Monday, February 20, 2012

Tickets from the Police

Gary got home from Croatia on Saturday night and was going to lead the communion time during church service on Sunday morning.  Normally, he drives to church, but he asked me to so he could continue to work on it on the way there.  One of our team members called Gary’s phone while we were driving and asked if we saw our e-mail (which we hadn’t).  Someone from the CCC office sent an e-mail out on Saturday saying that the mayor had declared a smog alert for Budapest starting on Sunday.  This meant that cars with red or black environmental stickers cannot enter or drive around Budapest between 6am-10pm daily until the alert is rescinded.  Violators can be fined up to $500.   Red or black environmental stickers are most commonly found on older cars.  Our colleague called us because he knew that we had an old car, that Gary was just getting in Saturday night, and that our internet wasn’t working.  Since we were on our way to church it was too late to do anything about it, so we continued. 

A few minutes later a police car pulled out in front of me and then got into a turn only lane and sat there while cars passed by.  He pulled back out behind the car behind us.  As we turned, so did he.  Then all of a sudden he was right up on my bumper, so I knew I was getting pulled over.  He turned his lights on and I pulled over.  The normal procedure with getting pulled over is to give the police your car papers (like you would in the States… except you don’t keep them in your glove compartment because if someone steals the papers, they can “own” your car so to speak).  He looked at the papers and said that they had expired a month ago.  Basically they have to be renewed about every two years, and it is up to the owner of the car to remember to do it.  The policeman continued to go back and forth between our car and his and talking on his radio to someone.  I think they didn’t really know what to do with us (us being foreigners and not with all of the needed papers).  At some point Gary started calling people at church to tell them what was happening so they could move the communion time later in the service and to be prepared if he didn’t show up at all.  As time went on, the policeman told us that we would both be fined for the car papers being expired.  Gary would be fined because the car is in his name and the papers are expired, and I would be fined because I was driving the car with the papers expired.  He said that we would receive the ticket in the mail from the post office, and that it would probably be at least $150.  My mouth just dropped open.  I know that this may not seem like much to some of you in the States where tickets are high, but this is a lot for us.  During this process they asked each of us if we had a Hungarian driver’s license.  Thankfully they did not fine us or do anything since we don’t, but they did tell us that we have to get one. I won’t go into all of the stuff with a Hungarian driver’s license, but it’s difficult to get one and very expensive, so we’ve avoided doing it all of these years (as have many other Americans living here).  Originally the policeman told us that we would have to leave from that spot and drive the car somewhere and just leave it until a mechanic could inspect it.  We explained that Gary was speaking to a church nearby, and they said that we could drive there and then home.  Thankfully we made it to church in a reasonable amount of time.  The communion time was moved to right before the message, so Gary did it about 2 minutes after we arrived.  IMG_4126Once we got home we looked at the color of the stickers on our license plate, and sure enough, one was red.  I was thankful that they didn’t say anything about the smog alert or fine us for that, but then when I saw e-mail, I saw that another one had gone out saying that they lifted the alert on Sunday morning.  I’m soooo thankful that they lifted the alert, otherwise, we could have gotten a fine that was much higher.

A couple of days later someone came over to our house and gave us the equivalent of about $100 to go toward paying for the fine.  Wow!  I was so shocked.  It was so thoughtful and encouraging for them to do that.  And, such a blessing!  I always love to see how God provides in such unexpected ways.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

When Husbands are Gone

Well, it often seems that things go wrong when Gary is gone.  It’s that way for another family on our team as well.  I mentioned that we did not have internet when we returned from Prague.  Our company was bought out and changed hands while we were gone.  When we returned to no internet, they told us that we needed to change the username and password on our modem.  Since the modem came with the house, we didn’t know the username or password and had difficulty trying to get help from the company.  We finally had to pay a person to work on stuff with it.  After the username and password thing got figured out, it still didn’t work.  So, then they were told that we needed to buy a new modem.  They came over last Monday and tried out two different modems just to make sure we didn’t go out and buy one and then it not work.  Sure enough, neither of the modems worked.  He called the company, and they said that there had been an administrative error and they had cancelled our service.  He asked if they could just turn it back on, and they said no, that we would have to sign a new contract.  After spending over a week of trying to deal with this new company and having nothing but problems with them, we decided to look for a different internet provider.  Come to find out, there weren’t really many other options of companies.  In Hungary the internet companies don’t really compete with one another, so if there are already one or two companies who service an area, other companies don’t give service to that same area.  At least that is what one of the Hungarians said that I spoke to about this.  The new company says that we should have internet service in about a week and a half or two weeks.

The night before Gary left I dropped my cell phone by accident, and the screen went blank.  I could still receive a call and dial a number, so that was good.  A few days later the screen came back on, but was upside down and backwards.  Strange!  An upside down and backward screen, however, it is better than no screen!

At some point during the week our landline telephone also stopped working. 

And then on Friday morning, I was so excited because someone had invited us over to their house for the kids to play and to have lunch together.  With Ethan and me both having a large need for social interaction, we were looking forward to this.  I got the pack ‘n play loaded in the car for Sienna to take a nap, got some bags in, Ethan buckled in, and went to start the car while I scraped the ice off the windshield, but the car battery was dead.  So, sadly, we weren’t able to go out.  But I was so thankful that this didn’t happen before I needed to go to the Body & Soul exercise class that I lead the day before.  I don’t know what I would have done in that case. 

I don’t dare ask what else can happen before Gary comes back, because I know that more stuff can happen. :-)

Well, I wrote this post before Gary returned, but he is home now.  However, he missed his train in Croatia, so had to come home the next day.  And, then the train was several hours late (due to snow) the next morning, so he didn’t arrive until the next evening (verses the afternoon).


We had a good amount of snow the day before Gary left for Croatia, and then it continued to snow for the next day or two.  We never got snow boots for Ethan while we were in the States, and hadn’t found any decently priced ones here, but thankfully a friend had some in Ethan’s size that her youngest son wore last winter.  So, she gave them to us just 3 days before it snowed!IMG_3983Ethan enjoyed trying to shovel our walkway. IMG_3975But, he had more fun off of the walkway, especially once the snow was deeper.IMG_3991The weather was around 18 degrees the beginning of the week, but it did warm up some toward the end, so we finally made it out for a walk.  This was our only walk while Gary was gone (unlike when he went to Slovakia, and we had nice, sunny weather).

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loving Guitars

I’ve mentioned before that Ethan can look at a guitar and tell you if it’s an electric, bass, or acoustic.  IMG_3639He enjoys trying to play Gary’s guitar as well as his toy guitar.  (If you notice, he is also into wearing only one sock around the house.) IMG_3971 Gary took a little break from studying to play a song with Ethan.IMG_3954It looks like Little Sister may end up liking the guitar as well.  Time will tell.

Finally Crawling

Well, believe it or not, Sienna finally started crawling—at 11.5 months old!

We were on our way back home from Prague and stopped at a gas station/restaurant in Hungary to change diapers, etc.  There was a play area inside that had soft, rubber type things for the floor of the area.  We took the kids there so Ethan could play a little after being in the car for so long.  Sienna had almost started crawling in Prague, but the floors (being wood and tile) just seemed too slippery for her.  Well, she began crawling when we put her down in the restaurant/gas station play area.  She crawled mostly around a train table.IMG_3917 IMG_3918 She was basically trying to get this balloon.  I kept moving it, so she would crawl after it.

Once we got home, she was able to crawl on our rug, and within a day was able to crawl on the tile floors.  Now, she is working on getting up the three little steps that we have between our living room and dining room.  She has made it up one of them so far.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

No Internet & Shattered Shower Door

Not only did we return from Prague last Friday with no internet (this blog post is from using our neighbor’s internet—with their permission :-)), but we came home to a bathroom full of glass from where our shower door had shattered everywhere.  IMG_3933  The doors were actually not working great when we moved in to the house, but they have gotten worse since then.  Last year Gary found out from the company that they didn’t make the shower or the doors anymore, but he was able to get some new wheels to replace the old ones in hopes that it would help.  It did help temporarily; however, evidently not for good.  So, now we already know that we can’t replace the door, which means we will have to buy a new shower.  We’ve not had success so far with finding a person who can do this.  We’ve been told that it’s not just a matter of going to the hardware store and picking out a shower (nothing is ever that simple over here).  We’ve also been told by several Hungarians that it is expensive.  Even the garbage man told Gary that it would be expensive (after he took the metal rod out to them to see if they would take it—they don’t take everything—and had to explain what it was and told them what happened).  We’ve waited this week just trying to find a person who knows how to do this, but that hasn’t happened so far.  This will probably be at a halt since Gary is leaving to go teach again.  My guess is that we MAY have a shower in and hooked up in a month if things go smoothly and quickly.  We’ll see how close I am with my guess. :-)  We’re hoping the internet will be working sometime this next week.  I won’t even go into all of the stuff with that other than it’s just part of the experience of living overseas.