Our Journey through Eastern Europe, Part 2: Hungary

For Part 1, see here.

October 7 – Diosd, Hungary
Yesterday we landed in Budapest around 12:30, and got some pizza while waiting to be picked up. When Dave picked us up, we went back with him to ICSB and he gave us a tour of the school. Saw E and Z during the tour.
International Christian School of Budapest

When T and Z were done with school, we headed back to their house. We went with Dave to drop off bikes to be fixed and then picked up E from soccer. Dinner with the Totmans.

Today we have some down time while others are in school. Jono is getting some work done and working on trouble-shooting E’s tablet. I was able to do an email update and post some pics on Facebook. Later after school we’ll go out and do some sight-seeing and out to eat.
Bridge over Danube

Went into Budapest and saw the Danube.

We then walked through the covered market, which had a bunch of tourist shops. Able to get some souvenirs.

Then we ate at Burger King 🙂 and headed back home. To go into Budapest we took the Metro (subway). Felt like being in NYC. 
Riding the Metro

October 9 – Diosd, Hungary

Yesterday one of the SEND missionaries, Evan Parks, picked Jono up around 10 to go help him with his computer. Then his wife Carrie picked me up around noon and took me over for lunch. We had a nice time of sharing, finding out about what they do and talking about MKs and transition.
Going with the flow – no dryer, no problem!

Back at Totmans, did a load of laundry and then hung up on a drying rack by their fireplace since it was raining outside (they currently can’t use their dryer).

After dinner we skyped with Mom and Dad (for the grandkids) then took family pics.

We went over to another SEND missionary’s house about 8 for dessert – Linc and Kaye Myers.

Had a nice time chatting and Larry Milks (with SEND) stopped in as well. Good to learn about what they do here in Hungary (and other countries with SHARE).
Today is relaxing, then more sight-seeing in late afternoon/evening.

October 10 – Vienna, Austria (Airport)
Budapest Timewheel

Last night after Dave and the kids got home we went back to Budapest. This time when we rode the Metro, we had to switch lines a couple times. We went to see the timewheel, which unfortunately was broken (glass on one side broken). Then on walking to a castle we discovered a festival going on and had some Polish sausage with mustard and potatoes.

Then walked back to Heroes Square, where T gave a history lesson regarding some of the figures.

Heroes Square in Budapest

Street signs are tacked on buildings

Then we rode the Metro to find Mester Utca. That was not the best part of town! after getting a picture (for Michael Mester) we continued home.

We were only able to print our boarding passes from Budapest to Vienna. When we checked in this morning, they couldn’t check us in either and said we’d have to do it in Vienna. They did check our bags through to Ljubljana. In Vienna, we had to go out through customs, check in and print our boarding passes and go back through security. Fortunately it was a 2 hour layover, so we had time.

Part 3, Slovenia coming next.


Between Worlds by Marilyn Gardner

Between Worlds Essays on culture and belongingBetween Worlds Essays on culture and belonging by Marilyn Gardner
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A collection of essays regarding growing up as a third culture kid, this book started off with stories that sent me back in time to my own childhood growing up on the mission compound in Bangladesh. The Muslim call to prayer, hot chai, vacation to the beach – memories of my own experience came back in reading of the author’s own childhood experiences in a country not so far from where I myself grew up. The essays are divided into sections, dealing with topics all TCKs (third culture kids) can easily relate to: home, identity, belonging, airports, grief & loss, culture clash, and good-byes. Ah, the inevitable good-bye!
“invisible immigrant” – looking like you should belong but not really knowing the culture of your passport culture. It’s not obvious that don’t belong so your cultural taboos are more blatant.
“If there is a common thread of experience among third culture kids it may be paralysis in the cereal aisle.” The overwhelming feeling of walking into a Walmart after being overseas for several years – that “whoa!” feeling resonates.
Well written, the words flow in this book, bringing alive my own memories of the many good-byes, the wondering of who I really was and the friend in college who helped me to navigate this new culture that I was now part of. If you are a third culture kid or are raising a third culture kid, you will find this book speaks to your soul. There are also helpful tips for dealing with culture shock and also recognizing that grief looks different for different people.
Definitely recommended!

*I received a copy of this book free from the author. Many thanks!

The Beauty that is a Godly Legacy

Frances Bunts
June 11, 1918 – August 10, 2013

One of my earliest memories is at my Grandma Bunts’ house when I was about 5 years old. I was upset after having to take standardized tests at a local school. Growing up where my world was constantly changing and moving, my grandma’s house in upstate New York was a constant that was always there. Though when we were in the States for furlough, the house we lived in was about a half hour away, we spent much time at Grandma’s house when we were in the US. Her church was a 2nd church home for me. One of my close friends growing up was a girl from her church.

When I graduated from high school in Kenya, my grandma came out to Kenya for my high school graduation. I then returned to the States with her and another couple while my family remained in Kenya. I spent that summer alternating between her house and a cousin’s house who was my age and was also going to Baptist Bible College that fall as a freshman.

In the fall of 1992, I went to Baptist Bible College in Clarks Summit, PA. My grandma helped move me down to college. She lived about an hour and a half away. I was able to go visit her during my college breaks. Grandma Bunts’ home was my home away from college. She listened to me cry over a boyfriend breakup and gladly listened to me recite the book of Philippians to her. She was a constant in my life of continual change.

After finishing college and a year of working and living in PA, I moved out to Michigan and then got married. Over the years I didn’t see Grandma very much though we would talk on the phone occasionally. Earlier this year I was able to visit her when I was in New York for my other grandma’s funeral. In June of this year, she celebrated turning 95.

Grandma finally was able to go to her true Home and meet her Savior. She faithfully served the Lord throughout her life. A godly example to all those around her, she loved God and was an amazing influence on those whose lives she touched. And those lives were many – those in the church that she grew up in, her husband and 11 children, 36 grandchildren and many great grandchildren. She has left behind an amazing legacy of what it means to follow God and serve Him.

Harold & Frances Bunts, 
with 9 of their 11 children: Elwyn, Ruthie, Carol, Doris, Bette Paul, Anita, Kathy & Priscilla
Frances (Grandma) Bunts – with 10 of her 11 children
Right to Left: Fred, Len, Ruthie, Elwyn, Carol, Doris, Bette, Paul, Kathy & Priscilla
Grandma and I – Thanksgiving 2000

My Church Journey

The whole issue of being part of a local church has been an on-again, off-again issue for me throughout my entire adult life.
Growing up overseas, church involved walking a mile to the local Bengali church where the entire service was in another language that unfortunately I was not fluent in. I was able to participate in the singing, but had to sit through the sermon not understanding what was being said. The missionaries on the compound we lived on organized a Sunday School for the missionary kids to be part of, so that was in English but I don’t remember much about those Sunday School classes. On Sunday evenings, the missionaries would gather at the guest house to have an English service. That was “church” for me growing up. When we were in the States for furlough, we traveled around to all of our supporting churches where I heard my Dad preach the same sermon and hear the same presentation week after week. So my idea of church growing up was not the ideal.
In Kenya, we started a church that was held in English and Swahili. It was hard to follow along since it was broken up, back and forth between the 2 languages. On Sunday evenings, several of the local missionaries would gather together to have a service and that was “church” for me.
I was always required to go to church. Unless I was sick, I had to be part of church. Then I went to a Bible college with a lot of rules, including church attendance. By that point, I was tired of being “forced” to do something that I wanted to make my own choice in. During summers and after graduation, it was a relief to make the choice of whether or not to go to church.
In April/May of 1997, I moved out to Michigan to be closer to Jono, whom I was dating at the time. We started looking for a local church together. It was interesting to see how we each tended to look for different things in a church and trying to find a church that we both liked was not as easy as we thought it would be. We found a church that we both enjoyed only to watch it go through a big split right after we started going there. We ended up connecting more with the people who left and so went with them as they began plans to start a new church. In the process, they visited several local churches and Jono found he wanted to continue at one of the churches we visited.
We got married while attending that church but didn’t stay long after that. Over the course of the next several years we found ourselves church “shopping” and found it difficult to find a church that we both wanted to be part of. We also learned and grew through all this about what is really important in a church and what issues need to be overlooked since no church will be perfect. I often found myself tired of church and the same issues coming up again and again at different churches. I would go through periods of not going to church as a result.
In 2005, we found our current church and have been there ever since. That’s not to say that I still don’t struggle with the whole issue of church. Being an introvert has played a part in this struggle. It’s hard to be part of something that depletes your energy. Yet I also know the importance of being part of the Christian community. The Christian life is not a “lone ranger” life. It must be lived in connection with others. This can be an ongoing battle for me – the importance of being part of a community and the struggle of needing time alone to recharge. I haven’t found the answer yet but continue on in my Christian journey. What does church mean for you? Is it a vital part of your life or something you find yourself struggling with? I know that church is hard for many people, often because of past hurts. Christians hurt each other. Often church is a place of cliques. Or felt to be a bunch of rules that once must conform to in order to belong. Yet I see throughout the Bible, the emphasis on being part of a community, growing with God together, challenging each other to remain strong in the faith. As long as we live in a sinful world, this will be an ongoing challenge that Christians must work through.

Christmas Growing Up

Scrapbook pages that my mom did of us kids growing up.

 1974 – Debi’s first Christmas

 1975 – Debi is 22 months old.

 1976 – Debi is almost 3 and her brother Dave has his first Christmas

 1977 Christmas

Christmas in the States

 Christmas program at church in the US


 Christmas program in Bangladesh

1979 – Debi is almost 6, Dave is almost 4, and it is her sister Dawn’s first Christmas

 1980 Christmas

Debi’s Mom’s parents (Grandpa & Grandma) came out to Bangladesh to visit

Debi’s Dad’s side of the family – her grandma, aunt, uncle & cousins

 1982 Christmas

Growing up, when we had Christmas in Bangladesh, we would gather around the tree and fireplace on Christmas eve (though Bangladesh is in the tropics, it did get a bit chilly in the evenings during the winter months and we had no heat in our house other than a fireplace). We would read the Christmas story and then open gifts. On Christmas morning, we would get our stockings. I loved the traditions that we had for Christmas growing up. In a life that was ever-changing and moving around, the traditions we had on the holidays helped to provide some stability for this missionary kid growing up.

Identity and Worth

So much of our identity these days seems to be wrapped up in what we do. In either our jobs or the ministry we are involved in, even the roles we are in can be used to shape our identity. What is one of the first questions that we ask someone when meeting them? “What do you do?” As if what we do is what determines our identity or defines who we are.
This is something I struggle with regularly. When I make a mistake or fail at something, I get discouraged and feel like I am no longer valuable or worthy. My identity and worth gets wrapped up in how I perform or act. I think this stems back to growing up in a conservative Baptist home and growing up on the mission field and being a missionary kid. During our furloughs, we would travel around to supporting churches to report on my parents’ ministry and the idea came across to me that I had to behave and to be a certain way to be acceptable and to not make things difficult for my parents. I don’t think I was ever actually told this (my parents would be appalled to think that I thought this) but that was the impression I had as a young child. Then I went to a conservative college with a lot of rules and my early impressions continued. My behavior determined my worth.
I know intellectually this is not true. My worth is totally based on God and His view of me. Because of His love and Christ’s death, I am a worthy person, a child of God, loved not based on my performance but on Christ’s work on my behalf. Nothing I do or say can change that. But early impressions often live on into adult years and I must fight against the idea that my worth and identity are wrapped up in what I do or how I act.
God has brought me so far. The unconditional love that I receive from my husband has helped me to better grasp God’s unconditional love for me. God is the One who made me and He accepts me, not based on anything that I can do for Him. The freedom in that is refreshing and exhilarating!

Twenty Years Flashback

20 years ago today, I graduated from high school. While this is a momentous occasion for anyone, what made it especially momentous for me was that I was not only leaving high school, but my family, my friends, my culture, my country and home. Graduation from high school for a Missionary Kid is a much bigger deal than most high school graduations. It usually means leaving the country that has been our home to go back to the country that is our parents’ home.
I attended a Christian school in Nairobi, Kenya for my last 2 years of high school, where I graduated as part of a class of 19 students. We were the 2nd graduating class for our school, Rosslyn Academy. Being in Kenya, we were able to graduate outside (fortunately the weather held), and the bell choir played our processional. I was the salutatorian of the class but didn’t have to give a speech as that was left to the valedictorian and the class-elected student speaker.
My mom’s mom and some family friends were able to come to Kenya for my high school graduation. My Grandma’s birthday is also today, so for her 74th birthday she got to watch one of her grandchildren graduate from high school. Today she turns 94, is still living, and has quite a legacy. When I returned to the US after high school graduation, her home became my permanent address and the place I would go to for school breaks since my parents remained overseas.
As I look back at that day 20 years ago, and that time in my life, so much has changed. I’ve grown so far since that 18 year old girl, just starting out on her adventure in life. Yet, even at that age, I had experienced so much and was enriched from all the traveling and experiences that I had gone through to that point. Those experiences were the foundation for me as I headed out on my own. That day 20 years ago was a life-changing day, a turning point in my life. So thankful for all that God has brought me through since that day and thankful for His faithfulness as I look ahead. The journey continues.

Who Am I?

The quintessential question, particularly for the missionary kid (MK). Our identity can be hard to determine as we grow up influenced by more than 1 culture and place. Poems and songs express this question of who we are. For me, growing up in Bangladesh with American parents, I had a mix of the Bangladesh culture and the American culture in the way I was raised. Also a factor was living on the missionary compound with other American missionaries and missionary kids, a sub-culture within the Bangladesh culture. Here are some songs and poems that reflect the question of Who Am I?

A poem I wrote – Who Am I?

Who am I
That I should go
To be a light
Your love to show
Who am I
That I should be
An instrument
You use to free
Who am I
Unworthy one
Your worth to give
Grace of Your Son
Who am I
That I should live
Praising Your name
Blessings to give
Who am I
Your servant, Lord
Use how You will
My life outpoured.

(below is written by an anonymous MK – found here)
When I was growing up, adults always asked me what I was going to be, but there came a time when what I was going to be wasn’t as important as who I was.  Everyone questions who they are and MKs are not exception.
Who is an MK?  I am a combination of two cultures. I am neither and I am both.  I am the brat who throws a
temper tantrum and refuses to dress native for the American church.  I am the six-year-old who cries herself to sleep the first two weeks away from home. I am the one who complained about eating oatmeal everyday of my life, yet I am the one who orders oatmeal at the restaurant just for old times’ sake.
I am the one who desperately worries about fitting in, but I am the one who wears my native wrap around
the college dorm and doesn’t care what anyone thinks.  I am the one who has lived under strict school rules,
and I am the one who returns to America and questions what my real values are.  I am the one the churches
make a saint out of, and the one some people pity and laugh at. I am the one who traveled halfway around the
world before I was four, and I am the one who has no home.  I am the one who promises to write, but never does because it’s too difficult to deal with the reality of separation.  I am the one who has seen the devil dancers, and I am the one who has seen the rock concerts.
I am the one who knows and understands world missions, life and death, heaven and hell.  I am the one
who has seen God work miracles. I am the one who knows prayer works, but I am the one who sometimes finds it difficult to pray.
I am the one who has learned to live with a politically unstable government, and I am the one who waits impatiently by the phone for news that everything is safe.  I am the one who has spent only three months a year at home.  Yet I know, beyond question, that my parents are the best in the whole world.  I am the
one who speaks two languages, but can’t spell either.  I am the one who has devotions from a French Bible.
I am the one who wears a thousand masks, one for each day and time.  I am the one who learned to be all I’m expected to be, but is still not sure of who I really am.  I am the one who chooses my college by where my friends are because nobody understands an MK like another MK.  I am the one who laughs and cries, sings and prays, gets angry and doubts, fears and questions, expects and receives, hopes and dreams.  And I am one who cares.
I am an MK, and I am proud of it!
–Anonymous MK

Song by Casting Crowns – Who Am I
Who am I?
That the Lord of all the earth,
Would care to know my name,
Would care to feel my hurt.
Who am I?
That the bright and morning star,
Would choose to light the way,
For my ever wandering heart.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling,
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.

Who am I?
That the eyes that see my sin
Would look on me with love
And watch me rise again.
Who am I?
That the voice that calmed the sea,
Would call out through the rain,
And calm the storm in me.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling,
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am.
I am yours.

Not because of who I am,
But because of what you’ve done.
Not because of what I’ve done,
But because of who you are.

I am a flower quickly fading,
Here today and gone tomorrow,
A wave tossed in the ocean,
A vapor in the wind.
Still you hear me when I’m calling,
Lord, you catch me when I’m falling,
And you’ve told me who I am.
I am yours.
I am yours.
I am yours.

Whom shall I fear
Whom shall I fear
Cause I am yours..
I am yours..
(From this site)

Point of Grace – song Who Am I (found here)

Over time You’ve healed so much in me,
And I am living proof.
That although my darkest hour had come,
Your light could still shine through.
Though at times it’s just enough to cast,
A shadow on the wall.
I am grateful that you’ve shined your light on me at all.

Who Am I,
That you would love me so gently?
Who Am I,
that you would recognize my name?
Who Am I,
that you would speak to me so softly?
Conversation with the Lord most high.
Who Am I?

Oh Amazing Grace how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost,
But now am found.
Was blind,
But now I see.
And the more I sing that sweet old song,
The more I understand.
that I do not comprehend this love that’s coming from your hand.

(repeat chorus)

Grace, grace.
God’s grace.
Grace that will pardon, and cleanse within.
Grace, grace.
God’s great grace.
Grace that is greater than all my sin.

(repeat chorus)

Lord, Who Am I?
Who Am I?
Lord Who Am I?
Who Am I?
Who Am I?


When your parents and brother are missionaries in another part of the world, and your sister lives in another state, you cherish the times that you are all able to be together. Last December, my whole family was able to be together briefly shortly before Christmas. Here are some scrapbook pages depicting that time.