Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Putting the Lug in Luggage

After two months of wandering from Korea to parents homes, to Gyor and then Budapest, our family has finally nestled into our new little apartment here on the walking street of Kalocsa, Hungary.  We arrived a week ago Sunday, and have been busy making this old apartment our new home.  It is a small town, but not too small, and weather has been consistently somewhere between hot and muggy.  Washington rain is sounding alright for the first time in a long time.  Calvin and Muriel are in their first week of total emersion school, and seem to be doing well.  It is a big challenge to be the new kids in school, especially when you can’t understand anything that’s being said and I’m sure I am not nearly sympathetic enough.  Please keep them in your prayers.  I think the biggest challenge our family faces together is slowing down.  Heidi and I feel like we are on activity detox, and are again realizing what life can be like if you don’t have something going every minute of every day.  We had to remind ourselves this week that we have only been here seven days, and while God created the universe in that time, he does not expect us to.  In fact, we are finding joy in waiting on Him, knowing that he has plans for our family this year, and taking time to pray for the people we are encountering here.
Probably my biggest highlight is that our eight pieces of luggage are unpacked, and put away.  At the beginning of our journey to Hungary, we quickly realized the challenge of fitting our stuff in eight containers all weighing fifty pounds or less.  We spent hours, filling, weighing, shifting, re-weighing, re-shifting, tossing, thrice-weighing, until we could not place a feather on them lest we go over our weight limit.  Then we got to the airport only to find that all our carry-on luggage was all overweight by about twenty-three kilos total (which ways approximately fifty pounds).  So we did the mad-scramble repack, exposing all our underwear to all of SeaTac airport.  In my mind, I was cursing the airline company (using only Free-Methodist approved words of course) for their weight restrictions.  But we managed to get on the plane, and land safely in Hungary with almost two hours of sleep and no ulcers. 

We then arrived at the airport and managed to fit all our luggage, our family, Larry Winkles and Paul Mathewson in the mission mini-van.  It was quite the feat.  We hauled our luggage into the Winkle’s (our Free-Methodist missionaries here in Budapest) apartment.  Later, after a trip to Gyor to visit friends, we hauled it all back down to the street, and re-packed it to take to the hostel where we were staying for a week.  I hauled it piece by exactly 50 pound piece up to our room, up a flight of stairs, down a flight of stairs, down a long corridor and up another flight of stairs.  I had training for my English program in Budapest for a week, then with the help of our new friends from Kalocsa, we hauled our luggage back out and fit it all in a little car.  (Another great feat.)  We then arrived in Kalocsa to an apartment on the third floor with no elevator.  As you can imagine, by this point, I was quite grateful for the airline’s strict weight policy on checked baggage.  It may just have saved my back.  It also got me to thinking, that sometimes we don’t like God’s restrictions on what we can do.  “Why won’t God allow me to do this or that” we think?  Maybe the thing we are angry with God today, we praise Him for tomorrow.

In the few short days we have been in Hungary, we have seen God continue to both provide for us, and stretch us.  We are so thankful for all the support we have received from our family and friends.  Without our loved ones back home we could not have embarked on this journey, and so we continue to ask that you lift our family in prayer.

In Christ,

Some Thoughts from Heidi

If I am to be honest with myself one of the things that I most wanted in following Jesus’ leading to Hungary this year was to come to the end of myself and to need Jesus in a deeper, daily way. However, as a type A personality, surrendering myself willfully to Jesus’ will require more than the sacrifices that I had anticipated making, or desired to make.
In preparing to come to Hungary I was willing to sacrifice my comfort, being close to family and friends and wonderful ministry partners, the known and financial stability. However similar to the rich young ruler who approached Jesus and told him all of the sins he hadn’t committed and all of the good things that he had done, Jesus wanted all of him, his whole heart, not only what the rich young man was willing to offer and give to know God better. Jesus offered the young man that which was ultimately the best for him, to surrender that which his security and soul ultimately rested in, whether this was cognitive or subconscious. In the case of this young man in Matthew – it was his wealth.
Similarly, in coming to Hungary Jesus was preparing me by allowing me to shed those things that I thought took my eyes off of him. However in arriving in Hungary as I prayed and asked others to pray that our family both together and as individuals would be truly listening to Jesus’ voice, he revealed to me other areas in my heart and life needing to be surrendered to him.

At this point in my faith journey I find that the hardest things that Jesus’ asks me to give to him is my full trust in his love and provision for my children. Even as I write this tears come to my eyes as I pray for them. In the same way that I know that Jesus was offering the rich young ruler the very best, himself, as well as freedom from his security and trust in anything other than Jesus. So Jesus offers me the very best in offering me himself, Jesus to be enough for me, and to provide for all of my needs.  

In coming to Hungary Eric and I hoped for these ultimate good things for our children, chances for faith to grow, and areas in our lives where as a family we would be ultimately dependent on Jesus. Also important to us was the opportunity for all of us to see and know and love the impoverished and realize that there is more to life than the pursuit of materialism as we would live cross-culturally. However, as God lead, opened doors and paved the way for us to come to Kalocsa, filling us with his peace, it never came to my mind that there was even a possibility that we would be living approximately 8 miles from the only nuclear power plant in Hungary, one of the things that I am the most fearful of. Whether it was because of the age in which I grew up, media representation, Chernobyl or for other reasons I have been deathly afraid of anything nuclear for as long as I can remember.

Flying, meeting new people, speaking another language, sharing life with the impoverished, all of these things held no fear for me. Yet living close enough to a nuclear power plant to have to have a monthly siren drill in our city to make sure that the emergency system is working has held fear over me. Not personal fear for Eric and I, but fear for Calvin and Muriel and the implications of what a malfunction at the power plant could mean for them.

So this is where I am at in my faith journey right now. Jesus once again is saying to me “are you willing to follow?” As I have reflected on my life over the past few months one of the things clear to me was that I didn’t want my life to be ruled by fear, and that  I didn’t want to say “no” to Jesus in any area of my life or fight against his will in my life. There have been many significant times in the past where I can see that Jesus’ answer of “no” to me was the best gift that he ever could have given to me. Even as I desire to grow in my faith, I admit that it is the times of most difficulty and when I am at the end of myself that Jesus works the most in my heart to draw me closer to him and make me more into his image.

So as Eric and I are in full accord that this is where Jesus has lead us for at least this year, and as we have experienced his peace that surpasses all understanding in so many ways, please continue to pray with me that I will be faithful to saying “yes” to Jesus and fully trusting his purpose and plans and love and provision for Calvin and Muriel’s lives as well as my own. I don’t want to miss out on the gifts and growth and ministry that Jesus has for us this year in Kalocsa because of my fears of living so close to a nuclear power plant. Thank you for standing with us in faith, in love, in prayer.

FYI: Kalocsa is a town of approximately 20,000 people who live and have raised their families for generations in no fear of this power plant. The nuclear power plant is located in a neighboring city, Paks. Also, the power plant is of so little concern that I wouldn’t even know about it except for the monthly siren emergency broadcasts. Other close Hungarian friends, one who has worked in the non-nuclear power industry in Hungary for 30 years and another an environmental engineer has said that it is as safe to live in Kalocsa as anywhere else in the country. Also when I did a study online I discovered that all over Europe and in many places in the U.S., especially the East Coast, there are many communities located close to nuclear power plants. So you can pray with me that as I have all of this analytical proof that I am not doing anything dangerous for my children that I would experience Christ’s peace in my heart regarding this fear.

1 John 4:16-19
“And so we know and rely on the love god has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us.”