November 16, 2014

"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire. . "
Just returned from our travels this week, have unpacked, checked emails and phone and am now ready to write a note.  

Monday we left for a day trip to Kecskemét – via Budapest – to deliver some items to another senior couple and to get our new GPS fixed.  Both accomplished we went on to Kecskemét and bought some vent pipe fittings for 3 wood stoves we had purchased earlier and had been delivered to the Red Cross there.  We arrived for the closing, which turned out to be an almost two-hour program -- their annual one commemorating St. Martin’s Day.  

Some cute children sang a song and recited some Hungarian nursery rhymes.  A Catholic bishop spoke about living a life of service and St. Martin, the patron saint of Hungary.  St. Martin, a son of a Roman tribune, was born in Hungary around 316. On a cold night, while serving as a soldier in France, he saw a scantily dressed beggar and offered half of his cloak so he wouldn’t freeze.  That night Jesus appeared in his dreams as the beggar dressed in his cloak.  The dream confirmed his faith; he left the army to serve God.  His good deeds and empathy for the poor have become legendary and he was appointed as bishop in Tours, France. Martin was so humbled he hid in a stable full of geese to avoid being found.   However, the geese made so much noise he was discovered and ordained.  He dedicated the rest of his life to helping the needy.  According to folklore one should eat fried geese on November 11 at 11:11 a.m. as “one who does not eat goose on this day remains hungry throughout the year.”  Oops, we’re in trouble! 

Back to some noteworthy things about the gift of the stoves.

One of the wood burning stoves was displayed and actually presented to a family.  We were told that because of the gift of three stoves, the Red Cross used that as a springboard for a fundraising campaign and people donated money so they could buy more stoves (for people who cannot afford to heat their homes in the winter, the government will provide wood free of charge if they have a wood-burning stove).  The branch president (who served as our translator) emailed us to tell us that the next day, the other two stoves were presented to a single father with four children and a mother who had just had a baby and could not take the baby home because they had no heat.  When the Red Cross director called President Mércséri she reported, “as we speak, the baby is being released from the hospital to go home”

We returned home much later than planned, and our repaired GPS brought us across the country on very narrow, country roads.  Unfortunately it was dark and we could not see much of our adventure, but arrived home just fine. 

We went one day to buy some appliances that we had priced and had approved for a project here in Kaposvár.  As we walked in the only appliance store in town, and over to the small refrigerator we had determined to purchase (and had approval to do so), the salesman moved it out and sold it to another customer.  That was their last one and they have no idea if or when they will get another one of that particular (inexpensive) model. And the price we had approved for the washing machines was now raised 7,000 ft. this week!  Welcome to Hungary!

Thursday we left again – to Szombathely – to close a project at a disabled home for adults.  They received a sewing machine (so they could mend clothes), a microwave, mixer and toaster.  The district Relief Society president has a sweet daughter who is a resident there, another daughter was our interpreter.  They are very impressed with the staff and care there.  It was a sweet experience to be there.  They presented us with a poinsettia and a lovely bundt cake. 

Someone's creativity in this village with bales of hay.  Her skirt goes all the way around.
We then headed to Sopron to the senior couple’s home there to pick up the damaged ‘skirt’ from the trampoline earlier given to a children’s home there.  We put in the address on our GPS and were enjoying the scenery.  Suddenly we were in a town that caused me to exclaim, "These are lovely and well-kept homes."  And then we noticed the signs were in German.  The GPS had taken us through Austria, the shortest route.  Oops!  That's a no-no!  We were out of our mission boundaries.  Two other senior sisters were there visiting in Sopron (had come for dental appointments), so we brought in our cake just in time for high tea!  

On our way to Budapest we stopped at the sporting goods store to return and get the replacement for the trampoline skirt – and hope the next one lasts longer!  

Friday we drove to a town about 45 kilometers north of Budapest to pay for some sheets ordered for a hospital project.  Typically, we must pay cash and then the order will be processed.  We try to juggle these trips for the least amount of gas expenditure.  Lo and behold, when we arrived at the company, they said the sheets were ready and we could take them with us!  That saved another trip or a delivery cost.  A good company we will hopefully use again!

We then met with a new potential partner – a home and school for autistic children.  Their building is 100 years old, the school has been in operation since 1926, and just as other places we have visited EVERYTHING was clean, neat and orderly.  We were impressed again with the staff and their care.
We then bought blanket fabric for a project – and then I had a dentist appointment.  Unfortunately, I had an abcess.  So I ended up having a root canal!  I was very impressed with the woman dentist, who was very gentle and spoke perfect English.

Saturday morning we closed a project at a children’s home in Budapest, where we gave them tents, sleeping bags, pads and backpacks.  The home is in a wooded area and they like to take small groups out for some camping experiences and their equipment was very worn.  Bishop Southwick (Buda Ward) accompanied us, both to translate and to represent the Church – because the home is in his ward area.

Saturday evening and Sunday was the Hungary Budapest Stake Conference.  Elders Patrick Kearon (Europe Area Presidency) and George R. Donaldson, Area Seventy, were the visiting authorities to make a change of the stake presidency.  The Hungary Budapest Stake is 8+ years old and has only had the current stake presidency.  So this is a new experience for the Hungarians – kind of like when Brigham Young succeeded the Prophet Joseph Smith.   In fact, our branch president said to Stan the other day, “Can anyone else in Hungary do this job?”   There's no way we would know the new presidency.  Surprisingly, Bishop Chris Southwick (who had been with us the day before) was called as the new stake president.  (He is from Oregon, age 33, was a missionary here, married a Hungarian and lives here teaching at an international school).  The first counselor stayed on in the new presidency. He went with us to a project closing a few months ago.  The second counselor we got to know when we took Elder and Sister Cullimore (Church welfare specialists) to visit the gardens in Vesprém earlier this year. 

No, there was no voice heard of the former stake president (as at the time of Brigham Young's sustaining); but there was a lot said about the changes and the need to pray for both the outgoing and incoming brethren and their families. The world would give someone a celebration for an outgoing position.  However, we raise our hands and say ‘thank you.’  On one hand that seems not nearly enough, but other the other hand, these men did not serve for praise; they served for love, for Heavenly Father, for the Savior and for each member of the stake.   Raising our hands for the release and sustaining is symbolic of our hearts and souls – lifting, caring, loving, supporting and praying – and so much more.

Elder Kearon showed a rose that was there by the pulpit ­­- how beautiful it is.  But under a microscope, it can actually be ugly.  Do not put these new brethren or their families under a microscope or they can be ugly, too.  Pray for them, give them time, distance and patience to grow into the mantle of their calling and they will be beautiful also.  Nice advice.  Great meetings with a wonderful spirit and the stake center was completely full with some standing on the sides and an overflow room.  (We were told that at the first stake priesthood meeting, there were nine brothers present.)

Carlee is doing well.  She had her stomach drain removed, a feeding tube inserted and started on breast milk yesterday -- very slowly.  This is way earlier than thought.  

We are so grateful for so many blessings and tender mercies in our lives.  Our Heavenly Father hears and answers prayers.  We know He and His Son, Jesus Christ are concerned about the details of our lives and bless us daily.  


  1. Sounds like some of your projects can be very frustrating at times and so rewarding at other times. I love the wood burning stoves stories. Thank you for the update on Carlee. She has been in my prayers and I have wondered how she is doing. Glad you had a great Stake Conference.

  2. We love sharing your mission with you. We've had that same experience with our GPS too! Keep up the great work!