Wednesday, March 19, 2008

My cousin, Susanne, came from Switzerland to visit me over Spring Break. We had a great time together, touring Vienna and Bratislava and catching up on life. Here we pose with Schonbrunn Palace in the background, which was the summer home of Austria's ruling family, the Hapsburgs.

One day Susanne and I toured Stephansdom Cathedral and climbed 300+ steps up the south tower to an observation deck. The view of Vienna was spectacular! We also took a tour of the catacombs underneath the cathedral, where some of Austria's bishops and black plague victims rest, along with organs from the Hapsburg rulers.

Another day, Susanne and I took a day trip to Bratislava, which is one hour away from Vienna by train. It was a cold and windy day, and we found that many of the historical attractions were closed for renovations, but these smiles on our faces are evidence that we had fun being together and exploring the city. Behind us is the Bratislava castle.

Frohe Ostern!

The Easter markets are open in Vienna and the colorful eggs seem to be a sign that Spring is arriving. The main attraction at these markets is an abundant selection of hand-painted eggs (yolks blown out) showing exquisite design and handiwork. Each egg has a hole drilled in it and a ribbon tied through the hole. Many Austrians place pussy-willow branches in vases and hang these decorative eggs from the branches, to create festive "egg trees" in their homes, offices and store windows.

Other Easter market specialties include egg-shaped candles, wooden egg ornaments, live bunnies (for viewing only), jewelry, baskets, and various pastries and food delicacies.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Spiritual Emphasis Week

"Uncle" Jerry Jacoby came to VCS as our Spiritual Emphasis Week speaker. It was an incredibly fun week filled with a great message - God loves us very much! Uncle Jerry played guitar and led all the kids and teachers in singing fun songs. He included the teachers as sign holders and motion leaders throughout our chapel gatherings. I took to wearing my tennis shoes to chapel because Uncle Jerry liked to call me up to hold a sign, then wait just until I'd taken my seat only to call me right back up again! The students thought that was a great joke.

Uncle Jerry also dressed up as a different Bible character each day (although he always wore the same costume for each character!) and told Bible stories that showed the students how much God loves people. At the end of the week, he explained how students could know God's love more by inviting Him into their lives. Spiritual Emphasis Week with Uncle Jerry was a great encouragement and lots of fun for everyone!

Monday, March 3, 2008

International Family Fun Night

International Family Fun Night traditionally ranks as a highlight of the school year and this year's event was no exception. Families gathered at school to celebrate the diversity of cultures in our international community, expressed through clothing, food, and cultural performances. The girls in the photo above are wearing ornate dresses from South Korea.
Nipun, a fifth-grader, played his Sri Lankan drum in the talent show at International Family Fun Night. He learned traditional Sri Lankan drumming rhythms from his father.
These girls performed a Korean fan dance, which was a fabulous end to a rich evening of cultural experiences. The way the girls moved their fans in sync with the music and one another made this a gorgeous sight to behold.

Mr. and Mrs. Leicht

One of the main purposes of my recent trip back to the States was to take part in a dear friend's wedding. It was a beautiful day full of joy and love. Above, I pose with the bride and groom at the rehearsal dinner. Below, the bride in her wedding dress and me in my bridesmaid dress.