Music has become a big part of our ministry. Aside from playing and singing at our church and the refugee center, we often get asked to teach people to play instruments. Most of the time the requests are not very serious, but recently a young man, we’ll call him M., has been taking guitar lessons from Matt. They started only a few weeks ago but M. has endeared himself to our hearts.
We were surprised and very glad that M. showed up at our apartment for a guitar lesson Tuesday afternoon after not making it the week before. We were afraid he had gotten deported or sent to another part of Austria, but he explained to us that he got approved to receive a visa! He is very fortunate that he is 16. Nowadays it’s getting more and more difficult to receive asylum, but those that are 16 or younger are almost automatically accepted because of their youth. Because he had no identification papers, M. explained to us in broken German how a doctor here had examined his teeth and hands to determine he was 16.
Before Matt and M. start the lesson, we sit down at the dining table together, Matt and I finishing our pleasantly interrupted lunch, and M. enjoying some tea and cookies. Looking at framed photos of our families on the wall above the table, M. comments that it is very good that we have family photos. Unfortunately he has no pictures of his family. M. then makes machine gun sounds and pantomimes someone shooting up his family’s home, explaining that he was the only one to survive an attack made by the Taliban.
We give our condolences, and after a brief period of sad silence, M. changes the subject. Mother’s Day is coming up, and now he has three “Austrian mothers” for whom he wants to do something special. M. no longer lives in the refugee camp in Traiskirchen, just outside of Vienna, which is a good thing. M. tells us how bad the camp is and as he remembers, says, “ooooh!” as if he has just bitten into a hot pepper. “Everyone there– deport, deport.” He now lives in a refugee transition house sponsored by a Lutheran charity. His three mothers work in this home to look after M. and others and to help them integrate. M. also shows us the free museum pass given to him by the charity. Apparently he can get into any museum in Vienna for free. M. waves the pass in front of him as if to show it to a museum guard and says in English, “No money, no money.”
M. has also been taking a German language course in the city. He complains about how difficult German is (“Ooooooh!”). He teaches some Farsi greetings to Matt, and praises Matt for his successful pronunciation, as he proves his point. “English–gut (good), Farsi– gut, Deutsch–nein (no),” says M. in broken German. M. grabs the small amount of skin in front of his Adam’s apple, repeats the difficult O-Umlaut sound several times in a row, then shakes his head as if to say, “Farsi doesn’t have a ridiculous sound like this!”
Matt asks M. about the languages and culture of Afghanistan, and if the situation there is improving. M. shakes his heads and lets out another signature “oooooh!” He explains that each of the main tribes has its own leader, so there are four “chefs” (German for boss) working against each other. M. states that he would like to travel to America one day. But for now, it’s time for guitar lesson. Today’s lesson: rhythm and a review of the chords G, C, and D. In the future, M. hopes to play a Julio Iglesias song. Anyone know a good Julio Igesias tune in G?
Seriously he is a joy to us, but as you can see M. has been through a lot. Please pray that God would give us wisdom in how to best minister to this young man who has had to grow up way too fast. Please pray that through the music and the broken German we can let him know how much God loves him.