Love Speaks Every Language

English Camps: Hungary

By Ashley Heubner OMS Hungary Summer Intern

On the second day of my summer in Hungary, I began my job working with OMS’ summer English camps. I was jetlagged, anxious, and knew less than five words in Hungarian-not exactly a perfect candidate to teach Hungarian children. Not only that, but this was my first time meeting everyone I’d be living and working with that summer. I was a little stressed. I felt unqualified and unworthy to be in this position. How was I supposed to build relationships and teach English if all I could say to the kids was hello?

English Camp Volunteer
English Camp volunteer after a shaving cream art challenge.
That first day of camp, I didn’t really speak to anyone at all. The constant blur of a foreign language was overwhelming, and I struggled to find my way into conversations. I was discouraged, and I asked God that night to help me do what seemed impossible. I knew that God had brought me to Hungary for a reason, and He was going to finish whatever work He had set me on. If I was supposed to build bridges with people that I couldn’t communicate with, then God was going to have to step in. But, then I was told something I didn’t like at all; if I wanted God to step in, I needed to step out. I was going to have to take a small leap of faith.

English Camp Volunteers and Student
Two camp volunteers and a student enjoying time at the local swimming pool.
The next day, I stood in the corner of the gymnasium, where we all gathered, working up the courage to sit down with some girls and say hello. There were a few who spoke a decent amount of English, so I decided to start with them. I walked over, set myself down, and said, “Hello, I’m Ashley, and I don’t speak Hungarian. Would you teach me a few words?” After that, the barrier was broken. The girls attempted to teach me some basic greetings and casual conversations and delighted in my broken and incorrect pronunciations. We all knew that I was wrong most of the time, but because I had taken the first step, my failures didn’t matter much at all. The rest of the week, we would swap words back and forth; during one English lesson, the girls managed to teach me the Hungarian word for submarine, although I don’t know when I’ll ever get to use it. The end of the week came far too quickly, and the goodbyes were filled with hugs and tears. Real relationships had been built, and love had been shared among all of us.

English Camp Staff and Students
Campers and staff working together to practice English.
Later in the summer, I came across the phrase, “Love speaks every language.” Even though I was far from fluent in Hungarian, my small effort to connect was understood for what it was: a show of God’s love for the kids. Throughout the summer, the ability to connect with campers didn’t come from our ability to speak each other’s language. It came from the leap of faith and trust that God would do the rest.

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