Hello! Cullen here. It's been a while since I have written. It's been hard to find the time! I hope you'll see throughout this update what a blessing it has been to be giving my time to such meaningful and important work.
Two weeks ago, after a few days off from English Camp, the new school year launched with a bang. The middle school in Tatárszentgyörgy is now being run by the Baptist Union of Hungary, which means that the teachers now have the freedom to talk about Jesus in the classroom and out of it! This is a wide open door that will allow me to do so much more than teach English with my students. The Baptist Union Opening Ceremony was very official and a lot of fun. They had many influential leaders in attendance, and even had one of Hungary's most popular Christian singers, Béla Pintér, there to perform a few songs. One person (among many) that I was able to connect with was Erika, who is the discipleship director with all of the Baptist Union schools, and we had a promising discussion about hosting a Bible Study for the teachers of Tatárszentgyörgy! Here is an article that explains more details (open with Google chrome for Google translate to work)
Within a few days, I was teaching 7th/8th grade Hungarian students for 3 hours each day. And let me tell you, it was not an easy task. Although these kids have had at least 2-3 years of English, most of them barely even know basic greetings. It does need to be said that my Hungarian is probably near the same level, so it is a challenge to say the least. Since it is a fact that children learn when they are immersed in English and when the teacher is a native speaker, my goal is to help them understand that English can be FUN, that there is a purpose behind what they are learning, and to create a safe and welcoming classroom for these kids to feel comfortable. Most of these children are very poor, have abusive/absent parents or struggle with an addiction, so with this, my opportunity here is endless as I get to show them Jesus' love twice a week.
The other new initiatives we have launched since Sarah's last update, are the TWO youth groups we are now co-leading. We have one on Thursday night and one on Friday night. Our friends Hajni and Gergő are our co-leaders for the village youth group on Thursday, which is a blessing since they are good friends, bilingual and can translate for us. Most of these kids have unimaginable family situations and we want to offer them a home away from home at least once per week. Our 2nd youth group is in Budapest on Friday nights, where we take more of a supporting role alongside Júlia and Nandi (Geza/Ildiko's daughter/son-in-law). This is an already-established youth group that has mostly high school kids who come from English-speaking and supportive family backgrounds. We also started an "English club" for 1 hour before this where the students can come and talk to us/practice English. This is exciting and opens up the opportunities to non-Christian students, and also helps us get to know the kids well.
The last schedule change for me has been starting to teach once per week in Budapest. On Tuesdays, I teach two 1.5 hour classes at Károli Gáspár University in US History and Landmarks and co-lead a seminar with Júlia titled "Pursuing Happiness, Challenging Suffering, and Meeting God". This has afforded us 2 days of going into Budapest, which is good for us to be able to spend some time exploring the city together and discovering new food.
All of these diverse educational and teaching opportunities for me have been incredibly fun, but also challenging. It is more difficult than I imagined making lesson plans for advanced college students all the way down to beginners in English. With all of these opportunities, I have battled physical exhaustion quite frequently. I am learning an old lesson in new ways, I know what I was made to do and saying yes to the opportunities God is offering to me, no matter the cost is all that really matters. The kids need hope, they need support, they need something (someone) to believe in. I really believe that simply showing up helps every one of them take one step closer to that being a reality.
PTL (Praise the Lord)
Thank you for praying for our fundraising! We have made our fundraising goal for the first year! However, we are far from being FULLY funded for the duration of our 3 years here! Please see our Support page 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 were able to launch a new youth group in Tatárszentgyörgy
What a wonderful blessing we have in our team. So many relationships have already formed and deepened and we are very much off to a great start.
We have been able to turn in all of our immigration paperwork. Now it is just a waiting game.
Our schedules have become more normalized, which has given us a sense of settlement.
I (Cullen) am settling into teaching, and have felt a renewed sense of purpose here.
*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.
Please continue to pray for Hungarian language learning. DuoLingo and teaching has been helpful, but we need to be able to communicate more effectively.
Please continue to pray as we transition into a life of working and building relationships within our mission. The culture shock has started to sink in, and there is a need for renewal and for emotional energy.
Pray for my students in Tatárszentgyörgy. As I have described, many of them have extremely difficult home lives. Pray specifically for (Student 1) who is missing a lot of class and battling meth addiction. Pray for (Student 2) who lives in an abusive home and shared this recently with us. Pray for (Student 3), who's father is the biggest Meth dealer in the village, yet she finds it within herself to come to class every day, eager to learn, to come to youth group and bring friends... These are just a handful of students, there are so many more. Please be praying for these beautiful young people and for the incredible opportunities we have to make a difference in their lives.