I chatted with my best friend’s mom for a little bit yesterday (so, by extension, she’s my mom, too) and she said that the holidays were great, but she is ready to get back to normal. I completely agreed with her—back to normal would be nice—but then I began thinking about what ‘normal’ is for me here in Hungary. The realization of my ‘normal’ makes me laugh:
–I wake up at 6:30am every weekday morning so I am ready to go to the Children’s House at 8:00am, which sometimes means that I get a call at 7:15 saying that we are leaving at 7:20, 7:30, or 7:45.
–I go to the Children’s House where I usually play with a small group of kids for 3 hours, except for when we magically host a program for the community (I never know about programs until the morning of, when I am loading the car with food and boxes of craft supplies), and in that case, I play with a LAGRE group of rowdy kids for 3 hours or more.
–I usually have afternoons free to run errands, but that is not even normal. Just today a short trip to get more sinus-infection-preventing Claritin turned into me telling everyone at the pharmacy that I am an American volunteer at the Lutheran Church here in Nyirtelek. My Hungarian is so bad that when I asked for the Claritin, the pharmacists just looked at me with blank stares. Since my attempt at pronouncing the name in a Hungarian fashion failed miserably, I tried to pronounce it the American way (hoping it would be the same), but, in response to the pharmacists’ confusion, I said I speak only a little bit of Hungarian and then wrote out the word ‘Claritin’ so they would know what I was asking for. As soon as I said that I hardly speak Hungarian, the super cute old man who got his medicine before me got really excited, asked if I speak English, and then inquired as to where I am from and what I am doing here. When the pharmacist asked when I got here, she used a new word, so I didn’t know what she asking, but the adorable old man explained it to me and then he ever so cutely translated my horribly pronounced Hungarian answer into good Hungarian just to make sure that everyone else could understand what I was saying, haha! I loved it! As the cute old man left he told me ‘Thank you’ and said that he was happy to meet me. I stayed and chatted a bit more with the pharmacist who asked what I did for New Year’s Eve, asked how I like Hungary, and then told me that she is really excited that I am here in Nyirtelek. I said ‘Köszönöm szépen’ as I walked out only to find the cute old man waving me over to his car. I walked over to see what he wanted and he offered to give me a ride back to the church because it was much too cold for me to walk back—it is, after all, 4 whole blocks. I thanked him for his offer and said I was okay walking and after making sure I was actually okay with walking, he left. As I made my way back to the church, I couldn’t help but smile and think about what a bazaar existence this is. I mean, really, how many times does getting Claritin end in people telling you that they are happy you are here in their community?
–Some evenings I teach English, some evening I help with Religion class, some evenings I watch the kids at church events, and some evenings I have to myself. Other than Religion on Tuesdays at 4:00pm and English on Wednesdays at 6:00pm (another class is starting up on Friday nights, but at the moment I have no idea what time), I’m never 100 percent sure which evenings are free and which are occupied with a church event. It’s always an adventure.
–Also, how often does one have to carry around a small dictionary in order to talk with people? Though I probably should have used it more, I consulted my little dictionary 4 times today. Now know the Hungarian words for ‘annoying’ and ‘weird’…let’s just say it was an interesting morning at the Children’s House, haha!
Nothing about being here is normal in the conventional sense of the word, but the ‘normal’ I have found is really great. I love the people I encounter on my ‘normal’ days, I love my ‘normal’ routine, and I love the thankful feeling I normally have when I think about life here in Nyirtelek. Of course I have had my fair share of ups and downs, and some days are more of a struggle than others, but things are more up than they are down and the struggles are more manageable as time moves forward. I am not sure if ‘normal’ is the best word to describe my life at this point, but one word that provides and accurate description is ‘happy.’
Some pictures from Nyirtelek: