A little peek into what's been happening this week at the Oasis

Looking towards the Oasis building from the Traiskirchen Lokalbahn station

As I'm sitting at our cosy dining room table to write this morning, the wind is howling like a banshee outside and the rain is lashing the windows so hard they're rattling! Oh yes - autumn has arrived with a vengeance here in beautiful Southern Austria!

Last night the gales were so strong at around 2:00am that the local sirens went off and we (and I'm sure every resident within five miles) awoke with a start, wondering if this meant fire, flood, terrorist attack, invasion ...... 

Well, we couldn't see anything 'out of the ordinary' happening outside on the street, so we prayed, made ourselves a cup of tea (as you do if you're British!) eventually falling back to sleep safe in the knowledge that whatever happened we belong to Jesus and He is our refuge, our protector and strong tower! Oh - and we were very grateful indeed for the 'extra hour' in bed provided by the demise of British Summertime.

By the way, it crossed my mind this week that there may be some of you following this blog who've never seen what the Oasis building looks like from the outside. So here's a photo we took a few weeks ago. Our apartment is less than 5 minutes walk up the street from here.🤩

A very productive Monday 'sorting day' .....

We'd already sorted through 50% of this month's pile of donated items when this photo was taken!

Every fourth Monday the clothing room is closed to refugees. Not to the team and volunteers though - in fact this is one of the busiest days in the Oasis monthly calendar, as it's set aside to allow time to sort through the bags of donations that arrive on a daily basis outside the front door.

Every piece of donated clothing, bedding, kitchen & household equipment; every handbag, sportsbag, pair of boots and shoes; every toy, electrical item and donated book is carefully inspected and placed in the appropriate box or bag.

So busy I'm just a blur .......

Items that are of good quality but require washing, pressing, mending or repairing are taken home by our wonderful local volunteers who return them once they're in a suitable condition to be passed on to a refugee.

Although we received lots of summer clothes this time, God answered our prayer for more winter-weight men's coats (we filled 3 large sacks with them). But we're still short of mens' winter shoes, sweaters and hoodies (so beloved by young men the world over these days!). So before next men's clothing room day, we will be scouring local stores for good quality new items to boost our stock.

Amazingly, our stock of good quality baby and children's winter clothing has grown so much lately that we're now liaising with other charities to pass on some of our 'reserves.' It doesn't seem right that we have an over-abundance of warm winter clothing in storage when there are disadvantaged local children shivering in this cold weather!

This coming Monday it will be women's clothing day. Lately, this has become our busiest day, and is such a great opportunity to get to know some of the new refugee women who've arrived at the camp in the past month. We'll be passing them invitations written in their own languages, to join us on Friday night for our monthly Women's Evening Programme. Please pray that many will accept the invitations and remember to come. Its such a great opportunity for women to relax together and hear the gospel message preached and translated into their own language. Pray also that God will provide interpreters for all the languages represented on Friday evening.

Later on Monday afternoon, Neal and I returned to the Oasis to drop off some items we'd borrowed. Julie, a former Oasis staff member was there cooking up a big pot of chilli ready for the team meeting on Tuesday.

"Oh, I'm so glad you've come" she said. "This is truly an answer to my prayers. I've got a young refugee from Mali sitting in the back room downstairs. He needs a bed for the night. I couldn't leave him outside in the cold, could I? He's hungry, dirty, depressed and so lonely. I'm going to give him some of this chilli. I've told him he can stay tonight, but I need a volunteer to stay here with him ...... Neal?"

Well, of course Neal said yes, and he returned to spend the rest of the evening and night watches with 'M.' They watched the Jesus Film together, 'M' had a hot shower and was found some new, clean clothes to wear. Later I took down a big bowl of beef broth I'd made earlier for the guys to share for their supper - returning to the apartment to spend my first night here alone!

Was it worth it? Of course it was - the next morning Neal made 'M' some breakfast, gave him some money to get to Vienna and sent him on his way - tummy full, body clean, fresh clothing and a copy of the New Testament to read on the journey! 

Just another 'normal' day and night at the wonderful Oasis!

Neal's Tuesday Night Prayer Meeting testimony

Every Tuesday evening a small group of local Christians, Oasis staff and volunteers meet together to pray specifically for the refugees. This week the meeting began predictably enough, with Christoph playing a few worship songs on his guitar, and the six of us offering prayers and intercessions with thanksgiving ..... until Ali heard a noise coming from outside the plate glass front door.

He got up to investigate, and after a hurried, whispered conversation he returned, bringing with him four Farsi-speaking young people (three guys and a young lady). They had apparently been sent by a local refugee agency to see if we might let them use our emergency overnight accommodation.

After settling the question of who would be prepared to spend the night with them at the Oasis, we continued in prayer. The new 'additions' joined us in grateful, respectful silence. It wasn't long before we asked our guests if they had any prayer requests that we might present to Jesus on their behalf.... they had! The two main areas for prayer they shared were:

.....The young lady, who had previously been living in the UK, left briefly to come to Austria to marry her now husband. Her husband (one of the three young guys) having applied for refugee status in Austria, is prohibited from travelling to the UK. She has been refused permission to make application for asylum in Austria and has been told she must return to the UK alone. She and her husband are adamant that they do not want to be separated. "I cannot live without my husband" she said.

..... One of the other young guys has a wife in England but cannot get permission to join her there.

Together we exalted the all-powerful Name of Jesus. For me, as the only UK citizen present in the room, the issue became quite personal. After prayer, the young lady testified that she had felt quite anxious when she came into the room, but after prayer she felt a real sense of peace come into her heart - praise the Lord!

After spending a comfortable night at the Oasis, the four were provided with breakfast and went on their way. We were thrilled to see them all return for the Wednesday Evening Programme, where they listened intently while the gospel was preached. They each received copies of the New Testament in Farsi before they left.

Please keep these dear ones and their ongoing situations in your prayers, that they might come to know Jesus as their Messiah, and are able to find a safe place to live and be reunited with their loved ones.

Fun and games at the Wednesday Chai Time afternoon

Going ... going .... gone!

Wednesday afternoon Chai Time  is arguably my most favourite of all the Oasis programmes. Over the past few weeks we've seen the numbers of women and children in attendance surge. There have been times when we've literally had no space whatever, particularly when we have to accommodate several pushchairs, a couple of wheelchairs and scores of boisterous children!

This week was no exception. We had several different craft activities going on - temporary tattoos were a great hit with grandmothers, young mums and kiddies alike. We also had the keyboard set up (with headphones thankfully) while Almendra was in her usual 'sewing corner' making alterations to a pile of jeans, skirts and dresses brought in by the ladies.

In the middle of the room, a number of children were noisily enjoying the various toys laid out for them on the playmat. One new young Iranian boy was excitedly building a tower with the oversized lego bricks. He commandered Stephanie to stabilize it as it grew higher and higher before it, and the children all collapsed into fits of giggles on the floor.

At another table mothers and their children were sitting quietly, chatting, colouring and drawing, while on yet another table several refugees were busy recovering small notebooks, making all manner of interesting designs with brightly coloured, patterned tape.

Amidst all this colourful chaos, individual ladies were being quietly taken through to the clothing room and provided with much needed winter clothes and footwear. Others were being offered encouragement, advice, comfort and prayer over their various problems and needs.

The tables were, as usual, set with a variety of biscuits, cakes, fresh fruit, crisps and nuts - all of which were quickly and gratefully consumed. The food provided at the camp is no doubt considered adequate and nutritious, but evidently it neither looks or tastes very appealing!  

A truly wonderful atmosphere at the Wednesday Evening Programme

A little boy loses his toy sailing boat ... later he sees it in a shop window. He recognises it as his because his Father had painted his name on it. The father goes into the shop and buys it back for his son .......

This week Ken used his considerable skill as a street artist and preacher to present the truth of the Gospel to a larger-than-usual Wednesday Night crowd.

This photo shows Ken at his paintboard, preaching as he paints the story .... while Ali interprets what he says into Farsi. Standing by the piano, Stephanie quietly translates from Ken's English into German, so that Leila can interpret from German into Armenian to the group of around 10 Armenian and Russian speakers sitting at the front of the room.

Our little friend 'D's mother understands Armenian but also speaks Russian, so she quietly interprets for the benefit of the Russian-only speakers sitting next to her.

At the back of the room a group of Iraqui refugees are listening intently to another volunteer translate the story into Arabic.

Sounds chaotic, and I suppose in a way it was, but its impossible to properly describe the sense of peace and presence of the Holy Spirit as hearts were touched, and Gospel seeds were sown. A truly special night!

Gathering 'goodies' for the refugee ladies Christmas Gift Bags

Starting to make headway in filling the Christmas Gift Bags for refugee ladies.

Because Thursday this week was a public holiday (Austria National Day) there was no coffee bar at the Oasis. So on Thursday and Friday afternoons, Neal and I took the opportunity to hit the local supermarkets together to do some serious 'Christmas shopping' for the female refugees. (So grateful for Neal's help in carrying the heavy bags!)

I've been asked to take responsibility for purchasing all the contents for 100 women's gift bags. (Remember last week I told you about the tote bags the ladies from our local evangelical church are making?) Well, my budget is EUR 10:00 per bag - doesn't sound much, but it still adds up to EUR 1,000:00 of Oasis money that I need to spend wisely!)

I've discovered its really surprising what you can find when you put your mind to it! Some things can be easily bulk-purchased on line of course (I'm ordering nail polish; nail files, facial cleansing pads and pretty little compact mirrors) but we soon realized it would be more cost effective to source some of the items locally.

So the photo here shows what I've bought so far .... 30x shower gels; shampoos; hairbrushes & deodourants, and 100x pocket tissues. So another 70 of each item to go .... please pray the local shops (been getting some very strange looks from the cashiers by the way) don't run out until we have all we need! 🤭

So there it is - another week full of colourful and chaotic adventures here at the Oasis.

You know, it really is wonderful to be here and witness all God is doing among the refugees, but sometimes its especially tough not being present with our precious family back home. This week in particular we've longed to be close to them, and we truly value your continued prayers on their behalf. We know God will protect, bless and provide their every need - he has promised us many times that He'll take care of them, as we take care of those He loved and died for here. What a comfort His promises are!

So until next time - may God bless, protect, encourage and enable you to stay focused on and grounded in Him in the days to come.

We love and miss you all hugely

Lesley and Neal