In 1992, Virginia Baptists were in a partnership with Hungarian Baptists. Doug had long been interested in lands behind the Iron Curtain, so we joined a volunteer team that went to the Baptist camp at Tahi (in the hills north of Budapest) to help construct a new dormitory. We spent two weeks tying rebar for the dorm's second floor. And we met the Csuhai family, József and Zita and their daughters. We became friends with the Csuhai family, and we wanted very much to return for another visit.
In the spring of 1994, we spent our vacation in Hungary and visited the Csuhai family at their home. One night after dinner, József said to Doug, "So Doug, move to Hungary and live with us and work with us. We need people like you." This was a strange request. We talked about it that night, and for several years the idea lay dormant. Meanwhile, Doug started to collect books on Hungarian language and history. One evening in 1997, off the cuff, Lea mentioned to Doug, "It wouldn't surprise me if we lived in Hungary someday." That was a surprise to Doug, but after that we started thinking seriously about moving to Hungary.
In the autumn of 1998, all three of us came to Hungary in order to investigate the idea of moving here. What would we do? We would probably do the same in Hungary that we would in the US: earn a living with computers and work with the Deaf at church. One missionary couple reported that NO ONE in Hungary was reaching the Deaf. That soon became our objective. Karen, age 3, enjoyed playing with the Csuhai girls, but her main concern about moving to Hungary was that she couldn't roll her r's.
By December of 1999, we had started to talk with the International Mission Board (IMB) about being missionaries in Hungary, but they had no position that matched our calling and abilities. Doug went to Hungary to look for a job, but he was unsuccessful. However, he did meet the principal at the Deaf school in Vác. A year later, some IMB missionaries to the Deaf invited us to reconsider going to Hungary with the IMB and working with the Deaf there. We spent July of 2001 in Hungary on vacation, during which Doug looked for a computer job (no luck), Lea learned her way around a Hungarian kitchen (better luck), and Karen finally learned to roll her r's (yay!). We talked with several Hungarians about our situation, and they encouraged us to pursue the position with the IMB so we could work with the Deaf full-time without distraction. This is the path we decided upon.
The First Term
From 2002 to 2004, we served on Team Budapest with the IMB. Doug attended the Deaf Club and volunteered two days a week at the Deaf School in Vác. We helped lead a Bible Club for the orphans at the Deaf school. Lea also taught English through Bible stories. We found that missions work among the Deaf had begun since we had first inquired, and we attended Deaf worship services at a Deaf Christian training center in Budapest. Meanwhile, Karen attended first and second grade at Herman Otto Általános Iskola (Elementary School). Near the end of our two-year term, we spoke with several Hungarians about possibly returning to Hungary to continue our missions work, but with work permits and work visas instead of missionary visas.
The Second Term
After fourteen months of gainful employment in Richmond, Virginia, we returned to Hungary in October 2005 as "tentmaker" missionaries in Vác, a city of about 33,000 people north of Budapest. Karen graduated with honors from Hungarian public schools and is now a student at The College of William and Mary. Doug teaches English through a small company, Old Dominion Bt.that we started. He also maintains a little-league baseball field, is trying to develop a baseball team of young players, and volunteers at the Deaf school, teaching English classes and offering baseball during afternoon recess. Lea teaches English part-time at Boronkay High School. With our jobs, with the enthusiastic support of Tabernacle Baptist Church, with the capable coordination of Christian Educators Outreach, and with the generous donations of family, friends, and fellow believers, we are well prayed-for and financially stable. We plan to stay as long as we sense God's desire for us to work here.
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