Tuesday, November 25, 2008

a winter adventure.

so back home in NC, I never have to drive in snow, because as soon as flakes fall, schools shut down and all driving ceases.

That's why I was a little nervous about driving yesterday -- snow had been falling pretty steadily for a while, and since the sun starts setting at 3:30, the temperature was dropping, too. But several of us were working with a Thanksgiving outreach with Hungarian college students, and we had to get to the first meeting point, and I was the only one with a car, so I faced my fears and drove anyway.

Getting there -- not so bad. I slid a bit a couple of times, but I was ok.

However, we then transferred all our stuff to the Kliewer's van, and Steve drove the rest of the way. I knew we were in trouble when we slid down a hill...and then down another hill...and then crept along the highway in miserable, miserable traffic.

At one point, we saw our director's van also stuck in traffic. Kim rolled down the window, starting waving her arms wildly, and yelled "No School! No School!" :) Alas, it was no avail, as we didn't even get a delay. sigh.

When we realized we were going to be insanely late creeping along in traffic like that, we parked the van and took public instead -- carrying pumpkin pies, jello, cornbread, cookies, and a plastic pumpkin, among other things. Needless to say, we got some interesting looks, and two slightly drunk Hungarian men were really, really confused.

After three hours, a car, a van, two trams, and a metro ride, we met our contact at the dorm -- only to find that we were still a bus ride away. Basically, our assigned dorm was as far from Diosd as humanly possible while still staying in Budapest. So we finally got there over an hour late.

It was actually really good, though. They loved talking to us and asked great questions, and we got to share all about Thanksgiving and the concept of gratitude. They liked Jello and LOVED pumpkin pie! The turnout was high, and so was the interest, and I'm making plans to meet up with one girl, Csilla, to practice her English.

And then came the return journey....

we stood in the snow waiting for a bus for a really long time and then had to retrace our steps back (although we did stop at a McDonald's -- woohoo for the 24 hour drive through!). And then I had to drive back from the Kliewers' house to Diosd after midnight. on snowy roads. with snow still falling.

No one died, and I didn't even really have any problems, except for trying to get the car in the gate to our place. A fear conquered! but I was incredibly grateful to finally, finally get home.

So to sum up, I left the house at 5.30 and returned at 12.30, and all but about an hour and a half of that were traveling. yuck. and then I had to pack! I've never wanted a snow day so badly in my life...

I'm looking forward to a restful trip to Sweden! Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Monday, November 24, 2008


I was recently "tagged" by Kacie to share things about myself on my blog. However, I'm breaking the rules a bit and making mine all holiday-related! I've been listening to Christmas music, and it snowed this weekend, and all the stores have Christmas displays up -- which means I am more than eager for some holiday joy! So here's my "Welcome to the Holidays" themed 7 random things about myself:
1. My favorite Thanksgiving tradition from my childhood took place at Granny and Papa's farm. We would shake the pecan trees (literally) and then pick up all the pecans -- and there were a lot! It got a little competitive at times. :) As an added bonus, that meant we had pecans for the rest of the year... and I was always very thankful for that!
2. I love cranberries. I do not, however, love cranberry sauce. Also, I prefer my turkey deep-fried, and Christmas Eve feels somewhat incomplete without a few porkskins on the snack table next to the Rice Krispie Treats (clearly, I am a product of the South).
3. My family listens to Christmas music year-round. Even in the middle of summer, Dad will sometimes put on his favorite Christmas record (yes, record!) at night.
4. My two favorite religious Christmas songs are O Come All Ye Faithful and O Holy Night. As for secular songs, I love Nat King Cole's Christmas Song -- and living in Budapest has finally allowed me to taste chestnuts roasted over an open fire!
5. We love our Christmas decorations in my family, and we don't throw any away. So every year, my kindergarten ornament (a plastic cup melted around some beads) still makes an appearance on our tree, as does a glued-string model of Hailley's comet from 3rd grade.
6. As a somewhat precocious child and an avid reader from an early age, I put two and two together after I read a label that said "Made in China" and realized that China was not, in fact, part of the North Pole, and therefore my stocking stuffer toothbrush could not have been made by elves. ah, innocence lost.
7. My favorite gift from last year was when my family sent a dvd slideshow with pictures from past Christmas celebrations. Then each gift was linked to one of the pictures. It was a brilliant way for them to help me feel close to my family and remember my favorite Christmas memories.

I'm supposed to tag 7 people who will also write 7 random things on their blogs, but I'm not sure who else posts consistently -- Karen? Lisa? Aaron? Renata? We'll see, I suppose!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

planning for the holidays!

Last night some of us went to Kashmir for some delicious Indian food in honor of Lisa's birthday next week. I do love samosas... but I'm really looking forward to some Swedish specialities! I leave on Tuesday, and I can't wait!

and Kacie and I are planning to visit Krakow over Christmas! I'm trying to take advantage of the great exchange rates right now, so even if I can't afford the ridiculous cost of plane fare home, I can do a little bit of cheap traveling. It's of my favorite perks of living in Europe.

I've talked with a couple people about Christmas packages... and I do love getting mail (by the way, Kathy really stepped up her already stellar package sending with an awesome State Fair theme... a bunch of state fair freebies! For instance, I'm typing this while a giant mask of Greg Fishel watches me. kind of creepy.)

However, I can't really think of things I need this year, and mailing things can be pretty costly. So then I saw this list online today when I was reading some John Piper. Some of them aren't especially helpful here (and the thought of a pizza with corn and shrimp kind of disturbs me). but I particularly liked the idea of people praying specific Scriptures and then emailing them and of the video greeting! Some of you blessed with adorable children did that for me on my birthday, and it was awesome. So anyway, I pass it along to you in case you were looking for ideas :)

Monday, November 17, 2008

video from our fundraiser

It was a little dark and noisy in there, but you can get the idea of what our "coffeeshop" was like -- and you can see me playing piano! Just imagine that you can hear my harmony; sadly, I was sick and had no voice at all.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

trash day!

but not just any trash day -- the days where the entire neighborhood puts their junk outside (unbagged!) for others to rummage through. It's highly entertaining -- yesterday I saw a large pair of men's polka-dotted boxers spread out upon a 80s-ish couch, while this morning I saw a toilet on the side of the road. so strange.

And I just realized I've never written about the road we live on now. It's a one-lane road.... except it's for two way traffic. So there are spots every so often where a car can pull onto the side. When cars meet, whoever is closest to a shoulder just pulls aside and lets the other squeeze by. I was absolutely terrified the first time I drove it last year, especially when I learned that someone actually pulled too far off and rolled off the side of the hill! This road is a prime example of things that are totally normal to Hungarians, but you probably wouldn't see in America :)

I do love walking to school in the mornings, though, because it's so interesting. Every house has a different kind of gate, and the yards often have apple trees or grapevines in them. Sometimes in the morning the old people will be out working or smoking -- or, in the case of old man I see regularly, erratically biking home from a long night of drinking in a pub somewhere! At the same time, there's a huge Ford 350 with Florida license plates parked on the side of the (very narrow) road which we cannot figure out, and there's a car with a stencil advertising the Hungarian equivalent of 1-800-555-PIMP. You never quite know what you might see...

Things are starting to take off with the Alpha program; please keep us in your prayers as we plan!

Monday, November 10, 2008

i hate being sick

I have now had laryngitis for almost a week. This is ridiculous! and it prevented me from singing at the school "coffeehouse" this past week!

But I did get to play piano, and, more importantly, it was a huge success. Student Council organized it as a fundraiser for the International Justice Mission to end child trafficking. I was absolutely shocked -- the kids raised $1500! Click to learn more about IJM and love146 . But be warned -- it's pretty heartbreaking.

Yesterday, we had a cool experience at church. Heather Mercer was our speaker; she's the one who was imprisoned by the Taliban for talking about Jesus in Afghanistan. I remember reading about her plight as it happened back in 2001, so it was really interesting to hear her first-hand account, which Lisa, Jillian, and I agreed should be a movie. It was even more moving to hear her talk about the after effects, including some of her Taliban guards who have now come to know the Lord. She's currently serving in yet another danger zone, passionate about giving Muslims the opportunity to learn more about Jesus. I left more determined to abandon all for Christ -- and yet incredibly grateful that my area of service is a lot safer than hers!

also this weekend, the Korean families combined forces to feed the teachers! I love Korean food, so I was looking forward to this for weeks, and it did not disappoint. :)

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

more pics

The pictures don't really capture how beautiful it is, but hopefully you can get the idea of what a Hungarian cemetery looks like for All Souls' Day!


a few pictures from our trip to Vienna...

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

even in Hungary...

...you can't escape politics on Election Day!

Most mornings I wake to Hungarian morning radio, which is much like American morning radio. They even use the same sound effects and make prank calls to people on their birthdays. The only difference is that I can only understand about 3% of what's happening (but I'm getting much better at figuring out the weather forecast!). This morning, however, I woke to conversation about Obama and McCain -- I wish I could type out how Hungarians pronounce these, because it's pretty funny. Anyway, I didn't understand all of it, but I understood enough to know they were making puns on Obama's name. In Hungarian, barack means peach, so they were making jokes about offering Obama some jam for his palacsinta (crepes) and all the confusion that could result. yeah -- even in Hungary, morning radio hosts aren't all that funny :)

I know I'm way behind on posting pictures; I'm having some problems with my laptop :( But they're coming soon...

Happy voting!