The Publication of Habitat for Humanity International | February / March 2002
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Reflection and the Warmth of Friendship
A young woman with a lovely spirit and a tiny boy in tow invited me into the warmth of her nearly completed Habitat house and out of the freezing cold in the village of Dunavarsány, Hungary. In her broken English, which is far better than my Hungarian, she asked, “Coffee, Milana?”

As I stepped into my friend Julianna Major’s house in early December, my mind raced back to last year’s hot summer days when we worked side by side to build her house and six others. I volunteered to lead a Global Village Women Build team; she was charged with taking me on daily runs to the local élelmiszer (grocery store) to stock up on food and water for the team. We had little language in common, but we became friends in that wonderful
we-don’t-need-words way.

During our time together, we laughed. I teased her 2-year-old son, Adam, he with the luminous brown eyes and a curtain of eyelashes. I nursed injuries—his a badly scraped knee, hers a framing nail in her foot. We peeled potatoes and chopped onions for a massive Hungarian goulash feast. And we built.

Juli handed me the coffee, bringing me back from my musings. She served it from her tiny kitchen, where she stood, smiling, on bright blue and gold square tiles. Though it was cold outside, the sun streamed in through the windows and the house was warm.

During the house dedications, just an hour earlier, other friends made speeches and presented Bibles, house keys and toolboxes to the seven families. I stood, with some 50 others, on the frigid, freshly raked dirt between the two row-house buildings situated along what is now known as Habitat utca (Habitat Street).

“When the families of Habitat are happy, that is our happiness as well,” said HFH Hungary director Zoltan Bona at the dedication. “The name of the street, Habitat utca, symbolizes the faith, peace and love of this community. Because for us Habitat means these words; whoever walks on Habitat utca will walk with these words.”

What a privilege to stand with my friends and celebrate completion of a work started many months before. I walked that street, then and now. Then, it had been a place of happiness as I worked in relationship with my beloved team and my Hungarian friends. Now, it has become a place of joy…a place where the spiritual becomes real, manifested in faith, peace and love.

Thanks for reading…and for building.


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