My name is Miriam Bohlmann Kunz, and I am serving in Nyíregyháza, Hungary with the Evangelical Church in America (ELCA) as a Young Adult in Global Mission (YAGM). From August 2016-July 2017 my hope is to witness and share God's love in the beautiful country that is Hungary. YAGM emphasizes serving with the accompaniment model, which is serving by living alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ. So this year I am moving forward in the faith of God's love, expecting to come across grace both in expected and unexpected places.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Just living life, having a great time

A lot of the comments I get from friends and family in the United States when I check in contain some form of the phrase, "I hope you have/are having a great time in Hungary!" And I am thankful for all the well-wishes. However, sometimes when I'm just standing around thinking (quite often), I wish to clarify the well-wishes of those passing on their support. Clarifying this, I think, is also essential to the whole YAGM experience. When people tell me, "Hope you're having a great time!" what I say is thanks, but what I want to say is this:

Thanks, I am, but probably not how you mean. What I imagine you mean is, "I hope you are having a great time seeing amazing, exotic new places, and in one year are ridding the world of racism and inequality through heroic acts of generosity." (My apologies for being cynical). I am not doing any of those things. I am having a great time. The same type of great time I would be having in the US, just doing a different job, and living with different people, in a different country. I'm also having a not great time. I'm getting annoyed that the kids don't listen to me, that my bike is currently broken, and that it is still winter. In short, I'm just living an ordinary life. I live and work with ordinary people, doing ordinary work, in an ordinary Hungarian city. But you know what, I love it.

I love that I wake up every morning and get to laugh with my host mom. I love that I get to bake American treats with the kids at the family shelter. I love that I can now have actual conversations with people in Hungarian. I even enjoy the 25 minute bus rides and 40 minute walks to work. I get a kick out of going to confirmation class and figuring out what the pastor is saying, because at least this is material that I know (we just finished the Ten Commandments, now talking about Jesus' life). I appreciate the time to relieve some stress by practicing the organ. I love jamming to Taylor Swift with the youth group, and jamming to the traditional Hungarian church dirges with the women at Bible study. My weeks are usually busy, but I love the rewarding feeling at the end of the day or end of the week of having lived my life as part of the community. Last week I was originally going to write this blog post, and it was just going to be this paragraph saying how great things are, and that I really am hitting my stride. But I'm happy I waited, because I don't think that paints the full picture. I'm happy I waited until now, because now I'm a little cranky and tired. I had a cold, the kids have been uncooperative at work, I had another experience of the anxiety and reward of playing the organ at church, choir has been more obligation than fun the past two weeks, and I witnessed a few more examples of racism.
Dinner with my host mom, her daughter, country coordinator Rachel, and me. As you can see I've learned how to show my enthusiasm as a true Hungarian.
Coworkers serving lunch in the soup kitchen.

The very heroic work of washing dishes in the kitchen.

Nothing I have described is exceptional, but rather all are ordinary parts of life. And that's just it: YAGM is about going and living life, just in a different place, in a different community. But when you think about it, it's kind of amazing, because even though I am in a country 5000 miles away from where I grew up, people here are living the same lives as people in the United States. There are people here living in poverty, there are people here with families, there are people here who, for some reason, can't see people who are different from them as equal to them, there are people here sharing with strangers. Some of the details of life here may be different, and the community may be made up of different people, but these ordinary people are part of the same extraordinary community in Christ. And isn't that what God does? Takes the ordinary and does extraordinary things? So thanks, I am having a great time in Hungary, witnessing the extraordinary love of God through the ordinary acts of my community, pushing me forward in faith, with grace expectations. I hope y'all are experiencing the same, wherever you may be.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Miriam! Peter here.
    It reads like your time is actually well spent, and you are experiencing what I wish all people could. The experience of being outside your nest, meeting new people, cultures, and ways of communicating. You are also representing all that can be good about our country, and the Christian Church. You now have an immense portfolio of "informed" opinions of what you like, dislike, and understand of a different (but not so different) culture than your own. Remember, you are being shaped by God's hand for whatever is to come.