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From left: Kelli Long (daughter) and her daughter Malory, Erin Miller (daughter-in-law), Sharon holding Carlee in pink bow (almost hidden), Lilly Miller (grandaughter in pink shirt holding balloon -- she really was happy even though her face didn't think so), our son Mike, Riley Long (granddaughter, age 12), Stan and Bryson Miller, age 8. Taking the picture was our daughter Ali.

Our trip home was uneventful. We got home just after 7:00 p.m., had lots of hugs at the airport, claimed our luggage then went to meet our new stake president to be released. Really nice guy named President Stevens. We had a nice visit and it was all fine until he said, "Now take off your name badges." We weren't prepared for that and it brought a couple of tears.

The mission was incredible. People ask, "How was the mission?" All we can say is that it was great. We didn't have a bad day. We stayed busy until the very end. We feel like it was all an answer to lots of prayers from lots of people.

We've spent the week moving back into our home. Ali and Daniel were good enough to live here and look after the place. They did a great job! We have now moved our clothes and personal stuff up from the basement and feel at home again. We love our sweet little neighborhood. In case you don't know, our address is:

1543 West Myrtlewood Lane
South Jordan UT 84095
Home: 801.371.0400
Stan cell: 801.361.2200
Sharon cell: 801.368.1600 (as soon as she gets it hooked up in the next few days)

Here are a few photos from the airport, our home, and chalk art on the driveway of our son's home where we spent the first night:

Banner made by Erin and the grandchildren.

Our terrific neighbor put the yellow ribbons on the old oak tree.

Posters and ribbons on the front of the house.








I guess that about wraps up our mission. We spoke in Church the next Sunday, July 12. Thanks to all the family and friends who attended. Now there will be a bunch of homecoming talks from the missionaries who will be coming home beginning next Sunday when our mission president and his wife (Lowell and Lynne Smith) speak in their ward.

July 5, 2015 -- Our Last Mission Post



Ever wondered what 'meat' vegetarians eat?


The heat is on!  Literally because the thermometer is rising daily, and figuratively because we only have hours to go. . . .Utah in 48 hours!

This week Stan’s uncle and aunt, John (Eddie to us) and Ann Miller came to see Budapest, a bit of Hungary and us before we leave.  So together we enjoyed one last ‘fling.'




The first morning we had a drive south to see the countryside – the sunflowers, the corn, and the wheat all at their peak.  First stop was lunch overlooking Lake Balaton and a beautiful view from the restaurant at their terraced entrance. 




On the way home we 'ferried' back across the lake.



In Budapest we did a Hop On Hop Off  bus tour – which gave us two days and two different tours of looking at some sights around the city,

 
and a short ‘cruise’ on the Danube.

The last evening we went to Castle Hill to get close-ups of Fisherman’s Bastion – Stan’s favorite spot and architecture in Budapest.



We had guylas (goulash) served in small, traditional bogrács (kettles) for dinner,




and a traditional Hungarian palacsinta for dessert.

We had planned to go directly to Kaposvár after dropping Eddie and Ann off at the airport, but received word about a meeting – it was July 2nd and a new mission president.  President and Sister Szabadkai called ‘emergency zone conferences’ so they could meet the missionaries, share a bit about themselves and their testimonies.
 It was very nice to get to know them a bit.  They have been members for 23 years and have 4 children.  President Szabadkai asked us to do several things:

1.    Fill out the My Family booklet
2.    Write experiences of family members and share the stories as you are teaching
3.    Talk about the temple
4.    Exercise daily; it will affect the rest of our day
5.    Be a full-purpose missionary. Conversion ‘work’ does not end with baptism; keep in touch and continue to help the convert get to the temple.
6.    Members and full-time missionaries will serve together.
7.    Smile more!  Be happy!  Experience the love of Christ.

And it was all in Hungarian – as will be all future meetings and conferences!   


The elders were all excited to have a celebration for July 4th, so we made that our final Fiatal Est (YSA) on Friday night – the first time we really used our deck.  The elders planned the menu – hot dogs, chili (my assignment), popcorn, watermelon, root beer (that they made).





Elder Winkel insisted on s’mores; it’s a Winkel tradition!  Luckily it was American Week at one of the small grocery stores and the elders found a bag of marshmallows.  We quickly FB’d Eddie and Ann to bring some graham crackers from the commissary in Germany where they were coming from.  They got the last box!   So we had s’mores – each person had one to see what all the fuss was about.  And yes, they loved them.   We had brought the mail to the elders from the mission home, which included a package to Elder Winkel.  He kept taunting, “I got a package."  So I finally told him he needed to open it and share the contents.  His mother sent graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate!  Perfect timing. So they had s'mores to their hearts content.






 The amazing and best part of the evening were the little pockets of conversation and teaching going on (in the midst of the activity) with the elders and our wonderful friends in attendance.   One group even stayed long after the elders went home and President Balint was doing the teaching.   We feel that seeds that were earlier planted and have been germinating for a while are now just on the verge of sprouting (baptism).  One of our elders that made a big difference is also leaving this week.  And two of those ‘on the verge’ were at church today – and I think they were very touched.  This is a hard time to leave.  We have hoped, fasted and prayed for these friends.


 

We had a wonderful testimony meeting and some tearful good-byes afterwards.  They surprised us after the meetings with some refreshments and many individual expressions of love and thank you.  




President and Sister Balint

 We will miss these many friends, this branch, this service, and working closely with the missionaries.  We hope we have served as the Savior would have us serve. We have logged over 4 million steps (thanks to Stan’s Fitbit), aka 2,000+ miles; and we hope those were footsteps in the Savior’s work.  We have learned and loved; we hope we have shared and grown.  Our testimonies have been strengthened.  We know Heavenly Father loves His children in Hungary.  We know He has a plan for them. 

We have been blessed to serve together.  We have especially enjoyed our study/reading time together.  Besides daily reading the Book of Mormon, we also ‘pronounced’ the [entire] Book of Mormon in Hungarian!  Because we have done so much driving around the country, we have taken that opportunity to use that time for further reading – a time for me to read aloud, which gives us moments for dialogue and reflection.  We have read, The Infinite Atonement, Jesus the Christ, Killing Jesus (by Bill O’Reilly), New Testament Gospels, Articles of Faith, To My Friends (talks of Elder Holland’s), Heaven Changes Everything and we are currently reading A Marvelous Work and a Wonder.

We love the Savior.  We know He lives. We are so grateful for His Atonement and its blessing in our daily lives. 

 
Good bye Kaposvár

June 28, 2015




Hungarian strawberry soup -- ready for family home evening!

We have welcomed this very nice and cool week!





Monday we hosted our last home evening with several investigators attending.  We hope these friends have felt the Spirit in our home as they have attended, heard a gospel message and participated in enjoyable activities and games with us and the elders.  We continue to pray for them.

I finished the sewing projects for our young sister who will be going on a mission soon.  Wish I had time to help her more.  We taught the ‘profi’ (most advanced) English class on Tuesday. We had 3 students, and did a couple of fun activities.  They did very well.  Interesting, when someone learns English, typically they learn ‘bigger’ words than those we use daily.  



Wednesday we drove to Kecskemét to close our last project.  This project was a bit unusual and surprising for us.  We were contacted by a high councilman’s wife who has a foundation that helps families.  They were working with a non-LDS family with sons, ages 11 and 9, who have a rare degenerative form of muscular dystrophy with a life expectancy of less than 20 years.  The boys are in wheelchairs and because the wheelchairs would not fit through the bathroom door, the boys had been taken from the family to live in a home in Budapest, with only periodic visits home --- and parents would then need to lift them into the bathroom.  The member’s foundation was saving to help widen the bathroom door and make some disability accessible changes.  We were contacted to see if the Church could partner with their foundation.  We mentioned this request to our supervisors in Germany who asked us to check out the situation.  Long story short, it was approved.  The bathroom door was widened, a disability shower was installed and the boys have returned home so that this sweet family can now be together to enjoy the years they have. 

We visited a couple of member families this week and were invited to dinner with the elders at the home of a very nice investigator family.  She made gulyas (goulash) and palacsintas (Hungarian crepes) served with various homemade jams.   Both were delicious.  We also had our monthly dinner with our LDS German friends (whom we home and visit teach), here this month.  And then yesterday we went to lunch at a wonderful member sister’s home.  She made lecsó – the best we’ve tasted here!   Lescó is made of sautéed paprikas (peppers) and onions, and (sometimes) sausage with tomatoes or sauce cooked down and served over rice.  Marti’s actually had zuchinni and apples in it.  It was delish!  She served us sweetened white currants for dessert.    And we didn’t get pictures of any.

Some of our faithful members were missing at church today, but we did have four investigators attend.  One (who hasn’t attended for quite a while) came into Relief Society because her daughter, a member, was teaching.  She made comments and said she feels much more peace and feels more of a good spirit when she attends our branch than when she attends other churches.  The elders started a Gospel Principles class today, and one of the young investigators attended.  We had a couple of sad, even teary good-byes to sisters who will not be there next week, our last Sunday in Hungary.  It is sad to think about leaving.  When will we ever see these sweet friends again?


Elders Lee (CA), Winkel (UT), Cox (UT) and Parkinson (ID)

This evening we had our ‘last supper’ with the elders.  We love our Kaposvár elders.  We will miss them. We had a good time; they can be hilarious.  We will leave things in good hands!
Oh yes, along with our morning studies, we finished ‘pronouncing’ (reading aloud) the Book of Mormon in Hungarian.  Familiar words kept us knowing the general idea of where we were and what we were ‘pronouncing.’  

Regardless of the language of the Book of Mormon, we know it is true.  We are so grateful for it, we are blessed because we read it daily, and we know that it is the ‘keystone of our religion.’  It contains the message that we want our friends here in Hungary (and everywhere) to come to love and accept as the truth. 



June 21, 2015



Oops - should be 'dining' room.


Happy Father’s Day!

Oh, blessed rain!   Monday we had two totally unpredicted and unexpected DOWNPOURS!  The result is that it has been very cool (bordering on chilly) all week long.  

Back to Budapest on Tuesday.  It has been suggested that humanitarian missionaries do a ‘large impact’ project – one that would make a difference in a community or country.  For several months we had in mind an anti-smoking campaign and did much research about the effects of smoking on the body.  We previously met with a [Hungarian] member of the mission presidency and a medical doctor, who told us a few years ago the government did a program that included an anti-smoking segment.  The doctor obtained the presentation and sent it to us.  That night in Budapest we met with a graphic artist and his colleague who is the creative genius.  We also spoke with the Humanitarian Department in Salt Lake.  Long story short, we learned a lot, there’s still much preparatory work to do, and such a project is expected to take many years for the preparation and implementation. So with our limited time, we will continue with some preparations and let the new couple take over.




In the trendy territory of the graphic artist, we ate on this table top and saw. . .




a display of some antique cars.  The ice truck was not unusual, but a phone number of only a '6'?




Wednesday was our last Zone Conference – for us, several elders and for President and Sister Smith.  It was a nice day with some very good thoughts and instruction.  As the elders were bearing their parting testimonies, several mentioned that these have been their hardest years.  Stan and I talked to each afterwards.  Should we feel guilty?  These have not been our hardest years.  We have worked, we have not had to get used to a new companion, perhaps we have not had some of their 'hard' experiences , but together we have really had a grand adventure. 




That evening we went to dinner with two other senior couples, and then had a long walk home, seeing. . .




lovely flower pots on famous Vaci Utca,




 a sidewalk advertising mannequin, 



folk dancers from Bulgaria,




(and here's the 'real time' version) 




a photo op in front of a church before we walked across the Elisabeth Bridge (Elder and Sister Steve and Valorie Peterson from Highland, Utah, us, then Elder and Sister Bob and Wendy Bagozzi from Canada),




and a statue of Erszebet – Empress of Austria, Queen of Hungary.




The next day we ‘closed’ three projects:  two children’s homes who received the metal beds that we ordered.  We and they were VERY pleased with the beds, their construction and durability.




The other project was at a family shelter operated by the Order of Malta.  They currently have 80 children at their shelter.  They had an available room, but no means to put anything in it to help provide activities or space for the children to gather.   The humanitarian fund helped furnish the room with some tables, chairs and cabinets.   The room looked cheery and inviting.  The children will be very happy when this room opens for their use this week.




Kaposvár Branch had a baptism Saturday!  Eliza is 10 years old.  Her mother is a member, and her father (who visited from the States at Christmas) gave his permission when he would return at this time.  She asked President Balint to baptize her and Elder Miller to confirm her today.    



The place found for the baptism was the hot tub of a small resort hotel about 20 kilometers away in a gorgeous, wooded setting.  Eliza’s father rented a car, a member drove up from Pecs with a car, a non-member and two members had cars – so everyone had a ride.  





We started the meeting at the branch house, left and went to the hotel and returned to the branch house.  It was a lovely day and Eliza’s father was very impressed that “so many people would support his little girl.”




It was museum day on Saturday, and we finally made it to the Rippl-Ronai Villa.  Born in Kaposvár, Jozsef Rippl-Ronai (1861-1927) was a Hungarian painter who first introduced modern artistic movements into Hungarian art. 



He first became a pharmacist before traveling to Munich to study painting.  We visited his home and studio.  These are two samples of his portrait work.




He also became interested in design and was commissioned to design the dining room and furnishings for the Andrassy Palace and a full, wall-sized stained glass window in the Ernst Museum, both in Budapest.




He designed embroidery that won prizes at the world’s fair; and his “Lady in Red,” (stitched by women) is a meticulous piece of work. 

 
We took the scenic route home, driving to two sides of the Deseda (a nearby lake), 




admiring the green fields of corn and sunflowers




and the unique main building of the Kaposvár University.

If we had chosen where to serve, we would have never even thought of the Hungary Budapest Mission – and we would have missed this truly grand adventure.  We are so blessed to have been called to serve here and to be instruments for the Lord.  We pray that we have represented Him as He intended, and that we have helped many institutions and people to know more positively the name of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and what we are about.  We hope also that we have helped in some small way the Kaposvár Branch. 



 
 
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