Monday, March 31, 2008

A lil' update

My sister and Dre were able to come and see where I live, meet some of the people, and get a feel for my life in Budapest. I was thankful for the time with them. I wish we would have had more time in Budapest. It's a beautiful city but I think we covered the basics. Castle Hill, Gellert Hill, Hero's Square and the city center.

We also made some special memories in Germany, Italy, and Austria. Next time though, I don't think we will try to fit so much into one week. It was REALLY fast paced. But I was just so thankful to get some moments with two beautiful women whom I love so dearly. I'm thankful for their husbands and kids who gave them time to come and played "Mr. Mom" so that they could see me. :D
As far as health fitness, I've been icing my shoulder, taking lots of ibuprofin, and keeping it in a sling when I'm home for any amount of time. I just started taking the crystallized MSM that I forgot I had and started putting that in juice. MSM is a natural, organic form of sulfer and really helps the body heal itself. They are still doing research but a few years ago I read the book "The miracle of MSM" and it has been great. So, all that to say that my training has gone to pot. I'm ready to get back into it although a bit nervous about running with my knee/hip flexors. I'll just take it slow. Now that I have the Garmin watch, it should be fun too.
Looks like I will be going to Latvia and Lithuania in May to join Lara with some womens events there for Straight Up Beautiful.

Lara is developing a Bible Study addendum to the book she's writing. I'm going to start using it here in Budapest too. I'm excited about it. This trip in May will actually be our reunion as the last time I saw Lara was in Latvia two years ago when we did a Straight Up Beautiful conference.
I have recently been taking time to look closely at Psalm 23. It's a great reminder of how much God cares even when things don't make sense. He truly will direct the course of life if allowed to have that place in our lives. A lot of times it means continuing to trust, hope and believe even when we don't understand or see. This life is not always easy. A lot of things that happen don't make sense and you can't always reason it away. Sometimes we get discouraged, disappointed, frustrated, even "pissed off" and angry. Yet even through all these moments, I am finding God truly is there. He sees what we don't see. He takes care of us in ways we may never understand. And for this I'm thankful. He is a shepherd as Psalm 23 says. He is MY shepherd and He knows what I need even when I may not.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

High school students this past week....

I haven't had a lot of time to blog about last week but one thing is for sure. Our high school programs went great!

Yesterday in staff meeting we talked about increasing our involvement on the high school campuses, as we have wide open doors to be there.

Hungarian teens are "normal" in the sense that they can identify things in pop-culture. MTV is big over here with like 5 channels of options so they hear and see what American teens listen to like - Beyonce, Kanye West, Sugarbabies, Brittany Spears, etc. But Hungarian teens are different in many ways too. In some ways they have matured faster than American kids. In other ways, they are pre-teen in their thinking. Although they have been impacted by Western pop-culture, they are still living at a poverty level and thinking in terms of a mixture of western culture and former communist influences. Most teens just say "I want to go to America with you." But that is not the answer. I know poverty is relative if you are to talk about some other places in the world, but more than material poverty these kids are starved for love and attention. Most of their parents work two or three jobs just to make about $1,000 a month. This means lots of teens are home alone or neglected.

Natasha, was one of the students who followed us and met up with us twice outside of the classroom. She's a brilliant but timid girl whose English is great and is starving for love and time. She was curious about everything we were doing. So cute! She was literally on my heels the entire time when she came over to my flat as we were setting things up for the girls university night. So cute! Her mom called around 6pm and she had to go.

One of the schools we were in actually has a high school dorm where students live in the dorm and just go home on some weekends. You can see it in their eyes, it's a tough way to live. They miss home. I don't blame them.

Actually, we made a great connection at this school and it looks like I'll be going back as it's a girls dorm. Their English was probably the worst of all the schools we went to, but hopefully with my Hungarian and their English we can understand each other. Hopefully we can bring some great things to their high school campus. Of course, our heart's desire is also to see these young people come to a place of trusting Christ with their life and future. This is the best thing we could ever give them. Yet, in the process we will love on them, bring them hope and encouragement and help them practice their English!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Safely in the old world..the journey begins.

Noel and Andre arrived safely in Frankfurt. The adventure begins. Noel said my request for Starburst put her over the bag weight limit by 3 lbs. So, Starburst are a heavier candy! Can I help that? What else did she have in that bag???? A lot of my stuff actually. Mail and a few other goodies from the motherland. :D


Well, I probably won't be writing much this next week as I soak in every moment with my sis and take in the old world as I nurse my arm, hip reflexors and knee back to health. Lots of walking, but that will be good since I probably won't be doing a bit of exercising, going on the second week know. That's almost sac-religious as far as my schedule goes...Well, with walking atleast I'm moving a bit.


Today after staff meeting, Nori went with me to a "gyorszetar" - a pharmacy - to ask if they sold arm slings. For about a dollar, I bought this funny green thing that ties around my neck and is an "arm sling." It's the only way I won't use my right arm. I usually use it for EVERYTHING! I'm hoping to allow time for it to heal and get better for tri. I tried on my tri suit and I think it fits great. Can't wait to use it at London's event in July :D

If you think of me, please pray for a speedy recovery with my arm, hip reflexors and knee, that my body will get in line and recover quickly. I'm ready to get out there and use my flippers, my hand paddles, etc.

But for now, I'm going to enjoy my vacation with my sister who came half way across the world so we could make some great memories!! vita bella!!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Old World Vacation

So students start their holiday this Wednesday and that means vacation starts for me too. While everyone in Hungary spends time with their families over Easter break, my sister, a good friend (who is like a 3rd sister), and I will meet in Frankfurt and explore the old world in a very limited amount of time. I don't know much about Frankfurt but we are going to see it in a day and a half.:D

Then, we take a flight to Venice on Thursday afternoon. Unfortunately, the hostels are only available Thursday night and not Friday for our 3 person room combination. So, we will be in Venice for one night and a full day. I'm thinkin' we'll take a night train back to Budapest Friday eve -- Good Friday -- and will arrive in Budapest on Saturday morning. Once we get to Budapest, no problem. I feel very comfortable showing them around! I know we'll have a great time once we get in my neighborhood...

or as they say in kerulet!

After a few days in Budapest, we planned a day trip to Vienna. Everyone I've talked to has said it's worth the day trip. I'm a very thankful woman. I get time with my sister, time with a really good friend, stamps in the passport and this chance to see more of the old world. What could be better than enjoying a coffee at a cafe in the heart of the old world with some of the best ladies in the world? Dreams come true :D

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jen and Courtney crash and burn

By the time we had the final team lunch on Friday afternoon, I was gone and so was Courtney. Early mornings and late nights finally caught up with us. We still had Battle of the Bands that night. I got my second wind when I got a 10 minute power nap and had some coffee.

Struggle and Progress - Moving Forward

"If there is no struggle, there is no progress." Frederick Douglass

Struggles and challenges are a very real part of being human. There will always be a struggle somewhere -- something you have to work through and the choice will be there....take the easy route and shrink back from the struggle or press in, push through and gain a new perspective, finding a way to renew the heart and move on - that's progress.

Currently for me there are two specific areas being touched by struggle. First, I'm struggling in my health. This is a new thing for me as I rarely ever get injured and I'm almost always healthy year round. I thank God for a strong body and these days I'm praying that God would strengthen my body again to full health. Last week when I fell, I did more than I realized and so I'm aware, in a new way, that this imperfect body is touched by the imperfections of this world. So, I am asking God to strengthen my body. And in the process, I'm asking Him to teach me new things about health fitness, stretching, whatever else I can gain in this struggle towards the progression of a healthy body.

Second, I'm challenged to walk out certain principles I live my life by in a relationship where I have been hurt. Again, this is the very real part of being human. It doesn't matter who you are or your frame of mind, living in this imperfect world, you will get hurt by others in relationships. People will say or do things that hurt you. The question is -- how will you respond? Will you fight for a place of forgiveness and release that person or will you allow the seeds of bitterness and resentment to grow because it's more comfortable to be "wronged" by them?

So without struggle, no progress. There is also something to be said about continuing to do what you know is the right thing to do -- as in loving people and extending another chance when you've been hurt. I'm learning a lot and for that I'm thankful.

"Love is patient; Love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or, hope and love remain but the greatest is love."
I Corinthians 13:4,13

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Rialto Bridge in Venice

So I was finally able to book a hostel for our first night in Venice. We are staying a few minutes walk from this famous bridge called Rialto, the true heart of Venice, which was built 400 years ago between 1588 and 1591.

Apparently, the architect, Antonio da Ponte competed against Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract. The bridge replaced some older structures. I hadn't thought of it before, but I think I will try and find a travel guide book (if I can find it in English) at a bookstore here in Budapest before I leave on Wednesday! I don't even know where to begin with what to see in this ancient city but I'm sure us girls will find a lot of fun things to do and see in this city of water!

body pain

Sleeping in this morning was beautiful. My body is recovering from Wednesday's fall and today was the first chance I had to read up on what to do with shoulder injury. Apparently, the first 72 hours are crucial to keep it iced. I'm also fighting a cold but I just need to keep drinking fresh OJ.

It's been so nice to rest, read, take a nap, sleep, organize a few things for spring break in venice :D, ice my shoulder, look up stuff online and just relax in the flat.

Earlier today I watched the DVD "Mean Girls" all the way through and I forgot that it actually has a great message. I showed a clip from the film on Thursday night in my flat when the university girls were over.I still have this big screen projector in my livingroom which is kind of funny. It reminds me of when I was housesitting for a basketball player who lived in Reno. His TV was a roll down projector slide that was basically the size of one whole side of a very large wall. Those were fun days.

And now, after my nap, I need to get organized for this (short!!) week. Wednesday is vacation in Germany, Italy and Austria!! Woo hoo!!

Battle of the Bands

This morning the Florida team left Budapest. They will be back in Tallahassee by Sunday. I said good-bye late last night after "Battle of The Bands". It was a great way to end the week serving here as somewhere between 400-500 students came in and out.

Heres a clip from last year. You will see that I don't exaggerate when I say that some guys have longer hair than I DO! Yep. Unfortunately, the long hair metal look is still "in" around these parts of Europe by atleast half the male youth population who swear by Iron Maiden and Metallica. I want to say that maybe these young guys are impressed by the groups guitar solos and their ability to shake their heads around with hair flying everywhere but I've never listened close enough to know for sure.

Yet with 17 Hungarian high school bands competing for the grand prize of money as well as other giveaways, there was bound to be some long haired head shakers....and there were. It was a fun night as students won the grand prize, while others won door prizes and two students won the coveted I-pods.

Our Florida team worked with FEK (a Hungarian youth organization) all week to sponsor the event. FEK started the Battle of the Bands two years ago. Their hope, as is ours, is to encourage healthy student life through positive events like this where students can cultivate their gifts and talents musically or in other ways as well as present the message of Jesus. During the middle of the night a few students shared their journey of faith. The message of Jesus was shared and young people heard it, some for the first time.

A few of my former students came out for the event. Laci is a brilliant student.

His conversational English is incredible but he thinks I lie to him about it. My Hungarian teacher friend, Anett and I were talking to Laci at one point in the night and I told him his English is really good, but he said, "Oh, Miss Jen, you are not serious. You are just saying this to be kind. Either my English is really bad and you laugh about it behind my back or you are just being an American teacher by being nice." He would not receive my encouragement. My friend Anett said, "Well Laci, I am a teacher, I'm not American and I'm telling you your English is great!" He was a little embarrassed when he realized she was Hungarian and taught English....Then he started to believe me after that.

Here's another picture of some students who came to Battle of the Bands from the high schools we were in this week.

I hope to post more in the future. I thought it was a great week.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Quick post - Biff and sort of recovering # 2 of 2008

In all this running around Budapest with our team of eight from Florida, we've got some heavy bags with drinks and snacks provided for our english clubs. So we transport this around the city. Yesterday, we gave away free pepsis at the high school and the club house was packed out at lunch. So much fun -- big hit....hopefully I can blog more on that later...but here's what I wanted to post about.

A new Mexican restaurant just opened near Oktogon and we decided to take our high school team there when we finished at 4:30 pm. Sorry Akshaye, but this food was AWESOME! Only two other places exist in the city and I've tried them both. They are wanna be Mexican food. This place is great!

As we were leaving the place, I was going to go with two of the girls from Florida back to my flat to drop off the extra drinks and then we were going to run to the next english club at 6 pm. So, with a heavy bag in one hand filled with teaching materials, my purse etc, I also had on a dolly, a stack of drinks and we were splitting up from the guys so I just needed to get it from Arriba to my flat. Well, it was raining outside and since I had the dolly I thought I'd go down the small silver ramp instead of using steps.......One of the girls said she thought I planned to slide down the ramp. She didn't know what I was doing.....which was biffing it....

Well, if you can imagine that I biffed it sliding down the silver ramp with bag and dolly. I tried to do a tomb raider move or something afterwards to recover. Not so much but I just had to laugh and keep going.

Needless to say, my arm and my hip are really out of whack this morning! I'm doing simple things like sweeping my house for tonights group of girls and I'm like "Ouch!" No time to think about it now but come Saturday I need to have a plan for recovering. Anyone know what to do for strained shoulder area and hip reflexors?

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


So, since the team arrived on Saturday it's been non-stop with activity. Early mornings, long days and long nights, but all of it is good. I will definitely have earned my few days off the following week with my sister.

As far as training for tri -- it was thrown out the window shortly after they arrived. I haven't been near a pool, a bike or soft pavement since and I doubt I will before Saturday rolls around.

One thing that I have been fighting off is catching a "flu bug" that a few of the guys brought back from the states when they arrived last week. Monday night is when it started with strange stomach rumblings and just feeling really tired. Then yesterday when I was on the metro to meet the team at 7:00 am, I broke out in a sweat and felt like I was going to hurl...I just kept praying, "God. Give this body strength to fight off this thing!" I was praying over myself and for my body not to fail me. I literally don't have time to be sick. When the team came together we prayed again and I have been feeling great all day yesterday! I slept great last night and woke up to a sweet call from my friend in Texas who is also thinking about our friend, Lara, who just moved to Lithuania and we haven't heard from her yet. I'm sure we will any day now.

I will probably blog more about this in the future, but if you ever have a chance to work on a team for projects together like this one I highly recommend it. It can be very stretching but also one of the most life-giving things to experience. When the Bible talks about each believer being a part of the body -- like a hand, foot, eye, etc and how you have to work together, I find that it's most clearly seen in these moments. I LOVE watching people rise up and use the gifts and talents they have in this setting. Yesterday, one of the girls with me rose to the occasion -- she saw the need and took the lead -- We had an extra class to organize and she volunteered even before we found out to be a part of more of the activities. Amazing!

Well, I'm off to meet the team. We had a later start this morning so that was beautiful...a little more time. If you think of it, please keep the rest of the week in your prayers for my health and for the teams health as well as for Thursday night- we are going to have an English conversation group at my flat talking about pop-culture's view on beauty and what God has to say about the way He created us. Should be interesting -- a handful of girls have already said they'd like to come and we are meeting students at the university and inviting them too.

Here's to the rest of a non-stop week....Hope everyone who is training is doing great! Wish I were out there with you, but for now...alas.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Feet fail me not!

The team from Florida arrived an hour later than expected yesterday and I heard about it in time, so I actually squeezed in a run Saturday morning! I say squeeze, but I'm celebrating endurance wise, I ran an hour and 5 minutes! That's monumental for me! I wanted to mix it up and run through the city of Budapest to the Danube River. It was a little hard on my feet because it wasn't padded but Hero's Square just hasn't been doing it for me since the biff and recover. I could hardly believe it but as I was listening to Eminem's "Lose Yourself" ...."feet fail me not...."I just kept pushing through another 10 minutes past the 45 minute mark, past the 55 minute mark and onto 1:05. I can't wait until my sister comes in a little over a WEEK so I will have the Garmin for tracking distances and times! Of course I'm much more excited to see her but the Garmin device is gonna be great too.

So, we had to keep the team active all day. The worst thing to do is sleep in the middle of the gets you all off schedule. So, we gave them time to freshen up and then went to lunch at a Turkish restaurant. I really like the team from Florida. They know a lot of the people I know in Tally so it was fun.

Most of them are in their last year of university at FSU or FAMU and I LOVE the diversity on the team! Unfortunately, Hungary doesn't always get a lot of flavor around these parts. It actually bothers me. Their racial views on Jews, Gypsies and Blacks is disturbing. Not everyone holds them of course, but racism is a real part of a lot of Europe. I get so frustrated by people's ignorance that way.

Even though I grew up in Nevada where diversity isn't exactly the first word that comes to mind in describing the region, especially compared to the experience in Los Angeles, I've always felt drawn to those from other nations, cultures, etc. I remember once going to this Christian conference in Toronto Canada where people were excited to go because they were expecting some things to happen in their Christian experience with God. My experience happened in a different way because I was absolutely stirred when nation after nation came forward and started singing worship songs to God in their language, with their style and dialect. I thought WOW. This is what I'm a part of as a believer -- every nation, tribe and tongue around the world singing praises to the one true living God. And so it is with the cultures. This IS what I am a part of because God is not American, Hungarian or African. God loves it! He created the colors and the flavors and I love it too. I just wish people would get the memo on that one! One of the girls on the team from Florida is Korean. A few of the girls are African-American and FUN-NY as all get out!! I'm LOVING it. I didn't realize how deprived I was until they came into my life yesterday....Like India Arie sings, "You know I love your....brown skin."

Today we have our first Sunday meeting at Alexandria bookstore at 11 am. Excited about that. Afterwards, we will continue to take them site seeing in Budapest. I think the Castle District and Gellert Hill are part of the adventures. Yesterday we saw Hero's Square, St. Stephen's Basillica, the famous Turkish baths, and they were wiped out. Today we will go to the Buda side and see some things. Then we have a team meeting tonight, getting them prepared for the busy week ahead.

So, I'm going for a 30 minute bike ride now and maybe I can squeeze in a run later tonight. Not sure when pool time is going to happen....that is going to be quite the challenge the next few weeks. Oh well. Lots of walking with the team, that's for sure.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

the bike ride that will have to happen in April or May

We started out ready for anything!

But last weekend when Nona and I attempted to bike ride to Szentendre it became the bike ride that will have to happen in the Spring. You can see by this tree being taken out why it didn't happen. There were actually quite a few trees knocked down in the park across from my house when I went running a few days later. It was a pretty brutal wind storm.

But here's Nona, rolling up her pant legs when we were sopping wet, tail between our legs and coming back to her place for soup.

Yep, I was pretty much absolutely soaked through and through.

Getting dry never felt so great. And hot soup was absolutely the best thing ever.

Friday, March 7, 2008

Children's letters to God

I have this small little book I brought with me from the states and I have it in my bathroom. It is hilarious but I forgot how funny until I started reading a few again today.

"Dear God. If we come back as something please don't let me be Jennifer Horton because I hate her." Denise

"Dear God. Thank you for the baby brother but what I prayed for was a puppy." Joyce

"Dear God. Please put another holiday between Christmas and Easter. There's nothing good in there now." Ginny

"In Sunday school they told us what you do. Who does it when you are on vacation?" Jane

"Dear God. Are you really invisible or is that just a trick?" Lucy

"Dear God. Did you mean for the giraffee to look like that or was it an accident?" Norma

"Dear God. Who draws the lines around the countries?" Nan

"Dear God. I went to this wedding and they kissed right in church. Is that OK?" Neil

"Dear God. Is reverend Coe a friend of yours or do you just know him through business?" Donny

"Dear God, when you made the first man did he work as good as we do now?" Tom

"Dear God, My grandpa says you were aroun when he was a little boy. How far back do you go?" Love, Dennis.

"Dear God. I am Amearican. What are you?" Robert

"Dear God. My brother is a rat. You should give him a tail. ha. ha." Danny

"Dear God. Maybe Cain and Abel would not kill each so much if they had their own rooms. It works with my brother." Larry

"Dear God. If you watch in church on Sunday I will show you my new shoes." Mickey D.

HIT me with your best shot....

I feel like singing that song

"Hit me with your best shot...."

by Pat Benatar while eating these yummy HIT cookies. These cookies are scrumptious and definitely dangerous. Sort of like Daim bars (a European version of the Skor bar). Not sure where these are made but when I went to get a picture so my blogging friends could see what I'm talking about, Amazon is selling a packet of 25 for $23.57 and that's the marked down price! That's almost a $1 a cookie. They aren't that good. Highway robbery!! I got them here in Budapest for $2.

Tonight I'm staring at a pile of papers I am supposed to sort through and organize. Plus, I need to figure out the train ride from Venice to Budapest and where we are staying in Venice with my sister and friend, Andre. At the moment I have very little energy but Noel and Andre assured me they will be fine as long as they have bread and wine. I just don't want to have the last supper somewhere on a lonely Venice street, if you know what I mean. Well, at the moment, I just don't have the energy so I'm gonna get up early and I'll do it tomorrow.

Tomorrow the team comes and I'll meet them near the Jewish Synagogue which is near to where they are staying and we will go out and see Budapest tomorrow as a site seeing day.....the real "work" starts Monday!

" away!"

Pasta Pesto,Greek Salad, MI, Insidetrack and early mornings

I love good food! Especially after working out. Two of the easiest and most favorite dishes that I actually enjoy atleast once a week (if not more) are pasta pesto and greek salad. All the fresh veggies (red bell peppers being my favorite) diced and thrown together with chunks of cheese and add those green olives. Vinegar and olive oil make the dressing. Oh it's so yum. I used to use feta cheese but the feta here falls apart into mushy chunks so I use other types of cheese. It's delicious. Fresh pasta and mix in a jar of pesto and some sour cream -- or just pesto plain is good too. Then, dice up some tomatoes and grate some cheese, and throw it on top and you are good to go! Delicious. You can add baked chicken chunks if you're looking for a meatier version of the pasta. I've also proportioned out the cheese over the pasta pesto and baked it in the oven for another delicious version of this meal.
I biked to Margaret Island this morning to meet Luca for a run. I really felt great on the bike and did a 50 minute ride. Our run wasn't as impressive, as Luca is just starting out with training but we had a good talk as we walked. I'd say it was only a 20 minute run with about 20 minutes walking too. She wants to keep training and I love to drag others along, so that's exciting. I'd love to get a whole group of us together training on Saturdays or something and call it the Budapest something...ha ha.
One of the development directors for an up and coming company called Insidetrack just contacted me again after not hearing from them for weeks. This company helps American university students stay in school and finish their degree. They want me to put them in touch with anyone there at the University of Nevada-Reno that I know. UNR is now an up and coming target for development in 2008 and 2009.

I heard about Insidetrack through a friend who knows the guy who started it. Anyways, I thought it would be an excellent program to start at UNR and so I contacted them about it, not really sure what would happen. I'm excited to hear back from them about this. You can check out their website. Now, I hope to connect them with the right people at UNR. That would be great to see something happen in Reno!

Zach and I talked today about our high school programs and schedule next week. I knew it was going to be early, but wow. Our team meets at 7 am each morning except Wednesday and Thursday. That means for me, travel time to our meeting place, I'm looking at 6:30 am. Gotta love those early mornings! Still not sure when those workouts will take place. I'm hoping to steal away in the late afternoons between our high school schedule and the university english clubs. That would be the best!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Is it Friday yet?

Is it Friday yet? Even though I usually can't wait for the weekend because I can somewhat rest on Saturday when it comes to work, and I was trying to do longer brick workouts, this week I can't wait for the weekend but I won't be resting! The team from Florida arrives and we will be busy. I'm still trying to figure out how I'm going to get my workouts in this coming week as we will have really early mornings with the team and late evenings. Maybe I can break away mid-afternoon. However it works out, I'm still excited that we have this team from Florida and I hope they are as great as the team from Texas that came last Fall.
Salsa lessons went better than I expected. I met Dori at the Keleti train station Wednesday night and we waited for 16 other Hungarian and American students to gather before walking to the back of the train station where there's a dance hall that's actually connected to the station. It was very interesting! All I have to say is.....Very cool place!!

Kyle, an American student from Arizona who is studying Math here in Budapest until May, will be my dance partner. Of course we were stepping on toes for some of it, but we actually got the moves down pretty good! My biggest challenge is not to look down at our feet while dancing. For some reason its more comfortable for me to watch our feet and see what we are doing but you're not supposed to even look down!!! It kind of reminds me of computer class and learning to type. You have to get comfortable enough with the keys so as not to look at the keyboard. So, that's my goal in the future although we will always be adding new steps so who knows if I can keep up! I hope so.

I didn't realize how much work an hour of salsa dancing can be! I worked up a good sweat by the end of the night. I thought we would learn a few moves but Kyle counted and we actually learned 8 new steps! The great part was that the lessons ended up being 1/2 price! Next week our class is canceled and the week after that I will be in Germany with my sister and Kyle will be in Spain so in three weeks we will be back at it again. I'm a bit nervous as I'm sure it will only get harder!
Chris has been really nice in letting me keep his bike a little longer although I feel like I need to get it back to him here shortly. He won't be riding it anytime soon though. With the new baby at home, he said not to worry about it. I have a feeling the weather is going to be nice this Saturday but unfortunately I won't get to go to Szentendre atleast until April. When the Florida team arrives this Saturday at 8 am, we will hit the ground running.
Today I read in Isaiah 43 about how those who trust God with their lives ultimately will not be disappointed...that those who have given themselves to God are really saying to the rest of the world that God is worthy to be trusted. (As if God ever had to prove that!....) I was encouraged to realize that I am no different from anyone else. As a mere human being, who is no different than anyone else, I am somehow defined by this relationship with the living God because it transforms some of my basic thought processes, beliefs, values and hopefully the way I live in the world. I was encouraged that in the midst of living this life, nothing is lost and everything is gained by putting my trust in Him. I'm thankful for this relationship because I would be a different individual today had He not become the center of my life and days in high school.
On Tuesday morning, we are scheduled to be in a high school classroom that I taught last year who were really tough to teach. I'm a little nervous about how they treat everyone.... I hope they are respectful of our Florida guests. I'm sure they will be but I always get a little nervous with them. They are a tough group.....
It's official. No more Faklya club on Sundays for now. It was a nice day outside and today we moved all the stuff we use on Sunday mornings from the Faklya club to the Every Nation office. Some stuff went on to a storage place inside the Copper Snake Coffee House. I'm excited about this Sunday. We will experience it along with the team from Florida -- all for the first time. Should be great.

I really love this blogging community who post daily blurbs about their training experiences and become a source of inspiration to others who are debating whether to step outside and engage....It's especially encouraging these days when staying healthy can be really difficult to do.

Anyways, through Bree I found Sara McLarty's site which led me to Sara is the featured athlete for the site this month. Sara completed her first tri when she was 7 years old! That's cool. Now, she's a spokeswoman for Ironkids Triathlon Nationals and wants to help encourage kids in a healthy lifestyle. Her favorite tri is the sprint tri, which was encouraging to hear, since it's my first event this summer. She's hoping to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing and I'm rooting for her!

I get inspired to get out there and kick some bootie when it comes to personal training as I read about other people doing it in the middle of life. So, thanks to all of you who daily make the decision to get out there again. Today I was a slacker but as I sat here reading everyone's blogs, I find myself with new perspective and energy to get out there tomorrow and make it a good training day!

Here's what Sara wanted to tell newbies getting involved in the sport."Welcome to the Triathlon Family. It's a fantastic life-style that you can start at any age and maintain for the rest of your life. I am most encouraged, and most admire, the women out there at the races that are mothers,grandmothers, aunts, etc. They remind me that I am in this 'sport' for my
health, happiness, family and friends. I like to be reminded that my time right
now as a professional triathlete is just a means to getting by...all while
enjoying what this sport has to offer........I want to tell everyone, women
especially, that this is something you can enjoy for the rest of your life, so
welcome aboard!

I was real encouraged by this. I know I haven't even completed my first sprint, but I'm already hooked. I hope it's something I choose to enjoy for the rest of my life just like so many of these women as wives, moms and grandmas..... Look at the amazing people involved! I love it.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Yesterday I swam 25 minutes and it was one of the best swims I've had in a long time. Even though it was short, I really felt myself gliding in the water and it felt great. That doesn't happen often, so I was thankful for it. I'm still nursing a little pain in my right shoulder which doesn't bother me when I swim but I feel it when I'm carrying groceries or doing other things.
This morning I ran for about 33 minutes around Hero's Square before I embarrassingly biffed it, scraping up the knees and hands. Apparently I didn't see the mini-boulder on the dirt path. But, I picked myself up and kept running another 5 minutes home. I think I'm good at biff and recover as I did the same thing last spring on a mountain bike.

Well, I think it's time to mix it up as I'm getting bored with the park -- and now hurt too. The only problem is I've become lazy now that the park is right there and going to Margaret Island seems like a chore -- even though it's only a 15 minute public transportation ride. We will see.
Last night Csaba, Aniko and I had a good time. I think they enjoyed themselves and they invited me over to their place in the future. We are going to celebrate Aniko's birthday the end of the month too. One thing I find interesting is it seems that Hungarians are really hungry for friendships. Most of them say they just don't have lots of other friends to go and hang out with. So yeah, that's easy. I can meet that need. I LOVE hanging out.....and of course, I'm always trusting that God will open up great conversations about Himself, as I absolutely love to see His son Jesus get all the attention.

Last night we had lots of great conversations --- everything from their experience in Greece and the island of Crete to their jobs at MOL to their dog "strawberry" to Csaba's beliefs as an atheist.....We were talking about Hungarian words and English words that are spelled the same and sound the same but have different meanings. For example, pet. I can pet the dog but the dog is also my pet. And now, with the word salsa -- I just found another one. Chips and salsa or salsa dancing.
Tonight I start Salsa dancing lessons after English Club and Bible Study. There's a group of Hungarian and Americans taking lessons that will last through May. I'm just not that coordinated, so I'm a lil' nervous. I will be taking the class with some of the girls I've been building relationships with so I'm excited about that. But yes. Dance coordination has never been a strength. I'm much more like the guy on Hitch who made up moves like the "Q-tip" and stuff....So, we will see what happens and if Salsa dancing is for me!
I'm also a bit nervous because later today at the High school group we will introduce 6-7 teachers (maybe more) to the English Club. They want to observe and get ideas for their class. Hopefully, that goes well. I'm finishing baking these triple decker chocolate cupcakes (the batter is oh so yum!) and banana bread for the ordeal.

Monday, March 3, 2008

random thoughts

This morning I didn't have a lot of time and when I started running, I was wiped out after 25 minutes. Tonight I went for a 30 minute bike ride. Today was just tough as far as personal endurance. I still have a goal to work on my running and biking distances but it's a bit tough without knowing how I'm doing. It will be nice to be able to track what I'm doing later this month when my sister brings a watch I bought from the states! Excited about that! Yippee!

Tomorrow morning is an early morning swim. I can't wait for the team from Florida to arrive this Saturday. We will have a lot of fun doing extra programs on the high school and university campuses. Also, I'm completely jazzed to try on the tri-suit and use the flippers and hand paddles for training! The next few months are going to be good for training.

I'm also excited to have Csaba and Aniko for dinner tomorrow night. These two are hilarious! I LOVE being around them. They both work for the Hungarian company, MOL. He is this tough looking, body builder type Hungarian (but sweet as a teddy bear) and she is this spunky, spit-fire, trendy Hungarian late 20 something....They are just CUTE!! I met them through "Let's Talk" at Lake Balaton last Fall. They've come to English Conversation Club and to our Christmas Party and they know we are Christians. They want to hang out and like to hang out. So, I'm really looking forward to seeing what happens with this couple in the future. Thanks for keeping them in your prayers.


RAIN CHECK: Saturday's Szentendre ride never happened. Nona and I set out to make the trek and to make a long story short, we were literally attacked by rain, wind, hail and ice pellets that were bigger than hail. Both of us were absolutely shocked. We actually waited for some light rain to pass on Saturday morning as we sipped coffee and drank freshly juiced OJ. Then, when it was sunny we decided to go. Nona's husband Gejka said, "Are you sure you want to go? I heard there are strong winds and lots of rain in the forecast." We got about 5 or 10 minutes into the ride and came home with our tail between our legs, sopping wet. Needless to say, we are going to schedule a rain check in April when I will finally have a free Saturday and the weather will be nice! We ended up coming back to Nona's flat and made soup. Still can't wait to do that ride!


Tonight as I was making some stuff in the kitchen I wanted to hear something other than music and I rarely watch/listen to t.v. now that I'm in the new flat because I don't get BBC news. I've only got Hungarian channels, which is fine when I'm in the mood to learn Hungarian (which honestly has not been often). In the past, I've listened to some podcasts through I-tunes called "Every Man's Battle," a podcast for men. Not only does it give me insight into the battles men face, but I als get inspired. They are 2-5 minute podcasts, and I just like them. I don't know, I love this kind of stuff...things about men and women and relationships. One day I'll get to put it all into practice, for now, I'm learning a lot and it's interesting! I also like listening to podcasts of Ravi Zacharias, this amazing Indian man who was educated in England and whose written a book called "Can Man Live Without God?" He's awesome! He speaks at several university campuses and is an author and apologetic. I got to hear him speak in Los Angeles when I was living there and I love the man. He's brilliant.

the old world

I can hardly believe Noel and Andre are coming to the Old World in about two weeks. I'm so excited to make some memories in Venice, Vienna, Budapest and Frankfurt with the girls. I have never been to Germany, so that will be cool. We are going to be taking planes, trains, buses and the girls will get a taste of public transportation in Frankfurt, Budapest and Vienna. I couldn't think of anyone else I'd want to go there with except maybe the rest of the girls in my family.....or perhaps Venice with the love of my life. Besides these exceptions, this is pretty much perfect.

easy to love?

Valorie Burton has become a favorite for me when it comes to reading her stuff for daily "life" motivation and inspiration. Today I read a great one from her archives (easy to love?) and thought I'd share the link, if you're interested.

I like her style of writing and she always leaves me with great reminders of how to live in this world. I was convicted about the one "don't boast." Sometimes I feel like on my blogspot I'm just showing off or being a little too into my life. Then again, it's my blogspot. So I guess there's a balance and it will reflect my life and who I am so that's ok too.

As far as being easy to love, I wouldn't say I've mastered these, but it's definitely the direction I want to continue to chase after in this long distance run called "life."

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Daim bar aka Skor bar

Tonight on my way to Ikea, I ran into Joci in a city of 2 million -- who went with me to pick up a clothes rack to dry my clothes (since they've been drying all over the flat -- off lights and bathroom towel racks and whatever I could find. Yes, it was time to invest), a cheap set of silverware, (since I don't really have a good set and I'm always entertaining) and a picture frame for Noemi (who found out I was making the trek to Ikea and asked if I'd pick it up for her and meet her in the morning with it.)

As I was checking out, Joci said, "I'm gonna go get us a couple of Daim bars. Be right back."

Sitting on the metro, I unwrap the candy asking, "What is it?"

"It's a chocolate bar with hardened caramel or something in it," Joci says.

I take my first bite.

It's a SKOR BAR!!! Wooo hoooo!!

This is like one of my favorite candy bars in the US....and here it is in Hungary as a Daim bar. I tried to explain to Joci how I eat it....skinning the chocolate off the top and then eating the toffee inside. Joci's not impressed.

Apparently, you can get the Daim bar only at Ikea. I'll definitely be grabbing a few of those next time I'm there.

This afternoon while watching Kinga's volleyball match, I was envious, and wanted to get out there and play! They lost but it was a close match and a lot of fun to try and yell the right things in Hungarian.....