Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Displays of Wealth

Sorry if you still read this and thought I was MIA. I haven't been busy, and I haven't had a million things to do. I'm just lazy.

Last weekend I went to the Showcase of New Homes in Green Bay. I'm conflicted in my feelings about the massive displays of wealth I experienced on the tour. It was interesting to see the big homes until I started to think about what my friends in Hungary would say if they were with me. I mean, one house we saw was designed for a family of five and it had 6,000+ square feet of living space.

Seriously, why would a family of five need that much space? And how many other, better things could people do with the money it cost to build such homes? Perhaps they've never heard of Warren Buffet.

Many of the homes we saw would comfortably fit 5-10 Hungarian homes in them, and I couldn't help but wonder if they were all just so many temples to the almighty dollar. Please Lord, if I ever have that much money teach me to be content with NOT showing it off by building a 7,000 sq ft home with sauna, pool, game room, basketball court, and movie theater. Nor by owning 2 Cadillac Escalades, 1 Corvette, and 2 Harley special editions.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The Daily Devotional

Do you know what I like about John Ortberg? I'm reading his book, "God is Closer than You Think," and what I like about it is that he gives you everyday applications for each lesson in the book. In every chapter there's another step you can take in experiencing God's presence in your life (what many like to call a "personal relationship with Jesus"). Instead of just telling you what it's like, or giving you scripture to study, he does all of that and then also tells you how to make changes in your daily life so you too can start building a deeper relationship with God.

I'm a fan of Max Lucado, but books by John Ortberg (see also: The Life You've Always Wanted) are easily applicable, and I enjoy them as daily devotionals.

That's just one girl's opinion.

Saturday, July 8, 2006

What Heaven Must Be Like

Sorry for the lack of updates these past few weeks. What with getting back to the US and the 4th of July, things have been a little crazy.

I got home June 22nd and almost my entire family was there to meet me at the airport. I really didn't want anyone to be there as I didn't want a big scene, but it was actually very nice. After so much time not seeing anyone, they were standing in a crowd at the Arrivals gate and my sister even made a "Welcome Home" sign (written in Hungarian - sweet!). That must be what heaven is like - everyone you love who has gone before you there, cheering, and excited to welcome you home.

Unfortunately, I was so tired from the 20 hours of travel that I wasn't very spirited company. Sorry, guys, but that unexpected delay in Chicago (when I was SO close, really sapped my remaining strength).

The 4th of July was great. All I wanted was the same family tradition of Gresham parade & fireworks and I got exactly that. I don't know why, but the Christmas and 4th of July holidays with my family are my 2 favorite. Ethan sat on my lap during the entire parade and we've been bonding ever since as I go to Emily's house once a week to babysit.

No job interviews yet, well one, but I don't count it because they wanted me to sell insurance which is just not my forte. In fact, selling anything can be a chore unless I really like what I'm selling.

It's hard to believe it's only the beginning of feels like it should be the end, as I'm busy with so many things yet not busy at all. Strange.

Anywho. That's about all that's happening. Next week I will officially start the job search and I'm touring the churches that supported me in Hungary. I'm quite excited to tell everyone about it and share my memories with them.

Ciao for now.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Roman Holiday

A short description of Italy

I got goosebumps when this came into sight on our bus ride. Tip: Buy a ticket for the tourist bus and use that to get around town. It's 10 Euros and takes you to all of the hotspots.

"Traffic jam" in Venice. I thought it was nifty, but our gondola rower didn't sing. I also got the Loser Seat (the chair on the side) on the boat and spent the entire ride paranoid that I would fall into the polluted canal. My back had a cramp for at least a few hours. :)

The line to the Vatican Museum. Around the corner and halfway down the block is the entrance. Think that's a long way?

These are the people behind us. And the line continues around this corner and down for blocks. Did I mention it was 30 degrees centigrade in the shade that day?

One bronze statue in a room full of marble statues. Do you think he feels like the odd man out? Do the other statues ostracize him because he's a different color? Or does his height and size give him some street cred? Or perhaps his height is just another reason they give him a hard time?

"Hey! How many times do I have to tell you idiots that I want red wine? WHY DO YOU KEEP GIVING ME SAUVIGNON BLANC?????

Ah, a statue of the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet, pillaged from the temple in Karnac. Wait a minute, we're in The Vatican! The Catholic epicenter of the world! Does anyone else see the irony?

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Race to the Finish

Now that the end is in sight I want to go back and make it disappear. It feels like I've been saying goodbye to people for weeks, and it's quite true. It started at graduation on May 8th and it hasn't stopped. I hate the drawn out process.

But in good news, my mom and stepdad arrived safely on Saturday, and we had a good time in Sopron. The weather was amazingly beautiful. A few days before they arrived it was freezing cold. Now it's raining. In fact there was a short thunderstorn this afternoon. If you don't like the weather in Hungary, just wait five minutes.

It's supposed to storm tomorrow and Thursday. There go my plans for taking my classes outside. Perhaps the teahouse will be an alternative. It is the last day of class, and I would like to do something different.

Speaking of which, the last week of school has been very nice. Every lesson my students give me chocolate and/or flowers. I also had them design a scrapbook page as a way to say goodbye, so that I can remember them always. (insert "aw" here)

But seriously, they've been very creative.

So that's the news from here. On Friday I meet Mom and John in Rome, and I cannot wait! I want to visit Italy, but then again I don't want to leave Sopron. Sadness...

Saturday, June 3, 2006

Queues and Such Nonsense

The one throwback to Communist times that I think I can do without is the issue of line formation.

Today I was in Spar to stock up on food supplies. The stores will be closed a few days for holiday, and many, many people had the same idea. Tip: You can always tell how busy the supermarket is by how many shopping carts are missing from the cart storage.

I went inside and did my thang (by "thang," I mean, “got my groceries”...I wasn't shaking what my momma gave me down the tea aisle or anything like that). After I did my “thang,” I went down aisle number 6 to get in line for the checkout.

Enter 50 year old lady (okay, 50 is was more like 60).

I first noticed something amiss when I felt her breathing down my neck. No, that isn't just a figure of speech. Her breath was literally down my neck.

The next thing I know I have the end of a shopping cart rammed into my backside (what my momma gave me).

Thinking this is some sort of sneak attack, I immediately spring into ninja pose and confront the woman (not really). Actually, I just nonchalantly glance behind me to see her reaction.

Is she breathing heavily and in full ninja pose? Will I be slayed by a look that could kill? Is she mad at me for taking the last bottle of Kékfrankós? Because that would be crazy...there were plenty of bottles on the shelf when I left the scene.

What?! No expression whatsoever! She seems not to realize that anything is amiss, and is unable to comprehend that she violated another human being's posterior, not to mention an American's personal space, of which we value in plentiful amounts.

I have a theory. So I test this theory.

I move my cart up a few inches.

Sure enough, I feel her cart in my backside again, but wait a minute, the cart feels different this time. More curvy. Hm...(pause as I glance behind)

It's her! Not only is she breathing down my neck, but she is so close to me that I can make out her frame from hips to shoulders.

Again I casually check behind me to see if she notices anything amiss.

Nope. I guess invading other's personal space and somewhat violating people in the checkout line is just her thing.

Then I get to thinking. I've heard of such happenings before; I am not the only victim of this victimless crime. My theory is that crowding and rear-ending in Eastern European lines (“queues” if your British) is a common occurrence for people over the age of 40. It's happened to me before, and is always the result of some little old lady “gettin' all up in my space,” to use the parlance of our times. I can only assume it has something to do with Communism and a limited supply of packaged laundry soap.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

So Many Things, So Little Time

So today I must decide what to do with myself. There's a wine festival in the Centrum. A basketball tourney and concert await at the Arena. And tonight is the 4Rock Sopron concert at GYIK. I'm thinking wine festival and GYIK. My students are in 2 of the rock bands tonight, after all. Must go and be a groupie, but not a groupie in the true sense of the word. Just a supportive, cheering, friend if you will.

Let's see, what else is new? Hm.

Oh, the construction is finished on Csengery Utca (the street outside my window) and now cars zip past at 80 miles an hour all night. That's nice. Especially when I'm trying to sleep. Or better yet, when I'm coming back after 10 pm (when the stop lights start flashing yellow) and I have to cross the road. It's kind of like a real live game of Frogger only there are no logs floating across a river. Keeps me spry.

That's about all for now. God is good and continues to bless the time I have left. There's a direct correlation between how much time I have left and how much the students are opening up. I'm starting to feel a real comraderie with my classes and I just pray that I can use what little time I have left to cement the friendships and get in a few good gospel touches before I go.

It's hard to leave, but I know I have to let go and allow God to do his thing. Trust that he has my friends and loved ones taken care of after I leave. I've seen what it's like when missionaries can't let go and I kind of feel like it can be a hindrance. Not only to the "replacement" missionaries, but also to the works God is doing. I just have this absolute trust that I'm doing the right thing in coming home and I know, without a doubt, that God has these precious people looked after and will place others in their lives that continue to share with them the gospel message.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Just One Glimpse

From the band Conspiracy Among Friends. Check them out here.

How I long to see my Savior
Exalted high and lifted up
I want just to catch one glimpse of Jesus

There's no greater joy I find
Than rending all that is mine
Just to catch one glimpse of you Jesus

None can compare with you
None can match your fame
Only you can bring salvation
At the mention of your name

No one else is clothed in glory
No one else could be as worthy
Just one glimpse of you satisfies
Just one glimpse of you satisfies

Oh I long to see my Saviour
And my lips thirst to sing his praise
I kneel before him as an object of his grace
and on that day when with my eyes
I see the exalted Christ
And then my heart will never cease to sing

None can compare with you
None can match your fame
Only you can bring salvation
At the mention of your name

No one else is clothed in glory
No one else could be as worthy
Just one glimpse of you satisfies
Just one glimpse of you satisfies

PS - I hope they don't mind I'm posting their lyrics. If they do, I will unpost them.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Analyze This

So I had a really weird dream last night. I was back in Shawano on my way to the old house in Forest Haven. Seven miles out of town and yet I was walking, but I won't analyze that, because the meaning's easy: I walk a lot here, therefore I walk in my dreams, right?

Anyway, so I cross the bridge across the River Kwai...wait, that's a movie...I cross the bridge across the Wolf River by the stupid intersection where I had my first car accident (it was icy and downhill, YOU try stopping on that...). I stopped by the farm where Jessica now lives because I wanted to ride the horses. We started chatting. Other people were there, but I can't remember whom. All of a sudden a wild pack of wolves came running out of the pine forest and started chasing us. Smelling the adrenaline and fresh blood of the horses gave them pause, but they continued after us (no animals were harmed in the making of this dream sequence). I ran up the road, but didn't get far...not even to the Engel's farm. The wolves were still chasing me, I have no idea what happened to the other people. Perhaps they were eaten? Or did they claim shelter in the neighbor's house and leave me to die a slow, horrible, violent death?

Apparently I didn't care, because that's when I woke up.

By the by, I was so tired from this past weekend that I had gone to bed at 5 p.m. so this was a 12-hour dream in the making.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006


I have less then one month left of teaching. I'm completely out of ideas for classes. This sucks. The students have lost the motivation to study and I have lost the motivation to teach anything of substance. I repeat...this sucks. We're just so close and yet so far to the end.

Not to mention I have the fun time of subbing three classes tomorrow. Goody.

Oh, and the retreat is this weekend during which I have to give a speech outlining successes and failures of the Ablaze movement in my little neck of the woods. Grand. It seems like a good idea in theory, but may not be a good idea in practice. I just never know what to say during these types of things. I mean, 15 to 25 minutes of successes and failures? I suppose I can cover most of that time just outlining what I walked into when first arriving into Sopron and how that made it difficult to even have failures not to mention successes. My ideas more or less encompass, not so much my work with Ablaze (specifically), but how the next volunteer should be helped in their work (i.e. what needs to be improved in order for future success). You know, just helpful hints to guide the next person.

Gotta run to class now. Stream of consciousness ends here (actually, I just noticed I hadn't written an entry in a while and so you got a bit of blathering).

Thursday, May 11, 2006

The Darkness

No, not the band. But The Darkness as in "they just shut down all electricity to the upper floors of the kollegium."

You may be wondering why (and if not, well, you are now).

Well, you see the student's lives are highly regimented here. From 3pm - 7pm is silent time (aka: obligatory study time). Then 7pm is dinner. 8pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays is obligatory devotions. 10pm is lights out. Literally. They shut down all power to the upper floors. I didn't know this until a few weeks ago when a) Jenny told me about it after b) I explained how the lights inexplicably went out when I was in the computer room the night before. Here I thought there was a power outage. Silly me. They were just cracking the whip.

In the morning they have delightful morning announcements starting at 6:30, every 5 minutes to wake the students up. Oh, and you can be sure those announcements are given at an unhealthy decibel level. Luckily I am on the first floor and therefore, not subjected to any of these things.

In other news: Soproni brewery came out with a Non-alcoholic brew. They named it the Sopron Virgin and it has been the butt of every joke since it's inception. You'd think they would do some market research before they name a new product, or at least have a board meeting about it. I don't know, just have some sort of channel for trying out a new name to see if it garners any chuckles BEFORE you go public with it and spend millions of Forints in packaging and advertising. Just a thought.

Hm, I had something really witty to say and now I just forgot it. I hate when that happens, don't you?

Anyway, Saturday is my birthday (the big "Two Dozen") and I am spending it in Prague. For those of you who think that sounds extravagant, let me just say in my defense, that I haven't been able to appropriately celebrate a birthday all through college as it ALWAYS landed during finals week and everyone was studying and/or nursing nervous breakdowns. I'm hoping it'll be a good time, but I'll be with Kendra and Lizzie B so of course it'll be a good time.

Saturday, May 6, 2006


Yes, another entry with pictures. Don't you just love it?

Today was Ballagás (Graduation) and it was a good time. It all started in the Sopron forest by the spring (musn't drink from the spring unless you are a graduating senior as the superstition goes). The seniors parade through the forest, and gather round whilst the onlookers fiendeshly take pictures (can one "fiendeshly" do anything?). The program starts, and about 64 people speak/recite poetry/etc and music is occassionally played. Then the graduating class parades out of the forest and through town, followed by the onlookers and the parade begins!

The Liceum shield leads the way (by the by, no one seems to know what the "L" stands for or why it's a "Liceum" shield and not a "Gimnazium" shield).


The seniors follow the shield through the town streets, artfully balancing dozens of flowers. Actually, they have escorts, students from the lower classes (lower numbered classes, not caste system), to carry all of their stuff. And all of the teachers, parents, siblings, etc follow them at a sedate pace.

I asked if I should bring candy to throw to everyone gaping and standing on the sidewalks, but they didn't get the humor.

After many a Kodak moment, I ran ahead and got a good vantage point at the school. The school that was liberally decorated with flowers, pine boughs, and lilacs. A great touch. Then came more Kodak moments and even music from the band that somehow got in between the 12th years and the "L Shield." It was great.

All in all, it was an amazing spectacle. Better than Shawano's homecoming parade but not as great as Gresham's 4th of July parade (it was lacking the candy, you see). The most amazing part was seeing just how seriously the entire community views graduation and how important it is. In America it seems you just walk across the stage to the tune of Pomp and Circumstance and you're done. Here in Sopron they had weeks of buildup. First was the ribbon ceremony in February, then the picture tablets were unveiled in shop windows, then the 12th years spent a week serenading their teachers and fellow students (all at night), then there were serenades at the school, then there was a dedicated church service, and finally the Ballagás. Totally awesome festivities.

Now the students get to take the Maturita examination next week (Monday through Wednesday). And that's just the first part. The second part of the exam is at the end of May. But we'll discuss that later. For now, let's get on to the pictures!!

This is the ceremony in the forest. Behind the ribbons, under the plaque is the spring. Under the red cloths (on the right) are little glasses filled with water from the spring. Richárd is giving the goodbye speech on behalf of the graduates. (A little trivia: he gave the goodbye speech to the seniors last year when he was an 11th year). The older people mixed in with the students in uniform (girls in maroon, boys in suits) are the form teachers for each class (A, B, C, D, G). They are like a guidance counselor for the students all 4 years of their High School career. Oh, and you can see the "L Shield" as I've come to call it. My student, Tomy is the boy behind it, second to the left with the blue/red sash (from one of my unofficial favorite classes, officially I don't play favorites).

This is about 20 minutes into the parade already. I was in it, but broke away to take some snapshots. Again, the L Shield. In these pictures you can see students holding huge bouquets of flowers. It's customary for family, friends, teachers, etc to give the graduates flowers. In fact, flowers are a very important part of the culture here. It seems at every special occassion flowers are given, and they're often given as a sign of respect from one person to another (for example, the graduates gave flowers to us teachers as a sign of respect and gratitude). Trivia point #2: there's a flower shop not to far from me that's open 24 hours a day...THAT'S how important they are...

Left to Right: A Teacher I don't know (there's over 60 teachers, cut me some slack), Zoltán, a student from my favorite 12th year class (unofficial), 2 underclassmen girls acting as escort, Norbi, a student from the same class as Zoltán, Támara from my 10th year class acting as escort, Gabór again from the same 12th year class, Véra from my 11th year class acting as escort

Yeah, this is a great photo if only for Richárd's expression. Sadly, I didn't teach him as he passed his English exam and so did not have to attend my class. But next to him, on the left, is Diána and I did teach her. I also taught (oh, sad! past tense...) Koresz and Attila, the boys in the line ahead. In between them is their form teacher (She's the music teacher at the school). This is the 12D class, but I had all of the students pictured (except Richi of course) in different lessons. After 10th year they break the students into different lessons based on skill level. So it took me about 7 months to finally get it straight which students were in 12 A, B, C, D, and G and it still wasn't until their tableaus came out and they started serenading that I really got it down.

The guy in the middle with the flowers and Berzsenyi bag (yes, they all get "purses" even the boys) is Dáni, another of the boys from my unofficial favorite senior class. Trivia Point #3: the boy behind Dáni is Sam from one of my other unofficial favorite 10 year classes (the same class as Tomy as it were). I would be lying if I said he wasn't one of my favorite students, but don't let him know that...wouldn't want it going to his head...

Monday, May 1, 2006

Got Canned Heat in My Heels

Happy May Day! That's right, May Day is actually a recognized, celebrated holiday over here and so we have the day off from classes (can't argue with that). I hear there's a big shindig in Vienna, but I'm just staying in today and getting a bunch of stuff done. Crazy, eh?

So here are photos of Diaknap (Students Day) from Tuesday. Classes were off (it seems that every week in May is a 4-day week, or less for me...again, can't argue) and there were several fun programs the students could attend throughout the day. The pictures below are from the Teacher's Program that happened around noon. After the student/teacher basketball and soccer games, all of the students came up to the Diszterem to see us put on a show. But oh wait! They couldn't get up the stairs to the Diszterem because it was blocked off! Why, you may ask? Because we (the teachers) were learning and practicing our performance 15 minutes before we were scheduled to go on! I love being prepared! But hey, we all knew the basic point of this production was to make giant fools of ourselves for the students' benefit, so it's all good.

Basically, we found a movie on the internet of a dance team doing an impromptu dance in a train station and we copied it as best we could. Did I mention, we looked like idiots?

Jump for Joy!

How can we forget the breakdancing solos? So skilled, such grace...wait a minute, is that Bob Fosse calling?

In true Dirty Dancing style, we even had lifts. Kriszti took front and center and proceeded to help us "fly through the air with the greatest of ease" even with Balazs pictured here.

Ta Dah! A dramatic, flourishing end to a stunning performance. Afterward, the students commented how well we did and how it really looked like we knew what we were doing. Hah. What young, young, inexperienced minds we're molding...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Croatia Pictures (as promised)

This is the beautiful town of Trogir. David had to do a little convincing to get me to agree to riding a scooter 40 minutes on the highway in order to get to Trogir, but we arrived safely and had a good time exploring. We even had time to take the scooter into the hilly countryside where we found a cute little chapel. Unfortunately, as a result of all that riding I couldn't walk properly for the rest of the holiday.

This is the courtyard of an old monastery in Dubrovnik. I think it's 14th or 15th century. Eitherway, it kind of reminded me of a Hilton resort...that "Old World" feel that landscape designers charge millions of dollars to achieve. Amateurs.

The beautiful Tower Clock in Dubrovnik. I think it's special/historical for some reason or other, but we never got the story. What can you do?

The Dubrovnik City Harbor. The site of a massive bombing during the 1991-95 war. Apparently, most of the Old City was damaged, if not destroyed. Quite sad. I don't know the whole story, but I bought a book on it and can tell you all about it at a later date.

Just when you think you've got it all figured out...

...something changes.

Do you ever feel that you have so much to say that you have nothing to say? Here's a rundown of the last week:

Saturday: went to the Tiergarten with Marina and her kids. In true Harry Potter fashion, we were accosted by a snake nonchalantly traveling across the wooded path. Totally a harmless snake, but a snake nonetheless.

Monday: Jenny arrived and much chaos ensued

Tuesday: Diaknap (Student's Day) at the school. A day full of fun programs for the kids. Jenny tells me that every year they ask the American to play on the teacher's basketball team during the Senior/Teacher match, but this year they didn't. No, correction...they did, but they asked Jenny instead of me. Please, let the delight of Jenny visiting start as soon as possible (and by "delight" I mean "Mandi fading even further into the background")

Tuesday: My videocamera FINALLY arrived and I had to run around Sopron in my sandals looking for an ATM machine that worked whilst Mr. Postás waited in the Tanáriszóba for me (I had to pay an outrageous amount of money to the customs office) *sigh* Oh, but I did get to make a giant fool of myself (along with other teachers) during the special teacher's program on Diaknap. We did a little impromtu dancing, complete with lifts (circa 1985 a lá Dirty Dancing)

Wednesday: English Club, same old same old

Thursday: The first Szerenad by 12C. Every year the senior classes go around to the teacher's homes and serenade them as a way of saying goodbye. If one of the students lives at the kollégium they also come to say goodbye to everyone there. So they came at 9 pm (naturally, I didn't know about it until Jenny knocked on my door and asked if I wanted to come watch) and all the lights were turned off. The other students crowded around the staircases and held candles whilst the 12C class congregated in the bottom stairwell and sang. It was totally awesome and I got some good nightvision footage of it with my spiffy camera

Friday: same old, same old

Saturday: going to Vienna to try to find a dress for Jessie's wedding. I know exactly what I want, which is turning into a problem because no store has exactly what I want. I may just go to a tailor in Sopron and get one made...

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Boldog Húsvétot!

Happy Easter everyone! He is risen!

I had the opportunity to travel to Croatia and travel to Croatia I did. It's not someplace I ever thought I'd visit, but I did. A full 24 hours by bus and train both ways, but believe it or not, it was worth it. We spent 1 night in Split, the second largest city. In Croatia it's a big tradition to meet a local at the train station and rent a room in their house for the night, so that's what we did. Not something I'd even consider in the U.S. but totally fine in Croatia. Split is where Diocletian built his retirement palace and we walked around that place for a bit, although it's been largely rebuilt into an old-town-esque, high-end shopping district. We then explored our adventurous side and rented a scooter to travel 40 minutes by highway to a little town called Trogir. I don't know Trogir's story, but it was an amazingly beautiful little place by the sea (as many places in Croatia are) and completely charming.

The next day we took a 5 hour bus ride to Dubrovnik which is THE place to visit in Croatia. Incidentally we drove through Bosnia but as we were all non-Serbian tourists, we didn't have any problems. And can I just say that 5 hours along a winding, curvy coastline highway kind of sucks, but it's totally worth it for the amazing view. Really. I have no idea why anyone honeymoons in Mexico when they can go to Croatia (other than the exhorbitant price of an airline ticket).

We got to Dubrovnik, found another local eagerly awaiting our arrival, and walked down to old-town to see what we could see. And let me tell you the view was brilliant. We took a ferry out to an island, Lokrum, where Richard the Lionheart landed and built a monastery. Now the island is one large nature preserve to we hiked around and climbed a huge hill to the old fortress. It was so nice to spend the day outside walking the same paths as the Romans.

On Sunday we went to mass in a centuries (possibly millenia) old monastery in Dubrovnik. Didn't understand a thing, but then that's not always the point. David tried to dunk me in true Slovak Easter tradition, but I was having none of that. Instead we travelled a full 24 hours back home and now classes start up again tomorrow. Sadly, we did not have more time in Croatia, but what can you do?

Pictures to come later.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Holy Mayhem and Praise Be to God

To give you a little perspective...

An old friend of mine is a missionary in Western Europe. He was asked to go to a prayer meeting at a local church and pray for the anti-abortion movement in his country. What he didn't know is that there were 300 protesters outside the church and riot police separating the mob from the 30 people praying. After quite a lot of tension build-up the police told the group they were leaving and wouldn't protect them anymore. Instead of leaving, the faithful persecuted congregated to the back of the church building and continued to pray, this time including the hearts of the angry mob in their petitions. Shortly thereafter my friend left with his teammate and sidled around to one side of the church to see if the crowd was still there. The two were then surrounded by 10 angry pro-choice protesters and accosted. Luckily, no one was hurt beyond a blow to the eye. My friend said that even with that, he never felt any fear nor did he feel any aggression or anger toward his attackers.

All I can say is Thank God no one was seriously hurt...during this altercation and during the entire prayer session. Please pray that God be with this pro-life movement in France and be with those who have so much anger and hatred as a result of their feelings and beliefs about this issue. As my friend said, these people were just protesting for something they believe in, but I pray mightily that God reveal the truth to their hearts. I pray that, if they are protesting based on their feelings rather than the facts of the issue, then I hope that they become educated about abortion. It's more than just a matter of "woman's choice." It's a matter of humanity.

If you don't know my opinion on this subject, then please know now that I find abortion disgusting and cruel. There is no situation bigger than our God and therefore there is no reason why anyone should kill a helpless child (yes, child not fetus). There is plenty of literature out there on how abortions are performed, what happens to the child, how you can know you're killing a child and not a "fetus" and so forth. I know many people feel differently, especially when unwanted pregnancies come from the cruelest of situations, but I still believe that my God is loving, that He is just, and that He knows what He's doing everytime when He creates that miracle of life and I don't believe it's our place to tell Him he was wrong.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Save the Empire!

From the Eurasia Volunteer Coordinator:

"Be wise; be cautious; stay alive. Don't pick up any dead birds; stay out of Hungary, France and Monaco. If you live in Hungary, stay away from political rallies and their attendant bomb threats."

What if there's one right outside my door? And I mean that literally. Right. Outside. My. Door. Come Sunday morning when I walk out my door, the chances of me slamming it into an Hungarian voter are 10 to 1. The kollegium (where I happen to live) was chosen as a voting establishment for the first round of elections and the only room big enough that's accessible to all the little old men and women who can't walk up 4 flights of stairs is the TV Szoba directly across the hall from my apartment. Actually, you can't really call it "across the hall" it's more like "the other side of the alcove." Neato.

In other news: Got a message from the Posta. They're holding my video camera hostage for $100 even though my parents sent it to me as a gift. I went to the Post Office to pick it up and they tell me it's in Budapest. So not only are they demanding a ransom, they're making me come to their turf to make the hand-off. Jerkstores.

Monday, April 3, 2006

I'll think about that tomorrow

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that's right. I totally just quoted Scarlett O'Hara in my blog title.

I am referring to the fact that I have not written a newsletter in 2 months. I'm deeply sorry and cannot offer up any excuses. My computer was not broken, I was not super busy (well, I was, but that's not an excuse), all I can say is that I am sorry and that I am working on it.

Lately I've been thinking a lot. And I think those thoughts have been God-planted and I would like to share them with all of my avid (if not, rabid) readers but I have to get them organized first and that, my friends, takes time. Yes, even to an organizational control-freak like myself.

Basically I've been going through a ripping-my-guts-open-and-laying-everything-bare kind of phase and I'm thinking that's where I'll take this next newsletter. But as you can imagine, that kind of openness makes a girl, well, vulnerable (and a wee bit self-conscious) and I'm still plucking up the courage to write the darn thing.

I've been learning a lot since my last newsletter...quite a few of those "epiphany" type whathaveyous. I've learned a lot about friendship, I've learned a lot about myself, but most importantly I think I've learned more about God. That, me hombres, is one of the reasons why I'm on earth and I'd like to ride this wave of enlightenment a little further before I share it all with you (I wanna make sure I got it right, you see...or as "right" as possible). So sit tight. It's coming...

Friday, March 31, 2006


Apparently Nat King Cole didn't have a clue as to what he was talking about. Imagine my surprise (and slight dismay) as I was thumbing through LCMS's "Missionary to Missionary" publication for May (I just recieved it in the mail and it makes for good reading material in between classes) and I notice that a birthday is missing from the "Missionary Birthdays" list. My birthday to be exact. Boy, they sure do know how to make a girl feel special and remembered.

I got hosed. LCMS hosed me.

Does this kind of stuff happen with such regularity to other people, or am I the exception that proves the rule? It's kind of the same MO...forgettable Mandi feels snubbed so she makes a little ruckus about it, thus appearing a shrewish grudge-holder. But I'm not really shrewish...just fed up.

In other news: I've been reading the blogs of other missionaries and they keep mentioning Ultimate Frisbee. This makes me slightly envious. The solution? Teach the sport in English class! Yay! The next two weeks will be an intense study session on rules and strategy with the culmination being a fierce game at Déak Tér the week before Spring Break. Should be a good time.

Late Breaking News: I played Scrabble with my small class, and it turned out to be extra small as the girls were gone (so it was just me and Máté). So we played head to head. Not only did we finish the game using all of the Scrabble pieces, but get this.....we ended up with the same score! How crazy is that?!?! Okay, I admit I didn't play as cutthroat as I usually do when playing with native speakers, and Máté used a dictionary, but c'mon. The exact same score. Not to mention that that score was listed in the Expert Level by Scrabble's standards...that's pretty awesome for Máté. I gotta give that kid an A (or 5 as the case may be might even warrant double 5's).

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Best Week Ever

In the style of the VH1 Show...

This Week:

I recieved a package from my Aunt (yay for English reading material!)
I wished my sister a Happy Birthday
I was invited to 2 birthday parties
I went to Vienna in search of various purchases
I bought a video camcorder (not in Vienna, as it turns out)
I got hosed by the Austrian train system
I missed the philharmonic concert featuring violin solos
I missed the "spring forward" hour change
I celebrated the arrival of spring weather in Sopron

Okay, so maybe my version is not as exciting as several comedians making fun of celebrities, but it's all I got. After all, Donal Logue is expensive these days...

Friday, March 24, 2006

March Madness

No, not THAT March Madness (although...LSU totally beat crazy??).

NCAA Hockey March Madness. Tonight. 5:30. Grand Forks, ND. Be there or be square (I am unfortunately square).

If they make it to the Frozen Four they will play at (drum roll please) Milwaukee, WI (pronounced's Algonquin for "the good land," thank you Alice Cooper).

And did you know the Midwest regional is in Green Bay this year? Which means the Badgers will be playing there this Friday? So not fair...if I were home I would totally be there.

You know what would be perfect? The Badgers and Gophers meeting in Milwaukee for a showdown. That, my friends, would be tőrkjó (and that does not mean "pumpkin good" as some people would have you believe).

Oh, and did I mention Ryan Poltuny is the leading contender for the Hobey Baker this year?

I'm excited. And yet sad...seeing as how I have no way of watching the action.

But I'm totally going to Vienna tomorrow to go shopping (wow, that sounds's totally not, I promise). But yeah, gonna buy myself a digital video camcorder...totally gonna make a movie with my students and it's totally gonna be awesome. I'm totally using the word "totally" as much as I totally possibly can in this paragraph. Is it totally annoying you?

Friday, March 17, 2006

Gambit was my favorite...

Holy Crap! Have you seen the trailer for the new X-Men movie???? How AWESOME!

X-Men was only my favorite cartoon when I was a little girl...okay...when I was a little tomboy...
Gambit was my favorite. A little snarky, totally hot (for a cartoon), and on the side of the good guys.

Where's Josh Minnie??? Josh? Are you out there? We saw the last 2 together on opening night, how are we going to pull this?

Go watch the trailer. Now.
So they don't celebrate St. Patty's Day here. Something about "not being Irish." I don't know...I didn't fully understand the reasoning. Heh.

But my friend, Marina, dyed her hair green. It was on St. Patty's Day that she met her husband, Kimo, in Hungary (if I understood the story correctly). They then toured Ireland on their honeymoon and named one of their sons Patrick (as opposed to naming both of their sons Patrick? Hm. That sentence structure could be taken in many ways).

Anywho. I just got back from visiting the other missionaries in Slovakia. It was great. Until that last day. On the way there I had lost something that was very near and dear to my heart, and it was only during my last day in Tisovec that it's loss was brought fully home and I just couldn't stop crying. Maybe I just needed a good cry. A good 7 hour cry, that is.

Anyway, nothing like a good day of teaching to bring my spirits up. Never fails. I may not always like teaching, heck I may not always like my students, but I always love them. And I always love seeing them and goofing around with them (oh, but never during class, mind you).

Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Appreciation Nation

Today is National Women's Appreciation Day. This makes me wonder a) Do men get a day to be appreciated? b) when is the day they get to be appreciated? and c) if men do not get to be appreciated, what does that say about this society?

Either way, I did recieve some chocolate (from a male teacher), a sunflower (from some male students), and a horrible serenade from all of the male teachers not hiding in the WC during break (it's the thought that counts, I guess). It was completely unexpected and not just because I work in a place where the communication lines are usually down for maintenance. No, it was unexpected because I am not a native and yet, they were appreciating me because I am a woman. So really, it wasn't just a national holiday at all. Delight.

In other news: Lizzie B (as in Borden, not Bennet) came for a visit this weekend. We went to Vienna and had a great time walking around in the snowstorm past all of the closed shops. But really, it was fun to just have some Starbucks and Burger King. We also went to a fun Aussie pub and had some delicious Aussie beer whilst watching the Maple Leafs play. Joy.

Later that night we went out in Sopron to Pub Fiction. They had tequila which is a very hard find in Hungary. Excitement.

Monday we wanted to try the "mexican" restaurant only to find a) the menu only in Hungarian, c) tacos being the only "latino" food listed, and c) the waitress completely unable to come near our table to take our order. She must've been allergic. Exasperating.

So instead we went to the steakhouse. And before you judge, let me just say that I KNOW I always take visitors there, but it's just so delicious that I can't help it. I'd have to say the tenderloin is the best, but the sirloin was still fantastic. Every time. So. Good.

Oh, and I totally got Liz hooked on Grey's Anatomy (go me!), but it's not like it's very hard to get addicted to that show. I need a hit every other day or so. Against my better judgement I gave her a 5-day possession of Season 1 and some of Season 2. We'll be watching the rest this weekend when I go to visit. Withdrawl.

Monday, March 6, 2006

Stop the Puck!

WCHA Conference Champs. 18-1-1 record for the last 20 games. Seeded #1 in not only the WCHA playoffs, but quite possibly the NCAA playoffs as well. Can I just say that I dearly wish I was home so I could watch some majorly awesome U of M hockey??? (that's University of Minnesota, not Michigan) Lord, do I miss it.

I read through the game recaps every week, but it's still not the same. Reading about the sweep over Duluth that also happened to be a shut out...during period 1 of Friday's game there was only 1 shot on goal (how cool is that?) is just not the same as being there and watching the action.


Apparently the WNBA is in Sopron this week. They're playing some games against the world-reknown Sopron team. The guy at the bar last night told me about it. Whatev. Now I understand what all those posters in the school were advertising. If only I had someone to go to the game with...yeah, that'd be nice.

Sometimes I wonder why I'm here. I'm so obviously NOT the person that should be at a site by herself with absolutely no other native speakers. I'm just the wrong personality to be breaking through all of the preconceived notions that Jenny and Lisa left behind. But that's a topic for another post...

Friday, March 3, 2006

Do you hear what I hear?

I've realized what's been missing. And I only realized it once it was back, how's that for ironic? Let me set the stage...

So, have you seen that American Express commercial with Ellen Degeneres and she's bopping along, listening to her MP3 player? She's dancing around the city and finally on the set of her talk show in her signature suit and chucks. The tagline is that she dances to the beat of her own drum and American Express allows her to do so (although one would think a highly paid drummer boy hired for such purposes would do just as well, without that pesky interest rate, but who am I to judge?).

Anywho. That commercial is really about me (I just blew your mind). Okay, so I don't have an American Express card, but I do have my very own personal soundtrack running through my head at all times. I'm serious. I know what you're thinking, but trust me. I mean, does this look like the keyboard of someone who's joking? Or someone who's crazy for that matter? Don't answer that.

I've always figured music was a passion of mine because of this. Or maybe I have this little hit parade in my head because music is my passion. Which came first, the chicken or the egg? I never could answer that question with any sense of authority.

Regardless...what I noticed a few weeks ago was that the music was missing, the needle scratched the vinyl, the CD was skipping, Rick Dees was on vacation, whathaveyou. You get the idea...and really only the first and the last of those euphamisms really give you a picture of what I mean, although the first was hardly a euphamism. Bygones.

What I'm trying to say is that I am now, once again, constantly hearing music in my head, occassionally singing along, and only once in a blue moon am I whistling (ever since the little old neighbor lady commented on my frequent public whistling when I was a child, I've been too self conscious to allow myself to do it). But the reappearance of this auditory event brought to light the fact that it was missing in the first place.

Ever since my first few months in Hungary my soundtrack has been silent, the sheet music was blank, the...okay let's not start this again. But it's crazy. I mean, sometimes I'm literally singing along and doing a little dance (a sort of discreet head bop reminiscent of "A Night at the Roxbury." Much to the delight of random passers-by. It makes me happy. Or maybe I do it because I'm happy. And now we're back to the chicken and egg thing again.

To sum up this long-winded blather, the music was gone. It's back. And I think it's absence was, in large part, due to the overwhelming unhappiness and stress I was facing from September - January. And now that I have music in my head again I'm hoping the stress and unhappiness will go away and leave me alone.

I know you were waiting a long time for me to make my point, and I thank you if you've stuck with me thus far. I commend you as well.

Monday, February 27, 2006

Andrew of Many Talents

I called it "Getting Flushed Down a Giant Toilet" while everyone else called it "The Funnel." Lame. Bygones.

Regardless of the nomenclature, the waterslides at Golebiewski were sublime, if such things can be sublime. The one to which I was referring to as "The Toilet" was my favorite, if only because you look like a complete idiot and everyone gets to watch. You start out at the green light, give yourself a push to take off. As you careen around the slick curves of the tube, suddenly it all becomes too much and you think you can't take it anymore, and just at that perfect moment you're shot out into a large funnel and spun around and around and around. Just as you're upside-down and are going head first into the hole, you spread eagle your arms and legs in an attempt to stave off the inevitable, but to no avail. Down the hole you go and you only have a few seconds to resign yourself to the fact that it's head first before you are unceremoniously dropped into a large pool of chlorinated water. Success. Sweet, unadulterated Success.

After picking out the wedgie your swimsuit made (all the while hoping the lifeguard didn't notice), you head back upstairs for more. This time, after your drop you run (okay, sedately walk...wouldn't want to take a spill on the tile floor) upstairs to watch your friends spin around and get flushed (that is, unless you're Rachel and you don't spin, you just shoot out the hole...sigh).

That's all for now, Balint needs to use the Internet too.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I'm not a Loser!!!

CAUTION: Incoming Satire

Yay! Bird flu (or madarinfluenza if you're Hungarian) has made it to Hungary!!!

I was starting to feel left out. We were surrounded, but now that finicky virus has seen fit to make a home in Magyarorszag's feathered population. I was starting to feel like the proverbial fat kid who always gets picked last for kickball.

On a related topic: I was watching clips of The Daily Show on Comedy Central's website because I need to take a hit of Stephen Colbert, Rob Courddry, and Jon Stewart every so often (doctor's orders). Rob made a startling report on President Bush's speech about the threat of a Bird Flu outbreak...

It seems that President Bush says the biggest threat is if the virus spreads from bird to human and then from human to human. That pesky human to human connection is really what has everyone's undies in a twist. So Mr. Corddry reports, that Mr. Bush recommends, that IF you do get infected, instead of risking the infection of other humans...give the virus back to the birds. Beat them at their own game so to speak. And in this way, the vicious virus circle will be complete.

Also, did you know the virus H-5N1 was named after the man who discovered the strain, Dr. Aitch-Fyvenwonn? Interesting little tidbit of information for you there...

I Dedicate this Post to Lillian Cummings

As you may have noticed upon entering my Blogger domain, I've done a little interior decorating. I thought it was time. I hope you enjoy.

So I'm getting mixed reviews about the film project. Some classes love the idea, some don't. Why? Are they just scared about speaking English on camera or do they really think it's lame? How do I get an honest answer to that question?

I'm excited for the Unofficial retreat this weekend. The Bennings mentioned bowling. I love me some bowling.

That reminds me...What's in the carrier, Walter?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Impromptu Dance Party?

What the...??? So there's a dance party in the kollegium's dining hall tonight? Did I miss something? (the obvious answer to that would be a resounding "yes." Yes, I did miss something...that large sign on the bulletin board written in Hungarian. That's what I missed)

In other news: I just went through my Yahoo! address book and deleted all "acquaintances" aka: people I haven't spoken to in over 12 months. It felt like I was cutting off a limb. Before the house-cleaning I could make believe that I might, one day, make some sort of contact with these people. You know, renew friendships, etc. Really, I was just sick of scrolling through all the names when trying to write emails to people. I mean really, when will I ever email these people? If I ever have contact with them it'll be a chance meeting face to face at a High School, Camp, or College reunion (you now know where I met most of these people). But I suppose some people are meant to come into your life for only a short period of time, they help mold and change you, and then they move on.

Now I'm rambling. Actually, now that I think about it, the whole post is one big ramble. Sorry 'bout that folks. It's that time of night...

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

So Close and Yet So Far

So I went to Tisovec to visit the other Americans for the weekend. It was a blast and especially nice to speak some higher level English (as always). I stayed at Lizzie B's and we had a grand ol' time watching movies, dancing, and causing general mayhem. On Sunday I had a nice 10-hour train trip to look forward to and, you know, the trip would only take 5 hours if I had a car. Bygones.

Anywho, my trip went surprisingly well and I wasn't even all that sick of sitting on a train by the time I got to Keleti (main station in Budapest). Can you picture it? It's the last leg of my too-long journey. It's 7:30 p.m. I had originally planned on dropping by Mickey D's for some dinner once I got to BP, but my train was late so all I had time for was a bite of my chocolate-covered trail mix-esque candy bar that David Fiala gave me (by the way, thanks's delicious). I'm now sitting on the train to Sopron ready for take off. My seat back and tray table are in their upright and locked positions when suddenly, something strange happens. An Hungarian policeman walks through the train and makes a cryptic announcement (actually, it was probably pretty straight-forward but to a non-Hungarian speaker such as myself it seemed a little cryptic). Everyone starts filing off the train at a rapid pace. I step down onto the platform and see people deboarding off of all the other trains. What in tarnation????

I finally get up the guts to approach the policeman, who looks a little haggard after arguing heatedly with an older Hungarian gentleman. I ask him, "What's up wid da train yo?"

Not understanding ebonics, he looks at me quizzically.

I repeat my question in Olde English, "Doth thou knowest what hath happened on thy train-eth?"

His face now resembles that of a lost puppy.

Finally I stoop down to his Level O' Language and ask, "Train?"

"Bomb Alert," he replies.


So that's why everyone is huddled at one end of the station! But wait, what if said bomb is located at that same end of the station????


Everyone immediately files out of the station into the cold, dark night. By this time it's about 8pm so I head over to McDonald's with all of the other American passengers, who can sniff out a fast food restaurant within a 5 mile radius...much like those bomb sniffing dogs the policeman is now leading into Keleti. The restaurant is chaos and there are mad reports and gossip flying across the dining area like paper airplanes in a badly managed classroom (but I wouldn't know anything about that).

I call my fearless leader, Rob, and he advises me to basically get the heck away from there and find a hotel room for the night. As of 9:30 pm hundreds of people were still anxiously awaiting the reopening of the station, standing just outside the front doors. Now, in such a situation, would you stand directly next to a wall of glass...especially if there was a chance of explosion?

The next morning it was as if nothing had ever happened. I have no idea how long it took for the incendiary device-smelling dogs to sniff out any possible incendiary devices, but by 9am all was clear and normal. By those calculations, I think it's safe to say it took less than 12 hours. All is well and I am still in one piece.

Oh the joys and adventures of public transportation in the 21st century.

Here's a picture of the soon-to-be frozen Mob O' Passengers...

Sunday, February 5, 2006

Berzsenyi Ball

Ah, the biggest event of the year! Well, minus graduation, that is. But really the Ball is one of the biggest events of the year (at least that's how I see it seeing as how the American is actually invited to it, except for this year the American was not invited, a point about which I will try not to be bitter). Anyway I got past it and had one of the funnest nights I've had since coming to Sopron. Thank God Jenny was here otherwise I probably would not have gone, seeing as how I wasn't invited...bygones. But all of the students were delighted to see me there and I was asked numerous times to shake my bon bon with them on the dance floor, a request to which I happily obliged. I was trigger happy with my camera and now wish to share with you a whirlwind tour of the evening. (captions follow pictures)

There were 4 bands slated to play during the Ball and in between each set the senior class came in and performed traditional Hungarian dancing. Almost all of them are my students and it was fun to watch them. It's a very big deal to volunteer to perform these dances...a great honor for the students.

More of the traditional dancing. I was on the floor for this one with front row seats, to which I am eternally grateful as the view provided a most opportune Kodak moment

Ah, a flourishing end!

Jenny, Fruzsi (or was is Zsuzsi? I'm afraid I still can't tell the twins apart), and Fanni gettin' their groove on American style (and by American style I mean there were about 15 girls in one big circle wavin' our hands in the air like we just didn't care).

My first dance of the evening. Barbi said I was the best dancer, but she also admitted that she hadn't really danced with many other people at this point and so could not be an experienced judge. Nevertheless I will still take the title.

For the last set break, the seniors performed a modern dance. Each year they get to choose what they want to dance (past years have been the Dirty Dancing Mambo, Grease, etc). This year was awesome and, if anything, it looked like it was great fun to perform.

The dance incorporated many styles. i saw swing, a little shag-like dance, and this...a spin on the line dance.

These are some of my students performing in the last band, a jazz band. They were unbelievably good. The Ball was so much better than any American prom I've ever been too and a good part of it was the music. No two-bit DJs for them.

Just look at all the students dancing! Definitely a tribute to the good music. I don't remember this many people having a good time at my High School dances...then again, most of the were "too cool" to do anything as silly as having a good time dancing.

After the dance my students invited me to the Disco. The Ball lasted until 1 a.m. and the Disco closed at 4 a.m. I figured it would be a good excuse to go and experience a Hungarian disco seeing as how another English teacher was partaking of the festivity. Almost the entire school ended up there, which was pretty awesome. I remember the heirarchy of afterparties my school enjoyed after prom and they just don't compare to everyone boogie-ing down at a disco. I envy the students their closeness of relationships with one another. Makes me wish my school had been the same.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Sweet, Sweet Goodbye

Goodbye Alan Greenspan. I know you'll be sorely missed by at least one Elvis-impersonating die-hard fan in Shawano. Thanks for the memories...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Teaching Style

I'm way too soft as a teacher, I admit it. But how can I get angry at my students for talking in class if they're talking to each other in English? I actually think it's pretty cool to tell you the truth. Dare I hope we're making progress?

I also managed to shock my students into submission the other day (a different class). They were talking in Hungarian and not even pretending to pay attention. I just decided to stand up front quietly until they were finished to see how long it would take (I'm a patient punisher...waiting for the kill). Ten minutes later one of the girls noticed and shushed everyone. We continued our lesson. Later on she asked if I knew how to speak Hungarian. I said I wasn't very good at speaking it, but I could understand quite a bit. The rest of the class heard this and immediately got sheepish looks on their faces. Why? Because they were talking about some of their other teachers and classes (not always good things either). What they don't know is that I rarely talk to their other teachers, but they don't have to know that. Better to let them sweat it out. I had fun.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Here's what I'm missing in Hungary. Boy, I hope that glass was clean...

Isn't he cute? Babies are fun.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

A Little English Lesson

I've learned that there's a difference between happiness and joyfulness. Happiness is something you create, something that you feel based on external (and sometimes internal) stimuli. Joyfulness is something that's given to you. You may not be happy or you may be down about something, but God gives you joyfulness anyway. I think it's best described by feeling happy and not knowing why.

Did anything special happen to you today? Did any outside factors contribute to making you happy (material possessions, people, nature, etc)? If none of these things were present, and you're still happy, then I think that's joyfulness my friend.

And I'm feeling joyful this week.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Short & Sweet

Let's see, what's new...

I'm feeling much better and am back at school although my ears occasionally pop once in a while. Is that normal?

The spring retreat is off much to the disappointment of every LCMS missionary in Central Europe. Apparently there are no funds. I think we should be allowed to take the week off anyway and travel to our heart's content. Or pick a city and come together on our own. The retreat would've been our last time to see each other again and it's really sad that we won't have it. Part of me feels really cheated.

With the retreat off, I'll have to wait until the middle of March until my first vacation. That's gonna be tough. Teaching takes a lot of my energy. I really love my students though. Every day they surprise me. Sometimes I wish I could be a better teacher...I feel like my inexperience and lack of training lets them down they could do better with someone else.

I'd love to see if Sopron has some kind of volunteer opportunities outside of school. I don't know how it'd work with the language barriers, but maybe if I asked one of my English speaking friends to join me. I've been invited to yoga classes, Tai Chi, downhill skiing (don't worry Mom, I'm NOT considering that one), and such but I don't feel that I'm being put to full use here. I want to do more...something where I can physically see the results of my labor. I don't know. It may happen and it may not.

I'm kind of counting down the weeks until that bad?

Saturday, January 7, 2006


So the word's gotten out that, psst!... the American is sick! Actually the word's been out since Tuesday morning (via The Loose Lips Express. Doesn't take long around here...train stops everywhere). I had to make the trek to the library to return some books that were due and I totally expected to see a newsie on the street corner hawking a broadsheet about my incapacitation (is "incapacitation" a word?). "Buy me last pape guv'na?" a la Little Les Jacobs in 1992's smash hit "Newsies."

Laura tells me she was diagnosed with Mono to which I reply, "Exsqueeze me? Bakin' Powder? (gotta make a shout out to Wayne's World whenever you can get 'em) Do you KNOW how many germs we likely swapped on our questionable 'vacation' to Ireland, my friend?"

But me having mono would make sense. No wonder why my doctor-prescribed drug cocktail is not really having any effect. And no wonder why I woke up at 9am today and was completely exhausted, slept until noon, read a bit, then became exhausted once more around 2pm. Yeah. I can't imagine what it'll be like going back to work with my depleted energy stores on Tuesday. Should be fun! Can I just go home and retreat in miserable solitude whilst setting up camp on my couch, channel surfing to my heart's delight? No? Okay...

Oh, I almost forgot...another shout out, this one to a few of my lesser-known (but not less talented) acquaintances:

Did I already make a shout to them once before? I can't remember. And I'm sorry I can't come to the door right now, but in my weakened condition I could take a nasty spill down the stairs contributing to further school absences...(name that movie)

Friday, January 6, 2006

I Title this Work: Ireland

Taken only moments before we found ourselves behind police lines. Why do such things always happen when Laura and I get together???

Gasp! Has Mandi been decapitated?!?! Oh, no why she's just kissing the Blarney stone.

I'm not a witch I'm your wife, but after what you just said I'm not even sure I want to be that anymore!

Ah, the Saints & Sinners pub in Dublin, Ireland. So which one are you?

Thursday, January 5, 2006

Long Time Coming

In the words of Jonny Lang, "Yeah, it's been a long time coming..."
How was my holiday break? One word: Interesting. You know, as in when someone asks you what you thought of the horrible new music they just made you listen to and you answer, " was interesting..." Yeah, interesting.

At this time I don't really feel like talking about Christmas, the better parts came in Ireland. Laura and I arrived in Dublin and the very next day we set off for Cork City, Cork, Cork, City (sung to the tune of "Bear City" from SNL). In Cork we both got nauseatingly sick and it wasn't just from watching the "No, I love YOU more Schmoopy!" couples walking around. We managed to spend a few hours in Blarney, walking around the Jim Henson-esque woods waiting for muppets to pop out from behind the trees, and of course kissing the Blarney stone. Then we spent the rest of the day feverish and delirious. Well, I did anyway, I don't know about Laura.

The next few days in Galway were pretty much the same although we tried to muddle through it and just pretend we weren't sick. The highlights of Galway were getting my hair cut by an Irishman named Patrick (I mean, you HAVE to so adequately fill the stereotype?), finding ourselves somehow behind the police lines at a crime scene, and drinking some Guinness at the King's Head (because Guiness in Ireland tastes so much better than anywhere else). The lowlights were trying to fall asleep at night pondering the pros and cons of going to a hospital for treatment. Pathetic, eh?

Lastly, we went back to Dublin for New Year's Eve and a rockin' New Year's Eve it was! We went from a compromise of just going down to Temple Bar for an hour to ring in the New Year, to admitting to ourselves that we probably could only count on making it as far as the hotel's bar....and finally we ended up in our beds watching the fireworks in London on TV whilst giving each other a pathetic New Year's High Five. But hey, at least we were in Ireland?

After 2 agonizing flights getting me back to Hungary, spent in massive amounts of pain due to the lack of ear poppage, I called in sick and went to a doctor. The doctor promptly told me I shouldn't have waited so long to see a doctor (no kidding) and put me on a cocktail of drugs to take care of my "Middle Ear Infection" with a side of "Conjunctivitis." Welcome 2006.

I emailed the folks telling them this is the sickest I've ever been in a long time and that I was telling them not out of a need for sympathy (although that helps), but more because it seems a milestone I need to share with someone.

Thus endeth my winter break extravaganza. Boy was it fun.