Hello friends, family, and interested readers! (It’s a long post, and pictures are at the end. ;))
Since we last communicated with you so much has happened. We have felt God’s blessing and his presence in so many different situations. And we have loved our time in Hungary! Here are a few of the highlights:
God blessed our travels, and we only experienced some mild discomfort during our flights. (We experienced the non-parent side of the crying/screaming baby from Pittsburgh to Paris. Abby had some stomach pain when we got into Paris. And Stephen had sinus issues which led to some kind of severe pain on the descent into Budapest. And about an hour into our time in Hungary, we were totally fine. God is good. 🙂
We hit the ground running once we landed in Budapest. Our dear friend Anna picked us up from the airport, and then we joined her in serving at a refugee shelter. After Abby got to hold a Nigerian baby and Stephen was a jungle gym for an African-Hungarian boy, we continued on to Kecskemet. When we arrived at 9:30pm, our amazingly gracious hosts welcomed us with fresh fruit and sweet treats. Hungarian hospitality is the best! Rozsa and Peter have been a blessing from God in how they have welcomed us and cared for us.
On Friday, we went to Kecskemeti Baptista Gyulekezet. For Stephen, this was his first visit. For Abby, for me, I was coming to one of my homes. I got really excited when I began to recognize the street and when I saw the sign, “Baptista Imahaz.” I was beaming when we pulled up to the front doors. After 4 years, after spending only a total of 4 weeks in this place, it still felt so much like home. I was excited and eager to enter the building, and then we walked down into the basement, the lower level of the church where most of English Camp planning, performing, singing, dancing, testimony-giving, and Gospel-preaching happened in past years (and this year). I couldn’t hold back my tears. It was so beautiful and overwhelming to realize that God had brought me back. And then I was even more overwhelmed to have my wonderful husband and my dear friend both comforting me and offering shoulders to cry on. 🙂 Thankfully my tears didn’t last long, though: we had God’s work to do. 🙂
And we had an amazing team to work with! God miraculously provided just the right number of English teachers for this year’s camp. He even gave us some fellow Clevelanders—a family of four who has been serving in Hungary for four years—and a fellow African American who was originally from Flint, Michigan, and probably at SVSU the same time as Abby’s mom! Isn’t God amazing in how He works?! Our team was made even better with the God-ordained gift of cross-cultural unity. But we’ll get to that later. 🙂
Angol Tabor was an incredible blessing from the Lord. We had approximately 60 students aged from 8 years old to 83 years old. (Zsuzsa-neni had been a teacher for about 50 years, and she was such a blessing!) Here is what the daily schedule looked like:
- 9:00-10:00 – staff prayer (Such a rich, blessed time with Americans and Hungarians. It is a taste of Heaven to pray in different languages with no translation. Our God hears and responds to us all, and we still felt so united.)
- 10-11 – First class session
- 11-11:30 – Big group time (worship music, testimony, encouragement from Pastor Samuel, sharing the Gospel)
- 11:30-12:30 – Second class session
- 12:30-1:30 – lunch
- 1:30 – 4:30 – sports/one-on-one
- 4:30 – 5:00 – snacks
- 5:00 – 6:30 – Gospel sharing afternoon (worship music, a Gospel message, a testimony—one day, there was a skit from four Hungarian girls from the church. They dramatized the story of the Prodigal son, and it was so moving. Another day, we watched the movie Do You Believe? in English with Hungarian subtitles; a great movie, and a good way to learn more Magyarul!)
Of course, I (Abby) could go on and on about the blessings and the God-moments throughout the whole camp. And truly, I’d love to talk with you more when we get home—in Ohio July 8, and up in Michigan sometime later in July. Just let me know. 😉 For now, I’d like to share two important aspects of the camp that were impactful to us, and the students.
- One-on-ones were both a new addition and a key highlight of English Camp this year. The purpose was to have the teachers available to the students for whatever they would prefer, whether that be conversation practice, answering tough questions, simply practicing colors with a game of “I Spy” (that was Abby’s first one-on-one). Anna created a schedule and students could sign up for 30-min blocks of time, with the teacher of their choice, to promote and stimulate more opportunity to grow. Stephen had some great conversations, but he spent most of his time outside playing foci (soccer) with the boys. Abby, however, had at least 2 days that were booked solid with one-on-one conversations, mostly with young women from the camp. I feel so blessed to have had these conversations. I had a couple of tearful ones. At least 2, maybe 3 times, we ended the conversation with prayer. God humbled me and spoke through me, and allowed me to follow the example of several women who have mentored and poured into me. It was a blessing to be sure.
- Stephen’s class
- Here’s the best part about being “the writer” for us: I get to share Stephen’s successes without being the least bit embarrassed. 🙂 Stephen did an excellent job teaching his class. He had a rather challenging, but awesome, group of 13-14 year olds. His students were reluctant to speak English and very eager to chitter-chatter in Hungarian. There was also some friendship cliques in his class. After Monday, he was a bit frustrated that his lesson plans didn’t turn out the way that he had hoped. (#teaching) Stephen was so humble and persistent and creative in his lesson planning through the week, though. And by the end of the week, he had his students actively participating in charades, catch phrase, Pictionary, and Fishbowl, completely in English (or at least mostly). His class confirms what we all knew: Stephen is the best teacher of the world. 🙂
We would love to tell you more, but it’s so much more fun in person. So please ask us about any of these things when we return:
- How Stephen learned to play soccer-four square
- How Abby and Stephen got to lead a Girls’ Chat and a Man Chat—and how differently those went
- How we survived the Kecskemet hail storm
- How God clearly spoke through Stephen’s testimony on Tuesday
- How Tunde and the kitchen ladies immensely blessed us
- How the Holy Spirit told Abby to give her Bible to Mirella, and how Abby obeyed
- How Anna then gifted a new English Bible to Abby
- How Stephen impressed all the Hungarian women and men as being an excellent, godly man and husband. (Best quote, in hesitant English, from the lovely Eszter: “Abby, where did you buy this husband?”)
- How Abby and Stephen practiced counting in Hungarian
- How God blessed us with inspired connections and encouragement and His beautiful Church
- And, best of all, how 8 students raised their hands to commit their lives to Christ!!
It is a little strange to realize now that English camp is already over. I hope that Stephen and I will continue reflecting back on all the ways that God blessed us and worked in and through us during those quick 5 days.
Since last Friday, we’ve had a lovely holiday. Friday evening, we went into the city center in Kecskemet for Kurtoskalacs (a doughy, delicious pastry cooked over coals so that the inside is soft and the outside is glazed—aka delicious!) and gelato and great company. Saturday we joined the Gateway Christian Fellowship church plant again to keep learning about Jonah and to worship with people from 7 different nations. Sunday, we attended Danube church, an English-speaking church in Budapest that reminded me so much of the Niamey English Worship Service. We even had a time for Hello’s and Goodbye’s! Sunday afternoon, we journeyed to Vac to spend time with some refugee men from Afghanistan and Iraq. Then Monday, we drove to Tihany and Balatonfüred, two towns on the lovely Lake Balaton, for our true vacation. We had some funny, some frustrating, and some blessed adventures there, all seasoned with lovely, deep conversation between Anna, Stephen, and me. And today, we spent time actually at the Lake (yes, Mom, it did get me excited for Pentwater), then went to an Adventure Park (zip lining and rock wall climbing!), and finally returned to Budapest for some ginormous burgers before crashing at a friend’s apartment.
So yes, it has been rather busy, but it has also been so good. And, unsurprisingly, Stephen is a boss at international driving. Our next few days will be in Budapest, then we’ll return to Kecskemet Thursday evening before leaving for France on Saturday. We’ll try to update more before then.
We so appreciate your prayers. Truly, we felt God at work at English camp. Thank you for partnering with us from across the ocean. One of our new favorite Hungarian phrases is Hala Istennek (pronounced Ha-la Eesh-te-nek). It means “praise God,” or “Thanks be to God.” And that’s how we feel right now: Hala Istennek.