Having a solid support system is vital in mission work: the rate of burnout is high, the emotional toll can be overwhelming, and it’s easy to feel alienated when living in another culture. Thankfully, my time here in Hungary so far has been filled with a network of immensely supportive people.
In one of my earlier blog posts, I told you about the sense of partnership that exists in my job here at the Reformed Church in Hungary, and that continues to ring true. My boss is just as invested in my time here as I am in the work that I’m doing, and that feels so comforting to know. Two weeks ago I was invited to go on a work trip with my boss, his wife, his son, and my coworker Dia to Prague; the five of us hopped in an eight-seater van and made the six-hour-with-pit-stops road trip to the Czech Republic. We all stayed in a three bedroom Airbnb apartment near the heart of the city and spent our days attending church services and enjoying meals with church leaders from around the region. At night we explored the city, ate street food, and then would return to the apartment where we then lounged around eating cheese, discussing our work and the still-quite-new Central European context in which I found myself. We laughed, we bonded, and we ate a lot of dessert — I was part of a Hungarian family road trip without even realizing it.
About a week after my return to Budapest, St. Columba’s Scottish Church (which I attend regularly) was hosting a ceilidh, or Scottish social dance, in celebration of St. Andrew’s Day. I was a little tired when I arrived after a day spent wandering around the city and enjoying the lovely weather, but as soon as I neared the crowd of people waiting to enter the dance hall all that changed. I was immediately greeted by smiling faces, both familiar and foreign, eager to envelop me in their joy for the dance. I spent the evening doubled over laughing with my church friends as we all attempted (sometimes really well, and sometimes quite hilariously) to dance a plethora of traditional Scottish folk dances. Drinks were poured, the conversations flowed, and the dance continued on for hours as the live band played. I didn’t even know most of the people present, but those who recognized me came over to say hello and those who didn’t know me came over and introduced themselves just the same.
A few days after my intro to Scottish dancing, I caught something and was sick in bed for a few days, feeling dreadful and just wanting to be back at work. Through it all I had Whatsapp messages, Facebook chats, emails, and texts from all kinds of people checking in to see how I was doing and offering to bring me supplies. From new friends at church to refugees that I’ve worked with at my job to concerned coworkers, everyone was so kind and loving.
This is community at it’s finest: a wide circle of people all looking out for one another. I’m so glad that I’ve found this here in Budapest and I look forward to continuing to build up these amazing relationships that have already begun to form at my job, my church, and in my personal life.