February held many days of reflection and joy. Tabby and I had time to think about what we would do when we got back to the states such as potentially working at a retreat center to moving to Rochester, MN to summer travel plans after Hungary. We also got the chance to attend a Roma College Soccer Tournament and traveled to Serbia with our YAGM cohort to spend a week of retreat focused on Lent. To cap the month off, I also turned 27 years old.
Intentionally Living the Gospel
I have been thinking about the older brother in Luke’s Parable of the Prodigal Son lately (Luke 15:11–32). Specifically, I have been reflecting on how the older son’s idea of what was just and righteous affected his love towards his father and younger brother. His ideas of justice and righteousness, of how he spent his life loyal to his father, working for him and obeying him, were broken in front of him when he discovered that his father killed a calf and held a merry celebration for the younger brother who returned from his path of mistakes. I think often how we are more like the eldest brother than the younger or the father. In today’s political and social world, it is easy to point at others and judge. It is easy to say on to those who have walked down a different path and tell them that they are undeserving because they did not walk down the right path, your path. It is easier to say that you deserve more than those who followed a path of mistakes because you did things right and they did not. I believe that there are many people and parties of ill will and intention that use this perception of the eldest brother to their advantage, spreading the false perception of being worthier than others, which break down bridges between people, even among siblings and parents. This is where I have found that Christ comes to light in reminding us that we are all worthy, no matter the path and mistakes we have made. Though I do not have an answer for how to live your life, I will continue to check my “eldest son perceptions” in my relationships with my siblings, parents, wife, family and friends, and everyone else I may encounter along the way, remembering to not let those ideas of self-righteousness get in the way of what really matters in life.
Surrendering to Chaos
For the past couple months, I have had much time to reflect on the career I want to pursue when I get back to the States. I know I want to do something related to empowering youth and building community and have felt that a career in education would help fulfill some of those passions. After more contemplation, I decided that I want to try to become a Student Counselor instead of science teacher, which was what I initially wanted to become. Tabby and I were looking at programs in Rochester, MN as the Mayo Clinic is located there which will provide opportunities for both Tabby, as a nurse, and me with the available graduate school options in the area. It did not really occur to me that some applications may have needed hardcopies sent to them via mail. Fortunately, though it came down to the wire, I was able to get in contact with various staff and reached out to various networks in making sure I was able to get the right forms to the right people for the various programs. Whether applying to a new job or a school program, it will be chaotic. Especially when there may be other things going on in your life such as living in another country. However, part of the beauty in surrendering to chaos is allowing yourself to trust the process in that there are people out there who are willing to give you a helping hand despite the chaos.
Letting Grace Win
Tabby and I have close enough birthdays where we can celebrate them together (life moves fast between those two weeks of our birthdays for some reason 😉). Our mentor, Pr Molnar, asked us if we wanted to get dinner with her a week after my birthday as it appeared that she wanted to discuss how the year was going now that it has been a little over the half year mark. Tabby and I have had a lot of time on our hands, so we told her we were available at any moment. When Pr Molnar had time to take us to dinner, she exposed the real reason of why she wanted to take us out which was to celebrate our birthdays! It was a pleasant surprise to which she offered. It took a lot more restraint than I initially imagined of wanting to return the favor such as offering to pay for part of the meal or offering to take her out for dinner for her birthday. Overall, these pleasant offerings from others are truly joyful gifts in which accepting them is all you need to do. Birthdays are essentially just that. A thanks that you were born on this Earth, to live and be with others, and all you need to do is accept the gift and joy of life given to you.
Become Servant To, Not Service For
Part of accompaniment is just being there. Tabby, Sydney (a wonderful YAGM cohort who is serving in Pilis, Hungary), and I attended a Roma Soccer Tournament with our Roma College in Debrecen, a thirty-minute train ride from Nyíregyháza. Ten other Roma College programs from around Hungary also attended and it was a long day depending on how well your team did. We were there the whole day and into the evening as our team played masterfully and got third place overall! The day was a great day of learning what it meant to be servant, not service for. The three of us just spent the day cheering and being with the college students. Our only responsibility was to be present among them and involved no work in trying to organize things or get people together. It was great!