Friday, September 12, 2014

A Recording My Friend Made For Me Twenty Years Ago Today

Dear Friend,

I was lying awake in bed at 4 o'clock this morning when I heard my phone buzz. It was a Facebook notification. My close friend Jennifer had just updated her status from Europe.
I am thankful for being able to communicate with my family easily. When we were in the Philippines, we mailed letters or made cassette tapes for the family. That was how Grandma and the others could hear what we sounded like. These were filled with one-sided conversations, songs, funny stories, or even awkward pauses when we ran out of things to say before we hit the stop button. I remember Mom and Dad trying to hurry to do anything to fill the tape since we did not want to waste the precious minutes on the tape. I always felt sorry for the people who actually listened to the WHOLE tape, front and back. I feel spoiled by how easy communication is now.
Jennifer is the daughter of missionaries who lived in the Philippines during her childhood. We met in middle school when her family was on furlough in the States. In high school they moved to Hungary, where she still lives today. Now she is a teacher in Budapest. She normally posts updates during her lunch break. I left a comment under her status.
Me:  I'm thankful to be the owner of a Jennifer tape from when you lived in Hungary in the early nineties. 

Me: Listening now.
Jennifer: Poor you. :-)
Me: It's wonderful. I keep tearing up over it! I just paused it about half way through side B. You said, "Good morning, Adriana. It's Sept. 12!" You were making this tape 20 yrs ago today!
Me: You just talked about your mom's birthday. And your [little sister] is brilliant. You describe her playing with her Hungarian friends in spite of the language barrier. Sulysap doesn't have phone service, but your dad has agreed to take you to a phone so you can call me. That would be my Christmas present. Your mom has made you some nice dresses by hand. There's a scene where you rescue Esther's shoe from the other side of a muddy lake. You're talking about what you and I will do next summer when I come to visit. I can visualize most of the places you're describing. You're going to miss your beautiful room with the "pure white walls" when you go to the Bible Institute. The curtains in the girls' room there are so drab . . . This is priceless.
Jennifer: Maybe I don't feel sorry for you. We'll see how you hold up at the end.
Me: I feel richly blessed this morning.
Jennifer: Funny, I completely forgot that I even made a tape for you.
Me: I knew it was in my letter box, but I haven't listened to it since you sent it to me. It's value has increased with time.

Jennifer in Toalmas at the Word of Life Bible College in 1994.

I visited Jennifer in the summer of 1995, a year after her recording was made. On the tape she talks about our plans for my visit.  We will work at a Bible camp, we'll travel throughout the countryside, and take day trips into the city. Her voice is the same --mellow and precise -- though of course she sounds younger. In part of the tape I can hear her alarm clock ticking as she recorded herself while still in bed one morning when she had a cold. There is a dog barking in the distance. A quiet day in a small village without telephones. 

I guess I'll go now. I love you very much. I think about you all the time. I can't wait until next summer. We're going to have so much fun. Even if you can only stay for a month, we'll still have a lot of fun. I know Budapest pretty well now. I don't get lost when I go there. I can even find places I've never been to before without too much of a problem. I think one of the best places you'll like is Buda. It's not polluted like Pest is. There's beautiful hills all over. That's also where the Castle District is. And you can walk for days in the Castle District just looking at stuff. So gorgeous.
Together at last in 1995.

So Jennifer, if you're reading this I want you to know that I listened to the WHOLE tape, front and back and there is no need to feel sorry for me. You apologized more than once on the tape because you were concerned I would find it boring. Well, it wasn't boring. Not one bit. It was a beautiful gift which I savored (and cried over) two times, twenty years apart. Thank you so much for your faithful friendship. I am richly blessed.

With Love,

P.S. I can't wait to visit Hungary again!

Other posts in this series: Invisible Friendship, Air mail: Letters I Wrote at Age 17


  1. Thanks for sharing this, Adriana -- it's beautiful. What a wonderful experience to be able to listen to this tape 20 years apart and to still have a strong friendship with the person who made it. The pictures are also great; I especially like the one of the 2 of you in the train.

    1. Jeannie, it's a joy to share this experience with my blog-friends. Receiving comments here feels akin to opening the mailbox at the farm and finding a letter inside. Always thrilling. I've been blogging for over 3 yrs (if you count my first blog), and that part hasn't changed. And yes, I am blessed to have Jennifer. We talked for an hour this morning before my kids woke up. And it's not even Christmas. :-)


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