Saying “szia” to Hungary
It’s always hard to leave people and places that you love. Goodbyes do not get easier. Sometimes, even with practice, we don’t get better at saying goodbye or hearing goodbye. However, God has taught Stephen and me something that helps to ease the sorrow and challenge of transitions: prayer.
And so, last Saturday night, around 23.00, Anna, Stephen, and I prayed together. We thanked God for such an amazing English Camp. We praised Him for the joy and fun of spending time together as the three of us. We thanked Him for the unexpected gift of being able to see Shakespeare in Love performed live in Budapest (completely in Hungarian, of course! And since I (Abby) basically have the story memorized, it still made complete sense to me. 😉 ). We praised God for the 9 students who made commitments for Christ at English Camp and for the chance to hear the refugee story of an Iranian brother in Christ. We praised God for the joy of Gateway Christian Fellowship, a church plant in Budapest where Anna is a member and where God is bringing the nations together to expand His kingdom. We thanked God for the joy of talking and spending time together in the same place, without needing the miracle of technology (although we thanked Him for that, too). And ultimately, we surrendered our plans and our friend into His hands, knowing that He loves Anna more than we ever could, and His plans are so much higher and better than ours. We asked Him to help us all to listen more closely to His Holy Spirit and to always be ready to respond. And thankfully, we also prayed for safe travel for Stephen and me. 🙂
After prayers and goodbyes, Stephen and I loaded our stuff into our Bla Bla Car driver’s van for the 11-hour drive to Strasbourg. For those of you unfamiliar with Bla Bla Car, it’s a great website/app for carpooling in Europe. You type in your original location and your desired destination and your desired day of travel, and you select whichever price, time, and driver works best for you. It is typically way cheaper than both flying and taking a train, and it offers the opportunity for great conversation! In fact, within about 2 hours of our drive, I got to answer the question, “So, have you always thought this way?” with my testimony! It was so cool. Granted, we were also jolted awake by the van bumping into the guardrails a couple of times, but that was apparently due to the power steering. And we were totally fine! Jazzed on adrenaline, but fine. 🙂 And we arrived safe and sound in Strasbourg, France, around 11am on Sunday. (PS Crossing boarders in Europe with the European Union is totally anti-climactic. No one really cares. Zero extra stamps for driving all the way through Austria and Germany. Trying not to be bitter. 🙂 )
A new language
Approximately 10 minutes after we disembarked from the Bla Bla Car van in Strasbourg, I (Abby) was geeking out about being in France. After studying French for about 6 years (high school and college), I had used it in Niger for a total of 6 months (sporadically) and Paris for a total of 3 hours (still worth it). And then, Sunday mid-morning, there I was searching for any open shop to buy something with our large Euro bill so that we could actually pay our Bla Bla Car driver. I went from nervous to excited to elated pretty quickly as I bought a croissant and a bottle of juice from the lovely Madame who ran the small cheese-and-drinks shop. It was so great!!
What wasn’t so great? Stephen’s transition to the French language. I wasn’t in translating mode yet, and Stephen has only briefly, briefly studied French. By Monday evening, Stephen was exhausted and kind of frustrated with how challenging and isolating it was to not understand a language that other people are speaking. And really, Monday evening it was Stephen, 1 other couple (French), and me. Not understanding the language was really frustrating.
Thankfully, that experience has led to some great reflection and conversation for us, hala Istennek. By Tuesday, I focused more on translating the conversation into English for Stephen and translating Stephen’s contributions into French for our hosts (more about them in a second!). We’ve also been able to think about the future when, Lord willing, Stephen and I will be in some kind of formal language school for wherever God has called us to serve long-term. Stephen and I learn differently and will need to give each other space for that. We’ve been able to gain wisdom from our dear friends, Justin and Jenna, on that different-learning-styles topic already. Also, it was just good for Stephen to be honest and share his frustration (even though it’s not wrong to be frustrated) and for me to apologize for not being more aware of him (even though it’s not wrong to not translate everything). It was a good opportunity to practice communication and grow in our relationship together. #marriage
Highlights so far
I’m trying to break up all my thoughts (there are usually a lot) into a couple of posts, or at least shorter posts. 🙂 So for now, I’ll sign off. I’ll try to write soon, though, to give more details about how God has blessed us this week in France. Here’s the summary so far:
- Church with the Dodsons, completely in French!
- Learning directions in Strasbourg, the hard way. 🙂
- Meeting Jean-Pierre Pozzo, Dad Morris’s Timken colleague, and staying with him and his wife, Jocelyn, at their lovely home in Colmar.
- Resting and relaxing in Colmar, enjoying the slower pace before heading back to the States.
- Wonderful conversations with the Pozzos about religion, church, Stephen’s new job, and why we read the Bible.
- Equally wonderful meals with the Pozzos. 🙂
- Fun and great conversations with the Dodsons, including their almost-6, 3, and 1 year-old daughters. 🙂
Yes, Mom, we are still coming home on Saturday. 🙂 But we are also still enjoying our trip, still in love with each other, and even still content with walking most places that we want to go. God is so gracious, and we are already praying that this trip and these experiences continue to change us and influence how we live our lives and follow the Holy Spirit when we return to our comfortable, familiar Ohio home. Thanks for praying with us!
***If you have any interest in pictures from our trip, check out Stephen’s album on Facebook called: Angol Tabor and Europe Trip