Greetings to you from Hungary! I have now been living in Hungary for three months as a volunteer with Young Adults in Global Mission! When I arrived in August, I spent the first two weeks with six other YAGMs and our new country coordinator at a Lutheran Retreat Center in Révfülöp, a small town on the beautiful Lake Balaton. We spent these weeks learning Hungarian, studying the Bible, bonding and exploring the area. After our time in small town Hungary, we traveled to Budapest for one last week together before going to our individual sites. We attended a workshop with Phiren Amenca (a network of Roma and non-Roma volunteers and voluntary service organizations creating opportunities for non-formal education, dialogue and engagement, in order to challenge stereotypes and racism), explored the city and even went to see a performance of the Georges Bizet’s opera, Carmen. On our last day in Budapest, we were met by our site mentors and after a sending worship, we said goodbye and traveled to our individual sites.
When my mentor and I arrived in Békéscsaba, I was met with warmth and excitement. I spent the first couple weeks exploring the city, meeting new people and taking in my new surroundings. After two months, I have started to feel “settled” and part of the community in Békéscsaba. Much of my time is spent working with students studying English. I lead an English table for students and offer individual consultations for students who would like a prepare for their Intermediate English Exam. Being a native English speaker, I expected I would be spending my time with English students, but I did not expect I would be using my skills and experience as a musician or teacher in the way that I am. Each week, I teach voice lessons to adults and students and work with the high school choir. I also sing soprano with a small adult choir called Calandrella. I have become even more thankful for the language of music, especially as I attempt to use “Hunglish” (Hungarian and English) and actions when communicating. It’s amazing how language and cultural barriers disappear and connections are created when people have the opportunity to make music together.
Outside of my “responsibilities,” I have been invited to join other groups or activities within the community. On Fridays, I have been spending time with the youth group or attending an adult Bible study with the Y’s men group. At each event, someone in the group willingly translates for me so I can understand the new words flowing through my ears. On Thursdays, I have started going to a sewing club with a small group of women. Now, I will admit that sewing a button onto clothing is quite possibly the only skill I have when it comes to this admirable skill. However, that doesn’t matter. I enjoy spending time with this small group of women as they laugh, teach and use sewing as a way a to express creativity. They are willing to teach and are quite patient with me as I slowly, but bravely, sew. I’m not certain if I will improve my sewing skills, but I do know that I will build relationships with these kind and welcoming women. Moments like these make me incredibly thankful for the willing and open hearts of each person I encounter.
While I have moments of gratitude in Hungary, I cannot express how thankful I am for my sending community; for your community. Your prayers, love and support have carried me through the last few months as I have gracefully stumbled into my community in Békéscsaba. I ask that you continue to pray for all of the YAGMs and our communities, as we discover how God will use the gifts He has given each of us. Pray for the willingness and patience to build relationships with those around us (wherever we may be) and the courage to step out into the unknown as we live into the love of Christ.
If you would like to learn more about my experiences and reflections in Hungary, please follow my blog: calledbythespirit.blogspot.com.
Blessings and peace,