May 25, 2014

Goose Liver is a Hungarian delicacy and this one even comes in its own fat!
Moved again!  Have we moved in the last few years just for the experience so that one of these days we will get it right and it will seem simple? Well, it’s done. As we (and the elders helping) were carrying belongings up the 96 stairs to our apartment, we wondered how it would be to just take two suitcases, hop on a train and move to another city like the elders do in missions around the world -- sounds so simple.  Ours was two carloads!

We are settled once again and soon this apartment will feel like home.We enter here and we are on the top or 5th floor. It has some advantages and some things we will miss about our other apartment – like storage space. We have things under the bed and suitcases in the corner of the bedroom. Such is life! This is a sort of brown house.  Here are some photos:

Entering the hallway and looking towards a living room.

Living room, complete with built in sofa and 1950’s rock wall – a spider’s Shangri La!

Kitchen – notice a full-size refrigerator.  You can't see a dishwasher and hot water!

Table – glass and chrome to complete the 50’s decor – looking into the kitchen on the left.
The 'office' room.

Bedroom – that’s all there is to it.

 The water closet. 

Saturday afternoon we took the elders on a quick errand and discovered a small festival in the city center. Here they are selling socks -- with names on them.

There are lovely, quiet tree-lined streets and walkways in this city. We just need to learn our way around.  We have only been to Tesco (grocery shopping) and Praktiker (like Home Depot) for hooks and shelves.   Tomorrow we are going to a phone store, an office supply store and a hair cut ‘store.’  Stores are very specialized.

About every other street we try to turn into we meet this sign – no entry.  There are lots of one-way streets – usually not the way we want to go.

It was a delightful walk to church this morning.  We had to pass the festival still happening in the town center on our way to the branch house, which is just off the center with a park and fountain right outside. The entrance is just where the man in the white t-shirt is walking. The elders were going to hook up our internet today, but Stan managed to get it working last night.  When we turned it on we had an email from the branch president asking us to speak today.  We did a short talk and testimony (in Hungarian) and two other new elders also bore their testimonies.  The elders came for lunch today.  We are very impressed with these elders; they will help us to know the members and we hope we can be of help in strengthening this branch. 

Tudjunk, hogy az evangélium igaz. (We know that the Gospel is true.)  Szerelem minden. (Love to all.)

May 20, 2014

Inside Gringos -- the Budapest version of Cafe Rio (Hungarian style), 
but a Mexican flavor when one is craving it.  Notice the peppers on the ceiling.

Another amazing week!  

We met with a woman whose organization finds funding sources for other foundations.  She has previously given us names of places to visit.  Again, she gave us several names.  One was one we had already contacted.  The maternity ward of a hospital has a need for infusion pumps.  We sent the project in and it was approved, so that is on order.  More to come about this project and hospital.

The BYU Chamber Orchestra arrived on Wednesday.   We were at their hotel to welcome them to Budapest.  Sister Ann Madsen (wife of the late Truman Madsen) and her granddaughter, Liz, were with the orchestra for a few days.  So Thursday morning while the orchestra was in rehearsal, Sharon took Ann and Liz to the Parliament tour.  Oh, the weather outside was frightful!  It was a torrential rain, accompanied by heavy winds and cold.  It was probably as cold as any day since we arrived in Budapest.  We had to stand outside waiting for tour time.   One by one, umbrellas were popping inside out and breaking.  Inside the Parliament building, there was a whole pile of broken umbrellas; but it was warm and dry and the tour was again fascinating – saw the changing of the guards in the Holy Crown room this time.  

Thursday evening the Orchestra’s concert was at the Liszt Academy of Music.  This hall was just reopened in October after four years and 60 million dollars worth of renovation, so a real privilege for the orchestra to be there.  

 As mentioned previously, Nu Skin (in Provo and Budapest) donated funds so the orchestra could ‘give’ something to Hungary.   Ten hospitals were chosen to each receive a patient warming unit, often used in surgery.  These were highlighted and presented at a VIP reception prior to the concert (of which we were in charge) which was attended by about 70 – top Nu Skin distributors and vice president, the current and past mission president, other Church people, and several other dignitaries.  It was splendid – something out of the movies with waiters mingling through the crowd with trays of hors d'oeuvres and drinks.  

And then the concert – in one of Europe’s grandest halls.  It was magnificent!  As Brother Cranney (with the orchestra) wrote “The surroundings, the acoustics, the guest piano soloist, the energy of the students and the conductor, and an appreciative audience of more than 850 made a concert that Kory Katseanes described as ‘one of those rare musical moments that happen a few times in one’s life.’  Director Katseanes also told the orchestra after the two encores, ‘I could tell from the first note that you were ‘in the zone.’  I hope you can always remember this day.’”

The next day we went with the orchestra to the town of Győr, about 1.5 hours away.  It again rained all day!  This concert hall was not nearly so large and opulent, but the concert was again splendid.  Once more the audience brought them back for two encores!   

These concerts were both classical, but for the second encore on each night they played an arrangement of ‘A Child’s Prayer’ commissioned just for this tour.  Oh my goodness, it was beautiful.   One man asked afterwards, “What was that music?  I have never heard it before.  I was moved to tears.”  

Sunday’s fireside/devotional at the stake center was short, but very sweet – a ‘Music and the Spoken Word’ version.  Since the ‘word’ was in Hungarian, can’t make much comment.   The members enjoyed it and spent much time mingling with the orchestra members afterwards.  One orchestra member was a former missionary here, so she had lots of friends to see and hug.  We had a light supper of sandwiches and Hungary’s famous túró rudi (a candy bar with a thin chocolate coating and the center of túró, or curd cheese – closest to cottage cheese), which they already knew about and were thrilled to have one more time this night.  They returned to their hotel and left early Monday morning to Ankara and Istanbul, Turkey for more concerts to complete their tour.

Sunday morning we picked up Elder and Sister Cullimore at their hotel to spend the day with us.  They are Technical Specialists from Salt Lake, traveling to several countries following up on several humanitarian major projects.  What troopers.  They are 79 years old, served a humanitarian mission in Myanmar (Burma) and then were called as specialists, and they have been traveling the world on this assignment for 7.5 years! 

On Monday we accompanied them to Vesprém, a beautiful city about 1.5 hours away to check on a garden project that was started three seasons ago.   The Cullimores were very pleased with the gardens.  Of course, some are better than others, but several members were there working on their plots and were ready to talk with us about their experiences and successes.  

Nora is the garden ‘queen.’  She is using four plots and she is the one teaching the other members how to garden.  She lost her husband ten years ago in a car accident, has two teenage children, and says she cans and preserves all she can for winter.  The members say she is the most attentive to her garden plots, but by evening she is an actress, currently playing a princess in Anna Karenina at a large theater in Vesprém.

The gardens are on land where the Vesprém Ward just got this nice, new building – but they haven’t been able to go inside yet.   There is some government ‘red tape’ which the facilities manager is working on.  They are anxiously awaiting the use of their new chapel.  

It’s time for our transfer.  We had project appointments all day today and the next two days will be cleaning and packing for the move south on Friday.  

Hope we have the same birds in Kaposvár who sing to us every day here.   We’ve tried to find out what they are, but are not sure – maybe Whippoorwills – but the sound online is not quite the same.  

Often as we are out and about we see someone who looks like someone we know.  Quickly we do a double take, but you are not here.  It does give us an opportunity to think of you, however; for which we are grateful. 

Happy spring with love.

May 12, 2014

 We saw this amusing menu item and ordered.  

Soup in a bread bowl.  Where do we hook the boyfriend?

This has been a full and rewarding week.  We had the privilege of ‘closing’ five projects.

A cabinet was delivered to the National Association of the Blind.  Previously the Braille games were purchased and presented.   We are still hoping to take them a computer (‘surplused’ from some of the church offices) as soon as we are able to get it.  The man in the green shirt is the president and quite visually impaired.  When he uses the computer, he is right up against the screen.

The Disabled People's Association in Nyrigyehaza (3 hours away) employs a 'handyman' who has retired from his profession and works there because "he has three healthy children." 

He maintains and repairs everything at their facility/campus, but has had to bring tools from home to do this.  He is working with and teaching some of the disabled men.  

When something can no longer be repaired, he uses the parts to create/make other items, such as cars, carts, rickshaws, wheelchairs, etc. for the disabled to use for therapy and fun contests.  The Humanitarian Fund purchased power tools for him/the center. 

These people were so appreciative and gracious; they did not want us to leave. We could have stayed and tried out all the carts.  A very sweet spirit was felt at this 'closing.'

An infusion pump was donated to the Bethesda Children's Hospital, the burn center for Hungary.  Elders attended this closing as it helps those at the hospital associate this gift with the Church and recognize the white shirts and name tags whenever they see them as connected to the gift.  Our contact at the hospital is also a pastor.  In a discussion with him, he mentioned learning German by only reading his German Bible.  We gave him a Book of Mormon.

A children's shelter (for children in crisis) was presented with a stove and some camping equipment.  They have several camping trips planned this summer to take their 30 children and youth out into nature for activities and learning.   They felt this was better for the children than cinemas and discos in town.   Again, the president was so grateful, and said she didn't know 20 years ago when she started this home that she would still be involved helping these children.  She then said, "I am Catholic, what is different about your church from mine?"  She took information about where to attend church and said she would like to attend sometime.

Today we went to a baby store, actually ‘more than a baby store’ the sign said.  It was true; it had clothes, toys, games, books, furniture, car seats, strollers, all possible baby gear.  We purchased some electric breast pumps and specialized accessories for babies and mothers who have a hard time nursing, such as premature babies or those born with a cleft palate.  This lady came and met us there to pick up the supplies, as they don’t actually have a brick and mortar office.   She said she had mothers waiting to use this equipment. 

It is always so rewarding to meet with the leaders of these organizations and get to know their stories.  In every case, someone has started a foundation because of a need (personal or otherwise) and then has been involved with helping/serving the needs for 20, 30 or 40+ years.  They are sweet, dedicated people trying to provide with limited facilities and help.

It is amazing and humbling to realize the breadth of the Church’s humanitarian efforts; their vision of helping Heavenly Father’s children around the world.  When we meet with the people, they are surprised that we would donate to them and we explain that members of our church around the world voluntarily donate a little and it all adds up so that people like us can serve in countries around the world and help.  Our area supervisors told us that the humanitarian missions and projects only operate on the interest of the Humanitarian Fund. This is truly the Lord’s Church or this would not be possible.  We are so blessed to be a small part of this work in this little corner of His Kingdom.  

On our way to do some grocery shopping on Saturday, we stopped at the Chinese Piac (market).  It was huge, booth after booth of the same items, but everyone trying to sell us something – all knockoffs of name brands and ‘made in China.’  It was so similar to markets in Central America; however, this was not handcrafted items – just stuff.

Saturday evening and Sunday was stake conference.  The Sunday session was especially wonderful.  Our favorite speaker was our new branch president from Kaposvár.   He said this is his second stake conference; the first was six months ago, two days after his baptism.  He has been a branch president for two months.  He said he has been reading the Church Handbook, but so many things say ‘follow the Spirit.’  He went on to say when his mother was teaching him how to make bread, he wanted to know the exact amount of flour and she told him that he would know how much to put in; he would feel the right consistency with his wrist.  When he left home, he tried to make bread, but had a hard time getting the right amount of flour.  “Knowing and responding to the Holy Ghost is the same,” he said, “it comes from experience.”   He said he wondered if the Children of Israel were afraid to look upon the fiery serpent because they did not have the experience of knowing the Lord well.   He spoke like a seasoned brother.   We look forward to knowing and working with him.  

There is one stake in Hungary (and two districts).  Stake conference was broadcast via satellite to the other buildings around the country, so we were quite surprised that the chapel and cultural hall were full.   The Church is young in Hungary—just 24 years.   One sister who spoke in conference said her family joined the Church when she was young – 20 years ago.   Four young adults who are waiting for mission calls spoke.  The two young men were from member families and have been planning and looking forward to missions;  the two sisters each said they were the only members in their families.   There are three young, unmarried branch presidents and ours (in Kaposvár) was just married two weeks ago.  Many of the baptisms are young adults, and there have been several marriages of young adults since we arrived.  This is the beginning; these young adults will raise the next generation in the Church, much like we’ve seen in Central America.  In a few years the Church will be much stronger in Hungary.   They are close to a second stake, and of course, would love to have a temple.   Currently they must travel to Freiburg, Germany, which is not easy for them.  

We hope all had a Happy Mother’s Day.   (Hungary’s is the first Sunday in May.)  We spoke to our mothers and our children.   We are so blessed to have the technology to keep in touch with them.