Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Other Half....

Hello World that follows our blog,



So I have been quite delinquent in my blogging responsibilities, I have not lived up to the title of MATT and Emily. Granted, Emily is a much better writer than me, but that is not really an excuse.



I am going to be honest, the first 6 weeks in Budapest was rough. It didn't help that everyone I talked with at USAID was super jealous when I told them that Budapest was our first assignment. One senior Foreign Service Officer said, it is OK not to like Budapest, but it felt like we are SUPPOSED to love it. Well, we haven't loved it yet. We went through severe culture shock, and have felt a big hole from leaving our amazing community in DC (shout out to our Karios peeps). But, God has used this challenging time in our lives. Emily and I have bonded as a married couple in a way not possible in the safety of the US. We have also been forced to rely on God more fully than in the States.



Now with the weather *finally* getting warmer, this place is starting to grow on us. We had a great time at the Easter Festival last weekend. Emily posted some pictures and commented on my "Epcot Experience". It might just be a reflection on me, but it seems pretty sad that as an American, many of my real "cultural experiences" in Europe go back to my trips to Disney world.... I told Emily, "This is just like the Germany section at Epcot". Except this is real... whoa... blowing my mind. Like real kids dressing up in their folky pants and dancing like those river dance people. AND LIKING IT!



A couple weeks back we went to a real life hot lake. It was pretty crazy because this ingenious Hungarians built a large indoor walkway and platform on top of the lake so in the winter you never have to be outside. Very strange swimming in a lake but also being fully enclosed. I was having a hard time wrapping my brain around that.



Other observations while living in Hungary:



1. Restaurants do not offer ketchup for fries without a request, and then you only get a mini-packet, but you get a full on BOTTLE of kethcup when you order pizza.... weird.



2. There are no speed limits on the highways. The Hungarians have really taken this freedom to the limits. On the right lane you have these cars hauling home-made trailers going like 50 miles an hour. Then in the left hand lane you have these speed-devils going (I am not joking) 120 miles an hour. Made for some very exciting lane changes....



3. Hungarians like their wine! The average $7 wine here is usually as good a $20 bottle in the States. When we were driving around the countryside after our indoor/outdoor lake experience, we saw not just a few front lawns where the owners gave up their grass for their own VINEYARD!


They like their wine here.



That will about wrap it up for post. We are enjoying Budapest a lot more the last couple of weeks. But please keep praying for us and ask God to show us how we serve here.



Blessings,



Matt



P.S. If you are reading this, Emily and I would ask you to comment so we know we are just not writing to ourselves... we are not asking for money, just a comment.... :)

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Spring market

This evening Matt and I walked down to this adorable spring market. There are beautiful crafts for sale and delicious treats. Matt said it reminded him of Epcot Center at Disneyworld only this was the real thing! The last pic is of me holding a yummy treat - a hot doughy pastry thing covered in cinnamon sugar. Sort of like a pretzel but way better. The pic above that one shows how they are cooked. We had a great time - it might be my favorite thing we've done yet!















- Posted using BlogPress from my phone

Location:City center Budapest

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Picnic lunch

Matt usually comes home for lunch but today it was so nice outside that I packed sandwiches for us and we ate in the park right outside our flat. Here are some photos from lunch. We are so glad
for spring's arrival!










- Posted using BlogPress from my phone

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Portable blogging

So I have entered the new millenium and got a smartphone! The coolest thing about it so far is that I


can use it to blog from anywhere and can upload pictures I take with it. This is good news for you readers out there. You can expect alot more pics now as it will be a ton easier for me to post them now. Here is one from tonight! Tomten perched on his fave post - Matt's dresser. He can see all from his post.


- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Bed

Monday, March 22, 2010

Possibilities....

So, I (Emily) am trying to discern what to do with myself for two years while here in Budapest.  I hesitate to write a post "all about me" but I could honestly use some help from people who know me in the advice arena. Plus, writing it down helps me to figure things out.  So, here it goes.  :)  There are lots of career options and no options all at the same time it seems.  Lots of potential, but nothing concrete so far.  Its sort of wonder-filled and good-for-the-soul and frustrating all at the same time to go through this process of taking a step back to look at my career from the big picture.  I am more thankful everyday to have this opportunity to do this.  I keep thinking about the career change/decision processes that many of my friends have gone through in the past few years though and their journeys have been inspiring to me! Here are the ideas that I have been thinking about- some for about 30 seconds and some have been rolling around in my head for awhile....just to give you a sample of how all-over-the-map things are at the moment!
-teach high school
-be a "stay at home wife" for two years
-try my hand at writing (fiction or nonfiction)
-volunteer to take veteran's cases before the court I used to work for
-do online training in graphic desigh/web development
-teach preschool
-volunteer with a missions organization in Budapest
-work for an international organization like the UN
-volunteer/work for an environmental organization (there are quite a few here in Budapest).

So, those are some of my ideas.  If anyone has any words of advice or encouragement for me, I'd appreciate it very much!  In the mean time, I am enjoying having time to think about this stuff and dream a bit and also am enjoying a slower pace of life here.  Matt and I have had such a blast getting to know each other better over the past 6 weeks.  We have spent so much one on one time together, which has been such a huge blessing to us and our marriage.

We miss you all back in the States!

Love,
Emily

Friday, March 19, 2010

March 15th and Volunteering with Campus Crusade

Hello friends and family ~  I hope this posting finds you well.  The first thing I have to mention in this post is my utter thankfulness that SPRING HAS ARRIVED in Budapest.  I have never been so glad to see spring as I was this year.  It was a long, cold winter in D.C. and Budapest this year, both having usually harsh winters this year. Oddly, it turned to spring here literally overnight.  I woke up Thursday morning and birds were chirping, the air was mild, the sun was bright and shining, birds were chirping, street stands selling flowers and pussy willows had popped up on every corner, and all the cafes had there outdoor tables out.  I am not exaggerating that all these things happened in one day! It was incredible.

Thursday was also a special day because I was privileged to be able to help out all day with some missionaries with Campus Crusade for Christ working here in Hungary with high school students.  A new friend that I met here recently invited me to go with her and a few others to a local high school to help the students practice their English.  We visited 5-6 classrooms for about 45 minutes at a time and introduced ourselves, played games with them, and then broke the students into smaller groups to help them practice having a conversation with us in English.  We then invited them to Campus Crusade's weekly meeting for high school students.  I had such a good time!  It was so amazing to get to visit a Hungarian high school and meet the students.  It was such a blessing to me to be able to serve them in this way by helping them with their English and just loving on them for a bit.  I was thankful for the time I spent in Athens doing youth ministry yesterday, as I was calling up many skills I learned during that time yesterday.  I also met some great folks working with Crusade and was thankful to make those connections and spend some time in fellowship with other believers.  I had a great day!

Last weekend was a long weekend here in Hungary, with Monday, March 15 being a holiday here.  The best way I can describe the holiday is that its the Hungarian version of Independence Day.  On March 15, 1848, the Hungarians staged an uprising against the Austrian Hapsburgs that ruled their country.  While the uprising was not successful, to the best of my understanding, it represents the resilient spirit of the Hungarians.  Also, I think that the uprising was the start of a more balanced relationship with Austria that eventually led to the co-ruling of the Austro-Hungarian Empire by both the Austrians and Hungarians later in the 19th century.  If you want to know more, you will have to "wikipedia" it.  On March 15 every year, the Hungarians have lots of political rallies, demonstrations, etc.  The tone is much more serious than our July 4th holiday (no crafts, fireworks, or BBQ that I could see).  These rallies mostly take place in Budapest right in our neighborhood.  The reason I mention it is because we thought that we were coming back into town on Monday afternoon late enough that the "festivities" would be over.  However, we ended up witnessing it all firsthand, which was pretty cool actually.  After driving around the city for about an hour trying to get to our apartment with no luck (we rented a car for the weekend), we finally decided to abandon our car across the Danube in Buda.  All the roads leading into our neighborhood were blocked off by police. We saw a parking spot become available (the first open parking spot we'd seen during our hour of driving around) and quickly pulled in. We were only about 100 yards from the Chain Bridge, so we walked across it and were home in about 30 minutes.  On our walk home, we were in the midst of huge crowds that came downtown for the rallies, most were carrying the Hungarian flag or wearing a ribbon in the colors of the flag.  Lots of families were there.  Each political group had a designated space to have their rally - one that we saw had people dressed up in old soldier garb and the speaker was accompanied by lots of clarinets and drums.  The bridge we walked across was closed to all but foot traffic and lots of horse & buggies. 

We went back later that night at 10:00pm when the bride finally reopened to claim our car. We were both praying like crazy that it would still be there!  Thankfully, it was. 

I will talk more about our weekend trip in my next post. I think that is enough for now! 

Love,
Emily & Matt

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

March in Budapest

Hello!  I apologize to everyone who follows our blog for the long time between posts.  Thanks so much for reading, it means a lot to Matt and I and we will be better about more frequent posts in the future!  We are starting to settle in more in Budapest.  The first few weeks we really were in shock - its just SO very different here from home.  We celebrate small victories everyday!  Here are some recent small victories:
- Found the big fruit/vegetable market and bought some hard-to-find produce like spinach, mushrooms, lemons. 
- Figured out how to get things shipped to us from Amazon
- Had friends over for a meal for the first time
- Figured out how to find movie theaters that show movies in English
- Found some coffee shops that serve coffee to go (most of them here require you to sit down and order coffee).
- Discovered how to take the subway to Tesco (large wal-mart like store).

Those are a few of our latest victories! 

We have also had lots of funny things happen since we've been here. As you can imagine. One story that comes to mind - we were trying to get home one night after a movie, it was about 10:30 p.m.  We decided to try to get a cab.  Usually here it is recommended to call a cab ahead of time (so you can ensure its a reputable company) but obviously we couldn't do that because we were already out.  So we went to a square near a large bus/metro stop and were looking for a cab.  We were looking for about 10 minutes and finally spotted two cabs parked on the street with their lights on indicating they were free. We went up to the first one - the cab driver was fast asleep.  We were like "should we wake her up??!!".  We went to the second cab.  Again, driver fast asleep.  We were giggling wondering if it would be rude to wake them up?  Did they want business more or sleep more?  We ended up taking the bus, which came just as we were trying to decide what to do. 

About the public transportation here.  Its VERY good.  Coming from D.C., we are amazed at how good it is and think its pretty funny that most people look at us funny when we say we don't have a car.  We have never waited more than 4 minutes for the subway or tram or 10 minutes for a bus.  No matter what day or time.  Another funny thing about the subway is that it is seriously fast and efficient.  These folks are not messing around.  The escalators run at least twice as fast as any in the U.S.  Its actually kinda scary to step onto it, I find myself grabbing Matt before we step on if he's with me.  No one walks up or down them because there is no need to - they are fast enough!  Also, the doors to the trains would never meet American safety standards I don't think.  They open and close while the train is still moving and when they shut, they SHUT.  They are made of extremely heavy metal and they SLAM.  There is no need for the warning that they have in the D.C. metro that says that the doors don't bounce back.  It is readily apparent that you will be crushed to pieces should you be so unfortunate as to get between them at the wrong time.

Well, enough about the public transportation in Budapest.  I am sure that you now know more than you ever wanted to know about it.

This is a holiday weekend in Hungary and Matt has Monday off.  So, we are renting a car and going to Heviz, Hungary.   This is a resort town about 2 hours west of Budapest that has a thermal lake - it is a natural lake that is fed by thermal springs so it never gets below 78 degrees F and gets as hot as 93 deg. in the summer. We are staying at a little B&B I found online, which has a hot tub, 2 saunas, and massages for $24/hour!  We can't wait to have a nice relaxing weekend after all the stress of moving. Here is a link to the hotel we are staying at that has pictures of the lake on it :  http://prestigehaz.hu/en/

That is all for now. 

May the peace of the Lord be with you,

Emily (& Matt)