May 16, 2008

And so my travels began

It was just over 10 years ago that I made my first trip to Europe. I was going on a two week trip with my family to Hungary. This trip came about after my dad had begun working with a pastor and his church in Budakalász. This pastor, József Steiner (we call him Joseph), came to live in Saint Joseph Michigan for six months. József brought his wife, Csilla (pronounced like Shelia) and two year old daughter, Ráhel (we call her Rachel) while he worked with my dad in our home church in Saint Joseph. Our families became extremely close during these six months, and the Steiner family became like part of our family. The Steiners now also have a son, Dávid. Even now, our families are very close and József is one of my dad’s very best friends.

I was fourteen years old at the time. My father was making trips annual trips over to Hungary and it worked out that my whole family was able to go in February 1998. I had been longing to visit Europe for so long. As a little girl, I dreamt of castles and the times of knights, nobility, and chivalry. As many little girls do, I had dreamt of being a “princess.” But I had also come to love history and all things ancient from a very young age. I can’t remember exactly when it started, but I always had a fascination with very old things. I remember as a young girl, I enjoyed going on car trips so much because I loved staring out the window as we passed by fields with abandoned, crumbling houses and barns. With each “old” structure I saw, I found myself wanting to explore it to find what remained of its past existence. I wondered to myself about the history of the structure…who might have lived there, what it might have been used for, what it looked like “back then,” etc. I guess not a lot of people would be fascinated with an abandoned building at age six or seven, but to me, it was an adventure. This deep-rooted love of all things old or ancient is what has sparked my passion for archaeology, but that is a story for another time.

I was filled with excitement and anticipation as we left for Europe. I was going to Europe…the place where there was ancient history on every street, at every corner. I had seen historical buildings in America before, but let’s face it…American history as we know it isn’t very “ancient” compared to much of the world. I was going to see lots of things that were over a thousand years old and I couldn’t wait.

After we arrived in Hungary, from my first moment to the last, I soaked up everything. I was so tired from the plane ride, but I couldn’t stop staring out the window as we drove through Budapest. I couldn’t bear to miss anything! Everything was so wonderful and fascinating…the language, the tastes, the smells, the sights….it was so different from my life back in Michigan. I felt so alive; everything was new and exciting and my senses were at their peak. I loved the food—heavy meats, cheeses and breads for breakfast, soups, noodles, delicious Hungarian Goulash, meats, potatoes, and a wonderful array of new desserts I had never known. I loved the language and tried to learn as many words as I could. I remember these words to this day and I still have the desire to learn to speak Hungarian. The people were so wonderful and welcoming even though we could not speak the same language. The fantastic part about our trip was that we stayed with and visited many Hungarian families, thus getting a true taste of the people of Hungary instead of only flying into a city, visiting the tourist sites, and then leaving. I was fortunate enough to be able to experience Hungary this way and as a result, we had our own personal guide, József, to take us to the tourist sites in Budapest.

I don’t think I will ever forget my first taste of Europe and a different culture. My experience in Hungary can be summed up in one word: enchanting. Every little detail about that country enchanted me. I even found the graffiti and the dirty parts of the city to be enchanting. These things were part of a foreign land and a whole new experience for me. I know now that part of the enchantment came from my being so young; so many things still seemed “magical” for me. At fourteen, in Hungary, for the first time in my life, I felt fully alive. And to this day, it is when I am in a foreign country that I feel most alive. But I have found that I can find the enchantment in the everyday if I really look for it. Although it will always be a goal of mine to travel the world as much as possible, I’ve set the goal for myself to find the magic in the everyday: the beauty in the world surrounding me. In a sunset, a breeze, a bird’s song, the smell of the ocean, laughter, a smile on a stranger’s face….if I let go and get lost in the moment, if only for a moment, it is then that I feel the “magic”: God’s blessings.

1 comment:

jozsef.steiner said...

Dear Deanne!

This is just a great article. You are very kind! I hope you will come back to Hungary - if yes, then I will give you and your husband a great tour!

We love you very much...

Jozsef

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