Last week I began sharing my journey a year ago through Europe with a mission team. Read about it here.
We met with other missionaries in Vienna this morning. They gave their testimonies. We were challenged from Acts 17 about our focus in life. In Acts 17 Paul has been kicked out of several towns and is alone in Athens. When he is alone and depressed his default was to care about peoples’ souls. We must never forget the souls around us, and Christ must be the center of our lives.
After that we went into the center of Vienna to do some sightseeing. Our guide walked us through several historical sites in the city. After a picnic lunch in front of a castle-became-museum we had a few options: look through the aforementioned museums, tour the Vienna Opera House, or go buy CDs. Needless to say, I toured the Opera House with Michael (a fellow team member). It is a beautiful building. Much of it was destroyed in a bombing toward the end of WWII, but they rebuilt it around its surviving components. We also looked through the opera house museum and I got to tell Michael about operas and singers.
We went back to the church for dinner and fellowship with the youth group. We had fun playing games, and then had our Wednesday night service. A man from the church gave his testimony of salvation. He had grown up a Muslim, but was told about the true God – a God of love and mercy and not of judgment, not a God who must be appeased.
God’s plans are different than our own; and they are better than ours. We just have trouble believing that.
Hungary. We are in Pecs (pronounced “paych”) at the Potters’ church. Soon after arriving we went into the town to sing at bus stops and invite people to our concert tomorrow. We walked by a beautiful Jewish synagogue. Before WWII there were thousands of Jews in Pecs. Now there are less than 100. The town square is beautiful with old building and statues, but soon after we got there it began to downpour.
Back at the church we ate the most delicious rice meal and then our hosts came to get us. Esther and I stayed with a single lady named Eva. She is working on her doctoral dissertation in chemistry and teaching chemistry on the university level in German. She quickly set about making us feel at home in her apartment. She made us this very yummy berry tea and asked if we wanted internet. Praise God for internet! We don’t get it often.
Today was our day to go into the city and be tourists. The missionary pastor brought us back to the town square from yesterday and told us cool stuff about it. Then we were set loose to do some shopping. Several of us girls bought scarves and postcards and such. Thankfully we were able to use Euros. None of us had Hungarian currency. The currency is very inflated here. 200 Hungarian Forints are worth about 7 Euros. They sold the most beautiful porcelain, though. I wish I could have bought some to take home with me.
The countryside is so beautiful here. As a child I thought of “Eastern” Europe as a dark and dreary place where no one smiled or laughed. It was perpetually cold and people scurried from building to building in order not to be seen by the police. Nothing could be further from the truth. The people her have been free for many years. They walk around living life just like we do in America. And the scenery is just beautiful. I keep wondering how these people could have left their homelands for a place they had never seen before.
There are poppies growing everywhere in Europe. I feel that America has just as much natural beauty as Europe, but in Europe it is crammed together a lot more – gem upon gem. And there is so much variety here!
Tonight our service went well. Our Hungarian was a little sketchy, but I think people understood the songs anyway. We had about 10 visitors. When we got back to Eva’s house she had made us broccoli soup. She also taught us the Hungarian word for ‘moose’ – ‘Saruwash!’
June 1 – Saturday
Happy June! We had a very long drive. We had to deal with a border crossing into Romania and a time change, and between them all we were late to our meeting. We finally got there about half an hour late. Our meeting was in a gazebo in a park, so I didn’t feel so bad about being late. Afterwards we went to the church and were appointed to our houses. It’s so funny! All the host families here seem determined to marry us all off! If it wasn’t funny it might almost be a little scary. Abby and I went with the sweetest family. The dad was away for a few months working in another country, so we didn’t see him, but the mom was named Eva, and the daughters were Adelina and Andrea. They filled the table with food even though we told them we were only a little hungry, and then they taught us several Romanian words:
Pahar – cup
Prejitor – dessert
Roshu – red
Rose – pink
Mauve – purple
Marro – brown
Negro – black
Alb – white
Albastro – blue
Galban – yellow
Eu ami par krets – I have curly hair
They had rocks sitting around their living room. I initially assumed it was quartz, but they told us it was salt! Apparently there is a salt cave nearby. They gave us some of their salt rocks. Praise the Lord for providing a way to remember Romania as we will not have a chance to go shopping.
Sunday Morning with the Romanian church. Micah gave his testimony, how he originally was from Romania, but his mom gave him up for adoption because she did not have the means to support him. He was adopted by an American family when he was four years old. Now he has come back to Romania, even if only for a short time. It was very moving and many people cried. The pastor invited the young people to come to the front and pray for Micah and also a girl who was going to America soon. The way it all happened and the fact that it was all in Romanian, it almost seemed like they were betrothing him to her!
In the afternoon Adelina took us walking in the park. She got us ice cream. All over Europe we’ve seen people eating ice cream, many more than in the States. Now I understand why. This was supremely wonderful. I got macadamia and kiwi. Yum!
After the park we kept walking till we came to a historical village. It was exquisite! The buildings had been restored or rebuilt in a log cabin style with thatched roof. We were able to go inside many of buildings, even to touch things! This would never be possible in America, and yet we see it all over here. The chapel was beautiful. I wish I had known were going there so I could have brought my camera.
In the evening the team was at another Romanian church across town. We ate dinner there and then headed back to our host families. Adelina shared pictures of her childhood and family with us. Each place we go it gets harder to say goodbye.
Goodbye Romania, Hello Slovakia. We had another long drive, and arrived around 4. Our sponsors are staying with missionaries while the rest of us are in a hostel across the street. As much as I enjoy being in host homes, it is nice to be in a hostel and not worry about finding conversation topics and keeping your suitcase in some sense of array.
The further East we go the more beautiful the country gets. Quite the opposite from what I expected. Picture rolling meadows, mountains in the distance, enough sunshine to make it cheerful, with enough of cloud cover to give it a beautiful softness. We passed the most picturesque castle you could wish for. And, of course, beautiful bright red poppies to break up the sea of long green grass.
Singing in Slovakian is…challenging to say the least. These poor people sat through a service of us butchering their language and then encored us. There were a lot more people there than were expected. Even a few gypsies!