Monday, April 11, 2011

Life in Eger

Some recent pictures and videos taken here in Eger.

Camping in the back yard:

Balázs and Nate with the Lego Buzz Lightyear in the Agria Park:

Köcsög fa. Hungarian tradition to decorate a tree with clay jars.

I realized the other day that this drainage pipe on my house is NOT connected to ANYTHING:

Taking the kids out to a coffee shop:

Felicia Body Building:

Nate telling how old people are:

Friday, April 08, 2011

Benefits of Being Bilingual

National Public Radio (NPR) posted this interesting report on being bilingual, a topic which is obviously close to our hearts.
Among others, they interview a Hungarian-American family who speak Hungarian in their home.

Nate has been going to óvoda (Hungarian preschool) for two months now, and we have found that the way he learns Hungarian best is by learning Hungarian nursery rhymes (mondókák).
Like the parents in the radio report, people have also criticized us for not speaking to Nate in Hungarian at home. For us, that is just something that isn't natural, and we trust that he is going to learn Hungarian in school, and will be better off for it.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

One Man's Trash is Another Man's Treasure

It has been said that one man's trash is another man's treasure.
That is certainly true during Lomtalanítás (Spring Cleaning) in Hungary.

Lomtalanítás is the one day of the year in Hungary, when you can put as much garbage out on the street as you want, of any size, and the city will take it away - but before the city comes to take it away, they give people a chance to rummage through it and take what they can find.

I have heard one person call this "a form of socialized refuse distribution".

At this time of the year the streets are filled with garbage - everything from green waste to broken appliances to old clothes.

And there are groups, which almost qualify as gangs, for whom lomtalanítás is better than Christmas. They are fairly well organized, knowing when different parts of the city will have lomtalanítás, and they will mark their territory by putting their people at different piles of trash to guard them. They even spend the night out on the street guarding their "property" until morning. There are even some people parked on the pile of junk opposite our house right now.
When we lived in our old place, once we were bringing a broken fan out to the street when someone ran up and asked if they could have it. We gave it to them, and then the person who had been sitting in front of our building for hours on a bucket started yelling at him, and demanding that he give him the fan, because that was his territory!

I must admit that we have actually gone "shopping" during lomtalanítás - we went to a local kindergarten last year and found a dump truck toy for Nate to play with in the sand box. It was a good find.

Here are some pictures Rosemary took today of the people who are guarding our street's pile of junk:

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Why I Love My Dacia

We have had our Dacia Logan MCV since June of last year, and we love it.
In fact, we even often tell each other how much we love our car, when we are getting into it or driving it.

When we started shopping for a car last year, we didn't plan to buy a Dacia, but after weighing our options we found that it was exactly what we needed and the best deal for the money. I don't regret it at all.

Here are some reasons I love my Dacia:
  • 7 full-sized seats.
    We looked at a few cars that had 5+2 seats, with those ones that fold down in the back - but those seats are usually quite small and uncomfortable. I actually find the 3rd row of seats in our car to be one of the most comfortable places in the car, and sometimes choose to sit back there on long trips so I can relax.
  • Off-road Capabilities.
    The MCV is not a 4-wheel drive car, but it was designed for Eastern European roads. So, it sits up quite high off the ground, and it has 16 in. wheels with 185 cm sidewalled tires. Sleek design was obviously not the main priority - but I love that I never have to worry about driving off-road with it, or on bad roads. I have taken this car to Ukraine a number of times, and on many bad roads and dirt roads in Hungary and have never bottomed out - whereas the others with me driving Fords, Peugeots and Opels bottomed out and got racked by pot holes.
  • Cargo Space.
    By removing the 3rd row of seats, I have had 5 adults and 6 full-size suitcases in the car before - comfortably.
    I often also take 6 people with luggage, comfortably.
  • Shelf.
    This may seem trivial - but it is one of the things we like about the car: The ceiling is high and there is a storage shelf above the back seat. It's the little things...
What do I not love about the car? Only a few things:
  • The fuel consumption isn't great: 8-8.5 l/100km (28 mile/gal). It's not the best, but it's not that bad either.
  • The button to roll down the window is not on the door, but on the center console. I don't think I'll ever get used to that.
We have put about 17,000 km on it, and are really satisfied with it, and would recommend it to anyone who is looking for a maximally practical but yet affordable car.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

I Heart Revolution

Last Thursday, together with some other churches in town, we promoted a showing of Hillsong United's documentary film, "I-Heart Revolution".

To summarize the film, it breaks down into 3 parts:
  1. Injustice, poverty and human suffering that is rampant in our world.
  2. The solution, the remedy is Jesus Christ.
  3. Because #2 is true, we as the body of Christ can and should do something about #1.
The film actually had very little to do with the Hillsong United band and their music and was more about what God worked in their hearts over 2+ years touring around the world, during which time they became aware of many significant world issues such as poverty, human trafficking, and other human suffering - and how this stands in such great contrast to those who live in abundance and have little or no awareness or concern about these things.

The film is essentially their message which they seek to communicate, which is that caring about individuals and showing them the love of Christ is something that is revolutionary, something which honors God and is an essential part to our calling as the body of Christ.

There were parts of the film, when they were talking about human suffering when I was on the verge of tears, and I could hear people around me in the theater crying. As a parent, the idea of children suffering is something that makes me very sad, and I know that for some people, the film would be too intense for them to handle. In fact, in the film, one of the things they mentioned is that we have a tendency to harden our hearts to the suffering around us, because if we would empathize with all the suffering in the world, it would simply be too much for us to handle; we would go mad - and in a way, this film was a small window into that feeling. In light of this, you realize how amazing it it that God does exactly that.

Here are some quotes from the film which sum up its essence:
  • "You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know" - William Wilberforce
  • "Injustice and indifference go hand in hand"
  • "The church is known for what we are against. The problem is that too often the things we are against are petty compared to the incredible suffering and injustice that takes place in the world. We have a tendency to make a big deal out of small things, and a small deal out of big things."
I am studying the OT prophets this semester in my theology studies, and Amos especially deals with how much God cares about human suffering and injustice, although these are topics which are dealt with a lot in the prophets. So, for me personally, this film resounded with a lot of things I have been reading lately - including other books like Crazy Love and Generous Justice - and a general movement I see in the Church towards caring about social justice and caring about people who are suffering, realizing that the Gospel is more than just a "get out of hell free card", and that walking with God is about more than just reading your Bible for 5 minutes a day and praying and going to church, but actually being part of God's mission here on earth.

I you have the chance to see it - I would definitely recommend it. It certainly changed how I think about Hillsong, in a positive way. It is 2 hrs long, and some parts might be a bit self-indulgent - but it is definitely worth watching.

Have you seen the film? What did you think?

What does the LORD require of you but to do justice,
and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?
(Micah 6:8 ESV)