In 1993, my family arrived in Budapest, Hungary. In some ways, not much has changed since then, but in other ways, the differences are astounding. I didn’t know it back then, but those days would lay the seeds and groundwork for a calling back to serve in Hungary again. I spent a lot of time with my face pressed against the glass of buses, trams, and such, taking in the city I now call home.
The purpose for that trip back in 1993 was a building. Down in the heart of the 8th district, an area of town that remains economically depressed, a building had to be taken down because of its poor condition. OMS’ partner at the time, the long-term lessee of the property, had reached out to OMS and asked for help rebuild the building. So, on a hot summer day, our family walked off the plane to see this project through.
I spent a lot of time at the project. I hauled concrete, carried blocks, ran errands. Just yesterday I found myself in that same neighborhood with members of my team and we walked the block over to the old site. Memories came flooding back from being a 14-year-old kid on the job site. Watching dad work, watching work teams put the effort in to do it right.
Over the years, Dad has built a lot of projects. OMS fields all over the world have projects that he laid his hands on. I’ve traveled to those projects. A canoe house in Spain, a school in Germany. I waited at home while he was off to Korea, Ecuador, and Colombia. This was his calling. This was our life. But it was that first project in Hungary that really changed me. It was that time in Hungary, my freshman year of high school, that played probably as foundational a role in my life as any other year, outside of my marriage and children’s births.
Coming back to Hungary to serve is a blessing. I feel more at home here than anywhere in the world. But, it’s a little bittersweet to not have family around here. Being on a different continent from your kin isn’t always the easiest thing. It’s been nice when family visits Hungary, especially those who’ve lived here.
When Methodist leadership reached out to us a while back asking for help building a chapel, I decided it was a good time to turn to dad, this time as an adult and Field Director of Hungary, for his building expertise. This trip is a bit special for both him and me. For me, it’s special because he’s helping me to further the direction we believe the Lord has given us. For him, this is his last trip before retirement. It means a lot to me that his involvement in Hungary started with a building, and ended with a building. After so many trips abroad, his last official missions trip as a missionary was to my field, to help provide his skills to put a little chapel on a map…a map incidentally devoid of churches.
It’s often been said that missions is a family affair. Usually this means that the kids are often involved and part of the ministry. That was true for my life growing up. However, it’s been special this time to be able to include my dad again in the ministry here, this time not only as my dad, but as a co-laborer of the field as well.