Greetings again from Budapest, Hungary:
We were just beginning to get into the swing of putting all of our choir equipment (handbell and audio equipment) on the bus to take us to Budafok. Our hotel has kept all of that equipment in a secure and locked room. After breakfast, we loaded up the two buses with the equipment and people and headed out for our first full day of ministry. For some of us, returning to Budafok is like returning home. Dan Bird and I have worshiped with that congregation since 1988 - when Hungary was still behind the Iron Curtain. Many in our own choir were here on our 2003 Ministry Tour; but for many others in our choir, it was going to be a new experience.
The Budafok Church has a vibrant ministry in the Budafok suberb of Budapst. It is a church that has also spun off six or seven churches in the area. The good people of Budafok had already set up the Handbell tables for us and that just left putting out our handbells for our set up. The choir would be singing from their choir loft.
The Budafok pastor, Tibor Kulscar, welcomed us warmly when the service began at 9:30am. Our good friend, Ildiko (Barbarics) Dobos translated Pastor Tibor's comments and prayer. We sang together with the congregation, "Amazing
Grace" - - they in Hungarian and we in English. Our Bells of Praise had already decided that they would play that same song, so the congregation got a good fill of God's Grace. Our choir then sang a couple of our numbers from our concert program before Pastor Tom Theriault was intoduced to the congregation to bring the morning's sermon. As always, Tom presented all of us a challenging and powerful message which was based on the Book of Jonah. Ildiko switched languages smoothly into translating Tom's message into Hungarian - - which is not an easy task. Yet, it went so smoothly that one would have thought that Ildiko had received a copy of what Tom would be saying before the service. They made an amazing team.
Toward the end of the service, which typically ran almost 2 hours, their choir joined ours and we sang together, "Name of All Majesty" - - each of us in our own language. If this had been Penticost, people might have believed we were all speaking, or singing, in tongues. It was a glorious moment.
Following the service our people were divided up into groups of 2, 3 or 4 and were taken home to have Sunday Dinner with different families of the Budafok congregation. Even though there were some language difficulties, everyone had a fantastic time - - getting to know these marvelous people and their stories, and share in their unbelievable generousity of hospitality and food. When we all came back to the church at 4:00pm to prepare for the evening's concert, everyone was talking about what a wonderful experience they had had with those Budafok families.
As we prepared for our first concert of our mission trip, there was probably a little anxiety on the part of our people as we had not sung or rehearsed any of the concert music (except for the 2 pieces we did that morning) since June 17. It was also going to be the first time we would be singing our program entirely from memory. In spite of all that, the concert went exceedingly well. The audience was most enthusiastic and appreciative of the music. In fact, when we ended the concert in the "round" - - that is surrounding them, and singing, "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross," they did not want to let us go. They kept asking us to sing some more, but to be honest, I don't believe we could have sung one more piece. I know that Dan told me he was wiped out and could not have raised his arms to conduct one more piece.
I do need to mention another spirit-filled moment during the concert. After the handbells had played their second set of pieces, Pastor Tom then shared a short message - - specifically a personal story and testimony. We could see the congregaton glued to every work Tom was saying and the powerful impact that his testimony had on them. He ended his sharing saying that if anyone there did not know Jeses as their Lord and Savior, it was our hope that they might do so. Having a pastoral dimention to our ministry this year has added an amazing dynamic to the mission. The Hungarian people responded so warmly to Pastor Tom and what he had to share with them. It was a "God Thing" that we were able to have Pastor Tom join us for our five days here in Hungary, and then to have Pastor Mike and Amy join us later in Kiev and Moscow. Your, our SBPC Congregation and all of those of you who have join us in support of this ministry are to be commended on sending two of our pastors to minister with us. Praise the Lord.
Following the concert, the loving people of Budafok also had prepared a reception for all of our people and all of their musicians as well. Again, the tables was piled high with the most delectible food. When we finally arrived back at our hotel after 9:30pm, we were exhilerated even though we were exhausted. Our full day in the Budafok community and being able to share the Lord together in worship, fellowship, and music with this special congregation and people could not have presented us with a better way to begin our two-weeks here in Central and Eastern Europe.
Today, we are scheduled to sing for the opening night of the Hungarian Baptist Union's annual Music Convention. We will do a little sightseeing this morning, and then prepare for our 6:00pm concert for the Music Convention which will be held in the Ujpest Baptist Church. Pray that God fills that place with his Spirit.
Yours with great appreciation,
(for Music With a Mission)