As hard as it was to get on that train in Romania, the many hours to Hungary provided an opportunity to decompress some of the things we experienced. When we stepped off the train in Budapest, reality began to hit that we were no longer in the country that had stolen a special place in our hearts. It was tough, but better to dip our toes into a bustling city in Europe than to cannonball right back into the deep waters of our lives back at home.
After checking into the hostel, that was familiar for many, we filled our bellies with some savory Hungarian Goulash (I’m sure Dan and Cab could insert another lengthy and mouthwatering food blog here). As Taletha said, “we were a little less hungry in Hungary” after that meal. Most of us turned in for the night shortly after getting to our rooms. It’s amazing how tired we were even though most of us got lots of sleep on the train.
We had a fairly early morning for our sole day in Budapest. It was worth it to fit in some relaxation and debriefing though. We got to experience slick European public transportation, including the subway where we frantically got off, only to find out we still had like seven stops to go. Surprisingly, that only happened once. (It’s okay Larry, we still love you ;)). We took in some of beauty of the city on our way to various lunch locations followed by some souvenir shopping. As the day progressed, so did the heat. We got a cool relief from the sweltering sun at some of Budapest’s famous public baths. Some of us Goldilocks moved around to find the pool at the best temperature, while others of us went for the saunas followed by cooling pools. I still can’t decide which one was more refreshing, the baths or the flower shaped gelato we got. Both were amazing! We took some time to appreciate each teammate’s gifts with classic love bombs; those are always awkwardly fun :). We had a decadently delicious dinner and dessert at restaurant close to a pretty pond. Dakota could handle a food blog for this place all on his own. In his words, “#BestMealInMyLife.” It was a beautiful dinner close to a beautiful park where we went earlier in the day for our alone time.
We were given about an hour to mull over some questions pertaining to the struggles and expectations of adjusting back to our daily routines. There was also a question that made some of us (non artsy folk) a bit leary: draw what your heart is feeling. It was good to try that. For a lot of us it was out of our comfort zones, but later in discussion Jimmy explained how it was also out of our comfort zones to go to Romania – a cool parallel.
I really enjoyed that time. My mind didn’t wander too far off, as it did whenever I tried to digest things before. I was pleasantly surprised that my picture made as much sense to me as it did. It probably would not make as much sense to anyone else that looked at it… but that’s besides the point. My drawing was of a sailboat going around in a large circle that represented my journey back to Romania. It got a breath of life from God while in Romania that moved it along with vigor, fueling a fire for living my life for Him. As the little ship moved along, it trudged into rough waters that represented continued excitement from the trip and maintaining friendships that were formed and endured, both of which added as kindling to my fire for the Lord. The rougher waters then began to calm, representing how the excitement died down as we fell back into our busy lives and school came and those relationships began to stray. That’s the point where the fear set in for me last year, and where I fear it will creep back in full force this fall. That’s the point when I got the tugging feeling that we had left the Romanians feeling abandoned yet again. This came as a second blow after feeling so terrible pulling out of the train station. In my drawing, I represented this painful pushback as two opposing magnets. The tension that I felt had nothing to do with sciency poles, however. It was between me not wanting to stray from all that I experienced, stray from that initial fire but yet still needing to be practical with my life. I think it took me another time coming to the same place and seeing the same people to realize that process and to be able to explain it to others. It gave me a hope for being able to share my experiences with others when I got home better than I did last year, when I felt as though I just kept them to myself.
After I discovered all that from my scribbles, my mind wandered into dreams of how I could keep that fire burning strong my whole life. It was fun to dream. Visul Meu, or my dream, was the theme for camp, but I felt as though I was so busy listening to others’ dreams that I didn’t take much time to think about what my own dreams are. I journaled about it for a while and before I knew it we got the “hooty hoo” for us to collect back as a group. It was really neat to hear from everyone about how they were feeling about heading home, and what they thought about during their time. The vast majority did not share their drawings visibly, but everyone shared what their mental masterpiece (or legit masterpiece if you are Leah Fricke ;)) meant to them. It was encouraging to hear that there were similarities, and it was also an opportunity for us to encourage others as a team.
I have confidence that that day in the park was just the beginning of many times the Lord will help us to discover why He called us to go on this trip. Being home for a few days now, I have already had two memorable encounters with people when sharing about Romania. It’s made me more aware of how heavy some of the things we experienced were. I’ve also been able to see God’s kingdom in settings that I wouldn’t have witnessed before. As a team we have such an awesome opportunity to continue to share the same love, that was so important to our friends at camp, with each person we talk to here at home. I can’t wait to share struggles and fun times with others, especially the family that our team has bonded into. I think I speak for everyone when we say that we miss being with our Romanian friends and joking around with them so much! It is a real struggle for so many of us to be present here at home, and to not joke about getting on the next flight to Bucharest (oh wait, too late…). However, the reality is that we are home. So now it’s time to share all we have learned with the people we have missed, and with strangers alike. It is time for the fam bam to unpack, and i’m not just talking about our suitcases.
Noi vă iubesc,
Shoutout to EVERYONE who has followed us on our journey. You guys brought us so much joy, smiles, and giggles with all of your comments. Thank you so much for caring, it meant a ton!