Eric loves a good boat ride. He wanted to help the captain dock a few times.
Since we returned to Budapest from a summer of meeting family, planning a wedding, and renewing my teacher's license, the city has added a new mode of transportation to the BKV system: boats on the Danube. Now, Monday through Friday, the regular bus/metro/tram pass is accepted on a series of boats floating up and down the river.
The famous Chain Bridge as seen from the water.
This is not an express route. It is, however, extremely picturesque and relaxing. So, one afternoon on our way back from the US Embassy, Eric and I waited at an old, dubiously constructed dock and hopped on a BKV boat headed south. We weaved our way through the people sitting or ordering snacks on the main level and climbed up to the top deck for a shaded, breezy view of Budapest.
Not to stretch the metaphor, but this semester has found me--us-- in a new mode of life as well. I'm teaching my normal classes, grading piles of essays, mumbling in Hungarian, and enjoying the time to invest in students here. In addition to all that, Eric and I are navigating the slow waters of our engagement period (or "relationship purgatory", as it has been affectionately dubbed) until the New Year's Eve wedding. These months are not the express route. They are, however, a lovely time of preparation and celebration as well as adjustment. Everything works a little differently when it directly affects another person. Everything moves a little more slowly as compromises are struck and prayer is communal. Everything is in a bit of upheaval as we combine two well-defined lives into one. And it's a beautiful ride.
After two and a half weeks (with nearly a half interrupted by a migraine) of school, I'm enjoying the steady pace of a newly-formed schedule. Yes, life is a little--gloriously--hectic as Eric and I try to share as much time as possible while maintaining two different homes and teaching loads, but we'll hit our stride, too.
In this new school year, I have some new students as well as many returners. As I get acquainted with my pupils, they offer sweet glimpses into their hearts. Without betraying any confidences, here are a few such glimpses for you to appreciate:
"I've lived in America, England, Croatia, Bosnia, and now Hungary. I'm a little concerned about this new, awkward environment."
"A lot of preachers seem to tell me that I need to do something for God in exchange his 'free' gift. I just learned about Mary and Martha. Spending time with Jesus and enjoying Him might be more important than doing missions."
"I'm concerned about what my future holds. I have big dreams that I feel insecure about."
"I wish everyone understood that I love God really much."
"I wish everyone understood that though I couldn't speak actively because my English is not good, but I want to have fun with [classmates]."
"Everyone thinks that I try too hard to be different, but really I'm trying to be me."
A few gifts from my generous middle school and high school students during our first week at the International Christian School of Budapest:
1. A 12th grader, knowing my love of coffee, brought me a rich sampling from her mission trip to Costa Rica.
2. Another senior offered joyous enthusiasm upon hearing some wedding plans and renewed my frazzled spirit.
3. A young lady who faces various challenges in the classroom and with the complexities of life reminded me that simplicity is worth seeking. And brevity is the soul of wit!
4. One family with whom I've had the delight to interact for several years now brought "Teacher Appreciation" cookies...on the first day of school, before I'd done anything to appreciate.
5. A sophomore whom I've gotten to teach for two years but who is in a different class now ran across the street to give me a warm hug.
6. Hilariously and genuinely, a 17-year-old boy gave wedding venue advice that he'd recently heard-- "The top of Trump Towers would be an awesome place to get married. You should do it."--as he passed me in the gym.
7. And a recent graduate gave me the best gift he could. He complimented my "swag" because I'm now engaged to "a baller". (Translation: your fiancé is cool, so you can't be too lame.)
Our students at ICSB are a crazy, brilliant, loving lot. Though we teachers feel called to give of our comforts, families, paychecks and lives to God and to the kids, these teenagers give right back to us every day.