Becky-néni’s culture lessons
This September began my 6th year teaching here in Hungary, and for the most part I have lessons prepared and games to play and I feel like I know what I’m doing. But I felt like the Holy Spirit was prompting me to do something a bit different. I have often shared the gospel and talked about God at Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter, but this year it occurred to me that I could talk about God in so many more cultural holidays and traditions. So this year I added lessons about Homecoming, Veteran’s Day/St. Martin’s Day, Columbus/Indigenous People’s Day, Halloween/All Saint’s Day, Advent, and February holidays. It’s been a new and exciting adventure!
As I explained Homecoming, I showed exciting videos of American football, and emphasized how important it is for us to be cheerleaders, not critics of each other. I have been disturbed by the cruelty I see sometimes among the children, especially correcting each other during my lessons. I believe that language learning can be stunted by this kind of bullying, and I’ve been telling the kids to be cheerleaders!
The Veteran’s Day lesson came out of my personal discovery that Armistice was intentionally set on what Europe has traditionally celebrated as St. Martin’s Day, a day of peace. It has taken me five years of living here to finally understand what Martin’s Day is all about, and this year the dots connected. Martin was a Roman soldier who became a believer. Tradition has it that he gave half of his warm woolen cloak to a beggar, and that night Jesus visited him in a dream, wearing the cloak, embodying the parable of the sheep and the goats: “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’” Matthew 25:40 NIV. Martin, son of a Roman commander, was baptized and consequently scorned by his family. He renounced killing, and instead of imprisoning him for treachery, the military leaders sent him to the front lines. Miraculously, a peace treaty was signed and Martin never saw battle. He went on to become the bishop of the church in France and is memorialized as a symbol of peace. There are geese involved in the story, too, and so we eat roasted goose and kindergarteners sing about geese! If you want to know more, plan to come to Europe for St. Martin’s Day next year—or ask us about it when we visit your church this summer! As you can imagine, I had too much fun acting out the story of Martin giving his cloak to the beggar and Jesus appearing to him in a dream. I included the trailer of the movie Hacksaw Ridge and suggested that even in America we had a modern-day Martin. https://youtu.be/s2-1hz1juBI
I added Advent to my December Christmas lessons as well. Advent is celebrated here but a bit differently. I shared how we have different themes each week and a fifth candle, the Jesus candle.
Just this week I’m sharing about the special fun days of February: Groundhog Day, Valentine’s Day, and Presidents’ Day. In Hungary, a bear is the traditional weather predictor, so the kids appreciate the comparison. Did you know that a ground hog is a wood chuck? I didn’t! It’s fun to share tongue twisters with language learners, too. Valentine’s Day is just for lovers in Hungary, but I tell them it’s not the same for us, that kids share valentines at school with friends and often they get cards and candy from grandparents and aunts and uncles. Did you know St. Valentine’s story? It’s really interesting! He was also from the Roman times, like St. Martin, but he was executed for trying to convert people, including the Emperor. One legend says he healed the jailor’s blind daughter, and his last letter was to her, signed, Your Valentine. I share a brief history of Presidents Washington and Lincoln, because believe it or not, the English students will be asked about American and British history on their language exams! The finale of this lesson is a discussion about how children don’t celebrate carnival like they celebrate it in Hungary, but I share with them that this joyous time involves many parties all around the Christian world before the solemn time of Lent, 40 days before Easter. Once again I’ve challenge the kids to learn The Lord’s Prayer in English, and finally, some have taken me up on it! I’ve had four students learn it, and many others are very close.
I realize I have such freedom in what I teach, and with that I have a great opportunity and responsibility to share what God puts on my heart. Please pray for me as I plan and share these lessons with Jesus’ love.
EURO High School Graduation Ribbon-Pinning
I danced once again with the graduating seniors at the EURO school at their ribbon-pinning ceremony, and for the first time was asked to speak—in English! Knowing that no one but a few kids and teachers would understand me, I kept it short then closed in prayer—in Hungarian. It was cool. What a privilege.