Love Does Build Up

A group of 12 volunteers from Myers Park Presbyterian Church (USA) visited Budapest in July to work at an English camp put on jointly by St. Columba’s Scottish Mission and Kalunba. Court Young, Mission Coordinator at MPPC, recently wrote this reflection about her team’s time in Hungary. During their stay, the group from America experienced a mosaic of humanity in the midst of the camp, bringing a restored hope and faith in the wider world. We are so glad for their week of service here and we look forward to eventually welcoming another group from MPPC back to Budapest as part of our ongoing partnership with the church in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA!

We arrived in Budapest, Hungary on July 1st as a team of 12 disciples representing 7 MPPC families, including 5 children and youth. We said yes to this pilgrimage although uncertain how the week would unfold, what to expect and anxious about heightened travel advisories. But together we leaned into God’s call, seeking renewal, restoration, and clarity in a changing and hurting world. The campers at St. Columba Mission Church included refugee children from Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan as well as Roma and Hungarian children, but we knew little else of what to expect from our time together. Having seasoned VBS disciples, we knew how to run a camp, but what we experienced, none of us could have prepared for or predicted. God showed up and our hearts will never be the same.

Every day our team served and stretched among, through and with children who didn’t speak English, children who represented 8 countries of origin, children who were refugees (several arriving only weeks ago).  Some children were fasting during camp because it was Ramadan, others wore the same clothes every day, several arrived hungry and ate leftovers from any plate after lunch. These children loved fiercely and stood up for each other, embodied light when we felt darkness in Dallas. We watched these children make room for each other and extend grace and peace to one another. This camp, our journey, was about many children who, without hesitation, welcomed us into their lives. As friends and strangers, we sought and found refuge together in the love shared, in the relationships built, in the simplicity of a smile, a song, a hand held. It was in this safe space that God invited our full and broken hearts to heal as one community.  To witness these children live together for a week and not be divided or defined by their cultural, social, or religious differences was to know God was present and the Holy Spirit was alive in all of us.

On the final day of camp, we piled on the metro to the Budapest City Park. Earlier outings in the week had reminded us of the cruelty of this world as several Muslim children were taunted, an experience we struggled to understand and one we didn’t want repeated. As parents, we counted heads and ensured safe passage across busy streets and subway thresholds. When our journey began, my sweet friend, a 10-year-old Muslim girl, who had arrived in Hungary only months ago, slipped her hand in mine, gave it a gentle squeeze, motioned thumbs up and smiled – this had been one of the ways we communicated during the week. Yes, our family, a mosaic of humanity, had claimed each other, we were responsible for one another – we were not just caring for children, they were caring for us.

In the midst of much devastation, violence, and divisiveness, this family mission experience restored our faith. Indeed, Love does Build Up and in this moment, the world needs more of this love as we seek justice, hope, and peace.

 

Source and photos: Love Builds Up, official Blog of the Myers Park Presbyterian Church

This post originally appeared on the Reformed Church in Hungary’s English website

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