If I can describe Austin in a few words, I would say that it is a refreshingly entrepreneurial, having the small town feel with big city swag. Yes! There are skyscrapers and complexes, but as I traversed through its streets, I could not help but recall the bohemian atmosphere of Prague, the city with such enriched history within the brick & mortar, yet the little humble streets silently screamed suburbia. Austin felt more like a conglomeration of several cities in my mind and heart.
Honestly, if the entire trip was only about the past 3 days I’ve spent, I will say that it has been worth every cent.
The moment I got off the plane on Texan soil, a wall of humid heat slammed smack-dab in my face; sweat beaded my attire as I trudged along to find my ride. I finally saw Jennifer Vo in person! We immediately drove down to her workplace back at AppSumo and spent the rest of our stay at their office, helping prepare for their office party later that night. It definitely seemed like the start-up culture really found their focal point at the AppSumo office, as entrepreneurs (or to-be) wandered their way in the building. I found myself engaging in several fascinating conversations with the people and was reminded that I cannot separate the spiritual from the secular, despite the environment.
The de Konings were my host family for my stay and they truly demonstrated Texan hospitality. I remember seeing their care package that they left for me in my room; reminiscent memories of the Czech church family flooded in my family as I read their welcome letter aloud. Hospitality is truly a Christ-like virtue, not to be taken for granted. We later on spent the rest of the time catching up and sharing lessons learned and updates on life, before ending the evening. That concluded Day 1, Friday.
The next day was Saturday and it was quite a full day for me & Jen. After we started off the day eating at Kerbey Lane’s cafe for breakfast, JVo took me on quite an enlightening tour of the state capitol!
We stopped by the Texas History Museum and spent a good amount of quarters on the parking meter, as we immersed ourselves in the world of Texan history. Once the parking meter ran dry, we had to de-immerse ourselves out of the museum, much to our dismay. Then we stopped by the state’s capitol building and admired the nation’s largest capitol building (Austin’s capitol building is taller than DC’s by a couple of inches). I couldn’t help but play the photographer with JVo as the site afforded many scenic vistas.
University of Texas was our last tourist stop and we had plenty of fun “reliving” our Geisel Library days as college students. Walking through olden lecture halls and dusty library buildings, if I had closed my eyes and mind for a bit, I would have nearly convinced myself that I was in college once again.
I had my first authentic Texas BBQ at Rudy’s BBQ and met 2 new friends, Gary & Stefania, fellow Harvest Bible Chapel members with Jen. We chatted and caught up as if we were old friends, sharing a meal like the old days.
But it was my first weekend at Texas and I am completely amazed at how willing the church family at HBC took me in; from the hospitality & care of the de Koning’s to the casual chats with other members, I felt quite at home with people I’ve barely been acquainted with.
Throughout the entire time, Jen and I had sweet times of sharing & encouraging each other with what our Lord is bringing us through. Despite being thousands of miles away, the same God who’s at work in me is *also* at work with a dear sister, at a like-minded church family in Austin, TX. As we shared the hard-fought victories won for the Lord & teeth-gritting struggles of trials, I found refreshment in our conversations and reminders that the work is still yet to but shall certainly be completed.
Sunday was truly the day that I want to reserve for an entirely separate post. I will be sure to write that one up write away.
But in short, I was reminded to examine where I place my faith and I got the privilege to see family discipleship being lived out in the simplest & profoundest way. The entire day was worthy of a seminar and conference on Christ-centered church & family discipleship.
Grace is the gift that God pours on to this ill-deserving person. I am seeing more clearly on how God is truly jealous of my worship of Him; what He takes away from me was not to spite me but to protect myself from wandering away, and what he gives to me has only directed me to lift hands and thank Him with a contrite heart. Worship of God is what the perspective must cling in *all* things.
It was very refreshing to fellowship with an old friend and some new ones too.