3.18.2008

We made it home!!

Hello all! Well, we are back in Austin!! After a LOOONG flight to Houston (11 hours), we had dinner with the fams and then headed back to Austin this morning. Neil sent Clay a text message at the beginning of his 12:30 class this morning that said,"So, going all over Europe is a lot better than class." We had so much fun! It was wonderful meeting new people, learning about their awesome ministries, and checking out more  of this world too. Thank you for all of your prayers, support, and interest in our journey.

Here are the pics from our day in Budapest:

We ate at this cool fair in the middle of the city.

We crossed the Danube to get to the side with all the old buildings- what a beautiful city!

After getting lost we were excited to find an ice cream shop. Neil was a little taken aback by the portion sizes.

I always try to get Clay to take more candid style pictures with me. As you can see, it has not really worked out.

Dinner that night was at a Cuban pizza place. I will never forget the waitress's face when Neil asked her for some Ranch to dip his pizza in. Oh how we laughed.
The view from our hotel.


Our life is not nearly as interesting as it is when we are in Europe, so the blogging may slow a bit :) Stay tuned for more on the Sandozes as life unfolds.

Love, Megan

3.15.2008

Hungary: Day 2

I am currently listening to Clay film John Henderson as he talks about his ministry here in Hungary with Campus Crusade. It is awesome. It shouldn't be so surprising to me how different all of these people's ministries are, but as we meet each one, I am always astounded and inspired in a different way. One's a hand, one's a foot- the body of Christ spreading over the globe. Are you fired up? I am. People talk about traveling and how it "expands your mind" or whatever. As much as I dislike clichés, I have to agree with them on this. This 
world is HUGE. And different styles of minitry are relevant and effective in each and every region. Something I am noticing as either an undertone or a main point in each of our discussions with the 3 different teams we have vistited is the increasing importance for Americans to begin to pass off to nationals (those that are actually FROM the country where the ministry is taking place) the leadership of that ministry. There is an increasing shift, atleast in these areas we have visited recently, of American missionaries taking over more "supporting" or "behind the scenes" roles while the nationals are beginning to step out in leadership in ministries that are geared toward calling their own. It is truly a beautiful thing. 
One of the stories we heard today was a couple who have been on Campus Crusade staff since 1995. They are from Romania and are stationed there. They told of March 15, 1997 when all of the American missionaries who were in leadership and working in Romania had to evacuate due to a civil uprising and increasing danger. The Romanian team was left without its leaders and they had a decision to make: Do we step up and continue this ministry to our own people? Their answer was 'yes.' Now the Romanian CCC team is completely led by nationals, and it is thriving. They are also working on sending out Romanian nationals to be missionaries in other countries- countries that Americans aren't even allowed to enter. That is awesome. And that is what is happening all over the world.
I think I have always had a prideful view of Americans in missions. That we are the main ones responsible for any missional activities or success worldwide. My eyes are being increasingly more opened to the fact that we are just a mere piece of God's gigantic plan for this world. How much more wonderful is this?! Being a part of something. In community with believers that we can't even understand because of language gaps, but that we are deeply bound to due to our common communion with Jesus our Lord. Wow. 
.......
10pm
We had such a fun day. John Henderson is truly one of the most encouraging and inspiring people we have ever met. We finished up filming and headed to lunch where we had some GOOD mashed potatoes, among other things. I was very content :) We talked about missions, and living for the Lord. It was great. He really encouraged me to think about some things.
He then dropped us off at our hotel and gave us directions to the top of this hill we could see from our hotel. It took us about an hour to get to the top but it was worth it, as you will see in the photos. There was a little church and some shallow caves that were fun to play in for awhile. When we got back to the hotel, we crashed for what may have been hours- all this travel may be catching up with us. When we woke up we went to dinner- at the same place we had lunch at with John. The main reason I liked it, besides the fact that the food is good, was that the menus were also in English. I am telling you, these Slavic languages are so ridiculously hard to guess at. There is absolutely no base that we know of to compare it to. It is a little frustrati
ng to us since we are so used to traveling in Spanish-speaking countries, or atleast French where you can make a good guess. It is giving me a new understanding of how people must feel when they are in the US and in that situation. Have compassion, people!

The plans for tomorrow are to head to Budapest around 10am via taxi and then just chill the whole day. We have reservations at the Marriott on the Danube river which we are really excited about. It is kind of a celebration of the awesome trip that we have had. We are all kind of sad that it is almost over, but I think that we all also look forward to re-entering our lives and trying live in light of what we have learned. Pray for us to that end.

We fly out of Budapest around 6am on Monday morning and arrive in Houston around 3pm. A nice 11 hour stint from Frankfurt to Houston awaits- looking forward to THAT.
So, now we are safe 
and warm in our precious hotel, looking forward to another EXCELLENT breakfast tomorrow morning. I think we may play some Super Farmer before bed :)

Love to you all!

Pics and video from the day:

































video



Hungary

March 14, Budaörs, Hungary

Well, we made it. The last leg of our journey: Hungary. Though I am excited to spend time with John Henderson tomorrow and learn about his ministry, I am still missing the Mitts family that we left in Poland! What a wonderful family. We had a lot of fun last night just spending time with them. They taught us a new game: Super Farmer. It is a Polish game created during the communist years. Something that I find funny is that we (the Sandoz travelers) LOVE any reference to the "communist days." It doesn't matter what the Mitts' say, we instantly get excited about any trace of communism. I even took pictures of the light switches in an old commie barrack... but I digress.

Anyways, we love Super Farmer. So much that the Mitts' gave me their travel version of the game. Thank you, Mitts family! Oh, and P.S., Lisa also did some laundry for us while we were there- can we say again how much we love them?

This morning we had a nice leisurely morning with the family, and then headed to the airport for another go on Polish Airlines. We got to Budapest a little while ago, caught a shuttle, and rode to our hotel. At one point the rode narrowed and our huge van came face to face with another car. Both drivers start motioning for the other one to move. "Uh-oh," I am thinking. I thought we were about to see a true Hungarian show down. I found out later that Neil actually transferred some of his money out of his wallet and into his jacket pocket just in case the guy in the car in front of us was staged and he got out and robbed us :) These boys are seriously dreaming of the day that they get to protect themselves against evildoers. So the conversation between the drivers stops, and I am holding my breath to see what happens. Our driver starts backing up slowly. Eventually the rode widens enough for the other man to pass. And as he passes, they both wave to eachother! So what we interpreted as approaching danger was in fact a kindly Hungarian exchange. This world is so ripe with culture- it is amazing. The more I see, the more I want to see.

Clay and Neil went out a while ago and found a pizza place, and they just came in with a piece for me. So I shall eat and then go to bed. We meet John tomorrow at 8am to begin our day with him. It is fun to arrive somewhere new at night. Waking up in a new country is so fun- you get to look out the window and see where you are and what it is like for the first time in daylight. I am looking forward to that tomorrow.

Have a wonderful day, America. We'll we waiting for you here, 6 hours in the future.

Megan

3.14.2008

Hey everybody, Clay writing here. We're about to fly out, but wanted to give a quick update.

For those of you who are Mitch Hedberg fans, look what we saw! Neil and I thought this guy looked just like Mitch!













Megan mentioned something earlier about the "commie condos". Here's a little about them and a few shots:

video

Here's a quick look at the mall Megan wrote about and a funny restaurant:
video

Check out our last round of pictures from Poland:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2476711&l=70f8f&id=8329930

The train video from a few days ago didn't look too great, so here it is again:
video

3.13.2008

Polska: Day 2

Hello! Our second day in Posnan is winding down. We are now sitting around the Mitts' coffee table, playing a game thought up during communist days: Super Farmer. It is really funny. I keep getting lost and wanting to read the directions, and then I realize that they are in Polish :)

Today we spent the day running around Posnan with Doug videoing. But first we had an amazing breakfast prepared by Lisa- so good! We went to the oldest cathedral in Poland- built in 1000 AD. Our last stop of the day was at this HUGE mall. In 2005 it was awarded the world's best mall. It is made out of an old brewery- pretty cool. 

We arrived home to yet another delicious meal from Lisa. We will be sad to leave her cooking tomorrow. Our flight to Warsaw and then Budapest, Hungary leaves tomorrow at 1:30pm. We will spend tomorrow evening getting around town by ourselves, and then John Henderson will be there on Saturday when we will do our filming. On Saturday we have one last day in Europe hanging around Budapest just the 3 of us. 

Here are pics of today:
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2476281&l=d7093&id=8329930

3.12.2008

First Day in Poland

We have almost concluded our first day in Poland. We started the day off with breakfast at our hotel. By the time we got there there were only 2 yogurts, 1 roll, eggs with mayonaise, and a vat of weenies left. When Doug picked us up, he told us that we could have asked the people in the kitchen to refill the table, which made us laugh. We waited in the dining room forEVER waiting to see if they would bring more bread. SO funny.
We then went to the Mitts' house. Clay and Neil filmed Doug and Lisa, and then they treated us to an amazing lunch. Breakfast had worn off quickly, so we were so happy to eat. Peter, a Polish pastor, stopped by and ate with us. He shared with us his heart for a revival in the Polish people. Hearing him talk made me excited. It is amazing how culture affects a people group's attitude towards and acceptance of the gospel.
Doug then took us around to several of the churches and church offices that he works with. Evidence of past communism is so obvious here. From old barracks to sky-reaching condo buildings. Many of the buildings have been painted bright colors, but several still remain black and gray, a reminder of things past. This is in contrast to the Mitts' area. I was surprised yesterday when we pulled up to their house. The neighbor hood is fresh and new. Very colorful.

We are now just hanging out at their home. Kabob pizza is on its way, and I think we are going to spend the evening resting and watching old movies. I am very excited. All of this quick traveling has worn me out! It should be a nice quiet night. Keep praying!!
Here are some pictures of our day. Enjoy!
http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2475857&l=54500&id=8329930

We're in Poland!

March 11 (12:30pm Poland time)
Well, we are now sitting in the Warsaw, Poland airport on a 4 hour layover. Just 3 Amerikanskis chillin' in Warsaw. Yes, we are Amerkanskis here. I love it. Yesterday was truly a great day. We were so encouraged by meeting our team in Huy, and are so looking forward to joining them in January. 


After blogging last, we had so much fun hanging out with the Boatwrights and Lindsey. We just hung around the apartment, relaxed, and spoke Anglais (English), which was awesome. Brent and Daisy are both graduates of New York Culinary School, so we let Daisy prepare us dinner. A trip to the grocery store was great for my nerves- I have been so nervous about what we would have available for us to eat when we come. The store was nice. Good produce and meat (including horse... :-/), and they even had a little tex-mex section with tortillas. How wonderful. And a whole aisle devoted to chocolate- the chocolate really was good there, that is a myth that has been confirmed. (Speaking of myths that are to be confirmed, I forgot to note yesterday that we also tested Belgian waffles. They are amazing. The ones we had were filled with fruit, and Neil ordered for himself which made him very proud. So, another point for Belgium- amazing waffles.)


This morning we rose at 5am to head to Poland. As we crossed the bridge over the Meuse, I was sad thinking about how short our time was in Huy. It is such a fun, beautiful place, and we so enjoyed the Expedition237 folks. We got to the train station early, and then made it like champs to Brussels (we made all our train connections, which was a relief ). The flight to Warsaw was uneventful, though the inflight meal service was surprisingly good- so good that I woke Clay up for it :) Ham, cheese, lettuce, tomato, hard-boiled egg, bread, butter, and a chocolate wafer.... AND this amazing warm sweet cheese dumpling with peaches. It was unexpected and delightful. 

.......

11pm

Ok, we are now in Posnan! Doug Mitts picked us up at the airport and took us home to have dinner with his family: Lisa, Megan, and Michael. Lisa made taco salad which made us very happy indeed. It is funny how we really haven't been gone that long, but Texas food is still like manna from heaven. I don't think I have ever eaten so many tortilla chips :)


Megan and Michael are cool kids. They are 12 and 9 and both attend an all Polish school. Language is no problem since they were born here. We really enjoyed just talking to the whole family around their dinner table- such a sweet family. After dinner, we made our plans for tomorrow. We will be picked up around 9am and taken back to the Mitts' house (we are staying a bed-and-breakfast kind of place near their home), where Clay and Neil will film their interview. Then I think we are planning on meeting with the pastor of the Mitts' church, afterwhich we will tour the town. 


I will get some photos of Posnan soon to post. I think it will be different that you expect- atleast it is for me.


Good night all! 

Megan


Here are the rest of the pictures from Huy:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2475523&l=db72e&id=8329930



3.10.2008

Update From Belgium

Hello All,

This is Megan, writing from Daisy and Brent's apartment in Huy. We have been here since yesterday morning and we are having a great time. It is rainy and cold, but we are learning that this is not strange for Belgium. I am so glad I brought my ski coat with the huge hood!! We were very tired yesterday, so it all seems like a blur. We got to Brussels yesterday around 8am and hopped a train to Huy. This is not as simple as it sounds. Let's just say we learned a lot about the Belgian train system. Check out the video below... We missed the church service due to train confusions but made it just in time for lunch. It was a Missions Sunday so lunch was Brazilian, which we thought was hilarious since our first experience with Belgian cuisine was Brazilian food. Either it was really funny or we were just extremely jet-lagged :)


We then hit the town with Brent and Daisy Boatwright, Lindsey Carver, Matt Freeman, and Megan Meyer. The Boatwrights and Lindsey are UWM Expedition 237 teammates who we will be working with in January. Matt is the outreach pastor at Westlake Bible Church, and Megan Meyer is a friend that teaches in Brussels but came down to Huy to see us. We toured around town for awhile, and then rested at O'Malley's Pub- it felt so “Euro.” :)


For dinner we had “frits” or french fries. Belgians eat it with mayonaise- you can just imagine how much Clay loved this. We also ate a big sausage. We were so tired that we could have eaten ANYTHING and been satisfied. On the way back to our hotel, I think we hit the stage of dilirium. I have never laughed so hard, or almost fallen down so many times. And is was raining. Needlesss to say, we were so happy to have hot showers and a bed.


Today we began the morning by heading to Liege to attend language school with the Boatwrights and Lindsey. We ate the BEST croissants. Seriously, guys, it is true about pastries and Europe- so amazing. Language school was good, though I think it will be better when I can understand French. Afterwards we walked around Liege. I poked my head into some clothing stores and got very excited- the clothes are great! That is something to look forward to. We ate at Chez Stuckies for Boulettes- a traditional Belgian meatball in a onion gravy. And of course it was accompanied by frits :) It was soooo good. Any who visit us in Belgium will have to try it (this is a plug for visiting us).


We are now at the Boatwright's apartment about to eat dinner. I think we are going to watch LOST too, which will be a nice reminder of home :) We leave at 6am tomorrow for Posnan, Poland. We will update the blog as we can get internet.We are so excited to be here! Pray for us!

Oh, and check out our pictures just posted on facebook!

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2474996&l=976f7&id=8329930


video

3.01.2008

Support Update and Exciting Travel

It's been a busy last few months.  Christmas, New Year, and almost the first quarter of 2008 have come and gone!

The last few months have been incredibly encouraging.  We were given a number of opportunities to share with individuals and groups about what we'll be doing.  We've made some great new relationships and had an opportunity to renew some old friendships.  The Lord has been providing financially as well.  We're now up to 40% of our monthly support! We're really excited and encouraged by that.  We still have quite a ways to go, but these last few months have been a great time of seeing God provide.

We're also really excited about our upcoming trip to Western and Eastern Europe.  A week from now we'll be on a plane somewhere between Washington DC and Germany.  We can't wait.  We land in Brussels early next Sunday morning and should make it to Huy (where the team is and where we'll be living for the next few years) just in time for church.  I just found out today that they'll be having their "Missions Convention" that Sunday, so that should be a great morning to be there.  It'll be great to see our future team and location.  We've been corresponding with a few of the folks over there and we can't wait to meet them!

Be sure to check back during the next few weeks.  We should definitely have some good stories to share!