Greetings in the Name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
He is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia. He has ascended and He will return. May the living hope of our Lord dwell in your hearts richly.
For this first newsletter I want to share a bit of what has been happening and set the stage by explaining the great anticipation that I have about what is yet to come.
Many of you that saw me towards the end of my great cross country drives, know that I desire to put together videos in place of print newsletters. On a rather cold but sunny January morning went to film my first. I shot film of empty streets. In retrospect I was in a darker place than I could have predicted I would be in.
I knew that there would be transitions upon arriving. Settling into life. Finding my stride and setting my plans into motion. What I did not expect was that we would switch schools for the children not once, but twice, before finding one that worked. I did not expect to be effectively starting from zero at City Park. What I really did not expect was that I would go through culture shock again.
When I say it, it sounds absolutely absurd to me. Of course I would go through it, this is a part of transitioning. Yet, when last I moved to Hungary with Cecilia following our wedding, I didn’t. I was happy to be back after two years in Sacramento. I was happy to be coming back now. In retrospect, I guess 10 years in St Louis was enough to get settled again.
So I shot video that was going to help build the narrative of how out of control I felt. I am glad that I did not write home about it! I am glad for your patience too in waiting for news! Because God, I believe, took that shoot as a prayer that He quickly answered.
I had anticipated and desired to work with a core group from day one. So, by the middle of February, I had a good dozen new faces. They have become my core group. In Lent we spent our time growing together. After Lent, we continue to enjoy our fellowship and I begin to look forward to Mission 2.0 coming to Budapest this fall.
If you have checked in with my website then you know that there has been some activity. Most of it in small explosive bursts. I know I turned the corner on culture shock, and feel the family had also finally settled, by the middle of March.
It is funny how God always seems to provide us with exactly what we need exactly when we don’t know that we need it! Of course we may appreciate it in part, or not at all, as it is going on. But He still provides it, and I think perhaps, waits patiently with a knowing smile “wait for it, the aha moment is coming!” It did. In our small group time born out of Lent, we have been working through Bonhoeffer’s book “Life Together” over food and fellowship. One of our members asked a question “what does it mean for us, as a group, to be thankful?” There it is. The thread that helped me get back on track. I had nothing to write home about because I was in place of grumbling, and there in, missed all that God was busily doing around me. Here is a snippet from the book that hit me like a two ton reproof and breath of fresh air:
“Because God has already laid the only foundation of our fellowship, because God has bound us together in one body with other Christians in Jesus Christ, long before we entered into common life with them, we enter into that common life not as demanders but as thankful recipients…If we do not give thanks daily for the Christian fellowship in which we have been placed, even where there is no great experience, no discoverable riches, but much weakness, small faith, and difficulty; if on the contrary, we only keep complaining to God that everything is so paltry and petty, so far from what we expected, then we hinder God from letting our fellowship grow according to the measure and riches which are there for us all in Jesus Christ.” Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Life Together
Of course I have the core group I desired, because He crafted it. Of course there is a reason I needed to be forced to slow down after bouncing across America for four months so that I could see the opportunities that He had already prepared in advance of my arrival. So we have grown closer together at City Park and are ready for where the Lord will guide us next!
So here we are, the Ryll’s have finally arrived and are thriving. City Park is moving in the right direction. Thanks be to God for His love, wisdom and actual presence in our lives in this world!
I came to build an International Congregation. I will actually build an International Community with Word and Sacrament at its center. This will be a ministry of hospitality. Lord willing, come September, we will have something more exciting than I anticipated: International Ministries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Hungary. I will serve as its first International Ministries Pastor and head up a team and form partnerships with those whom God has been opening doors to these past six months. I will continue to build up City Park at Fasor. I will also start to partner with other Hungarian ministries where English is used as a ministerial language like I have been doing at the newest Lutheran High School in Budapest. A school that was purchased by the church from the government. A school that is so absolutely front line mission that it is nearly frightening at times. I am also partnering with the Lutheran University Chaplains because the single largest international demographic in Budapest is student based. We will also reach out to Hungarians who have lived abroad, been changed and have come home ready to do great things in the church. City Park as a congregation, and all of us who care about reaching out to our brothers and sisters in Christ who live among us for a time will unite together (with our guests), in multiple contexts, to reach out in faith and love to the larger community of Budapest and boldly proclaim “Christ is Risen, He is Risen Indeed, Alleluia!”
So stay tuned, Mission 2.0 on paper is sitting with the Bishops in Hungary and in my inbox. As soon as I receive a go, you will hear all about it in greater detail. Until then, pray that God who has begun this good work will see it through and we will ready and responsive to go as He leads us with boldness and compassion.
Videos are still on the docket. In fact, I have shot really good video this time. I have an interview with the first of our core group, a student, who will start heading home this week. My first video will be themed along transitions and culture shock. The only real question, beyond learning to edit video again, is how shall I distribute it.
This is actually a larger question. For those that signed up for a newsletter on my website, and for those that I am including on a hunch, I had planned to use a separate service. I find, however, that working on html e-mail coding and yet another information distribution channel is not an effect tool for me after all. So, I am going to load my e-mail list into a new feature on my site that will give everyone access to some new digital turf soon. This will allow me to effectively get my videos out and keep my mission team (that’s you!) in the loop. So, when you receive an e-mail shortly asking you to confirm your “account” please, please, please follow it. Finish the set up process. I so greatly desire a real time interactive experience for all of you back in the states. This will be the best way to do I think. I am sorry about the extra step, but I think it will work.
I want to find the best features that work from my phone and my iPad so that while I am out in the city and have something to share I can do so quickly and effectively.
Thank you again for your patience in all of this. I will get the communications network set, but it is far past time to get the information flowing!
May the peace of God preserve you all,
PS, check out our new community site for locals, feel free to post us all a note!
And check out or Facebook page while you are at it.