July 20, 2014

In our travels this week, we drove through several towns and villages that have these lovely flower baskets hanging on the telephone poles on both sides of the road -- sometimes for several miles.  It is so inviting.

Since the Hungarian calendar weeks start with Monday, we can truthfully say we are at the end of a very busy and fulfilling week.  

We went north Tuesday to Pápa to close two projects.  We arrived at the Sunshine Nursery where two commercial-type vacuum-carpet cleaners had been delivered, and the director was ready. 

The vacuums were set up on display, a lovely table of refreshments, and some flowers and plants in the hallway. 

Even though the school was closed for cleaning, the staff and some children and parents were invited back.  The vice mayor and another lady from the city office, as well as the local TV station were there to interview and make note of the vacuum cleaner gifts.  Elder Miller did the honors with the TV station, the director and Elder Ray as the interpreter. 

The director then had a speech prepared for all in attendance.  She thanked the Church and commented that as you arrive at the facility, you see the yard with colorful play sets.  She then continued, “And then when the children and their parents come in, they trust us to keep and maintain the facility to be as clean as possible.”   She quoted a cute section from Murphy’s Toddler Laws:
If it's mine it's mine,
if it's yours it's mine,
if I like it it's mine,
if I can take it from you it is mine,
if I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine,
if I think it is mine it is,
if I saw it first it's mine,
if I had it then put it down it is still mine,
if you had it then you put it down it is now mine,
if it looks like the one I have at home it is mine,
if it is broken it is yours. 

We then arrived at Erzsebetraros Oroda (a day care center) with the art supplies which they requested.  We had a great time shopping for these.   Here is a sample and you can see how excited Sister Ildiko is to get these.  It is because of her—a Church member—that we learned about this facility.   They showed us the paper (backs of used) that the children use to write on (and they will keep using these), and said that they save all scraps and when they are doing art projects they often ask each other “do you have a piece of that color left.” 

This facility will also get sheets for their napping cots.  They are so quiet while a teacher is reading them a story.

We then headed to Decathlon in Györ (a much larger city than our Kaposvar) to buy a trampoline and basketball standard for a children’s home in Sopron.  They requested some sort of activities to keep the children occupied when not in school; and since most of them are teens, we thought these two items would be better than playground equipment (which was a bit pricey anyway).

Then it was off to Budapest with a stop on the way into town to pay for the above mentioned sheets.   They can now be made and delivered.

The next morning we backtracked a bit (because it closed at 4 p.m.) to pay for a therapy bed for a home for the disabled in another city.   If we haven’t mentioned previously, it is possible when buying at a retail store to use a credit card.  If it is any other type of business, the item(s) must be paid in cash before the order can be placed.   As you can imagine, there are times (such as this week) that we travel fairly loaded to accomplish our purposes.  

And, may we pay tribute here to the miracle of the internet/satellite/GPS – that gets us to each destination.   That morning the GPS guided us to an area in a Budapest suburb with a very small street only big enough for one small car.  Where to park?   I looked at the house and panicked, “We can’t pay 500,000 forints (about $2,500) to that house!” I said to Elder Miller.  Thank goodness it was the next house.  We found a small weathered sign on the gate, rang the bell and were escorted inside to a lovely office where they found our order, took the money, showed us several therapy beds and massage tables in production, and we chose the color for our bed covering.  On the wall was a map of Hungary with a hundred plus map tacks showing the areas where this company has placed its’ products – just two men who do the manufacturing/building. 
We never see zoning of any kind.  You can set up a business wherever you find a spot, live or desire.   It doesn’t matter where or what is on either side of you.  When we left, the owner said to us, “Go this way and take the first right.”  The first right turned out to be an even smaller alley way, but it (and the GPS) took us right back to the freeway and back to Budapest. 

At the end of the week we also went by bus (via googlemaps.com) to another place of business.  Again, we went farther and farther away, getting slightly concerned as we left all visible places of business.   Then there was civilization again.  The bus let us off; we walked a few meters on a residential street and there was the business.  And we made that payment of 471,000 forints!  Each transaction is truly an adventure and never ceases to amaze us!!!!

And then it was Senior Conference.  It is nice to get together with the other senior couples from around Hungary.  We heard testimonies from a couple just arriving to be the area auditing couple; they will be assigned to a small town like we are (different from the outgoing auditing couple who lived in Budapest their entire mission). We also heard from another couple who is leaving.  I liked a thought from Benjamin Franklin that she quoted:  “If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write something worth reading or do things worth writing.”  We also heard from Elder Ryan Beaumont, a former Hungarian missionary who was in town on his honeymoon.  So, when his wife, Josie, posted about them being here, another senior couple (who are friends on Facebook with Ryan) came and told us that Michelle Wilwand (my niece) told them to tell us hello.   We did get to meet and talk with them for a few minutes.  Josie said she is from Mike Wilwand’s home town and always babysat for them when they were visiting.  Small world!

We heard from Sister Smith and instructions from President Smith.  He reviewed the recent Mission President's Seminar and some of the changes that will affect the missionary work (i.e. teaching all 5 lessons to the investigator again after s/he is baptized, staying close to them and keeping in touch with them even after returning home.)

We then heard from Elder Axel Leimer, an Area Seventy of the Europe Area, who told us some interesting things:

  • The Gospel is still unfolding; the restoration is not complete. 
  • And because of that, we all need to be alert and stay up to date.
  •  A spiritual awakening is beginning in Europe.  It has been stagnant, but that is changing.  Germany was dedicated 4½ years ago, Switzerland was dedicated a few weeks ago.
  • Cape Verde has seen a 50% growth in the last year.  In some places they were meeting in tents because buildings could not be built fast enough.  The only place in the country large enough for a stake conference was the parliament building and one of the Church leaders was brave enough to ask.
  • Portugal had 25% growth last year.
  • Baptisms and reactivations are increasing.  One mission has a motto of “bring one in, bring one back.”  One stake had 34 reactivations in a year – and all are preparing to go to the temple.
  • He told us about a lady who was tending her sheep.  The fence broke, the sheep got out and she could not get them back.  She was so distressed that she knelt down and prayed and asked for help with her sheep.   Suddenly there were two men there who helped her bring in her sheep and mend the fence.  She then asked them who they were.  They answered, “We are angels sent to help you.  And by the way, Richard is fine.”   In a few days she was in town and saw two missionaries.  She was drawn to them, introduced herself and told them about this experience.  They are teaching her.   
In the evening after the conference and dinner, we attended a Hungarian Folk Dance concert.  The men were fun to watch, and their stomping and slapping reminded me of the Samoan Slap Dance.  They were much more energetic than the women.  

The next morning we toured the Jewish Synagogue.   This is the largest synagogue in Europe and second-largest in the world, second only to the one in New York City.  However, this synagogue seats 3,000, which is more than NYC.  Why so many?  When the building was built (1854-59) there were 23,000 Jews in Budapest.  After World War II when so many were killed, many left the country, quit practicing, or did not let others know they were Jewish and their younger generations did not know or practice. This is a Neolog congregation, not Orthodox – meaning they are more liberated; they wanted to assimilate more.  The building is the first synagogue built in the Oriental Moorish style.  It was so successful, many other synagogues have followed suit. 
In the front is a reading table from which is read the Torah three days a week.  This synagogue has an organ (which is not orthodox) and concerts are often held.  In fact, Franz Liszt played at the opening of the synagogue.
During World War II, the building had 27 bomb hits.  It was restored in 1991-1996.  During the War, 600,000 Hungarian Jews were killed.  In this garden are 2,000 buried in mass graves.  These are markers for many of them -- all with the death date of 1945. 
And here is the Tree of Life.  In 1991 actor Tony Curtis built this with names on the leaves of many of those who died in the Holocaust.
After the Conference, we did some further shopping and meeting with two new agencies before returning home. 
Elders Chambers (Phoenix), Depallens (California), Larson (Spanish Fork), Loveland (Richmond, VA), Miller
Today we had the elders over for a ‘last supper.’  It is transfer week and at least two are sure they are being transferred.
This is getting mighty long.   May we close letting you know that we are fine, we enjoy what we are doing and pray that we might be instruments to help the work in Hungary progress. 


  1. What you are doing is the very best kind of missionary work possible (in my humble opinion).

    The synagogue is beautiful. I have always found it so odd that architects in the 19th and 20th centuries chose a Muslim style for Jewish buildings, given Jewish/Muslim antipathy.

    Lovely post, as always. Thank you. "See" you next week.



  2. I enjoyed reading the facts from Elder Leimer. I've read many books about the Holocaust and its always sobering to visit the sites and places where many of them are buried. Its hard to imagine a church built to hold 3,000 people each week, let alone them attending. We had 182 at church yesterday and were thrilled with that. Have a great week!

  3. Love the toddler laws you posted. Lilly is entering that very stage right now so they made me laugh. I always enjoy your posts. :)

  4. Your post, as usual, is amazing. Should be published. Love you both. Keep up the Lord's work.