Repairing a fence, painting a dirty wall, delivering a package of food–small, practical things like these are the tools that a group of young Swiss Christians used to share Christ’s love with families in need in Hungary.
The Swiss group worked with OM in Hungary and a local church in the city of Érd, near Budapest, for a week in October. They started by helping a mother of three with repairs around her house, where a broken-down fence, neglected roof and no furnace left the family vulnerable to the coming cold. With her husband in prison, this Roma mother cleans her children’s school to provide for her family and was eager to help the OMers complete the repairs.
“She wanted to help and offer us coffee, and I learned that if we just do some little things, it means the whole world for her. If it’s just a fence for us, it means so much for her,” said group member Johanna*. “She asked, ‘Why are you here, and do you help others as well? I’ve never been with so many nice people as you.’ We could tell her that we could give so much because Jesus gives us so much.”
OM since reached out to Eastern European Mission, which has provided the family a new furnace for the winter that OMers are now helping to install. Interestingly, the new furnace was made in Switzerland.
The Swiss group next worked to deliver food packages to and pray with eight families identified by local social services, offering encouragement to many in difficult situations.
“We visited five families with children and three homes of the elderly,” said OM team member Ilona Csernus. “In one of the families with three kids, one child has cancer and the family is staying in a temporary home. One elderly woman was alone, except with a dog and cat, and she has very little money. Another lady, it was her birthday, so we sang to her in three languages. She has a grandson with mental handicaps she is looking after because his mother abandoned him. Most of these people live on a very low pension.”
The group’s final project was working to improve the home of an elderly couple–both of whom are blind. OM maintenance manager Zsolt Csernus welded metal poles that would hold up a rope, which would guide the couple down the sloped, uneven path from their door to the road. The group also painted walls inside the couple’s home and poured cement near the front door for a level walkway.
Impressively, the older blind man had used the computer to find the local church’s pastor, leading the group to the opportunity to help. Though he couldn’t see the improvements being made, he said the flurry of activity and noise brought back memories of his school days in a dormitory, where noise meant life. The woman also shared how she realised she was ‘no longer needed’ when her first husband left her after she lost her eyesight, but how the group’s help was a great gift.
As the outreach concluded, Swiss volunteer Rahel* shared about the significance of using her holiday time to serve others. “It was so fantastic to see all those people smile like this and how happy we can make them with this little we can do,” she said. “I think I’ll never again be able to spend a holiday on the beach. This is so much better.”
*Surname not included for security