We've been here in Sarospatak for 6 days (with the festival officially starting 3 days ago) and things have been so much busier than I remember from the last time we were here. Which is a good thing as long as we can get to bed before 1 A.M. (we haven't been successful at the for the past few days)
Our days begin with a rehearsal for the morning chapel at 8:15 am. (after a 7:30 breakfast) The rest of the day is packed with rehearsals and activities all the way until usually around 10 pm. Tonight we have a candlelit worship service that will begin at 10:15 pm so we'll probably be up much later than normal.
Hungarian culture is so much different than American culture that it's quite shocking if you don't know what to expect. The town of Sarospatak (pronounced sharosh-pa-tack) is a lovely tiny town known for their beautiful flowers lining there streets. They also have amazing trees on the sidewalks whose fruit are free for the picking and eating. The castle at the end of the town is quite famous and featured on the 500- forit bill.
So far we have met so many amazing people. I always feel kind of ignorant that I can only communicate in 1 language in a place where many people are fluent in at least 2. Fluency in 3,4, and 5 languages is not uncommon at all. The hungarian language is most similar to Finnish (surprisingly) and has a very complicated alphabet including 26 vowels. Yesterday morning during chapel we sang a song in Chinese (led by some of Chinese at the festival) and that was really fun.
Unfortunately the translator headsets have not been fixed so morning chapel has to be in 2 languages through a translator. There are "small groups" (think like community groups) every evening and we are the co-leaders of an English speaking group. The subject of this year's material is "Dare to Live!" and is about being courageous. There are still some members of our group that have not yet arrived (they'll be coming next week) but we have a nice mixture of people from South Africa, Belgium, and Texas.
The food is also quite different than what we are perhaps used to in the states. A usual breakfast includes bread of some sort, honey, jam, butter, cheese slices, big slices of peppers and tomatoes, a kind of lunch meat, a traditional spread with cream cheese, paprika, onions and salt, museli, milk, cocoa, traditional sweet tea, and super strong coffee (think like 5 times stronger than your typical espresso). Lunch is the biggest meal of the day and usually includes a dessert of some sort (usually a multi-layer cake or roll), rice with vegetables and meat, soup or broth, bread and a salad with shredded cabbage, carrots, and tomatoes, and water. Dinner is much more light with only a dessert (usually some type of fruit- the fruit they serve has been sooooooo much more flavorful than anything in the U.S) and a starch of some kind with meat.
I've been working on taking more pictures of the festival and around the town so hopefully soon I'll have enough to give you a good visual idea of what life is like here. For now, here are some pictures from our few days in Budapest (buuda-pesht).
update: the pictures are taking really long to load because of the poor internet connection. here is one of my favorites. a simple bicycle against a house. In Sarospatak almost everybody travels by bike- from little kids to grandmothers. how wonderful is that!