I am horrifically sick. So sick that when I tell liangze I am sick, it comes out as “I am thick”. Been trying to siphon my sinuses out of my nose via capillary action in a tissue, but it hasn’t been going so well. i did want to document today before I forgot it though.

After church (the special music didn’t go so well, but I did join the worship team about 10 minutes before their worship started, got liangze to copy down all the chords so i could play with them- i didn’t interfere, they asked me to play with them.. i don’t have that much initiative. but it went well in the end. i love playing with competent people.) we took dan, rose and marion to lunch at pomodoro. it was nice, they have lasagna bolognese style with green pasta sheets. we also had their steamed tiger prawns and bruschetta with prosciutto and parmesan which was excellent. it was sort of a thank you lunch, for their hospitality towards us, for taking us around, for treating us to lunch, for inviting us into their home, for inducting us into the worship team, for taking an interesting in our lives. they could have not bothered. but we are the better for it because of their friendship, and what better way to show our gratitude than to take them out to eat with us.

After lunch was when things started to get interesting. for the past few weeks, marion and rose had been crocheting scarves together through the night. they made quite a few scarves, and packed them into christmassy bags, together with rolls, juice, fruit, chocolate, and kleenex, and had about six of these christmas bags put together with a bible verse written on the label. Today afternoon we drove about budapest looking for homeless people to give these bags to. I thought it was very thoughtful of them, and they invited liangze and I along for the ride. they knew where there were certain clusters of homeless people so we went to all those spots to look for people to give the christmas bags to. here are some things i learnt:
1. cardboard is a good insulator. homeless people normally sit or sleep on cardboard to protect themselves from the cold
2. homeless people move around in the day but usually return to the same spot at night, where they leave their pile of blankets.
3. the city administration has been trying to phase these homeless people out of the city to improve budapest’s image. they transfer the homeless to debrecen and other out-lying cities where their poverty is a little less obvious. i remember jingyee telling me about how his only condition for a place to settle down is that there mustn’t be hobos. something about spending all that money buying a nice house, and each day you open your door and there are homeless people lying around outside which just spoils the atmosphere. i don’t think people who think like that are necessarily selfish. it hasn’t been easy living here with the homeless people right in your face, each time you see them you feel a mixture of guilt and pity and if you feel that every single day i think it’s quite easy to get depressed. so such a perspective is not just about aesthetic, i think.

anyway, the upshot of it is that they seem to have succeeded in moving all these homeless people out of town. we went around for ages and ages in the cold, looking under bridges and driving through alleyways peering out the car window and poking around in train stations but couldn’t find any of them in their usual spots. (that was probably how i got my cold.) we left a bag at a garbage dump (the homeless normally go through the dumps looking for food) and marion said “god bless you” in hungarian to an immobile pile of blankets there in case there was a person in there.
4. i asked dan how they survived out in the cold. he said they don’t. and many of the homeless people die every year, which really chilled me. that i could have invited any one of these people into my apartment and they would not freeze to death. wasn’t the scenario painted in the little match girl totally 19th century? how can such things still happen here?? you mean it takes more than a century to fix income disparity??

anyway we finally found a cluster of them at deli palyaudvar. i read the hungarian off the label of the bag, saying “God bless you” to one of the men there (Dan and Marion were talking to other men) and the guy I gave the bag too started talking in rapid fire hungarian and i stood there gaping at him. Marion swiftly came to my rescue and listened to him. He said that his wife died a day ago at the hospital and he knelt by her hospital bed asking her why she didn’t take him with her, and then he started crying. And he said lots of people walk by them at the train station without pausing to look or care (i was probably one of them once upon a time) and that Marion really had a good heart, to take notice of them and to try to help them. It was really, really sad.

Today was the first time I did something for these people. Put myself in their shoes, thought about where they would go and where they would stay so that I could give them some food and show them that people do care.

“By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”



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