It feels like it has been a while since our last update. Mostly because time seems to be going very slowly. But also, so incredibly fast. It’s weird how time works, huh? With something new happening every day, the days seem very long. But when we think about it, we can’t believe that it has already been 2 months!
Now, normally we would be giving a ministry update on what we are doing as well as stories of our students, friends and leaders. But today, we thought we would change it up a little bit.
As our family, friends and supporters, I know that you also care about US: not just what we are doing, but also who we are becoming. You care about our marriage, our thoughts/feelings and our struggles. So that is what this post is going to be about. So everyone buckle up for a little bit more of a personal post.
On the week of our three-year anniversary (crazy!), we have been reflecting on the last year of our relationship. We have had some amazing highs and amazing lows. From finding out we are going to be an aunt/uncle two more times, buying a puppy, traveling to 8 different states and moving across the world (a high AND a low), to grandmothers passing away, goodbyes and cultural adjustments; it really has been quite the year.
Ever since we arrived in Hungary, there has been this constant “noise” in the background of our minds. There is always a small amount of underlying stress and exhaustion. This of course was expected, but it looks different than we expected. It’s a constant draining of energy that we didn’t even realize was there. Now, a lot of people can relate to this, especially westerners. There is always the sense of “go, go, go” that can subtly drain our emotional and mental reservoirs. We are experiencing this on steroids. Even when we are not leaving the house (except to take the dog out), there is a tension. The water (sparkling/flat, always from bottles and no ice), the layout of the apartment, the non-friendly looks at our dog, the language and the food/spices/brand changes, it is difficult. We also realize that we definitely sound like Americans typing these things. But hey, that's what we are!
Cullen specifically has experienced a significant adjustment as he continues to teach in a classroom of young children who don’t know English and as a person who doesn’t know much Hungarian. He has also found himself in a completely opposite environment as a professor at a Reformed University, where he has a very high standard placed on him. This prepping/planning is costing much more energy for the same amount of work than if he was teaching the same thing in America. He has also felt an expectation placed on him as a teacher, a “foreigner”, a professor and a husband. This pressure has led to some internal dialogue and mind-racing that has been difficult for him to get a handle on. Sleeping difficulties, mental gymnastics and emotional melancholy have been rearing their ugly heads.
As for me (Sarah), there have been some difficult changes and a little bit of grieving. I have never been the one to put my identity into my career. I have purposely always tried to maintain a healthy work-life balance. I am definitely grieving the loss of a job I loved. But there is more to it than that. It is a sense of fulfillment in doing exactly what I love to be doing and partially what I believe God put me on this planet to do. I am grieving a loss of being the provider in our family. With these losses, I have had to come to terms with a prideful part of me that I was not aware existed. Now, that does not mean I do not feel purpose here in Hungary. In fact, I feel like I was gifted the break from medicine and the re-shifting of my purpose at JUST the right moment. My journey here thus far has shown me new and unexpected ways to be fulfilled and content. But it does not mean there aren't growing pains along the way. I KNOW that I am where I am supposed to be in this season, but I just miss my job and my coworkers. It’s a shifting of perspective. A shifting of purpose. A shifting of my focus.
When talking about our marriage, there have also been difficulties but also tremendous growth. That underlying stress thing (^see above^) weaves its way into our relationship. Our tempers are shorter, our miscommunications are wider and most of our extra efforts are being expended elsewhere. With this widening gap between us, we have had to work extra hard to keep our focus within our marriage, and not let WHAT we are doing overshadow WHO we are becoming. We have said this before, but if our marriage suffers, everything else suffers. With that being said, we have also had some big forward movement in our marriage. One thing we have implemented is a Sabbath day (Monday). This has been game-changing for our mental health, spiritual life and marriage. We have also spent more time together than ever before, and therefore, have had deeper and more intimate conversations than we have had in the past. Also, one of our greatest joys in our marriage is adventuring together. And we have had plenty of those already!
So as our family, friends and supporters, we are asking for continued prayer. Being vulnerable is not my strong suit, but I know it is necessary when living apart in a place that is so foreign. Honestly, we wouldn't be here without the support of all of you, so from the bottom of our hearts, THANK YOU! To keep the trend, I will continue to put other prayer requests (other than the ones mentioned above), both answered and unanswered, in the space below.
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! The kids are LOVING worshipping and we are starting by reading John together this month.
What a wonderful blessing we have in our team members. Sarah is able to spend twice a week with Erika and help her with kids and her English, and she is teaching me cooking/baking. We were also able to have our friends Hajni and Gérgö over for the day, which was amazing time of fellowship and a was able to give us a sense of home and belonging.
We are both continuing to settle into our roles, 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 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.
Pray for our immigration paperwork to go through with no issues!