Wednesday we got up quite early and headed to the Hungarian part of Croatia for Bible Day Camps. First Day Camp stop: Vörösmart. I’d been there before with the Calvin folks three years ago. It’s a village build along hillsides (some of the only ones around), surrounded by farms and vineyards. We pulled into a courtyard behind the Reformed church. The children were already assembled when we got there, so we jumped right in with crafts and games. It was good (necessary) to have Zsófi as translator. Oh, how I wish I spoke better Hungarian!
Dinner – a stew cooked up in a huge pot over an open fire by a boy (15-years-old) from the church. The Vörösmart mosquito situation: just as bad as Markóc, though there were dozens of … bug repellent spirals? … burning along the porticoe in the courtyard. This seemed to help some and gave the air a unique insense smell.
The next day, the next camp. It was in Szentlaszlo, and I have also been here. The village was almost completely destroyed during the war, but things had been repaired when I was there 3 years ago. It looks even better now, especially the church. Two of the outside walls have been repaired; you can’t see the bomb holes there anymore.
All throughout this area of Croatia, things look more cleaned up than before. Three years is a lot of time. The truth is, it’s hard to imagine actual bullets in the bullet holes and live explosions in the gaping roofs and walls. I see these things, but they carry no meaning. It’s like trying to read Cyrilic (which I tried a lot of in Ukraine). I know it means something, but my experience can’t tell me what. Especially since the people in these villages are out and about now just like anywhere else, living and shopping and strolling and eating. It’s all very incongruent. There is no fear in the people anymore, but the visuals reek of it.
There were fewer children in Szentlaszlo than in Vörösmart, and they tired of games less easily. We played “Button, Button, Whose Got the Button” for ages.
One of the girls at the camp, who was 16, spoke a little English, so I talked with her for a while as we made bracelets. I will have you know, however, that more of our conversation was in Hungarian than in English. That was a first for me. I will wear that bracelet I made all year as a reminder that with hard work, I can be conversational for real some day.
Driving back – we were given lots of pastries from Szentlaszlo, and I ate so many of them …. laughing, sleeping, “Steph, I’ll give you 200 forints to throw your passport in the Drava” (between border crossings…), and sunflowers. Always sunflowers. Still facing east, as if praying. Orthodox sunflowers in the land of the Reformed.
The resident ants had disappeared from our room when we got back to Markóc. This was good for our morale.