OK, even though I've been living in Eastern Europe for a year, I still can't figure out the afternoon time schedule unless it's 13:00 hour...That's my favorite one because it's one hour after 12 noon. But let's say I read something or we print an invitation and it says Thursday in Hungarian and then 18:00. I end up counting from 13:00 hour (usually on my fingers) because I know this one so well - - 1 pm - - to get the time of the event.... 1300, 1400, 1500, 1600, 1700, 1800.....Ok...6pm. Make sense?
Well, last night while talking with my brother on the phone he said, "Jen..just minus 2 from whatever number you have, look at the number on the right and that's the time."
So for example, if the hour is 23:00 - 2 it is 11 pm at night. Whoa!!! So great. You'd think I hit the lottery.
My Genius brother who is just now finishing the paint job we started back in August. He's been out fighting fires but using military time every day so he's quite familiar with counting two hours back to find his time......
My genius brother. And now I don't have to waste countless seconds trying to figure out the time here in Hungary....Thank you Greg....It was mental torment, really!
Sunday, September 30, 2007
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 3:09 PM
Recently I was talking to my best friend about my future. I was asking Him some very specific things and wanting Him to give me very specific answers as to what He thought about it all. Instead, He spoke generally but His encouragement couldn't have been more timely. It was all about being secure and confident, no matter what it looks like in the natural.....so I digress but I'll come back to that thought.
Being in Eastern Europe there are specific insecurities that come up being a woman. Ladies dress to the hilt just to go to the post office. I mean, they are decked out, beautiful, skinny.....some guys might say "they're hot!" I'm not insecure around other women but there's this weird thing that happens where the men are checking every girl out and you feel those roving eyes. It's kind of creepy.
A funny thing happens on the trams and metros too. Because I'm a people watcher, it bothers me so much as I watch it over and over again, but I must say I'm absolutely intrigued as to what must be going on in the hearts and minds of the people.
For example, a guy and a girl will be on the tram or metro displaying their love for one another by how close they stand and the lip service they give each other, quite literally. Then, another girl will come on the tram and if the guy looks at her, the girl in his arms somehow feels she has to try harder to keep her man's attention. Again, it's weird. How sad. How twisted. No doubt these girls feel insecure.
I want to know that I am the only woman my husband is going to look at. Of course, most of these couples are in and out of relationships just as quick as....well, I won't go there, but I think we have to be careful to guard our eyes and I've never been more sensitive to that than being here in Eastern Europe.
My dad was a really good example for us girls, setting the standard. I remember many times my mom saying "I've never been jealous of your father because I know he's only looking at me." No extra winks, nods, or flirtatious stuff going on with ladies he was around, which is a good thing because He was married to my mom! I like that. I want that.
So it brings me to this thing of security. This best friend reminded me that my future is secure.....and what I will do in my life is secure. I don't need to worry, fear, or feel threatened.
Something that is secure is free from danger or threat; it's fixed, fastened so as not to give way, become loose, or be lost; it is certain to remain or continue safe and unharmed; contains a feeling of safety, stability, and freedom from fear and anxiety.
I rest in that. I rest in the knowledge that no matter what it looks like, my future is held in my best friends hands. Because besides being my best friend, He created the world, holding it in His hands, spinning galaxies and keeping oceans tide at bay. I think He can handle my future.
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 12:43 AM
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
There are times when the lyrics to a song completely captures the essence of your heart at that moment. This past Saturday I went to the Hillsong United concert in Budapest and worked the product table. At one point during the concert, the table was really dead and there were a few girls watching the products, so I went inside....just in time to hear Brooke Fraser singing "Lead me to the cross."
The lyrics alone are enough to bring you to your knees. It's quite devotional and inspirational.....with the epiphany line....lead me to the cross....to your heart....Hmmm. His heart....More of Him, so much less of me.
Apparently this CD has been out since the beginning of the year so for all of you who have heard this song over and over again, bear with me. This was the first time I heard it. And it's led me on a journey to find more of her music. Apparently, she has a few CD's released on Itunes Australia. My mind, my heart and all of who I am have been encouraged and inspired by the lyrics of Brooke.
Life and death are in the power of words. Lyric words are my favorite kind. Thank God for a melody, a harmony and all the other notes in between mixed with words that speak life. I love it. I put a few of her videos on this site. Enjoy.
this first one is off the Hillsong United, "All of the Above" CD.
these next two are from her CD only available, I guess in Australia called "Albertine". Both good....But the second one is powerful to me...a reminder that when God expands our world, we have a responsibility to be His voice...
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 1:12 PM
Wow, what a great story. This kid comes from a single parent home. He sucked in PE class and wanted to get ahead. As he started to excel and add to track, the swimming sport, his coach got the Anaheim High School staff to help him pay for a bike so he can tri in the future. This 14 year old is on his way to some great things ahead, you can just tell. I love stories of people who overcome obstacles and get encouraged by others around them.
If a 14 year old can do it, I can too. At least I can tri!
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 11:32 AM
Tuesday, September 25, 2007
So I know it sounds and looks really ambitious. But a sprint tri is really not as difficult as poeple may think. I know I always thought a tri was something people do who really want to just die. These people want to kill themselves just to say they are the ironman champ. But, I'm changing my ways when it comes to thinking about (and actually starting to train for) a sprint tri. A sprint tri is like the baby tri in the triathlon family. It's like the kisbaba (little baby in Hungarian).
And so here in Budapest, the internet is my personal trainer. I had the joy of working out with a friend once this summer who has a personal trainer. The personal trainer, Brian, was great and if I were in Reno longer, I probably would figure out a way to afford his services. But as I said, the internet is my personal trainer.
I just read that yoga (I know my yoga-loving sister, Noel, will love this!) and pilates are good for tri-training because of the recovery and core building it does for your body. So, just a few minutes ago I did a few sets of pilate stretches and I can already feel the difference in my lower back and hips. That's where it hurts since I've been running. I hate running. I really do. But I've read it's also the fastest way to burn calories and that's interesting when you are trying not to die, when you don't have a death wish but just a wish and you just want to finish a tri race.
I found a website "When Big Boys Tri" with a few great quotes. Don't worry, I know I'm not a boy and I'm not trying to be one either but I wanted to see what the website featured. Been checking out a lot of things online. Here's a few quotes they have posted that I really like....
"It's not the race. It's the journey."
"Don't go to the grave with life unused."
It's interesting how easy it is to race ahead and forget about the surrounding scenery. I do that a lot. When I find myself discontent, I wonder why. It's no wonder. Life is a journey. I have to remember to embrace it and live. But it's just as easy to wait around for something or someone to jump start your life and then you find yourself at the grave with an unused life.
Life starts today. I want to be that turtle and take in all the moments but truly live all the moments too.
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 3:05 PM
Monday, September 24, 2007
I find it odd that on the corner of my street there is a very cute European style fitness gym. Less than a half a block away and I'm inside the doors of the fitness club. So, of course I walk over there dressed for a workout. But to my dismay, the lady says that I must bring different workout shoes because basically she doesn't want my shoes which have been dirtied by the streets to be in her gym. This is Budapest. I guess I understand because the streets are nasty. But really. Are you kidding me? You've got to be kidding.
The other funny thing I'm thinking of right now is all about plastic bags. You have to ask for a plastic bag for your stuff after you shop in some stores AND in some of them, you even have to PAY for the bag....Like maybe the equivalent of 10 cents. The point is, when you shop it's not a given that you'll get a bag.
Hows that for cultural differences.
And sometimes my brain just hurts.
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 1:38 PM
Sunday, September 23, 2007
It's been an over the top one....
posted picture is me listening to "Lead me to the cross" by Hillsong...more about that later...
Friday night I went with a few Hungarians to a city-wide prayer meeting that just started to meet and pray for Budapest. The meeting took place in a large, old, communist style building in an upper room. Yes, an upper room. We had to get in this really scary freight elevator to go up. Apparently, the building is owned by a Hungarian Christian who rents out the building to people who want to meet for church events.
My Hungarian believing friends Tomás and Gisella interpreted for me as it was all in Hungarian and I didn't understand most of it. We had some incredible worship (a few songs were Hillsong but in Hungarian) and then we prayed for the city. I really felt the presence of God there even though I couldn't understand most of it. Amazing how it made sense and I knew that these people had the same heart I do for this city and nation.
Saturday morning I took my roommate to Margaret Island, one of my favorite places in Budapest. It's so green, spacious, lots of trails to bike, walk, run. She found some tennis courts so we are going to do that in the future. Should be interesting. Haven't played tennis since I was like 8 years old, playing with Dad. Amazing how you remember those things.
Saturday afternoon I had to find my way to the venue for the Hillsong United concert via the bus. Yes, Budapest hosted Hillsong United. And I have to say my friend Anett (26 yr old amazing Hungarian woman of God) had a big part of getting them here. I made it and I was only 15 minutes late! Anett, (who wants to help this spring with Straight Up Beautiful) asked if I would help at the product table for the Hillsong United concert. Each of us wore t-shirts which said which language we spoke so people could order. For example, mine said "I speak english" because I obviously don't speak Hungarian! Other languages were German and Romanian. But people came to the table from Germany, Austria, Romania, Slovakia, Ukraine, and I think a few others. My head was just spinning. On top of this, the guys and gals who helped at the product table are from Australia. Fun Aussie english accents was an interesting twist to it all!! As to the European languages, can you see the problems the United Nations has on their hands in the European region? English is a must here even though a lot of the Eastern European, developing nations are still behind in learning it. So I'm starting to warm up to the idea of speaking my native language more and that it's a good thing. I hope you don't think I'm a snob. Believe me. I love my native tongue, my native home....
Most of the night I spent serving at the table but I did go inside for a few of the songs and the song "Lead me to the cross" was really doing something inside of me. I think it's the beginning of something stirring in me recently to draw near to God like I haven't in a long time. Do songs ever do that to you?
I didn't want to buy the limited goods that were there at the product table as its harder for people in this area to get things, even with internet. You can't easily download from i-tunes unless you have a secure credit card and unless your American or British, it's not really possible. So, tonight I am downloading the CD "All of the Above" from Hillsong United.
Today Nori and I met and were able to start talking about some great things. I love watching God work in people's lives. It's really such a privilege.
In case you haven't heard the song "Lead me to the cross" by Hillsong...Here are the lyrics...
Savior I come
Quiet my soul
Where your blood was spilled
for my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost
Lead me to the cross
where your love poured out
bring me to my knees
Lord, I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to you
Oh, lead me.
Oh, lead me to the cross.
You were as I
tempted and tried
The word became flesh
bore my sin and death
now you're risen
everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost
lead me to the cross
where your love poured out
bring me to my knees
lord I lay me down
rid me of myself
i belong to you
oh lead me
lead me to the cross....
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 11:28 AM
Thursday, September 20, 2007
This is not my personality. I'm much more the fast and all over the place type, zipping around the world and back with a few "hoorahs" to spare. But I want to learn something of this nature and embrace the great attitude of the turtle.
It all goes back to childhood and those children's books. Tortoise and the Hare. Who made it to the finish line? I don't think it was that bouncy bunny. Nope. If I remember correctly it was not.
What a great motto for life too. Instead of jumping into everything, why not take it all slow and be a steady force in the earth?
I know some people have to be motivated by a little fire under the buttox but that is not my problem. It's much more difficult (particularly after a few cups of great coffee in the morning) to sit still for a minute. I have to make myself do it, but I've learned and I'm still learning.
When it comes to triathlon training, this has been a very encouraging motto for me. All of this is very new for me so I'm taking it slow and just trying to be consistent. I still can't find a race to shoot for yet, either here in Europe or the West Coast. But I'm keeping my eyes peeled straight ahead....training slow and steady....slow and steady....
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 12:21 PM
Monday, September 17, 2007
I'm having trouble speaking english. Maybe I should go to our English Camp. Here’s my problem. Ever since I arrived last year, I found myself wanting to “blend in”, to identify with the culture. It’s not a bad thing to want this. Actually, I think it’s necessary at some level or another to want to identify with the people you are spending time with in order to understand where they are coming from. It’s just that people are very interested in learning English right now in Hungary (atleast the younger generations) and you would think I would just go with that!
Lest you think I blend in completely (ha) or that I speak Hungarian fluently (ha ha), let me just clarify that I can barely get past a few sentences before my cover is completely blown anyways, so what's the big deal? Today at the swimming pool a girl asked me in Hungarian where the guys entrance is to the pool. (OK, doing good. She thought I was Hungarian….that’s cool.) Of course, I didn't understand her and I had to say "most tanulok magyarol. Nem ertem. Bocanot. Mit?" "I'm learning Hungarian. I don’t understand, sorry. What?" So she asks in English, "Do you know where is the guy's entrance to the pool?"
So why don't I just stick with the language I know best? And fully embrace being an English speaker? I was born into this anyways, right? Why don’t I just use the language most young people want to learn in Hungary? When we go to Peter’s university campus we are going to sit around and speak English on purpose to attract those students who are interested in learning from Americans. I guess I’m going to have to come out of my shell.
I know why I’ve worked so hard not to speak English here. I don’t want to be like those "other" Americans who are here studying abroad or visiting and seem to come across just so obnoxious, brash and loud. Not everyone is like this but time and time again, some English speaking individual proves my point. Sometimes you have to be strong to get your point across or to try and bring some understanding in the middle of a language barrier. I obviously just don’t want to be rude in my demeanor.
So, I’m able to get internet access at a café just down the street from my apartment.
Tonight an American girl came in and loudly proclaimed that she would like a brownie. People are talking and laughing but she's just so loud about getting her brownie and kinda brash. It rubs me the wrong way and I just want to shrink into the little Hungarian that I CAN speak.
I’m reconciled to this fact. I will need to speak English here and people love it and I will continue to learn the Hungarian language and hopefully be able to speak more Hungarian along the way. People actually love that I try that too. My Hungarian teacher, Gabi, wants to trade Hungarian lessons for English lessons with her son. She wants me to practice English with her 16 year old son who will be taking a final English exam soon.
Sometimes missions is about meeting felt needs. The felt need in Hungary is learning English. I shouldn’t have trouble speaking English, should I? I guess I’ll go with it but I guess along the way I also want to try and remain sensitive to the culture and the people I am with at the time. Yes, I speak English. I'm still going to the English Camps though. Maybe it will help me get better at giving it away....
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 12:38 PM
Thursday, September 13, 2007
A storm front made its way to Budapest just before I arrived last week. Every day the weathr seems to fluctuate but mostly it's just cold. My immune system has to get used to everything here again. It seems I caught a cold and I'm fighting it with every vitamin known to man. I opened my packet of hand sanitizer from the states and started using that on the metro too.
My new roommate, Anna, is wonderful. Although she has been really sick as well, I know that once we both start feeling better we're going to have a ton of fun. Last weekend we met a bunch of South Africans at a wine tasting festival and it was a divine contact. Tomas is the managing editor for Diplomacy and Trade. He and his wife are Hungarians but lived in South Africa and South America as kids. They are believers and were telling me about an intercessory group that meets regularly. Tomas offered me to write for the magazine here in Hungary. It's an english publication on a variety of topics but of course somewhat centered on diplomacy and trade. We will see what happens with that.
I've spent most of my time with Peter and Nori, the two Hungarians God has brought into our sphere of life. Last spring it was exciting to be a part of Nori's journey to faith in Christ. Now, she is living it out and learning so much. We are going to start getting together again soon so we can talk about the basics.
The American teacher that I worked with last year called to say that another student at our school committed suicide. I didn't know or teach him but nonetheless it has been a traumatic event for students. I spent some time this week looking into this phenomenon as suicide seems to be a "solution" for Hungarians who have problems. Apparently, according to the World Health Organization, Hungary is ranked 6th in the world of known suicide rates per 100,000. I'm always a little hesitant about posting statistics because this probably doesn't include other parts of the world where little is known or where people cover it up to protect those who died. Nonetheless, it is a resident evil here in Hungary. People think that this will bring them ultimate happiness. Last year I had a suicidal student and I had an opportunity to talk to him about a lot of things. I told him it was selfish and that it wouldn't bring him happiness. I do pray God gives us the creative ideas and opportunities to speak into this area, how to save a life.
That's all for now.
Sunday, September 9, 2007
A few days after arriving back in the Pest, I found myself looking at the faces of those sitting around me in the California coffee shop and baffled once again as I listen intently and try to understand Hungarian conversations going on around me. Still so little is understood even after a year of complete immersion in a Hungarian high school and nights of lessons all of last year.
And I found myself asking a tough question, one that Matt Kearney poses in his song "Crashing Down".
"if I'm in the open, if I'm in the way, what am i doing here?
if you're not with me, what have I got to live for if its just my own dreams?
take me back to the beginning, back to the start
when gravity's pulling, you're still holding my heart
you come crashing down...."
It would be one thing if I were running from something back home. My uncle seems to think this is my condition. "What are you running from, Jen? What did we do to you that you would go across the globe and leave us?"
When the things left behind include an amazing family with incredible natural parents, brothers and sisters, amazing friendships I've had since I was 16 years old, and opportunities for some open doors, I've been tempted to ask....."What AM I doing here?........ if you're not with me.
Then came the resolve. I am here to be fruitful not to spin my wheels and accomplish little to nothing in the name of "missions.' I want to bear fruit! I want to bear fruit that lasts here!
And He came crashing down. Sitting there surrounded by Hungarians and sipping on a coffee, I felt His presence, His affirmation that indeed He sent me to accomplish just this in the Pest.
So after I talked with my sister and mom, I called a friend of mine in the states to tell her I arrived safely in Budapest. We talked for a few minutes and she said, "Jen! I can't believe you are calling. I was just praying for you and God gave me something for you."
"Yes.God is going to pour out His blessings on you. You are going to have a fruitful year, reaching all kinds of people, not just one type. And this is going to be a year of deep communion with the Lord"
Back in the Pest. Trusting for Fruitfulness. Longing for Deep Communion.
What am I doing here? an even better question.....
What have I got to live for if it's just my own dreams?
His dream. That's what I'm doing here.
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 9:51 AM
Thursday, September 6, 2007
Last night's departure from Reno was tough. I actually got really choked up while checking in my luggage. It didn't help that my nieces and nephews were yelling out "Don't go!" and to each other saying, "Hold on to her arms so she can't go...." which they did for a minute. But I hate to be the one they cry over....not that I'm anyone special but their little minds don't understand all of it.
I don't know if it will help or not but I told them every time they get mad that I'm gone they should pray that God will bring Hungarians to know him so I can come home sooner. I will spend today in the NYC airport. My flight for Budapest leaves tonight. Benefits of this long layover? Free wifi is great, so I'm getting caught up on emails and writing blogs like this. But that doesn't take too long. So with the hours left, I will change my clothes, people watch (prime people watching opportunities here in the big apple) and take time to reflect, read, pray, and consider what God will do this coming year.
Re-entry is just hours away.
Since I now realize I am not a minimalist and my luggage was super heavy, it was probably a good thing I was emotional because the lady said, "I'm not going to charge you for two heavy bags, just one." I guess tears do work sometimes. That wasn't my intention for sure. But I guess this summer I just really had such great times with family and friends that it has been the toughest for me this time to go.
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 5:41 AM
Tuesday, September 4, 2007
Somewhat like a space shuttle mission (though I've never been on one but can easily imagine), I get this very uneasy feeling whenever I'm about to cross over to the other side of the globe. It happened on my way back to the states this summer and it's happening again now. Atmospheric changes I guess. The atmosphere feels thicker, denser, with a lot of unknowns......Leaving the comfort of the familiar to re-enter the "other" familiar.
The hardest part for me is leaving behind the ones I love. I absolutely hate that part. What is good about leaving a wonderful support system, an amazing family and all the comfort of relationships with years of history? Nothing except I guess that when I do come home, I haven't worn out my welcome!
Sometimes I wonder the same question my mom posed to me earlier this summer...."Jen, when are you going to come home and just be "normal..."? Good question mom and since there's really no good definition of what "normal" looks like, why don't we just live out our best self, love God and love people and let the chips fall where they may? I don't have an answer except that nations and peoples and worship all resonate within my soul. God created me for this, I guess.
Last night I went to see my parents and Aunt and Uncle for the last time. My Uncle, who is not a believer said to me, "What did we ever do to you? What are you running from? Why are you going half way across the globe? Did your parents do something to hurt you? Did we?" Oh Uncle Mal. Thanks for keeping life interesting and asking the hard questions.
Where would I run to and what would I be running from? Can there be such a thing as being given so much freely and now wanting to go, with bags loaded (literally my luggage is really full!) to freely give away what's been given to me?
Currently Europe is one of the darkest continents on the planet. Spiritual things are happening on practically every other continent but Europe is in desperate need of a touch from God. America is headed in a similar direction but as of today there truly is a wonderful "open heaven" over America. The sense of joy and freedom here is still very obvious as compared to when you cross over to Europe. Will I be there forever? I don't think so, but I'm there now, trusting God to fulfill His purposes and bring forth a new generation of young people who love Him and know Him intimately.
The funny thing is that the way I see it, missions happens every day wherever life happens. All of us have been given so much. Why do people view this whole thing differently? They shouldn't. In my humble opinion it doesn't matter if you're in Africa, Asia or America, we are called to live "missionally" or to be so aware of our culture and surroundings and open to what God is doing as we give it away on our jobs, in our relationships, and everywhere we find ourselves every day. My life is really no different than yours....except maybe some certain atmospheric changes, but if God has given me grace to embrace those things, then so be it. He knows and writes every page in the book of our lives, doesn't he? And if he does, then each one of us are living the great adventure, aren't we?
Posted by Jen in Budapest at 7:13 AM