Monday, December 21, 2009

Coffee house evenings in Debrecen

Thursday evenings in Debrecen have been a lot of fun...this semester we began having a free coffee house for the young people of the area, where we can get together and practice English, play games, and get to know each other better.  Of course there's always coffee, tea, snacks, and the opportunity for deeper conversation for those who are interested. 

Stacia and Holly setting up for the coffee house...........playing games and chatting

"Cornucopia bowling" with fruit juice (in plastic!) for bowling pins and giant oranges for the balls

The winning bowlers congratulate each other.........."Win, Lose, or Draw" night

"Fear Factor" night.......................................chatting over coffee and tea

Thursday, October 8, 2009

First night of coffee house outreach / Recycled in the news again

We'll soon be heading out the door to set  up for the first night of our coffee house here in Debrecen (Zsuzsanna guest house basement, Péterfia u. 34, near the Debrecen Plaza.)  There'll be coffee, snacks, games, and English conversation for anyone who wants to drop in any time between 8 and 10...there was going to be live piano music, too, but unfortunately the pianist, Viktor "Jimmy" Fercsik, has gotten sick and won't be able to play for us tonight.  Please pray he feels better soon.  Lots of nasty bugs going around these days.  Also pray that this new outreach will provide many opportunities for relationship-building and sharing.

Someone at the Euro School gave Gary a photocopy of yesterday's article about the Recycled concerts here in Debrecen.  Here is what they said...

                     From the Hajdú-Bihari Napló, Sept. 7

...and here's my rough translation.   Any Hungarians out there may feel free to correct it for me and my feelings won't be hurt (this language definitely keeps me humble!)

Recycled in Music

The American Christian classic/alternative rock music group Recycled has made their debut in Hungary. Their first concert in Debrecen was held in the gymnasium belonging to the Euro High School/Tech School and Baptist Bilingual High School at Angyalföld Square. The school's English lector, Gary Miller, arranged for the program. In their songs the band gave voice to Christian feelings and interpretation of Bible stories. The following day they were on stage at the Bridge Cultural Center on Miklós Street.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Pray for the Bereczki family - updated

I just found out that Szilvi, the young daughter of our pastor here in Hungary, passed away unexpectedly while studying in Spain. From what I’ve been able to find out, yesterday she went into a coma for unknown reasons, and they took her to the emergency room.  Pastor Bereczki and his wife got to the Spanish hospital as quickly as they could, and tests found that she had leukemia.  This morning she passed away…..we are all in shock.  Please be praying for the family, the church (Debrecen Baptist) and all her friends.  She was such a lovely, vibrant, talented girl…this is truly hard to comprehend.  We know that one day they will be reunited, but for now the grief must be overwhelming.  Only the Lord can give the strength the family needs to make it through this tragic time in their lives.  Please hold them up in prayer.
Addendum: here's a link to the Debrecen Baptist Youth webpage, for any of you who read Hungarian. It has updates, and at the time I write this has a picture of Szilvi on the right. Currently offerings are being collected to help in the family's expenses in travel and in bringing her home; these costs are horrendous, around 16,500 USD. Please pray that the Lord will supply, and that He will continue to bring the family, friends, and church through this time of shock and grief.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A great concert despite tech difficulties last night. Please pray that the equipment problems will be solved! Good interview w/local TV

Stacia has arrived...

....and we're so glad she's here!  It's slightly old news since she actually flew in on Thursday, Sept. 25, but we do want you all to know that she's here and adjusting to life in Hungary.  She's already helped out at our Manga Bible distribution at a booth in the Balmazujvaros, has been meeting young people in the area, and will be coming with us to the Recycled concert today in Tiszafured.  We praise the Lord that He has brought her to be with us for two years, and know that He has great things in store.

Stacia unpacking her luggage from the car after we arrived in Debrecen.

The apartment she shares with Holly is on the 3rd floor, so for once the airline weight limit
was a good thing. 

Stacia standing in front of the apartment buildings where she and Holly are living.

Stacia asks that you please pray for her language learning (she's about to start Hungarian classes) and for wisdom in discerning what kind of ministries to be involved in here. 

For more about Stacia and her life here in Hungary, see her blog at

"Recycled" TV interview and Kaba concert

Quite a day yesterday!  We got to Kaba a little before lunch, and the band set up and tested out the sound equipment.  We discovered that one of the main speakers had stopped working, and from there on throughout the day the band and Gary spent a lot of time working to overcome technical difficulties.  Please pray that equipment issues can be quickly resolved so that the band can concentrate on sharing with the people through music and testimony. 

On the up side, local Hungarian online TV reporters came to do a story on the band, and during the interview with band leader Karl Roten he was able to share with them why they sing and what their songs are about.  It was fantastic!  The interviewer was also very interested when he heard that Recycled also has played in prisons for the inmates.  Of course we don't know what all they will edit out, but the message was told.  Please pray that the interview will be used to draw people to the Lord.

Karl Roten being interviewed by Kaba Online TV, with the help of translator Joe Kerekes.

Over 30 people, plus the reporters, came to the concert.  With the exception of the equipment issues, the concert went great.  Afterward people commented on how much they enjoyed it, and that they could tell that the band was passionate about what they were singing about. After the concert and the "meet the band" time, the small Baptist church there in Kaba hosted us all for supper and a time of getting to know each other.  It's always wonderful to meet and fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ, no matter what language they speak.  Our thanks to "Joe," a local believer, who is helping us as driver and translator this week.

Members of Christian classical/alternative rock band Recycled pose in front of the Kaba
culture house before the concert.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

From Bluegrass Gospel to Rock & Roll! (updated with photos)

Great things happened through the Doc's Friends bluegrass Gospel concerts...great response, new relationships and opportunities!

Doc's Friends playing for Hungarian music students

I have to be quick with this post because we're getting ready to leave very shortly for Kaba with another band, "Recycled," which is a Christian classic/alternative rock band from Arkansas.  The 9-member group arrived yesterday with ALL their luggage (a miracle in itself!) and will be setting up today for their first concert of the tour.  They'll be playing at the Kaba culture house/community center at 6 pm (11 am CST), so please be praying for them and the people who come.  The location we had originally planned to have them tonight had to cancel, but someone from the culture house in Kaba heard about it and called us to ask if they could have them instead.  We believe this is no accident, and we're eager to see what the Lord has in store! 

I'll try to keep you updated as much as I can.

Besides handing out flyers to people, we also put posters up wherever we could find a legal
place to do so in the towns where the bands are playing.  This Recycled poster is displayed
at the gate of a train station.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thursday update - classrooms and concerts

Yesterday in Balmázújváros, Doc's Friends was invited into three music classes to demonstrate some bluegrass Gospel music.  The students enjoyed it very much--it was great for them to get to learn about a style of music that they're not very familiar with. Several made the comment that it sounded just like what they've heard in American movies.  We're wondering what movies they're thinking of! 

The concert in the evening was also very well received by the people.  The feedback cards they filled out showed that they enjoyed the music and how the band members shared from their culture, music, and lives.  The band gave out autographed pictures, along with Doc's Friends stickers and shiny American quarters for the kids.  The kids were told that every time they looked at the quarter for the rest of their lives they should remember when the American bluegrass Gospel band came, and what they heard and learned that night.  There was some really great conversation after the concert, and new relationships are now being built. 


Also available after the concert were Visual Bible Gospel of Matthew DVD's with study questions for those who were interested.  Many accepted one with pleasure, and we hope to hear back from those who complete the questions.  Anyone who completes and returns them will be eligible to receive the Visual Bible Book of Acts.  We love using these DVD's since they are word-for-word from Scripture, and tend to make people consider the Bible in a new way.

Please pray for the people of Balmázújváros, particularly those who came to the concert and heard the Gospel through music and word.  Pray for us and the team today as we visit with people in the town of Nádudvar, as the band interacts with students and teachers in classrooms there, and as they perform in concert beginning at 7 p.m. (12 noon CST.)  May many people hear and respond to the message that is presented!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Second day and they're already speaking Hungarian!

This morning Gary and I and the Doc's Friends bluegrass gospel band packed up and went to Tiszafüred--about an hour away from Debrecen--where the concert will be tonight.  The big piac [PEE-ahts] (open market) wasn't being held today, but the indoor one was.  We split into two groups and walked around that area and then down several of the main streets inviting people to tonight's concert and giving them the information flyer.  I was so proud of the band members!  After arriving only yesterday and while dealing with jet lag, they quickly learned some greetings and other phrases and fearlessly used them with the Hungarians they met. 

We took a little time to stop by the community building where the concert will be held, and they were able to look over the room we will be using tonight. It looks like it will be really good...the lady who showed it to us said that the acoustics are great.  We were able to have a good conversation with her, and I hope to be able to continue this new friendship over the coming months.

I (Carolyn) will not be going to the concert tonight, as Holly and I have an appointment to go to a lawyer's office to sign the contract on her new apartment.  I'm very sorry to miss the concert, but I'm also thankful that Holly (and Stacia) will have a good place to live.  Holly is supposed to be moving out of her old apartment today--the landlord family has moved back from London--but delays and complications with the contract have put us behind schedule.  Please pray that things go smoothly and that we can move her things to the new place tomorrow.

Also please pray for the concert in Tiszafüred - it begins at 6 PM tonight (11 AM CST) and will be followed by coffee and snacks and time to hang out with the band. Pray for the message in the music to come through, and for wisdom and good communication as the band members mingle with the people.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Doc's Friends - the band is here!

The band has arrived in Hungary and are here in our apartment right now checking out the sound equipment and going over some songs.  They sound great--truly amazing after all those hours of travel!  It's so fun to hear that good 'ol bluegrass Gospel music in our own living room.   

Pray for the band members - that they will have energy for the work and be able to press through the jet lag; that they will have "divine appointments" with people in the towns they will be in; that they will truly minister to hearts through their music.


Please be praying for those they will encounter as the band goes out into the open market and into the schools inviting people and sharing with them, and that through their music the Good News will be proclaimed to ready hearts.

Tomorrow evening's concert is in Tiszafüred, so pray especially for the people of that town tomorrow at 6 PM Hungary time (11 A.M. Central Standard Time).

Friday, September 11, 2009

September - super-busy and passing by in a flash

This month has been totally nuts and very faith-building!  At one point a lot of our plans fell apart...things that we thought were definitely settled in preparation for some volunteer bands coming from the States.  One discouraging day the organization we were going to borrow sound equipment from called and said that they would no longer be able to let us use it; then we heard from a town's community center that we could no longer use the hall we had planned to have a concert in.  It was quite a blow to us!  With very little time left before the bands begin to come from the States, we have been praying, calling, emailing, and talking to a lot of people, trying to find solutions and options.  Praise the Lord, He is working it out!  We haven't gotten everything we need yet, but most of the arrangements are in place and we're waiting to hear back from people on some of the other details.

All this as Gary tries to regain his strength and recover after catching malaria last month during our trip to Africa (more about that another time) and a recurrence of the disease while he was teaching at the Angel Wings aviation camp in Romania.  We are also working on multiple things for upcoming events and volunteer teams.  Starting last Sunday we began renting a booth spot in the open market in Balmazújváros --we're going to be there every Sunday until Christmas doing different things.  It's a great opportunity to meet new folks, make friends, and provide information and services.  To start with we're selling tickets for the upcoming Gaither concert (Oct. 21 here in Debrecen.)  We have a friend that works for the organization sponsoring it, and they have made us official ticket-sellers--no, we don't get commission, we just do it to help.  Here's their site for those of you who read Hungarian (come on, give it a try!)

Gary at our booth, which is next to the gate.  Everyone has to pass right by us to
get into the market...what a great location!

This Sunday we will also be giving out information about this week's Doc's Friends concerts in Balmazújváros and other towns in the area, Tiszafüred, Nádudvar, and Karcag.  Doc's Friends is a bluegrass-gospel band coming to us from East Side Baptist Church of Paragould, Arkansas.  They arrive Monday September 14 and depart on the 21st.  Please be in prayer for them as they travel, and as they minister through music and personal contacts.

Later we'll be using the booth to get the word out about other events and bands coming, and we also want to do a Bible distribution.  Please pray for wisdom, strength and health for us, and that the Lord will speak to the hearts of the people that we come into contact with.  Pray that many people will come to the concerts and be drawn to the Savior. 

Monday, July 27, 2009

May happenings

Here's a quick flashback to May so you all can see a little of what was going on.

Our new friend Nick was here meeting and making friends among the skateboarding crowd both around this area and in Budapest.  It was great to see the connections that could be made through common interests...we believe he'll be back again later!

His time with us overlapped with a team from our home church, Cross Timber BC, who came to serve by providing a baseball camp for the young people of Püspökladány.

Nick with kids at baseball camp in Püspökladány...and hanging out with skateboarders in Budapest.
The Cross Timber team did a great job at the baseball camp in Püspökladány.  The kids were quick
learners, and we all had a great time.  We were thankful for Adri's help as a translator.
Gary quizzing the kids on what they had learned...there was also lots of fun unrelated to baseball.

Group photo after the tournament on Saturday...the team gave a concert with music, testimonies, etc.

In May we also had the closing occasion of our Hajdúszoboszló English course, offered as an outreach through the Baptist church there.  Even though we were sorry that not everyone was able to come to the party, we had a wonderful time talking, playing games, and having snacks.  While playing the Ungame we got into some very deep discussions about life, death, God, and faith.  Several of us were able to tell the story of how the Lord has changed our lives and given us hope and a future.  Please pray for the students of the English course, who have become our dear friends.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Life on the Field...and Holly's birthday!

A lot of people ask us what life is like on the mission field.  Some things are of course quite different, but other things are very much the same--although it can be much more challenging here to accomplish something that would be very easy for us "back home" in our own language and culture.  We were recently asked by some Hungarian friends whether we feel totally comfortable and at home here since we (somewhat) speak the language.  We replied that at times we do, but quite often we still feel like outsiders who don't totally know what's going on since we often miss the connotations of things or don't know how to properly express our real, deep feelings.   Living that way over a long period of time is stressful, but we are extremely thankful for the opportunity to be here since we know this is the place the Lord has called us to be; we love the people and the country, and time after time have to almost pinch ourselves when we realize how incredible it is to be here. We live "between worlds" in many ways--not only because we live in another culture, but also because our real home is not of this world.  (Phil. 3:20)  We look forward to the time when we will finally be home and will never again be strangers!  We do have a lot of great times while we're here, though.  When special days such as holidays or birthdays come around, we like to kick back and enjoy the experience, sometimes combining local culture and customs with our own traditions.

Speaking of birthdays, Holly's was on April 18!  "Thank you" to those of you who prayed for her on her special day.  Secret discussions had been going on about a surprise birthday party with some of Holly's friends, but we weren't sure how it was going to turn out--one of the biggest difficulties was trying to maneuver Holly into being in the right place at the right time!  We had thought to have the party right after the youth group meeting on Friday evening, with Gary and I setting things up and grilling some food while the young people were in the meeting. But Holly was cooking up other plans, and we all thought she might not come that night--she was interested in going to the practice of a girls' American-style football team that's currently forming.  It would be a great opportunity for her to make new friends, but her birthday party would be so much more fun if the guest of honor were there! 

We were very thankful that since the weather turned cool and rainy, Holly didn't go to the practice after all--the
surprise party was a success, birthday girl and all.  Here are some photos:

(L) Holly cutting her cake during our team meeting on Wednesday.  We hoped that the "decoy cake" would help cover for the surprise to come.   (R) Gary manning the grill
(L) Holly said she hadn't suspected a thing--how could there be a surprise party if she wasn't even planning to be there? (Something all of us were pondering!)
(R) Cool friends from several countries were at the party.  At the right, Gary is talking with Vivian from the IMB Budapest Team, who was in town that weekend.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Easter party with our Hajduszoboszlo English students

On April 9, the Thursday before Easter, we had an Easter party for the students in our Hajduszoboszlo English course.  We weren't sure how many would be able to come because the students have so much going on in their lives right now, but as it turned out we had a fantastic time. Along with the egg hunt in the yard--it didn't even rain!--we had brownies, cupcakes with sprinkles, and a great time of sharing what Easter means to us.  Several of us were able to give a testimony of the real meaning of the holiday, and Gary gave a simple presentation of the Gospel using an Evangecube.  Please pray for the students, who have become our dear friends, to be drawn into a personal relationship with the risen Savior.


Everyone had a great time, although one little guy conked out and had to rest a bit. At the end when we tallied up the eggs found--counting in both English and Hungarian--only one remained missing.      

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Baseball / the Mikepércs Mosquitos win the game!

When we lived in America we always enjoyed baseball, and now and then we still get the chance to re-awaken those memories - but with a slight Hungarian flavor!  Last week Russell Chun of  Good Sports International  had to be out of town and asked Gary to help coach the Mikepércs Mosquitos, a new team he's been working with.  It was just the kids' third game ever, and they were scheduled to play a friendly game with a very strong team, the Debrecen Tigerkids.  Amazingly, the Mosquitos played with great heart and surprising skill for such a young team...and they won!  Congratulations, Mosquitos!


Speaking of baseball, a volunteer team from Cross Timber Baptist Church  in Burleson, Texas will be coming this summer to hold a baseball camp in the town of Puspokladany from May 18 to 23.  Please be praying for them as they prepare to come, and that the Lord will even now be working in the hearts of those who will be attending the camp.  CTBC will also be sending a team later in the summer--they will be holding an English camp in Hajduszoboszlo from July 6 to 12.  We pray that God will be glorified, and that many hearts will be touched during both the baseball camp and the English camp.  A big thank you to our friends at Cross Timber for their missions outreach around the world.

Easter and springlike weather arrive in Hungary

We hope that you all had a wonderful, blessed Easter!  We had a quiet day here, and enjoyed the chance to slow down a bit and remember the Lord's death and resurrection, the source of our hope and life.  After the morning service at Debrecen First Baptist Church we had a nice lunch at our place with Holly--we wished that A.P. could have been with us, too, but she was still in Budapest because of some medical issues (please pray for her continued healing.)

Our Easter meal--baked ham, broccoli salad, cauliflower with
sauce, deviled eggs, and home-made bread. 

Holly made a light, delicious dessert of home-made angel food
with fruit and whipped cream.  It was as yummy as it looks!

Easter in Hungary is a two-day holiday, and on Easter Monday Gary and I went for a walk down to the Nagy Erdő (Big Forest) park.  The weather was gorgeous, and lots of people were out enjoying it.  Here are some pictures I took during our walk:

On the way to the park we passed a home where someone had
decorated the tree by their balcony with Easter eggs.

There's a wonderful little lake at the park that I always enjoy
  Such a relaxing sight!

Some people relaxed, others preferred to be a little more active. 
These two guys were practicing their football (soccer) skills.

Here and there were stands where you could buy balloons or
snacks such as fresh roasted corn on the cob, popcorn, or
cotton candy. 

Some adventurous souls were enjoying the paddle boats at another
place in the park area, a small man-made lake.