Sunday, October 2, 2011

Barnes Family Update

A month has passed since our last update and while I endeavor to write something that may be remotely interesting; I sit and tremble lest we lose one of our 6 blog members.  Over the past few weeks we have experienced many things running the gambit from mundane to quirky.  While Kalocsa is a sleepy little town, not really on a road to anywhere, we live on the main walking street which doubles as an echo chamber for all the bustle and bell ringing of this thriving metropolis.  Here are some of the sounds of Kalocsa: across the street is the Kalocsa radio station, which has provided our home with the smooth sounds of popular music ranging from “I Would Do Anything For Love” by Meatloaf to a very occasional praise song. Above the radio station sits a bell clock, which chimes on the hour, with a nice little chime to let us know it is only an hour till we get to hear the lovely chime again. Next to the radio station is a bar that has provided a nice New York urban nightlife ambiance till two in the morning the past three Saturday nights. The wild life of music and screaming people dovetailed into a nice reminder from the three Catholic churches around our house, that it was five a.m. and time to start thinking about going to church. While I am not Catholic it does make me wonder at 5 a.m. as I am listening to the bells, if this method of waking the city at that hour with bells, would cause me to want to go to church.
While our family has been here for one-twelfth of a year, I was reminded this week that Kalocsa has been here for a thousand years sitting on the edge of the old Roman Empire, and next to a river that has been here even longer I think. I also have been reminded that the God who ruled over it a thousand years ago, continues His rule today, and has brought us into its sphere for some reason, of which I am still a little unclear. When we left the U.S. I had a sense that we were to come and wait.  The past few weeks we have seen several things happening, of which I will update you on in a dry and matter-of-fact manner. But before we get to all the fun details, I thought I would add this little thought. After settling in to work, and figuring out all the details of life, it took me about twelve minutes to begin asking God, “so why am I here?” The past couple of weeks, Heidi and I have been praying and asking God, who has been here longer than thirty days, to help us wait on him and be patient. We have been taking time to pray, and trying to wait for the open doors that we know God is opening before us, even when we want to take a sledgehammer to a few walls to make our own doors.  We really do thank you for your support and prayer for us, as we continue to wait on God, and seek Him here in Kalocsa. We ask that you pray for us, that we would have wisdom and opportunity to share his love with those around us.
Now on to some mundane details about life. For those who are relational and love this stuff, like my dad.

Muriel is going to school full time and is really doing great. It is difficult as no-one really speaks English in her class, so she is fully immersed in Hungarian life, and seems to be adjusting well. Her teacher loves her. Heidi had her teacher over for coffee this last week.  This past week Muriel started Hungarian Folk Dancing as a way to get to know other kids and to learn more of the language, and loves it.  She has a nice friend named Petra who sits next to her at school. She also just bought two little turtles for her birthday with money from the grandparents.

Calvin is going to school part time and Heidi is home schooling him two days a week. He loves P.E. and Drawing class. He seems to be doing well, and has made a friend named Norbi who shares his love of Legos and Star Wars. This week Calvin started soccer and likes it a lot. You can continue to pray for him as it is a more difficult transition for him at school as he has multiple teachers and not one specific teacher that is responsible for his learning, making learning Hungarian harder for him.

Heidi has been keeping busy, inviting the kids’ teachers and friends over, homeschooling both Calvin and Muriel part time, keeping up with the house and getting to know the neighbors. She is getting along really well and enjoying all the sunshine we have here. She has been enjoying cooking new foods, going to the outdoor market to buy eggs from her favorite little Hungarian egg lady, and is now tutoring a high school student one afternoon a week. Actually between keeping up with house work, cooking, Calvin’s schoolwork, and meeting with neighbors she really hasn’t had time to watch any of the Hungarian soap operas like a good homemaker should. You can continue to pray for her, that while she is so fast at making friends and being social, that she doesn’t feel like she should have been good friends with everyone three weeks ago. And also that through these relationships being built that there will be both opportunity and the words to share Jesus with the people around her.

My work continues to be challenging, but enjoyable most of the time. I really like the kids I am working with and am trying to remember that there are other ways that I can pastor them, even though I cannot preach the gospel at this point. The difficulty I am facing at work is the challenge of being immersed in a job where the student and teachers speak very little English. Some days I long for just a normal conversation where I am fully understood without having to work at it.

We began attending a little Hungarian Reformed Church. Kalocsa is primarily Catholic, with a very few smaller protestant churches in the city. Attending the Reformed Church in Kalocsa not only provides us with a place to worship the Lord with other believers, but also provides us with a church to attend during this time of transition that is recognized and accepted in Hungary as a Christian Church, not a cult. This is really important to us as we begin to get to know the people around us in Kalocsa. We really like it, even though it is all in Hungarian. The pastors are a husband and wife named Janos and Emese, and speak English pretty well. Last week, Janos gave me a book with the history of the Reformed church in it. I found this little nugget in there. It was a statement produced by the Synod Council of 1946 during the rule of communism which resulted in greater persecution of the church during the past half-century. I found it to be a confession that translates well for the evangelical church of our time.  It included a the confession of “failure in the faithful fulfillment of the prophetic mission of the Church, neglect in safeguarding the purity of preaching the Word, becoming lukewarm in love, compromising with at worldly power, and so on.” It reminds me that to go to church is to meet with the faithful in Christ, and to encourage each other in our faithfulness to the work He is completing in and through us in the world. Thanks for reading this far in the blog, and I look forward to writing again soon.

God Bless,

Eric Barnes