Greetings to everyone from Opovo, Serbia! Opovo is about 40 minutes outside of Belgrade (shown in the picture above) which is the capital of Serbia and former capital city of Yugoslavia. As I mentioned in the last post, we are teaching at a school that was established by British missionaries more than 17 years ago and handed over to Sladjan (whom we were with the other night) 11 years ago. Sladjan and his family are currently in the states at St. Jude with their daughter Sara who has brain cancer. In his absence, Riste, probably my favorite guy here, is running the school. I wanted to share a highlight or two from our time in Budapest and then give an update from our first day here in the HUB (the school).
If you follow me on social media (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) it seems we’ve been on vacation so far. We stopped in Budapest, however, to visit a dear friend of Downline and pastor of Danube International church in Budapest, Ronnie Stevens. Luckily for us, a member of Ronnie’s church and director of operations for the Hungarian chapter of Campus Crusade, Ishtvan, volunteered to show us Budapest and give us historical background of nearly every significant place in the city. It was incredible. Here’s a few highlights:
We literally got off the plane (after 30 something straight hours of traveling), piled in a van and headed straight to the Dohány Street Synagogue. It’s the largest in the world (seating capacity). It’s also incredibly beautiful.
In a courtyard behind the synagogue is one of the most moving memorials I’ve ever seen. It’s a memorial to all of the Hungarian Jews who died in the Holocaust, many in the Dohány St. neighborhood, which was converted into a ghetto by the Gestapo during WWII. Each individual leaf is inscribed with a single victim’s name.
The next morning we were taken to Heroes Square, home to the National Museum of Fine Art and lots of beautiful monuments to those who’ve fought for Hungary over the years (the 1,020 years it’s been a country). Jane Stevens, Pastor Ronnie’s wife, took us on a personal tour of the art museum. It was incredible.
We walked several miles that day, endingy on top of the mountain where the President of Hungary’s house is, as well as one of the oldest villages in the city. There were a few amazing things to see, including a WWII monument and some incredible views. The holes in the WWII monument were bullet holes from the war that were never repaired as a constant reminder to the people of the cost of war.
The next morning we worshipped with the faith family at Danube International Church, hopped in a 16 passenger van and started the 6hr drive from Budapest to Opovo. We are incredibly grateful for our brothers and sisters here. We arrived at 9:30pm only to have students and staff take our bags for us and lead us to the dining room where a hot meal was waiting for us.
We’ve had 5 hrs of teaching so far and it’s been great – lots of positive feedback from students and great conversation surrounding our teaching topics so far. We’re just getting started and excited to see what The Lord does with the rest of the time we have here!