Chicken Soup in Budapest

This is my second trip to eastern Europe. The first one was to Russia in 1993. In both cases I would describe day one the same, as the day that never ends. You fly out in the morning, get to New York after a few layovers in the evening, and start across the pond just before sunset. You eat dinner, struggle to get comfortable enough to sleep, give up, and crack your cabin window open just far enough to see the sunrise at 12:30 a.m. You land geographically at 10:30 a.m.; mentally and physically it is 3:30 a.m. You feel like a missionary with a hangover. You are a missionary with a ‘tude. Every statement you make in your 10:30 geography with your 3:30 mouth is short, snappy, and laced with ill. Perhaps this is why on both of my mission visits to Europe our contact has a strategic plan called “take a tour of the city.” Pen the ill pot missionaries up on a bus, do not allow them to speak to the natives, they will love Jesus again after jet lag burns off.

In short, Budapest, Hungary is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. Moscow was amazing because it was so old, cold, and scary. Budapest is not only old but elegant. I asked our tour guide how Budapest compares to other European cities. He said there are five that a person must see: London, Vienna, Paris, Rome (I think he said Rome), and Budapest. I have now seen one of the five must see cities in Europe. Perhaps I will be able to visit the other four on my next cranky day tour during a future mission trip.

We ate dinner tonight in the Citadel on a hill called Panorma. I got the impression that since we were an American group they wanted to feed us something familiar. So I looked at Brent to my right and said, “I never really pictured myself eating Chicken Noodle Soup, fried chicken, and fries in a European Citadel in Budapest listening to a Hungarian String Band.” Yet, my non-dream has become a reality. I have walked Red Square, baptized my eldest daughter, and eaten “Chicken Noodle Soup, fried chicken, and fries in a European Citadel in Budapest listening to a Hungarian string band.” My life is complete. Yes, like a tourist, I bought the Hungarian string band CD.

Tomorrow (6/5), we travel to Oradea, the actual site of our mission. So far this mission has been the surreal moment I wanted it to be. Standing at Panorma overlooking Budapest it was hard to believe that I was actually there with my family. There would be no thought of “I can’t wait to tell Shannon about this,” she was there. My daughters saw what I saw. We experienced the never ending day and its cranky tour together. I could not ask for anything more. I am blessed. God is good.


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