Monday, September 28, 2015

A Little Hungarian Lesson

Happy Fall, y'all!!

We've been back to school here in Romania for the last two weeks, and we've had a great time restarting English classes and all of our other year-round ministry activities that took a break in the summer months.  The weather's turned cold and grey, and with the wind blowing and leaves changing, it really feels like fall.  Last week, I got to celebrate my birthday in Romania for the second year in a row!  Paul did an incredible job making me feel special, bringing home fresh flowers and preparing an unforgettable Greek birthday feast for two.  This past weekend, we were excitedly preparing for some very special guests: my parents!  They will arrive this week, and it's their first ever trip to Romania since I've been traveling here for the last 8 years. We absolutely cannot wait!

In the spirit of getting back to school, I thought we'd do something a little different this week.  I want to share a little language lesson with all of you!  For our Hungarian friends in Romania and Hungary, this will be your chance to correct me if I'm wrong about something :) For our English-speaking friends in other parts of the world, here's a little taste of what Paul and I have experienced while learning Hungarian (thanks to Orsi for this amazing graphic!):

And while we've got you laughing, here's the very first thing I was told about the Hungarian language by a Hungarian friend I met in 2008: "Did you know Hungarian is the language of heaven?  Because it takes an eternity to learn!" At the time, I wasn't able to appreciate just how true this little joke has turned out to be!

Hungarian is not a latin language like Romanian is (along with Spanish, French, Italian, etc.).  It's not a Slavic language like Russian, Czech or Polish.  It's not an Indo-European language at all, instead belonging to the Uralic family of languages (like Finnish and Estonian).  Practically speaking, this basically means that we, as American English-speakers, don't see or hear familiar words or parts of words almost at all in Hungarian, except for some of the most modern words or words that are actually taken from English/popular culture.  Want to see what I mean??  Take a look at some of these Hungarian basics:


Jó napot - "Yo nah-poht" Good day
Jó reggelt - "Yo reh-gelt" Good morning
Jó estét - "Yo esh-tate" Good evening
Jó éjszakát - "Yo ay-sa-kaht" Goodnight

Szia - "See-yah" Hi
Viszontlátásra - "Vee-sont-laa-taash-rah" Goodbye

Hogy vagy? - "Hoydge-vahdge" How are you?
Jól vagyok - "Yol vahdge-yoke" I'm well

The Basics

Igen - "ee-gen" (g like in "gate") Yes
Nem - "nehm" No

Köszönöm - "Køsønøm" (Click here for pronunciation) Thank you
Szívesen - "See-vesh-en" You're welcome

The numbers

1  egy
2  kettő
3  három
4  négy
5  öt
6  hat
7  hét
8  nyolc
9  kilenc
10  tíz

Phrases we find ourselves saying a lot

Finom - Delicious!
Nem tudom - I don't know
Americaiak vagyunk, de itt Romániában lakunk. - We are American, but we live here in Romania.
Isten áldjon meg - God bless you (How we greet older people in our churches)
Békeséget - Peace (How we greet church friends in Apalina)

Ok, I think that's enough for now!  Is your head spinning yet??  We're not kidding when we say Hungarian is not an easy language, but Paul and I have both grown to love it.  We've even found that our Hungarian is starting to rub off on our English a little bit!  Lately I've been accidentally constructing sentences in English using Hungarian structures (For example, in English the other day I said "Understand!" instead of "I understand!" because "I understand" in Hungarian is just one word, "Értem.").  While I know I still have a long way to go before I feel like I've mastered this language, all of the hard works pays off when we're communicating better and better with our students, friends and loved ones in their own language.

Szép napot! (Have a nice day!)


Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Whew...what a week!!!

As you saw in last week's blog, this week was the start of all of our yearly programs here in Romania. We hit the ground running Monday morning and didn't really slow down all week. Let me just dive in and share some of the moments from the week.

After a busy Monday with meetings and planning for the year, our after-school program started with students on Tuesday. We had 53 children take the beginning-of-the-year placement test! That's a record! By Wednesday afternoon, we had the children divided into groups based on ability, and we started going over rules, expectations, and procedures all together. We also spent some time with our own groups getting to know the students better. Claudiu and Cristina are back as teachers this year and they have a middle level group and advanced group, respectively. I have 24 students on my class list (although the most I had in one day was 20). My students are all in the 5th-8th grade and do not know how to read and write. There are some in this group that do not know how to write their own name. I have a big task ahead of me, but I'm excited about the challenge. It's also been a great opportunity to use some of the ideas and skills from my teaching life in the States. I've already done running records of reading (a common type of assessment in the States) with many of the children, and we are using strategies that I learned in the States to talk about the letters, the sounds they make, and how to read and write them. I'll write more on all of this another time...for now there's still so much to talk about.

Tuesday and Wednesday were also big days for the start of our English programs. We are starting new groups in another village (Gornesti) this year. Tuesday night, Katie and I were able to talk with those interested and administer a placement test. It was fun to talk to people about their interest in learning our language even though it's not the language of their country! We repeated this meeting and assessment on Wednesday night with a group of new students in Reghin. This week Katie will start teaching lessons to beginners and advanced speakers in both communities.

In addition to all of this, we were starting children's meetings, taxiing people, and preparing for church meetings on Sunday, while also readjusting to our school-year schedules and routines. We are both exhausted, but we are optimistic about the coming weeks and months of these programs.

Just another note, last week a 15-year-old boy died in Apalina when he walked under a high voltage electric line with his fishing pole. This is a boy who occasionally attended our after-school program two years ago. His death was a big shock to the Apalina community. It has also been an eye-opener for me that we need to talk more about general safety in our program. Please be in prayer for us and the community as we deal with this tragedy. Since this boy's death last Thursday, another person has already died in the same spot, bringing the total number of victims of this particular electric line to 9.  You can imagine our frustration and concern about this.

As always, thank you for your support and prayers for us as we work here in Romania.

Love, Paul
Cristina and her group
Claudiu's group as they share their writing assignment
Paul's group working hard on their first assignment of the day
Working on reading and writing
Paul with a part of his group

Monday, September 14, 2015

Back to School

Paul and I have returned from our beautiful honeymoon/one-year-anniversary vacation in Greece!  It was an incredible trip to a truly amazing place.  We have almost 800 pictures to prove it!  One of my side projects this year is going to be attempting to recreate some of the delicious and very, very fresh Greek food dishes we tried and loved!  First step: start growing some oregano on our balcony!

At the Parthenon (Athens, Greece)

Today marks the first day of the 2015-2016 school year here in Romania!  The after-school program in Apalina is starting up again, along with most of our other year-round ministries like English classes, children's ministry, and worship team training and practice.  Tomorrow night, we'll have an introduction meeting for English classes in a new village!  We're excited to start classes in Gornesti as an outreach ministry for the congregation there.  On Wednesday, we'll start back English classes in Reghin.  At After-school, we've hired a friend from the Gornesti church to cook lunch every day for the kids, so Paul will be free to do what he does best: teach!

Last week, we spent several days preparing for the new year.  We held meetings with the leaders of the children's ministries in our area as well as with the teachers in the after-school program.  We prayed, planned and dreamed with them about the opportunities God will give us during this year to reach out to the children and youth in our four main towns and villages.  We shopped, cleaned, organized and brainstormed, and now we are ready to go!

Here are some prayer requests you can keep in mind for us as the fall progresses.  Please pray for:

  • Hearts and lives that were touched this summer through the many camps that were held
  • New church members in Apalina and Gornesti as they grow in their faith
  • The new school year and the start of After-School, English classes, and children's meetings
  • New workers to come alongside us in this very busy ministry
  • The current workers here to be strengthened and encouraged
We'd love to hear from you if you enjoy reading these updates and keeping up with us in your prayers.  Any word from our supporters and encouragers is a big blessing to us!  We treasure notes and emails in our hearts for days and weeks after we receive them.  They really do make a difference!  Thank you for caring for us!


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Summer 2015 Newsletter

In case you missed it, you can check out our summer newsletter here!  

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