I have officially been in Budapest for two weeks now, and it has been such an adventure. I’ve been chronicling some of my adventures on Facebook (if you haven’t been following along add me on Facebook) but I’ll give you a recap.
GEG to BUD:
For once I had actually arrived at the airport the recommended 2 hours early (mostly because I was checking 3 bags and didn’t know how long the process might take) and everything went through without a hitch, so I got to hang out in the airport and eat stinky cheese and Triscuits while waiting for my flight. The first flight of my journey took off from GEG (Spokane International Airport) at about 3 pm on January 29th, 2018. From Spokane I flew to SEA (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport) and then to FRA (Frankfurt Airport in Germany). I arrived in Frankfurt around 1 pm on January 30th (I had lost 9 hours along the way due to the time change) and everything so far had gone off without a hitch, but because Frankfurt just loves me so much I got detained at customs for an hour and a half while they sorted out my paperwork/entry. Eventually after a very stressful 2 hours I made it on my final flight and at about 6:30 pm local time arrived at BUD (Budapest Ferenc Liszt International Airport in Hungary).
My First Week:
My first week in Budapest was spent mostly trying to figure out my way around the city. Budapest has a great public transit system, but it can be tricky to navigate when you don’t know your way around and don’t speak Hungarian. I also spent a lot of time learning (and forgetting) people’s names and trying to get a feel for the culture of Budapest and for Riverside Church. I spent time shopping for and settling in to my new apartment and getting to know my new roommate. Mixed in were some slightly overwhelming trips to the market (trips to Ikea were easy, I can never understand things in there anyway), lots of exploring, and some exciting adventures (like ice skating on the City Park Rink).
My Second Week:
With a full week under my belt I set off into the second week expecting to, well, continue to feel a little overwhelmed but also to feel a little more comfortable in my new city. I had the privilege of meeting many new friends in the past week some of whom have already departed the city (they were just in town visiting) and others who I look forward to getting to know better in the future. Mixed in were some team meetings, my second Sunday morning at RCB, and some vision casting for the next few weeks and months. I got play tourist for a bit when we (my roommate, her friend, and I) went to the Hungarian National Museum on Saturday and spent a large chunk of the day learning about the history and art of Hungary and then I got a big reminder of the value of patience and flexibility as we were without hot water and heat (our radiators run on water from the hot water tank) for a day and a half (but worry not its nice and warm in our apartment again).
When I look back over the last two weeks, I think what I will remember the most is all of the people I have met and how welcome they’ve made me feel. The first week I was here, before I had really gotten settled or even attended my first church service, I was invited to celebrate the birthday of one of the young ladies in the church (note: we need a better title for someone who is over the age of 19 but under the age of 30 because calling a twenty-something a lady feels weird, suggestions gladly accepted). In my jet lagged stupor (it was the one day that I woke up at 3 am and never really got back to sleep) it was awkward but fun and a blessing to me because I instantly felt like I was a part of the group. I have had the privilege of meeting many people from many different backgrounds since then–from Riverside Church to my roommate’s Bible study to the missionary community here–and it has truly been a blessing and has helped with this transition as I am leaving one community back in my hometown and joining a new one here in Budapest.
My Day Today
Now I want to switch directions a little bit and tell you about my day today because it was a good but kind of weird day that I think sums up my experiences over the past two weeks pretty well. This morning I got up and headed across town to the church. I was in a bit of a hurry so I took the shortest (time-wise) route to get there which meant the route with the most walking. I walked down to Boráros tér (a 12 minute walk) and caught the 212 bus which goes right by the church. Thirty minutes later (not 20 like Google Maps always tells me) I arrived at the church where ministry today meant trying to figure out how to use a Mac (I don’t speak Apple) to streamline some paperwork for the church. After we were done at the church I headed back home but took a different way (the 17 tram to the 6 tram) because I wanted to stop by Corvin Plaza (the mall near my apartment) to do some shopping and grocery shopping (there’s a grocery store in the basement of the mall. Of course I had forgotten my grocery bags and my debit card at my apartment, so I had to deal with cash and try to fit all of my groceries into the one bag I was willing to pay for (there are no free bags here and I hate paying ~$0.50 for a plastic bag). By this point it was very clear that I was a foreigner and that I was more than a little out of my element. I then had to walk home (about 5 blocks) in the rain/snow with my heavy bag of groceries. I was tired, cold, and frustrated that I couldn’t just get my groceries and stay under the radar. When I finally got home and got my groceries unloaded (and some food in my belly) I realized how silly it was that I had been so frustrated and embarrassed about fumbling through buying my groceries. I was reminded that it’s okay to be out of my element, I’ve literally only been here two weeks, and to look like a tourist because, well, no matter how long I am here I will always be a foreigner. There are going to be days where I fumble through the day just trying to get by and others where I feel at home and like I know my way around, and the truth is that both are important. Tonight I got to go back to the church for Bible study where there were others who, just like me, are going to have good days and bad, but who, just like me, can trust that we are never alone in those days.
My day today was a good reminder that serving in ministry, and particularly in missions, can be frustrating and awkward and confusing but that it is also fun and rewarding and so important.
Ministry is many things: it is days of dirty knees and dish rags while cleaning the church’s bulding, it is days of showing up to team meetings and listening and learning before speaking, it is days of paperwork and power points, and occasionally days of exciting events to tell stories of for years to come. Yet through it all, ministry is about just one thing: it’s about sharing the Good News; the hope that we have in a God who lived as a man, died a criminial’s death, and was raised to life again so that we could be reconciled to Him; with a world who needs hope and so all that we do, we do with the aim of sharing this with all of those that we come in contact with.