I visited Hungary with Scripture Union this summer and took part in three weeks of camps in Fehérgyarmat, Sarkad and Tatabánya.I had never been to Hungary, travelled alone or participated in any kind of overseas mission before, so the experience was all very new to me.
It took a great deal of adjustment to get used to the language barrier, with my efforts at learning Hungarian having equipped me to do no more than count and introduce myself. In addition I had never attempted to teach before, so my English lessons were another brand new experience which challenged my estimation of my own abilities; I quickly came to find that I was capable of doing much more than I had thought.
While the sudden immersion in a foreign culture was a shock, I was pleased to be welcomed by people who immediately treated me as family. The universal Church was always a familiar concept, but to see its real application was amazing. While language and cultural differences stood between us, a common belief in Jesus united us more strongly. Not only the people from SU Hungary and the volunteers from other parts of the UK, but also the pastors and communities whom we worked with were welcoming and eager to help me in every way.
Challenging as it may have been, working on those three camps was also extremely rewarding. It was hard work, requiring early mornings, long hours and very little personal space, but it was worth it to see the impact on the children. At the very least they were entertained by our games and drama, and perhaps learned some English as well, but the greater prize was to see them listen to the stories we told from the Bible and understand what those stories meant. Some children seemed to change during the camps, becoming quieter or more engaged; others may just remember what they heard and, with God’s help, later come to appreciate the reality and implications of those stories.