Tuesday, December 25, 2007

They are here!

Rick, Dede, Elisabeth, Ben and Mikey made it! The only time it will be quiet is when they all are sleeping...like right now! Tomorrow we head out for some skiing and vacation. We will have lots of stories and pictures to share when we write again! Hope you all are enjoying your times with your families , as much as we are with ours!

Monday, December 24, 2007

These are a few of our favorite things...

On our first Christmas in Austria we bring you the following...

Living cross-culturally brings with it a mixture of excitement, confusion, & frustration. Humor is a necessary ingredient for longevity. In this spirit we bring you the following song, sung to the tune of the Sound of Music’s “My Favorite Things.

Mozart and snowballs, chocolate and schnitzel,

New friends from school and the Glam Grams are well,

Neighbors who teach you to bake and to sing,

Theses are a few of our favorite things.

Vonage and ichat with friends and with family,

Quaint Christmas markets with toys, punch, and tea,

Up on our terrace we see to the Ring,

These are a few of our favorite things.

When the tram’s late,

Kids don’t feel great,

We can’t parse a verb,

We simply remember

our prayer team back home

And then we don’t get disturbed.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!!!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Merry Christmas from our family to yours...

Abby is on the mend. Thanks for your prayers, e-mails and calls of concern. Between loads of laundry, sanitizing the house and working on Christmas cards, I managed to make a batch of my favorite Christmastime cookies. Thanks to everyone who sent me red and green sugar!
Here is the recipe:

White Crack Sugar Cookies
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup softened butter
1/2 cup shortening
2 cups flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
3 egg yolks
1 tsp. almond extract
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

Cream sugar, butter and shortening. Add egg yolks. Sift dry ingredients and add flavorings. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Roll into small balls and dip in red or green (or both)sugar. Bake at 350 for 8-10 min.

Another recipe that our family really enjoys is this...
You will find these at our house on Christmas morning...taste like cinnamon rolls, but way easier to make!

Magic Marshmallow Puff Pull-Aparts
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
3 tsp. cinnamon
2 (8oz) cans Pillsbury crescent rolls
16 marshmallows
1 stick melted butter

Heat oven to 375. In small bowl combine sugar, flour and cinnamon. Separate dough into 16 triangles. Coat each marshmallow with melted butter and roll in sugar mixture. Place coated marshmallow on shortest side of each triangle. Roll up, starting at shortest side of the triangle, gently wrapping dough around the marshmallow and rolling to opposite side. Pinch edges of dough to seal. Coat each in melted butter and roll in sugar mixture. Place in 2 8" round pans and bake for 18-28 minutes-until deep golden brown.Cool slightly then drizzle with glaze.

Glaze: 1/2cup powdered sugar with 2-3 teaspoons milk. Melt in your mouth delicious!

A BIG, HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who have sent care packages and cards! It means so much for us to still feel like we are connected to those we love and miss back in the States! Sooner, or rather later, you will get our Hunters' Holiday Herald 2007, so be on the look out. You probably won't hear from us until after the New Year, as we look forward to just enjoying our family while they are here...please know that you are dearly loved and we wish you a Very Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Late...Very Late!

So Abby started puking her guts out last night and literally just stopped about an hour ago...my day has consisted of laying next to her ALL day, getting her ice cold wash cloths (like Memoo did) for her forehead, reading stories, holding hair back and crushing ice cubes! I really wouldn't have wanted to do anything else than comfort my dear, sweet daughter...but please know this year that gifts and cards from the Hunter family will be LATE...VERY LATE!

The Countdown is on...

6 more days until the cousins come...14 more days til the Glam Grams arrive!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Everybody's got an opinion...

So tonight I overhear Luke telling Brad, "I like the cut, but not the color." Brad asks "why don't you like the color?" Luke responds, "because it's BLACK!" Then Brad follows-up with "I don't care what color it is, as long as it's not the WEDGE cut!"
And Luke then calls it a "wedgie?". Ugh.

First Haircut is a good experience!



Monday, December 17, 2007

A BIG chicken...

Tomorrow I go to get my first haircut and color since we left Florida the end of May. Pretty sad I know, but I am a BIG chicken. I have been trying to memorize words like stutzen, which means to trim and klein, which is small and ein bisschen, which is just a little bit! I have heard from a few folks around here that the hairstylists don't always listen to what you are telling them... and if I think about it, I have had that experience in the States too...like when I came home with a cut like this...

Anyway, tomorrow I will be armed with pictures of cuts and colors I like, words that should be helpful and a friend who speaks fluent German! There shouldn't be any problems right? Stay tuned...if I am happy, I will post pictures...and if it is really bad I probably will too!:)

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Christmas Party

Brad and I don't know the first thing about wine and cheese...especially what types Austrians like. Thankfully our friend Herbert has a wine cellar in his house and the
man at the BIO Market was very helpful with the cheese selection. We had a great spread, a great turnout and a great time! Here are some photos!

Friday, December 14, 2007

This is what it is supposed to feel like...

My kitchen is warm from baking. Christmas music is playing. I look outside my window and big flakes of snow are falling slowly to the ground. My hollyberry candle is burning.

After spending many of our last 10 Christmases in Florida, I now remember why I like winter. Yes, it's cold...but also very beautiful. Ask me how I'm doing in February.

Here are a few things I am working on for our Christmas party tomorrow night...
Sugar cookies...mix compliments of the Cates Family!:) Thanks!

Toffee Caramel Squares (you can find the recipe here)

Impressive Bed-Head

Levi started the day with some impressive bed-head!

Hope your day is off to a great start!

Thursday, December 13, 2007


I'm not sure if that's a real word, but it describes what this post is about. It means, read backwards to forwards, a "report on the experience of being humbled". That's a good way to describe my exam yesterday. At the end of the mere forty-five minutes allotted for this exam, I had 4 questions out of 14 (short answer, mini-essay questions) left unanswered, and I alone was left in the room. I scribbled something down for one of them which the professor said looked ok, and then the prof went on to ask me the last three questions orally, and graciously accepted my weak answers on two of them. I'm unsure of when we'll find out our grades, but my hope for now is ANY passing grade. Expectations have to be adjusted in such situations!

Thank you to all who prayed for me. Evidently God knew that I needed an "experience of being humbled" more than I needed a gold star.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Prayer Update December

Dear family and friends,

Forschungspraktikum: Datenerhebung
That's the name of one of the courses that I've been taking at University of Vienna. Research Practicum: Data Collection.

Not the most glamorous of courses for such a long name. Actually, that name's a piece of cake compared to another couple of words I have to get down before Wednesday's exam. Try Reproduzierbarkeitskoeffizienten and Fragebogenkonstruktionskriterien on for size. Yes, I admit it. I, Brad Hunter, am in over my head. I need your prayers as I go in for this exam.

Throughout the semester I have gotten to work together with 6 other students in a research group, researching superstitious beliefs of Austrians. It has led to some startling revelations for me, as conversations wander from simple "good luck charm"-type superstitions to esoteric beliefs to Zen meditation and Reiki. Nature abhors a vacuum, and in the immense spiritual hole left by the decline of the institutional church in Austria, Eastern thought is streaming in. Highly-sophisticated, yet broken people, are grasping for some sense of the divine. Pray that we, our team, and other Christians in the city may be able to point Viennese to the One who can truly satisfy their longings.

Also, would you pray that our visas would come through? We're still "legal", but we've been here almost 6 months, and it can be unnerving to live without a visa.

This Saturday we are hosting a Christmas party for many of the folks we've been building relationships with here. Pray for the aroma of Christ to be present in the way we welcome people. We plan to send out a Christmas greeting as well, but in the mean time, may the peace which only Christ can bring be yours this Christmas and forever.

As always, we are so grateful for you,
Brad, for the viennahunters

For those who have asked how to support us either monthly
or with a year-end gift, click HERE.

Rare moments...

It isn't very often I get to spend the afternoon with other American women, who are also here serving in Vienna. Today was one of those rare moments. Five of us from all parts of the US, with varied life and ministry experiences gathered together for a nice lunch and fellowship. We laughed, cried, shared our struggles and joys. (and I even learned where I could buy a ceiling fan!) It felt normal. I didn't have to give anyone strange looks because I understood everything they said, I didn't have to explain what I do with my time, because they all understood what adjusting to a new culture is like. I forgot how much I missed just hanging out with other women who could understand me! We also ate chocolate! Really good chocolate desserts!:)

After my time with the girls, I took the children to see a movie. Brad needs all the quiet he can get as he studies for his test tomorrow, so we went to see "Mr. Magoriums Wonder Emporium". It is with Natalie Portman, Dustin Hoffman and Jason Bateman. I had never heard of it until today, and it actually was a sweet movie, filled with all sorts of lines like "Life is an occasion-rise to it"! Cheesy I know, but it was nice to just watch a "feel good" sort of movie. We don't go to movies in the theater that often, so that was a rare moment in and of itself, but rarely do we also eat popcorn and gummy bears for dinner! Another treat!

Speaking of treats, I took some of my favorite bread to my lunch to share with the girls. Everyone I know here in Vienna is getting this bread for Christmas. Teachers, neighbors and friends! I wrapped the finished product in aluminum foil, tied it with some silver ribbon and attached a silver cookie cutter! Ta! Da! My attempt to be Martha Stewart like. Below is the recipe!

Poppy Seed Bread Recipe

3 cups flour
2 1/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/8 cups vegetable oil
3 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons each of vanilla, almond extract and butter flavoring

3/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon each of vanilla, almond extract and butter flavoring

Mix all the ingredients together for 1-2 minutes with an electric mixer. Put batter in 2 large loaf pans or 4 small ones; bake for 45-one hour in 350 degree oven.
Right after I take them out of the oven, I pour the glaze over the top of the bread, while it is still in the pan...then it seeps into the warm bread. Remove from pan when cooled completely.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Abby's Artwork

Inspired from Luke 2:1-16

Thursday, December 06, 2007

St. Nikolaus Day

Last night our neighbors invited us over for a St. Nikolaus Party."St. Nikolaus brought his bag of goodies and passed a bag out to each of the children, filled with candy, nuts, fruit and a few toys.

Unfortunately, I can never get these vertical photos to rotate...but you get the point. This is our neighbor Peter, who played the part of St. Nikolaus. Abby said she knew he wasn't real because "his brown eyebrows didn't match his hair";)

Today, authentic, homemade Austrian treats brought over by one of our neighbors to help us celebrate St.Nikolaus Day!

As if there wasn't enough excitement around here, but our good friend (a pastor and missionary from St. Andrews) Gordon Woolard arrived this morning from the States. He is on his way to teach in Kenya, but stopped for a few days to hang out! This afternoon we went to the Schönbrunn Weihnachtsmarkt (Christmas Market). We enjoyed looking at all of the beautiful things and even saw the "real" St. Nikolaus, who was passing out goodies to the children.

Our kids are a bit confused, as Santa never looked so slim, nor did he ever wear a bishop's hat and carry a staff in the US. To clarify (or maybe add to the confusion), Brad keeps calling St. Nikolaus "Santa's Austrian brother". In Austria, Nikolaus comes on Dec. 6 and either fills shoes or little bags for the kids and then the "Christ Child" comes on Dec. 23 with presents and decorates the tree only then. (And a friend told us that in Italy Santa's wife brings presents on 3 Kings Day in January.) Classic.

Back at our place, Gordon enjoys a good beer, while Luke shows off his new Nutcracker and Levi "cheeses" for the camera!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007


An Advent Wreath. This is the first thing you see when you walk into Levi's school. Last week they were for sale at every grocery store and market. The kids even made some in school. What is "Advent"? While I am not exactly sure how most people here interpret it's meaning, I found this helpful from a website that Brad's brother gave us.

"Advent is a word that means "coming" or "arrival". It is a four-week period in which the church remembers the promises of Jesus' first coming, and looks forward to his promise to come again. Thus, Advent is a season of tension. Christ has come, and yet not all things have reached completion. While we remember Israel's waiting and hoping and we give thanks for Christ's birth, we also anticipate his second coming at the end of time. Just as John the Baptist told the Jewish people to "prepare" for the Lord's coming, we need to encourage each other to be ready for his coming again, when he will fulfill God's promises. Indeed the wolf will lie down with the lamb, death will be swallowed up and every tear will be wiped away".

I am longing for this day.

It goes on to explain "The Christian Church has observed a Christmas season since the 4th century. There was always a period of preparation before Christmas Day, which varied between 3-7 weeks, and functioned as a penitential season, a time for discipline and intentional repentance in the confident expectation and hope of Christ's return. In the 10th century the 4 week pattern was finally settled(so we've only been doing this for a millennium)! European Christians used greenery and candles to enhance the season, and that practice has caught on in America and around the world in recent years. The Advent wreath itself is a tradition that is centuries old. A candle is lit during and for each week until Christmas Eve when all 5 candles are lit. Three of the candles are purple, which is a penitential color (a symbol of self examination and preparation). They remind us that, just as the prophets and John the Baptist called Israel to "get ready for the Lord," we need to be doing the same thing! The pink candle for the fourth week of Advent signals a transition to the white candle, the "Christ candle", which is lit on Christmas Eve. This reminds us that it is not all "preparation"-Jesus really came, and will really come again."

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Ebola in Uganda

To all who read this post, please pray for the World Harvest Mission Uganda Team. The horrific ebola virus has hit their district, with at least 18 dead already. The situation is dire, and we need an army to rise up and commit to pray. Who will join our brothers and sisters?

Click HERE to read their blog and learn how to pray.

"When one part of the body suffers, all suffer..." 1 Corinthians 12:26

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bound and determined to make me speak German

This is Alfred and Gritt. They are wonderful neighbors who live below us and are the parents of Frederick and Felix. They are also bound and determined to teach me German! They used to speak to me mainly in English, then slowly started speaking German and then translating it in English...now they pretty much ONLY speak German to me! I wish I could say I understand most or even half of what they are trying to tell me. Usually I can figure out what the gist of the conversation is just based on hand motions, facial expressions and the few words I do know. It really is sweet and I appreciate how they are trying to be creative in helping me learn the language.

Last week Gritt invited me over to make Buchteln mit Marillenfruchtfulle. This is sort of like a yummy yeast roll filled with apricot filling and served with a vanilla creme sauce. It is absolutely delicious!

Tonight Alfred stopped by and introduced a new game for the boys to play...we show them an item and Levi says what it is in English and then Frederick says what it is in German. I think Gritt and I will have to start playing this as well!:)

So, with Abby understanding and even translating at times for me, I think I'm off to do a Rosetta Stone Lesson!

auf Wiedersehen!

Please read carefully...

You might have to click on the photo to enlarge the fine print...

This form came home yesterday from Luke and Abby's school. We were instructed to read it carefully and then sign and return it. We didn't know if we should be terrified, or laugh hysterically!

A boy and his love for chocolate

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

That time of year for this too...

This is what my calendar said for November 28th...

Ich nehme in diese Jahreszeit immer zu.

I always gain weight at this time of year. :)

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Christmas card creativity!

It's that time of year again! Writing the annual Christmas letter. I had no idea how important this tradition was in Brad's family when I first married him. Little did I know that his mom had been creating the most fabulous Christmas cards for over 40 years! (can't remember the number in the series Neena, sorry) Brad has certainly wanted to carry this tradition on in our family, and we usually have a fun time reminiscing about the years events and writing about them in our letter. In the past we have been known to rhyme our letter, put it to song lyrics, and we have even attempted a limerick. We try to mix it up and get creative. Last year we did a little "scavenger hunt" in our photo. I think I got the idea from Family Fun.

So much has happened this year, that it is difficult to know where to begin. Any ideas to spur me on?

I WILL write a shameless plea to all of you reading this, that I LOVE TO GET CHRISTMAS LETTERS AND PHOTOS OF YOUR FAMILIES!
Please don't let us moving overseas keep you from sending them to us. I will gladly give you our address if you need it, just e-mail me.

Also, if you go to St. Andrews, our home church, there will be a box at the back of the church where you can put your card in and it will be sent for you! How easy is that! So please, send me your cards, letters and photos!
Ok, I'm done begging!

I'll leave you with one of my favorites.
I think this is one of Neena's most creative...even super-imposing camels in the backround!

How do you like Abby as an angel? Or Levi as baby Jesus? I don't know which is harder to believe!:)

Friday, November 23, 2007

More firsts...

So we survived our first Thanksgiving without our family and the traditions we were used to. It actually wasn't so bad. It helped that we received phone calls, e-mails and even a few care packages this week. We are so grateful that people took the time to let us know that they were thinking about us! For that we are grateful!

Now we start a few more "firsts". Today Luke and Abby are going to hort. This is an aftercare program at the church we worship in, where they get help with their homework, eat lunch, hopefully learn even more German and make even more friends. Brad and I plan to take advantage of 2 less kiddos in the house and actually try to finish what we start. So much of our day is spent on public transportation and broken up because our kids finish school so early...either 12 or 1pm. They will only be going on M,W & F, but we still plan on seeing an increase in the amount of work we get done!:)

Another first for us will happen this evening as we go to a Heuriger with all of the students in Abby's class and their parents. We are looking forward to getting to know some families a little better, and actually seeing Abby interact with her classmates.
I'll try to get some good photos to post.

One more first...this weekend I am going to attempt to make chocolate ice box pudding. Go here for the recipe.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

So Thankful...

I stole this idea from a woman serving in Vienna.

Alphabet of Thanksgiving:

Arriving in Austria...finally!
Bilingual school for the kids
Cola Light (Euro version of Diet Coke)
Drasche Park
Eis (Austrian ice cream)
Friends, old and new
Glam Grams (Neena and Memoo)
IKEA (I can't believe I'm saying that)
Jesus' life, death, and resurrection
Kindergarten for Levi right across the street
Learning a new language and culture
Mein Mann, Brad
Nice Neighbors
Oncology report that Neena's doing great
Potential teammates and current ones
Quellenstrasse, where we attend church and Luke and Abby go to aftercare
Relationships with sending churches and supporters
Terrace overlooking the city
U-Bahn (the subway)
World Harvest Mission
X-ray to check Levi's head when he fell (he's fine now!)
Yoghurt with granola
Zoo at Schoenbrunn Palace

My list looks very different from what it would have been a year ago, and for both worlds I am thankful!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving! (A little early)

You can't have a "real" American Thanksgiving without the Publix pilgrims, so they were sure to grace our table as we celebrated our Thanksgiving a little early. We decided to celebrate when our friend, Joanna visited from Budapest.

We ate a whopping turkey breast (marinated in Shannon's mother-in-law's MoJo recipe),
mashed tators, corn, green been casserole, stuffing, corn bread muffins and a chocolate chip/pecan pie for dessert. We did miss the cranberry sauce and sweet
potato casserole...but otherwise we had all the trimmings! It was really fun to share our first Thanksgiving overseas with another American, who also would not get to be with her family.

Before dinner, we watched "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" and during dinner, we continued the tradition of sharing what all of us were thankful for. The line of the night went to Luke, who said oh so sweetly...
"Mom, these mashed potatoes taste different than normal, what did you do different?"

I not so sweetly replied, "They are from scratch...NOT from a container in the refrigerated section of the grocery store."

To that he sweetly said, "I like the other ones better!" Ugh!

A few staples from America


We were surprised by how informative "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving" was. It actually gave the entire history of Thanksgiving!

Trying to get the timer to work...with all of us in the shot!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Vienna Christmas Markets

Four days of straight snow and an abundance of Christmas markets is ushering us into seasonal life here in Austria. The markets are a great place to take in the sites, smells and tastes of the holidays. Lots of yummy treats, punches and great gift ideas. Just make sure to wear warm shoes and socks, as it gets really cold walking around!

Joanna, Abby and I

Das Rathaus (City Hall)

Beautiful and breakable...

Joanna couldn't resist

Abby and Brad couldn't resist the cotton candy either

Friday, November 16, 2007

Winter Wonderland

No school+6 inches of snow+new sleds= LOTS OF FUN IN A WINTER WONDERLAND

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Hellos and Goodbyes...

Since we have moved here, we have had a steady stream of visitors. We are grateful for that. It has been a rich blessing to our family as we get adjusted to living far away from those we love and miss. Already however, I am already seeing that "saying goodbye" to others is taking on a deeper meaning to our kids.

Usually from the moment someone arrives, they ask the question "When do they have to go?" From what I have learned so far, this is pretty common for kids who live overseas. A quote taken from Third Culture Kids says this:

TCK's usually develop a wide range of relationships as they or people around them habitually come and go...

Many TCK's know how to get into relationships fairly quickly simply because they have to start so many. They have learned to observe the dynamics of a situation, ask questions that can help open a door, hopefully be sensitive to cultural cues of what is or is not appropriate for this group, and respond appropriately when others approach them...

Obviously there are many good things that can be taken away from all the relationships they get to be exposed to, but it can also lead to pain and even the refusal to let themselves care about others, because it hurts too much to say goodbye. We are just beginning this journey of many hellos and goodbyes and know that as our roots continue to get placed in this new soil, the hellos and goodbyes will most likely only get harder...

Please pray that Luke, Abby and Levi's hearts would stay soft, that they would always want to invest in the lives of those who come through our doors and that we would learn healthy ways to say goodbye to those who come in and out of our lives.

Last week we had visitors from our sending center. Ward (not pictured here), Meredith here with Luke and Paul is with Abby and Levi. It was a great time of sharing, encouraging, praying, worshiping and dreaming together.

Along with encouragement from our friends, usually goodies are included as well! These were brought just in time to make a chocolate pecan pie this weekend for our friend Joanna. Yes, another hello and goodbye...

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Lantern Party

Levi's kindergarten had a "lantern" party. He and his classmates helped make lanterns, then once the sun set Monday evening they lit their lanterns (with real candles) and they carried them around the garden outside while they sang songs.
would never happen in the States, as it is a total fire hazard letting 3 year olds carry real fire!)

It was a celebration honoring St. Martin. I don't know what he really did and everyone I asked didn't seem to know either, still the kids had fun showing off their creations. Afterwards, there was punch (one kind for the kids and one for the parents...with a little zing if you know what I mean!) and pretzels!

Frederick and Levi

Levi with his classmates and teacher marching around the garden

Abby and Frederick's brother, Felix