Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Viva Las Vegas

I'm writing from Oceanside, which means Zach and I made it here safely - praise the Lord for that!

We got to Las Vegas in the morning after driving through the night, and spent the day there today with some friends.
We had a good time - thanks Chris and Jeremy!

Here's a picture we took with some nice people from India :)

Monday, December 29, 2008

All Kinds of Randomness

Here are some uncategorized random thoughts.
  • I spoke at Whitefields Community Church in Longmont today, where our friend Pete Nelson is the pastor. Its a great body, and it was great to be with them.
    I spoke there once before in March, and I was talking to one of the ladies from the church before the service, and she said - "Are you the missionary from Hungary? Yea, there was a missionary from Hungary here back in March, but he was fatter than you!"
    Yea, well the person she remembered was actually me - but I guess I've lost some weight since then - praise the Lord for that!
  • I got to go snowboarding twice here in Colorado, which was really great. The conditions were amazing.
    Friday we went to Winter Park, and had knee-deep fresh in Parsenn bowl, and were getting face shots in the powder. It was a blessing :)
  • Nate can say a few words now. After a few weeks with cats, he learned the word "kitty", and he likes to call all cats "Duchess" - the name of one of my parents' cats.
  • The Denver Broncos just lost to the San Diego Chargers. They got killed.
    This was a big game - the winner goes to the playoffs and the loser's season is over. Stinkin' Broncos know how to choke, and do it well.
    Since I'm from Denver and Rosemary and her brother are from San Diego - well, it will be hard to be around them for a while.
  • Rosemary and Nate flew out to San Diego on Saturday, and I'm driving out there tonight.
    I'm getting in the car in about half an hour, to leave. We will make a stop in Vegas to visit some friends.
    I will have some company - April (who worked with us in Eger) has a brother named Zach, and he is going to make the drive with me, which will help.
    Please pray that we'll have a safe drive!

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Revenge of the Kitty

Nate is having a good time here in Denver, for many reasons, but one of the main ones is: Kitties.

We don't have cats, and as far as I know, until our trip here, Nate had never even seen a cat up close.

Nate is a kitty lover. He is also a kitty hunter, a kitty terrorizer and a kitty harasser.

He spends all day every day chasing the kitties around. When he finds them sleeping, he likes to bring them gifts, and place things on top of them.
He also enjoys pulling on their tails and ears. He tries to pet them, but his fine motor skills aren't quite there yet, so the petting usually ends up more like slapping...

So, the other day, one of the kitties had enough and left Nate with a nice scratch on his nose :(
Its like the old saying goes - mess with a bull and you'll get the horns; terrorize a kitty and you'll get the claws...

Anyways, after a short break, Nate has shaken off his injury and is back at confidently chasing kitties around the house :)

Friday, December 26, 2008

Kissing Cousins

We went to a birthday party the other day for Nate's cousin Isabella, and got to meet with lots of other cousins and family members.
One of Nate's other cousins - Sara - was quite the aggressive female; and she was very insistent on kissing Nate, even though Nate wanted nothing to do with it!

At one point she actually tackled him on the ground and laid on top of him, so she could give him a big kiss.
In fact, she kissed him so much that it left a mark on his face, because she used her teeth! Aggressive female kissing cousin...
For now its cute, but I hope these cousins stop kissing pretty soon. Its true that we live in the mountains, but we don't intend to raise them up as hillbillies!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Christmas in the City

I love Colorado, and I love Denver; its a great city.
Here are some pictures I took of Denver at night, lit up with lights for Christmas.
Merry Christmas to you and yours!

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Cold in Colorado

This is the first time that Rosemary has been in Colorado in the winter.
She has always told me that the reason she would never want to live in Colorado is because it gets too cold in the winter, and I always try to explain to her that it doesn't actually get super cold here, and that the winters are quite mild in Denver.
I tell her stories to try to convince her of this, like about how I've played basketball in a t-shirt on Christmas day before in Denver.

Well, now there's no chance that she will believe that CO winters are mild. This past week there has been a lot of snow, a cold snap, and record-low temperatures.
According to this article in the Denver Post, on Monday the low temperature was -15F/-26C. Tuesday had the lowest recorded temperature for that date since 1897.

All across the city school buses couldn't start, and kids didn't have to go to school - the all-time greatest feeling for any kid in the winter!
Here at my parents' house, the water pipes froze in the garage, and we had to use a propane heater to thaw them out.

Before and shortly after I moved to Hungary, Colorado had a drought for 5 yrs. There was no snow, the winters were warm, glaciers were melting in the mountains. It was bad; everyone was talking about global warming.
But for the last few years, there has been a lot of snow and cold temperatures.
So, it's cold here - but at least its back to normal!

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Our Fun with the Budapest Airport Strike

We're in Denver right now - we were able to make our flights on Friday, but just barely.

I wrote on Wednesday about the strike at the Budapest airport, which was causing flights to be canceled and delayed. We weren't sure if we were going to be able to fly out on Friday.
On Thursday we checked the website, and the airport reported that "all flights were departing on schedule." Although that is true, what they weren't saying was that although all flights are departing on schedule - many of them are flying out without passengers!
When we arrived at the airport on Friday, there was a line of at least a thousand people waiting to go through security (they are the ones on strike); people were fighting and yelling. There were cops walking around carrying AK-47s, with the big banana clips on them. It was crazy.
The other airport in Budapest was closed and only one terminal was working at the main one - so everyone had to go through this terminal - but no one could go through security until 8am, because of the strike.

We went to check in, and they told us that there was no chance we would make our flight to London at 8:30, because waiting in the security line would take 4 or 5 hrs, and the flight would leave at 8:30, with whoever was standing at the gate at that moment.
They told us that we could take a later flight to London, but then we would miss our connection to Denver, and since it flies only once a day, we would be stuck in London, and the next flight with a free seat would only be on Monday, and on top of that, British Airways wouldn't pay for us to stay in a hotel, because the BP airport strike isn't their problem.
The other option was to come back on Monday, but then it would probably be the exact same situation all over again.
So our only chance was to get on the 8:30 flight by trying to push our way through the security line. We decided that Rosemary and Nate should go, and I would take the later flight and sleep in London until I could get a connection to Denver.
Rosemary started crying - for real - and begged the security guards to let her through so she wouldn't have to sleep for days in an airport with the baby. They decided to let all 3 of us through, and we were able to make the flight on time and get to Denver.

A few other cool things happened; one of our bags was way overweight, but they didn't charge us, because there were so many people waiting, and the other is that in the airport we ran into a guy who used to live in Eger and come to our church who is a professional wrestler (not WWF style!) in Germany.

So, praise the Lord for these things. We feel greatly blessed that were able to make it. It would have been really bad if it hadn't worked out, but the Lord took care of us.
Nate earned his stay once again by getting us to the front of the security line! He's worth his weight in gold :)

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Flying on Friday?

We have tickets to fly on Friday to Denver through London, but today a strike started at the airport in Budapest, and a lot of flights are being canceled - I've attached an article below.
Please pray that we'll be able to fly out on Friday, since we already have plans for Saturday in Denver!

The Associated Press
December 10, 2008
BUDAPEST, Hungary: Trade unions at Hungary's main airport are on strike, leading to the delay or cancellation of dozens of flights.

Dozens of afternoon flights at Budapest's Ferihegy Airport have been canceled. Malev, Hungary's national airline, says it has canceled all of its flights departing from the capital.

Destinations affected include Paris, London and Amsterdam.

Trade unions are striking because they have been unable to reach a deal on a new collective agreement with Budapest Airport Zrt., the airport's management company.

Budapest Airport is majority-owned by a consortium led by Germany's Hochtief.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Google Friend Connect cont...

I just added another gadget from Google Friend Connect to this blog site.
Its on the right, called "The Wall".
Anyone can leave a comment for anyone, start a discussion, ask a question, etc...

So, don't be shy! Join the site, and write on The Wall!

Friday, December 05, 2008

Google Friend Connect

I love Google's online apps more and more. I love the Calendar. I love Gmail. I really love Google Docs - I don't even use Microsoft Word any more.
They even have an online translator site: Google Translate.

Now, Google, in their efforts to take over the internet, and thus the World, are making a foray into social networking too.

I added one of their social networking gadgets to this site just for fun. You can join this site and any other that has this gadget on it, mark some people as friends, then they can mark some people as friends, then they can mark some people as friends...
You get the idea. 6 degrees of separation...
Anyways - check it out if you're interested; it seems pretty simple and pretty cool - like most of Google's stuff.

To find out more about it, or add it to your site, click here.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

No Fear

At church last night, I watched Nathaniel during the prayer time, so Rosemary could pray with the others, and I learned something that freaked me out - he has no fear.

I already kind of knew that, in theory, but it really hit me yesterday when he tried to run down the stairs in our church building about 10 times, and would have seriously hurt himself if I hadn't been there to catch him.

Back in the day, everyone had those shirts that said "No Fear!" After seeing in Nathaniel what it looks like for a person to really have "No Fear!", I have to say that you'd really have to be an idiot to think its a cool thing to have "No Fear!"

As usual, the Biblical perspective is the most balanced:
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2.Tim 1:7
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction. Prov 1:7

In other words - we shouldn't be controlled by fear or let it cripple us from moving forward or doing right things, but we must have a healthy kind of fear, which keeps us from doing things which are destructive or stupid.

I hope Nathaniel gets this healthy kind of fear ASAP, because he's scaring me with those stairs!

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Wind of Change

Like the Scorpions back in 1990, we're feeling the Wind of Change here too.

Balázs moved in last week. Its been a really big change, but we're getting used to it. It many ways it is nice to have him around; he's a really good guy. Tomorrow we have a meeting at the gyám hivatal in Füzesabony as part of the process of us taking him in. He's really nervous about it - poor guy.
We also still need to find a place for him to stay for a few weeks while we are in America.
Please pray for these things!

This week our Wednesday Bible study changed locations - for the past year and a half we've been meeting in the apartment of a couple from the church, and now we moved it to our church building. Our idea was that more people might show up if it was in a public place rather than someone's apartment - which is what actually happened :)
We also changed the time from 7 to 6 - which is cool, because this way Rosemary gets to come to church and we get home earlier, but it also means I have less time to prepare on Wednesdays!
And we also started studying a new book. For the last 3.5 yrs that our church has existed, we've been studying the Torah on Weds, and last week we finished the last chapter of Deuteronomy. So today we started Hebrews, which I'm really excited about studying with the church.

Also, I sent in my application for a seminary this week. Its called the Open Theological College, and its part of the University of Gloucestershire, England.

And a good friend of mine moved to Budapest yesterday, for work, after getting laid off from his job in Eger.
Budapest is a black hole in Hungary. It sucks in everything around it.
I hope my friend will be able to return from the great beyond soon.

I wouldn't mind following the Moskva down to Gorky park...

Friday, November 28, 2008

Pumpkin Pie

I hope you're having a good day on this Black Friday in America, which marks the beginning of the Christmas shopping season.
According to this article, some people have been letting their drive to acquire for more stuff run wild. This is really sad, and so far from what Christmas is really about.
I pray that we could keep the right focus during this Christmas season:
Behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Sophisticated Belgrade

I ran across this video on Youtube. Its an advertisement for tourism in Belgrade from the 80s.
I wonder why they don't make tourism adverts like this anymore...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Zbogom, Yugo!

It is the end of an era.
The Zastava auto plant in Kragujevac, Serbia stopped production of the Yugo car last Thursday.

Its kind of hard to be sad about this, considering that I had just assumed they stopped making Yugos a long time ago - kind of like when Ronald Reagan died; I was sad, but I was mostly surprised that he had actually still been alive until then! Like 6 months before his death I even asked someone - Hey, Ronald Reagan already passed away, right? And they said - Yea, I think so...
Turns out that they've been making Yugos (although less and less) all the way up until last Thursday, which means that the Yugo not only outlived the Trabant, it also outlived the country it was named after!

Production of the Yugo began in 1981, and for much of its lifetime, the Yugo was the cheapest car in the world - the 2007 models cost about €3500 new.
One of my aunts in California used to drive a Yugo. I remember riding around in it. It was kind of like being in a small Suzuki, just more uncomfortable.

The Zastava factory has signed an agreement with Fiat - Fiat will fix up the factory which was damaged by NATO bombing, and will be producing 2 new Fiat models, possibly up to 200,000 a year by 2010.
You can be sure though that the Yugo will not be quickly forgotten - there are still quite a few on the streets in Hungary and its estimated that 1 in 3 people in Serbia have owned a Yugo at some time in their life!
Even the Deputy Prime Minister of Serbia has a Yugo, and did an interview with the BBC while driving it in downtown Belgrade. Here's the video.

The biggest problem with the Yugo being gone, is that all the jokes about them will not pass on to future generations. In that sense, this is a great loss for humanity.
Here are some Yugo jokes to help you say goodbye to the Yugoslav wonder:
  • Why does a Yugo have a defroster on the rear window? To keep your hands warm while you push it.
  • What do you call a Yugo's shock absorbers? Passengers.
  • The new Yugo has an air bag. Before an accident, start pumping real fast.
  • How do you double the value of a Yugo? Fill the gas tank.
  • What do you call a Yugo at the top of a hill? A miracle.
How do you feel about the end of the Yugo era?

Kids These Days...

Each generation is growing up with more electronics and more advanced technology, and it seems they often catch on to new technology faster too.
For example: whenever there is something wrong with my computer, a High School aged kid from our church comes and fixes it for me.

But it seems that my son, at 14 months, has already surpassed me technologically.

Nathaniel got a hold of Rosemary's phone today, took 2 pictures with it, and then MMS-ed the pictures to my phone!

I'm amazed. I don't even know how to send MMS-s. I tried to do it once, and it didn't work...

Monday, November 24, 2008


As of tomorrow, things are going to change in our household.
We are in the process of taking in a young guy from our church as a foster child (fogadott gyermek), making us foster parents (nevelőszülők), and he will begin living with us, as part of our household, tomorrow.

His name is Balázs and he's 14 years old and in the 8th grade.
He's being taken away from his mom, and would have ended up in an orphanage if no one had been willing to take him in.
We've know him for the last 2 years that he's been part of our church; during that time his dad died, and he's been living in a pretty rough situation at home, without basic needs.
He's from the village of Szihalom, where a few people from church are from, and where our church does outreaches from time to time.

What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?
If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that?
So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.
James 2:14-17

This is the verse that the Lord placed on our hearts and brought to our minds as we were praying about what to do with Balázs, and I think it directly applies to this situation.
We believe this is God's will for us and for Balázs, so we're going for it. Its going to change our lives quite a bit - our apartment is going to be a little cramped and its going to be tighter financially, but, as we talked about in church this Sunday, if we would know how everything's going to work out, then it wouldn't be a step of faith.
We are here to have an impact on people's lives for the Lord, and this is a good opportunity for us to do that in Balázs's life.
  • Please pray for the 4 of us as we make this transition!
  • Please pray that we would have wisdom to raise a teenager!
  • Please pray that we could raise him in the Lord's ways.
Here's an interview I did with Balázs a few weeks ago at our clothing donation outreach in Szihalom, for part of another video we made as a report for the church about the outreach:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Csepel Művek

Back in September, when Rosemary and I went to Bulgaria, our flight was delayed from Budapest, and we had 5 hrs to burn. Our flight was supposed to leave at 5:30am, so there weren't a whole lot of options for what we could do at that time.
So, we called up a friend to see what he was up to - but he wasn't as happy to hear from us at 5:30 as we had hoped he would be. Then we went to Tesco and let Nathaniel ride around in the shopping cart, which he always enjoys.
And then we did something that I'd wanted to do for a really long time - we went to Csepel, to take a few pictures of urban decay.

Csepel is big island on the Danube river - the northernmost part of which belongs to the city of Budapest, and that part has one of the biggest industrial areas in the city.
The "Csepel Művek" industrial area was originally made up of steel works owned by the Weiss family. This factory was taken by the state, and during Communism this became one of the main industrial centers of Hungary. The government actually called Csepel Művek "the heart of Communism in Hungary."
After the decentralization of the economy, many of the factories were abandoned, but a good part of Csepel Művek is still in use.

Here are the photos:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Sleeping Habits

A lot of people do strange things in their sleep. This is what Nate does:

Nate has been sleeping through the night like a pro for the last few months - which is REALLY nice for us.
But every now and then he wakes up in the middle of the night, usually because he's wiggled his legs or arms out of his "baby prison cell" in his sleep, and wakes up to find himself stuck!
But, he's learning to just fix himself, and go right back to sleep!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Scavenger Hunt

Nate helps to keep our lives exciting, by taking things we use, and putting them in new, more interesting places.

Every day is kind of like a scavenger hunt, or an Easter-egg hunt, where we have to find where Nate put our mobile phones, or our wireless mouse, or the remote controls, etc...

This time, I found my phone hidden away in a basket of hand towels.
Pretty soon he's going to get good enough at this that we won't be able to find the stuff he hides!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Enjoying Autumn

Although Nate was alive and kicking at this time last year, he couldn't really enjoy the fall because he was just a tiny guy.
Here's a picture of him from this time last year:

Nate's a big boy now, so we took him to the Érsekkert (the city park in Eger) last week, and he had a good time walking in the leaves.
Here's a slideshow of some pictures we took:

And here's a video:

Sunday, November 16, 2008


We're not really "gun people," but I guess we're not not "gun people" either. I don't own any guns, and I'm not planning on getting any - but I don't have any problem with them.
There are a couple guys in our church who are gun people - the kind who like to hunt, and instead of eating dessert after dinner, clean their guns while they watch TV.
One of these guys took us out not long ago to a quarry outside of Eger, and we did some shooting - meaning that Rosemary shot a gun (a 9mm Hungarian-made police pistol), and I shot some pictures of it.
I must say, there was something very attractive about my wife holding a deadly weapon, whatever that may be...

Friday, November 14, 2008

Shopping Abroad

One of the main things we do when traveling to any other country is spend a lot of time in a grocery store, finding local specialties and things we can't buy in Hungary.
In Slovakia, we always spend a long time in Tesco loading up on:
  • certain nuts (I know, it sounds nuts...)
  • Rajo brand yogurt
  • Knedli (steamed bread)
  • Ewe cheese
  • Kofola (Czech and Slovak national soda - made from some coffee byproducts - its an acquired taste!)
  • Slovakia brand chips (ironically made in Czech Rep.).
By this point, we know what things we can buy in certain countries, which we can't get elsewhere - sometimes American products and sometimes specific national products:
  • Slovakia = Dr. Pepper
  • Bulgaria = Doritos chips (they have different flavors than in the States) and Digestive cookies (Rosemary's favorite)
  • Romania = Skittles (I went to the border once when I lived in Debrecen just to buy some)
  • Croatia = Oreos
  • Former Yugoslavia = Cockta
I'm sure there are many more than these.
What about you? Are there any products you make sure to buy when you visit certain places?

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


Statue and Spire
It turns out that "Livability" is not a made-up word.
In an international competition held in Dongguan, China, to determine the most "livable cities," the Hungarian cities of Eger and Pécs were among the top 30 to make it into the final round.

On Monday the results came, and Pécs came in 2nd place for their grouping, and although Eger didn't make it into the final 3 in their grouping, they got a nice plaque to make them feel better for losing :)
Here's the article in Hungarian, and one in English.

I agree - although that's not why we moved here, Eger is a really nice place to live.
I think the biggest problem in this city is the lack of jobs - we've known so many people who wanted to stay in Eger, but ended up moving, because they couldn't find work here. Its a constant prayer request from people in our church.
From a spiritual perspective - this city is in great need of Jesus Christ; there aren't many born again believers compared to its size, and eastern religion is very fashionable here.

Even though Eger wasn't in the final three in this competition - the results show that there's still a pretty good chance that its better here than wherever you are :)
Please pray that God would work here, and the city would be as beautiful inwardly as it is outwardly!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Life Verses

On Sundays I'm teaching through the book of Acts in the church. One of my favorite sections of the book is Paul's 3rd missionary journey, where he goes to Ephesus, and spends over 2 years there planting a church and teaching the Bible. Somehow I feel like I can relate to that.

Sunday, I got to teach Ch 20 - where Paul says goodbye to the Ephesian elders, and holds a mini "Christian Leadership Conference" with them.
And there in Ch 20, there are a couple verses which I really love; Paul says:
And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. (Acts 20:22-24)

I consider this one of my "Life Verses."
I know that term sounds a bit cliché, and I don't like using Christian clichés, but it does describe well what I'm trying say.
What I mean by it is - those verses which have shaped your life, or influenced the way you live your life.

Personally, I remember that when I was praying about whether or not I should move to Hungary, one night I was reading my Bible, and I read this verse, and it just jumped of the page and tackled me! And I said - God, I want to have that same attitude that Paul had - that the most important thing in his life was not his own comfort, but to serve the Lord and make His Grace known to others.
God has used this verse to shape my life.

What about you? What are some of your "Life Verses," which God has used to shape your life?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Fighting the Good Fight of Faith

Sometimes I hear Christians say, that different Christian denominations need to lay aside our differences and unite for the cause of Christ.
I both agree and disagree with that statement.

I agree that we should all get along and work together to help our cities come to know Jesus Christ.
Tonight I went to a prayer meeting with some other pastors from Eger, and I will have another one later this week. Our church often takes part and sometimes organizes events with brothers and sisters from different Christian denominations, and I am glad that in our church I see absolutely no hard feelings towards other groups or any elitist attitudes. Another good thing, is that our church is in a good relationship with the whole spectrum of different churches in our area.

However, I disagree that we need to lay aside our differences completely and "unite."
We don't need to unite, since we are already united in Christ - we are already part of the same family - we cannot become any more united than we already are, by doing something together. Paul said "[be] diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Eph 4:3) In other words, we don't need to "create" unity, we just need to "preserve" it - not tear it apart or stir up dissension.
Some would say, "Well, yes, but that is just passive unity - we need to also have active unity." The reason "active unity" doesn't always work well, is because many times when someone organizes one of these interdenominational "let's all do something together" events, they don't really want to work together - they just want other people to do their thing, and the other people, understandably, don't like that.
And I don't think that unity means completely laying aside our differences either. I think that, for the most part, we should celebrate our differences. There are lots of different types of people, and there are different styles of worship, which some relate to better than others. Different Christian groups reach different types of people because of their different styles.

Here's an example of two groups of Christians who are not celebrating their differences.
Greek Orthodox and Armenian Orthodox monks were preparing for a ceremony in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem this past Sunday, when a disagreement led to a full-on brawl, which had to be broken up by the police.
Here's a video, and here's the article about what happened.
I don't think this is what Paul meant when he said "fight the good fight of faith," and I hope that things never get to this between any of the churches in Eger!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Rožňava & Krásna Hôrka

There's something I inherently love about Slovakia.
Probably its because of the mountains - I know that I live in the "mountainous" region of Hungary, but in SK they have some serious mountains - the kind with snow on them 12 months a year. And I like that - it makes me feel at home.
We live about 45 min from the border, and we go to Slovakia probably about once a month - sometimes more sometimes less, depending on the time of year. In ski season, I obviously go there more often - I can be at Tatranská Lomnica ski area in 2 hrs, door to door.

The closest part of SK to us is the Gemer/Gömör region, which is right on the border and full of caves and castles. Its an area I'd love to spend more time in.
The city of Rožňava/Rozsnyó is the capital of the Gemer region, and the Hungarian noble Andrássy family had a couple of nice castles right outside of the city - one in Betliar/Betlér and one of them being the amazing hilltop castle of Krásna Hôrka/Krasznahorka.

Here are some photos from our recent trip to Rožňava & Krásna Hôrka:
Authentic SlovakiaClosed InDowntown RožňavaAndrássy MouseoleumRožňava

Friday, November 07, 2008

Entertainment News

If there is one thing I really dislike, its "entertainment news." I could care less what Paris Hilton wore to some awards ceremony or what Justin Timberlake does in his free time (although we were pretty sad when Brad and Jennifer split up - we were rooting for them to make it long-term as a Hollywood couple).

However, there were 2 stories that caught my eye recently.
  1. "Heroes" has begun to stink
    We started watching Heroes when it first came out, and really liked the first season. It was the kind of show that was able to hold us over as we waited for our one and only true show viewing experience - LOST.

    We watched the 2nd season of Heroes too, and that was pretty good, but recently we started watching the first few episodes of season 3, and just stopped watching altogether. The plot line jumps back and forth, it has a very dark feeling to it, and more than anything else - its just flat out boring, and we can't get into it.

    Apparently we aren't the only ones who feel this way.
    According to this article, Heroes, which in its first season surpassed Lost in the ratings, has lost over 2 million viewers this season! As a result, 2 of the co-producers, who were also writers on the show, have been fired.
    Bummer for those guys, but hopefully this change will result in the show being more interesting - which would be nice.
    Until then, we're just going to hold our breath and wait for Lost to start up again in January.

    Has anyone out there watched Heroes this season? What do you think?

  2. Guns n' Roses is releasing a new album
    Rosemary and I have a common love for 80's rock n' roll.
    When we were dating, we used to go to this café in Debrecen that played 80's rock music, and we would sit there for hours drinking coffee and singing along to whatever we knew the words to. And of course, one of our favorites is Guns n' Roses "Appetite for Destruction" - one of the all-time best rock albums ever made.

    Guns n' Roses just announced that after 15 years in the making, their new album, "Chinese Democracy" is finished, and set to be released on Nov 23.
    According to this article, Axel Rose started writing this album in 1993 - when metal was still cool - and now, 15 yrs and $11.5 million later, we finally get to see this "masterpiece" which Axel has been "perfecting" for the last decade, recording and re-recording over and over.

    I watched a documentary once about Brian Wilson (the Beach Boys), in which they talked about how in the early years of the Beach Boys, Brian Wilson was considered a progressive musical genius. And because of his initial success, there became a mounting pressure for him to produce something awesome with each new album - which led in the end to Brian trying to outdo himself by creating a grand masterpiece, which he never finished, because he had a mental breakdown from the pressure of it.
    It seems to me that this is the case with "Chinese Democracy" - its Axel Rose's grand masterpiece, which he was never able to perfect the way he envisioned.

    Here's the first single from the album - the title track.
    What do you think? Is this what you would expect from 15 yrs and $11.5 mill?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

All Hail the Chief

By now enough of the votes are counted to conclusively say that Barack Obama will be the 44th president of the United States.

I'm not really sure what to think - I was hoping for a McCain win, but I wasn't really a big fan of either candidate.

But what I do know is that God is sovereign, and that he is the one who places and disposes of rulers as He pleases. Romans 13:1 says, "There is no authority except from God, and those that exist are established by God."

I also know that God is not a Republican - which many Christians often forget.
When the Angel of the Lord appeared to Joshua in Joshua 5:13-15, Joshua asked him, "Are you for us or for our adversaries", and the Angel of the Lord replied, "No; rather I indeed come now as captain of the host of the Lord." It wasn't a yes-or-no-question, but the Angel of the Lord was telling Joshua - "God is not on your side, nor the side of your enemies - but you can choose to be on God's side."

The Westminster Confession of Faith says this:
"God the great Creator of all things does uphold, direct, dispose, and govern all creatures, actions, and things, from the greatest even to the least, by His most wise and holy providence, according to His infallible foreknowledge, and the free and immutable counsel of His own will, to the praise of the glory of His wisdom, power, justice, goodness, and mercy."

Somehow, God is going to use this for His Glory and the fulfillment of His plans.
And no matter who the earthly political leaders are, I'm glad that I have citizenship in heaven and I'm longing for the city which has foundations, whose architect and builder is God.
For kingship belongs to the Lord, and he rules over the nations. Psalm 22:28

What are your thoughts/hopes/fears regarding an Obama presidency?

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Hát, vidéki vagyok, na!

Most hétvégén lenn vótunk az alfődön, és meglátogattuk Rosemary rokonait Imrehegyen. Elmentünk az Imrehegyi temetőbe, asz József bácsi megmutatta Rosemarynek, hogy a nagyapja hun van eltemetve. Sok vót a forgalom a fődúton a temető felé, hisz akkor mindszent vót, és olyankor ott álandóan valaki gyön, valaki mén.

Több évig laktunk az alfődön, Debrecen nagyközségében, és biza máshogy böszélnek az alfődi embörek mint mik, itten Egerben.
Amikor Egerbe költöztünk Debrecenből, az egriek mindig ki probáltak javítani, mert azt gondolták, helytelenül böszéltünk - pedig csak alföldi tájszólással nyomtuk a magyart. Direkt mondtam/kérdeztem olyanokat, mint "mikor jössztök man nálunk?", "honnan gyöttér?", "De szíp!", vagy "bocsika, ípp nincsen pízem!"
Komolyan mondom, hogy az elején amikor kezdtem tanulni a magyart, nem értettem, hogy a magyar abc-ben miért van 2 í betű (é és í)! A gyüliben amikor énekeltünk, probáltam megfejteni a magyar írást és kiejteni a vetített dalszövegeket, de mindig zavarban voltam, hogy az é betű miért pont ugyanúgy hangzik mint az í betű - pl. "Jízus Úr a mennyben..." "És ín úgy vágyom Rád..."

Én tényleg szeretem az ízes magyar böszédet, és igyekszem használni a következő szavakat/kifejezéseket amennyire csak lehet:
  • -től, -tól, -ből, -ból, -ről, -ról = -tő, -tó, -bő, -bó, rő, ró
  • lány, bolt = jány, bót
  • "ám" - akár többször egy mondatban
  • "húzzamaninnen!"
  • azért = azé
  • a "hát" bármilyen formája (hát, há, hat) - ami azé jó, mert akármit is jelenthet - igen, nem, talán, persze, mit tuom én?, stb...
  • "Ahun-e?"
Na, szóljátok hozzá! Mik a kedvenc vidéki szavak/mondások nektek?

October 31

On October 31 (last Friday), Rosemary, Nate and I were in Vajta, at CCBCE. We got the chance to go down and speak to the students about our experience as missionaries - what we've been through and what we've learned. We had a good time meeting the students and visiting friends there.

October 31 is of course a holiday. Well, actually more than one holiday - it is both Halloween and Reformation Day.

Reformation Day is much closer to my heart than Halloween for obvious reasons. It was on October 31, 1517 that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the church in Wittenberg with the goal of reforming the church and bringing it back to the simple truths of the Bible, and thus sparking the Protestant Reformation.
While we were in Vajta, our church in Eger took part in a Reformation Day celebration at the Lutheran church in Eger together with the other protestant churches in town, and Jani, one of our elders, got to speak about the our common roots, as protestants, in the Bible and in the Reformation.

However, while our church in Eger was being spiritual and celebrating Reformation Day, we in Vajta were dressing Nate up for Halloween.
Of all the places in Hungary, Vajta is probably the best to take a kid on Halloween. They can actually get dressed up with other American kids there, and go trick-or-treating.
We had 2 Halloween costumes for Nate - a ninja and a dragon - so we dressed him up in both, which turned out well, because we had an extra costume to share with Nina.
Here are some pictures of Nate from Halloween:
Thanks to my mom and dad for sending the dragon, and thanks to Chris for sending the ninja outfit.
When Nate was first born, Rosemary used to say "Oh, he's a little angel who flew down to us from heaven!" I didn't think that was very manly sounding, and I could just imagine Nate getting harassed about that in his teenage years, so I would always say "He's not an angel, he's a scary ninja who sneaked out of the darkness and into our home."
So, it was nice to see Nate in true ninja style this Halloween.

Oh, and if you're ever curious about what happened on any given day in Canada, you can find that out here.

Walking (Updated)

Nate started walking on Tuesday (Oct 28)!
Its kind of hard to say when he really started walking, as he had been taking steps between pieces of furniture for about a month - but we're going to say that it was Tuesday that he started walking on his own.
Here's a picture of Nate standing in the living room - he had walked in there from the kitchen to watch his favorite TV show - Kisvakond.
Here's a video of Nate walking:

Monday, October 27, 2008

Trabant News

The Trabant is a true masterpiece of communist-era, East German engineering - rivaled only by the other automotive wonder from the GDR, the Wartburg.
The Trabant is an icon. It was produced for almost 30 years without any significant change in deisgn. The body of the car was "Duroplast" - a plastic material made from recycled cotton waste and resin.
I'm glad that there are still a lot of these cars around in Hungary, although there are less and less since they are out of production. If I had the money, I wouldn't mind getting an "eastern car" - but not a Trabant, preferably a Lada Niva.
I ran across a few news stories recently about these cars, so here goes:
  1. New Trabants
    A company in the eastern German state of Saxony (where the original Trabant was also produced) is developing a "grown-up version" of the famous Trabi, which will be introduced at the International Auto Show in Frankfurt in 2009.
    The car - called newTrabi will look very much like the original Trabant, but will comply with modern security and environmental standards. The newTrabi will also have a new 4-cylinder engine, and not the same two-stroke engine as the original.
    Click here to read the whole article.
  2. Trabant Boat
    This report was on CNN Video today:
  3. Original Trabant Commercial
    I found this on Youtube:
Long live the Trabant!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Food Coloring

One of Nate's favorite things to do is unpack the kitchen cabinets.
I've had it on my to-do list for a while now to put child locks on those doors, but I haven't gotten around to doing it yet.
Last night Nate found a bottle of food coloring in the cabinet, which happened to be leaky. And it got EVERYWHERE. We tried to get him in the bath to wash it off, but that was no easy task - he was running around naked and everything he touched turned red - his clothes, our clothes, the entire bathroom. And the whole time he was laughing and having a great time.
It was cute, but I've really got to put those locks on the cabinet doors...

Friday, October 24, 2008


Yesterday was a holiday in Hungary - or more like a day of remembrance.
On October 23, 1956 a revolution started in Budapest against the Stalinist government of Hungary and the Soviet occupation.
The revolution started with rallies and protests, but things got violent when the ÁVH (Hungarian secret police) fired on the protesters in front of the parliament building. Militias were formed and people started fighting against the ÁVH and the Soviet forces, first in Budapest, and then in other places throughout Hungary, using Molotov cocktails and whatever they could find as weapons.
On Oct 28, a ceasefire was made, and Soviet troops withdrew from Budapest. The Hungarians thought at this time that the Soviet army was actually going to leave their country, but on Nov 4, the Soviet army rolled into Budapest and crushed the revolution completely and finally.

It was during this time that Rosemary's dad, Frank (Ferenc), along with about 200,000 others, left Hungary as a refugee. He and a friend he had worked with at a mine in Szászvár walked across the border; they slept in haystacks at night along the way, and walked through a minefield at the border. They came to a refugee camp in Austria, and eventually made their way to America, first going to Chicago, where the other man, Ambrus (Rosemary's godfather), still lives to this day.
Frank joined the Army, became a US citizen, and was stationed in Bad Kissingen, West Germany, ironically now defending the western side of the Iron Curtain.
After returning to America, he got a job offer in California, and decided to go west and leave the cold winters behind, so he packed up his car and drove to Los Angeles.
In Los Angeles, Frank met a woman from Lima, Peru, named Hilda, who had also immigrated to America, and they got married and had two kids - Anthony and Rosemary.

So, for obvious reasons, this revolution is close to our hearts.

Frank left behind some family here in Hungary, who we were able to track down about a year and a half ago, and now we try to keep in touch with them. We found Frank's half-brother, and after searching for Rosemary's family in Hungary for a long time, it was very cool when we showed them Frank's old family pictures, and they had the exact same pictures in their albums too! Now they always invite us over and feed us lots of pacal pörkölt (tripe stew). In case you're wondering - tripe stew is kind of like eating gummy worms which are fuzzy on one side and are covered in grease and paprika...

This is how the dictionary defines the word "revolutionary":
  1. of, pertaining to, characterized by, or a sudden, complete, or marked change
  2. radically new or innovative; outside or beyond established procedure, principles, etc.
When I think about revolution or revolutionaries, to me, Jesus Christ is the greatest revolutionary who ever lived. He brought about sudden, complete change. He taught things that were beyond established procedure, and even today, 2000 yrs later, the things that He taught are so contrary to the way that most people behave, that when a person starts following Jesus, it revolutionizes their life! And we know from history that when more and more individuals start following Jesus and his teachings, it revolutionizes whole communities!
Practicing the things that Jesus taught like forgiveness and unconditional love, revolutionize peoples' lives.
We are still studying through the book of Acts on Sundays in our church. Last week we studied the 19th chapter, where Paul is in Ephesus. And it says that he taught about Jesus every day in a school building, and in just 2 yrs time, it changed both the city of Ephesus and the whole region of Asia (western Turkey), so that people turned away from sin, and started living according to God's intentions.
My prayer is that the lives of people here in Eger would be revolutionized by Jesus Christ, and that as a result it would change our community - that as people turn away from sin not only would their lives change, but the community we live in would change too.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Krtek - A Kisvakond

From my experience - and maybe it is just this way in our church and nowhere else - there is almost nothing that Hungarians like to talk about more than "mesék" (tales or cartoons).
Every now and then at church someone will bring up some mese that they used to watch when they were a kid, and then everyone else gets really excited, and they all start talking at the same time about which mese is the best, and which part of it was the funniest, and then they talk about how the mesék these days are super bad, and how much better things were when they were kids.
And it seems that all their favorite mese are from the socialist period, which makes sense, since that's when they were all kids.
Tonight I was driving some people home from church, and they rattled off a whole list of mesék which I "must" watch. I don't remember all of what they said, except something about a Vízipok (water spider) and some other one from Poland.

But recently someone gave us a DVD of one of these mesék, called Krtek, or in Hungarian: Kisvakond (Mole). Its a Czech cartoon from the 50's and 60's.
We had the disc for about 3 weeks before we even tried it out, because we honestly didn't have very high expectations that it would be any good. But one day we decided to give it a try, and now we LOVE the Kisvakond!
Nathaniel loves the Kisvakond too! He has a few other movies, like Baby Einstein, that he gets excited about - but none as much as this one!
For some reason, Nate prefers to stand up while he watches Kisvakond - sometimes on the floor, usually on the couch - and he sometimes just cracks up laughing as he watches it! There is something magical about the Kisvakond that Nate loves.
I guess I understand now a bit better why the Hungarians in our church get so excited every time anyone starts talking about some socialist mese. At least this one is really good. I'll have to look into that Polish one...
Here's my personal favorite Kisvakond video - The Mole in the City:

Monday, October 20, 2008

Répášska Huta

Eger sits right in between two of Hungary's few mountain ranges - the Bükk and the Mátra.
If you are heading north through the town, if you turn left off the main road you will be in the Mátra, and if you turn right you will be in the Bükk.
Even though neither of them are very high, they are both very nice, especially after having suffered through years of living in the "alföld" (the plains) in Debrecen - which for a mountain boy was like a slow painful death on the inside.

This past weekend we went for a drive with Shane and Marianna, through the Bükk to enjoy the fall and the changing of the leaves.
On the way, we visited one of my favorite villages - Répáshuta, also known by its Slovak name: Répášska Huta, as this is one of only a few villages in Hungary with a significant ethnic Slovak population.

In Hungarian, the word "kisebbség" (minority) is usually used as an offhand way of referring to Gypsies, since they are the largest minority group in Hungary. There are however other national minority groups in Hungary, but their populations are quite small.

At one time, it would not have been anything special to find villages in Hungary with ethnic minorities in them. Hungary used to be a bigger place, with many different nationalities.
If you talk to any Hungarian for more than 10 minutes, there is a pretty good chance that you are going to hear about the Treaty of Trianon - a peace treaty made at the end of World War I, in which the Great Powers divided up the teritory of the Kingdom of Hungary (on the losing side of the war). As a result, Hungary lost about two-thirds of its territory, and new borders were drawn according to ethnic lines.
Here's a map of the "distribution of races" in Austria-Hungary in 1911:You can see from the map, that the nations which were formed after WWI, were formed for the most part along ethnic lines - with a few exceptions.
One of these exceptions was the Germans living in what became Czechoslovakia, and the other is the Hungarians who ended up outside of the borders of Hungary, in almost all of the newly formed countries - leaving Hungarians as the largest national minority population in Europe, but leaving almost no ethnic minorities in the new Hungarian state, as you can see in this post-WWI map:
Even now, almost a hundred years after Trinanon, you can go across the borders of Hungary and find significant Hungarian populations in all the surrounding countries. Which, from our point of view is kind of nice, that we can travel for quite a ways outside of Hungary and still get by many times using Hungarian.
These exceptions - the Germans in the Sudetenland and the Hungarians outside of Hungary led to problems in WWII.

And getting back to Slovaks - Hungary and Czechoslovakia were on opposite sides during WWII - Hungary was Axis and Czechoslovakia was Allied. As a result, Czechoslovakia issued the Beneš decrees, which declared the Hungarians (and Germans) living in their country to be traitors and enemies of the state, which led to much of their land being confiscated. This led to a "population exchange", in which about 70,000 Slovaks from Hungary were "relocated" to Slovakia and 70,000 Hungarians from Slovakia were transplanted in Hungary. Thus, a country which was already very homogeneous, became even more so, as most of the Slovak population left.

Today, the estimated population of Slovaks in Hungary is around 50,000.
That's why Répášska Huta is such an interesting place in Hungary - a village where half the population is Slovak and 38% speak the Slovak language as their mother tongue.
Besides all this stuff, its also just a cute little village tucked away in the mountains, and a great place to visit.