Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Car Tale

So this isn't exactly a new story, but part of it ended this week, so I thought I'd share.  Besides, this is a great example of what learning to live in another country is like. 

It all started on a nice, cold, snowy day in January.  I had been asked by one of the guys in Apalina if I could take him and his newborn baby to visit his wife's family.  This family lives in a village about 30 minutes away, and it is off the main road.  

Mihaly and his little boy
The road had not been cleared, so there were two tracks worn threw to the road by tires.  Otherwise, it was covered in snow and ice.  On the way, I had already made a mental note that I needed to be very careful on the way back because of how slippery the road was.  

Well, on the way back, as I was coming around a curve, I met a horse cart.  I wasn't going fast, but as I tried to move out of the tracks so that I could pass him, he decided to come straight ahead and hit my car.  This caused me to swerve off the road and into a ditch.  I wasn't hurt (other than my pride), but my car was stuck.  Now in my way of thinking it was time to call a tow truck.  The only problem was that I don't know how to call a tow truck here, so I called Attila.  He said he would be there soon to help me.  I didn't see how the two of us could possibly manage to get my car out, but I decided I would wait on him to come and then we could decide what to do.  He showed up with four other (big) guys from Apalina and told me that he just drove into Apalina and asked the first four big guys he saw to jump in the car and come with him (not telling them where they were going).  These four guys proceeded to pick my car up out of the ditch while Attila used his car to pull it back onto the road.  So much for calling the tow truck.  Here are some pictures of what happend. 
Here's where the door was damaged...the cart tore all the way through to the frame of the car.

Now flash forward to last weekend when I went to Hungary.  I had told Zozo on the way that I needed to pay the road tax because it expired in April.  Well, this wasn't the only thing that expired in April.  While I was in the States, the registration on my car expired.  This means that I needed to go to get the car inspected and get a new stamp for two more years.  In South Carolina, we no longer have car inspections, so this was another new thing for me.  We realized that the registration was out of date when we were crossing the border and the border police showed us.  You can imagine how worried we were when he showed us and then took the paperwork for the car and told us to wait.  After about 10 minutes, another guard came to bring my passport and the car paper back to us.  When she handed it to me I just stared...long enough for her to ask if it was my paperwork.  I was just so shocked because I was expecting that we would have to pay a fine and maybe even have to turn around and go back home.  We were able to go ahead and had a similar experience on the way back into Romania.  That time the officer told us that the paper would work that day only..."today it works, tomorrow it wouldn't".  So God was with us in that.  But that brings me to this past Thursday when I went to get the car inspected.  Attila told me to expect them to find something because they always do.  This turned out to be true.  There were two problems: something with the exhaust pipe and the other with the car door from the January meeting with the horse cart.  That sent us on a hunt to find a place that could fix the door.  Luckily the place we found could start right away.  Unfortunately, it would take until Monday to finish. 

I know, this story is turning into quite a saga, but I really wanted you all to see what "normal" is here. :)  Even  in a "normal" weekend it would be hard to be without my car.  This was complicated by the fact that I had promised to make three trips to the prison: once each on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  So Thursday afternoon, I took Attila's bike and rode to Apalina to deliver the bad news...that I wouldn't be able to go.  If I can tell you one thing about the people that I work with in Apalina, it's that when the set their mind on something happening, they will find a way! Each of the families found another car that I could drive to take them to the prison.  I ended up going to the prison three days, in three different cars, none of which was mine.  This is normal!

Monday, I went back to pick up my car with Attila, and it was done.  They did a great job fixing it.  It wasn't something that I had planned to repair at this time, but since I didn't have a choice, I'm glad it turned out well.

Thanks for joining me for this little car tale.  And thank you for your prayers for my ministry here! 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Dear Friends,
Can you believe it?  I'm actually updating my blog!  Is this a day for celebration or what?  :)

I have had a lot of opportunities in the last month to catch up with some people in person, and many of you mentioned that my blog was out of date.  Thank you for your encouragement to keep up with it.  I've decided...at least for now...to just fill you in on the most recent things happening here and then I will hopefully be back on track with trying to blog once a week.  I'd also like to start taking at least two pictures a week to post.  I'm thinking that if I write it here, I'll have the accountability to make it happen. :)

Since Christmas, I've been busy with school, road trips (some of my choosing, others to help out our community), and working with the people here in general.  We've received many guests during this time, as well.  God has really been faithful to help us in our ministry here.  There have been times when I didn't know where or how I would receive what I needed, but God always provided.  One of the biggest lessons I'm learning now is about trusting Him for all of my needs.  It's amazing how doing this can bring so much peace to your life.  In the times when I didn't know how I would be able to pay a bill or make another trip in the car without more gas, God was faithful and I never worried.  Thanks be to the One who is always faithful!

This past weekend, I had the privilege of being in Hungary for the installation of a new director at Word of Life Hungary (Elet Szava).   Although I would have loved to have had more time with my friends, it was such a great time of celebration of what God has done through faithful servants over the years there in Hungary.  For me, it was a bittersweet day because I saw my friend become the new director, but I also saw a very Godly and wise leader moving on.  I'm very thankful for all that Alex Konya has done in his time at WOL Hungary.  I had the privilege of being a student and an intern there while he was the leader, and I'm very thankful for his example of leadership.  I'm especially thankful for all that he showed me about trusting in God even when it seems the answers aren't coming as we expect, and when it would be easy to try and look to the world for help.  I'm also thankful to have worked with Csikos Gabor during my time there.  He was the Dean of Students while I was a student, and he had stepped into other roles while I was an intern.  During that time we got to work closely together and I learned to really appreciate his service and his friendship.  Thank you to these two gentlemen who have led so faithfully and have provided good examples for me.

I was also able to bring two good friends from Romania with me to Hungary.  Zozo and Jeno are both great friends and they are both an important part of my life here in Romania.  It was great to have them see the place and the people and places that were such a big part of my life.  Besides, one of them may even be a prospective Bible School student in the future.  Here are a few pictures of us in Budapest.

As I write this, I'm sitting in the church in Apalina, with the children in the other room studying.  At the same time, some of the kids that I taught and have worked with in America are taking state tests this week.  I'm reminded how much I love what I get to do with these kids, and I'm thankful that God has given me so many different experiences that have guided and shaped who I am.

Zozo and Dezso: two of my greatest friends together!
Ok, I think that's enough for now.  It's good to be back "in touch".  And I'd love to hear from you, too!  For missionaries, notes of even the smallest length mean a lot.  Here's how you can get in touch with me: jpcrook@yahoo.com