April 27, 2014

A museum in Budapest we walked by one evening. There are dozens of museums.

This was not our normal missionary week!  On Easter Monday, a holiday, most businesses were closed so we decided to go see a few places.  We were all over town – on the tram and walking.  At the end of the day, Elder Miller’s Fitbit (that the kids game him for his birthday and he loves it) said we walked 9.25 miles! 

The Hungarian State Opera House, one of the most important historical buildings in the city, dating back 300 years.  The Hungarian National Ballet is also based here.  Tours were not available until late afternoon.We'll go back some other time. 

We had to take a peek in the New York Café – touted as ‘the most beautiful café in the world’ – and connected to the famous Buscolo Hotel.  It would certainly rival the Grand America in SLC or the Waldorf Astoria in NYC.

We headed to City Park to find the statue of George Washington.   In Hungary, you ask?  Some Hungarian leaders, particularly Louis Kossuth, went to America to raise funds for Hungary after the failed revolution for independence in 1848.  In 1902, a movement began in Cleveland, OH to erect a statue to him, the ‘Father of Hungarian Democracy.’  Not sure it ever happened, but later Hungarian-American leaders placed a statue of George Washington, the ‘Father of American Democracy,’ in Budapest as a sign of unity between the two nations.

As it was a holiday, we discovered a  festival in the park.   Once again, we checked out the Hungarian handicrafts and food items.  It wasn’t as big or as crowded as Swiss Days in Midway, but they did have one thing over on Swiss Days – the traffic flow went one direction!

Langos is a Hungarian specialty – a giant scone (or sopapilla) deep fried and then slathered with honey, sour cream and cheese.  Yum. . .yuk-cholesterol  kingdom!  Deep frying and sour cream are big in Hungary.

And this booth is all about oil!   Interesting, you can only buy milk in a one liter carton, but oil is common in gallons!

Here’s a booth probably not to be seen at Swiss Days.  He’s forging tools, knives, etc.

Hungarians love their sweets.

We went for a walk along the river to see Shoes on the Danube.  This memorial honors the Jews who were killed during WW II.  They were ordered to take off their shoes, and were shot at the edge of the water so that their bodies fell into the river and were carried away.  These sculptures represent their shoes left behind on the bank.  (They’re bronze but look like real, worn shoes.) There were dozens of jars in which people have lit candles to show their respect.

Tuesday we finished up some details for the BYU Chamber Orchestra concert and submitted three projects:  1) tools for a disabled foundation.  The handyman there repairs and rebuilds everything.  When items can no longer be repaired, he uses the parts to build such things as these carts for the disabled to use for contests, races, fun and developmental exercise. He told us he is retired, and does this because he “has 3 healthy children; and not everyone has healthy children;” 2) developmental and speech games and tools for a communication school for children and adults with speech difficulties, and 3) a breast pump and special needs nursing accessories and kits for mothers who have difficulty nursing, premature babies or those with cleft palates, etc.   All were approved the next day!  
Wednesday we headed to Kaposvár for the rest of the week.  Again, the views on the way were of peaceful farm fields,  valleys and villages.  It sort of reminded us of driving through small towns in Utah, but there was no LDS chapel in each falu (village).

The quiet walking mall of downtown Kaposvár from both directions.

The peaceful, quiet street of our Kaposvár apartment.

The front of our apartment building.  We are on the top floor (96 steps).  When we walk out on the spacious deck, we’re level with the birds!

The next few days were spent cleaning the apartment.  It took a bit of ‘elbow grease’ to whip that baby into shape – especially the bathtub that was full of rust and grime!  The washer had been closed up and was full of mold.  The landlord confirmed that the “rubber was kaput” and he took the soap dispenser away, so hopefully that can be repaired or replaced!  Pictures will come when we move in late May.

We attended District Meeting with the elders, a ‘program’ (discussion) as they visited with a brother who is no longer attending church meetings, and we sort of invited ourselves to the branch president’s wedding at the city hall. He is age 25, a member for only six months.

We came early and thought we would ‘explore’ a bit around the walking mall, but because it was Saturday afternoon everything was closed (common in Hungary – most shops and businesses close around noon) so we watched a few wedding parties gather outside and be ready to go in the hall at their scheduled time.

What a fine, young couple President Balint and Dori made.  They had the largest entourage also.   Here you see him greeting guests. . .

. . .and Dori lining up with her family and friends.   

The wedding ceremony seemed very lovely (it was in Hungarian).  They each took a candle and with it lit another single candle – symbolic of two lives coming together as one.  The woman Justice of the Peace spoke to them about becoming one, kindness, love and family – so the elders told us afterwards.  The JP then toasted them with their witnesses and parents.  They lined up outside and the attendees were able to then greet them and wish them well.   We did not invite ourselves to their reception!

Here is the Branch House – just a small section of a building off the town square; it has a clothing boutique right next to it.  It has been remodeled nicely, is new to the branch, but their sign has not yet arrived.  This is where we attended Sunday meetings, which were being presided over and conducted by the high councilor.  There were 15 adult members in attendance, 6 missionaries (including us), a few children and then a couple, their 3 children and parents visiting from New York and Canada came in a bit late (they had been lost).  The Spirit can be felt even when the words cannot be understood.  It was a sweet meeting and testimonies were shared.  There were 9 sisters in Relief Society, and the young sister who was teaching said this was her first time and she was very nervous.  She spoke some English, so was good to add comments and questions to include me and the sister from Canada.  

Back to Budapest; we are busy this week with projects and are looking forward to a visit this weekend with our area supervisors from Germany.  Our post next week may be a few days late because we will be busy with our supervisors for several days. 

Happy Easter, April 20, 2014

The Senior Missionary couples of the Hungary Budapest Mission gathered
at this week’s Senior Conference.   Does anybody look familiar?  

Another good and busy week.  Monday we went with our interpreter to check out breast pumps  -- yes, we do have interesting projects.  Tuesday morning we learned that if we submitted projects that day, they would review them the next day – about 3 weeks earlier than planned.  So we scrambled to get the needed information and submitted three projects.  All were approved!  That day we were also preparing for company that evening and some food assignments for the Senior Conference the next two days.  

It is always nice to gather with the other senior couples.  We and another sister are still the newest so we introduced ourselves.  We heard testimonies from two couples who will be the next ones leaving.  We also heard from others – the family history couple, a couple who are working well with the young missionaries, and the sister who serves as the mission nurse with useful advice about bedbugs!  Of course President Smith spoke to us and we then had a ‘break-out’ sessions separating elders and sisters –reviewing guidelines, apartment checks and other practical items, language tips and the sharing of ideas and of course, recipes.

After finishing with meetings the seniors took a little excursion to the Citadella on Gellért Hill overlooking Budapest, a most panoramic view of the night lights of the city.  It was on this hill in 1989 that Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated Hungary for the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Citadella, or fortress, was built in 1851 and at one time housed 60 cannons.  During the Austria-Hungary era it was occupied by Austrian troops.  In 1899 Budpest took it over.  During the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 Soviet troops occupied the Citidella and tanks fired down into the city.

Atop Gellért Hill in a prominent view to all the city is the Liberty Statue  or Freedom Momument (commissioned by a leader in honor of his son who died in the war).  When the Russians arrived they replaced the propeller that she was to hold aloft with the palm frond to symbolize the country’s freedom from the Nazis.    It now commemorates those who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom and prosperity of Hungary. 

A Hungarian hero below the Liberty Statue, Elder Miller was trying to duplicate the pose, but it was very cold and windy!

The next day the seniors went together to Szentendre, a small picturesque town and artist community with colorful baroque houses and churches about a half hour away from Budapest. 

This is a shopper’s paradise with souvenirs galore.   Those who are leaving soon had a ‘hey day.’  

This man skillfully carved the design in the top of this little ‘magic box’ right before our eyes.

We went into this Christmas store – what a collection!  Does the ‘museum’ part bring back memories of childhood?

Actually, there was only one counter of ‘made in Hungary.’  The rest could have been at the Christmas store in Frankenmuth, Michigan – made in China!

One of 9 churches, this Greek-Orthodox Blagovestenska church, is best known and was built mid 18th century.

 Waiting for lunch in Szentendre.

We then visited a most fascinating little place, the Mikro Csodák Múzeuma (Micro Miracle Museum).  A Ukranian man has created these amazing microscopic figures – micro art.  They could only be seen through a microscope, so most of these images are from the pictures on the wall.

The finest (and tiniest) chess set the world over.  The chessboard and chessmen are placed on a pinhead!  They show an arrangement of chessmen from one of the games played by Alexander Aliokhin and Raul Capablanca.  The chessmen are made of gold. 

The smallest book in the world -- .6 mm.  It includes 12 pages of the poetry of Taras Shevchenko.  The pages are sewn together with thread from a spider web.  The cover is made of an immortal (?) petal. 

The portrait is a bas relief and is 3 x 3 mm and is cut out of a sloe (berry) pit. 

The map of Australia is carved in glass, which is inserted into a half of a poppy seed.  The kangaroo is made of gold.

This is a scene on half a poppy seed.

Another scene on half an apple seed.   There were also leaves on a human hair and a pyramid and 4 camels in the eye of a needle—all in gold, but the pictures didn’t turn out.

Friday we had another adventure.  When we priced camping equipment for a project at a Decathlon store, they didn’t have everything and said their larger store would carry it.  With the project approved we decided to start with the larger store.  It took us 1.5 hours to get there by bus (partly because we went the wrong way and ended up where we started.  We had to cross the street and take a different bus.)   In Hungary they don’t stock supplies (because people don’t buy quantities), so we needed to convince the salesman to order what we needed and when it is all here it can be delivered.   We must have been in the store for a couple of hours, but a nice young man who speaks very good English was helpful and hopefully they will call us when the supplies are in.   The next day we bought a stove – a most interesting and varied assignment we have –about to become more so.

This Easter evening we had dinner (traditional ham, potatoes, deviled eggs and braided bread) with several senior couples at President and Sister Smith’s home and enjoyed visiting afterwards. 

Actually Easter Monday is the holiday in Hungary.   That’s the day that businesses are closed.  An old country custom is for the young men to throw water on young girls.  Now cologne has mainly replaced the water.  The girls dress nicely for the occasion and take pride in attracting ‘waterers.’  Afterwards the young men are offered painted eggs, cookies, a drink and then he can go to the next girl.  Don’t know if we’ll witness this or not, but it is talked about.

We wish you all a Happy Easter.  We are so grateful to our Savior (beyond our capacity to understand) for His willingness to submit His will to the will of the Father, the gift of the Atonement and Resurrection to us -- so that we that we may all live again.  That is the message of this Easter Day --
 Tudjuk, hogy jó Megváltom él!  (We know that our Redeemer lives!)