Life is hard. We are faced with this reality while reading the papers, we see it on the TV, and we hear about it on the radio. Yes, life can be hard, but it would be unbearable without God and without friends in our lives. When asking for God’s blessing for our work, we know that it will be granted. This is a fact that holds true amid our congregation. Let me give you an example about the sail on a boat. No matter how the wind blows, if the sail is not set and there is no wind, you will not go anywhere. So if we wait for God’s blessing with our arms folded, doing nothing but waiting, nothing will happen because God is not able to bless what is not being done. God will bless what we do. Here are some stories about God’s blessings upon us when we asked this from Him and did something about what we asked His blessing for.
We can start in November of 2007. We had a guest visiting with us, Csaba Bojte, who takes care of orphans. He has dedicated his life to taking care of these orphan children and after we said our goodbye to our guest, a few of us stayed together for a while to talk. We were talking about how we would like to have a much nicer chapel and how bad it was that the windows wouldn’t open and we could not accommodate more than 35 people for services in our present chapel. In the middle of our conversation we realized the real question was why do we just complain instead of doing something to take care of these matters? And so for the coming Christmas of 2007 we gave a true gift to our congregation. We imagined what the chapel would look line with white walls instead of the dark paneling. What it would be like if we replaced the old fluorescent lightening with modern recessed ceiling lights. What if the people in the back rows of the chapel could hear what the minister was talking about. And, how would it be to fit more than 30 – 35 people in the room. These conditions were OK for many years, decades even, so why should we want to change this all now?
We had an idea–a vision–for a better future for our ever-growing congregation and we didn’t let this idea fade away. We started to figure out how much this dream would cost the congregation and where we could get the resources to do this project. Pretty soon we found a plumber in the group, then we found a person who could do the electrical work, and we had skilled painters among us as well. We had many ambitious men who offered their labor to accomplish the dream of remodeling our chapel. Even though none of us had any construction experience, we did have one man who knew what needed to be done and under his guidance and leadership we did the job very well. It didn’t matter if we ate or if we were tried, we just continued to work to finish our new chapel. The women of the congregation began to take care of us. Once a day they would brought us cooked food. Everyone helped with this remodeling project, doing whatever they were capable of whenever they could. We did this job on a strictly voluntary basis; we welcomed all but never forced anyone to contribute. Everyone donated their time willingly and during the construction we held our services in the living room of the minister’s home. Within five weeks we completed the new chapel. It turned out much nicer than we ever imagined it would. When we counted all of the donated labor hours they added up to over 1500 hours, so the remodeling costs were only for the materials which was well under the $10,000.00 budget approved by the congregation. The more spacious chapel allowed us to celebrate Christmas and Easter with 100 people sitting comfortably, in addition to providing a place for a Scout Christmas caroling program. What the remodeling of the chapel showed us is the difference between those who simply say we have to increase the space for God’s house and the others who take it to heart and actually do something about it! We learned what can happen when we take action in God’s name and for his glory.
The remodeling was like a snowball. In the beginning, a snowball must be formed into a ball and rolled to collect the snow. Then with a little push it starts to roll and it grows and grows until the snowball is formed. We all have to take part in the rolling and be grateful when it grows. In late March, we held a Spring Ball at St. Stephens Catholic Church in Chicago. Again, the congregation talked together and soon we were making plans, sending out invitations and deciding on the menu. The Spring Ball was a great time. We had about 200 people attend for a fantastic meal prepared by the congregation, followed by a night of dancing to good music. It was another group effort that, given a little push, rolled into a big snowball.
For the past few years we have had a traditional Father’s Day picnic but this year we added a few new changes. At every picnic, there were a lot of kids who liked to run around the yard but the parents worried about them and kept them at their sides so neither the children nor the parents could fully enjoy themselves. That is why this year we pledged to supervise the children. We organized games to keep them safe and occupied. At noontime the parents literally found out for themselves that water dries quickly and shaving cream does not have an unpleasant smell so the children could have a good time with it. And, since it was Father’s Day, we had fun and games for the fathers too. Most of us thought that the grownups had outgrown the games but we found this was not true. Both the old and the young fathers enthusiastically pounded the headless nails into the logs with the holey hammer and they proudly showed their bellies to the girls to be measured to see whose was the biggest. To make our bellies grow more we had baked chicken with rice, mititie (sausages), roasted corn on the cob, kurtos kolacs and many homemade pastries. There was not person there who did not have a great time and enjoyed themselves. We found that when people found their friends and small groups were formed, there was a danger of just staying within their group. To avoid this and make it a truly socializing day we needed to turn the people to a new direction for God’s glory and our church’s benefit by getting everyone to participate in the games and make new friends, which is exactly what happened!
The Chicago Hunyadi Matyas Scout group talked about having a Goulash Festival for a long time and they mentioned this idea to us. The Chicago Hungarian community proudly has a number of great cooks so we thought it would be interesting to test their knowledge and skill. Together, we realized the value of the Scouts idea. So, rather than just sit back and talk about it, we decided to take action again in hopes of fostering a stronger community. We set aside July 13, 2008 as the date for the first annual Gulyas (Goulash) Festival and Cook Off. I’m sure everyone saw how enthusiastic people can be at our other events, but certainly not to an extent like this. With one breath we were done with the contest rules and the applications forms. A beautiful and high-class flyer was made and distributed. We designated and built the fireplaces for the cooking. Before we knew it, the day of the big even finally arrived. We began the day with a worship service at 9 am so we could be ready by10:30 am in order to light the fires and begin the cooking. At 2:30 pm we began the judging. We had three official judges and all of the people were encouraged to vote for who they thought had the best goulash. All of the contestants proudly wore the specially made green aprons with the Chicago Goulash Festival emblem on it. The Scouts made up t-shirts with the festival logo that, making this event even more memorable. The cooks all received awards. The people who attended were awarded with great goulash of whatever kind they wanted, and as much as they wanted, until it was gone. And we all were awarded with lots of good memories. The atmosphere of good spirits was evident considering that after 10:00 pm, we still had 42 people around the bonfire!
I’ve shared these stories in hopes to show how much our small community has been able to accomplish, all within a relatively short amount of time, with God’s blessing and a little action on our parts. With God, everything is indeed possible. If anyone has any doubts, we invite you to look at the photo albums and see the happiness and joy on the faces of the people pictured. And we are not finished; we are still growing and expanding with the Lord’s help. Our next goal is to build a new church structure, separate from the pastor’s home. On this site you will be able to follow our progress. Of course, we welcome you all to join us in lending a hand in whatever way possible. We invite you to join us for our Sunday worship services, to be a part of humble fellowship.
Our friend Bojte Csaba once said, “God didn’t create anybody Friday afternoon before closing.” I believe God has a plan for all of us if we just listen to Him. Yes, life is hard, but if He, our true Pastor and our friends surround us, everything is a lot easier.
Rev. Áron Trufán