Friday, September 28, 2007

first McDonald's, now this!

Today I went down to the Senior Store to grab a snack, and lo and behold, there it was.

a pack of Little Debbie Swiss Cake Rolls, imported from the States. the last pack from the box.

Little Debbie, you are my hero. How I've missed you!

In other news, we started our ELL class last night. I didn't know this, since my email was left off the distribution list, so I found out when they came to my room to tell me they were meeting. Yikes. I was not a happy camper! Fortunately, I got some excellent last minute advice from Edit, our Hungarian teacher, and everything went ok. I love doing this; last night I talked quite a bit to George, who is probably around 60 or so. He plays guitar, and he's watching Jailhouse Rock over and over again to learn some Elvis songs; he was really proud to demonstrate his mastery of the lyrics! ha!

Thursday, September 27, 2007


to my dear friend Leslie Mise -- who will soon be Mrs. Kile!

I'd write more, but I found online episodes of Heroes last night and watched four episodes. Four! Needless to say, I did not get my grading completed!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


You know, I hardly ever ate at McDonald's in the States, and I had a firm policy to never go to a McDonald's overseas, because I hated being the stereotypical American.

Surprisingly, I've eaten more at McDonald's here in the last year than I have in probably the last five combined that I lived in NC. I suppose because it's one of the few convenient places we have around here, and it's comfort food, in a weird way. This morning, when Heather suggested McDonald's for breakfast, I was ecstatic. I'm not sure if this is a good or a bad change, but I will say I was thrilled about a McCafe and Egg McMuffin. Now if they had just had a McGriddle... Anyway, I was a little late getting here this morning, but it was worth it.

Our gas still isn't working, but we can heat our water with electricity. It's a little more expensive, but at least we're not freezing. I think it's Heather's fault. She went to a friend's house to shower yesterday, and --no lie -- there was no hot water there either! Crazy.

I'm off to chapel now. The worship team, all students, took a retreat this weekend to focus on making worship more meaningful. I'm really excited to see what they have come up with!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


Saw this online today, and felt compelled to say something about it, even though I just updated. This is truly sad. We often see girls lined up at the bus stop on the road between school and Budapest, and it's just awful. Our church and some other groups are trying to minister to these women, but the pimps can be pretty violent, and sometimes the girls are harmed for trying to get out.

kind of makes me feel bad for complaining about cold water, when there are people trapped in awful circumstances literally right down the road.

is it the weekend yet?

We've been having problems with our heat. It's set to come on automatically when the temperature is 20C. However, the other night, it came on when it was 23. Weird, we thought, and we went to bed.
In the morning, we woke up to a sweltering 30C house. That's 86 degrees Fahrenheit. Apparently, our heat had been running full blast all night. So we called our landlord, who came out and started working on it. By the time we went to bed last night, it had cooled off and we thought all was well.
until this morning.

There was no hot water.

If you know me well, you know that I love nothing more than a long hot shower. The prospect of a freezing cold shower, then, is anathema. Lisa and I brilliantly decided to come to school early and shower here, which I did last year when we had a water emergency. So I gathered up all my stuff, skipped breakfast, and came to school.

There was no hot water.

After all that, I still took a freezing cold shower, and to make matters worse it was in a school locker room without most of my stuff. Students wandering into the bathroom this morning were really confused to see me drying my hair...

Anyway, it was a bad start to my day, to say the least! But we had a time of praise at the staff meeting this morning, which I desperately needed, and some of my students really liked the Lady of Shalott, which is one of my all time favorite poems, so my day is improving. But man, what an awful start! :)

Monday, September 24, 2007

yard sale fever

This weekend I had an opportunity to practice my Hungarian at a rummage sale! The school holds two a year, with some of the proceeds going toward a scholarship fund. I decided to help out Saturday morning, and it was an interesting experience. Hungarians are hard-core about their bargain shopping... Let's break it down into categories:
Hungarian Phrases I Heard Repeatedly All Morning
  • How much is this?
  • Does this work?
  • What size is this?
  • Does this come with a matching top?
  • Has that already been sold?
  • What IS this?
  • Will you take ____ instead?
Hungarian Words I Felt Confident Saying
  • 50 cents.
  • Thank you.
  • Yes.
  • No.
Hungarian Phrases I Butchered
  • You can take all of those for 50 cents (what I actually said was whole, only 50 cents)
  • It works, but it's very loud (what I actually said was no quiet, but... good work. -- and I said but in English by mistake.)
  • It's a thermos for soup (what I actually said was Soup in, warm)
Items I Can't Believe Actually Sold
  • A wide variety of 80s dresses, complete with huge bows and shoulder pads.
  • A used, stained pillow. yuck.
  • Cassette tapes of Michael Bolton's greatest hits.
Some of the stuff was actually good, but some of it was highly laughable. Anyway, it was a good way to interact with Hungarians and stretch my vocab just a bit. And after freezing to death outside, we found a really cool teahouse in the city and tried to warm up! And we made over $800 for the scholarship.

Tomorrow I make the official trip into the city to register the car! This may excite me more if I could actually drive it. I was doing pretty well, and then I stalled again and got nervous. So I started overthinking everything, which means that today was the worst I've driven in a long time. Sigh.

I stayed up too late talking on Skype last night; although it was well worth it, I'm pretty tired, so I think I'm going to crash early. I have a long day of medieval ballads and yearbook designs ahead of me!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

making an impact in Hungary! (just not the one we expected...)

This was too funny not to share right away.
so Heather has a huge 9 passenger van to use while the family that owns it is in the States. We decided to take it to our HS soccer match today and cheer on the Bulldogs. Just before we left, the beautiful weather shifted dramatically to cold, wind, and rain. After a few minutes of braving that, we decided we could best cheer on our team from the warm confines of the van. So we began the process of turning around the giant van to move it to a higher location from which we could watch in comfort.
The road is tiny. I brilliantly suggested turning off into a little driveway so we could avoid driving all over Diosd to get up the hill. This was a great plan -- except for a) the steepness of the hill b) the sand/gravel combo on the road. Heather, who was driving, tried to reverse it up the hill, but it just slid. We then tried the emergency brake - clutch combo -- and succeeded in sliding into the large stone wall before us. Huge chunks of rocks went flying. People came out of the house to see what in the world these crazy American girls were doing.

We were so embarassed.

I went and found a very nice Hungarian man and a parent at the school who is fluent in the language. They couldn't get it out either, which made us feel much better, and succeeded in sinking the car into a very large rut.

Fortunately, they were able to call the vice-mayor, who promptly showed up with his 4x4 (rare in Hungary) and cables. With the help of some of my students (who will certainly be receiving extra credit), we were able to finally get the van out of the freakin' drive.

Thankfully, there was no real damage, other than to the wall. And even that worked out well, as the owner told us, via a translator, "I've been trying to tear down that wall for years, and they wouldn't let me because it's a historical landmark!" So he was happy, we met the vice-mayor, students got extra credit, and everyone got to laugh at us. All's well that ends well, I guess!

I love living in a place where a minor incident brings out the politicians in their work gloves. and it actually was really funny. Hungarian people are great; they just shrug, laugh, and do what needs to be done!

it's been a while...

...since my last post. Sorry about that. I was without computer access for a few days at Vajta, our staff retreat. Vajta was great! We had beautiful weather, perfect for watching the stars at night. And I got to spend some time with the rest of the staff, which was really good. It's nice to get to see people I don't always see during the day -- especially when it involves music, coffee, and games. :) I particularly enjoyed getting to know the Hungarian staff a little better. They helped me with my pronunciation since some of the worship was in Hungarian! I'll post videos of that soon...
We had our first bit of car trouble last week -- although I was relieved to find that the stall outs were not, in fact, because of my driving! So it was kind of frustrating to pay for repairs before we even got the papers in our names, but hopefully everything is ok now. Thankfully, it was fixed over the retreat weekend, so we only had a few days of bumming rides, walking, and taking public transportation. I am really, really grateful to have a car again now -- I definitely won't take it for granted!
pictures coming soon...

Monday, September 10, 2007

So this weekend made me feel just a bit more "Hungarian" ... our landlord's daughter offered to take us to our local marketplace this Saturday. It was really pretty cool -- lots of fresh produce, flower booths, and butcher shops where you could watch them chop up your poultry to order (including necks, feet, and --surprisingly --gizzards. She said, "I don't think you eat this in the States." I laughed and said, "Oh yes, we do!" See, old-timey Southern culture and Hungarian culture -- not so much different when it comes to food!) . Our favorite, though, was the dairy shop. A family drives in from the country each week with fresh milk and cheese from cows, goat, and sheep. You buy the milk unpasteurized and boil it at home yourself! Sadly, it was sold out, so we didn't get to try that, but the cheese and the sour cream were phenomenal. We'll definitely be regulars there.
Also this weekend, I helped lead worship at Danube with some of the other teachers. While I feel like Calvary Chapel is more of my home church, I do enjoy leading worship at Danube a lot. And after church, I had a pretty cool experience. One of my favorite students turned 17 this week, and her parents devised a plan to help her transition into adulthood. They had some of her teachers and other adults who are close to her come for a surprise party. Her parents' gift was a charm bracelet, so each adult was asked to "adopt" a charm and explain how it represented special qualities in her life, so she can always remember that she has mentors in her life who see all her potential. I thought that was a great idea, and I was pretty honored to be a part of it.
I'm excited about this week, because it's short! This is when the school pays for all the staff to take a retreat at the Word of Life campus here in Hungary. It's beautiful, and it's a great chance to get away for a while. Plus, they actually have Starbucks coffee there. :) I'll be leading worship with Austin and Edit, one of our Hungarian staff. I am really looking forward to it! Hopefully I'll get to post some pictures...

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Happy Birthday, Kathy!

Hope it's incredible...

and speaking of incredible, my granddad is doing remarkably well. He may even be on his way home soon! God is good. Thanks for praying!

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


You know, it wasn't so very long ago that our temperatures here were up in the 100s. Today -- 50 degrees. at 2:00. and raining. It was lots of fun when someone's burnt popcorn set off the fire alarm! Oh well. at least we know the alarm works.

So last night was Open House. Now I don't exactly enjoy being at school all hours of the day, but it was good. It means so much to have parents thank you for teaching their kids. And apparently some of the kids have already been talking about the class; one parent even asked to borrow a copy of Beowulf. Beowulf! I never would've thought... anyway, it was really affirming. One mother stopped me just before she left and said, "You know you're one of the favorite teachers here, right? The kids just love you, and I wish I could take your class!" It made a world of difference.

Waiting for an update on my granddad.... thanks for continuing to remember him and the rest of the family in your prayers.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

please pray

So my grandfather didn't get to leave the hospital after all; please be in prayer for him and for my family. Thanks!

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Hungarian Labor Day

I don't know exactly what we're celebrating, but apparently this weekend was important, because all the towns around us had some sort of festival. Last year we just called it Diosd Days, so I dub this one Budafoki Buli (the party in Budafok). :) Lisa B, Heather, and I decided to check it out here and become true Budafoki girls! We met up with Justin and Michelle, other teachers who live here, and got to know our new place. I think all of us decided we love Budafok! Live music (including country! ha!), arts and crafts, and lots of food. My favorite thing was the traditional treat, kurtos kalacs, roasted the traditional way over hot coals and rolled in cinnamon sugar. yum. And when I ordered my gyros for dinner, the entire transaction took place in Hungarian without any problems -- although I feel compelled to add that earlier in the night I somehow ended up with three drinks instead of one. I still have no idea how that happened. crazy language!
We also met with our landlords yesterday, whom we love. They are such kind people. We learned that when they bought this house, it was in utter disrepair except for those beautiful floors. The father, Gabor, has been working on it for six years, doing all the work himself. They told us they chose us to be in the house, because they thought we would help take care of it. The mother, Erzsebet, said twice that we had made it a home and she liked that we used the kitchen! Later, the three of us were talking about what a blessing this house is. They've been working for so long to get it ready, and they put the rental notice up just as we were getting desperate. It's by far the nicest house any of us have ever lived in, and we are getting an amazing deal on the rent. And we're getting to know some great people at the same time!

Life is good.

oh, and unless things have changed since my last update, my grandfather is doing much better and may come home later today! Thanks for your prayers. They are greatly appreciated.