A Final Greeting from Hungary>
This message may look a little strange because I could not log into my usual computer, and the keyboard of this one is does many strange things. With that said, let me try to update all of you on our last day in Hungary which was spent in the village of Toalmas. It is a village of approximately 3,000 people located about an hour and a quarter east of Budapest.
We arrived shortly before ten-thirty - - I have to spell out times because I cannot seem to make the colon key work. In fact, I have trouble making many punctuation marks except for periods and commas. This village is where Word
of Life Hungary is located. They occupy the estate of the former Andrasi family. The main building which they call the castle is a national historic building. The grounds cover approximately 75 acres of land - - much of it in woods. It is truly a beautiful site.
This week was the first week of their 7 summer camps. The first two are for children - ages 8 to 12. The last five are for teenagers. They have about 90 campers this week. When we arrived, we had the opportunity to wander around some, see the castle, and then get ready for our abbreviated concert we were going to present to the kids at eleven thirty. We chose the lighter music along with the spirituals we sing in our program. The Bells of Praise also played - - something that they especially enjoyed. Pastor Tom also gave one of his short messages. Tom really relates to these kids - - all of which made our time with them special. At the end of the short concert, the children were invited to come up and see how the handbells and hand chimes were played. You should have seen their expressions as they rang and listened to the bells.
After the program, we joined the kids for lunch in their dining hall. Listening to them took many of us back to the days when we used to attend church camps. Perhaps one of the funnier things they did before they broke for their afternoon activities, they had two kids hold an empty glass behind their back and then had two other kids standing a little distance behind them with loaded water guns. The object of the activity was to see which team was able to get more water in the glass. I do not know how much got in the glass, but much of it soaked the boys holding the glass. All the kids ate it up.
During the afternoon, Alex Konya - the Director of Word of Life Hungary - showed us a video celebrating 20 Years of ministry there in Hungary. A tour of the Castle and grounds followed. Glen Gordon, one of our young people on the trip, joined the campers who were going to play some soccer. Barbara Tobler joined a small group of kids working on their English. They had loved her singing in the concert and were excited about talking with her.
After a dinner cookout - - that is cold hotdogs and some salad, we dressed for our concert and left for the Cultural Hall where we would be presenting our concert in the village. Our choir was invited to sing there when I met the mayor in Toalmas two years ago. The mayor, Magdolna Kovacs, had said that they seldom get good cultural events in the village and she would love for us to come. Thus, we were there today to share the love of Jesus Christ through vital spiritual singing and ringing. The town council had printed up a flyer advertising the concert and had it delivered to every home in the village. Even so, we had no idea how many would come. Hungary is predominately Catholic, and this is very true of Toalmas. According to Ildiko, they are essentially nominal Catholics in that they generally attend services on Christmas and Easter.
We got set up for the program and waited for the villagers to come in. We have learned that Hungarians are quite often late in arriving at programs such as ours. However, the number of people coming in was VERY small. Then, shortly before the concert was to begin, the skies opened up as a thunder storm blew over the area. At one point, it looked like we might loose our electrical power. We found out after the concert that the mayor and most of her City Council were in attendance, but the drenching rain thunder and lightning - - or even lack of interest - kept many people away. It was indeed the smallest audience I believe we have ever had for one of our programs. Small though they were, the good people of Toalmas were also one of the most enthusiastic audiences. While we were disappointed that there were so few people in attendance, we also were encouraged by the way they received our music and the message from Pastor Tom. Mayor Kovacs told us after the concert that this was the finest cultural event they had had in Toalmas for decades.
Our five days here in Hungary have been exceedingly blessed as we have been able to spend significant time with these wonderful people and minister along with them in worship, seminars, conventions, and camp meetings. Having Pastor Tom along has been one of the greatest blessings to us as a choir, and to each congregation or audience we were privileged to minister to. As we prepare to fly out of Hungary tomorrow for Kiev, Ukraine, we leave with both joyous and sad hearts - - joyous because of what we have seen new relationships build, and congregations encouraged while at the same time we are somewhat sad at leaving our newfound friends in the Lord.
Thank all of you for your prayers which continues to make such a difference. God Bless You.