By Kenneth Hutchens
Mattoon First UMC
A mission team from Illinois Great Rivers Conference visited Budapest, Hungary, in June 2015. The team partnered with Pest United Methodist Church of Budapest for outreach and training.
The first of the three team goals was building relationships through worship and fellowship. Dr. Steve Heitkamp brought the sermon at the Pest church on Sunday, June 21, while his wife Mindy Heitkamp sang a special. The Americans were guests at a church potluck following worship. Home stays and continued interaction during the week helped build lasting friendships.
The Illinois team taught conversational English classes to the students of Forrai High School in Budapest from Monday through Friday as the second goal of the mission. Forrai is a private school that offers preparation for college and careers in art and fashion. Knowledge of English opens many doors for work and growth to native Hungarian speakers. Heather Durham, a Wesleyan missionary serving in Budapest with her husband Ed, joined us so we could offer five classes at different levels of English ability.
During the week we began each day with games and a Bible lesson, taught English for the remainder of the morning, ate lunch with the students, and interacted with them as they did art work or took field trips in the afternoons. We averaged 35 students each day, the majority incoming freshman with a couple of returning sophomores. Hungarian helpers from the Budapest churches were assigned to each class.
Kelly Pierce and Ken Hutchens from Mattoon First UMC were able to build on relationships began last year when they were part of the first team to Budapest. The Hungarian helper in Hutchens' class was a student last year who has developed both her English capability and her connection to the Hungarian United Methodist church. Visits from other students who were part of the English camp last year encouraged us that we were making a difference in tangible ways in their lives.
The third goal of our work was outreach with our partner church. Pest UMC hosted two events which drew upon the expertise of group member Steve Heitkamp. Steve, who has a Doctorate of Ministry in counseling, is an elder in IGRC on extension ministry with Horizon Hope Counseling in O'Fallon. Steve used his counseling knowledge to lead a session on parenting teenagers. Church members, parents of the students at the Forrai school, and the Hungarian public were invited to attend. Two days later Steve led a training session at the Pest church focused on counseling a friend or family member in need.