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...