Beginning on August 19, all of the 74 people volunteering with Young Adults in Global Mission gathered for a week-long orientation at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. This time involved fellowship with other YAGM’s, staff, and alumni, worship, conversations, and sessions. Some of the topics included presentations titled, “Called to the Journey”, “Religious Pluralism”, “Self Care”, and “Engaging Global Issues as People of Faith”, among others. One session on Saturday was solely about logistics and policies, which can seem boring to some people, but I was relishing in it. After a couple of days of conversations on tough topics and many unanswerable questions, it was good to have some concrete details and rules. We received our plane tickets on Saturday afternoon, and it finally became real: I am going to live in Hungary for an entire year (I said this to myself over and over, but put emphasis on a different word each time).
On Saturday night we had the chance to eat Polish food (it’s hard to find specifically Hungarian food) as a country group with the two alumni who had served in Hungary in past years. Sunday was our “free day”, and we were encouraged to go to worship at local congregations. Although our country group had talked about attending a Hungarian mass at the St. Stephen King of Hungary Church in Chicago, we decided to spend our final Sunday in the States at an English-speaking congregation where we could take Holy Communion. Later that day, I had the chance to eat deep-dish pizza in Chicago and explore Navy Pier. I would love to return to the city and explore more of the museums and public parks, Chicago seems really unique!
Our domestic orientation ended on Wednesday, August 26, as we departed as a country group at various times throughout the day. The 7 of us going to Hungary had an overnight flight to Amsterdam, landing in Budapest on Thursday afternoon. Rachel, our country coordinator, and Miriam, our outgoing coordinator, met us at the airport, and a staff member from the Hungarian Lutheran Church diaconal office picked us all up from the airport. Currently, we are in the process of our in-country orientation at Lutheran retreat center in Révfülöp, and begin our language training next week. I’ll include more about the language training next time, but it has been fun to explore the town a bit, and go swimming in Lake Balaton.