A QUICK GAME OF CATCH-UP
WHEW! My last few months have been absolute insanity but I have adored every minute of them. I feel terrible for my lack of blogging!! I’m so easily swept up in the wild rush of life in Budapest and beyond that sometimes I totally forget to write down all the amazing stuff that happens. I guess it’s good that I’m very in the moment with it all, but I need to remember to reflect back on it here once things calm down. Anyhow, here’s my attempt to catch you up on what’s been happening, month by month.
I spent the majority of the month of august outside of Hungary, traveling first to Greece and then to Scotland.
During my time in Greece I worked with a local Evangelical Church in Greece congregation in Katerini on their refugee aid program that provides immediate and multifaceted aid to refugees in the area. I’ve written quite a few blog posts about my time there volunteering, so be sure to check them out!
I jetted off to Scotland less than a week after my return from Greece for a short vacation and then the Church of Scotland’s National Youth Assembly (NYA). I spent two nights with a friend in Carluke, in central Scotland, and then went up to Oban, on the western coast, for three nights of solo travel before I headed back south to Stirling, in central Scotland, for NYA.
My time in Carluke was filled with visits to local churches, homemade meals, lots of Olympic watching, as well as a lovely hike through the Scottish countryside next to a gorgeous river. My three hour train ride up to Oban was wonderfully relaxing and filled with too much gorgeous scenery to even process. I spent my four days there hiking, wandering aimlessly around the town, eating lots of ice cream, relaxing by the sea, and taking a ferry over to explore the Isle of Lismore. It was perfection. NYA was then super high energy and intensive, with around 150 youth coming together to discuss three pertinent topics: gender-based violence, mental health, and the future of the church. I also formed friendships with even more wonderful folks from the Church of Scotland and my discussions with them deepened my own faith.
OMG SEPTEMBER WAS CRAZYYY! The biggest thing during the month was the 175th anniversary of the Church of Scotland’s Scottish Mission in Budapest (also known as St. Columba’s, it happens to be the congregation that I attend here in Budapest).
The beginning of the month was spent doing final preparations for the jubilee celebrations of the church and I was involved in two different roles: both as a member of the congregation there and also through my work with the RCH’s Ecumenical Office, which helped to coordinate some of the events due to their close ties to the congregation and the wider Church of Scotland.
The celebrations took up a whole weekend and a group of approximately 25 folks from Scotland came to experience the festivities with us. Most of them then also stayed in Budapest for the following week to tour the city and meet with important contacts of the church here in Budapest. They visited sights and people who have a historical tie to the Scottish Mission in Budapest – and I got to join them for their entire program! From the very day they arrived until the day they flew back to Scotland I was with the guests helping to make sure that their stay was flawless. Together we celebrated the jubilee, attended a Scottish ceilidh, took a boat cruise down the Danube river, toured some of the synagogues of Budapest, visited the city of Debrecen, spoke with holocaust survivors, discussed what international church means to us, and looked ahead to the future of the church in Budapest. It was such an amazing opportunity to tour the city with a purpose and really bring the history of my congregation alive not just for myself, but for international visitors as well.
In September I also found a new apartment and moved in at the very end of the month, finally getting myself out of a toxic living environment over at the yoga studio.
Oh, and I turned 24! I spent my birthday having a chill evening drinking beers and eating a ton of Vietnamese take-out with my best friends, and then the following night a group of friends from Kalunba took me out for dinner and drinks at a rooftop bar in the city – it was absolute perfection. Here’s to another year of adventures!
My month started with my transition to a new apartment that’s wonderfully located near the city center by Blaha Lujza ter. My boss helped me drive all my boxes over and it took me a solid week to get it feeling like my own place.
As soon as I was feeling comfortable there, I left to head to Switzerland for a Church of Scotland meeting of the International Presbytery in Lausanne. My time in Lausanne was filled with individual committee meetings, a full presbytery meeting, discussions around church maintenance and governance, really expensive chicken burgers (Switzerland is so expensive it made me want to weep.. but gawd is it beautiful there!), and plenty of time wandering around the shore of Lake Geneva.
I was invited to the meeting because I was chosen as the presbytery’s Youth Rep for the GA and so I needed to give them a report, but I ended up speaking in four different capacities about my time at GA, at NYA, how I’m helping to plan and host the International Youth Presbytery in Budapest this winter, and my work with the Kalunba Social Services Association (the refugee NGO I work at, which the presbytery is supporting through all of 2016 with a special offering). It was awesome to meet the various ministers and elders at the meeting and it opened my eyes to new lenses with which to view the church.
I’ve spent the last few months hustling through life, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon. Now that I’ve returned to Hungary I’m diving into work and life here, and just as my schedule begins to regulate then my family will be arriving for a visit in mid-November! Words cannot even describe how thrilled I am to have them coming. My parents will arrive first and spend a week or so with me and then my sibling will arrive mid-way through their trip and the four of us will get to spend another week or so together before they all fly back to the states at the end of the month. They’ll be in Budapest for over two weeks and knowing that I’ll get to spend that much time with them makes me overjoyed!!
Basically, the point of this update is that my life is bustling with all kinds of things and I couldn’t be happier – even if at times I wish I got a bit more sleep. It’s all worth it. After all, I’m about half way through my time in Hungary so I have to make every moment count!