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.


  1. So glad you've had a great week. The concerts sounded awesome! Wish I could have been there. The concert hall above reminds me of playing with the symphony in Moscow. Good luck with your move. Love you both.

  2. Sounds like you had a great week. The Hall where the orchestra played is beautiful!! I hope at 79 years old Russ and I are still going strong like the Cullimores.

    1. Sounds like you are having a great experience. So happy for you. The Tegucigalpa brigada went well. 717 served and we missed you. God bless.