December 28, 2014

We enjoy watching for 'creative' translations.
Hope everyone had a Merry Christmas with family and friends.  Ours was relatively quiet and nice.  We had Christmas Eve dinner with the elders.  

They gave us a Rummykub game, so of course, we enjoyed playing – one of our favorite games. 

Christmas morning the elders came over for a late breakfast/brunch of palicsintas.  These are really Hungary’s version of crepes – filled with eggs, fruit and whipped cream, bananas and Nutella and/or peanut butter or jam.  They may have tried them all.  We didn’t do very well with pictures, but this one was near the end – fruit mixed with whipped cream, “sort of like ice cream,” Elder Roberts said.

We played a few games afterwards, but the elders had some invitations, so didn’t stay long.  Two of them returned later to Skype with their families. 

Within the day or two around Christmas we were also able to Skype or talk to our mothers and children and grandchildren.  We so love each of you and miss you this Christmas season.  We are here missing you because we hope we are helping to spread the message of Christmas – the gospel of love, hope and peace – to these of Heavenly Father’s children in Kaposvár.

We mentioned before that in Hungary Mikulás puts candy in children’s shoes the night of December 5th and they celebrate St. Nicholas Feast Day on the 6th.   Then on Christmas Eve, the family is typically together.  Their tree is decorated, if possible without children, so that when it is finished it can be shown to the children.  The gifts are added.  The family gathers for a dinner, typically of fish, pork and cabbage.  After dinner and the singing of carols, gifts from the Christ Child are distributed to the children. 

Christmas Day and the day after are holidays – for visiting family near and far.  All businesses are closed.  In fact, we took a walk downtown on Friday and. . .

‘Twas the night after Christmas and all through the town
Not a business was open; the entire town was shut down.
The streets were so quiet; hardly a man was about,
If we saw one, “Jó napot,” we greeted and received back a pout! 

The weather has been lovely.  Yes, it is winter, but it has been rather ‘balmy’ – high 50’s and even into the 60’s some days.  We have even taken walks without coats.  That ended today!  The temperature plummeted last night; and we awakened to a bit of snow this morning.  

During church it continued to lightly snow – enough to stay on our ‘nose and eyelashes.’  Currently, the temperature is 28ᵒ, but with the wind chill factor, it feels like 17ᵒ.  There is promise of sun tomorrow and temperatures will rise all the way up to 30ᵒ.

What a week to be ‘grounded.’  Because of the little mishap with our car last week – that we have discovered is not a minor offense in Hungary, we are not to drive (or talk about it) until authorities – country and church – give their permission!

We did have home evening on Monday with a good turnout – 6 investigators; and then on Friday evening we had Young Single Adults with good attendance again.  Saturday afternoon we received an emergency call and went to help a member move belongings out of a couple of rooms in their home to a friend’s home(a brother owns part of the home and doesn’t want anything in ‘his’ rooms.)  Then in the evening we visited a part-member family with the elders and had a nice visit and message. 
As mentioned, this has been a rather quiet and calm week.   We did have more at Church today than expected (with the snow) because we had 7 visitors, but some of our stalwarts were not there.  This week will be another quiet one.  Missionaries have another 48-hour P-day (holidays with everything closed again) because of New Year’s.  

At the end of 2014, may we thank all of you, our family and friends, for your love and support.  We especially thank our Savior for so many blessings in our lives.  We have so very much for which to be grateful.   We look forward to 2015, the opportunities, adventures, relationships and blessings; and we pray that you will each have an abundance of these also in your lives. 

Boldog Uj Evét Kivanok!

We wish you a Happy New Year!

or ‘BUEK’ as they say

December 14 and 21, 2014

Check out this evenly cooked bacon!  I'm not a bacon person and don't like cooking it.  But needed to cook it for a recipe for YSA.  You know how ends get done faster and while you're waiting for the middle to cook, the ends burn.  Solution:  cut the bacon strips in half -- they all cooked quickly and evenly!

Whew!!!   It’s been a whirlwind two weeks.  I thought for sure I would get to the computer when we returned from Budapest, but didn’t.  And it is almost 4 p.m. Sunday afternoon and I am just getting home from the church – and Elder Miller will be another couple of hours at least.

Since we don’t have an official interpreter, on December 8th, we took our elders with us to ‘close’ two projects for the Red Cross here in Kaposvar – a homeless shelter and a family shelter which they operate.  As usual, the facilities are old, but well cared for.  All residents have schedules, chores and time limits for staying.  The homeless shelter received some washers – as even the homeless who do not live there can come and wash their clothes.  The family shelter received two small refrigerators and two washers.  Each family has one room, and this gift will mean that each family has their own refrigerator in their room.  They all share cooking times in a small kitchen.  We visited several rooms; one had a mother with 8 children.  They were not home, but the room was neat and orderly.

The 'family' room at the Family Shelter.

In between visiting the two facilities, the director told us she was taking us to lunch.  Of course, the elders were thrilled!   We were in a small falu (village) away from Kaposvar, but had a lovely lunch in a restaurant owned by a pasta company.  At the end of our visit, the director gave us each a gift and wished us Boldog Karácsonyt (Merry Christmas).  The gifts turned out to be a bottle of red wine – red wine from the Red Cross.  Oh dear!

We  had a great home evening that night.  One of the investigators brought his parents.  The elder was giving a lesson on the organization and structure of the true church.   When he was talking about apostles, they asked some questions and I handed them the Liahona with the pictures.  They seemed genuinely interested and paid close attention.  We hope they come again.  They were very sweet.  

And on that day we got word that three projects were approved.  These were rather big ones and two required rather detailed shopping.  The next day we received an email telling us that ALL money needed to be spent by the 17th so that the area could close out the year-end accounting.  Oh my, that meant some serious business!  

The only person we could find to interpret for us is Peter, an investigator.  Thank goodness he was available and can speak English.   He had previously done the online research for one of the projects, so now we needed him to help us make the purchases – also online.  Once things were ordered, then we go to the business in person and pay cash.  Welcome to business in Hungary!

Long story short, we spent many hours the next 3 days getting the shopping and online orders completed for the two projects.  The third project just required paying (cash) for a wheelchair lift to be installed in a van, so that was easy. 

One of the evenings we were able to go to the home of one of our sweet young adult sisters. Évi is a student studying law; her mother is an investigator.  They have a lovely home, are very gracious, and fed us some delicious pastries.  Besides studying law, Évi is very artistic.  She bakes beautiful cakes (she made Elder Miller’s birthday cake); and makes amazing decorations and anything else using her artistic talents.

Fabric store and cutting the fleece

Saturday we left early to get to Budapest before the fabric store closed (stores – except the mall -- close on Saturday afternoon) and bought fleece for 20 blankets for a project.  We carried those sacks on the villamos (street car) back to the mission home, where Elder and Sister Broadhead (the YSA couple in Budapest) helped us cut and prepare the blankets for the young adults to finish at FHE on Monday evening.

As we were leaving the mission home to go find some craft-type scissors (very sharp at the tips), we received a text from Devon saying that if we Facetimed right then we could hear Grace and Jenna play their recital pieces.   What a tender mercy.  Another minute we would have been out of the building and on a vilamos and would not have had internet access.  So, we stopped and listened to their lovely recital piano pieces.  We couldn’t talk; it was the recital – but we watched and heard.  Wonderful!

Sunday we attended the Buda Ward.  Oh how different it was to have a ‘full house.’  President Southwick (new stake president) was released as bishop – finally.  He has been doing double duty for a couple of months.   The ‘wheels’ don’t move quite as quickly this far away.

Our zone

Monday we had our Christmas Zone Conference.  Leading up to Christmas we have all been learning about and trying to emulate Christlike attributes, so the conference focused on some of those – “Just as important as what you do is who you are.”  

Elders drawing a Christmas scene on a paper plate. . .

We had a lovely Christmas dinner and then played some Christmas games and exchanged white elephant gifts.  There are five zones, so the mission president was doing this five days in a row.  

Monday evening was the Budapest YSA – and these wonderful young adults finished our 20 blankets!  

Tuesday brought back many memories of our time living in Budapest.  It was a cold and rainy day, but we crisscrossed town going as fast as possible to the five businesses to pay for our orders so that they could be delivered. 

We came around a corner and there was the New York Cafe.  We took time to have some hot chocolate in the "most beautiful cafe in the world."  The presentation was lovely, but notice the chocolate chip cookie -- emphasis on 'chip' -- either the thickness of a micro chip or the one chip in the cookie.

Last was to the Sewing Machine Center at West End mall, where we purchased two sewing machines, needles, embroidery thread and yarn for a school and home for austistic children.  We then carried the two machines and other purchases across town and were only 5 minutes late (6:15 p.m.) for my last dental appointment to finish the filling for an abcessed tooth (it took 4 visits!).  

Wednesday morning, we drove to the school/home for autistic children to deliver the sewing machines and some paper and other artistic supplies so that we didn’t have to take them to Kaposvar and bring them back again.  We do not choose to drive in Budapest.  The traffic is horrendous; and there was much road construction on the way to the school.  It took a couple of hours just going and coming to that one address.  If we had tried to drive the previous day to accomplish our tasks, we could not have finished.  The public transportation is Budapest is amazing – we probably never wait for a bus, street car or subway (Metro) longer than five minutes.  I marvel at all that happens underground in these large cities.  

We made a quick delivery; we will go back and ‘close’ the project when they receive all the items.  We had not even called for an appointment, but they were still very gracious and gave us these lovely note cards and gift cards (in the cute paper container) that the students there had made.  There's a good reason they requested art supplies.

We had a little scare:  as mentioned, we had to pay cash for all these items and after getting some large amounts to pay vendors here, Elder Miller was told he had reached his limit!  Help!   We only had a few days left to spend the money before year end.  So, there was a flurry of emails and phone calls to our area supervisors in Germany and Salt Lake and they said they would raise the limit so we could finish.  In Budapest, Elder Miller went to get the cash needed for our Tuesday marathon, and it had not been corrected.  A few more emails and telephone calls. . .  All was adjusted, the companies were paid, the deliveries have been made, and our crazy week was successful. 

Back home I hurried to buy fabric and make some aprons for the sisters I visit teach.  We were invited to the home of the Gutchow family on Thursday.  When I go there every other month, because it is 50 km away, the branch president also goes to visit them (and home teach).  They love to have company and feed us a wonderful dinner when we go. On the other months, they come here for dinner. 

While I was sewing, Elder Miller was finishing up the paperwork and accounting for the projects.  It is quite a bit for each project as well as sending receipts each week to Bank of America and to the area office in Germany.  By the end of the day, he had received word that he had ‘zeroed out.’  YEA!

Friday was time to prepare for young single adults here.  And the attendance is growing.  Actually, because the branch president teaches institute the hour before YSA, he has invited anyone in the branch to attend so that they can also learn.  And then they stay for dinner and other investigators that the elders have invited to YSA – so we had a good crowd on Friday. 

We put together some Christmas ‘boxes’ to deliver to some branch members.
Saturday it was our turn to clean the branch house and then we also attended a program with an investigator we really hope is ready to make a commitment.  Z is a wonderful man, continually tries to do better and improve himself.  He is a school teacher and feels like he is a father to his students and spends much time (and resources) helping them and their families. 

We also took the elders to visit a member whose husband had a stroke and has been flat in bed unable to move.   A couple of weeks ago when we visited, he was given a blessing.  When we went Saturday, he stood up and walked to greet us!  He had made great improvements and his wife even looked so much better.

Today was our Christmas program – some lovely musical numbers and talks about the birth of Jesus Christ.  The Christmas story was read and talked about, but one talk was something we’ve not heard before.  The branch president focused on Joseph – the kind of humble, patient and caring person that he was.  Even though he was not Jesus’ father, he was chosen to raise Him.  President Balint said “if all men were like Joseph, we would not have problems in this world.”

After the meetings (and we had a record 15 in Relief Society), we had a Christmas potluck lunch – with lots of good food, especially desserts.  But I’m sure everyone had their fill.  It took awhile to clean up after; the floors could not be finished until the last family left the building to catch their bus at 3 p.m.   And Elder Miller and the branch president went to visit and deliver the Christmas boxes.  He arrived home after 6:00 p.m. and announced that they had just hit a deer.  (They are fine, the deer is not, and the car is not!  Luckily it was a baby deer following its mother who had just leaped across the road and they missed her.)

We have been busy; that is what we are called to do.  We are so grateful for this Christmas season, for the scriptures that we read daily that testify of Jesus Christ, His birth, His life, His resurrection and His Atonement  -- His mission.  We know that He is the Son of God, that He is our Savior, that He loves each of us and has provided a way for us to become like Him so that we can return to be with Him eternally.  We are grateful now for this coming week of calm – to think about our Savior, and to remember and celebrate His birth with our awesome missionaries. 

Boldog Karácsonyt
Merry Christmas

December 7, 2014

A couple of 'appetizing' menu specials.
Only a few days late, we had our Thanksgiving dinner with the four elders in Kaposvar.  We couldn’t get a whole turkey, but I did find pieces – so with stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, vegetables, salad and pumpkin pie – it was quite American and we were very thankful – even on Monday!

Home evening was a success.  After the message we played games – Black Magic, Bang Bang, and Petals Around the Roses.  Apparently they were having such a good time (trying to figure out the games) that they did not want to leave.   Actually the elders are a pretty good resource for games learned at the MTC! 

Elder Roberts (brand new, Pleasant Grove, UT), Elder Anderson (Burley, ID), 
Elder Swink (Providence, UT), Elder Wilcox (Saratoga Springs, UT)
Tuesday we walked downtown to have our picture taken at the manger scene (for our Christmas message) and happened to run into the elders.  That called for some warm chimney cakes from our Christmas street markets, especially since we have a brand new elder who had only been in the country a few days.

Wednesday we went to the Jahn Ferenc Hospital to ‘close’ the gift of the sterilizer which had been previously delivered to the neonatal unit there.  This project – the simplest one we’ve done -- has taken forever.  We submitted a vendor form to the area office in Germany to pay the vendor.  It got caught in the ‘changing of the guards’ (new missionaries) and had to be re-submitted.  And for some reason, money was sent to the vendor’s bank and then retracted.  Finally, it all came together.  The glass baby bottles we ordered are still coming.
After this ‘closing,’ we spent the afternoon and evening with a friend, Debby (Darling) Gibbs, who had come to Budapest to spend some time with her friend from Houston.  (Debby was in our BYU ward many years ago.)  First things first – lunch.   We were near Nagy Palacsinta, so  Debby had a taste of Hungary. 
Palacsinta’s are very traditional -- Hungary’s version of crepes. However, here they like layers – ham, broccoli, cheese or chocolate or whatever else one chooses.   Sour cream and whipped cream are so very important and plentiful!

The rest of the afternoon and evening in spite of the chill, we were captivated by the Christmas markets on famous Vaci Utca and Vörsömarty Ter.  These delightful markets with their beautiful Hungarian crafts and cuisine are permanent for the month of December.  We even had a walk along the shore of the Danube (in December!) to view ‘Shoes on the Danube.’  Mostly, we enjoyed seeing, visiting and being with Debby.  

The next morning we drove to Györ to close a project at a very large nursing home, where we gave them antidecubitus mattresses.  New to you, too?   These are the ‘hospital’ version of the egg crate mattresses (stacked behind these ladies) used for those who are bedridden to prevent bed sores. 
Very sweet ladies who were gracious and very happy for this gift.  Of course, this facility is supported by the government – not!  And they work for next to nothing, take care and do so much for the people there.  They had applied for a grant in 2002 and finally received it in 2012, and just finished some renovation -- a small, new wing with a lunch room, small physical therapy room, an elevator, new windows, and some rooms that are now handicap accessible. 
Back home, Friday we had a great district meeting with a new district leader.  We talked specifically about our investigators, their status, and the need for families and priesthood in this branch.  Our fast today was more specific for these needs.  We know that miracles happen and we are praying for a miracle.  As mentioned before, we only have 6 active priesthood brethren in this branch, and one just turned 16.  We need a miracle in this branch.

Friday night, December 5th, is the night Mikulás (Hungarian Santa Claus) comes – the evening before St. Nicholas Feast Day on the 6th.  Children put their shoes in the window sill and if they have been good, they will receive candy in their shoes.  And if children have not been good, Mikulás brings along a helper -- Krampusz (Devil) who might leave twigs instead. 
Saturday we attended a dinner/celebration for the brother in the branch that recently passed away.  It was at his home.  Branch members helped with food, the branch president spoke and then we ate.  Perhaps it was intended to be on St. Nicholas Feast Day.  

And then attendance today at church was pretty sparse.  It has been raining for the last couple of days.  That makes a big difference here. 
Some have asked about Carlee.   As we understand, she is slowly gaining some weight (around 4 lbs now), is off the ventilator, but does not seem to be absorbing any breast milk.  Right now they are waiting for her to get to 5-6 lbs so she can have the surgery to reconnect her intestines (and hopefully they have healed and grown).   Erin has been going every day and holding her skin to skin, which has been a wonderful experience; they feel that it is helping.   We are so grateful for the blessings thus far and continue to pray for a miracle there.

In this season of Thanksgiving and Christmas, we pause to share our gratitude for so many gifts from our Savior -- Him being the most important of all.  He is the Gift! 

PS - Next week's post will be late as we will be in Budapest over the weekend and for Christmas Zone Conference on Monday.