two places

I find myself torn between the quaintness of Diosd, this small Hungarian village with a lot of German influence and the amazing life and diversity of Budapest.  To be honest, we live in both.  Our address is the last street in Budapest but the nearest anything is in Diosd.  It takes us 3 minutes to drive to school!

We spent yesterday in the city where I find the flow of people, the traffic, the rhythms of the busses and the stop lights to be energizing.  The city makes me feel.  My creativity flows with a hot cup of coffee and the world walking by.

I was motivated to run outside and snap these photos when I saw a girl with amazing rain boots waiting for the tram.  I missed her but took a moment in the freezing air to breath and to snap.  I wanted to capture that moment in the city.

Two distinct moments, two distinct places yet they blend together in a dynamic mosaic of our lives here on the Danube.

classroom 101

A few months ago, I promised the English teacher at school that I would take all of her classes while she went on her honeymoon.  I love to teach and I get to have my girls and their friends as students.  Last week was a highlight for me even though it meant I had to do some quick study of the 17th century Restoration period in order to stand before the 12th graders with something valuable to say about John Donne.

I love teaching literature because it challenges me to think deeper thoughts, to strive to make connections, and to stretch for creative means of communicating.  I love teaching because young people, when given a creative, challenging, and safe environment generally surprise me with their insights.

The downside of the week was that I spent the entire 5 days in one environment, in one safe world.  When it came to blogging, I found that I had very little insights or thoughts about the world around me and the week that existed outside.  For those of us who work in safe, Christian environments, there has to be intentional, balanced relationships being formed with people who do not yet know the Lord.  As Christians, we need that interaction.

Yes, you read that right.  Our Christian perspective is that that the unbelieving world needs us.  What about the transformation that happens in us when we step out of comfort zones and search for honest words to talk about Jesus?  It is one thing to converse with other Christians and yet another to face a friend across the table who is searching and unsure and stretch to communicate your heart.  It is still another to be the only believer in a situation and wonder how God can possibly use you.

What if the deep, spiritual transformations of our lives happen in the classroom of the real world?  God is glorified in the stretching toward others that happens when we leave our comfortable security zones.  God’s sovereign plan to restore his kingdom somehow factors our obedience into the equation.  “Go ye into all of the world” is much more than a suggestion.

Certainly, the Restoration period had a lot to teach me last week.

No Man Is An Island

No man is an island,
Entire of itself.
Each is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thine own
Or of thine friend’s were.
Each man’s death diminishes me,
For I am involved in mankind.
Therefore, send not to know
For whom the bell tolls,
It tolls for thee.

John Donne

the city

I remember the first time they built a mall in Sofia.  We had already been living there for some 4 years and survived nicely without that modern, western convenience.  With the mall came Burger King, H&M, and then one happy pre-Thanksgiving Day, Starbucks!

I also remember the day we spent in Budapest on our way to Busingen Germany from Sofia.  Was it 1999?  Or the early 2000’s?  Budapest had opened one of its very first malls and the lines were ridiculous!  How could I have imagined that some ten years later, I would call this very city my home?

Today, I’m meeting a friend at one of Budapest’s many malls.  We are taking our daughters for lunch at Vapianos, a great Italian restaurant.  I have been in our little suburb of Diosd teaching all week, so I’m thrilled to be in the city, thrilled to be with my girls and with a friend, thrilled to eat great Italian food.  But, I am ever aware that the world in the Mall is not a real representation of the world to which I am called.

The economic downturn has hit Hungarians in the stomach.  Many struggle to make their paycheck stretch and yet the habits of the West that were introduced more than a decade ago mean that families are deeply in debt.  The great excitement of that first, Western mall also introduced the yoke of credit and it weighs heavily.

As I chat and eat and enjoy my day in the city, I’ll be taking photos to post later.