Crying Over Kindergarten

I loved this piece on the topic of raising third culture kids (children growing up in a country other than their passport country) by Richelle Wright. She writes, “What if some of what I consider so traumatic and so difficult and so worthy of tears I perceive that way primarily because I have preconceived ideas based on my own childhood and growing up of how things should be and how I would have reacted? ” She adds, “Maybe what I expect to be their struggles are just normal (for them)…perhaps those circumstances I believe they’ll breeze right through are the ones that will be the greatest challenges.” I totally related to these feelings, and appreciated these insights, especially remembering the experience of putting Naomi into preschool in Vienna…

So here we were, Day One. Me, in my third trimester of pregnancy, sitting in a wheeled office chair in the back of the room, trying to go unnoticed, but occassionally having to say “hi” to the curious preschooler who would come over to stare at or show something to the very pregnant stranger in the room. Naomi, exploring all of the wonderful toys and craft stations in the room and attempting to understand what was going on and make friends. Quite overwhelming! For her, and maybe moreso for me. Naomi would try to participate but get frustrated that she didn’t understand what the teacher was saying in German. After saying a few loud and insistent “NO’s!” in English, she would come running to me in tears saying that she wanted to go home, not understanding why she had to endure this torture.

I didn’t know what to say! I felt like all I could do was helplessly watch her struggle. I couldn’t change the circumstances for her. I had no power to somehow make her instantly learn German. I couldn’t make her 2 1/2-year-old mind understand that all of this was for her ultimate good, the ability to speak German and to make friends. I counseled her the only way I knew how. “Sweetie, I’m sorry it’s hard and you don’t understand. It will get easier. Watch the other kids and do what they are doing.” Of course, I meant what the obedient kids were doing…I was just hoping that would be the majority!

It was a heart-wrenching experience for me, as I unconsciously also super-imposed all of my insecurities and fears from years of life experience onto what I was seeing happen. MY life experience. The kicker was when I saw Naomi, after several failed attempts to communicate with the kids in English or play with someone, bravely walk up to a girl working a puzzle alone, and ask in English, “Hi, my name is Naomi, will you play with me?” In that moment, I was so proud of her and heartbroken all at the same time. Tears started streaming down my face. I couldn’t keep them in anymore.

Fast forward 6 weeks, and I’m riding the bus from home to the kindergarten to pick up Naomi after lunch. Expecting her standard answer of, “I cried”, to my question of how her morning was, she responded with, “I had fun!” Praise God! Fast forward 5 months, and I’m the one sad to say goodbye to Naomi’s class for a time as we prepare for our 8-month stay in the States. Missing the teachers that were such an encouragement to me as a mom during a rough transition for our family. Naomi thinks of and talks about her class from time to time, and I hope that she will be able to join in with the same class when we return. It may be like “coming home” for her, or it may be quite a re-entry struggle, but either way, trusting God every step of the way is our only hope. May He continue to give us wisdom as parents, helping our children navigate well the waters of living in a different culture, all the while striving to do so ourselves in a way that honors Him.

#blog #fa

by Liz Eck

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

First Days in Kindergarten

People often ask what school is like in Vienna and though we don’t have much experience, I thought I would share a little bit about our journey putting our eldest daughter in Kindergarten, which is German for preschool. Finding a Kindergarten had been a year-long process of ups and downs, both logistically and emotionally, but all of that is for a different post. At any rate, once we found a Kindergarten we soon found out that the way they handled welcoming a child into school was different than what we might expect.

When the day had finally arrived, we had been instructed to show up at 10:00 in the morning, an hour after the first activities of the class had begun, in order to begin our first “trial period.” At the time there were a couple of other new students, and the teachers wanted to stagger the arrival times of the “criers.” The process, which is fairly standard among all preschools/kindergartens in Vienna, would go like this: a trial period of Naomi in the classroom (with Mommy sitting in the back) for up to an hour or so for the first three days; then possibly extending the time up to 1 1/2 to 2 hours over the following few days, with Mommy waiting in the hallway; the following week we would let Naomi stay 2 to 2 1/2 hours with Mommy available by cell phone and within walking distance. Then, after that, I would probably be able to drop Naomi off for the full 3-hour morning and go home, depending on how Naomi was “adjusting” and how at-home she felt there.

As you can imagine, this process led to many tearful days, both for mother and child, but in the end Naomi finally adjusted and was able to stay for the whole morning by herself. Personally, I would have preferred to rip the bandage off quickly, but we don’t always get to make those kinds of choices. We often find out that our two cultures have differing values when we least expect it. In these moments we ask for extra wisdom and grace to navigate these waters.


by Liz Eck

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

Things we miss: Sunsets

Many people have asked us what we miss while we are in Austria. Of course the top answers are friends and family, but after that there is a small list of things that we just can’t get over there that we are enjoying the heck out of while we are in the U.S.
In the first “Things we miss” post , I talked about how concord grapes are one of the things I enjoy when we get back, but food items aren’t the only things. Living in an urban environment I really miss seeing the sun sink down over the horizon. Don’t get me wrong, we can get some pretty sunsets in Vienna too, but there is something about watching the sun go down in big sky country that I miss. I noticed this especially when I first moved to Russia. During Soviet times, Russia pushed itself to urbanize and that meant massive growth in the cities. Village life gave way to large socialist block apartments that dominated the skylines of most Russian cities. I remember when I lived in Krasnodar the first time that I took a flight out of the city. I had been there several months and had gotten up before the dawn to catch a flight. When I got to the gate I saw the sun burst over the horizon for the first time since I moved there. I immediately became homesick. There are many beautiful things that we enjoy in Vienna, but wile we are here, we are going to relish the natural light shows that we enjoy when the sun rises and set.

Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

Things We Miss: Grapes

Many people have asked us what we miss while we are in Austria. Of course the top answers are friends and family, but after that there is a small list of things that we just can’t get over there that we are enjoying the heck out of while we are in the U.S.

Grandpop’s Tasty Concord Grape Pie

First on the list are grapes. That may sound strange to you since if you know anything about Europe, you know they have no shortage of grapes. However, you may not realize that the concord grape is native only to North America. This is the grape that is used almost exclusively for grape juice and jelly. The grape juice we have in Europe is made by red grape varieties found there and grape jelly is, to my knowledge, nonexistent there. So while we are here our breakfast juice of choice is grape and we are spreading grape jelly on our PB&Js- no strawberry jelly for us, please.
Source: Ecksfiles City Plaza

More about OurTrip Home

Last month we wrote about how things are going on our current home service assignment (furlough) so I thought I would answer a few of the common questions that people have.

Why are you here and for how long?

Right now, every five years that we are in Austria we are required to come back to the States for a minimum of six months. It also happens that this coming January our church is having its biannual missions conference so we are staying here through January.
What will you be doing while you are here?
When we come back to the U.S. for any significant length of time we usually have three goals; rest, reconnect, renew.
Rest is actually harder than it sounds. Though we miss being in America while we are away, our home is no longer here. None the less, it is important, for a time, to get away from every-day ministry in Europe and reflect on where God has brought us and listen to where He might be leading us next.
Since Denton Bible Church is both our home church and sending agency, it is very important to reconnect with not only our office staff, but also our larger church body. Not only do we have opportunities to serve in the missions office, it is also important to us to get involved in things like Bible studies and mom’s groups. While we are away, it is easy for us to forget that there is such a wonderful local body of believers that love us and are behind what we are doing.
Finally, it is very important that we renew our ties with the individuals who are praying for and financially supporting our ministry. We do our best to communicate regularly though pictures, emails, and even calls, but there is nothing like sitting down face-to-face and getting a chance to swap stories and pray for one-another. We are very thankful for those who have been supporting our ministry and we are especially in need of new partners who will help to send us back by funding the ministry that we do in Central Europe.

That is what most people are asking us about this trip home. What do you want to know?