Thursday, October 31, 2013

Coming Home

All over this week.  Milwaukee, Osh Kosh and then in San Francisco for two days.... So tired - full flight - sitting next to an old guy who is in his cell phone talking loudly and thinks he's cool saying "what the sh... " and "he doesn't know what the he.. He's doing..." And all kinds of other inappropriate words.  Wah!  I got upgraded coming out but, whine, now I have to sit with all the moronic people on the way home.... Help me.

Tons of shopping to do this weekend.  I leave for China (work) on Monday and am spending 3 extra days with some friends there so using my 3, 70 lb bags to bring them stuff.  Pray it all gets through no problems and pray I get everything in for them and the kids!

See you in Chicago!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


It's been a long week....
From Madison to Minneapolis to Springfield and St Louis - I drove almost 3000 miles last week alone.... Bah!

So here's my week in quick review because I actually stopped to "smell the roses" and made my drive interesting....

I was so close to breezing into Breese, IL and right when I saw the town markings - blam - here's a slow moving garbage truck blocking the way.  But - I did make it there on time and was so pleasantly greeted by the nicest hospital staff ever!  Mission accomplished!

I loved the drive as I went along 55 - complete back roads Illinois!

And then to take the cake, I passed this sigh on the way in for "Mother Jones' Monument" and I was so intrigued I had to google it and then I decided I had to stop and see this thing on the way back...

Here's a little synopsis on Mother Jones

And here's the actual deal...

The monument was off of Route 66 so I decided to take a short drive just to say I'd driven on it... It's pretty sadly deserted..
And then there's this old Shell gas station that is being kept to look like it did during the rte 66 heyday.
And then I got home and had four hours before I had to go for the weekend.  They had asked me to help with a youth group activity and, as I've been missing youth group and being with them, I said yes without thinking... But I don't think I would have changed my answer even if I had thought about it...:)

So here I am at Key Lime Cove water resort trying to keep up with the teens and doing bible studies - I miss it:)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Good Morning Springfield!

Last night I drove to Springfield from home.  I still have 2 hours to go to get to beautiful Breese, IL - well, I'm anticipating its beauty as I've never been there before.

I'm at the only Starbucks I could find- in a target.  Get my morning fix and I'm on my way....

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Midwest Tour

It's Alison's tour of the Midwest starting today!   I'm in Madison, state capital of Wisconsin, then headed over to Minneapolis then back over to Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Burlington, Franklin and Racine.  Then down to Breese, IL.  For the next week and a half, I will be corn, cheese and lake trout fed and plagued by kind and goodly people as I comb the Midwest looking for my next potential business.

Oh - it's not only the Midwest tour - it's the capital tour... Today I was in St Paul, mn - capital of MN..

Tomorrow - capital of IL!

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Back In Time For Thanksgiving

So the one day I forgot to make sure to mention was my Hungarian Thanksgiving Day :)  The day that I teach Hungarians how we Americans like to give thanks.... Or at least the day that I like to teach Hungarians how Americans eat a lot of food....

This year Leslie, Amanda and I rented a flat in the 8th District.  It was a pretty large flat with two floors and a good sized kitchen which made it nice for our all day cook-a-thon on Monday.  We actually made two pies on Sunday evening and then two more Monday morning and then got the turkey in the oven by like 2 in order to have it ready for the girls to come at 6:30.

Jodi had ordered the turkey from the market about 3 weeks before I came so Amanda and I picked it up on Saturday as the market was closed on Sunday on Monday.  We left the turkey in the refrigerator at Jodi's on Saturday and then I had to get it Sunday afternoon and get back to the hotel where the owner of the flat picked us up at 2 on Sunday afternoon.  It was a little hilarious as when he came to get us, my friend Hajni was there to help me with 6 large suitcases, two small carry on suitcases, a duffle, a bag and a turkey.  I think he thought we were a little massively overpackers - but he was from England so I think he got us a little more than a Hungarian would :)  On top of that, he, thank God, had a Chrysler minivan instead of a typical Hungarian car so we had plenty of room for all the bags - in fact, we could have probably fit more in if we had wanted.  It was actually a great thing to have him pick us up - I'll probably look at renting his flat again for that very reason.  On top of that, he was an extremely nice guy and the flat was very nice.

So - Monday, we spent the day cooking and then the girls started coming over about 6:15/6:30 pm.  We had turkey, gravy, mashed potatos.  We always introduce them to sweet potatos as they're not used to them and don't really know what they are.  We bring the makings for green bean casserole with us, real Stove Top Stuffing :).  I totally, and sadly, forgot the cranberry sauce - :(  I always have to bring the pumpkin and evaporated milk and spices with me.  I'm a cheat and usually bring the boxed mix for pie crust with - saves so much time.  There was one year that I forgot and I had to do it from scratch so I can do it - I just chose not to :)  As usual - they loved everything and even went back for seconds - thats when you know that the Hungarian girls think its good because they wouldn't usually do seconds.

There were 21 of us total this year - actually I think 23 but two had to leave early.  Michelle, Flora and Brittni are on staff and then there was Leslie and Amanda and myself - but the rest were all girls that we work with.  A few of them were girls that we had just met that week.  Hajni is my friend from 7 years ago.  Reka is a friend that I met through a friend Andi three years ago.

This year, as I had help, I had a little more time to concentrate on how to make it more concentrated Thanksgiving.  So - I had them all think of one person and one thing that they were thankful for and they had to share what they were and why they were thankful for them.  It did take a while with so many of us, but it was worth it to hear what everyone thought and we ended up being able to share our faith through our thankfulness.  It was pretty cool.

Most of the girls started leaving about 9/9:30 since it was a Monday night, but some of them did hang around until 10 or so.



My two new Ezsters.... I met them the first evening of our dorm outreach... They're both freshman and its horrible, but they're roommates - yes, they put Ezster and Ezster together :)  Which - I have to point out that the dorm that the Ezsters live in was about an hour and a half from the flat we had Thanksgiving at.  I hated that it was so far, but it was so awesome that they wanted to be with us so much that they came and then stayed until 9 or so and then went all the way back to their dorm and still had to study.

Diana and Andrea have been coming to Thanksgiving for about 4 years.  Diana is a believer and Andrea has been doing Bible studies with Flora.

 Here's Hajni!....

 Reka is the one with the glasses and she brought two of her friends with her this year.  Andi is in Berlin for school, but two years ago I met Andi on a bridge in Budapest and we just hit it off, she started coming to Thanksgiving and brought Reka,  Then Andi moved to Berlin and Reka still came.  Reka is now in her first year at University.


Tuesday, October 15, 2013

When In Greece - Don't Plan On Plans!

Thursday started with great intentions of jumping in the car mid morning and doing a quick one hour drive up to Macedonia just to check out a little village and then get back home to meet with Ioana and some of the other A21 office workers.  We planned to be back to meet them and do dinner and hair cuts and all around 3:30pm so we were on a schedule.  

First our morning got all messed up as we couldn't shop for dinner the night before so had to get over and do it in the morning.  It ended up about 11 by the time we got on the road and then, as mentioned with the Greek signs, we went around and around and ended up giving up in Macedonia and heading to the beach at Halkidiki.  
We stayed there for an hour or two and I even fell asleep on one of the beach chairs there - guess I was more tired than I thought!

Since we knew the way, getting back the flat was a piece of cake.  Ioana was already there and so Amanda started coloring and cutting her hair and I started dinner.

About three hours later, the other four girls came and got their hair done and then we ate dinner.  It was a fun time and I know that it was a good time for us all to get to know each other and share the ministry if A21.  

If you get a chance - look up The A21 (Abolishing Human Trafficking in the 21st Century) Campaign online and see how you can help and pray!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Things We Experienced In Greece - My Vacation As A Greek

Ah - all things Greek!  A whole different way of life!  I had to share one of the strangest 3 day adventures of my life so you can all be prepared just in case you ever decide to go.

Lets start with the Good Greek!

BUGATZA!  AaaaaaHhhhhh!!!!!  It's the phyllo dough, creme filled, warm bundle of wondrous joy that travels through your mouth and makes you smile and then hits your stomach and starts an inner glow in you!  You CANNOT miss this stuff!  But beware because they also sell bugatza with meat filling and mushroom filling and feta filling and those do not make your mouth smile and your inners glow like the creme does:)
Spannikpoita!  I've always loved it but its even better in Greece.  I like the spinach and feta one.
I must admit, as Ioana says - anything wrapped in phyllo dough makes you smile!

And let's get the true a Greek salad right shall we.... There is NO- let me repeat - NO lettuce in a true Greek salad.  It's big beautiful chunks of fresh tomato, slices of cucumber, assorted peppers from red to white, kalamata olives (mouth is once again smiling..), oil and - we can't forget the topper - fresh feta.  Big blocks of feta that taste amazing!  I'm not one of the millions who naturally love feta, but true Greek feta is smooth and creamy tasting and delicious!  So - get that lettuce out of my Greek salad because it just is a waste if space!!!!
Now we move to the Bad Greece....

Stray dogs everywhere - everywhere - everywhere.... Wait a minute - did I mention there are stray dogs everywhere?  They're usually these huge brutes if dogs and some of them seem terribly nice, not that I ever tried to find out... But they hang around you and often look pitiful - this one we saw had a huge splash of yellow paint across his side:(. I think he was a puppy the way he acted - not so jaded as the others.
Oh here's one - who would have know that such a popular country - you can't flush your toilet paper!  Seriously - no where - Ioana said even most hotels are like that too.  There's always this exact sign and a little trash can by the toilet.  How did this place become such a vacation destination????!!!!

I don't know if this is a bad or good, but a lot if these major cities have these old buildings just popping up in the midst of modern, nasty dirty buildings.  Such a contrast!
And last -I couldn't get a picture of this but - driving!  Eek!!! Actually - The formula 1 driver in me kind of loved it.  Those people are CRAZY!  They don't stop at signs or lights, they double park right in the middle of a major street -just as long as you put your hazards on you can just park anywhere!  If you're driving down a road and are going faster than the person in front if you, that person will just move over and drive on the shoulder so you can zip past (great idea America!!!!!). Ioana told me that I would indeed be special if I ever did get a ticket in Greece as they just don't give tickets there - to quote her "they're just too lazy"... It takes too much work to pull someone over...

It'a Always A Race

It's the morning of my departure from Budapest.  Although it was an extremely pleasant surprise to find my flight left much later than I thought and even better to find out that Leslie and Amanda's flight left about the same time so we could all go to the airport together, we still had that stressful feeling of "get there"...

And even more appropriate for that race to the airport feeling, there was a marathon that started right by the Marriott about the same time that we were supposed to leave for the airport.  Ahhh!  Of course, it added to the anxiety seeing one of the major roads in Budapest blocked off for this race, but Hod is good and gave us friends like Michelle who kept reminding us that it was all good and we would be okay.... We were totally okay...:). Thanks Michelle!

I'm now sitting on my Brussels Air flight to Brussels listening to French people "voulez vous"ing and French laughing.  Once I get to Brussels it's a quick jump to another gate to board a flight for DC where Ill then board a flight for Chicago.  

I'm coming home Mr Calvin!:)

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Last Night - Sad Face

We just got back from Greece this evening and met up with Michelle for one last night together:(. It was a beautiful evening and we walked across from the Marriott to one of the boat restaurants and had dinner.

We're now sitting in the Marriott lounge watching the rain pour down - we just got into the hotel when it started.  We're looking at the castle and watching the number 2 tram run past.  People out walking have darted in under the Marriott outdoor canopy and they're now sitting there waiting for they rain to stop.

It's a relaxing evening as I thought I had to leave at 6am tomorrow and just looked up my flight - yay - I actually leave at 1 pm which means I can hang out a little later and take a cab with Leslie and Amanda to the airport.  

So for now - we sit and talk and enjoy one last evening in Budapest!

It's All Greek To Me!

After three days in Greece, I've discovered what the phrase "it's all Greek to me" means!  I have survived - and excelled (or should I say accelerated:)) at driving in Thessaloniki (think New York, London and Rome and then multiply it by three - that's how crazy the drivers are there - I seriously can't even explain how crazy!).  I've figured out the Greek highway system.  I've found the way to our apartment a billion times (they all look the same and so does the landscape).  And all with being able to figure out full Greek signs!  Even the English translation they do are in Greek (Athens is in Greek letters and then in the English Atina - and that was the easiest to figure out).  They did even try to humor the English speakers - they just out it all in Greek.  And in Greek if they say the stop is Bulyari, you can even recognize it because its spelled with Greek letters.  It was literally ALL Greek to me!

Wednesday we got into Thessaloniki, met Ioana and then got our itty bitty rental car that we loaded up with three large suitcases and three smaller carry on bags that were so big and heavy they made us check them...:(. Then we crammed four people into our little Ford something or other and zoomed off to our apartment right outside the city.

We unloaded all the stuff for the A21 offices at the apartment and went through them, separating foundation from blush, eyeshadow from mascara.  Some of the donations are being sent to other rescue locations in the Ukraine and Bulgaria.  They were all so excited with all the make up and clothing donations they received.  It was fun to be able to share that.

It took us a few hours to go through everything and then Ioana took us downtown Thessaloniki for dinner - we had to stop at Starbucks :). And I'm excited they still have the same Starbucks mugs that I've collected so I can add to my international set.  Yay!

Back to the apartment for a nice long rest!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Thursday - Last Week

Thursday took me with a partially new team to a high school in Obudai that I'd been to two years ago. 
Its a school that's pretty far out but it's the friendliest school I've worked with.  Most schools will give you a little snack between classes, but this school goes all out.  Their students and their parents all bring baked goods and treats in just for us so between classes we can sit and nosh...:)

We then went into 5 classrooms - well, there were technically 6 classes, but I had to leave early by myself.

I had to go back to the hotel early because three of us "returning" BHHPers met up with a staff friend, Ibi, who had just gotten married and wanted us to see her new house and meet her new husband, Norbi.

We then had the evening for a city tour if we wanted it ( on the Danube), or just hanging out.  A lot of us returning ones decided just to go out to eat at this place I love, it's Hungarian, but the name is translated "ham faces".  So delish!  Ok - the picture above was actually Burger King ... Not as delish...:). But their Kookies And Kreme BKKooler is so yummy...