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: