Hello there friends and family!
I know it’s been a while since our last update! August has been one of the busiest months that we have had since moving here. The good kind of busy though, don’t worry!
Since our visit home in late June/early July, we came back and had to transition our mindset back into "work mode". The café construction was well underway by the time we came back, so we put our mind to raising money, finding resources and making plans. July was a beautiful (although difficult) month for us (see upcoming update post). We were able to do some relaxing and a bit of traveling though! Then we entered the camp planning phase…. Boy was that a whirlwind.
The first camp in August was an English/Bible camp that was led by the Baptist Aid at the school in Tatárszentgyörgy. A new partnership between a team of Americans from NC and the Baptist Aid in the village was started this week in a challenging and beautiful way. Since it was the first of its kind in the village, there were lots of kinks to work out. Cullen and I had a unique opportunity to serve the American team and be chauffeurs, gophers and the emotional and logistical support for the 11 Americans that arrived. The team was absolutely incredible and had such good attitudes despite new and challenging circumstances.
The highlights of this week for us was the relationships formed with the Americans and the translators. This partnership is likely going to continue at least 2 more years, so we will hopefully be seeing some of the same people again next summer! We also got to know the Hungarian coordinators and translators of the camp Kirszti, her mother Judit, Szilvi, Alicia and Luca. We even were able to invite and hang out with Luca the following week at church! (see picture below)
We had a few days break before our next camp. This was our invite-only HOPE youth group camp event in Lake Balaton (a popular vacation spot in Hungary about 2 hours west of the village). We, admittedly, had not done a lot of preparing before this week, so this week was filled with errands, late-night planning sessions and prayerful consideration of the spiritual teachings and how to really introduce our campers to who Jesus is.
We had 20 children and the whole adult team at Lake Balaton for 6 nights. Our expectations were that we would run into a large amount of behavioral and trust issues with the kids. We were very pleasantly surprised! We saw a large amount of respect for us leaders and the facilities, and in turn, we were able to give a lot of trust to these kids. And they really were amazing. We even got to go to the circus!!
God story time!
At the first English camp, one of the camp leaders knew of a Hungarian-Ukrainian family of 10 who fled Ukraine right after the war broke out in February. The family consists of a grandma/grandpa, their 4 children, 2 significant others and 2 small grandchildren. Sandor is a Spirit-filled and gifted worship leader. His wife (Gyöngyi), daughter and son are also both musically gifted. Cullen invited them for one of the last nights of the Balaton camp for a group worship session and testimony time, but due to having 1 car, a family of 10 and only Sandor able to work and provide financially, they said they couldn’t travel that far. Through more conversation, Sandor opened up about how hard it has been for his family, and especially the children, living in a small house and unable to travel or go anywhere since February. Cullen continued to have a burden on his heart for this family, so he invited them to Lake Balaton for the whole week. With the Ukrainian refugee funds that have been so generously provided to us, we were able to help with transportation, lodging and food for this whole family for 1 week in the beautiful area of Lake Balaton!
Not only were they an answer to prayers we didn’t know we had, but they had also been specifically praying for an opportunity to serve at a Bible camp!
To say that the camp would not have been the same without them is an understatement. They came every day to help lead worship in our large groups, and Göngyi (the matriarch) shared her testimony on the biggest spiritual night where we really had the kids honestly assess where they are spiritually. This couple was a huge part in 2 of our students going all in for Jesus!! Praise the Lord!
After arriving home safely and in 1 piece, Cullen and I had about 24 hours of turn-around time until we drove out to Egérszalok (about 1.5 hours east of Budapest) for our final youth camp. This camp involved our students in our Budapest youth group, who we have formed very deep connections with. This camp was very relaxing, spiritually and emotionally invigorating, and an overall amazing experience. We were able to spend lots of time with our co-leaders Nandi and Júlia (Geza’s daughter and son-in-law), who are amazing listeners. We also had good quality time with their kids and the other members of the youth group. Some of the talking topics included: Who am I? Trials and tribulation. Nicodemus. What does Jesus’ sacrifice really mean?
We even got to hike a volcano!
Good stuff, right?
We had some amazing highs in the month of August. But we have also had some challenges facing us, and we will have difficulties in the months to come. I will give another (more personal) update very soon!
· We are personally supported through May of next year, so please pray for our fundraising. Please see our Support page (bloomingabroad.com/support) for further details on how you can support us. Thanks to all who have given their time and money for us to be able to make this possible!
· We have a lot of big decisions regarding the future of the village church and the coffee shop in the village. Please pray for guidance and wisdom from the Holy Spirit.
· Continue praying for our language learning. We finished our 8 week Hungarian course and are starting private lessons this week! It has drastically helped us with our understanding and speaking, but we can always continue to improve. We long to be able to communicate well with the people here.
· We have applied for a grant for our coffee house. The decision is being made in October/early November. Pray for the grant to come through and for us to be able to use the funds wisely if granted.
· Please pray for continued deepening relationships with the villagers in our Fellowship Group. Many people are more open to house groups, and we pray for open hearts and ears for the gospel!
*this one will be a constant prayer request* Please continue to pray for Cullen and I: that we would continue to grow in the Lord and in our marriage together. It has been made very clear to us that our marriage is the foundation of this mission, as without it, the rest of it falls away.
· Your prayers for safe travel for us and for Copper were (as stated above) answered! No hiccups or surprises or challenges met us on our way to our new home.
· We were able to drive our new car home on Monday! A lovely Ford Fiesta with so few miles, a good price and in great condition. Praise the Lord that we now have more independence and freedom!
· Our stay here in Hungary was approved! The immigration office recently approved our stay and work here until October 2023, we will then re-apply for our final year.
· We were able to launch a new youth group in Tatárszentgyörgy! The kids are LOVING worshiping and we are starting by reading John together. The youth group is also continuing to grow!
· We have both been able to settle more into our roles, and have felt a renewed sense of purpose here.
· Our End-of-Year fundraising goal was exceeded!!! This gets us even closer to having all of the funds needed for the Coffee House project and for summer camp for the village children.
· Our friends Hajni and Geri have found a house in the village!
· We have had a wonderful 3 months with our new co-worker named Krisztián! He has been an amazing answer to prayer, as he is an experienced social worker, a strong Christian and has provided Miki with more time to be the school/church pastor and a husband/father. Krisztián has also recently (early May) become a father again! PTL that everything went smoothly and mom/baby are healthy.
· We are so thankful that we were able to receive our 501(c)3 status!!
· Pastor Ron’s visit went so well! We were able to connect personally and partner with his church Family Life! They have been so supportive and generous and we are excited to see how our partnership grows.
· An English camp has been approved and planned for our Budapest youth students!
· We have now launched 2 youth groups on Thursday nights because Ifi has continued to grow!
· English classes in the village are going really well. Cullen actually started another English class for the teachers here in the village. Relationships and trust are being built and God is working.
· We start construction on the Coffee House tomorrow!
· We launched Fellowship Groups last month.
· The construction on the coffee house is almost finished! The place is looking amazing and the workers are doing a great job!
· Hajni and Geri have finally moved into their new home. Praise the Lord!
As always, thank you all for your love and support of us. We really couldn’t do this without you!
Cullen, Sarah and Copper