'Spring' Part Two
Home Up Spring of Rachel's Life 'Spring' Part Two



Continued from 'The Spring of Rachel's Life':

I have always thanked God that He led me first to Hungary, and then to Norbi.  His timing is oh, so perfect.  I need to explain a little something before continuing our story.  The first year of the Bible School, they had really had no written rules.  By the second semester there were five, by the first semester of the second year, there were ten.  They were jokingly called the "ten commandments", and most dealt with treating school property, curfew, stuff like that.  But then there was the famous "rule number 8", or the "no romance" rule.  There had been some problems with couples forming, grades slipping, extreme "P.D.A." (Public Displays of Affection), and all around distraction.  For most of the students from Eastern European countries, attending the Bible school was their one opportunity to learn how to study and teach the Bible - knowledge desperately needed in their home countries.  Many of our fellow students went home to lead Bible studies, lead worship and some to pastor churches.  They didn't need the distraction of fellow classmates 'in love', or of 'falling in love' themselves.  Plus, I mentioned before my culture shock upon returning to the States after my first time at  the school: it was not real life.  We were on sheltered school grounds in a tiny Austrian town.  Very romantic yes, but not very day to day realistic.  

So, what did one do who was feeling more than friendship toward another?  Try to hide it, and pray, pray, pray.  At least that's what Norbi and I did.  We didn't discuss our feelings for each other - ever - until three days before the last day of classes.  I remember a small group discussion one evening that included Norbi, myself, Zuza, and at least two other friends.  The topic was dating and relationships.  It was agreed that none of us wanted to "date" as the world dates.  We also only wanted to 'date' (for lack of a better word) one person - the one we would marry.  So I knew, before ever discussing it with Norbi, that we would not begin a relationship with the possibility of it leading to marriage.  It would lead to marriage.  That semester that I was on staff and Norbi a student lasted for three months, probably about two of those months we were both praying for each other and the possibility of our joint future - without the other knowing!  We did both finally confide in friends - poor Zuza heard both sides and managed to be a true friend to each of us and not 'spill the beans' before we'd actually talked to each other.  Norbi also told his good friend Paxton.  And then we both separately went to the Andersons - Norbi to Tim, and I to Laura.  Tim was the head teacher, and in charge of the school.  I actually saw Tim and Norbi talking, but had no clue I was the topic!  When I spoke with Laura about a week later, I was surprised to learn that Tim had told Norbi to put space between us until classes were over.  Surprised, because I had sensed no difference in Norbi, we still ate at the same table, still hung out with our group of friends together.  My talk with Laura was a week before classes ended, and the students needed to really study for final exams.  On her advice I pulled away.  Being on staff, I could take my meals to my room - which I did some days, other days I sat at a different table.  Poor Norbi, he had no clue what had happened.  We had never really talked about our feelings about each other, and then I go and avoid him - he was sure I didn't like him anymore.  It broke his heart.

After several days of me avoiding Norbi, but also after weeks of us basically being considered a couple, some teasing by his room-mates and other male students when I left a room finally drove Norbi to ask if we could talk.  He actually came up and said that we needed to talk.  Boy, did we ever.  Thank God we had both just spent over a month praying about each other - because we both knew by that time that we were in love with the other - and it was okay with the Lord.  The 'Castle' is located on a steep mountainside, at the bottom of which is just enough space for the road to town, and then there's Lake Millstaat.  There's a Castle owned dock on the lake, with several benches - that's where we headed for "the talk".  It was awkward at first, especially since I had been avoiding him and Norbi didn't know why.  It finally came out that we had talked to Tim and Laura.  Norbi gave my emotions a roller-coaster ride with this comment, "I told Tim I was falling in love with you, but, we prayed and God took the feelings away."  Huh?!?  God took the feelings away?  I still tease my silly Hungarian husband for that one.  He hadn't explained that he went to Tim because he was having trouble concentrating on his homework, and that they prayed that God would let him focus and temporarily take the strong feelings away.

There were still two and a half days until school was officially over - so to follow "rule number 8", and for the sake of Norbi's studying - we agreed to keep avoiding each other.  But only until after Norbi's final exam was over.  We spoke on a Sunday evening, the test was Wednesday morning until the students finished.  Students went home on Saturday.  After that test was over, we knew we'd have only almost three days to spend time just the two of us, talking.  Saturday Norbi would go back to Szeged, Hungary.  I would remain at the Castle for one more month, before moving to Baja, Hungary - an hour and half bus ride from Szeged.  Norbi would be going to work at a computer store and was the worship leader for the Calvary Chapel in Szeged, and I would be needing to spend as much time as I could getting to know everyone in Baja.  So we knew even when we were both in the same country again, we wouldn't be seeing each other that often.  We made the most of those few days - walking all over Millstaat, Austria - hiking to places I hadn't seen before and haven't gone back to since.  Holding hands was the most physical we ever got, and one sad hug the morning he left for Szeged.

We may have spent a lot of time together those three days - but we really got to know each other in the next few months that we were apart - in letters.  I'm a firm believer in writing love letters - not just the mushy ones, but real letters to the one you love.  There are so many things that are often easier to say in a letter than in person - we really shared our lives with each other in those letters, and grew deeper in love with each one.  And they are awfully neat to keep, take out occasionally and read to each other again.  We first did that about three years into our marriage, it was very romantic!

So, there was Norbi in Szeged, me in Baja.  I was rooming with an old classmate from the year before, Izzy.  Izzy was actually from Yugoslavia, but her mother was Hungarian and she was in Baja as a missionary from her church.  We had no phone in our apartment, not that unusual in that time in Hungary.  But the church had a phone, and I would go early or stay after services to talk to Norbi.  Though this didn't work very good as his work schedule didn't always cooperate.  We relied mostly on those letters, and visits.  People do crazy things for love.  Norbi came by bus the very day after I arrived from Austria, on a bus that arrived by like 9 am or something.  He left Szeged around 7:30, and neither of us are morning people - so it meant a lot.  That day was funny, because I didn't know Baja yet, he didn't know Baja, we just sort of wandered around.  I also braved the bus from Baja to Szeged - all on my very own.  Shortly after I arrived in Baja one of the other missionaries there, Paul Schroder (Pablo because there was also Paul Lange) began to drive to Szeged every Thursday to teach the mid-week Bible Study for Calvary Chapel Szeged.  At first I just tagged along when they left, but then I got brave and took the bus in the afternoon and had more time with Norbi - then got a ride home with Pablo.

I came to Baja in July, in August CC Baja and CC Szeged were having a joint conference at the Castle.  Norbi would then be staying at the Castle for several weeks of "Summer of Service", when youth from any Calvary Chapel can be recommended and go to serve on staff during the summer conference season.  Our churches' conference was the second week of August, the fourth week was the Missionaries Conference (CC Missionaries from all over the world get together for rest, encouragement and fellowship).  We were excited that our churches would be together, and therefore we too could be together for the conference.  And then Norbi would still be there when I returned for the Missionaries' Conf.  The month of August, 1994, is one of the most special times in my life to date.

Because of our convictions, and those discussions we had had earlier at the Castle - we knew our relationship was leading to marriage.  In one sense it took pressure off us individually, no wondering if the other wanted to get married or not.  There was a strong sense of belonging to each other. Norbi hated calling me his "girlfriend", as most people didn't see that as a permanent thing.  I recall his sharing his frustration that his friends and family didn't grasp that I was "the one". 


To be continued...




Home Up Spring of Rachel's Life 'Spring' Part Two