Splendid Week in Szeged

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Our week in Szeged was such a wonderful time, in so many ways. For the first few days it was the first real get-away/vacation that Norbert and I have had, just the two of us, in way too many years. And Norbert’s first significant time off work since last summer. I know we do seem to travel often, but most of the actual traveling bit usually happens over weekends because once we arrive, Norbert is still working his regular job – the time in Szeged was rare because he didn’t work for the whole week (which means he only worked a few hours a day instead 😉 ). And then for it to be in a city we deeply love and just enjoy being in made it extra special. Szeged continues to woo us, and each visit back just solidifies our dream/plan (Lord willing) to eventually buy a home there, complete with a garden for me. Wandered in our hopeful future neighborhood and did lots of dream-talking.  Too far out yet to make real plans, but stay tuned.

The end of the week saw us split up, with Norbert heading off to host another Serbian Pastor’s Retreat at a small scenic hotel outside of town. Eight Serbian pastors were able to come this year, plus our Colorado pastor and two assistant pastors from Mile High Calvary that has been helping us fund these retreats each year. It was a blessing for Pastor Fernando Ortiz, Rich and Zach to come, meet the Serbian pastors and experience first-hand what we’ve been doing for many years, and what they’ve been a part of all along. As usual the guys came into town for dinner both nights, and it was fun for me to get to be in town at the same time for the first time, and knowing where Norbi had made reservations, just happen along to say Hi. 🙂 I also got to take some pictures with my camera versus the group shots on his camera that are all we usually get.

We were so thankful for the pastors who did arrive, as there was car trouble for two, and it actually kept one pastor from coming. It always feels like half the battle is won just getting the guys there and all together. It’s not a conference but a real retreat, so we don’t schedule much, but on the first full day there is always a time of quiet with Jesus, as they all separate and find a place to just be still and listen. Except for a few who sometimes nap or seek out other quiet times between meals, that’s about as quiet as it gets for the rest of the retreat, as these guys love their coffee and their fellowship. Most of the talking happens (naturally) in Serbian, and so often around cups of coffee that they discussed a new name for our retreats: Coffee Break.

While Norbert was off with the Serbian pastors, I got to have my own mini-retreat with two of my best friends, Zuza is the wife of one of the Serbian pastors and she tagged along and stayed with me, and Laurie lives there in Szeged. We had a Girls Night Out on Friday, plus I had some solo time with each of them (and Laurie’s sons and mom too!). It was much needed deep friendship time.

The pastors all went home on Saturday, and took the guys from Colorado with them to experience Serbia and teach in their churches before coming back Sunday afternoon. And we headed out to Norbert’s family village outside of Szeged; Kiszombor is where his aunt and three cousins live and he spent much of his childhood free time there with them. His mom came with us and we had a great day in the Hungarian countryside. I love visiting that part of his family as one cousin and his wife speak English, plus their kids are all learning – so I can be included a bit more. Plus, kids tend to have fun with you whether you fully understand or not.  Though, I enjoyed surprising everyone as the women all talked away about family and at one point in the conversation, which was in Hungarian, they couldn’t remember one cousin’s daughter’s name. I answered the question – which got them all laughing, as it was clear I’d not only understood their conversation, but knew the answer, and thus, much about our family.

Sunday we met up with the Colorado guys and took a train back with them to Budapest, they stayed with us overnight and then headed back to Colorado Monday afternoon.  So we had Sunday evening to show them Budapest – it was a bit of a whirlwind tour, though it helps that we live so close to the river and the center of town. We also just enjoyed the train trip back and catching up on each others’ lives, we were part of the church plant with these men and it was a precious season in the life of Mile High Calvary. Plus we love showing off both our cities – Szeged and Budapest, and so many ‘almost’ visits had fallen through, it was such an answered prayer to have these guys finally make it.

Only a couple weeks left in Europe – including the fun of heading to England to see Joshua graduate from Calvary Chapel Bible College York, and then bringing him home here to Budapest where he plans to stay at least for a little time until he figures out his next step in life.  We travel Saturday and then the following Sunday (leaving England the day after the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Megan, and with basically all the foreign throngs there for that!), travel prayers appreciated.  Much of our visit ‘home’ this time has been spent in ways we’d not anticipated – be it deep cleaning our place or too many doctors’ visits (Heart Normalcy) and waiting on a diagnosis. Yet our week in Szeged was really the heart of our trip, and it so exceeded our hopes.  We know many of you prayed for that week, indeed, for our whole time here, and we sincerely thank you.