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. 


  1. This was super-dooper. All your sites are amazing. I am so glad you appreciate it all and soak it all up. And I love seeing it.



  2. You have a lot of couples in your mission, that's great! I'll bet its fun to get together with all of them. I love your new car. Looks like you've been able to do a lot of good and see a lot of wonderful things in the past week or two. Glad your Branch numbers are picking up.