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

March was the month that Spring arrived. The weather has been full of sunshine and the temperatures rising. Tabby and I often find ourselves choosing to continue to walk from place to place instead of getting our bikes out as it has been such nice weather to enjoy the scenery around us. It has also been interesting hearing about the weather of flood and snow in the Midwest as we spend our time in Hungary, as part of me feels like I should be experiencing it along with all my fellow Minnesotans. Peace and safety be with you!

Intentionally Living the Gospel

Throughout my faith journey, I have often found myself asking why God has forsaken us. There is so much pain and suffering in the world, yet God seems to not be present. The Roma College in Nyíregyháza held a memorial service for the Roma families that were impacted by violent acts of hate and discrimination that occurred in Hungary almost a decade ago. As I sat there watching the video presentation and hearing some of the students’ experiences and stories, I could feel a sense of hopelessness in the room. There seemed to be no answer to fixing what has occurred and what continues today with antigypsyism throughout Europe. One of the few things I have found that have encouraged my thinking in situations where God does not seem present is that we humans create these systems of oppression for ourselves. These systems are made and molded by human hands, fueled by selfishness and pride. Selfishness in not deeming yourself as your “brother’s keeper” (Genesis 4:9) and not loving your neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40) but only yourself and what you consider your kind. Pride in how you measure your worth over that of others when you should be humble and value others over your own feats and accomplishments (Philippians 2:3-4). Because we have designed and encouraged systems of selfishness and pride, we are willing to do great harm and have misguided beliefs of those who are “different” than us. This unfortunately seems to be a foundation of discrimination and hate. Therefore, instead of asking why God has forsaken us, I should really ask why do we do this to each other? Why do we forsake ourselves in a profound and bountiful universe that God created? As I continue to intentionally live the gospel, I continue to try to recognize these different systems and challenge myself to listen to the words of God and try my best to love my neighbor, be my brother’s keeper and be humble. Maybe then, can we all find an answer to fixing that which continues to do harm to all of us.

Surrendering to Chaos

Surrendering to chaos has also meant surrendering to silence. At least in my generation, Millennials if you will, there is this sense of wanting to comfort and console someone who has experienced unfortunate happenings in their life. Tabby and I held an evening presentation on what it is like to be an Interracial couple in America with the Roma College students in Nyíregyháza. During this presentation, we discussed difficult topics of race and discrimination alongside cultural struggles and triumphs Tabby and I have had between each other. Towards the end of the evening, we discussed more about discrimination and I shared some of my stories about how I was treated as I grew up within a majority white community and school system. As we conversed, I could see a deep sadness and pain on the faces of Roma college students. A face that told me that they knew what I was talking about or that they have experienced similar acts of discrimination. It was tough at first for me to not say anything to console them or say something encouraging and empowering, but something told me to surrender to that silence. Surrendering to chaos meant surrendering to silence. Let it be. At the end of the night, it was great to share a part of my life experience with the students as they have taught and shared many things with me during this year of accompaniment.

 Letting Grace Win

During this experience, grace from others have often occurred when there has been miscommunication. Toward the end of March, our country coordinators planned to visit our site in Nyíregyháza as an end of the year site visit. Therefore, I mentioned it to my mentor at the school I go to. She informed me that we would have some plan as to when they come so that both the teachers and students would be prepared. I also mentioned that I could bring my guitar and teach some songs as most of the students enjoy learning and singing songs in English. The day before my country coordinator came, my mentor sent me a list of classes I would be attending with many of them being of different topics. Assuming that I would not have to learn a different song for each different topic, I decided not to bring my guitar as I thought we would just sit in and help the teacher teach those topics to the students. Of course, the day of, I arrive at school and one of the teachers I was going to accompany asked me if I got my guitar and a song ready! I was taken aback and apologized that I did not. The teacher looked at me with a smile and said not to worry. My country coordinator and I attended that teacher’s class and began teaching the “Ant’s Go Marching” song to the class. Fortunately, it was a 2nd grade class so they just joined along not worrying too much that I was unprepared. Not only did I receive grace from the teacher but also from the 8-year-old students. I am used to living in a world full of high expectation and being prepared, but this experience highlighted that those around you can also choose to give you grace and join along in accompanying your experience, mistakes and all.

Become Servant To, Not Service For

Sundays have become my favorite part of the week. Tabby and I can sleep in until 8AM and take a 20-minute walk to church which begins around 10:15AM. After church, the Vadnays pick us up and invite us to the usual Sunday lunch with them and their family, the Laborczis. We usually stay until about 3PM or 4PM and lately, we have been going on excursions with the Vadnays such as to a local lake destination called Sóstó or a town that was a center point in one of Hungary’s many revolutions called Vaja. After spending time with the Vadnays, Tabby and I attend choir practice around 5:30PM with the Big Lutheran Church choir. We often get a free ride to and from with Gabor and Judith, welcoming choir members who have helped YAGM in the past. Our evenings usually end by 7PM or 8PM where Tabby and I get some time together or we sometimes choose to relax individually. As you may see, our Sundays can be super busy! However, I would not have it any other way. Part of being servant to a community is just being there and spending time with others. My Sundays have really given me a better perspective of what it means to accompany and be servant to a community.

The Roma College held a memorial service for the Roma families and individuals that were impacted by violent acts of hate and discrimination that occurred about a decade ago in Hungary. It was a humbling experience playing music alongside these wonderful students.

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