Summer is over, the kids are back in school, and my family has completed our first year of missionary service in Budapest, Hungary. This year has had many ups and downs, as we have experienced many successes, faced a few challenges, and failed miserably a handful of times. If you add a worldwide pandemic to the mix, it has made for an interesting and unique year.

The kids’ first day of school last fall.

My wife and I knew that adjusting to a new culture and country would be difficult. Even though we are living in a modern city that, for all appearances, looks familiar, the cultural differences became uncomfortably obvious over time. Mundane tasks such as going to the bank and post office were hard and stressful. The Hungarian language is difficult to learn and our language class was tiring and long. In addition, our children were also struggling to find their place in a new school and environment. We underestimated how difficult it would be for us to find our place in our new situation.

During this challenging time, the Lord reminded us of two things: first that we had to let go of the past and embrace the future that God was preparing for us, and second that if we have faith and trust in him, he will guide us on our way.

Matthew 9:17 says, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will spill, and the wineskins will be ruined. Instead, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved.” Luke 5:39 adds one more thought on the subject: “And no one after drinking old wine wants new, for he says, ‘The old is better.’” What is old and familiar seems “better,” but when God asks you to abandon the familiar and fills you with new wine, you have to change or you will burst. Proverb 3:6 says, “In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” Our family can testify that God was with us through the hard times and guided us through our first challenging months of being foreigners in a strange land.

About the time our family got past culture shock and began settling in to our new normal, the Covid-19 worldwide pandemic began. Despite the uncertainty, God gave us a sense of peace and understanding in the middle of the storm. Being quarantined gave us the ability to really process what we had been experiencing in our first months here. It was a time for reflection on just how unimaginably faithful God is and a time of spiritual growth.

We had planned to return to the US this summer and we didn’t know until the very last minute if we were going to be able to travel. Eventually, we were cleared to travel and visited the US for six weeks. During that time, we had the goals of visiting some churches and individual supporters and spending time with our parents. By the grace of God, we were able to have great visits, increase our funding, and let the kids spend some time with their grandparents. We even experienced a hurricane in an ocean-front house, but that is another story.

A simple evaluation of our first year would say the following: The DePue family came, experienced some ups and downs, learned a lot, stayed safe and healthy, grew in their faith, went home, and returned rested and ready to be filled with new wine to be enjoyed at a later time as God ordains.

We can’t wait to see what God does in the next year.

– By Aaron DePue, OMS Hungary Team Member