August 30, 2006

Hungary Trip--Day 4

Wedding Day!

After a restless night, I woke around 6 a.m. and decided to get some exercise. I thought I would go for a walk, but the chilly breeze made me want to get warmer fast, so I ended up jogging, probably around 5K. It was such a beautiful morning, and interesting to jog down the sidewalk toward the Centrum, passing familiar sights and reliving memories from past trips.

We leisurely prepared for the day and then met the wedding party outside--the bride's family lives next door to the F family. We were introduced to Ron and Brenda, American missionaries who had spent several years in Hungary. Ron discipled Jozsef for a long time and was a critical figure for Jozsef as he grew spiritually and dealt with some difficult issues. Ted and I really enjoyed getting to visit with Ron and Brenda throughout the day.

Our first stop was at the Town Hall for the official wedding ceremony. (You can see part of the building front here.) Apparently it is common in European countries that couples MUST be married by an official representative...the church wedding is not enough. So, we trekked into the beautiful town hall building, which I had been inside before, but this time we went upstairs to a church-like room that I had not seen. We had no translator for this part of the day, but we were able to figure out that they were exchanging vows and rings, and when we all stood for a song, we rightly guessed that we were hearing the national anthem. Interesting! A lady wearing a Hungarian banner was in charge of the ceremony, which was quite brief, maybe 15 minutes or so all together. This picture, taken inside during the ceremony, turned out quite dark...perhaps if you click on it for a bigger image you'll be able to see it better. I wanted a shot of the lady with her banner, plus at the top you can see the Kesckemet crest. The goat is a symbol of the city.

After the ceremony, we went outside, where we found the next couple ready to march in and have their turn. It kind of felt like weddings at the Air Force Academy Chapel the week after graduation--get 'em in, get 'em out, next, please! Pictures were taken of the families, and Jozsef and Zsuzsi also wanted a picture with us, so here we are!

After pictures we drove out of town to a nice restaurant, just past the Kecskemet Air Base! Ted and I craned our necks to see what we could see, but it wasn't much. :-) We enjoyed a leisurely, two-hour lunch that began with fruit soup. The main course was served on big, wooden platters, heaped high with various foods. I think each platter was slightly different. Every four people or so shared a platter. Ted and I were seated across from Ron and Brenda, just around the corner from the bride and groom. I don't think I can remember all the types of food, but I believe I personally tried the breaded mushrooms, some yummy potatoes (roasted?), sesame (fried) chicken, vegetables, and rice. We carefully avoided the goose liver, a Hungarian delicacy.

After we were stuffed to the gills, we enjoyed seeing the wedding cake! It was so beautiful, and very unique. Also unique to us was the Roman candle sitting on top! I believe at this point the guests sang some traditional songs, though not being one of the singers, I can't remember if the singing came at cake time or a different time. Jozsef and Zsuzsanna cut and served cake to everyone. I must say, it was the best wedding cake I have ever eaten, and I thought my own cake was pretty darn good! By this point it was around 3:30 p.m. (The ceremony at the Town Hall had begun at 12:30 p.m.) We piled back into the vehicles that were decorated for the festivities and drove (everyone honking wildly) back through town to the church, as the next ceremony was to begin at 4:00.

We Americans were put into the "cry room" so as to not disturb the other guests by having a translator (Anita V). It was a bit unfortunate that we couldn't be in the main room, as the difficulty in seeing and hearing made us suddenly aware of how incredibly hot and tired we were! The ceremony lasted over an hour and a half--Ted mentioned later that he was not prepared for a 45-minute sermon, which was longer than our whole wedding ceremony! However, the sermon was very good, and the whole ceremony was God-honoring. It was also neat to see some pictures of both the bride and groom from childhood on.

Afterwards we joined the receiving line and gave our gifts to the couple. Jozsef was nearly in tears, overcome with emotion that we had made the effort to be there for his special day. We had also brought a gift from one of my teammates who had known Jozsef well, and I know he and Zsuzsi were touched that Andrea had thought to send them a remembrance.

Then it was time for...more food!! This time it was potluck style, as there was not enough space to seat all the guests (probably at least 150) around tables. We nibbled a bit, mostly fruit, and mingled with the guests. I met up with a student I had had from my first trip in 1996--I remembered her immediately, though not her name! It was fun to catch up with her.

We watched Jozsef and Zsuzsi perform a beautiful Hungarian dance. They did it so well that the crowd "encored" them, and so they did it again, but this time with much laughter and a few mistakes. :-) They had been so perfectly serious the first time, so it was fun to watch them relax and have fun together.

Then everyone went back to the auditorium for "greetings." I think this would be akin to our toasts. The fathers first gave greetings, then the maid of honor and the best man. Another friend spoke, and then I got called up to speak. I was somewhat surprised, though I shouldn't have been, because Jozsef had told me about this and I had said I'd be glad to say some things. However, since I hadn't heard for sure what the program was to be like, I was caught slightly off guard, partly because I was so tired and was nearly dozing in the back despite the efforts of a new translator, as Anita and her family had already left. Anyway, I was glad to say some things to the couple and encourage them with a couple of verses, and then it was time for games.

Games?! Yes. Games. Jozsef's heart is with the youth group, and there was much laughter and silliness, much of which did not translate well. Despite our best efforts, we just could not hold out any longer. We knew there was to be traditional Hungarian and Jewish circle dancing later, but we had to call it quits at 10:30 p.m. Jet lag had SERIOUSLY set in, and it was a long day already! We were home and fast asleep by the time the dancing began...I'm sure it was a fun rest of the evening for everyone else! We thoroughly enjoyed all the festivities of which we were a part.

August 27, 2006

Hungary Trip--Day 3

We were able to sleep until about 9 a.m. on Friday, August 18, though we had a spell of wakefulness in the middle of the night, so we weren't quite as rested perhaps as we could have been. We had a long, leisurely breakfast and chatted with Anita, the middle F daughter, and her fiance, Paul, who was visiting for the weekend. He is a musician and lives in Austria, where they will live after they are married in October. You can see a picture of them here. They both speak English quite well, and Ted and I really enjoyed the chance to visit with them and get to know Paul. They seem like a well-matched couple, and I could tell that their families are pleased with their engagement. There was much flurry and wedding talk as they worked on invitation lists and other details over the weekend. :-)

At lunch time my dear friend Anita V, along with her daughters Fanni and Greta, picked Ted and me up to go to their house for lunch. When I first met Anita, Fanni was only a couple of years old, and Greta was born just a few days after our first meeting. Anita is an English teacher and has done much translating for the Americans who have been involved with the ministry program, and we had a delightful visit over the course of the afternoon. We met her son, Simon, who is about 5 years old, I believe. The girls are (I think) 13 and 11 now. We had a yummy lunch of fruit soup, mashed potatoes, and chicken with cream and cheese.

Later in the afternoon Kornel, Anita's husband, returned home from work, so we were able to visit with him as well. Ted and I had printed off a number of recent family photos to take with us, so we showed off our children to the V family and just about everyone else who was patient enough to go through our stack with us. ;-) You can see a picture of the V family here, taken in back of the Kecskemet Baptist Church on the afternoon of the wedding.

As a side note, Paul, Anita F's fiance, is a cousin of Anita V.

Anita drove us back to the F house late in the afternoon, and we freshened up a bit in preparation for our next meal, which was hosted by Csaba (pronounced CHA-bah) and Edit (Eh-DEET). Csaba and Edit were in my first evening English class in 1996 and stayed all 7 weeks of the course. They were perfectly delightful students and soon became good friends of mine. Csaba is a cardiologist, and Edit works for a pharmaceutical company. They were neighbors when I first met them and are now living together. When I left Hungary in 1996, I was so sad to leave them...they had become so dear to me. I was delighted when we were reunited in 1999, though we were not able to spend as much time together as we had the first summer I was there.

We had another wonderful dinner--cantaloupe with ham slices, followed by potatoes, steamed fish with tomatoes, and Swedish mushroom salad, the latter of which I had never tasted before, so it was fun to try something new. It sort of tastes like mushrooms in pizza sauce, but a notch fancier. Ice cream was a perfect dessert. We again went through our photos with Csaba and Edit and visited for a long while. I think it was close to 11 p.m. when we returned to the F house, ready for a good night of sleep.

August 26, 2006

Hungary Trip--Days 1-2

On Wednesday, August 16, Ted and I left our house at 10 a.m. to begin our Hungarian Adventure! Sarah took us to the airport, where we breezed through check-in and security, despite the uproar in London from the previous week. We had been thrilled to learn that we would be allowed one carry-on bag, a restriction that had been lifted just the day before we were to travel. After all, 22 hours is an incredibly long time to be traveling without any good books!

We had plenty of time before boarding, so we enjoyed a leisurely lunch together at Chile's. We traveled first to Los Angeles, where we, our bags, and our fellow travelers were thoroughly searched by members of the U.S. Army. It did give us a measure of comfort and security to see the military presence.

Finally it was time to board the plane to London. The flight was approximately 10 hours long. Our activities on board included reading, watching a movie, and trying to sleep, though a determined toddler who tested his lungs in a piercing wail THE ENTIRE TRIP made the latter nearly impossible.

We arrived in London safe but extremely tired and more than a bit cranky. Still, one can't help but be excited to step off a plane onto a foreign country, and we soon forgot about the Screaming Child as we made our way through yet another security check, then wandered about the airport waiting for our gate number to be posted. We ended up taking a seat, and Ted read more of his book while I napped in his lap for about 30 minutes. Then it was time to get on the plane for Budapest.

Before we could board, however, we were told to go to a different desk, as there was an issue with our bags. I guess they needed to validate that we were present and that our bags indeed needed to be put on the aircraft? Odd. No one had told us that we would need to check in. But we were grateful to learn that our bags were at least in London and, from the sounds of things, would be on the same airplane as we.

So, with that taken care of, we took our seats...and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally the captain announced that we were delayed a bit because of the question of a couple of bags, but they were being put on the plane as he spoke and we would soon get a line number for takeoff. Ted and I glanced at each other, partly amused and partly horrified that WE seemed to be responsible for the delay! But, as it turned out, our part in the delay was minor compared with waiting to take off, as we waited at least 30 more minutes before it was our turn. Heathrow is obviously not the airport to fly through if you don't enjoy waiting in line for takeoff.

We made it to Budapest without any further complications and were delighted to find that our bags were intact as well. We had no problems getting through customs. We changed some money, then headed out to look for Jozsef. I noticed that the airport looked so much newer and brighter than it had when I flew in 10 years ago.

After a bit of consternation when we couldn't find Jozsef, we attempted to make a call to his cell phone, using the calling card we had gotten from Sam's Clubs. I used an extraordinary amount of minutes trying to track him down (and figure out how to dial while in a different country) only to find that Jozsef was about 10 feet away from Ted, having just come in from a different terminal. Ah, well.

It was great to see him again, and we had a long opportunity to chat as he drove us from the airport to the F family's house in Kecskemet. By the time we arrived it was after 9 p.m. on Thursday, August 17--or, back in Vegas, noon. Wow. Twenty-six hours since we had left our house!

Mama Magdi had a wonderful meal of goulash and potatoes waiting for us, followed by palecsintas (oops, I'm not sure I spelled that right), which are basically like pancakes rolled up with different kinds of filling. Yum! Ted's first meal in Hungary was fabulous! We visited just a short while before going up to our room and tumbling into bed. Thank goodness we had no plans until lunch time the next day...

Hungary Trip--Prologue

A decade ago I was a junior at Cedarville College. One evening I ended up eating dinner alone (can't remember why) and found myself reading the student news briefs on the cafeteria tables. I noticed a call for more students to join the summer missions team that would be teaching English in Hungary. Why had I not heard of this before?! This would be perfect for me! (Obviously I was oblivious to any previous announcements, as this happened in March and our trip was to begin in late June!)

Soon I found myself sending support letters and attending team training meetings with Dr. A, one of my education professors. My parents fully supported my decision to spend 8 weeks overseas...after all, it was because of their own examples that I've always had a heart for missions.

We spent a few days in Budapest with some ABWE missionaries, then split to go to 3 different locations for our own adventures. My team consisted of 5 women, and Dr. A came along for awhile as well, since we were to be involved in starting a new program in the city of Kecskemet. Budapest and Debrecen had hosted American teachers before, and now Kecskemet (pronounced "Catch-keh-mate") was added to the list of places where we would partner with the local church in order to try to reach people with the gospel of Christ, using the English course as a tool to meet people and form relationships with them.

There were 2 sessions, a 4-week course, followed by a 3-week course. Some students came all 7 weeks. We taught a 3-hour session in the mornings and 2 hours in the evenings, with a half-hour chapel break in the middle of both morning and evening sessions. I had mostly teens in the mornings and professional adults in the evenings. I made wonderful friends, both with my teammates as well as my students. As an English education major, I was fortunate to be able to teach advanced students, so communication was not a major issue (though always interesting, to say the least!).

We lived with the F family, who treated us like royalty and made us feel like family as they heaped mounds of wonderful Hungarian food on our plates and prayed with and for us. Their English was limited that first summer, but the language of Christ's love transcended the difficulties we had in communication.

That summer changed my life, changed the way I look at everything. It made such an impact that 3 years later, as a married woman whose Air Force husband needed to spend the summer in Phoenix for training, I decided to contact Dr. A and see if I could return to Hungary. I was eager to see my Hungarian friends again, to see how the Baptist church in Kecskemet had grown, and to meet more people.

This time around my teammates included another returning teacher, plus 2 other Cedarville students. I think we only taught 6 weeks (2 three-week sessions), though for some reason I can't seem to remember that detail.

It was in the summer of 1999 that I met Jozsef. Fifteen years old, he had accepted Christ as his Savior the previous summer during the English program. He was attending Catholic school and had many questions about God, the Bible, and the Church. We spent a lot of time talking together, and I grew to love him as a little brother. He and I corresponded somewhat regularly after I returned to the States, and I always enjoyed getting his updates. I could tell God was working in his life, drawing Jozsef ever closer to him. What a blessing to, in a sense, "watch" him grow in the faith.

Fast forward seven years...Jozsef sent an email to some of his American friends back in February of this year announcing his engagement to Zsuzsi (like our name "Suzy"), the daughter of the neighbors of the F family. In the email, Jozsef informally invited us to attend the August 19 wedding, though of course he knew it would not be easy for us to make it over there. Regardless, I forwarded the email to Ted at work and asked what he thought about the two of us making a trip to Hungary. His response was positive, though he pointed out the fact that we would need someone to watch the kids, as neither of us felt inclined to travel with 3 little ones overseas. I began putting out feelers to my mom, and we ended up deciding that we would pay for her and my cousin Sarah to fly to Las Vegas to watch the children. A plan was in place--so we bought our tickets.

I had another reason for wanting to go to Hungary. The baby I miscarried would have been born about the time of the wedding. I thought having a happy event to look forward to would help lessen the pain that I felt would inevitably fill my heart during August. Little did I know then that God would see fit to bless us with another pregnancy--another happy event to look forward to!

So, that is the story of why we decided to take a trip to Hungary. In following posts I will be detailing our journey as well as posting pictures.

August 12, 2006

And a Few More Pictures

OK, this kind of catches you up on some of our summer highlights! As usual, you can click on an image to see a larger version of these pictures. Enjoy!

We stopped a Shoshone Falls, just outside of Twin Falls, on our way to Mountain Home, Idaho, on our trip in June. We didn't spend a lot of time here, as it was right at lunchtime and we didn't have enough food for a picnic. But the kids did enjoy the waterfall, and we quickly found a KFC afterwards! It was a nice little side trip.

Charis and Arden get a ride on The Mighty Moose, aka Grandpa Ed, during set-up for Commission 2006. Though shy at first, the kids soon warmed up to "Grandma Rose and Grandpa Ed," who really are like family to us!

On the Saturday after Commission it's tradition for the staff to drive to the Bruneau Sand Dunes (where the youth and counselors camp) to say farewell to the kids, take pictures, etc. We had a bit of a head start and chose to take some time to climb one of the smaller dunes with the kids. You can't tell from these pictures how far of a climb it really was! But it's a pretty view at the top, and the kids LOVED the sand!

Here's Tobin on his way up the dune!

On our way home from Idaho we spent a night in Salt Lake City. We decided to take the kids bowling on base (Hill AFB) to pass some time in the evening. They LOVED it...we hadn't taken them bowling for probably almost a year. This time Arden was even big enough to participate, though he was most anxious for his turn and had a hard time waiting!

Rhonda, Ted's mom, visited us the last week in July. Unfortunately, we didn't take many pictures, but this one of her with the kids outside of Chile's, where we ate the evening we took her back to the airport, turned out so cute!

Family Pictures

Drum roll, please...yes, believe it or not, I am actually posting some FAMILY PICTURES!! You can click on any image to view a larger version of it. I tried to put captions that explain each picture right below each image, but apparently I should choose the "center" option instead of "left" for alignment. I'm not going to go back and edit it now, though! Enjoy!

This shot was taken over the Memorial Day weekend. Ted's brother Joel and his wife Sarah came to visit--that was during the frantic moving frenzy! This is in our old house.

Here's Charis, proudly displaying her certificate of completion for her first year of home schooling! Our home school group had a wonderful promotion/graduation ceremony. It was a great end to our first year of school, although we had hoped at the time to continue school throughout the summer...! Ha! Oh, well!

It's the Daddy Horse! This was taken shortly after we moved into our new house, so sometime at the beginning of June.

Arden, sacked out during nap time. Don't you just love the baby belly?!

OK, it's time for me to go shower. I'll try to post more pictures later!

House Pictures

Finally, here are some pictures of our house! You can click on any image to see a larger version of it.

View of our kitchen.

Another view of our kitchen...takes 2 pictures to give you a full idea of all the cabinet and counter space!

Here's the living room...

...and a view of the school room, taken from the other side of the living room. (I hope to get some fun posters to put up and make it look more "schoolish!")

And the family room. Kind of a mess in this picture, but that's typical, I guess! :-)

August 04, 2006


The sounds of happy children bouncing on our trampoline are coming through the walls as I sit here. It's been a good day. The weather has been surprisingly pleasant lately; today it was fairly cloudy in the morning with a nice strong breeze that made the temperature feel much cooler than usual for August in Las Vegas. The kids played on the trampoline while I read outside a bit this morning...they seem to stay on the trampoline longer (and play together more nicely) when they have an audience.

We did a reading lesson for Tobin, and then I began book #10 in the Magic Tree House series. The kids have really enjoyed reading these this summer. My friend Sarah had mentioned them to me awhile back, and I checked some out from the library before our trip to Idaho. The kids were spellbound...absolutely spellbound. (A MTH inside joke, for those who are familiar with them!) Arden knows only that Jack and Annie play with a magic tree house, and he's in and out throughout the stories, so I don't know how much he's picking up. But Tobin and Charis are being introduced to all kinds of little nuggets of history, social studies, and science, and I've enjoyed reading them aloud myself. The only problem is now that we've begun, well, we just can't quit. :-) I'm telling myself that this can be "school" activity since home schooling has gotten pushed to the back burner over the summer.

After lunch Sarah came over with her 3 kiddos, and our 6 children played together pretty well, going from the trampoline to the house and back a number of times. We enjoyed watching them through the dining room window as they played Duck, Duck, Goose on the trampoline and generally act silly. It was the first time in awhile that we had gotten together, and it was great to catch up a bit. I've missed my times of running with Sarah but hope to get back into it sooner rather than later.

By the time Sarah and her kids left, it was after 3 p.m., but I went ahead and put Arden down for a nap anyway. I figured even if he didn't fall asleep, I'd be good for an hour or so of rest time. I thought about putting him in a diaper, but since he was extremely resistent, I relented, figuring that even if he did nap, it would be fairly short, and he HAD stayed dry with only one accident in the morning...much better than a typical day. Plus, the mattress pad was in place!

I should have known better. I did get my hour of peace and quiet, as he fell asleep HARD. I even made homemade pizza and popped it into the oven before going to get him up, thinking that surely he would wake himself up if he started to wet himself. Not only had he not woken himself up...he was dead asleep on his tummy. And yes, the sheets were wet, as was his whole bottom half. NOT ONLY THAT...he had also pooped! What a day to NOT put him in a diaper for his nap! Lesson learned, I guess!

I had an interesting time of cleaning up a mess that I'd rather not remember, and then we read a couple more chapters in our Magic Tree House book while we waited for the pizza to finish. Dinner was yummy--Charis helped me with the pizza and was quite proud of her work. We ate without Ted, since he is late coming home from work tonight because of a naming ceremony, which happens every couple of months or so when there are new people. I expect him in the next hour or so, and in the meantime, I am going to give the trampoline a try, since the kids are begging me to come bounce them. Now that my food has settled, perhaps I should go out there with them!

August 03, 2006

Post #100!

WOW! This is my 100th blog entry! I was going to write about something else entirely, but I decided that this momentous occasion should be marked and celebrated. ;-) So, in honor of the 100 Mark, I give you a list of 100s...

* Temperatures in Las Vegas during the summer--WELL over 100 degrees, consistently!

* Number of ants that made their way into my dining room this morning--at least 100.

* Number of ants that didn't make it back outside--89, give or take a few.

* Pairs of wet underwear + pairs of wet shorts + a few random shirts that have gotten hosed during potty training boot camp--seemingly 100s and 100s, but in reality probably not quite that many.

* Number of stamping crazy women like myself who are currently in my group--97, soon to be 100, I'm sure!

* Number of library books we have checked out in the last few months--well over 100.

* Number of bounces before Mommy gets sick on the new trampoline--not even close to 100.

* Number of bounces before the kids get tired of being on the trampoline--at least 100 a piece.

* Money spent on gas for our vehicles in the last month--$100 times 2, for a low estimate.

* Amount of grocery money we allot for our family each week--$100. (Thanks to the commissary, we really do keep pretty much to our budget!)

* Number of ink pads plus ink refills that I own--over 100. (Yikes!)

* Number of times I have said "I really NEED to get working on our scrapbooks!" over the summer--close to 100.

* Number of emails I had waiting for me when I returned from Convention--100 exactly.

* Length of a perfect nap, in my opinion--100 minutes. (OK, 90 will do.)

* Number of seconds it has been quiet in my house--100...OK, probably more, but silence doesn't last long around here, even when it IS supposed to be nap time!

* Number of pieces in the biggest puzzle Arden has done by himself--100.

* Number of books Charis has read on her own this summer--at least 100.

* Number of reading lessons Tobin has completed with me--50 out of 100--halfway there!

OK! I'll stop there for now. Anyone else have any "100s" to share? Leave a comment! :-)