Once upon a time in a land far far away there was a Sister missionary in Austria. One day it started raining for hours and hours and everyone in the land began to wonder when it would stop raining. But for a week it rained and rained and would not stop. The lower parts of the land began to flood and the people were trapped in their houses. The flooding was so high that the water was high above the heads of even the tallest giants in the land.
The people of Austria were in a panic, unsure as to what was going to happen. There was a tale of a flood that comes only once every hundred years, but a bad flood had swept through the valley just ten years before, but the water had not gotten this high.
But soon the rain stopped after the trains were delayed and the tracks were flooded.
For many days the people waited for the water to recede before they could leave their homes. Finally the water lowered and those who had been trapped on the upper levels of their homes or had fled before the flooding had gotten too bad were able to assess the damage.
On a Wednesday, Sister Hammock and her companion Sister Judd received a call from a member in their small a ward in a little city called Wels. “I’m going to help out with the flooding relief, can you come?” He asked them desperately. “Yes, we can come!” The Sisters replied and they hurried home to change into flood relief clothes that come standard in every missionaries wardrobe.
Dressed in t-shirts, jeans, and tennis shoes the Sisters headed out to a small town on the outskirts of their area with the member to help with the flood relief.
As they passed by fields they were astonished at the newly formed lakes that filled the fields that once had brand new, promising crops. Along the tree lines a grey line about twelve feet in the air marked the highest point of the water in the fields.
These two Sisters soon arrived at a small fire station in Upper Austria and were soon given fireman’s boots that were several sizes too big. The firemen and the other volunteers laughed behind their hands at the tool girls that were speaking in English quietly to each other, but who clearly spoke German.
Soon enough they were piled into a small fire truck and were driven out on a windy road down a long path overlooking a new lake. Soon the truck stopped and all of the volunteers exited the tuck and discovered their path blocked by several inches of water. To walk through the water would mean to have water in their borrowed boots and they were unsure how they would arrive at their destination.
The answer was soon provided as the rumbling of a tractor came through the water and picked up the volunteers to bring them to a small wooden canoe with a leak.
Donning life vests the volunteers sat in the small boat as they were canoed across what had once been a bridge and all that was visible was the waist high railings on both sides. The trip was not long, but the missionaries quickly learned that it was important to balance out the weight on both sides so as not to tip over the rickety canoe.
“It’s like an Italian gondola!” One of the firemen rowing joked as the small group pulled up at the muddy remains of a pair of farm houses.
The missionaries spent the day cleaning out the house, pulling personal belongings that could still be saved from the house and throwing away that which could not be.
As word traveled that there were two girls from America helping out in the house, the other volunteers came and spoke to us using the English they knew. One man asked Sister Hammock, “Who is your guru?” Thoroughly confused, Sister Hammock asked the man what he meant.
“What is your church association?” He asked, “Christian?”
Finally understanding what he meant, Sister Hammock replied with a nod and a strong, “Yes!”
“Jesus sent you to us!” The man replied.
The rest of the day was spent shoveling mud, throwing away books, and making friends with the people the Sisters were working side-by-side with.
After returning to the fire station the Sisters were given food and offered alcohol and coffee. Refusing politely several times did not seem to work, and only the firm declaration of, “We don’t drink coffee or alcohol gave them any peace from their new-found friends.
After resting from a long day of work and returning the boots to the firemen they were borrowed from, the missionaries said goodbye and were leaving to go home. “Wait!” One of the cooks called to the Sisters as they were getting into the car. He held out a jar of cherries and two small forks. Sister Judd and Sister Hammock took one each, Sister Hammock doing so grudgingly as she was not a fan of plain cherries. Popping it into her mouth, Sister Hammock was immediately accosted by a burning taste in her mouth and a sinking suspicion. “Was ist das?” She asked the man.
“Ein Wein Kirsche.” He said.
The suspicion confirmed, the Sisters were only left with the option to laugh and to learn from experience. They did learn, to their blessed relief, that the cherries had only been soaked in wine and that the juice that had been packed in was merely juice.
The next day was spent much the same, cleaning an old farm house. Sister Hammock aided in the cleaning of a chicken coup and handled a dead chicken, sending a prayer up to the Lord to bless the chicken however chickens are blessed in heaven.
But it was Friday that brought the greatest amount of anticipation. The transfer calls came in early that day.
Sister Hammock answered the phone when the call came in, “Hallo, hier spricht die Sister Hammock.”
“Sister Hammock, Sie bleiben in Wels und die Sister Lin kommt nach Wels.”
“Sister Judd, Sie geht nach Wien I mit die Sister Linford.”
Sister Judd and Sister Hammock were sad at the news that they would no longer be companions, but excited for the new adventure. Sister Hammock was especially excited to learn that Sister Lin, a missionary from Taiwan would be her companion.
And the Sisters know that the adventure will continue until the end of their missions.