On the Top of the World (or close to it)!

Since we last checked in, Joyce and I have transitioned from the bustling city of Budapest with its 2.5 million people to the serene, almost idyllic village of Hermanovce, Slovakia … population, 660!!

Friday started with another exhilarating taxi ride and a trek into the Budapest train station. We got our tickets with no problem and waited for the announcement to board the train. Track 12 was our destination, so we climbed on board with a few hundred other travelers and settled into a nice “cabin” for the 4 hour trip to Slovakia. The train ride through the eastern European countryside was very nice; including a fun conversation with a 17 year-old Hungarian/Slovak girl named Esther, who was returning to Slovakia with 50 classmates who had been on a school trip! Meeting new people is becoming a real highlight of our time here. Our arrival in Kosice, Slovakia meant that we had to hoist our 50 pound backpacks and carry them through the train station. For those who have been praying for our ability to lift those packs … well, mission accomplished!

Even though we had a small delay on our connecting train, we eventually arrived in Hermanovce for a wonderful reception from Pastor Peter Pristiak and a delicious late supper (10 PM!!) prepared especially for us by his wife, Renata.
After supper, Peter announced that Saturday they would have a “brigada” … or work day at the church and camp which is adjacent to prepare everything for the summer camping season to start this week. Dave joined with a group of gypsy believers (men) who had come to the camp for a retreat! We dug a ditch to bury a gravity-fed water line that would supply water for an outdoor shower! An very interesting sidelight is that Dave and his partner were using shovels that were brought from the US by work teams that Dave organized 9 years ago. It was obvious that they had been well used!

After lunch, Dave and Joyce visited some families who had hosted teams and worked alongside them as the church was being built from 2000 – 2003. This time was great blessing (but a little “stretching” for Dave’s old noggin’ … translating Slovak for Joyce and then back to Czech/Slovak for our hosts)!

We got a good rest Saturday night, which was needed in preparation for the hike up to the mountaintop on Sunday. This is the gathering that we told some of you about … a tradition started many years ago when the church was more clandestine and met in obscure places. At least once a year, people from all over the region would hike to the top of a 3500 foot mountain in order to gather together for food, fellowship, worship and to hear the word of God. What a privilege it was to join with this group and share in their tradition!

After hiking 5 or 6 miles (actually, Joyce got an exciting ride in a 4X4 jeep-type vehicle … they didn’t have to twist our arms to take part in a traditional Slovak “weenie roast!” Only these weren’t your typical hot dogs, these were kolbasy and spekacky … kolbasa and smoked pork belly (real fatty bacon) threaded on a stick! With some wonderful brown bread and horseradish mustard, this was a feast fit for a king and queen! And we enjoyed every bite!

Today (Monday) we are going to the nearby town of Hlinne to participate in a childrens’ club and an evening service with a congregation of Roma (gypsy) believers. Please pray that as Dave shares from God’s word that the words will bless and challenge these brothers and sisters who are from such a different culture.

Tomorrow we travel to the English Camp, so we’re not sure when we’ll be able to check in again, but keep praying! We’re so thankful for each of you as you journey with us this summer!


A Day in Budapest - Missionary Style!

As we sat on Wednesday evening in the falafel/gyros restaurant at Moricz Zsigmond Square, Dave recounted, that from best recollection, he had been to Budapest 12 times, starting in the summer of 1996. That must account for the "success" we had in the last 24 hours ...

1) Being awed by the evidence of the hand of God at work through those whom He's called here ...


2) Seeing a whole bunch of famous sites in this grand European city.

The "tour" started with our arrival in Ferihegy Airport and Joyce's "official" welcome for her first visit.

From there it was a fast taxi ride to the Griff Hotel, where many, many groups have stayed while they served at the MOZI Ministry Center, just a short walk away. After a quick shower and change of socks and "unmentionables" ... (its not a new day until you change your socks and undies), we walked from the Hotel to the Olimpia Mozi Ministry Center. On the way there, we took a short detour through the playground that Dave helped with by organizing construction teams who came and built it 7 years ago! What a joy it was to see the playground in wonderful condition, with dozens of children with their parents playing and enjoying this beautiful place. It's so rewarding to know that the work of so many is still paying dividends!!

The Olimpia Mozi Ministry Center has undergone significant renovations since it was purchased in 2000, but this summer some of the most dramatic changes are coming about through the complete reconstruction of the coffeehouse and auditorium. Brad Mullet greeted us with two cups of the most wonderful espresso (and Joyce doesn't even drink coffee!!) and shared the most recent "God sightings" that have moved this renovation forward. Suffice it to say that there is no doubt in our minds that God intends to reach many people in the 11th district of Budapest through the myriad of ministries that use this building. We count at least 8 ministries currently at work, and more to come! The stories of how the finances were obtained would alone fill up this blog, but we just want to relay to all of you who read this, that God is at work in this part of the world in ways that we never hear about. We were very encouraged to hear Brad update us on all that's happening.

Always the gracious host, Brad offered to drop us at the foot of the Castle Hill with a handful of bus/tram tickets and some rough directions on how to get back to the hotel. We took his offer and Joyce soon found herself gazing out at the Danube River through the windows of the turrets in the Fisherman's Bastion. This famously photographed landmark didn't escape our camera's lens ... and Joyce was especially awed by the view. We then walked the cobblestone streets of the Castle Hill in search of a restaurant where we could get a good Hungarian dinner and we were not at all disappointed! The chicken paprika with dumplings tickled Joyce's palette, while Dave opted for the grilled pork medallions with sweet red cabbage and roasted potatoes. While the prices aren't the same as they were 13 years ago, the flavors haven't gone away and we thanked God for a great day, great food, and most of all, for great friends who are praying for us today! We felt especially blessed!

Sleep came easy as we we were able to lay horizontal for the first time in nearly 48 hours! 9 hours later we were awoken by a beautiful sunshiny day ... and ready for more touring!

We won't cover all the nitty gritty, but here's a taste of what Thursday was like:

We rode a tram over a beautiful bridge crossing the Danube, walked through the largest covered market in the city, had a lunch of Hungarian gulash (csipos!!), walked down the Vaci Utca (shopping street) without getting pick=pocketed!!, rode the oldest metro line on the continent of Europe (not counting "the Tube"), gazed at the "heroes" on Hero's Square, had a delicious coffee and cake at an outdoor cafe along the Danube, and rode the tram back across the Danube to the gyros restaurant that we mentioned in the first paragraph! Wow!! ... and Joyce's leg (recovering from shin splints) held up through it all!! What a day!

Today, we will leave Budapest and head for Slovakia. Our eventual destination is Hermanovce nad Toplou ... the small village on the end of the road that is such a contrast to this city of 2.5 million, but where the hand of God is also incredibly evident in the lives of people. We're not sure when we'll get the next blog updated, but stay tuned for more adventure!!


And They're Off!

This is Abi, Dave and Joyce's daughter and I am an honorary blogger on behalf of my parents. Zach, Janlee and I dropped Mom and Dad off at the airport yesterday with two full bags and lots of excitement and anticipation! By now they've probably arrived in Budapest Hungary and I am sure are working hard to get over jet lag and stay awake.

A few prayer requests for the next few days:
~Safety in continued travels over the next week

~A quick adjustment to European time

~Joyce's overall health especially her shin splints - let's pray for complete healing for her

Keep checking for updates here along the way. Thank you for taking this journey with us!


Gearing Up!

Well, we're back at it again! For those who haven't heard, Joyce and Dave are heading back to Eastern Europe on June 23 for an "extended ministry" that will last nearly six weeks!

Once again, we will be partnering with Josiah Venture, a youth outreach and leadership development organization. They have invited us to participate in a number of different activities which are designed to give Eastern European youth an opportunity to clearly hear about and respond to God's love for them. We are super excited about what we'll be doing this summer.

During the first week of July we will be helping to facilitate a relational evangelistic English camp in Slovakia. Joyce is excited to use her ESL expertise in this camp setting with students who have had little or no contact with Christians, the Bible or the truth of Jesus Christ! Dave will be able to use his Czech language as well, to build relational bridges into students’ lives! (Slovak and Czech are “sister languages”) We look forward to sharing the gospel with some who have never heard it before!

After the camp, we will travel to southern Poland to spend five weeks working with teams from around the globe who are helping to do an “Extreme Makeover” on an 18 acre training center called H2O. Dave will be able to put his project management and team facilitation skills to good use as we work with hundreds of people during the 5 weeks that we are in Poland. To learn more about what H20 is all about take a look at the H2O Blog

We invite you to follow us as we move about in Eastern Europe this summer. We anticipate great things to happen in and through our lives!

Blessings to all!

Dave & Joyce Johnson