Editor's Note: In March, Pastor Warren Kirk, who retired from the United Methodist Church and his last church at Hope in June  2017, and his wife, Helen went to Europe to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary.

Our first stop was Madrid, Spain where we stayed with Mar and Pablo Saez, and their 17-year old-son, Jaime. Jaime had lived with us at the Methodist parsonage as an iCEE exchange student from August 2016 to June 2017 in Hope and attended Hauser High School.

It was so great to get to see Jaime again, and to meet his parents. They showed us a wonderful time, and we fell in love with Madrid.

We then flew to Budapest, Hungary where we spent 2 days of our scheduled Budapest to Bucharest River Cruise.

We were also able to meet up with Patrick and Jessica Alyea from Louisville, Ky. In fact, Patrick grew up attending Hope United Methodist Church!

They have been serving as missionaries in Operation Mobilization , a sports ministry in Hungary near Budapest for the last two years. They have a softball team made up of teens , ages 23-19; and they also plan socials at their home where they get to interact with the kids more, and share ideas about Christ and just living life. Patrick also mentioned that their first experience of parenting has involved helping one of their softball girls.
We were able to have some good conversation over coffee and pastries in a great Hungarian coffee house.

We then sailed on toward Bucharest, Romania, where we were able to have breakfast with Theodor Nichifor, another ICEE student at Hauser High School in the August 2016 to June 2017 school year when he stayed with the Pitmans. Shanon Ptiman is also the ICEE Cordinator for our area. We felt that getting to see Theo was such a blessing as we were only in Bucharest for about two hours that morning before we had to leave to catch our plane home.

And Theo, who lives a nine-hour train ride from Bucharest, had planned to come to Bucharest to take part in two English-speaking contests on this same weekend. We had a short great conversation together.

In May, in another encounter with youth we met while serving in Hope, we were able to attend the graduation of Haley Webster from the IU Kelley School of Business at Indiana University in Bloomington.