Hello from Austria! I crossed out of Slovakia in the rain on Wednesday & arrived in a town near Vienna for a rest day with some good friends. The Shneller-Scharau family lived in Adelaide for the 2 years I was working there with YMT Australia & so we've been planning to meet well before I left for Brazil. I have ended up staying here for 3nigths already & will stay again tonight, not because I've stopped walking but because they've come & picked me up each evening as I finish walking. It almost feels like I have a 9 to 5 job now! Their youngest, Daniel, is having trouble pronouncing my name so I'm either called Yam or Anne at the moment. Still, it's better than young Julian Pannell back in Australia who couldn't pronounce my name for 5months & referred to me as Dum. Yam is fine. It's been so nice to have some familiarity around me. Yesterday was a miserable wet day with no where to walk along the side of the road (I walked for a while along a canal instead) but there has always been ample time to pray & to meet people & extend the invitation. Today was a perfect anti-yesterday with beautiful sunshine & open roads. Today was also the 1st time since October, 2007, that I was able to wear a t-shirt. My health is ok considering I walk a marathon a day. I had a quick check-up with a doctor the other day due to an inflamed & rash-covered foot. The doctor didn't quite know what to do simply because he had no idea how the body should react to walking the distances I do. We both agreed that it would be ok & sure enough the next day it was back to normal. I accidently omitted two funny stories from the previous two weeks but couldn't let the oppurtunity pass to not finally 'tell the tales'. The 1st was from the 'trumpeting' walk with Wojtek in Poland. We were walking down through a steep valley when a flying 'V' of geese flew over our heads. Wojtek & I began to talk about the geese migration when another group came into view. This lot though had no 'V' happening at all but were completly random. I yelled out in full voice to them, "Form a V, it's easier!" At that point the geese suddenly changed position & formed a sort of flying 'T'. Wojtek cupped his hands around his mouth & yelled out to them, "No! He said a V, not a T!" We both roared with laughter as once again they all changed poistion, but this time into a flying 'V'. We were happy to have helped them on their long trip home :-) The other story I forgot to tell wasn't overly funny at the time, more of a lesson in how not to do something stupid. The mistake I made was filling my 3L water bladder up with carbonated water instead of plain water. I'd walked a few kilomtres before I reached for my 1st sip & so enough time had passed for the pressure in the water bladder to rise sharply. I have a Camelbak water system & so all I have to do to drink is place the tube that hangs by my side in my mouth, bite down on the mouth piece & suck. Due to the gas inside the bladder, as soon as I bit down on the mouth piece the water cannoned out at such a force that it practically bruised my kidneys. I wasn't ready to swallow the water so some ended up in my lungs & the rest ended up all over my face as I hastily pulled the tube from my mouth. The ppressure was so great that the mouth piece couldn't close off after I'd released it so with water flying everwhere I had to turn it off at the valve. I was left standing on the side of the highway coughing & spluttering as water dripped down off my head. Carbonated water:1, Sam:0. The tap water here in Austria is drinakable so that solves the gas problem for now. It's a good thing it's God doing the work on this trip & not me. Big problems otherwise. With the rising temperatures I have decided to send home all my winter gear. It's a few kg worth so it's a welcome drop-off. Alexander & Birgit Scneller-Scharau also helped to restock me with new pants & a jacket. My water-proof pants & jacket had been destroyed crossing Russia & Belarus because of the slat they spread on the roads to melt the snow. The passing cars & trucks would spray me with salty water & the salt has destroyed the water-proofing membrane. So I have a new jacket & some cooler cotton treking pants to replace the water-proof ones. As I said at the start of this blog, there have been plety of oppurtunities to pray (that is, from the time I wake up until the time I fall asleep). I'm struggling a little though to not get distracted as I walk & pray & I'm constantly having to re-focus. I even got destracted today while apologising to the Lord for being distracted. None-the-less, the prayer for Christian unity continues; for the unity of the family, our unity through forgiveness, our unity in truth & our unity in love. I guess I'll be writing from southern Austria next week sometime over the Easter break (I'm 2days ahead of schedule so I'll take them as rest days for Easter). God bless & may you have a holy week. Sam.
"There is a time for everything & a season for every activity under heaven." Ecc 3:1