Monday, March 19, 2007

A Darker Side

While we were visiting Edna's grandmother in Osijek, it was hard not to notice the scars of war that still remained. We were told that at one point the Serbians were launching mortars and artillery rounds into the city on average of about 5,000 rounds a day. Edna's grandmother told us how she had to live on the floor of her apartment as she cared for her dying husband. As she did her best to describe the fear of the explosions that blew out all her windows, we could still see the marks where shrapnel had skipped off her ceiling and embedded in the wall. She told us stories about how people would be killed just trying to run across to the store to get food.

There wasn't a building around that didn't show signs of the battle that took place during the War for Croatian Independence. Even some of the playground equipment still has holes from shrapnel flying through it. Zlatko, Grandma's neighbor, told us that they try to forget about the blood and the fear, but the reminders are all around.

Zlatko shows Joshua where a round exploded just outside Grandma's window.

The red bricks mark where high-explosive tank rounds tore into the building only two floors above Grandma.

Osijek, Hrvatska (Croatia)

Last night we got back from Osijek (Oh-see-ack), Croatia where we spent the weekend with Edna's grandmother who lives there. It was only about a two hour drive so we were able to spend a lot of time with her learning Croatian. Croatian is very close to Russian and Ukrainian, so with the help of her wonderful neighbor Zlatko who spoke perfect English, we were able to communicate. Joshua had never seen his great grandmother before and Dominic had only seen her once when he was three years old. It was such a blessing to spend time with her. We thought that we would never see her again, never dreaming we would one day be living so close to her.

Edna even got to meet two of her cousins that she had never met before. Zlatko, his wife, and daughter were an amazing help to all of us and were so good to us. They were always so willing to go out of their way to make sure we were comfortable and had a chance to see the beautiful city of Osijek. They were an incredible blessing to all of us. They even took us to church on Sunday and had us sit next to someone who interpreted the entire service for us. The kids had a great time in Sunday school and discovered that a lot of Croatian children speak English (Engliski).

Joshua and a boy named Phillip that he met on the playground who spoke English.

Grandma or Baka as we called her, was always making us something in the kitchen. She was constantly worried that we weren't getting enough to eat.

Dominic in front of the towering brick cathedral downtown.

Osijek just after sunset from the foot bridge on the Drava River.

The foot bridge over the Drava.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007


On Sunday we traveled to Budapest to attend the Calvary Chapel church there. Before the service we had enough time to visit The Great Synagogue in Dohany Street, the largest synagogue in Europe, the second largest in the world. The inside of the synagogue was beautiful, but the Holocaust Museum was a sober reminder of the ugliness that had occurred there during World War II. When it was time to leave, we realized that they had locked us in and we were surrounded by two bus loads of Israeli soldiers who were getting a private tour. We had to track down the security guy to let us out.

In the court yard of the synagogue there was a weeping willow tree made out of steel. Each leaf had the name of a person who had died in the ghetto that surrounded the synagogue during the war. Over 2,000 victims who starved to death or died of disease are buried near the memorial in the court yard. Many people had left small stones in memory of the victims and survivors.

Then he spoke to the children of Israel, saying: “When your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, ‘What are these stones?’ then you shall let your children know, saying, ‘Israel crossed over this Jordan on dry land’; for the LORD your God dried up the waters of the Jordan before you until you had crossed over, as the LORD your God did to the Red Sea, which He dried up before us until we had crossed over, that all the peoples of the earth may know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty, that you may fear the LORD your God forever.”

Joshua 4:21-24

We were thinking of you the whole time Uncle John.

Friday, March 02, 2007


Well we've been in Hungary about a month now and things have begun to feel normal. We've gotten use to people saying "see ya" when they meet us, "hallo" when they leave, and a few other things unique to Hungary. So what does that have to do with eggs? Well, normal people can go to the store and buy eggs, so we decided that's exactly what we needed to do.

Yesterday, after morning classes, we walked into the village armed with our limited Hungarian vocabulary determined to come back with eggs (tojast). What makes this difficult is that they keep them in the back and you have to ask for them and tell the storekeeper how many you want. The first two stores were out, but the third and final store in the village had eggs. I asked for ten because that was about what I thought we needed (and I didn't know how to say twelve). That worked out because a full carton holds ten. The best part was the fact that they had just been gathered from the chickens they keep behind the store.

Edna and I walked home with our eggs feeling a sense of normalcy and accomplishment. This morning we had fried egg sandwiches. Life is good.