We are gaining a new appreciation for many things in life. I already love the simple, the casual, the spontaneous. And if anyone out there has not figured it out, I love people.
There is no exception in this country.
Most of the conversations that I engage in here are a mixture of broken English and rapid fire Hungarian. We get the general idea of some of the conversations. Many times we don't. But I'm learning to listen...to enjoy what I can't understand and to truly appreciate what I can!
Everyday the other FJK students' English improves. Those that couldn't say anything before are trying out basic conversational phrases. Those who spoke a few words here and there are now engaging in deep conversations. It's amazing. What's also amazing is that this language that has sounded like one continuous string of noise for the past week and a half is now sounding like words. We are even venturing on saying basic phrases ourselves.
Still, we have some challenges in communicating, but we are embracing them.
Sabbath morning. I'm sitting by my new BFF (yes, I have many!). Chella is my co-speaker and just a beautiful, beautiful girl. Her English has improved a hundred percent since I've been here, and she's doing a lot of casual translating for me. It's still a challenge to translate stuff like sabbath school. You have to understand: our church here has a ministry for the blind- absolutely remarkable, but anyway...a blind girl was brought in and set by Chella. She lifted Chella's hand and examined it. All of the sudden, she brightened up and grabbed Chella. She absolutely knew who she was just by feeling her hand! Che-Che turned to me and explained that this girl spoke very good English and that she could interpret for me. She did. Amazing. Translation was incredible. She is one of the most intelligent people that I have ever ever met. Not only did she have great linguistic skills, she already knew the historical examples that were up on the screen. She knew the scientific terms for the the pictures that she couldn't see.
After the services, we had casual conversations about education, extra, but I soon realized this was no casual girl. She has education in political science, journalism, English, history and maybe psychology or sociology. It sounds like she's going on to get a doctrite in a specialized area of communication. Alot of it went over my head! More than her educational achievements, this girl loves and is loved by soo many people. Friendships don't take long to build and they are strong with this girl. I realized as she was translating everything for me that I'm more handicapped than she is. Nothing inhibits her.
This same girl brought her twin sister and her mother hiking with us today. Spent a lot of time with her- "leading" her. But she doesn't really need "leading". She is strong, athletic, and has won metals and awards in marathons. She climbed a tree in front of all our astonished eyes. She has very strong senses. She knows when there is a tree in the way. She knows when I am standing by her. She knows the difference between my hand and everybody elses. She even explained how she can sense the difference between different colors. "Red is very warm. Blue is cold. Yellow and... maybe green are in between." She told us why she and her twin are blind. Born three months early, they spent the beginnings of their lives in an incubator. Other than being extremely premature, they were fine. But the oxegen levels in the incubator were not kept where they were supposed to be - 99%. It was kept at 99.5%. This is what completely changed their futures. They live in darkness but not hopelessness. Andrea only emphasised how grateful she is to be able to have her mental functions undisrupted. Apparently most kids who go through this end up with severe delays. She says, "I don't know what I'd do without my brain."
She told me her story of finding God. Very touching. She was soo excited to learn that I keep a journal of prayers or as she says, "letters to God". She thought she was the only "weird" one. But she shared how it was so encouraging for her for to look back at these entries. She found truth by "reading" the Bible for herself. She realized that the Catholic church was missing truth, and at fifteen years old she quit going to church and worshiped God according to how she found Him in the Bible. These were lonely days for her. She said it was very, very lonely. The local church here, though, reached out to her through their ministry for the blind. Today she is a Seventh-day Adventist. She stands alone. Her family was very upset when they found out that she wanted to be baptized, but she stuck with her commitment.When she asked me about my family and learned that they were Adventist, she was like, "Do you pray together before meals? Do you do activities (think she meant-family worship) together?" Yes, we do. But how can I explain how for so long I took these things for granted? How I, despite all the blessings of growing up in a Christian home, was a rebellious little girl? All I could say was "Yes, we do...but I still had to find Jesus for myself".
Standing alone is what so many of the young people here do.
Their stories are unfolding as they get more confident in their English. There are very few who have a mom and dad who both love Jesus. There are very few that get to go to church with their whole family. But there are many who live in divided families, broken homes. Many who are the only Christians in their families. There are many who stand absolutely ALONE with only God at their side.
I can't even blog the stories.
But know this. If you are one of my friends back home, if you have a family who has loved you, guided you, prayed for you, brought you to church, YOU are blessed beyond measure. Do not, for a moment more take any of it for granted. You have no excuses. Do you love God? Are you willing to stand for Him in the face of rejection or loss? Face it. There are people here who have been given much less yet their faith is beautiful.
One of the students had worship for us the other morning. He step by step shared from a chapter in Isaiah the Love of God. It was awesome. After, he explained how this was what inspired him to share Christ. He said that since he has found the love of God he can't hold it in, and that he must share it with everyone. The words are evident in the way he works for souls. Very blessed to have him and a couple siblings at my site! Praying especially right now for his older brother - here and such a blessing, but has not yet made a commitment for God, only here for about a week more, than heads back to his contracting job. This time is short. Praying for a miracle.
Actually, I find myself driven to my knees more than ever before. There are so many people making eternal decisions right now. I plead that they would be reached. We have a good attendance at our sites so far. Wish I had time to tell you more of the stories, more of the experiences, the challenges, and the victories we have already seen, but I'm really busy just living them. I'm thankful for a small room, though, all to Christina and me. We are blessed to be together...yes, God is working in our lives too. But more than just our late night chats, I'm thankful to have a quiet place to pour out my petitions to God. Ms. Leasa promised us that we would feel an urgency to pray like never before, and it is so true.
If you have read through this blog post, you, perhaps, have too much time on your hands. (Joking.! I'm sure my mom will read this and no, she has no spare time with all the kiddos:) But please, you've had, maybe, a glimpse of the work here. You know there are people here who are deciding whether they will follow God or not. Please take a moment and pray for these souls. You shall meet them very soon.