Sunday, June 28, 2009

It's time to go.

My hard drive holds 88.1 GB.

I currently have 355 MB free.

And this is after I removed every program I don't actually use and all the free junk that came preloaded.

About 70 GB of that amount is music and pictures. I think this qualifies as addictive behavior.

(I do have an external drive, which is currently waiting for me in Chattanooga, but I'm scared to erase anything until I know for sure it survived being in a container for a journey across the ocean!)

So today I went into Budapest for the last time. I cried all the way home.

I know it's time to go -- but that doesn't make it easy.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

less than a week left in Hungary

and I'm really sad.

but I have a few days left to write about that, so I'll procrastinate a bit longer!

Mom's visit was really great. Highlights include real Hungarian food at Izabella's, kurtos kalacs, a trip to Esztergom, and of course the baths.

We also experienced being stuck in miserably cold rain, getting literally trapped on a crowded bus, and getting a parking ticket. I SWEAR there was no meter nearby! sigh. but all minor details compared to the joy of having my mom with me here to say goodbye to the city. And she helped me pack and took back a lot of my stuff -- I don't know what I would've done without her help!

some pictures:

Monday, June 22, 2009

prayer request

I didn't want to write about this before, partly because I wanted Dad to be able to tell people before they read it here, and partly because I just needed to process it. but here goes:

Last week, I found out some awful news. My dad has been tentatively diagnosed with Shy-Drager Syndrome. You can read more about it here; it's what Johnny Cash had, and it's similar to Parkinson's. There is no cure. Right now he only has one symptom, fluctuating blood pressure, so we're holding out hope that this is a misdiagnosis. However, we are also trying to prepare for the possibility of it being accurate. We would love to have your prayers.

When I was in college, I found out my dad had cancer. I immediately started throwing up. I then spent the rest of the night sobbing to my friends.

A few years later, when Mom was really sick, too, I spent most of the night arguing with God. When I finally shouted myself out, I just cried until I fell asleep.

This time, my reaction has been much quieter. I think that could be because I'm older -- but also because I am learning so much about the nature of God. I've been reading Reaching for the Invisible God by Philip Yancey, one of my favorite authors. This passage really stood out to me:
In the face of tragedy, I can respond either by blaming and turning against God or by turning toward him, trusting him to fashion good out of bad. One option focuses on the past and closes off the future. The other option opens the future, allowing an Artist to use whatever happens as the raw material for a new story, different than it would have been without the tragedy or failure, but in some ways even richer, redeemed.

I love that. I love that God can redeem any aspect of our fallen world, no matter how terrible, and use it for His glory. I've seen it proven, too. Yes, Dad's cancer was horrible and frightening -- but it enabled Dad to minister to others in the same situation. Yes, it was terrifying not knowing what was going on with Mom -- but it taught me that it's ok to wrestle with God. And in both cases, I'm convinced our family became even stronger.

I'm sad and scared when I think about what the future may hold. I'm not sure I can handle it. BUT I am confident in the Lord. I am confident that He can work all things together for good.

And I am so grateful I was already planning to go home! I couldn't understand why I felt drawn back; I don't want to leave Hungary! But now I am so thankful that God has been actively leading me this whole time, even when I didn't know any of this.

This is getting long, so I'll end with one of my favorite quotes: The world breaks everyone, and afterwards some are stronger in the broken places (Hemingway).

Pray that in our brokenness we may turn to God and find strength.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Fathers' Day

I love you, Daddy. Wish you were here; I'd take you to the cukraszda!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

sunset from the Citadel

so beautiful.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

settle in.

I think this will be a long and unusually serious post (and not entirely because I want to procrastinate the final cleaning of the old apartment....)

I really just want to write and share how very, very blessed I am -- in many ways. Today has been such an incredible day. I spent most of it with Csilla, and I really enjoyed my time with her. After church, we grabbed gyros and came back to the house and just chatted for a while. Good talk. and then Izabella came over to help pick cherries and teach me how to make hideg meggyleves -- Hungarian cold cherry soup. It's pretty delicious, and I'm thrilled to have a large pot of it chilling as I type. But the best part of my day was when I had one of those moments where I step back and realize what my life looks like.

Maybe I'm just hyper-sensitive because I know I'm getting ready to leave, but I absolutely love that I just opened up my "home" to people who come from different cultural, spiritual, and linguistic backgrounds. What amazing opportunities I've had here to get to know such cool people. And after Csilla left, Izabella and I just talked for a while. I love talking to her. She's so very honest about her need for God and His grace -- and so appreciative of the ways she's been changed by Him. I'm hoping that Csilla and Izabella will be able to talk after I've gone... it's fun to play a role in bringing other people together!

But here's what really got me today. Don't eat while you read this.

This is now the second time I've seen something like this -- the first time was pretty powerful for me for about a day. I told some people about it, and then promptly forgot all about it. So I think God wanted to remind me this morning! I'm sharing with you in the hopes that the lesson will stick this time. I got to church early, so I planned to walk around for a while before I met up with Csilla. I turned the corner and immediately found myself approaching several homeless men. One was digging through trash, one was begging -- the usual. And then I saw this one man sitting with his back against the wall. He had just taken his shoes off. His feet looked like they were rotting. They were purple and blue and black, with scaly pieces of skin falling off. Blood was pooling on the ground underneath him as he picked at blisters and scabs. It was absolutely revolting.
A tourist was walking towards me, and we both looked at the man in horror and sped up our pace.

And as I walked away, it suddenly dawned on me that this kind of man was exactly who Jesus encountered. When I read in Scripture that Jesus touched the lepers, I always envision the flannelboard version -- sad men in rags that look a little dirty. What a jolt, then, to come face to face with people who are probably just like them in today's society. They're outcasts whom others would rather ignore than acknowledge. And yet Jesus not only acknowledged them, but he also touched them. Seeing that today, and knowing that God deigned to touch people probably just like that, moved me to tears.

I wish I could say I did something exceptional after that. Maybe I should have given him some money, or bought him some food, or something. I just kept walking. At the time, I was so overwhelmed that I really couldn't think of anything else. I did pray for him.

I'm glad, though, when God shakes up my complacent views of Him. What an amazing God we serve! May we continue to be transformed into His image.

and on a very different note, Mom comes tomorrow!!!! :)

Saturday, June 13, 2009

unexpected benefit of the cherries...

so I've been trying to think of who's around to help me eat all these cherries... and then Csilla sent me a text message. She's the girl I met at the Thanksgiving outreach I did with Campus Crusade. So I offered to bring her out to the house to get some cherries, and now she's coming to church with me in the morning!

a cseresznyefa/ the cherry tree

I love staying at the Hollowells. I don't have a horrible mattress, a bathroom faucet that doesn't work, or mold growing all over my things. I do have a large kitchen, a microwave, my own bathroom, and internet access. So nice to feel like I'm in a home again.

I also have a cherry tree that is LOADED with cherries.

This is both a blessing a curse. I spent over two hours yesterday picking up cherries after a storm -- and then I had to pit some of them!

But the payoff is pretty exceptional. I'm eating delicious cherry crisp right now for breakfast, and I have another two gallons of cherries in the fridge waiting to put into a tasty pie or this recipe, which I'm dying to try.

and there's more on the tree! Woohoo! In a couple days, Lisa will be back from Dubai, and Mom will be here! so I'll have a little help :)

I am a little sad to be missing the Hardy family reunion this weekend. It's being held at the old family place, so I'm a little bummed to miss seeing that. I'm more bummed, though, by missing the people. Love you, Hardys! See you soon.

Friday, June 05, 2009


I have tons of pictures of me with students, but I'll save you from all those and only post a few....

This is Mason, one of my awesome sophomores. He was incredibly sweet today telling me how much he had enjoyed my class.

Meet Michelle, the one who broke her collarbone while I was staying with her. Because of that, she holds the distinction of being the only student whose hair I've washed. That's definitely something I never anticipated when I became a teacher :)
She also shares my love of Carolina basketball and Lost, so it's been fun hanging out with her.

And this is Olivia. I am so ridiculously proud of her. She came to our school two years ago with limited English, but she enrolled in my AP class anyway. It was really difficult for her, and her father almost made her drop the class, but she begged him to stay because she enjoyed it. In the end, she was one of my best students -- and her dad sought me out to thank me for giving her a love of literature. That's the kind of compliment teachers live for.

All in all, a good day. I only cried once! And I got a lot of compliments on my song; thanks for praying. I ended up choosing one of my favorites; you know how much I love Sandra McCracken! I thought it fit pretty well for both me and the graduates: My hopes and desires seek a new destination, and all that You ask, Your grace will provide. How thankful I am for grace! and for the hope of heaven, so these goodbyes aren't too final. :)

Thursday, June 04, 2009

saying goodbye sucks.

I've had a really great day -- but it is no longer possible to postpone saying goodbye to people. I saw the Hollowells for the last time today, and I was determined not to cry. I failed.

Last night the six of us singles who came to ICSB at the same time got together for one final dinner together and looked at old pictures and told crazy stories about each other. I managed to enjoy it and not cry, but it's so strange to think that I may not see these people again, especially when they've been such a huge part of my life for the past three years.

I just really, really hate the finality of these goodbyes.

So I've been consoling myself as I finish up grading by eating leftover cake and listening to some of my favorite melancholy music. Check out Joe Pug if you haven't already. Very Dylan-esque. I heard this song months ago on All Songs Considered, but I can't quite forget it, so I've been playing it all afternoon. I think I just love the lyrics:

i've come to test the timbre of my heart
oh i've come to test the timbre of my heart
and i've come
to be untroubled in my seeking
and i've come
to see that nothing is for naught
i've come to reach out blind
to reach forward and behind
for the more I seek the more I'm sought
yeah the more I seek the more I'm sought

Good stuff when you're feeling pensive.

If you happen to read this tonight, say a little prayer for me. I'm starting to worry that I won't make it through the song I'm singing tomorrow morning at graduation!

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

did you know I'm famous?

So now I can add to my list of accomplishments --- I just saw this week's issue of the Budapest Times, which did a profile of our school and they used a picture I took.

OK, so I didn't have my name with it or anything... but how many people can say they've had their work published in an international newspaper?

Monday, June 01, 2009


You know a trip is going to be memorable when you get the following email from your host on the morning you leave:
And there is also one thing that you should know. My door to bathroom
did not work correctly so the company that made it, took it away - so
it is public now :o((( I am so sorry but I am sure that we will find
some solution - mays be during time when you are taking a shower, I
will go out. I am really sorry - hopefully it is OK for you!!

Ha! as you'll see, we remedied this situation with a giant blue foam thing taped to the wall. It was entertaining.

And so was the trip, in spite of the cold and rain! I love travel, period -- but it's especially fun when you actually get to stay with locals and meet people. Heidi used to live in Prague, so her friend Pavel let us stay with him for free. can't beat that! :) Her connections also meant that we found cool places to eat for cheap, had our own personal tour guide, and listened to some cool music. It was seriously one of the most interesting trips I've ever had. On Saturday night, for instance, we were at a Wild West themed birthday party in a British pub in Prague listening to an acapella girls' group sing the Flash Gordon theme song while Pavel put confetti stars in my hair and Doini talked about how she was part of a ceremony honoring Ceauşescu as a young girl. Later a Czech girl taught some friends how to do the line dance for the song Achy Breaky Heart. I couldn't make up my life if I tried.

Prague is definitely one of my favorite cities. Enjoy the pictures; I hope they capture even a piece of its charm.

I now have less than a month before I move home -- yikes! Be praying about a job for me :)