We’ve had quite an adventure so far! Delayed flights, missed connections and an early morning arrival definitely kept us on our toes. But we made it safely and were able to jump right into the swing of things. Our first week was spent in Miskolc, a city two hours outside Budapest. We conduct a VBS there and really get to know the kids by playing soccer during free time. Andrew and Stephen are definitely getting their workouts for the summer.
The next week was spent in a gypsy village a half hour outside of Miskolc. The captains at the Miskolc Corps are growing a new corps in this village. We set up a tent in a field to hold our VBS. The days were hot but that didn’t stop kids from the village coming down to play, sing songs and listen to the Bible lesson for the day. Craft time was crazy, but the kids loved it. We also witnessed the first wedding of a gypsy soldier in that village! It was a God honoring ceremony full of praise and singing—and good food!
Our team has been continually amazed at how God is using the captains at the Miskolc Corps. They are intentional about genuinely loving the people and showing them the truth about who God is. Their dedication, even on the hottest days, was humbling for our team. The captains showed us what a generous outpouring of God’s love for people looks like.
It was difficult to leave the Miskolc area, but we know God has more in store for our team this summer. We safely arrived in our next location, Budapest, and look forward to another week of seeing God’s handiwork in, through and around us.
This week was our first week in the beautiful city of Budapest where we conducted a VBS at the Rakoscaba Corps. This was very different from our first two weeks. Each day we focused on a piece of the armor of God and had a corresponding craft. The kids really enjoyed the games that went along with the armor of the day. We were able to tie each game back to the Bible lesson, refocusing the attention on why the games were important.
Overall it was a great week. One day the kids and the team had a special treat. A drama teacher came to teach the kids acting exercises. Even though there was a language difference, we were able to participate. We played games like “complete the picture,” where someone makes a pose then their partner makes another pose to complete the story or picture. We then did a group version of that game. Some very funny pictures were made!
What really stuck out though happened at the end of the exercises. One of the activities was writing a list of what we would fight for, then playing a game where we had to reach the other side to save those things on the list. The drama teacher said she was surprised at how many kids wrote things like family, God, the Bible, other people and other such things. This was her first real encounter with the Salvation Army and it was a great testimony of how God is working in the hearts of the kids attending corps programs.
It also was a blessing to spend time with the officers and their family at their quarters. A delicious Hungarian meal was cooked, and we saw old photos they had of teams who visited in past years knowing we also were making special memories with the family! We played games that were new to us and learned some fun Hungarian words in the process. (So if we come home yelling “cheese” or “snowman” in Hungarian, you’ll know why!)
Next week we travel to the other side of the city. We’ll miss the kids and the Rakoscaba Corps.
We’re staying at a hotel only seven minutes away from the Budapest Corps which is treating us really well. We enjoy walking to the corps each morning through the streets of Budapest. We’re able to be a part of the community and its people. When we get to the corps, we’re greeted every morning by the officers and sit down to have devotions, re-centering our day around God. The corps officers treat us like we’re part of their family.
This past week we went through the VBS lessons of the armor of God, and the kids completed their crafts associated with each corresponding lesson. The kids especially enjoyed the action songs despite the language barrier. Their favorite was the “Oo-ah-loo-ah” song. Our team also decided to teach a dance to the kids, which went over really well. The kids were able to pick up the dance steps thanks to our team dance captain, Kayla. It was easy to see they were eager to learn.
Because of the ongoing European tournament, the kids constantly played soccer. Two days during the week we were given the opportunity to play on a local private soccer field in the city. The soccer team played with the kids and team members; everyone was involved in the game at some point and many injuries were faked, just like the pro athletes do during games! At one point there were at least 10 players (including team members!) rolling around on the ground and holding their shins.
The corps officers had planned a very special outing with the campers to a nearby island park where we broke into small groups to ride four-wheeled bikes! Even though we weren’t at the corps, we gave a brief Bible lesson and sang our action songs in the park. The kids sang louder than they ever have before, giving everyone who was near a little light of God.
There was a family at the corps who were always giving a helping hand during VBS. We were invited to their house to have dinner and were able to hear what God has been doing in their lives. It was clear to see they loved Christ and focused their entire lives around Him. We were told about a ministry they’re involved in that reaches out to motorcyclists, whose lifestyles are very often constrained by Hungarian society. By speaking about God and what He has to offer, this ministry reaches motorcyclists around the country.
All in all, this corps touched our hearts deeply. On Sunday, we were in charge of the meeting. Summer and Andrew gave their testimonies of how God has worked in their lives, Michelle preached on what it means to stand with the armor of God, and Caitlin, Summer and Michelle played in the band. The team and the kids did the dance they learned and sang songs in Hungarian and English.
We are very sad to leave; we’ve felt and seen God here! But we know He has more planned for us. Next we’re headed out of the city to a little town called Gyongyos, where once again we’ll be conducting VBS in a gypsy village.