April arrived with colorful tulips and roses planted throughout Nyíregyháza. Though it is Spring, there has not been much rain until the later half of the month. The abnormal heat and sun sparked many concerns about fruits and vegetation in family gardens as well as conversation about climate change and how it has been noticeably drier with every passing year. This month was a great month of personal growth and reflection and I hope that you have been growing as well.
Intentionally Living the Gospel
Tabby and I have been having a great and humbling experience sharing our gift of music with our community here in Hungary. For Easter Worship, the Big Lutheran Church Choir had an evening concert and our choir director asked if Tabby and I could sing an American hymn during the concert. We both agreed and performed a guitar, violin and vocal rendition of “Now All the Vaults of Heaven Resounds”. The acoustics of the Nagy Templom or “Big Church”, which is what we call the Lutheran church in Nyíregyháza, made my violin playing sound better than it is so that was a great plus! What I will never forget after the concert was walking beside Tabby as we made our way out of the church. There to greet us were a host of people that we have formed cherished relationships with. The sun was setting so the sky was a colorful masterpiece that canvased our beloved friends as they congratulated us on a great performance. A passage that I think of when I think back to this moment is 2 Corinthians 9:8 which states: And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. My time here has really showed me how blessed I am and how abundant love is. Walking out with my beautiful wife to these people was a moment that really showed me that that was all I needed and the work we have been doing here has been good work indeed.
Surrendering to Chaos
Surrendering to chaos does not mean that you need to participate in that chaos. I recently got the chance to play violin in a Hungarian folk band. I am grateful for my musical abilities as it has helped me understand and play along with the band who are mostly composed of old, white Hungarian men. They have been a joy to play with and it has been great playing music with these great musicians. However, as I talk and play with them, I hear little jabs at the Roma community. The band played at a school in a nearby Roma village, so most of the children were Roma students. They expressed concerns that the children would misbehave because they are Roma and do not know better. What actually happened was the opposite of what they expected, with the children sitting respectfully during the one-hour concert and applauding and listening intently. Afterwards, they mentioned that they were surprised and thankful that the students did not misbehave but ended the discussion saying you never know with Roma people. It has been an interesting experience living and learning about antigypsyism in Hungary. The conflicting tension between one’s personal history shaped by the systems you grew up with and what you actually experience causes these pockets of disorder. Though I disagree with the mentality that the musicians had when playing at the school, there is no right way to go about talking to someone about their deep-seated beliefs and opinions, whether it is about a marginalized community or a musical composition of a song. I have learned that surrendering to chaos also meant not knowing how to go about confronting someone about their beliefs given your relationship and that is OK.
Letting Grace Win
Now that there are about two months left in our journey here in Hungary, Tabby and I have been thinking and discerning about what waits for us in the States. So far, we had a couple options of where we would start such as Minnesota or South Dakota. With those options, I recently applied to grad school feeling drawn towards Student Counseling at Winona State University. As the application process continued, I was to participate in an in-person interview via Skype that would last around 8 hours during the day. Luckily the time difference was not terrible, and I took the day off. But since I had to Skype in during the interview, that meant that someone at the University would have to carry me around for those 8 hours! A current graduate student of the program was willing to carry me around during the interview process and made sure I was able to hear and participate remotely. It felt a little awkward at first as I was being carried around on a laptop but as the interview progressed, everything became more comfortable. Overall, I dislike being a burden to anyone but that graduate student gave me grace and kindness, making sure that I was taken care of and able during the interview. Letting grace win meant allowing someone to help you though it may feel awkward at first. I am grateful for her commitment and support.
Become Servant To, Not Service For
An indicator that I am understanding what it means to be servant to instead of service for is whenever 6-year old György invites us to his house after lunch at his grandparents. Tabby and I usually go to the Vadnay’s for lunch after church on Sundays where we enjoy delicious home-cooked Hungarian food with them and their grandchildren, the Laborczi’s. At the beginning of the year, György was more shy and hesitant around us, but as we have been around him more throughout the year, we have become his playmates and friends. He even gets the chance to use English by inviting us to his house saying “Come With Us” in English. His mother and grandmother say that he is the boss, so of course, we must! I never would have imagined that I would learn so much about relationships and myself through a 6-year old Hungarian child. Becoming servant to for me meant that no matter who you think you are here to serve or accompany, you let them choose you even if it is a 6-year old Hungarian child with the energy, curiosities and joys of being a kid.