Something Good

Austria is probably our favorite place to visit in all the world. It is breathtakingly beautiful, of course. But a big part of it is that one of our very best friends lives there--Christina. We met her thirty-five years ago when she came to Florida as an au pair. We have kept up over the years and exchanged several visits along the way. Her family and friends are a part of ours by now.

Another reason we love this country so much is the way we were treated one special and magical night. It was during a concert at Finkenstein Castle, high up in the mountains.
Any American who goes will immediately think of The Sound of Music and the concert competition that the Von Trapp family participated in near the end of the movie. High in the clouds, the sun going down as the lights came on in the valley below. There were quintets and choirs singing traditional Austrian songs to the delight of all--even those of us who could not understand the language.

What stands out in my memory is that, when one of the choirs realized that Audrey and I were Americans, they broke from the program and sang a song specifically for us. It was Them Old, Cotton Fields Back Home. They sang and harmonized beautifully, although perhaps misunderstanding the lyric just a bit--

"Way down in Louisiana, just about a mile from Texy-Kana..."

But we felt so honored by that simple gesture and, for that moment, a little home-sick, too.
Now, to this day, whenever we hear the song (like we did just the other night), we do not think of the cotton fields of the American south, we think of Austria-- and smile. And we always sing: "Texy-Kana,” like they did!

It was a little thing, I know. But a smile, a warm greeting, and the gift of cultural appreciation, let us know that we were welcomed in their midst. They may well have forgotten it as quickly as they did it, just another night of singing for them-- but the impression on these "foreigners" was ...indelible.

Audrey and a team of ladies from First Baptist went on a mission trip to Austria back in March, just before the pandemic shut down the world. They worked with missionaries for several days in Linz and Salzburg, getting home only hours before the President suspended travel from there to the United States.

Now, Americans cannot visit Europe, even if they wanted to fly multiple hours somewhere. But that will change once this deadly virus is cornered and conquered.

If you ever have the chance to visit Austria, do it! And when you go-- see those cities, and Vienna, of course. But don't miss Carinthia, the southernmost state, situated in the Eastern Alps. And the smaller cities of Villach, Klagenfurt, and the village of Rosegg.

And, by all means, visit ancient Finkenstein Castle for the evening concert in the clouds.

I guarantee that you will be welcomed with open arms.


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