January 18, 2015

Don't you wish your grocery list had 'whole pig' on it?

It’s been a rather balmy week for January.  A couple of days were just sweater weather; and today I walked home from church with no coat.  We’re told it’s unusual.  In our driving this week we see the farm machinery out on the highways, fields being plowed and seeds have been for sale for the last couple of weeks. Spring must be on its way or we're in for a big surprise.
Monday afternoon we headed to Budapest to be ready for a full day on Tuesday.  We took care of a couple of things at the mission office and were there when another senior couple arrived in town, so had the opportunity to go to dinner with two other couples. 

Tuesday morning we had a very sweet experience closing the project for the Children’s Autistic School and Home.  They received art supplies, two sewing machines, vacuum cleaners and educational games and toys.  We had previously stopped by to deliver some of the art supplies and they gave us a cross stitched picture (made by a 14-year-old girl) and some beautiful Christmas gift cards the children had made. 

On this day they had prepared a program to present the items received to the children, and to thank us.  First a choir sang a Hungarian “Thank You” – “thank you for finding me, thank you for caring for me, thank you for helping me walk. . . .”  It was very touching.  Adrienn, the director, explained that the children have a hard time expressing their feelings in words, so they sing or do crafts and handwork.  

She also told us about a young Gypsy boy whose parents sent him to the school to live.  He became very good in sports, graduated and is now working at the school.  He is very helpful as he can relate to the children and some of the issues they face.

After the program, she said they had a gift for us.  We had to wait because it wasn’t quite finished.  But they gave us this beautifully cross-stitched traditional Hungarian home blessing – in correct English even.  This was also done by the children.

We were visiting in Adrienn’s office and Elder Miller had a strong feeling that he should give Adrienn a blessing, which he did.  That was a first for a closing, but she said she was grateful.  She is a fairly new director and feels like she was led to and blessed to receive this position.  They all feel like family at the school and it shows. The staff have a great love for the children.

We then visited two more potential projects – a home for single mothers and another children’s home.  We mention children’s homes quite a bit; they are throughout the country and there are 19 just in Budapest.  We then went shopping to price some of the requested items so that we can submit those projects for approval.  

Fun/interesting wall art -- 6 feet long -- at a restaurant in our travels.

We did get approval this week on one new project, so have work to do on that one. 

We returned to Kaposvár on Wednesday and brought Elder and Sister Broadhead (family history specialists) with us so they could do a family history evening at the branch.   The next day they went to an investigator’s home.  She has names and photos back several hundred years and wants to get them entered in the Family Search data base. She even does several batches of indexing every day.   They were so helpful to her and she is thrilled. Her daughter is a member and is planning on a mission at the end of this school term.  We are hoping and praying that this wonderful sister will know and feel the truth of the gospel for herself.  She will be such an asset to this branch.

Friday we left very early to drive to Dunaújváros for zone training.  Dunaújváros is one of the newest cities of the country. It was built in the 1950’s during the industrialization of the country under Socialist rule.  This was our first visit there and we had hoped to look around a bit, but that’s not always in the schedule. 

Elders Heilein, Wilcox and Swink.

After going with the 22 other missionaries to eat at McDonald’s – the only place within walking distance, they said -- we needed to get back for young single adults.  Thank goodness Évi had offered to make palacsintas (crepes) for the meal and I just had to bring the fillings.

We had good attendance at church today – and 6 investigators, including a couple who haven’t been there for awhile.  Great day!  Third Sunday – it was a potluck day for “linger longer.”  Not everyone brings something, but everyone likes to eat!  And some of these women – the food gets near them and they eat.  There is no waiting for presentation, niceties or even setting a table.  

Our son Michael reported that he held baby Carlee this week with NO TUBES!!!!   However, because she is still learning and getting the ‘hang’ of sucking a bottle, they re-inserted the NG tube for feeding supplementation.  Slowly she is healing; and we are so very grateful that Heavenly Father has heard and answered our prayers!

Wednesday night, my father, age 92, suffered a stroke (in Mesa, AZ).  His mind seems to be okay, but he has a hard time speaking, does not have movement on the left side and cannot swallow.  Because of his pacemaker he cannot have an MRI.  I will be doing a conference call with my siblings in a few hours, but at this point I/we am/are looking to make a quick trip to Arizona.

Again, we are so grateful for the knowledge and testimony of the Plan of Salvation.  This is not the end!   We just had a program this evening with an investigator – the one who has been meeting with missionaries for several years.  He knows enough!  He loves reading the Liahona.  He was quoting some of his favorite talks to us.  He sounds like a member.  We bore testimony to him and he did commit to read daily in the Book of Mormon this week and ask for confirmation.  The Gospel is true; it will make such a difference is people’s lives!

January 11, 2015

EU, county and country flags going up on our main street.

Have you ever hosted a party to which no one came?  Or dreamed that that could happen?  Monday was home evening night and no one came!  Oh, the elders came, but they were the only ones.  They enjoyed the refreshments, we had a good visit and they left.  About 9 p.m. our young Aaronic Priesthood holder came along and was surprised that everyone had left.  Sixteen-year-olds – they’re all the same!  Working out was so important; he assumed the rest of the world would revolve at his schedule.

Tuesday we drove to Szombathely to close a program for the county institute for the disabled.  Some wheelchairs, walkers and canes had been previously delivered and we brought warm coats and the blankets that the young single adults in Budapest had helped make.  Sweet people, disabled themselves, are devoting their lives to serving others.  

Our area office sent us some Mormon Tabernacle Choir CD’s to give this year at our closings.  So we decided to also give a Book of Mormon.  It turns out that one lady there had read it, and the institute president (in the wheelchair), has read some of it. He had us sign if for him.  At one time they had representatives of several religions come and talk about their churches.  They made arrangements for our elders to come again.  

Notice the size of this kebab (gyro).  It was fresh bread right out of the oven, 
and as big as Elder Blake's hand.  He served in Kaposvar with us.

After we had a quick lunch with the elders who helped translate for us, we headed to Győr for meetings with three different potential projects.  Our contact for one was a member sister (from Vashon Island, Washington), who is married to a Hungarian.  She invited us to their home for dinner, which was very nice.  They have four cute and very nice children.  It was nice to be in their home and around some children for the evening.  
We met with a man, who in 1988 had a Mikulás (Santa Claus) suit made for him so that he could play the role.  Children began writing letters and he and his wife began answering the letters.  Over the years he began helping needy children to have Christmas.  He then received a letter from a 14-year-old girl who had been abused.  Mikulás showed the letter to a psychologist, his wife wrote a response, but by the time he found the girl, she had committed suicide.  Because he had the letter for 4 days before it got delivered, he felt responsible and committed to do something so that wouldn’t happen again.  Since 1995 he has run a hotline for young people in crisis.   It is a single number for the country of Hungary, the lines are manned by about 200 volunteers in several cities, they receive about 135 calls a day, but the suicide rate has been greatly reduced!  He is doing a wonderful work.

Here’s the dilemma:  of course, he would like money to help pay the telephone bill.  We cannot give money.  He would like us to talk to the telephone companies they use to see if they would donate or give him a deal. He has tried.   The companies are in England and Norway.   Anybody have any connections to Vodafone or Telenor?   His foundation is truly helping many.  We don’t want to say “your cause is just but we can do nothing for you.”  Any ideas?  We are praying and pondering on this one. 

On our drive we went through a village with this 1956 Revolution Memorial.  Very striking.  I tried to find out something about it, but I only found photos; guess the year says it all.  

Also on our drive we are reading a most fascinating book that my brother sent us for Christmas – Christopher Columbus, A Man Among the Gentiles, by Clark B. Hinckley.  Biographers have really never told Columbus’s real story.  In his own library of books, he has made more than 2,500 margin notes concerning his thoughts, inspirations and revelations about being guided by the Holy Spirit.  Very interesting and inspiring – a must read.

When we arrived home the temperature in our apartment was about 11ᵒ C.  Our heat and hot water were off!  We called the landlord and he had someone come right over.  They turned it on and we went to bed.  Morning came and we had a very nice, warm apartment – but no hot water!  After district meeting, they came back and turned some more dials.  The hot water came on, but by evening, the heat was gone.  (I decided having hot water was the better of the two.)  Saturday morning they came again and now we have both hot water and heat.   These radiators (that use hot water) really are effective and heat the rooms quickly.  And, I’ve discovered they are a great place to set a pan of bread dough to rise – when they are working! 
On the left is President Szabadkai -- when he attended a closing with us.

Saturday we learned that the new mission president for the Hungary Budapest Mission will be President Szabadkai -- from Hungary!!!  He has been serving in the mission presidency for several years.  This is huge!  This will be the first mission president from Hungary and the first that speaks the language.  This means that Hungary is maturing and can provide its own leadership!
We enjoyed two elders and a family for dinner today.  The husband is a faithful member; his wife is not a member, but their 11-year-old daughter has started coming with him each week.  And then the other elders came over this evening to teach a man, who we so wish would make that final commitment.  I’ve written of him before.  He is such a great guy, made a commitment years ago that he would not smoke or drink (a rarity in Hungary), is an elementary school teacher and is always doing ‘self-checks’ – to make improvements.  He’s been through many sets of missionaries; he now just needs to take that leap of faith!

We are so grateful for the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and for the faith that we have – to sometimes step out into the unknown with need to trust our Heavenly Father and His Savior. Of course, we always need increased faith and the pure love of Christ – for which we pray daily – so that we “may become the sons [and daughter] of God; that when he shall appear we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is;. . . ." (1 John 3:2)

January 4, 2015

Stands selling New Year's Eve essentials were braving the cold.
Another very cold week has come and gone – and now the snow is melting and it’s warming up a bit.  AND, we only took the above pictures!!!!  So sorry, this will be a text only post.

Monday we hosted family home evening, had a nice message and played a few games. 

Tuesday, along with the elders, we were invited to the home of one of our young single adult members, whose mother is taking the discussions.  They are lovely people and we had a very enjoyable evening getting more acquainted and also meeting the father/husband who was in town and home because of the holiday week.  As a non-member, B (the mother) has family history records on paper several hundred years back and does indexing daily.  The family history missionary couple will be coming to Kaposvár next week to help B learn to digitize her records and we’ll invite other members to come and learn also.

Tuesday morning I went grocery shopping and must mention I have never seen a store so busy and crowded.  Remember, all stores would be closed New Year’s Eve and Day.  I think half the town's population were there stocking up like it was the day before a natural disaster!   There were very long lines at the meat counters and the check out registers; employees were excusing themselves to get through the crowds with palate after palate of alcohol that were being placed at every strategic eye-catching site in the store.  The next day I went back because I had forgotten something. The other half of the town were there this day.   The meat shelves were empty!   The pickle shelves were empty!  The eggs were gone!  Luckily I only needed a bar of baking chocolate, and there were four left!

We gathered at the branch house for New Year’s Eve and played some games with a few of our young single adults and a couple of investigators.  We had a good time and ended in time for the missionaries to go home on schedule.   We did not stay up to ‘ring in the new year,’ but I was reading and kept hearing intermittent fireworks going off.  At midnight they became intense for a half hour or so, and then they were intermittent and close by for awhile!  Also at midnight we received a text wishing us Happy New Year – so I guess we really did ‘ring it in’ – just not in an upright position and outside in the bitter cold.

The elders spent New Year’s Day with us.  We had a repeat brunch of palacsintas, played games and then had lentil soup later.   Lentils are the traditional Hungarian New Year’s fare – which if eaten first on New Year’s Day, one has a promise of prosperity.  One shouldn’t eat fish because luck swims away with them, nor should one eat poultry because luck is ‘scratched’ away.  Roasted pork is the meat of the day because it symbolizes progress as pigs root themselves in the ground before going forward.  Traditions and superstitions are very alive and well in Hungary, especially with holidays and meals.

When Sacrament Meeting started this morning, there were 13 adults in attendance – six of us were missionaries.  That was a bit scary.  However, within a few minutes we had 25 – much better.  There was a mini transfer this week and we received an elder from Germany.  This was like Christmas for our German couple in the branch.  Brother G (who only speaks German) has been wishing for this for the 9 years they have lived here.   The elder translated for them, and when Brother G stood to bear his testimony his face was lit like a Christmas tree he was so happy!  President B told us (he and his wife were here for lunch) that Brother G will now receive a calling because the German elder can help translate for him!   

For those who have asked and are concerned, we will report that our little Carlee has reached her weight so that her surgery is scheduled for this coming Thursday, January 8.  They will remove her stoma bag and reattach the small intestine to the large intestines.  The goal is that the remaining small intestines have healed and will be able to absorb the nutrients necessary from the breast milk for her to thrive and get off of the TPN (the nutrition substitute that goes in through the feeding tube) as that is not good for her liver.  When they started some breast milk she seemed to be absorbing it, but lately has not seemed to be and has been receiving antibiotics to hopefully clear up interfering bacteria.  We are hoping and praying that on Thursday all this will be successful and that she will then continue to heal, grow and develop normally.  

We know that Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ, are very aware of little Carlee and her family.  We also know that miracles have not ceased, and if it is the will of Heaven, Carlee will be healed.  We pray for faith, understanding and love.