Tuesday, November 26, 2013

What's in a day?

I was planning to share a picture with you this morning of my temporary residence card for the EU that will allow me to stay here until August.  But, the immigration office is closed for some reason.  So a celebratory picture will be up as soon as I have the card in hand.

My YAGM coordinators Miriam and Jeremy, and their family, recently visited me and my host family in Gorogszallas.  It was great to share small pieces of my daily life with them, and to have some time to catch up with them.  You can see some great pictures from their visit on their blog at http://domavbratislava.wordpress.com/.

Amidst a lot of travel with the church, some sense of a routine has started to take hold.  That feels good.  An English-speaker I met in Piliscaba last weekend asked me, "so what does a day look like for you?"  Good question. (This will fill in with some color what I could just briefly sketch in black and white in my newsletter.)

My day starts with AlJazeera International news at 7:30.  It used to be BBC, then it changed; I'm just glad to have some international news in English.  Then it's time for breakfast and a brisk 5 minute walk to the Children's House.  Dogs aren't really cute, members of the family in Hungary, but rather guard dogs.  All that to say that the dogs in Gorogszallas haven't really warmed to me yet and they all acknowledge my presence on the morning walk.  I adhere to Dr. O'Hara's idea that you should speak to unfamiliar dogs with an affirming voice and refrain from touching them.

some kids come and go, but Levi rarely misses a morning at the Children's House

Children start arriving at the Children's House a little before 9.  By that time we have a fire going in the wood burning stove which is a welcome feeling coming from a cold, damp Hungarian morning.  I definitely feel welcomed there each morning kids who are excited to play and have me be part of that.  Amidst fighting over toys and running noises there's a lot of good that comes from playing and watching them play.  With Advent and St. Nicholas Day just around the corner (December 6), the children and parents and I have been making stockings and other decorations for the Children's House and their homes.

visiting a high school English class in Nyiregyhaza - we spent most of the hour hour and half talking about what they want to do with their futures - they were a very bright group with fascinating interests and plans

By noon, we're cleaning up from 3 hours of intense play and I head home for lunch with my host family.  Mondays and Tuesday I eat quickly and get on a bus headed for Nyirtelek where I help in the schools.  Wednesday-Friday I have the afternoons to myself.  Having this much down-time is weird, especially since I don't have internet.  But it's also been incredibly good.  I can spend time around the house with the host family, study Hungarian, read, roam the village.  There's always interesting work to check out and help with at the greenhouse.  Incidentally, they just finished their heating house which will make it possible to continue their garden work throughout the winter.  This type of tangible progress and literal growth (of seeds and the new building) give an incredible sense of pride to the people there, and rightly so.

Late afternoon I head to the church and community building where I spend time with teenagers as we play foosball and do homework, and with adults who stop in while they're waiting for the school bus to bring their kids to the village or who come to practice the songs for Sunday and have bible study.  I feel lucky that in the course of a day I can interact with such a large span of ages in the village.

I get home around 7 or 8 to have dinner and relax for the night.  There's a reality TV show kind of like the Real World that takes place in Budapest.  The family and I watch this most nights.  Even though the show unfolds very quickly in Hungarian, the drama is pretty transparent and amusing.  I also get compared to one of the show's characters--Lali--for my curly hair.  I promise people that the similarities end with curly hair.

That's a day.  Each day is a little different, and my Hungarian ability is also a little different depending on the day.  

In a few days, I'm on the road again to meet up with the other four YAGM volunteers as we spend Thanksgiving together with Miriam, Jeremy, Ursula, and Esme in Bratislava, Slovakia.  

YAGM Mari (middle), her supervisor Erzebet (right), at the home of Erzebet's mother (left) for lunch.  This elderly women grows lemons in her sun porch, makes her own palinka, grows enough grapes to produce 100 liters of wine, tends to several dozen fruit trees in her yard, grows a huge quantity of vegetables, and raises the 20 or so chickens who roam the yard.  What a great afternoon!

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