October’s Four Cardinal Guidelines – Seeking Direction on My Faith Journey

It has been almost two months since Tabby and I have arrived in Hungary, living in Nyiregyháza, Hungary’s eighth largest city located in the Northwest corner of the country. The autumn has come, and the leaves are falling, covering the ground with a red, orange and yellow spectacle. The weather has been colder with some light breezes but nothing that a light jacket, warm hat and hot beverage couldn’t fix. Hope the weather is fine where you are!

Intentionally Living the Gospel

Worthiness is a common theme in the gospel. There are many verses throughout the bible that mention worthiness and Christ spent a lot of his time with sinners and tax-collectors, people who most thought were not worthy of his love and grace at the time. Tabby goes to Élim on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which is a home for women who have severe mental and some physical disabilities. Most of these women have no other family and Élim is their only home. I have gone over to play violin and be with the girls a couple times in the past month and every time, it humbles me and reminds me of God’s love and grace for all of us. Sometimes I ask if I am worthy of their graceful presence as they smile and shout in excitement when I enter the room and see them as they accept me for just being there with them to keep them company. Receiving acknowledgement that you are worthy enough from those you are with is a humbling experience. Remembering that God chose you whether you choose God or not, reminds me of God’s love and grace for all of us and a reminder that we should try our best to accept our self-worth and the worth of others like God does.

Surrendering to Chaos

It is safe to say that Tabby and I have constructed some sort of schedule of things to do and people to be with throughout our days. We work very closely with the Lutheran Church in Nyiregyháza, specifically Kertváros (Garden City) so most of the people we work with and things we do are related to the church. However, to say that it was smooth in developing this schedule would be far from the truth and chaotic at many times. As strangers in this new land and new language, there were times where we would show up to places expecting someone to greet us but turning out that nobody was ready or had anything prepared for us. Miscommunication has also been prevalent, but we are getting better as our vocabulary and social understandings of Hungary are improving. However, whatever the scenario, we managed. We survived. And without having to experience that, we would not have smoothed out the schedule we have today. Surrendering to chaos this month meant that despite the uncertainty of establishing a routine or schedule, letting it be. There is no need to force structure but trust that this chaos is nothing but a passing storm and that there will be a calmness and clarity after it has passed.

Letting Grace Win

It has been very difficult for me to accept the grace of others, but I am doing my best to let it win. One of the most grace-winning things that happen to me is when the people I am with give me an extra loaf of bread or an additional meal to take home. At the Lutheran Hungarian-English primary school that I go to on Tuesdays and Thursdays, the staff give me a morning snack (elevensies) on top of a regular lunch of soup and a main dish. When I go to the cafeteria for my regular lunch, the lunch ladies also give me a sack lunch so in total, I get three meals. There were times that I would try to tell them that I am fine with just eating the regular lunch, but the staff and teachers insist. I have so much gratitude and appreciation for what they give and their kindness. At the end of the day, recognizing gratitude and appreciation could be a way I can let grace win more often.

Become Servant To, Not Service For

As an Asian-American, I have faced discrimination and prejudice. It is an identity that I cannot escape or hide and an identity I still struggle with in U.S. society and the world. Therefore, when learning that I would accompany Roma college students during this year of service, I was excited and hopeful. I was interested to listen and see their experience in Hungary and see how it related to mine. Tabby and I work really close with one of the Roma college’s workers who is also Roma. He does a lot of recruitment and outreach with young Roma students in making sure they know their options in going to college and achieving success and justice for their futures. However, when telling my experiences as a minority in the U.S., he will often let me know how it is different in Hungary and how the Roma experience is different than that of other minorities in the U.S. It is a grounding experience and conversation when he reminds me about his and the Roma experience and it reminds me that I am here to be servant to them. I am here to listen and empower the Roma college students and when my time here is over, then I can reflect and re-evaluate my experience fully, as we all also have unique struggles and injustices that we face that does not always compare one to one with others.

Playing Ashokan Farewell to the Élim girls to calm them down after playing some fun songs with Tabby on the guitar!

2 thoughts on “October’s Four Cardinal Guidelines – Seeking Direction on My Faith Journey

  1. Anne Morawski

    Great post! Can I share it somehow on Facebook and on the ELCH English webpage? http://www.lutheran.hu then click on the British flag. I am in the USA right now recovering from a rather dramatic rotator cuff surgery. I’ll be back in Budapest and Dabas after November 30th. I hope to have a chance to visit Nyiregyhaza in the spring. Blessings on your work! Anne Morawski ELCA Global Mission Associate

    Sent from Mail for Windows 10

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  2. Your wrestle with accepting grace is not yours alone. It is not always easy, and I wrestle with it too, Tony. I’ve never read about that struggle in such an eloquent way, so thank you, for putting words to what I could not. Also, your musical gifts still continue to floor me, and I am so thankful to get to see it in action! –Tina

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