Thursday, October 23, 2008


While I (Brooke) was away a couple weekends ago, Steve took the boys for a day to Prater. They had a nice time ... but were bummed to discover that they were too short for most of the rides. The bumper cars were fun, though.

Jake was tall enough for this ride. And here's what he thought of it:

"Wiener Riesenrad" means Vienna Giant Wheel. Vienna's real name is Wien (pronounce the "w" like a /v/, please. And don't say "vine" ... say "veen"). Anyway, enough language lessons for today. It's the big, famous ferris wheel you see behind them in this picture. They didn't go on it. No one was interested. It's really slow. And, I think you all know, slow isn't the speed at which Vossler boys operate.
While they had fun in Vienna, I went on a church retreat for women. Yes, it was in German. But I asked for translation this time, because I didn't want to miss the stories the ladies were telling as they introduced themselves. It was really special to get to know the ladies better. They were all very friendly and welcoming. I also had the fun of riding and rooming with an American ... so we blurted out all the English we could in our short hours together.
We've had such a nice time here. October has had beautiful weather, and now it's all beginning to change and get colder. We saw a building in Vienna putting up Christmas lights today. We'll get only the beginning of the magical Christmases here before we return home. I'm really looking forward to visiting a Christmas market, and there's a part of me that has grown attached to this place. I honestly don't know why ... 640 square feet with six people, a bathroom that floods when the boys take a shower, hand washing dishes in a little sink, half a refrigerator, a big city, ... but something about it is homey. It really is a wonderful country, with wonderful people. We'll be home in one short month.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


Our boys, with our visitor Alan, in a tree on the grounds of Schoenbrunn Palace on the day I decided to take everyone to the children's museum there. I had help and we were set for a great day. But it was closed. So the poor children had to endure the actual palace tour. They had their own audio guides, which helped immensely.

Jake and Alan with their paper boats ready for floating.

Our boys were pretty sad about leaving our home in Bend for so long. So some of our dear friends in Oregon prayed specifically that our boys would have special friends here in Austria. Little did they know, a little girl across the world was also praying for friends. God answered all those prayers.

A wonderful family with Youth With A Mission is living here in the same guesthouse. Actually, they have their own house and office on the same property (which means they sweetly share their extra freezer space with us poor dears who only have half a refrigerator).

From Day 1, our children were all out playing together. With their permission (by special request of a wonderful Grandma in California), here are some photos. We must apologize to the grandma of these children, though, because we are missing Caleb in these photos. Somehow, he wasn't in any of them!

Of their three very fun children, you'll see the youngest and only girl, Katia, where you will nearly always find her - in a tree - which is why our boys like her so much. Here she is with Eli. The huge benefit to all this is not only are they having fun ... but they are VERY motivated in their schoolwork so they can play with these children every day.

Matthias is a great friend to everyone. The boys all really enjoy him. Silas grabs his hand and drags him everywhere (and Matthias is so nice about it). The boys all go to gymnastics together. We were given a great deal for Jake and Eli to attend twice a week, while Sammy and Si go once to a Mommy/Daddy & Me class. Here is our friend, Matthias, with the activity he instigated: making paper boats and floating them down the nearby creek.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


This last week I took a four day trip to the Urkraine with a couple of Denton Bible Church missions staff members. The purpose of the trip was to see how the Bible Training Center for Pastors (BTCP) classes are going in the Ukraine and to see how we can be of encouragement and assistance to the believers in the Ukraine and surrounding countries. We stayed at a seminary just outside of Kiev and were quite impressed with the training that is going on there (picture to the left). For me it was a particularly special trip, as it took me closer to my father's birthplace than I have ever been before.

My father was born just north of the Black Sea in a German speaking community in what was then known as Bessarabia. Now it is a part of the Ukraine and is just south of the border with Moldova. Much of what I saw outside of Kiev matched the pictures in my mind from the stories of my father's childhood. I even saw a few Ukrainian women wearing scarves over their heads, which reminded me of my Oma. The food was good. I had fried chicken and mashed potatoes for breakfast for the first time in my life. I also had the opportunity to share a few thoughts from the Bible during a chapel service and greatly enjoyed hearing the students sing worship songs, even though I couldn't understand a word.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Where do we begin?

Oh, for the time to tell you of ice caves, neighbors and visitors, pumpkin cream soup, Kiev, washing dishes in a one-sided sink, palaces and more. We had lots of fun with our seven year old friend, Alan, who came to visit from Texas while Steve went with Alan's daddy and another staff member from Denton Bible Church to the Ukraine (a post from Steve about his trip will follow). The picture below shows what the boys did when it rained for an entire day and we were stuck in 640 square feet.

While everyone was here, we all headed into Vienna. We lost Alan's daddy on the U-Bahn, were turned away from an Austrian restaurant, repeated a visit to Stefansdom and walked the grounds of Schoenbrunn Palace (where the picture below was taken ... with Vienna in the background).

That night, the guys decided to give Steve and I a surprise date. They returned home with five boys, and Steve and I stayed in Vienna. Our date was a lot like our honeymoon. [Honeymoon Flashback: rain, broken camera, everything closed, speeding ticket in Montana and ran out of gas]

As we walked through Vienna, we came upon a very special discovery of which you should NEVER take advantage should you make it to Vienna. It is called, in English, "Long Night of the Museums". In theory, it's amazing. For 13 euros, you can visit any museum in Austria until 1 in the morning. We excitedly found a quiet, out-of-the-way museum in which to purchase tickets and began our journey. Later news reports would tell us that 400,000 people turned out for the event. And that is exactly what it felt like. After declining to stand in line at museum after museum, we squished our way into the Albertina to see the art exhibits. We made it through part of Van Gogh before we decided to cut our losses and go get dinner. We have never been in anything so crowded. It wouldn't have been legal in the U.S.

But dinner was much better. Steve accidentally talked me into a long skinny hot dog. Yummmmmmmmmm. The photo below was taken that night. It was a beautiful night and we really did have a nice time together. We should have just walked around Vienna, because we found some beautiful spots.

Below are our friends, Chris and Alan, from Denton, Texas. Thank you, Antonia, for sending your wonderful boy and equally great husband to spend time with us. We enjoyed them so much!

Next, you see our unpaid German tutor, Adam. He just joined us from Denton Bible Church in Texas. The boys hang all over him and he is especially gifted at locating playgrounds.

Friday, October 3, 2008

Austrian viruses

Having nothing to do with this post ... but we thought you'd enjoy a shot of the boys passed out one night during our trip.

Well, if you're following our life, here goes:

We have had three separate men arrive from Texas on three separate days here at the guesthouse. They are from the church with which we are connected for this time we are spending here in Austria. We had this great plan. Our friend, Chris, arrived just last night and brought one of his children who will be staying with me while all the guys travel. The plan was to leave me in a foreign country with five little boys (don't let Jake hear me say "little").

Earlier this week, all four of mine came down with colds. I thought it was perfect, since only Jake was very sick. The rest of them had it so mildly (and me, too) that I thought for certain we had escaped dire illness while our little seven year old friend, Alan, came to visit.

And then ... last night ... just as I as going to bed, Sammy began crying. And crying. His stomach hurt. And then I spent the entire night in the bathroom with him (insert your favorite word for vomitting). So, after me being up all night with Sammy, the guys all left on the train for Brno ... and I remain behind with these five boys. Everything is going fine, and the guys will be home tonight. But they also leave again on Sunday for four days to Kiev. And so ... you can fill in the blanks on all the fun possibilities.

...drinking much needed coffee ... flavored with delicious French Vanilla Coffeemate sent by Antonia (Alan's mommy and my dear dear friend who is going to find out when she wakes up in a few hours that her son is spending the day with an Austrian virus)

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Day 5

Before a few more trip highlights ... here is a bit more about our week:

On Monday I had the privilege of helping with the clothing distribution at The Oasis. I keep wanting to include pictures, but I need permission first. This was kids' day. The place was full of mothers and their children milling about. Besides hanging clothes and observing, my primary job was to spend time with those who were waiting for their number to be called. I filled my time with coloring, learning new names, blowing bubbles, and holding babies. It was valuable to see the system they have in place for trying to give everyone a chance at getting what they need. I dislike shopping in a lot of ways, so that task takes me forever. I cannot imagine having my four children, walking into a little room and having only a few minutes to find what I am looking for with a four item limit per child. The system is well done as a way to service that many people and give everyone the basics of what they need. The volunteers have also tried to learn what they can in other languages so they can help the best they can.

As a side note, I found it very amusing to see a particularly grandmotherly looking lady claiming four children as her own, when the volunteers were quite sure those children had already been claimed that day by their real mother. It's the age old way of getting more out of a shopping trip - bring grandma.

On to our trip. We spent our fifth day in Bad Aussee. The drive there was gorgeous and we passed into a new Austrian "Bundesland" on that winding road. Our goal was to hit the Lebkuchen factory ... gingerbread. We had heard there was a tour, but in reality, it was a taste test and a 6 minute video. Oh well.

We then hit another awesome Austrian playground and headed out for some lake viewing and hiking. We had a really nice time letting the boys just run a bit wild. I'll include pictures of all that later ... but for now I'm terrible about planning the order of the pictures I upload. You're left with a picture of Sammy's new favorite game, Old Maid.