.  Erna consulted the all-wise Rosie who said use bleach and soda.  Result?  Right in the middle of the Saal is a huge patch of lighter coloured wood with blotches of wax in it, oh I feel sooooo smug!


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The next day at work!

View of Weisspriach from above!

Michaela had sent me a text  telling me we started at 8 and I was to drive myself.  I got the idea she was a bit cross, so asked her – she said she was ‘Stink sour’ (translation) so I got the point!  Funny thing was once I knew what my reception was  going to be I was immediately calm, and slept well for the first time it ages. My brother’s comment on the blog made also a lot of sense -thanks Hugh!

On arriving at t’Burg with a few butterflies, we ignored each other during breakfast and went up the tower. Once in a room I said we can work like this all day but I think we need to talk.  And we did, and I think we eventually got each other’s point of view.  Hers was that I should have told them earlier that I couldn’t stay, fair point, but I genuinely felt that we would finish near or on time. She said she had tried to warn us in the morning. Again my lack of understanding of dialect doesn’t help! She had realised I was keeping my distance and I explained why and she softened.  I apologised, saying I had lost the plot  and she accepted.  She said she had spent the weekend boiling at 500 degrees!  She’s also mad at Helmuth, who as I expected ducked even discussing the issue with her. By the end of the day we were on good terms again, though I expect deep down she still hates my guts!  When I said I had my notice to give in to Helmuth, she please don’t , I can’t work everyday till the end if the season.  We also sort of arranged that I will do bins and loos on Friday when Erna is next there – that’s going to be another interesting one!  Still I have found peace and will stay at the Burg till the end of the season.  Whether I;m under attack or just a prat, I still don’t know!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


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Some comments please – what would you do?

Am I on the right way and I’m being so attacked because of it and should be rejoicing, or have I just really, really screwed up? Maybe there isn’t even enough evidence to convict me as a Christian!

Edith and I rowed after the last session with the Asylum seekers.  It was hot, they weren’t really interested as they had a Play bus coming, and we had a toddler which shouldn’t have allowed to come.  I also made the mistake of presuming that one of the horses was familiar with the horse ball we were using but he was scared.  When it was kicked, the horse jumped and nearly knocked the kid over. I then had to think on my feet for new games. Edith was out of the arena and no help when we should be together as a team.  Maybe I’m too used to working on my own and my own resources.  We were also being watched by some teacher doing an MA on integration.  So Edith tore me off a strip in front of him twice and I of course responded.  Why she couldn’t wait until after the session and do this in private, we looked like a couple of stupid women not professionals?  It was because she didn’t understand the games and I hadn’t explained.  We did go on after, and she came out with accusations of us needing to assess each session –completely forgetting we have done so each time and it was because of her appointments this time we couldn’t.  She admitted has no idea of working with kids, or the games, and when I suggested she needs to read her EAGALA  manual, she said she didn’t like taking people’s ideas – I gave up.  I tried so hard not to obsess about the whole thing, everything having been said and maybe I shouldn’t have had some beer with Paggy and Dave but I was hurting and lashed out at Dave in my pain.

After a day of calming down and praying, I was due an Erna day.  I was so calm about the whole thing and prayed I would be ok and not take offence etc, and I failed.  It began after breakfast when I said maybe we could do the Rittersaal if the rooms weren’t ready, she turned and looked at me as if I’d crawled our from under a stone and muttered about seeing rooms first.  My heart sank, I was in for another bad day. So I decided to separate myself from them and do the loos and turning the quilts so I didn’t have to be in the same room but working along side. Maybe this was a wrong decision as far as the other two were concerned I’d disappeared. I started sweeping one corridor which was dirty and got shouted at to leave it and go and take the rubbish away.  I was so annoyed, I’m afraid I uttered annoyance as I walked away and she kept on talking.  She may have been telling me they were having a break, I couldn’t understand, so I couldn’t find them where expected and it happened again later, no one said what we were doing, I was abandoned.  Things got late, there was an awful lot to do. And I could see we would finish late.  Now this was the one day I could not do that. I had a changeover to do at the holiday flat and didn’t know when they would arrive although they had been told 6.  I had prayed, used tongues and went around saying to myself I can take being ignored, but the whole day was getting to me.  So it happened, Erna asked to borrow Michaela’s phone to ring home and I had to say, I can’t stay.  So I got shouted at, YOU MUST, and I repeated I couldn’t.  She then said then I had to see Helmuth and other things which I couldn’t understand so I stormed out.  It was such a relief just to shout back in English at the top of my voice ‘Ahh SHUT UP’.  I went straight to Helmuth and said I just couldn’t stay and I’d been shouted at and ignored all day and had found my colleagues rude.  I said I would stay till 3, then I would be gone.  He of course did the tear welling up thing but was ok, so I went and cleaned bogs.  Michaela joined me and gave me all this rubbish about being left alone to finish stuff etc, etc, and I was so far gone I just said I couldn’t care less, I had covered for her when he was ill and had done areas on my own myself. I had told her that morning I had the flat to do, but of course it hadn’t registered. I left, the guests turned up two hours early, there wasn’t enough bed linen and so on.  I felt later I should offer an Olive branch and texted Michaela saying I’d come the next day and help, the reply to which was it was all done, why did I need to help?

So I don’t know what my reception will be.  I go back to work tomorrow, I’ve written my notice.  Will I give it in?  I feel disloyal leaving midseason but they are already advertising for more kitchen staff. Do I stay and hack it?  See what happens on the next Erna day on Friday?  What do I do?  I haven’t slept properly for days, it goes around and around in my head. Do I send Michaela a text asking if I can still have a lift or just say I’m coming in my car?  I have prayed and the answer is I have to follow the peace that God will give me – but so far I cant find it.


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An Encounter

Diktler Hutte, Weisspriach

Another late entry!

We had a lovely Easter weekend….. eventually.  I was exhausted by work and the Erna business.  Still we had a great time at Edith’s Easter fire on Saturday, there really did seem to be more fires despite all the new restrictions – a good healthy disrespect for petty minded officials!  I ate a chocolate bunny on Sunday – stuff the cholesterol. Of course now I keep worrying and have to pray myself out of it!   Oh but it was gooooood! Monday was spent sewing the garden with the veggie seeds – I just hope it doesn’t snow again.

Sunday we took a walk to the Diktler Hutte at Weisspriach again.  I love watching the old lady cooking Kasierschmarnn and ladling huge noodles out of the saucepans and onto the plates. I had Lungauer soup ane was presented with clear soup with the most enormous bacon noodle sat in it, wonderful! We sat inside and had a sudden conversation with an elderly couple at the next table. Who of course thought we were Dutch and then complimented me on my German!  Har har. He told us as usual about how the climate has warmed here in the past 50 years, and he remembered a metre of snow outside his house as a kid.  In the 1950s, there were 17 avalanches between Tweng and Obertauern and the trees were just snapped off.  He then got onto the EU, and we found as we’d thought, Austrians hate the EU as much as us, as well as the USA,Obama  and the Euro. Maye be we’re all more european than we thought in our dislike!  He then said, when the rest of the world has blown up the Lungau will still be here because it is so cut off from the rest of the world because of  the mountains in the north though less in the south. We were agreed Lungau is special!

Back to work tomorrow, as I write I’m leaving it to God, and I will endure, Lord give me the grace to live with the difficlt Austrian!


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EAGALA at last- yaaaaaaaaaay!

Our partners, Avarkur and Lucca the Icelandics

Last week Edith and I  finally began our work  under the Tu Was project.  After so many set backs, delays and  frustrations, we collected our first little group of four from the Asylum Seekers’ Hostel in our cars. We can get their bus fares paid, but we have to take the money to the Hostel, collect the used tickets and then take them to the Caritas office and get a refund – completely impractical, so for the first few times we’re collecting them and maybe it will sort itself out.

We began with some grooming, just so they could have their first contact in an unthreatening situation.  One girl (the 15-year-old translator) was dabbing delicately at the horse, scared of the dirt and  hurting it.  Two other kids cleaned just the tummy, keeping away from the head, but they all quickly relaxed and got into it.  Unlike most situations, we know nothing about these people except they have been through some sort of trauma to be there. We cannot talk to some of them as their German is limited and we rely on one of the group translating.  They are mostly children and mothers with a few teenagers, I would be a bit worried with younger men, but I don’t think they would come. Asylum seekers have such a negative press these days, but I hope I’m seeing them just as people to help, faith and culture are irrelevant.

 All became accustomed to the horses, so we lead them over to the school, freed the horses and asked them to collect a horse and bring it to us.  We did make the mistake of giving them the headcollars, we should have let them choose how to do it – well it was our first official session too!

The small girl got quite upset as the horse repeatedly walked away from her, then when she came over to us, he followed her.  I asked her what had happened, and after trying so hard not to prompt her in my bad German, she realised she had achieved her goal, having brought us a horse and was thrilled.  The boy was more concerned with working out how the halter fitted, but eventually to his joy made it.  Grandma helped our translator and after doing  the task herself.  She was  talking to the horse and I saw her smile and surreptitiously give the horse a kiss on the nose!  She was adamant she has never worked much with animals, but I would say her body language belies this – but maybe it was only donkeys!   The translator also achieved with some help from Grandma, and was so pleased she wanted to do everything including  riding back to the Hostel! 

We did a leading exercise with cones, but our younger horse read too accurately the boy’s body language and ran away as he was asking her to trot, so we had a break.  After that we did Life’s little obstacle, where one horse quite happily walked over the pole while they were trying to get the other over and they missed it.  They couldn’t keep quiet, but achieved it easily.  We then took the horses away as they were both becoming a bit uptight, it was their first full session too!   The group was so excited, it was so much fun, the only negative aspect was the formerly full of confidence girl  lost it around the horses.   They all signed up for next time, lets hope they will come. Coming with nothing, we’re also having to find some of them  shoes and jeans, to protect them a bit.  We will also never know if they’ll be suddenly moved on, and so have to treat each session as an entirety.

Under their situation in the Hostel and language difficulties, several of those who said they’d come to the first session didn’t, Doctors appointments, something to do, or maybe just fear held them back.  Hopefully the experiences of our first group would encourage the others.  I would so like to find out their stories but as yet feel unable to ask.  Next time, we’ll repeat the haltering with any new guys, then try to get them to find a metaphor the in obstacle for their lives, or we’ll suggest one and try to go a little deeper.