Mission is fruitful. Mission is hard. Mission is learning how to serve and to be served. Over ten-day break, I was on a team that went and ministered to high school students in Budapest, Hungary. The Austria program had five Eastern European mission locations this semester: two in Slovakia, two in Romania, and one in Hungary. Each mission varied in its experiences and ministry but all benefited from the raw experience of the Lord’s love and His ability to work through each missionary individually.
Budapest Mission was unique in that the entire team was split up amongst host families, all of whom had a student that went to the high school we served in. Staying with a Hungarian family provided for natural instances of relational ministry to arise in ways neither the students nor the missionaries were expecting. The conversations and questions I shared with these teens changed my perspective of life – how to live with a constant desire of reaching eternal life, how to fruitfully live the life we’ve been given, and trusting that life is truly good and simply that.
My incredible Hungarian Student, Ági, summed up our week in Budapest perfectly. She said “this mission is ours, and this mission is yours.” I served, yes, but I feel as if I was served even more so. Ági is one of those girls you get jealous of because she’s smart, passionate about what she believes in, and knows what she likes and what she doesn’t. I think it’s hard not to be mediocre at times, instead of being truly passionate about life and fully living every second we have here on earth. But this 18-year-old Hungarian girl knew how to turn mediocrity into sincerity. For hours, we talked about life and how to live it faithfully. We discussed how to fill the hole we have in our hearts with righteousness rather than temptations we constantly run into. We chatted about boys – their essential and honorable masculinity for us girls. We talked about Scripture, the mass, how to pray, what we should do in certain situations. We talked about music, books, and movies. The differences between The Hungarian culture and the American. She taught me Hungarian words, and I would correct her when she would mix up English words like, “My favorite thing on a playground is the slipper” (God bless her she speaks three languages) But, all discussion was searching for truth and what it entails.
It was exhausting.
But the exhaustion felt good. It felt good to talk about things I don’t always talk about but what I might think of. It was encouraging to hear and see that Ági wanted answers to some of the same questions I had and we talked through them, and either came to a conclusion or we didn’t, but we were moving in the same direction – towards the truth – and getting closer as we discussed. Ági and I were very similar and the Lord knew that we needed to be put in each other’s lives. She was a blessing, and truly that.
Using my ten-day break solely for mission wasn’t intriguing for me at first. I didn’t have a huge desire to go on mission or use my Europe experience to sacrifice my own travels to serve. But with all genuineness, mission is what I needed, what every single team member needed, and what the Lord knew we all needed. Learning how to love well was the most impactful experience and display of Christ Himself. Each teen and each face I saw in the high school radiated Christ through their presence to me, their desire for genuine faith, and a further search of attaining a better relationship with God. Loving them and them loving us was fulfilling and heartening. In different ways, truth is what every Hungarian student was looking for. They sincerely wanted to know what we, the missionaries, thought about our faith, what our own personal experiences have entailed, and what they should do to reach the truths they were searching for.
As missionaries, we not only had the opportunity to serve through relational ministry in the homes we stayed at, but we were also able to give our own personal testimonies and talks on how to live a chaste and faithful life. Never in my life has the Lord’s presence been displayed so clearly. I said things I knew weren’t my own words and I gave testimonies I knew I wasn’t as prepared as I should have been. I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying “Ok Annie, I got this one, just let me do the talking this time.” It was comforting, radical, a pure act of trust, and something I’ve never personally experienced.
Missions of Peace knows what they’re doing in that they give Franciscan student’s incredible opportunities to grow and flourish in their faith through the missions they have throughout the world. Budapest mission changed me, and the students that went on the other Eastern European missions had very similar experiences. Directly ministering to families and teens in Hungary was even beneficial in learning how to minister to my own family and the people I encounter in my daily life. I served and I was served and God displayed His love in a comforting and sincere way, a way in which I have a deeper desire to search for the truths of Christ and what he has in store for life itself.