It would be remiss of me to sit here and type that everything has been unicorns and puppies and sparkles since I arrived in Budapest. Over the past couple of days, I've found myself wandering this beautiful city and wondering why I decided to move halfway across the world. I'll admit that I've always prided myself on my adventurous spirit. So why, then, have I felt so alone? The chance to live in a foreign city is finally mine, and here I am missing family and friends and the pups and home. Who is this girl with all these FEELINGS and where has her aforementioned spirit of adventure gone?
Yesterday was one of those days where I trudged home burnt and sweaty with blistered feet. I walked all the way from my apartment in Pest, across the famous Széchenyi Bridge, to Castle Hill in Buda. The scenery was perfect- and the way the light played across the the gleaming white stones of the Castle was like a spotlight featuring a flawless work of art. All of this beauty and the smells of pastries baking around the corner and the most perfect blood orange mint lemonade you could ever imagine- and still... My heart was full of loneliness. My friends have always teased me for my ability to go to a show or movie by myself, but send me a few time zones away and I'm watching every group of friends- envious that they're sharing all of these amazing experiences with one another; while here I am alone.
So I came home last night and cooked my very first meal in this foreign apartment, had a lovely conversation via Skype with one of my best friends (thank goodness for the internet), and called it an early night. My alarm was set to wake me this morning so I'd have time to venture out in search of a church I had found online. I braved the Budapest metro system and managed to arrive only fifteen minutes late, which is quite impressive for me. The entire ride to the church I pleaded with God to show me that I was in the right place. During the time leading up to my trip, I was filled with such peace about my time in this city, but once I got here- that knowing flew right out the window. Things were difficult and I was "alone."
When I walked into the church building I was greeted by the nicest women, and even though the service had already started, we talked for a moment and my heart began to calm. I sat down just as the praise and worship was ending. To my surprise, the next part of the service involved the passing of a microphone so that all newcomers could introduce themselves: tell where they were from and what brought them to Budapest. The very first guy that stood up told everyone his name (American accent, I thought to myself), and then, imagine my surprise when the next words out of his mouth were: "and I'm from Columbus, Georgia." I just had to sit there and giggle to myself. It's not every day that you travel to a new country and wind up in the same room with someone from the same area of the world as you. It seemed like God was giving me a little nudge- telling me that I wasn't as alone as I thought.
The service began, and the church's guest speaker was incredible. He talked about God's love for us. I know that we tend to think: "Yeah, I get it, God loves me- a lot." But as he talked, I realized that a large part of my loneliness was driven by the fact that I wasn't realizing or accepting His love. I don't need another person here to fill the void in my heart (though I do believe God is going to bless me with an amazing group of friends). The Pastor talked about our innate love of the battle of good vs. evil; we like to think of ourselves as amazing Christian people who are out battling the terrible things in this world. While this is true, it's the Savior's ultimate love for us that banishes evil- not anything we are capable of. Up until this point, I felt like the message was particularly applicable for how I've been feeling over the last couple of days. But, it was the next thing the speaker said that really got to me- he related this battle between good and evil to the battle between Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Of all the things that could've been said at today's service, hearing my favorite book quoted from the pulpit was not what I could've or would've imagined. I'm a crier by nature, so you can only imagine how I looked sitting in the back of a church sniffing as the Pastor quoted these lines:
It was like God was saying, "You want a sign? I've already orchestrated this entire trip in My perfect way, but, okay, I'll give you more proof." So I sat there, in the back row, teary eyed but smiling, because, honestly, how often does Peter Pan get used as a church reference? (Don't ever let anyone tell you God doesn't have a great sense of humor.)
After the service I introduced myself to the fellow Georgian, and we exchanged contact information. And you know what- maybe he won't contact me, but maybe he will. The point being- I've spent the past few days severely lacking in faith, and God didn't have to give me a sign or proof or anything of that nature, but He did. Because He loves me, and it was so silly of me to doubt it. I'm not saying that things are going to be perfect from here on out, but I stand firm in the belief that I'm where I'm supposed to be. My internship starts tomorrow, and I'm blessed to know that everyone at home is praying for me. I've also got a God on my side who's going to be there no matter what.
After all of that, most of you will probably say that this isn't the blog post you came here expecting to read, however, I needed to get it out. It's so easy for people who have a passion for travel to get caught up in talking about all of the amazing experiences and forget to explain that with all of the good days come some not so great ones, as well.
Thanks for reading- this post may be all over the place, but it's certainly coming from the heart.
Much love to all of you,
*This verse has been my anchor over the past few days: "Blessed are all who take refuge in Him." Psalm 2:13