October 26, 2014

This is a picture of a beautiful roundabout in Kaposvár.  We want to put in our favorable votes for roundabouts.  They are plentiful here and very efficient.  Cars need not stop (and contribute to air pollution), but can just slow down and continue.   Out on the highway wherever there are crossroads, there are roundabouts.  So nice.   We first saw them in England years ago and have been wishing that Utah would use them more than in the few places where they currently are.

The coats came out this week!  In fact, Thursday a storm began about mid-day, the rains came and the winds howled long into the night.  And the rain lasted about 30 hours.  

Yesterday was chilly, but much nicer. We helped a branch family move – at least the first day of their move, which may turn out to be many days in the end. 

We spent some time this week with humanitarian paper work; submitted two projects and they were both approved.  So we have new projects to begin work on this week.

Monday night we hosted a home evening for investigators that the missionaries invited to attend.  It’s always hard to know who will actually show up.  But we had 10 investigators!  Add to that the 6 missionaries and 1 branch member!   We had a house full.  We had a short lesson, supporting activity and refreshments; the people were very congenial.  It was a great evening.  Two of the investigators were at church today for the second time.  

We attended a ‘program’ with another investigator who has actually been investigating for several years.  He is a great guy and lives a healthy, clean lifestyle.  The missionaries were very bold and asked him about baptism – again.  He was at church today.  We are praying for him.

We also attended a ‘program’ with the mother of one of our young single adult sisters.  In the past she has had a hard time reading the Book of Mormon, so the missionaries were not sure about her progress.  However, this night she was very excited about the gifts of the spirit that she read about in the Book of Mormon and said she could really see these things in those who are members of the branch.  The Spirit was very strong at this ‘program.’  She was also at church today.

Speaking of church, we had 40 in attendance today!   Today is the year anniversary of our branch president’s baptism.  He spoke and talked a bit about the things he has learned this last year.  He really is a remarkable person, only 25 and very insightful and humble.  He is currently working and continuing his schooling.  His wife, the Relief Society president, is also in school and is teaching English.   They are very busy!   

Our only (active) Aaronic Priesthood holder will turn 16 on Tuesday.  President Balint asked me to make a cake to surprise and celebrate after the meetings today.  So, here’s most of the branch at Buci’s birthday celebration today.  (His mother was going to make the cake, but last week she got upset at him and called President Balint and said she was not making him a cake.  She is a bit temperamental, and is less active.  She did show up today for him, however; which is very good.)

We had the branch family with children over for lunch today.  And then we had to help them run to catch the bus on time when we finished. 

That’s really the happenings of the week.   We miss you all and send our hugs and love your way.  We know Heavenly Father lives and loves His children and wants to help them every day.   He desires that they learn of Him and His Son and then work to know Him and become as He is as we serve His children.  We are trying to do that, and pray for the help and guidance of His Spirit to be with us – and you. 

October 19, 2ö14

Senior Conference this week.  President Smith likes to superimpose with the Budapest skyline as a background.  No, we are not dangling our legs in the Danube.
Monday we headed to Budapest and were in time to get to the Garmin store and learn that GyPSy was not repairable, but they kindly sold us a replacement; and then we went to the mall and bought a sewing machine for a home for disabled adults (as the staff would like to be able to mend their clothes). 

We also picked up our order for the safety pad to go on the basketball standard (it sits on the edge of a soccer field and could potentially be in the way of a soccer player).  It turns out this was made in the back of a tailoring shop.  Above are a just a couple of samples of the beautiful work they do there.  No, we don’t have the finest tailored safety pad in the country; that’s just where they are all made. 

Tuesday began our Senior Conference.  We heard thoughts and testimonies from a new couple and then the couples who are leaving soon, along with ideas and activities each are doing to help strengthen the branches where they serve.   President and Sister Smith also shared thoughts and examples of the role of senior missionaries and how we can be effectively involved with the proselytizing missionaries with whom we serve.  One of the sisters shared the following:

The Savior’s Seniors, by Margaret Beets

                The Master’s heart was full of compassion for these, his children.  Looking down upon the earth below, he mused, “Yonder are seniors unorganized.  We will try them and see if they will leave their rocking chairs, their mobile homes, their fishing spots, and their grandchildren and become saviors on Mount Zion for those who anxiously await the gospel message.”

                And it came to pass that the work was organized.  And the seniors came with sprightly step, with halting walk, with braces and crutches and wheelchairs, with pacemakers and hearing aids, hip and knee replacements, back surgery, and bottles of vitamins. They adjusted their trifocals, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.  Their eyes sparkled and their hearts sang as they accepted their allotted chores.  And they brought forth good works. . .and all did as much as they were able.  And Satan cried with a loud voice in terrible frustration. . .and the Master looked down to earth and was pleased with these his senior children.

 In the evening we had an enjoyable time playing games.

The next morning we split into two groups and went two different directions for some sightseeing.  We headed north to see the town of Visegrád to see the Citadel and Royal Palace and then to see the Esytergom Basilica.

The citadel (or fortress) sits very high on a hill overlooking the town of Visegrád and the beautiful Danube River Bend Valley.  

At the time it was built it protected the valley, controlled the commercial route between Buda and Esztergom, and was the customs house.  
It was built by the Romans during the reign of Constantine.  It was destroyed by the Mongols in their raids in 1241-42.  King Béla IV built the current fortress.  

Elders Jensen and Miller trying to be tortured.

We saw the sign for this room -- Arm Exhibition.  Maybe this is where Ammon brought his arms to King Lamoni.

 No, it was three decades of Hungarian weaponry.

 Life-size wax figures, depicting a feast and a dance.

Below the citadel is the Royal Palace – or its remains – of the early Renaissance summer palace of King Matthias, built in 1247.   The Turks put an end to the 350-room palace and Visegrád’s heyday in 1543.  Most of the palace and town were destroyed, and then later were buried in a mudslide and is still being excavated.   

In the palace courtyard is the Hercules Fountain, which is depicted on the thousand forint bill.
We then drove to Esztergom, had lunch (a good vegetarian pizza) before going to see the Esztergom Basilica – officially the Primatial Basilica of the Blessed Virgin Mary Assumed into Heaven and St. Aldebert.  

This is the Mother church of the archdiocese of Esztergom and Budapest and the seat of the Catholic Church in Hungary.  It is the largest church building in Hungary and the 18th largest church in the world.  The cathedral was first built in 1001-1010 and was the first in Hungary.  It burned, survived the Mongol invasion, was destroyed, rebuilt, and ruined under Turkish rule.  The current cathedral was built on the same site and consecrated in 1856, and finished in 1869. 

Inside the cupola and a portion of the ceiling.  

The altarpiece (painting) is a copy of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary by Girolamo Michelangelo Grigoletti, and is the largest oil painting in the world on a single canvas.

The skull (and a few random bones) of St. Istvan (Stephen).  Remember that his hand is in the St. Stephen’s Basilica in Budapest.  Poor guy.  Wonder if we’ll see other parts in other places? 

The organ is the largest in Hungary and third largest in Europe, has five manuals and 146 stops.  Franz Liszt had one of his compositions premiered at the cathedral’s 1856 consecration ceremonies.  

A statue to the side of the cathedral depicting the coronation of St. Stephen.
At the statue we could look across the Danube and see Serbia.
Later, on the way out of Budapest we stopped to purchase backpacks, tents, and sleeping bags for a children’s home in Budapest – to be delivered on our next visit.

Oh, we turned in the ‘red rocket’ and were issued a new, navy blue 2015 Opel – without cruise control and with suicide doors!  All the cars in this mission are navy blue.  Anyone know why that would seem a standard color for church vehicles?

Young Single Adults was a good evening on Friday – a birthday celebration for one of the girls.  This is a piñata that Évi (another young sister) made.  Saturday we attended a ‘program’ with a man who is a school teacher and who has met with the missionaries on and off for a number of years.  He’s a great guy, speaks English, believes, even helps teach; but  now the goal is for him to make a commitment.

Our meetings today were very good.  We had several investigators in attendance, along with a member of the stake presidency, our mission president and wife and the office senior couple who came with them.  Elder Miller says they had a record number in Priesthood meeting.  Our translator’s father was visiting from Texas and they came over for lunch before he left back to Budapest to catch his flight.

We are grateful for our calling to this beautiful country of Hungary. This country is very old, and they have had a long, oppressive and eclectic history.  They have been centuries without the gospel.  Is it any wonder that it is a bit hard for them to make changes in their traditions?  Those who have are so appreciative and know they are truly blessed.  We are blessed to know and serve these children of Heavenly Father – to love them, bear our testimonies to them and hopefully see them accept this wonderful gospel of Jesus Christ. 

October 12, 2014

Beautiful Autumn Flowers in Kaposvár

The last two weeks the air has been quite humid and the laundry didn’t dry hanging out on the deck on Saturday, so figured it was time to bring the drying racks inside for the season.  However, this Saturday was a nice sunshiny day and clothes dried very nicely.  We are enjoying the pleasant crisp autumn weather and watching the tree-lined streets fill with falling leaves. 

This week we mostly were at home calling, researching and preparing for projects.  We submitted two and both were approved.  

We spent some time preparing a Power Point presentation showing a summary of our humanitarian work for the senior conference this coming week.
One day we drove to Pécs to inspect a missionary apartment (that had been closed for a couple of transfers), and go to a sporting goods store there to check out backpacks, sleeping bags, and tents for one of our projects. 

We have truly been grateful for and depended on GyPSy to get us everywhere we needed to go. She has done a great job.  It is quite amazing that she can find the most obscure addresses.   But we think she has died.  She’s been acting up and saying she has a low battery – even when she is plugged in.  We plugged her in to the computer, but nothing changed and last night she lost all her programs.   How long do GPS’s last?

It is definitely harvest season.  The sunflowers are mostly gone.  The fields of corn are still standing.  Not sure what will happen to them.  Haven’t seen much corn for sale in the stores, so don’t know if it is field corn or used for oil. 

Saturday we discovered the Nagy Piac (Big Market) here in Kaposvár, so went to have a look.  Speaking of harvest season, here’s a sampling:

Paprikas (peppers) are prolific -- and profoundly palatable!

Cauliflower (karfiol) was white and delightsome. . .

Zeller (celery root) is a bit weird looking. . .

Radishes (retekek) on steroids. . .

 Carrots (sárgarépak) show the muddy fields. . .
The corn (kukorica) was perfect. . .
Beets (céklak) grew gigantic. . .

Kohlrabi (kalarábé) looked inviting -- just need to find some recipes

Cabbage (káposzta) are all quite large

Idared apples (almak) – Hungary’s best 

 Walnuts (díok) and horse chestnuts (gesztenyek)are indigenous.

  And no Hungarian market would be complete without. . .

The pickled vegetables --  pickles stuffed with sauerkraut and many other vegetables. . .

The sausages. . .

and a few handcrafts.