Thursday, December 23, 2010

Merry Christmas & Blessed New Year!

My dear Friends!

With this card I would like to wish You and Your Beloved Ones a 
Wonderful CHRISTmas and a Blessed New Year!
Thank you for your friendship, support and encouragements you've shown me in 2010, 
please keep this great habit of yours in 2011 as well! :)

(ps. The picture was taken on my birthday; 10th December, 2010. in Northern Norway with the famous Reka Mountain in the background)
ps 2. If you want to read the whole story of my Crazy Birthday Trip above the arctic circle click here.

Immunization fun

One sure sign of traveling to unfamiliar territory is the very existence of this cute little booklet called the Yellow Immunization Card. Not to mention the fact that the first page in mine is almost full...
Yes, the picture is blurry. It was taken right after I got home from the Tropical Diseases Center yesterday. I still feel dizzy when I look at this picture - yesterday it looked sharp to me... :)

I had 3 shots again and just like the last time, they were in me before i could protest. The experience was unpleasant, yet funny. I was waiting in the small waiting room with several well dressed (and pretty annoyed) people. I picked up the form and quickly filled in the necessary details while waiting for my number to be called. 5 years ago I had great difficulties filling in the "country you travel to" line since I knew Doulos would be sailing to a new port every 2-3 weeks. Then I wrote "all around the world", which triggered an angry outburst from the doctor thinking I was joking and wasting their time.

This time I only said Sierra Leone so she knew right away what shots I needed. She looked through carefully my vaccination card and asked me "why can't you sit still on your bum?" :) I tried to explain to her what Mercy Ships was doing and she got very interested. Even though there were several people waiting outside she asked me to sit down and tell her more; she kept on asking me about the ship, the ministry and how to join. At the end I gave her my e-mail address and I hope she will contact me.

It is so nice to spread the vision and you never know who will be interested... :)

Monday, December 6, 2010

The WORST thing about moving...

... is saying Good Bye to your friends who became your family over the years.

I just simply H-A-T-E it and it breaks my heart every single time I hug somebody for the last time.

Yesterday a very dear friend stepped out of my life. :(

It doesn't matter which language you bid farewell, it hurts just as much.

(this picture was taken during a Christmas party
a friend of mine organized before we all fly away for the holidays.)

How attached are you to the things around you?

The time has come to start downsizing my life into 2 suitcases. Even though I don't have much and my apartment is quite small I found it strange that I have so many things around the flat...

Not sure how you guys start such a project, for me the battle started in my head. Naturally I would love to keep everything, but I have to admit, I managed to accumulate quite some junk over the last 2 years in Norway. First I tried to separate everything in 4 piles in the 4 corners of the living room:

The first pile is for the bins. I will need lots of plastic bags... So, this pile should be easy to get rid of, riiiiight?

The second pile is things, clothes, shoes...etc that I will need in Africa. That should be easy, too. Here in Norway the top temperature on a hot (?) summer day was cooler than the coldest days in Sierra Leone. Guess I don't have too many summer clothes here. :) I was told to just buy clothes there - much cheaper and don't have to carry them around the world first. Handy.

The third pile comprises of clothes I would need in Winter Wonderland aka Hungary for 2 weeks (Christmas dinners, new years eve fancy dress, theater-appropriate clothes, winter boots, long underwear...).

The next pile is for give aways. Most of the things in this pile I would want to keep, but figured they could bless others so instead of boxing them up for who knows how long, I rather pass them on to my friends here. As a result lately everybody who dropped by for a quick visit left with a couple of bags. :)

The fifth pile is for things that I want to see again at some point in the future. Mostly little nothings I bought during my travels; silly memories; national dresses from all over the world and such. (good thing the room doesn't have more corners hehe)

So, I assigned the four corners and every once in a while I throw things on each pile. This sorting process made me stop and think about how attached I am to the things around me. It turns out, not too much. :) Last week I was in a hurry and pulled the zipper on my boots too fast and broke it. Normally I would be upset, but knowing that I am leaving in 2 weeks I was quite relaxed about it. I just threw them in the trash thinking it's one less thing I need to worry about. :)

Another challenge I am facing is the massive amounts of food I still have in the freezer. The last 2 weeks I was eating chicken with chicken in soups, grilled, chopped, "cordon bleu style", in goulash (which is "pörkölt" really, but if I say goulash people know what I am talking about), fried some Asian style and I still have some... :)

Still, the question remains. Why are we so attached to certain things?

I could give several acceptable answers, but that wouldn't change the fact that I am still nowhere close to finish packing and time is flying on a jet plane... :)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pre-Culture shock = Watch "Blood Diamond"

I am getting more and more excited about going to Sierra Leone so naturally I am talking to my friends about it. Upon hearing about my destination one of them made a face and asked if I had seen the movie "Blood Diamond"(watch trailer here). I have not, simply because I am not a Leo fan. "Well, you should!" he said and so I did.

Sierra Leone is a country where over 10,000 child soldiers were "recruited" by armed gangs. The search for diamonds is the main theme there, still the movie gives you a quite realistic picture of the horror these kids had to go through. There is peace now in Sierra Leone, however many of those kids lost their homes, families and ALL of them experienced hell and that's something that will not go away overnight...

I will be honest with you, after watching that movie I was seriously contemplating recalling my application and staying away from that part of the world. But thank God it only lasted about 10 minutes and after that I got even more determined to go there and make a difference.

What a coincidence, one of my best friends here in Stavanger is a guy from Sierra Leone. :) We sat down and he gave me a brief summary of the situation there. He is writing his university thesis on Reintegration of Child Soldiers to Society. I hope we can have lots of meetings in the next 25 days while I am still here. I want to go there prepared, well, as much as I can anyway.

Our hospital ship has been to Freetown, the capital of SL several times. Here are some shots from the previous visit in 2004. These photos were taken by Mercy Ships so they are protected by copyrights. I use them with permission.

 (victim of the civil war)

(the kids who are waiting...)

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Home - what's that?

Since I travel a lot and speak English with a funny accent people often ask me where do I come from. That's easy to say, I was born in Hungary and currently own a HU passport. But when they say "oh, so your home is Hungary" I never know how to reply...

Guess there are many who have difficulty answering this question. The 3 main groups of people I met over the years:
  1. Third Culture Kids (TCK) who are born in country A to parents from country A and/or country B and they grow up and live in country C - often after growing up they end up living in country D, kind of like a loose-loose situation me thinks.
  2. Marriages over borders that result in one party giving up their own country to learn to live in the spouse's home environment.
  3. Expatriots who temporarily or long term got relocated to another part of the world.
"Home is a diffuse concept not necessarily linked to any particular zip code" - I read it once in a flight magazine (how appropriate) and I couldn't agree more. I think it's worth spending a moment on pondering these words...

When I lived on m/v Doulos my home was a 130 m long floating vessel and every 2-3 weeks the view from my porthole changed. I didn't have a permanent address or a local phone number. My neighbors were my cabin mates (from 3 different continents), my next door neighbors were literally from all over the world. We all had our own language, cultural heritage, social background, family history. The only thing that linked us together* was the fact that we all communicated in a common language - broken English. (yes, even the native English speakers were complaining that after several months on board their language skills worsened.) :)

"Change is the only constant thing in my life" - was our motto on board. It's a great concept that required lots of adjustments, but for Global Nomads like me, it was pure heaven. Guess in this sense I am going back to my old roots, the Hun people used to travel a lot (hence the name, Hungarian)

"Most people cannot pronounce even my first name" - yes, we touched base on that already. The only 2 nations who have no difficulty whatsoever are the Finns and... incredible as it sounds, the Indians. We share a lot with the Finnish people, we are taught in school that the two nations are related, but I guess it's just easy to connect the two odd nations in Europe. As for the Indians, apparently they also have a female first name spelled Rekha, my Indian friends always tease me that I might be one of them. Actually my mother chose this name, because it's a very old, traditional Hungarian name. In fact, Réka was the wife of Attila, the Hun.

"Home is not where you live but where you are understood" - darn, it means I am homeless. :)
It's a very nice, I even daresay romantic idea and as such, a bit Utopian. There are many Permanent Travelers out there and I cannot help but think of an already classic movie Up in the air (see trailer here) where George Clooney's character says at the airport: "Make no mistake. We all die alone". Though one to digest, nevertheless he is right spot on. The short time we have on Earth we might spend with traveling and switching "homes", but there should be a time when you measure the weight of h-o-m-e.

I think I haven't reached that point yet, but I must say I often ponder on homesickness. Even though I am not too attached to Hungary any more and I am quite comfortable with the idea of living somewhere else, from time to time I fly back there and see it with the shiny eyes of a foreigner and a bittersweet smile of a true Hungarian...

If you haven't been there, you should definitely go and visit some day. It's quite pretty. For now here are 2 videos about Hungary. The first one is a slide show with a famous HU band as background music. The second one shows some of the inventions the world received from Hungarians. Enjoy!

* of course we had many other things in common, but in the context of defining home, language was our common link.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Hello World

Hello people!
If you know me... you know what to expect. :)
If you think you know me... I might have some surprises for you.
If you don't think you know me... you are probably right.
For all the other people... WELCOME!

My name is Réka (pronounced like ray-car minus the "r" at the end). I come from a beautiful little country called Hungary. And before you ask me, YES, I AM HUNGRY! Care to show me your best dish? :)

Before we embark on this journey together, here are a couple of things that might come handy when dealing with me:
  1. I am a Christian and I am proud to say it. If you have a problem with that, well... thanks for dropping by. Your loss me thinks.
  2. If you are a Christian reading this please don't get shocked by the tone and the terminology. Just because I believe in Jesus and His saving grace, it doesn't mean I have to use Christian words 24/7. Yes, I am blessed more often than lucky, yes, i believe in divine timing instead of coincidences, however I don't feel the need to rub it under everybody's nose. 
  3. If you don't believe in God (hmmm, why not? Really...) relax, I will not try to convert you - I couldn't do that anyway. But it's worth thinking about it every once in a while, isn't it?
The reason why I am leaving everything behind:

I could go on for a long time about my history, past encounters with various people, strange circumstances, the Great Commission, the need to help others... Bottom line is this: I believe I received so MUCH in my life that giving back 2 years to help others is really not too much to ask for. And if I can have some fun along the way... I think it's called a Match Made in Heaven. :)

Warm Welcome

Hello Everybody!
Thanks for dropping by and welcome to my latest blog.

Right now I am in Stavanger, Norway working hard on raising funds in order to be able to join Africa Mercy for her 2011 Field Service in Sierra Leone.

You can subscribe to this blog and you will not miss out on anything.

I greatly encourage you to leave feedback, suggestion or comments.

Thanks again and fasten your seat belts! :)