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.