August 31, 2014

Stan saw 'fried clod' on the menu and was curious.  It was a breaded piece of pork served over potatoes.  I liked the carrot flower which was also on my vegetable plate (but that picture is blurry).

The temperature is supposed to reach 800 today.   That’s probably a high for us in August!
The weeks keep flying by.  Monday night we had a good home evening – 3 members, 1 investigator and 4 missionaries.  They fill our little house, but that is good.  One young sister reported on attending a central Europe YSA conference in Poland.  Besides several mishaps with the train going and coming to Budapest, the bus going to Poland and a window breaking in her hotel room, she had a great experience -- meeting many other Young Single Adult members, attending classes, learning, hearing Sister Elaine Dalton and enjoying the social events.

We made a quick trip to Budapest this week to make a payment on an order for a project (remember, things must be paid in cash up front), picked up items for two other projects and then headed home through other cities where we needed to stop. 

First stop was in Székesféhervár where we stopped to ‘close’ a project, which was this therapy bed for the county home for disabled adults.  Here we encountered a new problem.  The director is not happy with the bed.  It is the standard size, but she wanted it 20 cm narrower.  So, we are not through with this project and are still a bit unsure how this will be solved.  Anyone need a rather expensive, custom-made, electrically adjustable therapy bed?

Next was Tatabánya where we presented three three-tiered serving carts (you can see the top of one) to a home for the elderly.  They will use these for delivering medicines and meals to the residents of their facility who cannot leave their rooms.   

We then took ping pong paddles and balls to a day care for disabled adults to go with a ping pong table that was delivered last week.   Their handy man was to arrive later in the day to finish setting up the table; the residents, holding their paddles, were ready to play and looked forward to some physical activity.  The missionaries do service there periodically and said they would go play some games with them.

In  Pápa, where we had previously closed a project, we delivered sheets for the cots at the day care.  We had hoped they would be delivered, but the company called us to say they were ready, and they had no idea when they could be delivered as they needed more than one delivery to go that direction.  Since we had another order at that company and had to pay in cash, we picked up the sheets and delivered them.  They were very excited because on Monday, their classes will be full.

In the evening inTatabánya we walked around the square and took a picture of the statue of Arpád.  Arpád is everywhere in the country – statues, streets, bridges, and buildings.  He was the head of the confederation of Hungarian tribes in the 9th and 10th centuries. He is considered by many Hungarians as the ‘founder of the country.’  He is also known as the Grand Prince, and played a prominent role in the Hungarian conquest of the Carpathian Basin; his line ruled the country for 300 years.

Back in Kaposvár we went with the elders to a small village about 40K away to teach M, an investigator.  Normally, they would not teach someone this far away, but her aunt lives next door and is a member, and M attended church last week and asked for the missionaries.  She will be attending school in another town, so not sure how much teaching will happen there. 

On the way we passed several farm implement dealers with surprisingly large equipment on their lots.  We also came upon numerous tractors and equipment driving on the road.   True to form, there is the new, . . .

. . .and there is also the old.

In this little village we drove to the end of a narrow street to turn around at the roundabout, and saw this quaint statue of a farmer and his wife surrounded by a flower garden.

And on the way home, we saw this sign with the old Hungarian language-- it's not backwards.  In the small villages, these old names are still posted.  This old Hungarian script or alphabetic writing system was used in the Middle Ages.  

Today at church we had several people who have not attended in a long time – a very nice happening, and a full meeting again.  The German couple spoke about marriage and eternal families.  Interesting, he only speaks German; she speaks a little Hungarian and a little English.  So they wrote and gave their talks in German.  Prior to today their son translated their talks into English and they gave a copy to Stan and I and the person who used the English to translate into Hungarian for the congregation.  Translating makes for interesting meetings; and sometimes we don't get it all.

We have sweet members and are grateful that we can feel the Spirit in spite of language differences.  The Gospel is true in any language.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to partake of the sacrament and ponder the blessing of our Savior's Atonement for each of us.  

Happy Labor Day to All!


August 24, 2014

I tried my hand at Hungarian Lesco (Leh cho) for YSA -- onions, peppers, tomatoes and sausage if desired.

An amazingly cool week – in the 60’s and 70’s!   Sorry for those of you still enduring the 90’s to 100- degree summer heat.  

For the week prior and leading up through Tuesday was a Kaposvár Classical Music Festival.  We went to the closing concert on Tuesday evening.  The program listed two numbers:  Beethoven’s piano Sonata in A Major, Op. 101 and Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks.   The Cultural Center was full with overflow seating on the sides of the stage.  We enjoyed the Beethoven piece played by a soloist who is turning 80 shortly.  Since his retirement from the Franz Liszt Academy of Music he travels and gives master classes in Europe and Asia.  When that piece was finished they announced that the next piece would be outside in the city square – complete with fireworks.  Minor though they were, they added a festive flair to the music. (Didn't get a picture of the fireworks, sorry.)

Then Wednesday was a holiday – St. Stephen’s Day.  In the year 1000 Hungary’s first king was crowned and the Hungarian state was founded.  In Budapest, a case containing the right hand of St. Stephen is carried in a procession from the Basilica through the streets of Budapest.  Traditionally, the first bread from the new harvest is baked for this day. 

We were not in Budapest to celebrate; however, so you won’t miss the tradition, here is a picture of St. Stephen’s hand as we viewed it in St. Stephen’s Basilica a few months ago.  

A wasp's nest.
Here in Kaposvár, we celebrated rather quietly.  We went to the Rippl-Ronai Museum and thought we were going to see the Hungarian artist, Rippl-Ronai’s paintings.  Surprise!  There were none.   Instead we saw early Hungarian artifacts (much like other historical museums), animals and insects (much like the Monte Bean Museum),

Festival dress for a young married man.
Festival dress for a young married woman.
Festival dress for a young married, childless woman.  Talk about discrimination!
early Hungarian clothing, 

and samples of early Hungarian embroidery.

Later in the day we went to a city park which has been remodeled in the last couple of months.  The festivities there were mostly for children: some booths selling stuffed animals and toys, a group doing some rhythmic children’s songs and stories, a few carnival rides, inflated slides, several nifty playground  areas,

. . .a new jogging path around the lake, and of course vattacukor (cotton candy).  So our summer is complete – just walking by the carnival rides and cotton candy like we do each year at Strawberry Days or the Fourth of July celebration.   Wish we’d had some grandchildren with us. 

We made arrangements this week to ‘close’ some projects in a couple of other cities so will be heading out on Tuesday.   On Friday evening we had several new people at our Young Single Adults.  This week was a service week; and they helped finish the last three blankets for the home for the disabled, which we can’t ‘close’ until September.  We are discovering Europe goes on vacation in August.    

A Hungarian frustration – we ordered a dermatology lens from California (because it was not in stock here, and to order it through the company here would have been much more expensive, and taken much longer – we think).  It is to be given to a medical teaching hospital here.  Well, it has been in the country now for at least three weeks (that we know of).   The Posta man came to our door to tell us it had arrived in Budapest and we needed to pay customs.  Fine, but we can’t seem to get it here so we can pay.  We have filled out the paper work, sent it, and talked to a customs lady in Budapest.  She verified everything and said it would be sent here this past week.  When we hadn’t heard anything, we went to the Posta and showed them the paperwork – only to be told we had to do it all over again.  So typical; things here are so labor intensive.  So now we will see if anything arrives this week.  

A word about the Hungarian language, or, why I am not speaking by now.  Check out this word: 

This is the longest Hungarian word.  The root word is ‘szent’ or holy.  Add the ‘ség’ and it makes it holiness, next the ‘telen’ and now it is unholy or sacreligious.  Then add the co-verb ‘meg’ at the front and ‘it’ next at end and now it is defile or profane.  And then you keep adding and finally you have a word that means something like ‘for all your undoable sacrilegiousness.’  Granted, this word is hardly ever used, but it shows the principle of the language – adding different ‘cases’ at the end or the beginning for the tense of the word, the postpositions (instead of prepositions), plural, denoting active or passive verbs, collective or abstract nouns, result or product of the action, to make adjectives out of nouns, to create verbs, to make it opposite and a host of others – and then if the word shows possession or is being acted upon, it has an accusative ‘t’ at the end.  I know words and some very simple sentences, but when people start talking to each other (always very fast) they commonly use words that are 7-10 syllables in length, and I am lost!!!  I wish I could start over and go to the MTC with the young missionaries and learn it like they do – all day every day!   

We live near the hospital and when the helicopter comes we can watch it land on top of the building from our kitchen window.  And speaking of the hospital, when we walk past, it is common to see the patients in their robes and slippers out on the sidewalk having their smoke.

Today was a great day at church.  Our 30 chairs were full; we even had extras brought in and had at least 7 investigators attending.  Unfortunately, today was the last day for one of our priesthood holders who is moving to Budapest.  We still have much work to do. in this branch.  Two of our convert Young Single Adult girls attended the YSA Conference in Poland a couple of weeks ago.  They both were thrilled and had a great experience.  They made new friends, loved hearing Sister Elaine Dalton speak, and were strengthened.  One of them is talking about serving a mission.

Oh, how we wish all those who attend and those who the missionaries teach would have the witness of the Spirit and accept the gospel and thus begin to enjoy the blessings our loving and merciful Heavenly Father and His Son want to bestow upon them.  I guess. . ."we do sin in our wish; for we ought to be content with the things which the Lord hath allotted unto us."  (see Alma 29:3)  And we must honor the agency that each is given.  It is just hard to watch choices and mistakes being made and know how much better life could be for them.  We are so grateful for the infinite understanding and love of our Savior for all His children. 

August 17, 2014

Streat (pronounced street) - a fun little sandwich deli in Pécs where we had lunch with all the missionaries after our zone training.  Meals were served on writing boards instead of plates.

Another fairly cool week.  In fact, there were two days that actually bordered on cold.  Could summer be on its way out?  Last summer temperatures got to 114, but we've only had a couple of days over 90 this year.  No complaints here, but if summer's ending, looking forward to a nice, looong Autumn.  

This was a fairly low-key, normal week.  We went with our branch president to a small village to visit a sister.  We also went with the elders to visit another sister who is having health issues.   Only one young man was at Young Single Adults this week; two girls were gone, one was working, one was grounded, and her friend was babysitting.  The young man is just getting re-activated.  He went last week to the youth conference in Germany and had a great time, learned much and felt the Spirit and was so amazed to see and interact with so many LDS youth.  He is very concerned at this point and wants to keep that wonderful spirit with him.  He’s actually a bit young for YSA, but since he’s the only youth in the branch, he’s included.  The two girls who were out of town this week were at the YSA Conference in Poland.  Apparently they had a transportation issue getting home last night and didn’t get home until 6:00 a.m. this morning.  We’re anxious to hear about their week.  They are both recent converts this year, and this will be so good for them.  

Thursday we rode the bus with our elders to Pécs (1 hour south) for zone training.  

With these missionaries we were instructed in ways to become better teachers and did some role playing together.

We then all walked through the town’s pedestrian street to have lunch together at Streat (pictured above) before returning on the bus.  

We didn't have time to visit anything in the city, but took some pictures of interesting buildings on our walk through town.

The Pécs Synagogue was patterned after the Budapest Synagogue.  At one time there were 4,000 Jewish people in Pécs, but no longer, and the synagogue is mostly a museum.

Regular theater performances have been in Pécs since 1786. Pécs was one of the most significant provincial centers of Hungarian theatrical culture.  Comedians performed in dance halls, town houses, inns and cafes.  This Magyar Nemzeti Szinhaz (Hungarian National Theater) opened in October 1895.  After some remodeling 100 years later, it now has a revolving stage, four-part sinking orchestra pit, new light, sound and video system and is air conditioned (and that's a novelty).  Would be fun to attend a play there, but don't suppose they do them in English -- even though Pécs is a university town and there are many English speaking students.

This was once a monastery, then the Church of the Good Samaritans, a hospital, and at present it is a surgical clinic of the University of Pécs Medical School.

Oh, we walked through the Arpad Mall and stopped to use the restrooms.  These sinks were fascinating -- 6 of them along the wall. (We have mentioned before, things are really new or really old.)

Friday we had three new projects approved, so will be getting busy with those. 

The only reading (for enjoyment) time we take is reading to go to sleep, but we both just finished a fascinating book, Safe Journey, An African Adventure by Glenn L. Pace about his African years and experiences.  May we share just one of the fascinating stories (in shortened form):

Remember when Church members were asked to fast for the Ethiopian drought and famine in 1985?  There had been no rain in Ethiopia for over two years, and hundreds of thousands died. At that time Elder Pace was employed by the Church as the Managing Director of the Welfare Services Department.  The response to that fast exceeded anything the Brethren had anticipated -- $6 million.   At that time there was no infrastructure or license in the Church to deliver aid to various parts of the world so they were dependent on using other organizations.  Brother Pace was sent immediately to Washington, D. C and New York City to learn all he could about agencies involved in administering assistance.  After extensive research he reported to the Brethren and recommended that the Church donate $1.4 million to Catholic Relief Services.  He said he observed several raised eyebrows and was asked to elaborate a little bit.  He explained that his assignment was to make sure the aid reached the people in need, and it was his opinion that the Catholic Church had the infrastructure to accomplish that.  Their  response, “We have no further questions.” 

Next he and Elder M. Russell Ballard went to Ethopia to be check on the actual distribution.  After traveling about 24 hours, Brother Pace was ready to get to their hotel and collapse.  However, before leaving Utah Elder Ballard had found out that there was one member of the Church in Ethiopa.  He was a man from Seattle temporarily assigned there while doing consulting work for Ethopian Airlines. Elder Ballard wanted to find him – right then.   They began asking around at the airport and within minutes someone brought him to them.  The man had been in Ethiopa several months (without family) and was very lonely.  Elder Ballard told him they would be holding sacrament meeting the following Sunday and they would love to come to his home for the meeting.  Tears welled up in his eyes and he began to sob, “I have not partaken of the sacrament in months.”  

So, on that clear, bright Sunday morning they met, they sang, they partook of the sacrament, they bore testimony to each other, and then Elder Ballard offered a closing prayer expressing gratitude to the members of the Church who had contributed so generously and who had been praying for the people of Ethiopa. “Then, with as much power and boldness of authority. . . .he called upon the power of the holy Melchizedek Priesthood and commanded the elements to gather together to bring rain upon the land. . . .”

That afternoon while they were in their hotel, they heard a very loud clap of thunder, which was the beginning of a torrential downpour.  From their window they watched children and adults alike begin to frolic and splash on each other and fill buckets and barrels.  It was a celebration.  Of course, they knelt to say a prayer of thanksgiving. For the next two weeks, everywhere they traveled, it rained.  

That was a fascinating story (at the beginning of a fascinating book) and this experience was the beginning of what became the Humanitarian Department of the Church and LDS Charities.  We continue to be amazed at the mammoth humanitarian efforts around the world and the vision and care of the Church and the blessing that this is to Heavenly Father’s children.  We are so grateful to have a very small part in this work.  We are also grateful to you who make this work possible from your donations to the Humanitarian Fund.  We explain to those we visit that members all over the world are invited to contribute and their small amounts add up to these sacred funds which make help around the world possible.  We know that this is the Lord’s Church and we are doing His work – because all this simply would not keep going if it wasn’t.