Merry Christmas!!! I hope that this season of joy finds you all well. We have so much to be thankful for and celebrate this year. At the top of our list are our friendships with all of you, so thank you for being such amazing, faithful friends to us! With this post, we just wanted to give everyone an update on our first year here in Budapest and reflect on what this year has meant to us. I hope it is encouraging to you!
This year has been eventful to say the least. When I think back to where we were one year ago - in D.C. preparing for our big move and spending time with friends & family before we left at a frantic pace - I can't believe that that was only one year ago. I have come a long way from where I was a year ago! For me, this year has been about the Lord teaching me that my worth as a person is not in my occupation but is in my identity as a child of God. I thought I knew that before we left, but I definitely did not! After a tumultuous time where I was unsure of everything - what I should be doing day to day and even whether we should have stayed in the States, I am now at a really sweet place where I am enjoying life more fully than I ever have. I am loving having time to meet with friends, keep our household running, bake and cook, and just generally enjoy life! This fall, I started volunteering with a Christian organization called Campus Crusade for Christ. Here in Hungary, Campus Crusade has a ministry for high school and university students in the greater Budapest area. I am working with the high school ministry, where I am meeting regularly with a student, Rebeka, and attending the weekly gathering for the kids (sort of like an American youth group meeting). I love the Hungarian kids so much, they are all so precious! I am hoping to begin meeting with several more students on a regular basis as the year progresses. My other endeavor of late has been to take steps toward starting my own catering business here in Hungary. I am very excited about this prospect and am hoping to be in the position to start accepting small jobs soon. I am researching, gathering recipes, and trying to spread the word amongst the embassy community and other friends that we have here.
Matt and I have really had such an amazing fall, we have meant so many dear friends here in the last few months, which has been such a huge blessing to us. Most of these new friends are missionaries with Campus Crusade, and we have just had a blast becoming part of that community here.
Our other big highlight this year has been all the traveling we have been able to do. In May, we spent a weekend in Paris, and this fall and winter we have traveled to Munich, Athens (Greece, not GA!), Vienna and Stockholm. It is such a privilege to have the opportunity to see Europe at a leisurely pace. We love to visit new cities and compare them to each other. We especially loved Munich - the food and beer helped! - and Stockholm. Visiting Sweden at Christmastime was such a special time for me, as my family is Swedish and I grew up with lots of Swedish traditions at Christmas. I felt so at home in Stockholm, it definitely did not feel like a foreign country to me at all! I can't wait to go back and spend more time in Sweden!
Finally, this year has been for us about becoming an aunt and uncle! Our precious nephew Alexander was born in January and it has been a great joy of my life to watch him grow this year! In August, I was able to spend about two weeks with my sister Lisa and her husband Justin and baby Alexander and it was such a sweet time. We can't wait to visit with them again in January!
I have the paradoxically feeling that the last year flew by and took forever. One year ago Emily and I were busily getting ready to leave our friends and home in DC. We had no idea what we were getting ourselves into! Picking up and putting down roots in a foreign city has been both frustrating and rewarding. We did not love Budapest when we first arrived (that was a sentence cloaked in understatement). This city is more “foreign” than most of the cities we have visited in Europe. The language is unique and the people are a hard nut to crack. However, we have grown fond of the Hungarian food, culture, and people.
I work for the US Government! Specifically, I work for the US Agency for International Development (USAID). Like all government agencies, there is bureaucracy and we have an underlying suspicion that people in DC have no idea what’s going on outside of the beltway. However, I have very much enjoyed my job. I am blessed with a great boss who mentors me on how to be a great Management Officer. It has also been interesting working with the US Embassy staff and learning what goes on in a US Embassy overseas. I feel more strongly that diplomacy and development are very important to the US’s long-term national security (read this if you are interested in the US’s strategy link).
Marriage! It’s hard! It’s totally worth it! I forget sometimes that Emily and I have only been married 19 months. We have grown together so much through our overseas experience. We have learned to rely on each other and (more importantly) God since being outside the comforts of living in the US. I recommend any married couple to try it, Peace Corps takes couples of all ages!
We have been very thankful for our new friends in Hungary. Community is very important to us and it was VERY difficult to leave our community in DC. One of the new developments in Hungary is most of our friends here have kids. This has been super fun hanging out with the little tykes, Emily and I have babysat on several occasions.
Emily mentioned travel and how blessed we have been to romp around Europe. We came to a discovery on most recent trip to Stockholm, we really are food travelers. We love trying out the local food! Munich may be my favorite city based solely on the pretzels, beer, and sausages. However, the fish soup is pretty awesome in Stockholm and the French really know how to do bread. I would say the best wine so far is actually found here in Hungary.
Emily and I will probably be here until the summer of 2012. We are not sure what the future holds for us. But isn’t that part of the adventure of life? Please come join our adventure, if for only a short time. We have a guest bedroom and bathroom in the heart of Budapest. Regardless, we would love to hear from!
Matt and Emily
|In Paris |
|Seeing iPad for first time in Paris |
|On top of Acropolis overlooking Temple of Zeus|
|In Ancient Corinth|
|At the Parthenon|
|Warming up in Stockholm!|