The snow has begun to fall transforming Budapest yet again. Gone are the colorful, ever-bustling Christmas Markets. Today, the snow blankets the city in a cozy winter white.

The ice floating down the Danube has made world news and is trending on #Budapest

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benches in Deak Ferenc Ter
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Gellert Hill
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travelling the Danube ice
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Danube in ice
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couples on Vaci Utca
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snow lunches

torn shoes and tuesday nights

Shoes and Tuesday nights – I wish that I could just kick both of them into an unwanted and ignored corner where my soul would find peace because they are unexpected and unwelcome interruptions into my comfortable life. For one, I feel dislike. For the other, I feel desperation.

Tuesday nights are refugee response night and I don’t like Tuesday nights. We gather together from a multitude of geographic locations where we skype into our Hungarian kitchen to discuss the refugee situation across the Balkans. For me, it takes a supreme act of will and courage to sit my body down at that table and listen to those reports.

Covered in my warm blankets, in my cozy house, with a full stomach and girls tucked into corners with homework and a kitchen of dirty dishes waiting for their immersion of hot sudsy water, I experience a disonnance that I hate. From Greece, from Serbia, from Hungary, from Croatia the stories march across my dining room floor bearing unwanted and unwelcome circumstances that create within my heart a crushing impotence. I cannot birth peace. I cannot birth heat or lodging. Often, I cannot even birth compassion. Meanwhile, in my small corner of the planet, people are literally freezing and that makes me want to drop-kick every syllable of injustice into oblivion. If only I could, but, I can’t, so Tuesday nights tear me up … and you can read that two different ways and reach the same destination.

And then there are the shoes or the lack of them. A couple of months ago before the snows swept the Balkans but the winter chill had already set in, I pulled line duty. It means I stood by a line of men waiting to get their food and I chatted with them. An older man from Afghanistan engaged me in conversation and we found common ground in our shared rusty Russian language. In the process, he showed me his shoes that had carried him from Kabul to Belgrade. 5,412.9 kilometers. 3,363.42 miles. 63 hours of travel by car. Months by foot. His shoes were in tatters. His shoes were torn. There was little soul left. And he asked me for shoes. And I said “no”.

I said, “I’m sorry but I cannot give you shoes tonight.” And he looked at me with a soft smile and he said, “It’s okay. I understand.” But how could he understand? How could he know that we had been told not to give out shoes because the numbers of refugees were increasing every day and every time the numbers increased the authorities grew more fearful. And as fear grows, it scoots compassion to the edge of a great cavern called Safety.

Safety said no shoes for anybody unless you have shoes for everybody and how do you have shoes for nearly 1,000 people in the size that they need?  So, “I’m sorry but though your souls are tattered, I cannot give you shoes tonight. I hope that you sleep well in that warehouse where you live with open fires to scare away the night chills and the rats that nibble on your toes.”

Torn shoes. Torn souls. Bearing tattered people out of a war-torn world. I don’t like Tuesdays.

But maybe there is a church out there or a Bible Study group, or a compassionate soul who could grab onto grace for Tuesdays? Maybe, just maybe, somebody somewhere would say that Tuesdays and tattered shoes are mountains that CAN be moved with a word of faith and a prayer for mercy and a generous hand. And maybe, just maybe, they would be right because I remember a man of miracles who fed folks with fishes and bread and turned water into wine. That mercy man said that if a someone asks us for a cloak, we should give him our tunic too. “Jesus, I know an old Afghani man who needs some shoes. In these freezing temperatures, I think that he would take a cloak and a tunic too.”

So could we move Tuesday mountains, you and I? Maybe, just maybe, I could welcome Tuesdays back to my table and maybe it would be full of refugees with warm feet and found souls.

If the Lord taps your heart today, here is the link to give money for shoes, for clothes, for food, and for other aid for refugees across Central Europe: in Greece, in Macedonia, in Albania, in Bulgaria, in Serbia, in Croatia, in Hungary, in Romania, in Poland, and in Denmark. This donation is specifically for Central Europe’s Refugee Response / Courage for the Journey.

If this post causes you to think of practical ways that you could respond locally: 5 Helpful Things You Could Say to a Syrian Today

Continue reading “torn shoes and tuesday nights”

This morning, we woke up to a beautiful snowfall. As I drove the girls to school early, I was captivated by the quiet beauty of this Hungarian village that we call home. To be completely honest and fair, Diosd became a town in 2014 but it keeps the quaint atmosphere of a village.

Click here to follow the link to some short information about Diosd itself.

Enjoy the photos.

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statue of a saint
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st. gellert catholic church

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silence and snow

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now abandoned shop 

5 things christians should say to a syrian refugee today

5 things christians should say to a syrian refugee today

Maybe 2017 is the year of straight-talk and honest words for me because somehow the soft syllables of persuasion just refuse to march onto my screen. They won’t come, they won’t sit, they won’t play nicely here in this post. Continue reading “5 things christians should say to a syrian refugee today”

presents

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The Word slipped into skin and moved into our neighborhood

Like so many of others, I am thinking about gifts this season. The gifts that I still need to magically find, maybe even the gifts that I might get. I love giviing gifts. And, I’ll be honest, I love getting them too. Continue reading “presents”

what you might not expect from a refugee 

Just getting home after a round trip to Romania. A lot of hours in the car but so worth it to visit a family that is very dear to us. They are in transition after months of waiting at the Greek border. It was so amazing to sit and talk and see their sweet kids.  We left them, with the thought ringing in our minds, ‘How could anyone look at this family and say, “we don’t want them in our country – they pose a threat.”‘ 

We are tired, but here are some observations to make you think with us:

1.  After knowing them for almost a year, I have never once actually sat in a real home with them, but I have always been offered hospitality. I have had coffee in their tent on the Greek border, we have had coffee in a Greek coffee shop, and this visit, we were in a common room of a facility where they and around 100 other refugees are being housed. Even here, they brought us drinks and served us.

2. Their sweet children: 6, 5, and 5 months have never known a world without war. The civil war in Syria was already happening when they were born. They fled Aleppo when the bombs fell on their house with them inside. 

3.  Their dad refused to fight with the army, so the other side came to recruit him. The family left Syria before they came back to take him as a fighter.

4.  Their baby was born in Greece and, since Syria is in disarray, she has a Refugee passport. Imagine that for a moment – in a world where your passport is a statement of your integral identity, she begins her life identified without a homeland and as part of a community called ‘refugee’.

5. They are in temporary refugee housing, and the kids got the room ready for us, their guests, but then the family was not allowed to bring guests into their home. Their home for 5 is 1 room with a small corner kitchen and a bathroom. We were also discouraged from taking photos by the guard.

Our hope is that some of the observations challenge the narrative often heard from the media and politicians. We left this morning with a Facebook post reverberating in our minds. Someone had written about how letting refugees into their country posed a threat to their family. Imagine how that sounds or looks beside this family that has courageously traveled this far just so their children can have a life characterized by peace. It is our belief that if you are lucky enough to have a Syrian family as your neighbor, you should feel very blessed. Amazing people! Amazing culture!

finding your way home

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Photo of Petra Olympus camp covered in snow. PC Chelsea Kenney

The snow fell in the Northern part of Greece as the Yazzidi camp in the mountains closed. 1,650 people, more than half of them children, have been divided and transported to other camps that are winterized. Can you imagine the feelings?

Mourning. These people have been together for almost a year, becoming a community together. Suddenly they are separated with virtually no way to stay connected physically.

Relief. As the temperatures dropped, their tents, many of which were camping tents or thin canvas were offering little protection from the cold. People were starting fires inside the tent to stay manage the cold.

Hopelessness. For most of these people, they still have a long wait ahead before they can be interviewed and placed somewhere that they can call home. The activity of rebuilding their lives is still far in the distance.

Today, we are taking a trip to Romania where we will be meeting with a family that has become very dear to us. After months of waiting in Greece, after life in a tent, after giving birth on a border, they have been placed in temporary housing in a Romanian camp. We’ll travel there today to bring them a taste of their first Christmas season, to check-up on them, and to fellowship together. Photos are coming.