Saturday, December 31, 2011

Most Popular Posts of 2011

I read somewhere that 2011 was the year in which nothing major happened. I'm not sure that was the case for us - but it was a year characterized by moving forward in what we were already doing. And it was GOOD.

Here are my most popular posts from 2011:
  1. May 21, 2011
  2. Surprise Amendment to Church Law in Hungary
  3. It's Official
  4. Morbid Angol Mondókák - Morbid English Nursery Rhymes
  5. Teaching Kids About the Real Saint Nicholas
  6. Bomba Jó - Bomb in Eger
  7. Felicia is One Year Old

Friday, December 30, 2011

Skiing in Bánkút

Hungary is famous for a lot of things: Music, food, thermal baths, wine, and many other things.
One thing Hungary is not famous for? - Skiing.

I have been snowboarding twice in Hungary - one of them was today, when I took Rosemary, Nate and Felicia to Bánkút ski area in the Bükk mountains, mostly to let Nate try out skiing.
A few years ago I went snowboarding on the highest peak in Hungary, Kékes tető (1014 m/ 3330 ft). It wasn't so great.

I spent the first hour today in Bánkút teaching Nate how to ski, and then I decided to buy a lift ticket and take a few runs myself.
There was actually much more snow there than I expected, considering that it is not far from Eger, and in Eger there is no snow at all.
Nonetheless, I kind of felt like I was snowboarding on frozen grass. There wasn't much of a base, to say the least.

But, there are a few positive things I would have to say about Bánkút:
  • It was CHEAP. I paid 1000 HUF (3.23 EUR) for my lift ticket - which lets me ride the lift 6 times, any time between now and when they close in March (providing that they have snow until then. They could close earlier if there is not enough snow). Also, I was able to rent skis for Nate for 1000 HUF too. That is cheap.
  • It was CLOSE to Eger. It was a short 1 hour drive from our house.
  • It is a great place to teach people how to ski - especially kids. If you are going to be teaching someone how to ski or snowboard, it makes a lot more sense to go to Bánkút rather than spending a lot more money on gas and lift tickets to go to bigger mountains in Slovakia or Austria, when all you really need to teach them is a minimal amount of snow and some short runs. There is nothing more frustrating than driving a long way to an awesome ski mountain, only to not be able to ski on it because you spend the whole day on the beginners' hill teaching someone the basics.

So, I thought up a few possible slogans for Bánkút:
  • "Bánkút: The Most Frozen Grass in Hungary!"
  • "Bánkút: Ne válaszd műsípályát - inkább gyere hozzánk és válaszd FŰsípályát!"
Here is a video of our trip today to Bánkút. Nate even did a bit of skiing on his own, but we didn't get video of that.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Funny Guy

Nate likes to make people laugh. His main audience is his sister Felicia - who is usually pretty easy to impress and make laugh.

I have been teaching Nate to tell jokes lately. So far, he knows 3:
  1. "A mushroom walks into a bar and says, 'hello everybody! I'm a fungi (fun guy)!"
  2. "A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, 'Why the long face?'"
  3. "What's brown and sticky? ... A stick."
The other night there was a youth group meeting, so Nate went and tried to tell them some jokes. He kind of messed up the horse one - he told them:
  • "A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender says, 'Why do you have such a long head?'"
Then he started making up his own versions:
  • "A crocodile walks into a bar, and the cowtender says, 'Why do you have a long face?'"
It was at that point when I realized that Nate has no idea what a bar or a bartender are. :)

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

It's Official

Here is the blog post I wrote a little over 3 years ago, when Balázs moved in with us and we became his foster parents.
Check it out - it is a blast from the past and worth the read.

This August we began the process of adopting Balázs. We didn't tell many people about it, because we weren't sure if it would be possible, as adoption can be a complicated and sometimes long and difficult legal process.

This Monday we got the papers in the mail that our adoption of Balázs has been approved and finalized. It's official; Balázs is now our son!

Why now? There are multiple reasons. To name only a few: Balázs is 17 now, which means that it was now or never. After turning 18 a person can no longer be adopted in Hungary. Another reason is because Balázs is part of our family - our little ones don't even remember a time when Balázs wasn't around; Nate was 1 and a half when he moved in - and we want to make Balázs' place in our family official and stable, and ensure that even after he turns 18, he has a secure family background.

I must say though, that as difficult as the adoption process can be for many people, we had an amazingly smooth experience. We saw the hand of God in a lot of things along the way which were potential roadblocks to us being able to adopt Balázs at all. It was also to our benefit that we had already had Balázs as a foster child for years and the authorities knew us and saw that we had his best interest in mind, which caused them to speed up the process.

We are glad to have Balázs as an official member of our family, and we are blessed that we get to be a part of God's work in his life.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The Good Guys

Last Tuesday I got to preach about Christmas and the love of God to a group of cancer survivors and their families. This is the 3rd time I've been invited to speak to them at Christmas time, for their annual Christmas gathering, and it was a great blessing for me to get to minister to them from the Word of God and get to meet so many of them.
We don't have many older people in our church, so I enjoy getting to minister to the older generation here in Hungary from time to time.

After I preached, a man came and sat down next to me, and introduced himself as an atheist. As we got to know each other, it turned out that this man, who is now 80 years old, was a former communist leader in Eger.

He told me how he had become a Communist party member in 1948, when he was 17 yrs old. This means that he not only lived through the Stalinist era of the 50's, but that he was even part of the regime during the harshest, most repressive period of communism in Hungary. Later he became the head of the biggest factory in the region (Berva), and became an upper level party leader in Eger.
His world has changed a lot since the end of communism in Hungary.

The thing that I think many people in the West don't understand about the people who were communists here in Eastern Europe, is that many of these people thought of themselves as the good guys.
They thought of themselves as those who were really compassionate and humane, who cared about creating a society where everyone was equal. They really viewed the capitalists as the bad guys who wanted to get rich by taking advantage of other people rather than creating a society characterized by equality.
They viewed themselves as morally superior to capitalists, because they believed that life is not primarily about accumulating material possessions (Jesus taught that by the way too... see Luke 12:15), and that it is better to be satisfied with having "enough" than to constantly strive for more and better material things (another Biblical concept - see 1.Tim 6:6-8)
They viewed the church as a corrupt institution, a 'good old boys club'.
They believed that certain forms of suppression of freedoms were necessary and good to protect the society they were trying to create.

This man I talked to still believed sincerely in these ideals - as did the other people we were sitting with at the table, all of whom were raised during communism. It was interesting to talk with them and hear their perspective.
The one thing I was able to tell them that I felt broke through their walls against religion was that for me Christianity is not about a church hierarchy or organization, but it is about following Jesus - his teachings and example. When I started talking about JESUS, they were captivated. Especially when I told them that many of the ideals which they believed made the 'old regime' good, were taught and exemplified by Jesus long ago.

In reality, Jesus is the revolutionary their hearts really long for. His revolution is the one that they really desire deep down - they have just been turned off from Christianity by both rhetoric and by the poor representation of Christ that some parts of the body of Christ have been guilty of throughout history.
My hope and prayer is that these people would be able to see Jesus and not the actions of men.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Kitüntetés - Award

Balázs több mint más fél éve tagja az egri polgárőrségnek.

Tegnap egy kitüntetést is kapott: Az Év Ifjú Polgárőre.

Nagyon büszkék vagyunk rád, Balázs!

Balázs has been a member of the Eger citizen's brigade - a volunteer organization that helps support the police - for about a year and a half now.

Last night he got an award: Youth Guard of the Year

We're proud of you Balázs!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

New Life in Heves - Új Élet Hevesen

The Lord has really been blessing our church's ministry in the town of Heves. New people have been coming around, and people are growing under the teaching of God's Word. It is really great to see and to be a part of.
Az Úr nagyon megáldja a gyülekezetünk hevesi szolgálatát. Mindig vannak új arcok, és az emberek növekednek Isten Igéjének a tanítása által. Nagyon jó ezt látni, és részt venni ebben a munkában.

There have always been quite a few people who attended the services who were not believers, but were interested in studying the Bible. Tonight I gave people a chance to respond to the Lord, and asked if there was anyone who would like to repent of their sins, and receive Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
Hevesen eddig sok olyan ember is járt a gyülibe aki még nem hívő, csak érdekelte őket a Bibliatanulmányozás. Ma este lehetőséget adtam, hogy ezek az emberek válaszoljanak Isten hívására, és megkérdeztem, hogy szeretne-e valaki megtérni és befogadni az Úr Jézust mint az élete Úra és Megváltója.

I knew that at least one or two people would come forward - because I had been talking with them for weeks about it. But I was happily surprised when 7 people came forward to repent of their sins and receive God's grace, and become children of God.
Tudtam, hogy legalább egy-két ember előre fog jönni - mert néhányukkal már hetek óta beszélünk róla. De meglepődtem és örültem, amikor 7-en előre jöttek, és megbánták a bűneiket és elfogadták Isten kegyelmét, és Isten gyermekeivé lettek.

Here is a picture of the 7 who received the Lord tonight:
Itt vannak azok akik ma este megtértek Hevesen:

Please continue to pray for the work that God is doing in Heves!
Kérlek, imádkozzatok továbbra is, hogy munkálkodjon az Úr Hevesen!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Red Eye

We thought Nate had pink eye this week. He woke up in the middle of the night on Tuesday complaining that his eye hurt, and in the morning it was swollen. It got to the point that he wasn't able to open his eye all the way and he was complaining that it hurt all the time.

We took him to the doctor, who referred us to the hospital, where Nate had to see a specialist.

In the end it turned out that it was only a stye (árpa) and we were able to treat it by putting a compress on his eye.
He was pretty excited about wearing it though, and enjoyed looking like a pirate. Our friend Dani came over once, and Nate promptly called him a "dirty scallywag".

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Teaching Kids about the Real Saint Nicholas

December 6 is St. Nicholas (Santa Claus) Day - HU: Mikulás - in Hungary and other countries of Europe.

Nate came into our room this morning and climbed into our bed. He has been pretty excited about Mikulás - today there is a Santa coming to visit his preschool, and last night we took him to a toy store that had a Santa. Nate told him exactly what he wanted for Christmas, and even wanted to sit on his lap.
We proceeded to tell Nate the story of Santa Claus - that is, the real Saint Nicholas - who was not a mythical fat man in red clothes who rode through the skies on a sleigh pulled by flying reindeer, but a devout Christian man, a pastor, who was persecuted for his faith, and gained fame by his generosity to the poor and those in need.

There are some Christians who think that Santa is evil, and that he takes away from the true meaning of Christmas. Not to mention, some would point out, that Santa is nothing more than a misspelling of SATAN, which must be why he goes around in those obnoxious red clothes: because he is from HELL and wants to take you and your kids back there with him!
This of course, is based on a sad lack of knowledge regarding the origin of Santa Claus - the name (in English) being simply a direct derivative of "Saint Nicholas".

For this reason, many Christians protest anything to do with Santa Claus, and tell their kids that Santa is not real, he is bad, and he takes away from the true meaning of Christmas, which of course is Jesus.

We don't avoid Santa Claus - we don't even want to. We see it as a great opportunity to teach our kids about a great Christian man who loved Jesus and was generous and kind because of the love of God which was in his heart. THAT is the "Christmas spirit".
We tell our kids that there are many people in the world who want to follow the example of Saint Nicholas, and that is why they will meet a Santa at their school and at the mall. And we teach our kids that we want to be like Saint Nicholas, and we are going to be generous to the poor and needy because God loved us so much that he gave us his Son, Jesus, so that we could have eternal life and have a relationship with God.

The Story of the Real Saint Nicholas
The real Saint Nicholas was born in the 3rd century in the village of Patara, in what is now southern Turkey, into a wealthy family. His parents died when he was young, and he was taken in and raised by a local priest. Following Jesus' call to the Rich Young Ruler to "sell what you own and give the money to the poor", Nicholas dedicated to use his entire inheritance to assist the sick, needy and suffering.
He became a pastor, and was later made Bishop of Myra. He became famous for his generosity and love for children.
Nicholas suffered persecution and imprisonment for his Christians faith during the Great Persecution (303-311) under Roman emperor Diocletian.
He attended the Council of Nicaea (325), at which he affirmed the doctrine of the deity of Christ.
Nicholas died in 343 in Myra. The anniversary of his death became a day of celebration, St. Nicholas Day, December 6th.

Many stories are told about St. Nicholas' life and deeds. Perhaps the most famous story is one of a poor man who had three daughters who were of marrying age. Because the man was poor, he was unable to provide a dowry for his daughters, which meant that they would not be able to find a descent husband, and would either be married into further poverty or would have to become slaves. After Nicholas found out about this family's situation, he visited the family's house, leaving them 3 anonymous gifts - each time a bag of gold, which was tossed through an open window while the family was sleeping. Legend has it that the gold fell into their shoes, the reason for the tradition in Europe that St. Nicholas leaves gifts in children's shoes. Nicholas provided for these poor girls to help them break out of the cycle of poverty.

Rather than teaching your kids the common myth about Santa Claus, and rather than trying to make Christmas Santa-free, take back the true story of Saint Nicholas and take hold of this opportunity to talk about a Christian man who loved Jesus and who exemplified the true Spirit of Christ and Christmas through compassion and generosity.

Monday, December 05, 2011


I love baptisms. And I love having the privileged of baptizing new believers, as they make a public statement that they have died to the person they used to be, and they have been born again to new life in Christ.

By God's grace, we have baptized people every year that we have been here in Eger. This year we baptized 6 new believers.

We have a good relationship with the Baptist church in Egerszólát, and they let us use their building, which has a baptismal.
We rented a bus and brought the Heves church up, so they could be with us for this event and because some of the people who were baptized were from Heves. God is doing a good work down there, and it is exciting to be a part of it.

Here are some pictures from the baptism which was on November 20.