This morning we went hiking in the Pilis (pronounced pih-lish) mountains along a trail that started from just outside Pilisszentkereszt. The thick fog gave the forest a spooky feeling and we didn’t expect it to be so muddy but it’s … Continue reading →
This week we went wood chopping in the forest not far from the village. My family in-law use a boiler powered by a wood furnace to heat their house. That’s why it’s important to collect enough wood in advance, so that it can dry out enough to be used for firewood in years to come. They own part of some land covered in trees and with the foresters permission they collect some every year.
A small group of us drove out in the morning and cut down trees in teams of two: One person saws down the tree and cuts it up into metre-long logs, while the other person carries the logs out to the road and collects them into piles. The others have experience using chainsaws, so I’m on collecting duty.
It took us until about lunch time to collect as much as we planned. Lunch in the woods means ham and sausage. After that it was time to stack the logs on the tractor trailer. It’s pretty clever how some tall, thin trees were selected as supports to extend the sides of the trailer and stop the huge pile of wood from toppling. The amount you can see on the trailer in the photo is probably almost half of what we collected that day.
Back at home the wood gets split and then stacked for drying and, in fact, a few years ago I wrote about the wood splitting part. The next day I had quite a muscle ache from stacking all that wood.
I joined the International Christian Fellowship of Budapest (ICFB) not knowing what to expect. Admittedly, having never been part of any kind of “Christian Group” before, initially I had my doubts. I was more of a quiet Christian, striving to show kindness but rarely talking to another person about Christianity. So it was with hesitation that I told Berni I’d join her to visit a group for Christians, which her friend Eszter had invited her to.
On the way home that Friday, chatting about plans for the weekend, my friend Attis told me the reason he’s got his guitar with him is because he’s on the way to an international Christian meet-up for students and young professionals, and asked me if I’d like to come along. This sounded cool and I like spontaneity but I’d already set plans for the evening with Berni. Of course it didn’t take long before we figured out we’d both been invited to the same event; I laughed all the way there.
I’ve been participating in ICFB’s Friday meet ups for almost three years now. I love the group and I’ve made some good friends there. My favourite part is singing together, so I always bring a guitar with me. I’d say even among other IFES groups in Hungary we’ve made a name for being lively and singing with spirit.
The most important part of ICFB, after the C, is I: International isn’t just in the name. Our group is made up of people from countries all over the world. Árpád has a map of the world in his garden with names painted on to show where people he’s met are from. In a similar way, of all the songs we sing, my favourite is when we sing “How Great Is Our God” and everyone takes a turn singing the chorus in their own language.
However, we don’t just sing and we don’t just meet on Fridays. People often come sharing verses, insights or personal questions that make for good discussion. In good weather we might meet in parks on weekends and sometimes I bring my rugby ball to share a bit of my culture through touch-rugby.
That’s just me though; everyone has their own personal part in ICFB that makes it special for them and even though we’re all so different we all have one thing in common.
Candles lighting up the cemetery on Halloween in Vaszar.
We didn’t dress up and go trick-or-treating for Halloween in Namibia, but Jack-o-Lanterns and spooky costume parties are what come to mind when I think of the time around the transition from October to November. In Hungary –and it turns out many countries in this area– it’s celebrated a bit differently and spooky costume Halloween parties have only started to become popular in the 21st century.
On 1 November, Hungarians travel to the countryside for All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day on 2 November. They visit the cemeteries where their ancestors are buried and decorate the graves with flowers and candles. It looks really beautiful at night and I took some photos when we were in Vaszar on the weekend. It was a dark night and the pictures are mostly out of focus, but I think they’re still pretty.
It turns out Halloween is a combination of the words Hallow (meaning holy or saint) and e’en (a contraction of even, which is the Scots spelling of eve or evening), and the celebration has a long Christian and Celtic folk history.
On 19 July 2014 I married Berni in the St György Roman Catholic Church in her home town, Vaszar. Thank you to everyone for celebrating with us as and for your kind wishes on our special day, as we bound our lives together with love!