Tuesday, January 27, 2009

"Think Destination"

Before moving to Hungary, we went through lots of training on dealing with culture shock -- which I fully anticipate having in reverse upon my arrival back in the States this summer. One of the tips to deal with it is to look forward to your new home -- so I've been making a list of things I'm excited about.

I'm somewhat ashamed to admit that, aside from family, the vast majority of my items involve food. ChickFilA biscuits, steak, salads with ranch dressing, cheddar cheese -- all kinds of things that aren't exactly in abundance here. But today I found myself wanting one thing in particular, even though I haven't had it in years: a pig-pickin'. That's right -- a real, honest-to-goodness pig, cooked right there in front of you and chopped into pieces with a delicious sauce. Believe it or not, I found a recipe for a slow-cooker version that sounds fairly accurate (there's no tomato sauce in real pork barbecue, people!) So I'm going to try it and let you know how it works...

(other things I'm excited about: being able to communicate with strangers, Netflix, and the absence of the highly illogical Hungarian right of way laws!)

This week promises to be another busy one; it's the week of senior auction, and the class I sponsor is providing babysitting care. That's right -- I am in charge of 18 sophomores, who are in charge of 30 children. This could be.... interesting. And tonight I finally get to watch Lost! woohoo for the giant projector and screen at the school!

Friday, January 23, 2009

last night

Alpha = awesome.

Making a wrong turn onto a narrow unpaved road in an unfamiliar Hungarian neighborhood = not awesome.

Subsequently backing into a ditch while attempting to turn around = yikes.

Thank God for the ICSB community -- once again coming to my rescue, even at 11pm!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

playing mom again

This week I'm housesitting for 4 kids and a dog, so I haven't been able to get online much ...but I wanted to brag about how great my students are. Sometimes I wonder about these kids; they know all the right answers, they know how to play the Christian game, but they don't always show evidence of a genuine, life-changing faith. The staff has especially noticed that this year, since the school lost so many strong student leaders at graduation. Sometimes, we just wonder who's going to step up and do something!
Well, I sponsor the sophomore class, and this week, they've encouraged me. Without any prompting of any kind, they suggested that we sponsor a child as a class, which I think is very admirable, and that they could set up a mentoring program for upperclassmen to meet with the lowerclassmen. I was so pleased to see them taking initative in areas where they see need. Great kids!

Friday, January 16, 2009

1st Alpha meeting

After literally months of planning, we finally had our first Alpha meeting last night, and it was really encouraging!

We really weren't sure who (if anyone!) would come; we weren't sure if we were over- or underplanning; I wasn't sure how the language barrier would affect the evening. But I think we were all pleasantly surprised at how smoothly everything went. For those of you not familiar with Alpha, it's designed to be a course in the basics of Christianity which also involves building relationships. You meet with the same small group of people for ten weeks, eat dinner each week, worship together, listen to a lecture about a point of the Christian faith, and then discuss it. People are encouraged to be honest about their beliefs, even if they differ greatly from Christianity, and this really helps combat the common misconception
that Christians are merciless and cold. It's what drew me to the Alpha program, actually -- the Christian faith is presented very clearly according to Scripture, yet there is no pressure or judgment. It gives seekers the chance to talk through spiritual issues without feeling defensive.
I was pretty nervous when the couple who sat down at my table spoke no English! But I understood the wife pretty well, and in spite of my horrible grammar, she understood me too. She even complimented me on my singing during worship! Fortunately, we were soon joined by a woman who spoke English remarkably well and was kind enough to translate! We ended up shuffling the groups a bit so Kacie and I had all the English speakers, with quite the range of visitors -- from a 16 year old boy who wonders whether God exists at all and just wants to practice his English, to a much older man who said he came mainly to get away from the new puppies smelling up his house. :) The language barrier was a bit of an issue, but as one of the men said, some of those questions would be hard to answer in Hungarian! At the end of the evening, they were very complimentary, and some even mentioned bringing others next week. So you can be praying for us in the coming weeks: pray that we can transcend language difficulty, that we can develop real relationships, that we can discuss well. I'll be posting updates! Next week's topic: why did Jesus die?

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

"Come down from the mountain, you have been gone too long..."

are the lyrics to my current favorite song (by the way, Dad, I'm planning to include this cd when I mail your package -- I think you'll love it.), and I find it pretty applicable, as I've finally ended my debating about next year in favor of heading back to the good old USA!
ok, so the song doesn't totally fit. But I do feel like for me Hungary has been a mountain-top experience -- a definite highlight of my life.I absolutely love working at ICSB and living in Hungary. I love these kids, this community, this culture... I truly have been incredibly happy here.

It will be pretty heart-breaking to leave, honestly.

But after much prayer, I've decided that returning is truly what I'm supposed to do next. I don't have the support to come back for another year, and it's hard to ask for more when people are already giving so sacrificially even during difficult times. But even more importantly, I've been struck by the need to be near my family right now. My three remaining grandparents are getting older, and I want to spend some time with them -- which is pretty difficult to do with an ocean between us.

So I'll be back home in June!

I'd appreciate your prayers, as I have no idea what I'll be doing next, which kind of terrifies me. So if any of you know of amazing job openings, let me know. I'm also considering maybe returning to Hungary in the future, but I'm just not sure what will really happen. I do know it will be hard to leave here, so please be praying that I'll use the rest of my time here wisely so I can leave with no regrets!

Monday, January 05, 2009

I love alumni.

My AP English class was just invaded by 8 ICSB graduates -- which I'd like to point out is greater than the number of students actually in that class. I abandoned poetry entirely to chat with them, and it was really fun to catch up. Not surprisingly, they remember my crazy personal stories far better than they remember syntax and diction lessons, but whatever! It was encouraging to hear that they were doing well and that my class had helped prepared them for college. One student proudly pointed out that referring to the books he had actually read in my class had made him look really smart in front of other people. I refrained from pointing out how smart he'd seem if he had only read ALL of the books I taught in my class!

They were an especially pleasant surprise on the first day back at work, when I just didn't want to show up at all... a great way to end the day!