Friday, December 27, 2013

Merry Christmas - Boldog Karácsonyt!

We had a great Christmas this year. The Christmas Eve service at White Fields was packed, we ate töltött káposzta forint dinner, which is a Hungarian tradition for Szenteste. Ocean cooked the stuffed cabbage for us, and it turned out great; one of the best we've all had, even compared to in Hungary. The nice thing about Hungarian food is that it is designed to be made from scratch, so you can theoretically make it anywhere.

On Christmas Day my parents came over and we had a big meal, opened presents and played and assembled things together. After they left some friends came over to play a board game to close the night. All around a great Christmas. Hope yours was great too!

 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Golgota Coming to America

Check this out - Golgota Budapest is coming to America.

It was a joy and a pleasure for us to be involved in the work of God through Calvary Chapel in Eastern Europe for over 10 years. It's a story that deserves to be shared and heard all over the world.

Here's the promo video:

The End

Guess who got his Social Security number today!

This means that now he can get a driver's license, get a job, etc.

We thought the process of getting the SSNumber would be easy- just a formality- but like everything else in this process, it wasn't as easy as we had expected.

Anyway, it's good to be done, and we're glad Balázs can start his life.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Felicia Quotes

Rosemary talking to Felicia the other day:
"Good job, Felicia!"
"Don't say 'good job', say 'great job!'"

Walking down the hall tonight, I heard Felicia talking to Rosemary:
"Mommy, I love you, and I love daddy!"
I stuck my head in the room and said, "Oh, Felicia, I love you too!"
She walked towards me, I assumed to give me a hug, but pushing past me, she said "Get out of my way - I have a movie to watch!"

Yesterday on a family outing:
"Felicia you are very cute!"
"Of course. That's because I'm a child."

Saturday, November 30, 2013

5 Years: Joining Day

During the time we lived in Hungary, Thanksgiving didn't have quite as much pomp as it does here in the US. We usually gathered with a handful of American friends. There was certainly no Black Friday over there.

This Thanksgiving we got together with family and some friends from church, but this Thanksgiving marks an interesting anniversary. 5 years ago, we celebrated Thanksgiving with our friends Ryan and Anita and Shane and Marianna - but there one was extra person there that Thanksgiving who has been with us ever since.

This Thanksgiving marked 5 years of Balázs coming to live with us.

It was in December of 2008 that we were given guardianship, and in December of 2011 that our adoption was finalized in Hungary.

Yesterday, to celebrate 5 years of Balázs in our family, we went up to Estes Park - saw some deer and elk and ate some ice cream.

We're glad you're with us, Balázs!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Americana

Just another Black Friday in the U.S. of A.

Trabant in Longmont

I saw this Trabant driving down Hover street in Longmont the other day.

Never expected to see one of these on the road all the way over here!

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving Video Update

This is a video we made for our friends and supporters over at Calvary Vista. They showed it as part of their Thanksgiving Eve service.

It was pretty cold outside when we made it - I thought I wouldn't need a jacket. I was shivering!

Calvary Vista supported us while we were in Hungary and they have continued to love us and support us since we've come to Colorado. We are thankful for them!

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! What are you thankful for this year? How have you experienced God's grace and provision?

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

The Longmont Pastor

I recently started another blog, which is titled: The Longmont Pastor and can be found here: http://longmontpastor.wordpress.com/

I will continue to update this blog, so please do keep checking in. This has always been more of a personal blog, detailing the lives of our family and ministry for those who know us personally and want to keep up on our lives. The Longmont Pastor is going to be very focused on issues relating directly to the Longmont from a pastor's perspective. I have written articles on there about marijuana legalization and other local issues.

If you have a Wordpress account, make sure to follow me on there, and if you don't, be sure to click the "Subscribe by Email" button at the bottom of the page.

 

 

Friday, October 25, 2013

Pastor Chuck Smith Memorial Service and Tribute

A few weeks ago, during our series called DNA: The Building Blocks of Life, I spoke about Pastor Chuck Smith, who recently went home to be with the Lord (click here to listen to it).
Pastor Chuck was a man who was used greatly by God and left a profound legacy. His ministry had a huge impact on my life and on the lives of people around the world. 
A memorial service and tribute to Pastor Chuck is going to be held this Sunday, October 27th at 6:00pm MDT. The service is going to be held at the Honda Center in Anaheim, CA, but will be simulcast on the internet so you can watch it live wherever you are at on your computer, tablet or smart phone: http://watch.pastorchucksmith.com.

The story of what God did through Chuck is one that should be shared and heard around the world. I encourage you to tune in on Sunday night and listen to the stories and be encouraged and celebrate a life well-lived for God's glory.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

The End of a Long Road

Balázs got his green card last week!

It has been a long road... We began the adoption process in June 2011, which means that we have been jumping through legal hoops for 2 years and 5 months. But now we're done!

There were times along the way when it looked like it would be impossible for Balázs to stay with us here in US; like every door closed in front of us. God blessed us with some good lawyers and the means to pay them, and with favor in the eyes of officials who made the final decisions. We are also glad that the laws existed to support people in our situation.

Balázs got a green card for 10 years, after which he will be eligible for citizenship. Now he can work, get a driver's license and go to state college if he wants. God is good and we are glad.

 

Saturday, October 05, 2013

Autumn Hike

Colorado is a beautiful place in every season, but autumn is maybe the most picturesque as aspen leaves change from green to yellow, then orange to red, and while the peaks are getting their first dustings of new snow.
Here in Longmont we are cut off from the nearby mountains because of the floods. We can't get to Lyons, Estes Park or Nederland, all places that were quick trips into the mountains previously. This past Monday we went down to Golden Gate Canyon, the closest access to the mountains to where we live - about a 50 min drive south of us. Here are some pictures:
Grays and Torreys Peaks - both about 14,000 ft.
Longs Peak and Mount Meeker

 

Tuesday, October 01, 2013

Missional Mindset

This coming Sunday I will be continuing my series called "DNA: The Building Blocks of Life" with a study on Mission.

Check out this video of Tim Keller discussing characteristics of missional Christians and missional churches:

 

Feel free to leave feedback in the comments and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Colorado Floods: How You Can Help


(Mirrored here from the White Fields Community Church blog)
In the last few days we experienced a historic and destructive flood, and so many people have been asking how they can help.
Here are some ways that we as the Body of Christ can shine light in the community:


Pray!

Pray for those affected by the floods, that not only would their needs be met and their hearts comforted, but that as a result of this time of crisis, they would remember how fragile life is and how temporary and fleeting possessions and the things of this world are, that they would turn to the Lord and find hope in the Gospel that goes beyond the circumstances and material things of this life.


Serve!

Jesus said: "Let your light so shine before others, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven." (Matthew 5:16). We encourage you to serve people in our community in the name of the Lord. There are many ways to do that, starting with helping those in our congregation whose homes were affected, to helping neighbors or friends who were affected.As a church, we are working closely with Longmont EOC (Emergency Operations Center) and Convoy of Hope Christian disaster relief ministry to help in recovery efforts, which will begin in the next few days and continue probably for the next few months. We will be looking to put together work teams to be able to go in and help with repairs and clean up. If anyone has special skills, please let us know, so we can help you meet those specific needs. For a list of current volunteer opportunities click here.


Give!

We have started a fund, called "Colorado Relief". You can give to that fund online here. In speaking with the EOC, they are going to help direct us to use these funds to help particular families meet important and specific needs. This is a good option if you would like to help people in our community and aren't sure how, as this will go directly to helping flood victims in our area, without any of it going to overhead.As of now, there are no particular material needs that we or the EOC or the Red Cross have, so we encourage you to give to the relief fund and we use those monies for hurting families as they come to our attention through these organizations we are partnering with.


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Identity Issues

Recently, as we have been studying through Ephesians on Sunday mornings at White Fields, we have been talking about the issue of identity, with a focus on who we as Christians have become in Christ.

Identity is so important, and one of our focuses has been the importance of separating identity from actions. In other words, saying: "you are not defined by your actions." Actions are things that you do, but they do not define who you are.

This is an especially relevant message in the time and culture we live in today. Consider alternative lifestyles which are seeking so much to be legitimized and accepted. Essentially, this is an argument about actions vs. identity - however, many Christians have failed to recognize it as such, and as a result, we have a hard time engaging in conversation about these issues with people who think differently than we do.

The LGBT community, for example, is saying: "This is who we are!", whereas Bible-believing Christians are saying: "No, that's not who you are, that is just what you are doing! But that's not who God made you to be!"
When Christians say things like, "Love the sinner, hate the sin", it makes perfect sense to us, and seems like a kind, person-loving statement, however many people these days reject that statement altogether. Why? Because they don't separate actions from identity.
One of my childhood friends has an uncle who is a very kind and generous man. I have interacted with him on a number of occasions at weddings and family gatherings, and have found him to be a kind and thoughtful person. He is also a practicing homosexual. One day I was having coffee with my friend, and he asked me, "Why do you hate my uncle?" I said, "I don't hate your uncle. I think he's a nice person. I just don't agree with his choices and his actions." My friend responded, "But that is WHO HE IS! That is his identity. You aren't just saying what he does is wrong - you are saying that who he is is wrong!"

Do you see why identity is such a relevant issue these days?
What the Bible does is very unique in that it separates identity from actions. Just because you do something, doesn't mean that that is who you are. Take people who commit crimes, for example. Once someone commits a crime, they can be labelled a criminal. But is that who they are condemned to be forever, just because of some bad decisions they made at one time? Is a woman who compromises morally condemned to live that lifestyle, because their actions revealed their 'true identity'?
Basically, this is what Victor Hugo's classic Les Misérables is all about. A man named Jean Valjean, committed a crime. As a result of one bad decision, he is labelled a criminal - a label which he does everything to escape - only to have Javert, a police inspector, hounding him, constantly telling him that he is a criminal, and that that is his identity, and he can never change. A woman, Fantine, who makes some bad decisions and winds up a single mother, is condemned to the label of adulterous - and told that that is not just what she did, but who she is. Jean Valjean and Fantine fight not to be defined by the actions of their past - whereas others like Javert constantly tell them that the labels of criminal and harlot are their identity.

I recently heard a story of one young man who was told over and over by his peers growing up that he was gay. He said, "After a while I thought, 'well, if this is who I am, then I am fighting a losing battle if I resist it. So I might as well embrace it as my identity. And if this is my identity, then I should probably go ahead and act accordingly. After all, that's who I am." Another story I heard recently was of a young woman, who had been abused and molested. She said, "I felt dirty, and after a while I just accepted that as my identity. And since it was my identity, I just went ahead and embraced that lifestyle and acted upon it."
However, neither of these stories ended there. Both of these people heard the Gospel and came to put their faith in Jesus Christ. And both of them came to the point where they said: "I came to realize that my past actions do not define who I am. What people said about me, what people did to me - that's not who I am." And these people turned away from these lifestyles and became Christians, embracing who God declares them to be in Christ as their true identity.

Who you are is not defined by your past actions. When you turn to Jesus Christ, you find a whole new identity in Him: Loved, Chosen, Clean, Forgiven, Redeemed… The list goes on. May you live in the freedom of knowing who you really are and who you can be in Christ.

 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Mount of the Holy Cross

Climbed Mount of the Holy Cross today. 14,005 feet / 4269 meters high.
It was grueling. We saw a ton of people turn back along the way. But it felt so good to reach the summit.
I climbed Longs Peak last year with these same guys, minus one, and I have to say I think this was harder, but yet more fun.
The pictures don't do justice to the majestic beauty of this pearl of God's creation.

 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Best Birthday Message Ever

I got this message today from a young man who came to know The Lord through the English Camp.

May I say - best birthday message ever.

Szia Nick!

I wish you Happy Birthday and I would like to say thank you for the last week and for the past years as well. I'm so blessed because of the day Rosemary came to our class and gave me that flyer. That was the beggining of a "trip" but finally I arrived and I can go on with God! So thank you again for you and Rosemary to establish this camp because without you I wouldn't know anyting about God.

Hope see you soon! At least in next camp! 😊

 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Last Day in Eger

Today we spent the day meeting up with people and winding down before we leave to go back to the US.

We got together with a number of people from the church here, took Natalie and Suzan to a confectionary and coffee shop (cukrászda), which they appreciated, being cake makers themselves.

Here is Felicia playing dolls with Poczok Judit

Here is Suzan and Natalie with Pastor Jani, Tünde and Julcsi.
Here in Eger before and after camp we've been staying with our friend Krisztina - the doctor who first held Felicia. God used her to save our little girl's life and since then we have developed a wonderful friendship with her. She's came out to visit us in Colorado and was there for Felicia's birthday in January. She was a gracious hostess and we had a good time catching up. Krisztina also came out to camp a number of times last week, as she has to each camp over the past 3 years.

We will leave Eger tomorrow morning on the train to Budapest, and then we fly out from there.

 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

English Camp 2013 Video

A talented young man named Csaba from the church here in Eger spends the entire week at English Camp each year taking photos and videos which he puts together and shows on the last day of camp.

Here's this year's video. Check it out:

 

After Camp

Camp ended on Saturday; we had devotions and prayer in the morning, and then teachers met with their classes one last time. Then we packed up, said goodbye to the kids, and got everyone back into town - a process that takes about 3-4 hours.

We had a great team of servants this year and made wonderful connections with the campers.

After getting everyone into town, people from church showed the helpers around Eger and took them up into the castle. Rosemary and the kids, Natalie and Suzan all went up into the castle, but I ran into our Canadian friends Rob and Kitty who used to attend our church in Eger when they lived in Heves as English teachers. They were leading a team from their church on a trip to Ukraine where they did a camp for their denomination. They were in Eger to spend a few days sightseeing before heading home. We had a great time catching up; it was a wonderful treat.

In the evening, all the helpers got together for dinner and debriefing.

This morning we had church; I preached and we had a full service with many kids from camp coming out.

After church the youth group had their meeting - and even more kids from camp showed up. Kriszti, who leads the youth group here is doing a great job.

We also had a great surprise this morning that the Pápai family from Debrecen drove up for church to see us. We had a great time with them after church catching up.

 

Images of English Camp

Camp is over; the week flew by, but it was an excellent week - a lot of good ministry was done and the Gospel was preached.

Nate had such a good time at camp. On Friday night he was so sad that camp was almost over, that we let him stay up until almost midnight playing games with us in the coffee shop. The next morning he was so exhausted, we couldn't get him to wake up when it was time to go!

Natalie and Suzan did a great job teaching classes, crafts and archery to the kids. They loved the archery - it's somewhat of a national past time here in Hungary, so it was a good connecting point.

This year we had the greatest number of kids come to our testimony times than ever before. We don't make this part of the camp compulsory for them, but this year we had so many kids each day, that often times, kids who came late had to stand because there were no more seats. In spite of that, kids would stand on their feet for an hour listening to us tell them stories of how God had worked in our lives. It was great.

Here's a photo of Anil sharing his testimony. Anil was a medical student in Debrecen back in the day, when Rosemary and I ministered amongst them, and now attends Calvary Chapel in Syracuse, NY.

Erika from church here taught the kids how to do tie dye.

Rosemary spent time with pastors' wives Tünde from Eger and Anna from Nyíregyháza

 

You can find a lot more pictures of the camp on the official Eger English Camp Facebook page.

 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Kristóf's Story

God is using English Camp in Eger to change lives!

Here is one young man's story of how God used English Camp in his life:

 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Jani's Story

We've been so busy with camp; I feel like I have so much to write, but so little time to do it!

For now I will just post this video of Pastor Jani sharing his story of how he came to know The Lord. I'm translating into English, which was interesting since part of the story was about me.

I love looking back and seeing the great things God has done, and I love being part of what God is doing as He is writing new testimonies of His love and grace in people's lives.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Day 2 of English Camp - Tuesday

Yesterday was another great day of camp. It is great to see kids showing interest in Jesus. Many have been attending the testimony times, and have been talking to those who share afterwards. This is one of the best things, because as the teachers open up and share personal things about themselves and the way they came to know The Lord, they "go first" in opening up, which gives kids "permission" to let down their barriers and open up as well.

Natalie shared her testimony of coming to know The Lord as a young child, but walk ing away from her faith in her 20's, and how the prayers of her mother played an important role in her turning from a life of sin and rebellion and coming back to God, finding grace and redemption and restoration in His arms. It was powerful and many kids have come and talked to her about it since then, saying how impactful it was to them.

Today (Wednesday), 4 new teachers arrived: Anil and Biby from Syracuse and Judit and Kirstie from London.

This morning a ton of the kids joined us for devotions and prayer before breakfast. We are seeing great open doors and open hearts. Please pray that we are able to help these kids make a decision this week for Jesus and ultimately get plugged into Christian fellowship at the church.

Our kids have been doing well. Felicia woke up this morning with a tick in her back, so we took her to the doctor and got it removed. Ticks are very wide-spread and can be quite dangerous. I had to take another girl to the village doctor yesterday as well.

The theme of the camp is Wild West, and the kids have been having a great time playing sherif.

 

Gypsy Church Problems

Back when we started the ministry in Heves, which eventually turned into a gypsy church, I realized that doing ministry is that community, I faced issues which I never had to face amongst the white Hungarians in Eger.

I have put it in terms before of white people problems and gypsy problems. For example, in Eger, when people wanted to confess their sins or ask for prayer, it was things like: "I want to be more loving", "I'm struggling with unforgiveness", "I don't read my Bible enough", etc. These are all valid issues that should not be minimized. But amongst the gypsies, I met with all of these issues, plus a few unique ones which I never faced in Eger, such as: "I stabbed someone", "I'm a prostitute", "If I give my life to Jesus, do I have to stop stealing?"

When we moved to Colorado last year, Jani took over the ministry in Eger and in Heves, and he told me a few more unique "gypsy church problems" he has faced down in Heves:

A new couple showed up at church one day, and one of the guys who attended the church came up to Jani after the service and said: "if that couple starts attending this church, I'm going to leave." "Why?" asked Jani. "Well, because they did something to me once, and I have forgiven them, but I just don't really want to be in fellowship with them. "What did they do to you?", asked Jani. "Well, one night they lit my house on fire while I was asleep inside (rám gyújtották a házamat). That made me really upset."

Yeah. I think I would be upset too if somebody did that to me!

Another story he told me, was that one Sunday afternoon when he went to do church, there was a really loud party in a nearby house. "What's going on there?" asked Jani? "Oh, that's where the drug dealer lives, and he's having a big party." But after a while the music suddenly stopped. "What happened?" "They ran out of money on their electricity meter." After some shouting outside, the music started up again and continued on. See, the electricity company installs 'pay-as-you-go' electricity meters on houses of people who are not deemed trustworthy to pay their bills. That way, the person must prepay for their electricity use, and when it runs out, the electricity is cut off. That's not such a terrible idea, actually!

Ministry amongst gypsies is many things, but boring is not one of them.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

First Day of English Camp

Monday is always the busiest day of camp from an administrative perspective. For everyone else it is maybe the most relaxing day. We began the day with registration and proficiency testing. After we were got done with that it was time for lunch and orientation, then splitting up into classes.

One of the main theories underlying the way we run the camp is that trust is a very crucial thing in Hungarian culture. Whereas in some places, like America, people are generally willing to objectively consider a message or argument, regardless of who the messenger is, here people won't listen to what you have to say until they know who you are - that you are a trustworthy person, and they understand what your motivations are. I believe that part of the reason this camp has been a fruitful outreach is because we have built the camp in a way that we don't just preach at people, but we let them get to know us, and build trust with us. That way when we share about Jesus with them, they are open to considering because they know that we are sincere and doing this because we honestly want the best for them.

Suzan and Natalie had a big turn out for their craft activity, and have been having a good time mixing with everyone.

Every day of the camp at 5pm we have a time of music and testimonies which we call "Life Stories", and we tell the kids to come and hear the teachers and organizers share about their lives and what makes them who they are. Of course, this is a platform for sharing the Gospel with the kids by telling them about how we came to know The Lord. It is not compulsory for the kids to attend - but most of them do.

Today Pastor Jani shared his testimony - about his life and how he came to know The Lord. It was a story I already knew, since a big part of it had to do with me, but it was a blessing to here him testify of the work that God had done in his life through the church here. It made me consider anew, how we often times do not realize how important the little things we do are. See, when I first met Jani, I found him to be a frustration in my life. He was a guy who I was trying to lead to The Lord, but he wasn't always interested! So, what else could I do but just be faithful to point him towards Jesus? I couldn't have known at the time, that those things I was doing, which seemed so normal and basic, would someday be a great and powerful testimony of how God led Jani to a saving knowledge of him and eventually made him a pastor and a minister of the Gospel. So I encourage you: be faithful to point people to Jesus; if you keep planting seeds, you are going to see the Gospel take root and produce fruit in some lives. I see that with a number of kids who are at camp this year - kids I shared Jesus with many times, yet at the time it seemed to have no impact, but now they are walking with The Lord and attending youth group or church or even are involved in ministry. Testimonies are often being written when you don't realize it. Just keep pointing people to Jesus!

So, Jani's testimony was powerful, and something that the Hungarian kids could relate to very well. Next Shane shared his life story of growing up in a broken home, and not feeling loved by his father, yet finding a true Father in God. The beauty of these life stories is that each person's story is going to relate to different kids in their own situations and struggles, and they tell of how God did a work of restoration and redemption in those circumstances.

After dinner, the evening program was done by Czeglédi Peti, who filled in for Kiss Balázs at the last minute, and did an amazing job. He dressed up as an Indian chief, and led a bunch of group ice breakers, which kept over 100 people engaged for about 2 hours! Quite the accomplishment, really! During evening free time many of the kids mixed with and got to know the teachers in the coffee house we set up. Even hanging out and having fun with the kids is Gospel activity, because it is part of building trust with them.

Thank you for your continued prayers for the camp, and for many of the youth to be saved!

 

Cultivation

I recently read a quote:

"The greatest soil, uncultivated, produces the rankest weeds"

How true is that? Lately I have been all the more impressed with the importance and great need for cultivation. In marriage, in relationships, in individuals' skill-sets and giftings, and many other areas.

Many people speak about the virtues of "organic growth," with the underlying insinuation that the best thing to do is let things grow naturally rather than trying to manipulate them. That sounds nice at first, but think it through: what happens to a garden when you let it grow "organically"? WEEDS! And the better the soil, the ranker the weeds will have the potential to be!

What God shows us, as usual, is not just a better way, but the BEST way. And His way is cultivation. Cultivation is what a gardener does; it is helping things to grow "organically", in the way that you want them to grow. Cultivation includes pulling out weeds and pruning plants, to help foster the best "organic" growth possible.

The first image we get of God in the Bible is of Him as a creator, creating good things, and doing it well. And when He creates the Earth, what we see is a garden planet, teeming with life. And God plants a special garden and places man and woman in it, and assigns them the task of cultivating that garden! Their job is to "subdue" the Earth, which rather than exploitation of natural resources, means the cultivation of them for the flourishing of LIFE.

So, God is a gardener, and He has created us in His image, and given us the task of gardening and cultivating that which he has given us. Cultivation is the means by which we are faithful with what God has given us; and as we are faithful to cultivate the things He has entrusted us with, He will entrust us with more (Matthew 25:21).

Cultivation means constant work. A lot like tending a garden. If you tend it regularly, it is not overwhelming; in fact, it is enjoyable. But if you neglect it, you are often left with great messes, and it takes much more work to get things back into a healthy state.

Cultivate your walk with God. Cultivate your marriage and family life. Cultivate your talents and giftings. Be intentional. Be a gardener and not a firefighter. Plan, build, plant, tend, water. So many people only engage when there is a crisis - which ironically is a contributing factor to the crises they end up facing: neglect and failure to cultivate can organically lead to weeds. We live in a world in which things left to themselves naturally go from order to chaos.

Cultivation is about facilitating and enabling healthy, organic growth - but growth in the right directions, and growth of the right kind. That's what we want in our lives and relationships! And it takes cultivation.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Reunited

I arrived in Hungary on Saturday night; I actually love doing the long flight alone - it's so relaxing!

My friend Laci, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Dél-Pest, picked me up and we spent some time catching up. I always enjoy spending time with him - great guy with great vision, and The Lord is doing a great thing through him on the south side of Budapest.

It was great to see Rosemary and the kids again!

Nate and I got coffee in the morning; his was a milk actually. He's so excited being in Hungary. He's been speaking in Hungarian and been outgoing and friendly with people. He was looking forward to this trip for a long time, and he's having a lot of fun.

Natalie and Suzan got into Budapest by train Saturday night, when I was already asleep, so in the morning, we all went to church and then took the train to Eger, where we were picked up by Jani, Szabi and Kati. Jani and I took Nate and Felicia over to Dr. Krisztina's house, and then we joined the others at the orientation for the camp.

Orientation is something that Rosemary and I used to do, and we took it pretty seriously, but now Kati and Ilona were doing it - and I must say that I think they were more efficient and better prepared than we were! They made bound books of material for each level, and it seems that they have thought of everything. Essentially, they have taken what we handed them, and they have made it better.

From a leader's perspective, this is and should be the goal: to raise up people who surpass you in their accomplishments. It was great to see how the church here has done a good job organizing the camp for the first time completely on their own. Many people have stepped up to fill in the gaps, and are succeeding.

But, of course, good preparation is only one piece of the puzzle. What we also need for this camp to be a success is a move of the Holy Spirit, so that the kids would hear the Gospel and it would penetrate their hearts. Please do pray for that!

Speaking of being reunited, one thing I'm really happy about is that our Australian friends Andy and Kim are here at camp again this year, along with many other dear people who have served at camp before, like Geoff and Angela from Syracuse and Shane from Szolnok. One great thing is that a young man named Kristóf who attended camp for many years, whom we shared Jesus with for YEARS, seemingly to no avail, has given his life to Christ, attends the church now, and is one of our main helpers this year! Praise The Lord for that. Another young man, Balázs, who got saved through our first camp in Eger, and has been a staple and cornerstone helper for years, had to drop out because some family members have fallen seriously ill. We will miss him this year; please pray for him and his family members.

Anyway, I will keep posting on here about how camp goes, so keep checking in. In about an hour I am heading up to Felsőtárkány to set up for registration. Camp begins today!

Baby Raccoon in our backyard

Another project I had for myself while Rosemary and the little ends were away was to get the garage reorganized, so we could fit both our cars in at the same time. We moved into the house over a year ago, and our garage was our main staging area, so for over 12 months one of our cars has always been parked outside - in the rain, snow and sin, which are all taking their toll on our aging Acura.

Balázs and I worked hard for a few hours and successfully moved things around enough to make room for both cars.

As we were taking some things to our shed in the backyard, I almost stepped on a ball of fur - which I soon realized was alive. At first I thought it was a mole, but as I looked closer I realized it was a baby raccoon, sleeping in the middle of the yard.

We figured out that he was probably only a few days old, since his eyes were not yet open and he was just learning to walk.

However cute he was, it was a bit concerning that he was out in the open like this, unprotected. I called animal control, and they said to wait overnight, to see if the mom came back for it. When morning came, the little guy was still sleeping in the same place in the yard, so I had animal control come out and get him. They said the mother either abandoned him or died, and that's why he was alone.

He was certainly cute, but I'm not interested in seeing any grown raccoons around, although according to animal control, there are a ton in our area.

 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Camping on the Middle St Vrain River

As part of our marathon of male-bonding, Balázs and I went camping last week Monday-Tuesday.

Balázs would have been perfectly happy going somewhere like a pay campsite, but I wasn't going to let that happen. I asked around and heard that there was good dispersed camping along the Middle St Vrain river, up above Allenspark.

In my reading, I also found out that there is a Middle St Vrain 4x4 road, which is for "high clearance Four-Wheel-Drive vehicles only, which - I figured - is exactly what my Toyota Sequoia is, right? ...Wrong...

So my plan was to drive the Sequoia up the 4x4 road and then camp in the wilderness. When we got to the trailhead on Monday and the beginning of the 4x4 road, we realized that our Sequoia was going to have a hard time. The test pile is at the beginning of the road, which basically is there to say: 'if you can drive over this, then you can handle this road'. We were pretty sure we would hurt the car if we tried to take it over the pile, but the road on the other side looked totally do-able.

While we were considering our options, some guys pulled up in Rubikon Jeeps. One of the guys said he thought we could handle the test pile and the road if he spotted us. He did, and while I was on top of the pile with me truck, he asked me: "You don't mind if your car gets scratched up on the bottom do you?" Um...

So, we got over the pile, but not without bending the stairs on the side of the car a bit. I was able to drive up the road about 300 yards/meters before the engine began to overheat and we got to the next big obstacle. Realizing I had made a bad decision bringing the truck up that road, we decided to park it, leave a note that we were coming back for it the next day, and hike in to hike, carrying our gear.

We had to leave behind a lot of things we had brought for camping since we knew we would be hiking in over a mile, and couldn't afford to make more than one trip. We finally made it in far enough, found a good spot off the trails and near the river, pitched our tent, and went out to fish for food.

The river was running really high, so we were not able to catch anything, so we ended up going hiking - and found an awesome place with a 40-50 foot cliff overlooking a waterfall. It was breathtaking, and we could see the peaks in the Indian Peaks Wildernesness just beyond us.

After going back to camp we spent a lot of time shooting Balázs' air rifle, doing target practice with a tin can, and we ended up going to bed early after eating a meager dinner.

During the middle of the night, I woke up and went outside with a head-lamp on, only to see two shining eyes reflecting rig back at me. I knew we were in bear territory, so I was a bit concerned, but the animal moved away from me slowly and didn't make a sound. I'm still not sure what it was, but I think it may have been a mountain lion, since its eyes faced forward and it was so silent.

In the morning, we packed up, hiked back out to the car and, with Balázs' help, after about 20 min of work, we were able to get the Sequoia over the test pile with minimal impact to the car. It was a huge relief! I had lost sleep the night before, worrying about how we were going to get the Sequoia out of there.

Anyway, it was a good trip. I'd recommend the Middle St Vrain for people who want a hike-in camping experience. Go up to Camp Dick off the Peak to Peak Highway, and keep going until the parking lot, which is the trailhead for Buchanan Pass.

Sequoia Rear Hatch Repair

Back in December of last year I took Balázs and Nate skiing up at Eldora. While we were in the parking lot, ready to get out our stuff to go ski, the handle on rear hatch of my Sequoia busted right off in my hand. It was probably because it was so cold that the plastic handle became brittle, but after doing some research, it turns out this is a very common problem with Sequoias of this age (2002-2005 or so).

The rear window rolls all the way down, so we were still able to use our trunk, but it was a hassle. The other day I helped Balázs move the lawnmower, and lifting it through the back window, I finally had enough.

A whole back Rosemary asked a mechanic how much he would charge to fix it - he said $300. After reading up on it online, that's a pretty reasonable offer for a mechanic; most I read about were charging between $350 and $500.

So, I went on YouTube, the should-be first-stop for any do-it-yourslef-er. After watching this ridiculous and disheartening video, I found this great video, explaining the process.

Since Rosemary and the little ones were out of town last week, I headed over to my dad's house, and together, we followed the instructions in the video and were able to successfully replace the handle on the hatch, and now it works!

I picked up two things at Autozone: a replacement handle ($50) and a "panel rivet puller" ($10). The replacement handle is aftermarket and is METAL, which is awesome, since it's not cheap plastic like the original. The panel rivet puller is used to remove interior and exterior cosmetic panels without breaking the rivets that hold them on, so you can snap everything back into place when you're done. Definitely worth the money.

The first step is to remove the broken pieces of the old handle, so that you can open the hatch, since there is no other way to open it from the inside (a great oversight, btw). The key to this is to get in there and look for the lever that you have to push down with a screwdriver. It's not very far up inside there, and is totally visible with the help of a flashlight. I spent 20 min frustrating myself, feeling around in the dark, thinking the lever was way back there. When I finally put a flashlight on it, it took me 10 seconds to figure it out and open the hatch.

Next we removed the interior panels, and then hand to take apart the inside of the door. The difficult part is that you have to work around the rear window motor. The good thing is that there are 2 holes punched in the inside of the door to give access to two screws that hold on the handle from the inside.

The hardest part was hooking up the new handle. There's no easy way around it - it's hard to do, but not impossible. You have to hold it on both sides of the hatch at the same time and press the cable into a notch, much like on a bicycle brake lever.

But, after 2 hours of labor and $60, I have a hatch that works. It was worth the difficulty to save myself hundreds of dollars!

 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Family Photos

At Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.

Right before these guys left for Hungary.

 

Tubing the Poudre

I'm in Frankfurt, Germany right now, in transit to Hungary, and so I have the chance to write. Rosemary and the kids went to Hungary 10 days or so before me, so Balázs and I had the house to ourselves for that time. As much as I love my wife and kids, and hated being separated from them, Balázs and I got in some much needed bonding time, and it was good.

At the end of May I tore my rotator cuff in a mountain biking accident. I've been doing physical therapy for it, and making progress, so the first thing that Balázs and I did was go mountain biking. He's not as into it as I am, which wasn't bad in this case, because it helped me keep a slower pace. I've been going up to the north slope of Heil Valley Ranch outside of Lyons, one of the best, well-rounded, enjoyable, yet still challenging trails I've found. The bottom part is a lot of fast single-track, which goes up a small canyon, and as you get higher you come to an old homestead with two abandoned cars, which look to be from the 1940's, and above that is a lot of rock climbing through a forest. I only fell once, and thankfully didn't hurt my shoulder again, but all the bouncing on the way down did make it tired.

The day after that was the Fourth of July, so we called Isaac and asked if he wanted to do something fun. My idea was to climb Mount Toll in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, but it seems I was alone in wanting to climb a mountain. Balázs and Isaac wanted something a bit more relaxed, so we went up to Cheyenne, Wyoming to buy fireworks that you can't get in Colorado. One of the hardest things about being in Cheyenne was finding anything downtown that was open! We finally found a coffee shop and got some local advice on where to buy fireworks, so we went. Talk about a true American experience... For about $30 we bought fireworks that were grand enough to put on a better show than most small towns in Colorado.

We headed back to Colorado and started talking about what to do next, when the idea of tubing came up. We knew that people often tube on the St Vrain river in Lyons, so we called around to see if anyone we knew would lend us some tubes. Then, as we drove past Fort Collins we got an idea - why don't we tube the Cache la Poudre river in Fort Collins?! It is after all, Colorado's only designated "wild scenic river". I had been to Fort Collins a number of times before, but only downtown, I had never been up in Poudre canyon...

We drove down College Blvd until we saw some people with tubes, asked them where they bought them - Walgreens on College, so we bought some as well for $12 each. Not bad, except the guy filled them up with so much air that Balázs' tube blew up when we took it outside into the heat!

Here's a tip: don't fill your tube up too full of air!

So, after talking to a few people we heard about a place called Picnic Rock. So we got an idea: since we only had one car, we would park our car, and hitch hike to Picnic Rock, and tube back to our car. We parked our car at Legacy Park, just north of Old Town in downtown FC, walked out to Jax on College, and eventually succeeded in getting someone with a truck to let us sit in the back and give us a ride up into the canyon.

Since none of us had ever been in Poudre Canyon before, we didn't realize how far it was from the city of Fort Collins and where we had parked our car. As we sat in the back of the truck, we noticed that we kept going further and further, and we still weren't there, and we understood that the farther away we go, is how far we have to tube. Turns out Picnic Rock is about 15 miles from where we parked...

How long does it take to tube 15 miles? Well, that depends. Most of the time I would say we were traveling 3-4 miles per hour, but there were many obstacles, namely dams, that slowed us down. About 7 later, we got to the city of Fort Collins. The river was fun and fast until we got through the town of Laporte, but after that it got painfully slow because of all the dams before FC. When the sun went down and the river was so slow, we ended up walking the last mile back to our car.

The rapids in the river were fun, we each flipped over a few times, took hits from branches to the face, Balázs hurt his foot, and in the slow sections, all the pushing for speed did a number on my aching shoulder.

But here are my recommendations for anyone going tubing on the Poudre:

  • Don't overfill your tube with air. It doesn't need to be firm to hold you and float. The last thing you want is to have a tube pop on you when that's your only means of transportation. Isaac's tube also burst when we got to the river. If not for the kindness of a fellow tuber, who gave us her tube since she was nearly done for the day, we would have been stranded!
  • Park your car in Laporte, at Lions Park. That's a good 4-5 hr float from Picnic Rock, and the water moves pretty fast until then. After Laporte the water slows down a lot and it's no longer fun. From Laporte you can either hitchhike up, or if you have another car you can drop one in Laporte and drive the other one up to Picnic Rock.

It was a trek, but I would totally do it again. However, I think before I do another marathon tubing, I'm going to check out the St Vrain in Lyons. Hopefully they don't have any dams there!

 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Happy Birthday Balázs!

19 years old! They grow up so fast...

 

Video Roundup

No trip to California is complete without 50 trip to In n Out Burger. They now have locations in Utah and Texas, hopefully they will think of coming to Colorado in the near future. Considering how many people have moved to Colorado from California, an In n Out in Denver would have lines around the block 24/7. I know I would wait in line for it as long as I had to!

The closest In n Out to us is in St George, Utah - roughly 10 hrs away. Needless to say, we ate our fair share to hold us over until the next time we return. And during our trip we came to realize that Felicia can't pronounce 'hamburger'

This next video is from the Button Rock dam in the mountains above Lyons, which is the main source of water for the city of Longmont.

This time of year they are releasing water from the lake into the St Vrain river to fill up the reservoirs around Longmont. The force of the water coming out of the dam was incredible. Check it out:

 

On the Road Again

We spent the past 2 weeks in California. I went to the Calvary Chapel Senior Pastors conference, and got to take Jeff, the administrative pastor from White Fields with me. We had a great time; it was Jeff's first time in a Calvary setting like that, and it made me glad to be associated with such a movement, that, despite the shortcomings of men, desires to remain focused on the work of the Holy Spirit, the teaching of the Word and evangelism.

Jeff drove out with us, but then flew back after the conference. Rosemary and the kids and I spent a few days in Vista and then went up to Los Angeles to visit family. The kids love our family friends up in LA and were so sad to leave. They always make us feel welcome and loved.

On the way back we stopped in Vegas and visited my friend Chris and also got to meet up with Tim and Grace who we know from Europe. They planted a church in Croatia and moved back to the States a year ago. Our kids played together while we got caught up, the we went down to the strip to watch a few of the outdoor shows before hitting the road again.

We drive through the night, only stopping at a rest stop to sleep for an hour, and rolled into Moab, UT at 8:30am. I've always wanted to visit Moab, and wold still like to spend a week or so there rafting and biking and off-roading.

We noticed on the map that we drive right by Arches National Park on I-70, so we stopped by this time. It was an amazing place, but very similar to the other national parks we've seen in Utah: Zion and Bryce Canyon, although we felt that Arches was the least dramatic of the ones we've seen. The arches were cool, but they are hard to see - many of them are remote and have to be hiked to. I was excited to see the Delicate Arch, even though we didn't hike all the way out to it.

Here are some pictures and a video of parts of the park: