September 28, 2014

Outdoor museum village homes from the 18th century.

Wednesday was missionary transfers.  We received two new elders in Kaposvár.   First they missed the train out of Budapest, then they missed the stop for Kaposvár; and when they finally arrived here in the evening one elder had come with his previous apartment key in his pocket.   Not a good thing when the other new elders are at the apartment in the city 300 kilometers away and can’t get in.  (They did get in touch with the landlord who let them in that night, but he didn’t have an extra key.)  The president called us and we made an emergency trip to Szolnok on Thursday.   That’s an area we haven’t been in yet; quite a bit drier than Kaposvár.  We’re told it was much hotter there this summer also.  Glad we’re where we are.  We did go to lunch with the elders, but since all four elders and us were new to the city, no one really knew anything to see and they had work to do so we came home, 

The very positive thing about road trips are the opportunity to read.  We are currently reading Jesus the Christ –most interesting and fascinating.  I’ve started it several times, but it’s not bedtime reading!  Next year will be its’ hundred-year anniversary.  It will be interesting to see what will be done for that celebration.  Meridian Magazine photographers have been in the Holy Land filming for a project having to do with such a celebration.

Friday night YSA was a success. The last couple of weeks people left after institute and some after dinner. 

This week we had enough to actually play some games.  Since I was the time keeper, Stan was needed to even the team.  Here are a couple of pics showing Stan against President Balint doing the Candy Elevator – two  M&M’s on a pencil ‘elevator’ pulled carefully over the ears and up to the mouth in one minute.  

Another photo of the Sticky Situation -- dip nose in Vaseline and then see how many cotton balls you can move from one plate to another in one minute.  

Saturday was a branch social.   When this branch has a social, we plan on the whole day!   First a lady who comes every week (non-member who doesn’t want to be baptized), invited the branch to her home for cake to celebrate her birthday.  So we met at the branch house at 10 a.m.   When everyone got there we walked to her house and had a slice of bread (not cake) – it was a vanilla-chocolate variety -- and sang Happy Birthday to her.    

Then we all walked to the bus station and took the 11:30 bus to Szenna, a small village about 10k outside of Kaposvár.  It turns out we were in someone’s back yard.   Apparently the place we had gone before was rented and this lady works for the city and is a sister (or friend) to someone in the branch so she offered her yard.    

The bogrács kettle full of meat and potatoes.
When we arrived the guys began a ball game and the women began to prepare dinner.   The home owner cleaned all the brush, branches and leaves off the fire pit and they hung the bogrács kettle.  
Someone started picking up walnuts up off the ground so several of us spent a couple of hours cracking walnuts.  We had a good time and a good visit.

When one sister came around 2 ish, she passed around her dessert that she brought, so it was gone in a few minutes.  Then I walked up the patio stairs to get something out of a bag I brought and several ladies were enjoying the potato salad that I brought.  Then they brought it down and it was soon gone.

The guys are hungry!
Lunch or dinner ­– whichever – was finally ready at 3:00 p.m.  Everyone ate and then we had to leave to catch the return bus at 4:00 p.m. 

The village of Szenna  has an outdoor museum showing homes – architecture and atmosphere – from the 18th century.  Since it was right by the bus stop and we had about 7 minutes before the bus arrived, we took a quick peek.

A small festival of some sort was in progress, but just as we arrived the music and dancers ended.

We saw two ladies with skirts in traditional ‘Hungarian blue.’  Perhaps they are docents there.  

Autumn is officially here, leaves are turning and falling, the air is crisp and cool and we have a touch of the sniffles to go with it.   This week we did planning, calling and scheduling for an upcoming busy one.  

We are grateful for our calling as missionaries, for the people of Hungary that we meet and serve and for the members of our branch with whom we are becoming friends.  

Just watched the General Women's Meeting from last night.  Marvelous!  The sisters gave inspiring messages.  President Uchtdorf always speaks the language of whomever he is speaking to.  Love him. 

I was especially touched by the Primary choir from Korea -- they were beautiful.  I especially loved the fact that they had the choir from another country -- getting ready for some Conference talks in foreign languages -- very fitting for a worldwide church.  Also touching were the messages from around the world about the temple.  We love the temple, we miss attending the temple and pray that one day we can be together with our family in the temple.


September 21, 2014

We watch for fun menu translations.  This menu called this 'Lion of Pork with Floor Pebbles.' 
 There was also a choice of  'Paste of Cabbage,' but no one chose it.
This week turned out to be quite full.  On Monday at the request of the branch president, Stan took a branch member (as a translator) to a small village to meet with government social workers regarding some problems with a family in the branch.  That was interesting and rather sad.   While he was gone I had a hair cut appointment.  It’s a new adventure every time I get my hair cut from someone with whom I can’t communicate. I take my ‘google translate’ instructions and hope for the best. I like the stylist I have now.  My first hair cut in the country was a real disaster – and she spoke English!

Tuesday we left on a road trip; first was a stop in Szombathely where, with a new senior couple, we visited a home for disabled adults, which has 10 residents; and then a service center for the disabled, which provides various services for about 2,300 county residents who live at home.  

After dinner that evening we went with Elder and Sister Viernes to a museum.  There was a special exhibit of the Adriatic Sea.  Here are some rather large crabs and interesting shaped shells.

There was also a room with Roman ruins -- pieces and parts unearthed in this city.  The bottom left mosaic is the original right where they found it.

As we drove through a small village on the way to Sopron, we saw this festive Autumn decoration on a corner.


And then as we drove into Sopron, we came upon these animals and were able to get very close picture.  Right across the street the Magyar Nemzeti Cirkusz (Hungarian National Circus) had come to town.

In Sopron we ‘closed’ a project at a children’s home (orphanage).   They have 30 children there without much to keep them busy and involved outside.  So we purchased a trampoline and a basketball standard. They were delivered about a month ago and the senior couple and missionaries there put the trampoline together and finally last week there were enough dry days that they put the sleeve in the ground in concrete for the basketball standard.  

So, on this day the older (an engineer) and younger missionaries and a couple of the staff of the home finished installing the basketball standard.   We finished about an hour before the kids arrived home from school, so didn’t get to see their reaction.  Elder and Sister Brown who help there are sure they will be thrilled.

While in Sopron we had dental appointments for checkup and cleaning.  Our branch president gave us the name of a college friend of his who is practicing in Sopron.  We are told there are around 300 dentists in Sopron, which is only about 40 minutes from Vienna, Austria.  The Austrians come to Sopron to shop and for dental work because it is less expensive.  Many Hungarians in Sopron work in Vienna because they can make more money.   One example was a man who owned his own business quit and became a dishwasher in Vienna and is making three times the salary he received in Hungary.

That evening we drove to Győr and stayed in Hotel Klastrom, a former monastery.  'The 41 rooms have been rebuilt from the cells of monks keeping the original atmosphere.'

The entrance was definitely on  the non-descript side, but the size of the room key made up for it.

This picture shows the hallways of the two hotels we stayed in on this trip.  The left is a quaint little place in Szombathely with about 8 rooms.  The right shows the long hallway on one wing of the former monastery.

In Győr the elders went with us to visit a nursing/assisted living home for the elderly.  The building we visited has 135 residents; and some rooms on each floor were being remodeled to be wheelchair accessible.  There were 5 other buildings, which house 312 residents.   

After the elders helped us, we went with them to a ‘program’ at a sweet member lady’s home a ways out of town (we were the transportation) where she fed us lunch.

On the way we passed the Győr City Hall, a beautiful landmark in this city.  This was built in 1898.  Besides rooms for assemblies and meetings, it also houses a concert hall. 

And then we headed home.   As we drove through a small town, we noticed an imposing building up on the mountain, so we drove to see what it is.   The short drive took us up a hill and in a beautiful forest setting we discovered the Benedictine Pannonhalma Archabbey, built in 996.   The Abbey is the 2nd largest in the world and currently houses 50 monks and the Benedictine Boy's Boarding School.  Information told us that if someone graduates from there, they have no problem going to any university they choose.  We took a fascinating tour.  Come with us and see. . 

Some of the outer walls -- some of which date back to the beginning in 996.  

The Basilica on the left was consecrated in 1224 and the Porta Speciosa, 
one of the entrance doors into it on right.

The library was truly amazing! Built in the 1820's, it houses the oldest written examples of the Hungarian language and over 400,000 books -- and they are large and old and placed two deep on the shelves!   Each wall contains its own subject of law, theology, medicine or the arts. 
Friday was a busy day – district meeting, lunch with the elders, shopping and then get ready for Young Single Adults that evening.  Always after a trip, there is a ton of paper work to do – we have to document every receipt and send to the area welfare offices.  When a project closes, that also requires much accounting.   There’s no time to get bored.  

Saturday morning we had to do missionary apartment inspections (transfers coming up this week). I always make some food for the elders as a reward for a clean apartment. As we walked through Kaposvár, we discovered a small parade -- complete with music -- opening up the Honey Festival.  And then we got to meet the Honey Queen.  (Stan wanted to call her the Queen Bee, but don't think that's what she was.)

This weekend was the ‘Linger Longer’ after meetings today; but it turns out that there are only a couple of us that bring anything to share.  And we had a local sister and one set of elders over for dinner this evening.  This sister is quite a talker – and thought she would die coming up our 96 stairs!  

This week we are so grateful for a loving and merciful Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, who have given us scriptures, prophets, teachings,  guidelines -- even commandments -- that provide the plan, the process and the actions that we each must do to become like them and return to be with them.  "Oh, how great the wisdom and the love."

September 14, 2014

This mosaic statue is flat, but truly looks three dimensional -- an optical illusion.  This is by Victor Vasarely, a French-Hungarian graphic designer and poster artist, who is considered the grandfather and leader of op art.  This piece is called Zebra, done in the 1930's. Wouldn't a better name be Rubik's Cube?   But then, this was 40 years before the Rubik's cube was invented -- in Hungary!!
First of all, Happy Birthday to my daddy who is 92 today!!!

Rain, rain, go away, come again another day!  I guess we can’t complain; at least it soaks in; we haven’t had to build the ark like they did in Arizona last week.  Life continues for us in the rain.  It is common for Hungarians to cancel appointments when it is raining.  One elder said one rainy week they had 24 appointments and they all got canceled.  Church was a bit sparse today also.  

Tuesday evening we had a very special treat.  We listened to a Europe Area Sister’s Meeting that originated in Germany and was broadcast live to 39 European countries in their native languages.  We watched from home as it was broadcast in Hungarian in our branch building. Elder José A. Teixeira (Europe Area President) first spoke with some thoughts of his mother and wife, two great women he loves. 
Sister Jennifer Kearon, wife of first counselor Elder Patrick Kearon, told how she had just recently learned that when changing sheets on a bed, if you reach and put the fitted sheet on the farthest, hardest corner first instead of last, the rest of the corners will go into place much easier.  She used this analogy to teach us to always do the hardest ‘corners’ first.  “What if the Savior had said, ‘Oh Father, this corner is too hard.’”

Elder Donald L. Hallstrom thanked the Europe area sisters for being good LDS women, wives, daughters and examples.  He said that is really why they came – to bring the love and gratitude from the First Presidency.   

Sister Diane Hallstrom quoted a phrase from a Jewish prayer, “Entrances to holiness are everywhere.”  And then she talked about the kind of heart we need to enter those holy places.  “There is nothing so whole as a broken heart.” (also Jewish)  A broken heart is humble, a broken heart is ready to be taught, a broken heart wants to know the things of God, a broken heart is obedient.  It is the optimal heart condition.  A broken heart enters places of holiness.  On a wintry day in upper New York, no one came to church except the minister and an 89-year-old lady who had hobbled 10 blocks in the snowdrifts and icy sidewalks.  The minister greeted her and said “how in the world did you get here on such a stormy day?”  “Oh,” she said, “my heart gets here first, and then it’s easy for the rest of me.”  A heart like and bound to the Saviors’ is our entrance to all that is holy.

Elder David A. Bednar again thanked the sisters for their strength and steadiness in the face of secular influences.  He talked about the two parts of the Savior’s Atonement:  the redeeming or cleansing and the enabling or strengthening powers. He reviewed the story of Nephi when he was bound and prayed for strength, “according to my faith which is in me. . . .”  He prayed as an agent – to act, and not be acted upon. Elder Bednar said that he believes that Nephi was given strength through the Atonement, and then he worked, perhaps for hours (or longer) twisting and struggling to loosen the bands.  Christ is our source of strength.  “If you do not think you need His strength, then is when you need it the most!”

Elder M. Russell Ballard also thanked the women for the work they are doing.  He said when you read the scriptures you see how much Jesus Christ loved the women of the Church, mentioning the woman at the well and Mother Eve.  He then spoke about his ancestor on his mother’s side, Mary Fielding Smith.  “Your work is as great as the work of the earlier sisters,” he told these European saints.  “Become pioneers just as the first pioneers.  You are pioneers.”

This week in Pécs we closed a project by donating a specialized state-of-the-art lens to the University of Pécs Medical School Dermatology Department and Clinics.   They will use this lens in teaching medical students and in the clinics for earlier and better diagnoses of skin conditions, i.e. cancer, etc.

We then did a couple of missionary apartment inspections, and brought back an entire car load of cast offs from one of them.  Oh my, the things that can collect in apartments over time!   We discarded about half of it and gave some white shirts and a suit to some branch members today.  The rest (like about 15 copies of Jesus the Christ, Man’s Search for Happiness, etc.) we will take to the mission office.  

We had a little time to look around and saw the Pécs Synogugue, which was consecrated in 1869.  The outside has onion domes and ornate exterior finishes.

The decorative detailing continues on the inside.  It still contains the original organ.

The Pécs Cathedral’s foundation was laid at the end of the fourth century.  The towers were probably built in the Middle Ages.

The chapel and other interior parts have been built and rebuilt over the centuries.

We walked up to the massive iron gate and took a picture – the light was not right.  And the few minutes we were there we got a parking ticket!


We drove to the TV tower which overlooks the city.  The tower is 176 meters (673 feet) high.  We went up to a public observation deck at 75 meters and a restaurant at 72 meters (and unfortunately we had just eaten). 

The observation deck offered spectacular views, but just as we got there the clouds came rolling in.

And last we saw a couple of places where love locks have been placed.  Sweethearts attach a padlock (sometimes with their names written or engraved) to a gate, fence, bridge or other public fixture as a token of their love and commitment.  We wondered how many of these couples are still together.  This one is very full,

but just down the street, here is the beginning of another.
Remember the neonatologist that we mentioned recently who prays every time he runs the sterilizer in his maternity ward and NICU hoping that it will continue working.  On Thursday we received a miracle email from our supervisors in Germany who wrote to say that they had some funds in a special account and they would like to use it to buy the sterilizer for Dr. Csathy’s neonatology unit. (They visited him with us when they were here in May.) We are thrilled; he was thrilled.  He has continued to write for grants to replace this almost 30-year-old sterilizer and has been turned down numerous times. 

Friday we had a very sweet experience as we closed the project for a home for disabled children in Kaposvár.  They had requested towels and blankets.   They are the ones we had the stake youth group cut and tie the blankets in their summer activity.   We delivered the blankets last week, but the children were not there, and the director wanted us to return to see the children.  Friday the blankets were already in use in several places. They loved the bright colors.

They presented us a photo of all the children holding several of the blankets. The photo has a fingerprint of each child around the edges.

The children and their teachers did a little presentation for us.  And then they took us on a tour of each of the classrooms to see what they are doing and learning as well as the therapy they receive.   Again, the children are happy; it is obvious they love their teachers and the teachers love them.  Some have been coming to this center all their lives.  We truly felt like we were among angels. 

We had a couple of branch members to lunch today with one set of missionaries.  We decided we would try to have each of the branch members over with a set of missionaries.  The brother that came today was in the branch presidency.  He lost his job and took a job in a pub but has not been able to come to church.  The missionaries have continued to meet with him and Friday he quit his job so he can come back to church – an act of faith for him.

That’s our week – hardly in a nutshell, however. We are enjoying our time here together representing our Savior and helping in His work.   We thank you for your comments and support.  We love and miss you all.  If we look ahead, it seems like a long time before we will see you again.  As we look back,the time has passed quickly.  We'll just keep working forward and looking back!

September 7, 2014

A city center project just finished this week -- new steps down to a lower street,
 flowers and play area for children.
Another cool week.  In fact, Tuesday was dark, cold and rainy.  The Hungarians are wearing coats!  Our branch president went to help his parents harvest their big garden and commented how much the rain has hurt the tomatoes and the grapes.  He said the potatoes and carrots have to be harvested out of mud.

School started this week for most students, so we had only one young man for home evening.  He has recently become active and attended the Youth Conference in Germany and is fired up.  He was so worried after his first day of school because of the way students were talking.  He said he doesn’t want to be around them and was worried how he is going to handle this year.   That gave us a great lesson topic for home evening and we talked about standing for what you know is right – often alone. 

Two afternoons we spent with our translator making calls and setting up appointments for humanitarian projects.  We did make one delivery this week (which joyously cleared our bedroom of stacks of blankets and towels), but will have the official closing this coming week. 

Oh, we solved the therapy bed problem.  We went to see the man who is the country’s head of the disabled agencies (we have met him a couple of times before) and asked him if another of their agencies could use the therapy bed.  He was thrilled!   He said that 20 cm would not hinder therapy work for most people.   Currently our budget is calling for less expensive projects, so it may be the first of the year before we can get back to that lady – if it seems right at that time.  He even offered to pick up the bed and transport it to a new location; and said he would invite us to see it and observe it in use.

Thursday we were invited to dinner at the German family’s home.  They live about 50K away from Kaposvár.  They have a 38-year-old son who lives at home with them (who has an internet business), and speaks very good English, but who is no longer active.  He is a very personable and is very respectful to his parents and translates for them and us.  I gave her a visiting teaching message.  We wish we could get him back to Church.   The parents are faithful – every other week.  Don’t know if it’s money, distance or just the mindset they have.  He served as a branch president in Germany years ago, but even after 9 years here, he does not speak any Hungarian.   

Friday was district meeting and then Young Single Adults in the evening, so typically I am cooking all afternoon.  I have to think of things that are inexpensive (for the branch budget) on this day and can be transported to the branch house and kept warm – so that means either in the two (small) crock pots or two kettles that I have.  There is no oven at the church.  I usually make a one-dish something and some sort of bread.  The kids and the elders (of course) lurk over the bread waiting for ‘go.’   (When I was asked to bring sacrament bread one elder said he was waiting all week because he thought I would make it.)   Institute began this week as the first part of YSA, and we had Minute-to-Win-It games planned, but the kids all left after institute and the meal.  School has just started and a couple of them had been out of town all week at school and were ready to be home.   Who knows?  Things may change with school starting.  We’ll have to see, but we have next week’s games ready.  

Saturday came and we realized we hadn’t taken a single picture – not a picturesque sort of week.  We knew there was a city festival of some sort in town so we walked there to see what it was about.   It was a city family festival.  There were about 20 or so booths set up selling jewelry,



This reminded us of Utah, but it is Slovakia.
artwork, specialty foods and a few miscellaneous items -- i.e., wine.  

There was a stage with music,

children painting on a vacant store’s windows (this was planned) 

and another area with some games for families.

We had invited the young man and his mother (who is less active at the present) to dinner today.  Then we got a call from the mission president saying he and another couple were coming here to church today so I invited them to lunch.  So it was to be a double header.  I shopped and was preparing on Saturday when we received a call from the mission president saying they forgot they were supposed to be in a different city for the dedication of their chapel.  And then the young man’s mother got called into work.   We quickly invited another young couple over.  He is from Texas (is our translator here), served here on a mission, married a Hungarian and is living here.  Her mother came with them and we had a delightful time.  So we had company after all.  It was a good day.

Testimony meeting today was awesome.  I am so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for its restoration on the earth at this time.  I am grateful for my testimony of its truthfulness, and for my parents who have taught me this truth.  I am also grateful for the Spirit which bears witness even when the words cannot be understood.  We have a Savior who loves and cares for each of us, who truly knows our every feeling and how to comfort us because He truly descended below ALL (or deeper) than any of us so that He would know and feel our needs and be there for us -- always!