Miskolc

We had a great weekend in Miskolc, and four friends from North Carolina were able to join us.  It was a great time sharing stories, thinking about Donnie’s questions, hanging out at the orphanage, soaking in the cave baths, riding the train.  Thanks Reni, Réka, Eliza, János, Zsolt, Dávid, and Kristóf for organizing everything!

Prickles

We had the opportunity to get away with several friends to Badacsony last weekend.  It is definitely one of my favorite places in Hungary.  Just a small vineyard covered village stuck between a handful of extinct volcanoes and Lake Balaton.  We were so glad to have two friends from Sweden, Rinus and Joke, join us for the weekend.  Rinus stirred up many conversations as he shared about the life and writings of William Faulkner.  Specifically, we took a look at the themes of alienation and wounded families.  Thanks Rinus for your contributions!

While in Badacsony, Kristof saw a hedgehog in the grass, I said, “let’s get it!,” and Oliver immediately picked it up without hesitation.  Oliver, you are a natural.  Needless to say, our boys had an awesome weekend playing with the hedgehog named Prickles.  Seth now has changed his daily request for a pet turtle to a daily request for a pet hedgehog.  I’d love a copy of the group photo from any of you who took one on Sunday!

Seth’s Thoughts from First Grade in Hungarian School

Here are some of Seth’s thoughts from his first two weeks in the first grade at Dr. Szent-Györgyi Albert Általános Iskola.


“Hi, this is Seth.  I am in first grade.  I have some letters and words that I am learning how to write and read in Hungarian.  For example, ‘kék’ means ‘blue,’ and ‘faházak’ means ‘tree houses.’  Some of the letters I am learning to write are V, Á, A, Z, í, K, F, É, E, H, and I.  Everyday I have házifeladat (homework).  I have a magic box with magic sticks and beans in it.  What I do with it is I use it to spell words (see the picture).  The magic box in Hungarian is called a ‘varázsdoboz.’

“In the morning, I go to the closet in the hallway, and I hang my hat up, and I get my inside shoes on, and I go sit at my desk in the classroom.  Then the teacher comes in, and all my friends arrive.  My teacher tells me what to do.  First I have Hungarian class and then math.  We also have torna (phys. ed.), an English class, and drawing.  We go to the play ground and come back to eat a snack.  Mom and Dad pick me up from school.

“My favorite parts of the day is when I have torna, drawing, swimming, and snack time.  I also like lunch, math  and Hungarian class.  When I go to Hungarian school, everybody speaks Hungarian.  I speak Hungarian to them too.  I have some friends who I talk to.  We talk in Hungarian about things like animals.  Some of my favorite animal names are kutya (dog), hal (fish), and technősbéka (turtle).  In class I understand everything, but some things I don’t.

“I have some friends in class.  There names are Kinga, Bendegusz, Jenő, Dani, Márk, Benedet, Patrik, and there are a couple others, but I can’t remember their names.”

-Seth Whitfield Newell

5K

Here’s a picture of my normal 5K run. I’ve been a bit lazy with running this summer, but building back up.  This northern Budapest run along the Csillaghegyi Duna part is great. Though I do miss the run around Margit Island (5.5 K) which we used to do (with my friend Péter), especially in the evenings when you can see the city lights.

With this run, I start from our house and run .75 K to the river. Then we go north on a running/bicycle path along the riverside for another 1.75 K before turning around. Seth and Jacob (on their bikes) are my usual companions, and they keep my pace steady. I run a lot slower without them! Today we made one of our fastest 5K times: 21:44.16. We’re aiming to break the 20 minute barrier. Just need to keep my legs healthy.  Anyone interested in the Budapest half marathon next weekend?

Kassa

We get to spend time with some really great students through the English Club and the Outdoor Club at Corvinus University. One of our friends, Norbi, invited us to visit his home in Slovakia for a few days. So this past week, we spent a couple days in and around Kassa (Kosice) Slovakia with Norbi’s family. We had such a great time. Their family lives in a small village 40 minutes outside of the big city (250,000), and the kids loved being in the countryside for a while, eating home-grown vegetables, picking grapes, and chasing chickens. Standing in the backyard are grape vines, apple trees, a giant walnut tree, a vegetable garden, a chicken house, and an outhouse which hasn’t been used for a long time. The outhouse, for me, was the coolest. Seth was a bit bummed that we couldn’t use it. Me too. It was a cool imprint from an earlier time, and I’m glad they haven’t torn it down. The kids loved the chickens, and I’m thinking that we are going to have to get a few pet chickens soon. Thanks Norbi for hosting us!!

more than gold

Tomorrow is the final day of the Olympics, and there are at least two things to keep your eye on.  At 15.40 on Sunday, Beijing time, Hungary will play the United States for the gold medal in waterpolo.  Hungary has won 8 gold medals in the sport since 1932.

The other thing to watch is the men’s marathon at 07.30 Beijing time (01:30 Budapest time / 19.30 Saturday Virginia time).  I’ve been waiting for this for the the last two weeks (though I’ll have to just catch the highlights on youtube).  Ryan Hall is the USA hope for gold.  Though Ryan has only competed in 3 official marathons, he holds the fastest olympic qualifying time for an American.  If I remember correctly, in London recently, he ran the marathon in 2:06:17.  Whoa.  That is not far off of the world record.  But there are three Kenyons who are running the same speed right now, so Ryan will be up against the fastest group in history.

But Ryan is running for more than a gold medal.  Ryan will be running in the memory of one of his best friends, Ryan Shay, who collapsed and died at the fifth mile of the olympic trials.  Ryan also talks a lot about letting go of all of the lofty goals of running a faster time or winning first place.  He talks a lot about the joy of simply running for God.  This is what he calls being “free to run.”  You can see his training video here.

Jump

My brother Daniel returned to America on Tuesday.  Life hasn’t been the same in the Newell household.  One of Daniel’s great accomplishments during the last five weeks was to create three little aspiring decathletes.  Everyday the boys were testing their physical limits in some way.  They seem to be jumping over everything that stands in their path.  The long jump is the current challenge of choice these days.  Daniel, the video is coming soon.