Travel with our family as we learn about, live amongst and embrace the people, culture and country of Hungary.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Fireworks, Transylvania and massage

Where to is good and we are so blessed here in Hungary! As I write this I am listening to a hymn by Selah entitled "O Lord, be Thou Near to Me." One of the verses resonates with my spirit:

And the holy voices sing “Hallelu!”
Ever will Thy reign be.
As I wander through this life,
Oh Lord, be Thou near to me.

In Hungary, in Korea, in Charleston, Okinawa...the list goes on, the Lord is always near. May He use our family, here in Hungary, to His glory.

- Right now the older three girls are at a sleepover (only the second one they have ever been to). Later today I will join them and the rest of the girls for ice skating in the nearby city of Gyor (jur). The girls have never been and Grace isn't so sure about the ice skating since she might fall down. I told her she will have fun. I have yet to decide if I will strap on ice's been years!

- We are on our way to becoming official residents (not citizens) of Hungary. On Thursday the children and I travelled to Veszprem...about an hour's drive. The trip was beautiful...rolling hills, trees, little villages with smoke curling out of the roofs, surrounding the central church with its beautiful steeples. I need to take my camera on every trip I go on, though it's not very wise to be shooting pics while driving down a two-lane road. I plan to take a bunch of photos of the countryside. Once we got to Veszprem, I mentioned to our translator and friend what a beautiful drive. He didn't seem too impressed. But, we're new here and everything is fresh and beautiful to our eyes. I am so looking forward to the spring when everything will be in bloom and green.

- Jeff returned home last night from a week at Altus AFB, OK. He has to return to the US every quarter for computer simulator C-17 training. He came back quite tired after his plane was delayed 2 1/2 hours in London, but baring a smile and lots of food/medicine from Wal-Mart. We now are supplied with mac-n-cheese and kid's meds for many weeks to come. But, he doesn't plan to do that again...the bags were incredibly heavy and really, we can find all we need here in Papa.

- I hosted a homeschooling meeting at our house on Thursday. There are six homeschooling families here in Papa...a few more maybe, but I haven't met them. Such a nice group of ladies. I think our biggest goal is to get our kids together to play and to plan some neat field trips.

- Yesterday I got my first massage in a few years from a great Hungarian lady. Her English was very good...the children learn English in school here. The massage was wonderful and it cost me only $12 with! I signed up Jeff for one in March. She had a little shop on the bottom of one of the apartment complexes. It smelt of incense and was filled with the sounds of soothing music...and customers who knocked and came in the door (just a few feet from where I was laying) 3 or 4 times during the massage. But, when you have a little shop and it's only you...I guess you need to deal with interruptions. Thanks to my friend for watching the kids for me!

- I also had a new friend over to my house yesterday. So much to tell from spending a few hours with her! She is from Romania...Transylvania. We didn't talk about Dracula, though. She amazed me in that she arrived in Papa 1 1/2 years ago speaking no English. She has learned to be very fluent in our language in such a short time. Wow! She and her son came bringing flowers and Romanian candy. I had made brownies. So, over coffee and brownies we talked about many things. One was the educational systems of Romania, Hungary and America. Her son likes going to school in Hungary because he has time for extracurricular activities. In Romania, he goes to school for 7 hours and then has piles of homework until bed. Sounds like the way America is going in our school system.

- She told me about gypsies. I had assumed, since they are also referred to as "Romas," that they mainly came from Romania. That's not the case. They originally came from India and Egypt, are spread all over the world and the word actually comes from the word Rome...not Romania. She told me the same as I have heard from many...that there are some who are hard-working, home owning, responsible members of society. But many do not want to work, do not send their children to school and tend towards theft and other crimes. The whole situation makes me sad. The Lord has burdened my heart for them. I don't know what, if anything, we are to do about it...other than pray.

- She also talked about the post-Communist Europe. The younger people like the freedom of democracy and all the technology and other things that capitalism brings. Unfortunately, many of the older people, who are out of work and struggling to get by on the meager resources they have, look back with longing to the Communist system where, although they had little personal freedom, they had food and a home. There is still a long way to go in Eastern Europe, it seems, before democracy really takes hold and ushers in a better life for all.

- Jake, our dog, turned 4 on Feb. 16. The kids made him a treat cake. They took five different types of treats, spread them out on a cookie sheet and put the sheet down in front of Jake as they sang "Happy Birthday." He enjoyed it! We laugh at his favorite dog food. We tried a generic Tesco brand of food but he would have nothing to do with it. Then a friend gave us some "Darling" dog food with little hearts and other colorful pieces. It's his favorite! He will pick out the "Darling" food and leave the Tesco brand on the floor (for me to step on incidentally).

- Speaking of birthdays, last Friday night we had a birthday party for Nathan at the Villa Classica hotel in their jungle-themed room. We invited some friends and everyone had fun. The cake had a "firework" on it...huge, sparkler. A friend shielded my hair as the kids were blowing it out and I was taking pictures, lest my hair catch on fire from the flames. The Villa Classica, as always, were perfect hosts and so accommodating.

- Our friends who have four children, and ours have begun a weekly Bible club...a little like Awana. We do miss Awana and maybe we can start one here in the future, but for now, this will be a blessing.

- This next week, in homeschooling, we will be learning about Spain in preparation for our trip to Rota, Spain the following week.

Szia! (Goodbye)

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Nathan accepts Jesus and first glimpses of Budapest

Nathan driving his sisters at the science museum
- The biggest news is that tonight...Nathan accepted the Lord Jesus as his Savior!!! We had just watched the movie Letters to God and so I guess he was thinking about Heaven. Then he and Grace were talking about Heaven and he said he wanted to become a Christian so he came in and talked to Jeff about what that means, Jeff prayed a prayer with him and we all celebrated!!! What a wonderful blessing!

- We had a great time at the Palace of Miracles in Budapest on Thursday. We went with four other homeschooling families. The museum is a science museum for children. It was three floors worth of very cool exhibits. The kids had a blast! Definitely a place we can take visitors when they come to see us.

- Driving to Budapest took about 2 hours. The first part of the drive was on a 2-lane road, narrow...with lots of trucks and people passing me...not my idea of fun driving. I am not an aggressive driver so the thought of trying to pass trucks and cars on narrow, curvy roads made me a bit tense the first part. Thankfully, once we passed the city of Gyor (pronounced Jer), we went to a four-lane road...much better...all the way into Budapest.

- My first impression of Budapest was a big, old city. Some neat buildings lined the streets...lots of carvings on the outside of some. Traffic was heavy, though, and the streets a bit confusing. Thankfully I was following Pam. After the museum, though, we drove across the Danube River to get to the other side of the city and I sure did wish I wasn't driving. It was BEAUTIFUL! It looked like castles, cathedrals and other neat building lined the river. I sure can't wait to go back and see more and tour some of the places.

- After the museum we went to the local mall and I bought some scarves. Here in Hungary, and I guess in much of Europe, most women have two things in and scarves. I had the boots and now I have the scarves.

- The kids have been having a great time playing with the grandchildren of our neighbor. They brought over some little gifts the second time they played together and then, on Friday, the grandchildren gave our kids some sweet.

- On Wednesday, I had my first day of being a bit frustrated with differences between the US and Hungary. And not that one country is in any way better than the other...just different. It started with the furniture we had delivered...wardrobes for the rooms since they don't have closets, American-sized refrigerator, transformers....well, the furniture is just so big and the rooms small that it all looked crowded. Then, when I plugged in the refrigerator it caused all the power to go out in the house. Once I fixed that I discovered that the power outage caused the stove to stop working and then the light bulb in the kitchen burnt out right before dinner. Oh well...the little challenges in life. And...but this has nothing to do with Hungary, Sarah chose that same afternoon to wipe her poop all over our vacuum cleaner that I had just unpacked. It was just one of those days. :)

- I have a greater appreciation for people who must maintain a daily fingers are chapped and swollen from handling wood so much and at night, when I clean my face, it is a bit dirty from the soot. But, I do have a sense of accomplishment from maintaining the fire, plus, watching a fire is such a pleasant thing.

- Off to bed. I hope you are enjoying our journey with us!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

We've been here a month

- We've been here a month already and are settled in...over half the bags unpacked...sleeping well through the night...making friends...homeschooling and Jeff flying

- A sweet little Dachshund, named Toocheck (sp?) visited our yard two days ago. He lives, or so we thought, next door with our neighbor. The dog got through a hole in the fence to come over to our yard for much of the day and had a great time playing with Jake and the kids. When the girls went to put him back through our front gates, he jumped out of their arms and ran off. We were horrified. We live right near the main road. Jeff and I searched for well over an hour with no sign of him. So, through our wonderful interpreter we told our neighbor. He said, "No problem, he will come back." But, he didn't come back and all yesterday we felt bad. Finally, Jeff and I, armed with some Hungarian phrases that Jeff had worked out on the computer, went over to our neighbors' house last evening. We were greeted warmly by our neighbors. Turns out, the dog doesn't belong to them but lives two doors down and wanders the neighborhood. He's back home. Whew! We were so relieved. Then they invited us in and for the next 30 minutes, between our iPhone Hungarian translator and Misi and Jeff's German, we learned about them and their family. We are happy to be living next to them and so glad the dog incident turned out okay!

- Right now, the kids, minus Sarah who is taking a nap, are next door playing with our neighbor's grandchildren. I hear lots of yelling and laughing and see running and ball kicking. It's so neat how kids can have fun together, even if they don't share a common language. And our neighbor Misi (Mishi) is so nice...right now he is kicking a ball with Nathan and one of his grandsons.

- Jeff is on his second trip...this time to Oslo, Norway and some other spots. He was asking me if I could check the weather in Oslo to see if he needed his long underwear...well, it was snowy rain and below 0 degrees so he packed them.

- Jeff got to root for the Green Bay Packers as he watched the Super Bowl at the Villa Classica Hotel at midnight! He actually is a late night person so it was no problem. And, it's a bit better than watching the Superbowl over breakfast like he did while we were in Korea.

- Tomorrow our washing machine and dryer, refrigerators, transformers and a few other things get delivered from Aviano Air Base, Italy (our closest American Air Force support base). We are hoping that the washing machine and dryer fit through our laundry room door...the pile of dirty clothes we have could fill five laundry baskets!

- Living in Okinawa, Korea and now Hungary continues to grow our family's love for the people that God has made. We may have differences, but there is more that draws us together. Who would have thought, growing up during the Cold War, that we Americans would be living in a former Communist nation with our oldest daughter, adopted from a current Communist country...God works in such mysterious, amazing ways!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Our new home in Papa

- As I write this, I'm sitting in our living room which is mostly unpacked, looking at the fire in our ceramic fireplace, which does a good job of heating much of the house, noticing that it just snowed, very lightly, outside...such a feeling of contentment comes over me...thank you Lord for Your many blessings

- After 3 1/2 weeks of walking Jake every, cold morning...I can now let him out in the backyard to pee...yeah!

- Speaking of Jake, he has become Nathan's roommate at night. We have the kids separated into Rebecca and Rachel's pink room, Grace and Sarah's (for now...until Sarah and Nathan can sleep together in a bunk bed which we have to purchase) yellow room and Nathan's blue room. He didn't want to sleep by himself but seems quite content to go to sleep with Jake sleeping on the end of his bed...what could be sweeter than walking into your son's room and seeing him happily laying in bed with his faithful dog at his feet. We are SO glad we decided to bring Jake.

- We met our neighbor, Mikhail...he seems very nice. We need to learn more Hungarian so we can speak to him.

- I made our big shopping store trip, yesterday, to equip the kitchen. Despite the language barrier, I was able to purchase everything. It's interesting to observe the differences in a US grocery store compared to Hungarian.
   -- both are very nice inside
   -- both have a great fruit and vegie section...I even found avocados marked way down (about .30 a piece)
   -- bread is good and inexpensive here and they are big loaves (less than a dollar)
   -- Hungarian stores don't have a lot of packaged foods (like Mac-n-cheese) but they do have a lot of sausages and items that looked like sausage (I bought one yesterday...had no real idea what I was buying. Turns out it was some sort of spreadable pate. Jeff tried cutting it up and frying it to add to some vegie soup he made. Nope...doesn't work. We agreed it had the taste and texture of meat tooth paste and Jake will be getting bits of that over the next few days)
   -- Lots of American products (sodas, Uncle Bens rice, chips) but they tend to be more expensive. I try to buy Hungarian for the price and for the experience.
   -- Lots of soup mix packages here and a whole section of different types of Paprika seasoning. Paprika is very popular in Hungary and is one of the things Hungary is known for
   -- At the local Interspar...guess what is right by the checkout aisle? Yes, the usual candy, gum...but also...Playboy videos. Nice. We haven't seen much risque stuff around here but a little more than the US
   -- When you check out here, they don't bag your groceries. You need to bring your own bags, or you can purchase one pretty inexpensively, and bag them yourself. I was working hard yesterday after buying so much stuff. I really felt like the eyes of all the customers were on me, wondering why any family needs so much food. I wanted to explain, but couldn't, so I just smiled.

- Doors...closing doors successfully has been a problem for us in Hungary. In the Villa Classica the kids, esp. Rebecca, were always complaining that they couldn't get the bathroom door closed; our friend Kellie's gate doesn't close well which led to Jake's escape a week or so ago, and now in our house, the front door had to be fixed because you couldn't close it from the outside, the back door has to be fixed because you can't open it from the outside and a few of our doors have handles falling out. Oh well...maybe God is telling us, symbolically, not to close any doors that He wants to leave open for us in Hungary.

- Nathan's school teachers held a special meeting for all foreign parents. They had an interpreter (to make the conversation flow a little easier) and told us about how our kids were doing, any upcoming events and wanted our input. So nice. Nathan did have a little disagreement with his teacher. Here in Hungary, and we noticed the same about China, they really bundle the kids up when they go out. At his school, when they would go out to play, they wanted Nathan to wear two pairs of pants and two shirts, with his scarf, hat, mittens and jacket over top. He didn't want to wear the double layers which led to his staying inside at recess. I explained to Nathan that he needs to obey his teacher but then gave his teacher permission to let him go out in one pair of pants, one shirt and his double-layered, Gortex jacket, with hat, scarf and mittens. He says he is plenty warm.

- The kids were quite happy yesterday, once Jeff set up the Wii. They played some new games, thanks Kelly, Ray and Melanie, and enjoyed themselves very much! In fact, Nathan is lying right next to me and just asked me, "Mommy, after breakfast can I do the Wii?"

- Keeping a fire going 24 hours a day is a bit of a chore. I think it is pretty neat right now, though. It gives me such an appreciation for our ancestors who had to do this and the many people who still rely on a daily fire to meet their needs. The girls have been great about bringing in the wood. We probably burn about 20 logs a day. But, it will cut our heating bill in half and it's so cheerful!

- We are now living in what some have referred to as a "Gypsy Neighborhood." I think a gypsy might live caddy-corner from us and we often see them out walking in their colorful, flowing skirts. I want to learn what I can about this people group as I pray for God's blessing to flow down upon them.

- I think the house will look beautiful once we get everything unpacked and moved in. We are so excited about welcoming any of our friends to stay with us and explore Hungary and Europe!