Saturday, September 21, 2013

"Wherever you are, be there"

In some ways it seems strange that it’s already September 21st.  Ever since August 1st, when I was done working in Sioux Falls, I’ve been on the move.  Settling permanently into a new place takes some time, and some growing pains.  I haven’t done that since...well, since I started at Augie 4 years ago.  And for as much discomfort that that transition brought, I’d say things turned out alright.  In addition to hearing from family members, nothing makes the day better than hearing from friends back at Augie and at home. 

In another way, it seems hard to believe I've only been in my new home for less than two full weeks. Each day has brought new people to meet, new places to go, and new challenges.  
As Pastor Paul relays in his book "And Grace Will Lead Me Home", Augustana Professor Richard Swanson says, "Plan carefully, and plan for your plans to change."  I had previously thought I'd be living in the small town of Nyirtelek and working each day in the predominantly Roma village of Gorogszallas.  As it turns out, I'm living in Gorogszallas with a Roma host family who has been extremely welcoming.  They have a modest home and have graciously given up their living room and made it my room.  On the back side of the living wall is a small fenced-in area with a few pigs, sheep, chickens, and ducks.  I felt pretty out of my element at first, but I'm beginning to feel more at home.  My host Mom, Agi, is a great cook and seems to be constantly preparing for the next meal.  The father, Sandor "Sani", drives the transit van for the church in Nyirtelek.  Their son, Sandor "Little Sani", is 19 and has been similarly welcoming - and he's eager to practice his English!
Language: Other than a handful of school children who have had minimal English in the Hungarian schools, no one in my village of Gorogszallas speaks any English.  This complicates simple things like arranging transportation or setting a meeting time, and more complex things like trying to establish a relationship with my host family and their neighbors.  My Hungarian is coming alongslowly but surely.  Each complete sentence that is both spoken and understood is small victory!
Ruth Grinager, a family friend, tells her classes "wherever you are, be there."  For the last two weeks I've been focusing on being present in the village and trying to get a feel for the "new normal."  I continue to find new ways to engage with the people around me.  As it turns out, everyone wants to know English and so far I've been able to teach one beginner lesson in Gorogszallas, as well as help a few students with their English homework.  That looks to expand in the next few weeks with more opportunities in Nyirtelek.  My work at the Children's House in the morning has been a bit slow, but still a good change of pace.  
My access to internet in the village is not quite what I'm used to at home, which is also somewhat refreshing.  This makes staying in touch somewhat difficult.  As this is a blog and open to all, it does come with a filter.  If you have questions about anything in particular--perhaps something I could blog about later--drop me an email:
Take care, and thanks for reading!    

Our last night in Balaton before heading to Gorogszallas

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