March 8, 2015

Are these in America?  We've only seen them twice in rather obscure places.  
Hazelnuts are indigenous to Hungary.

Another wonderful Sunday.  It was branch conference today, and the stake presidency visited.  We heard from our branch president, who is amazing and always speaks from the heart with great messages related to the scriptures – and never a note!  He spoke about water being near Christ or being mentioned in the scriptures and related it to living water.  The stake president’s talk was also wonderful.   He is a very humble young man and became quite emotional as he bore testimony to the words we had sung in the opening hymn, How Firm a Foundation:

Fear not, I am with thee, oh, be not dismayed,
For I am thy God, and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen thee, help thee, and cause thee to stand,
Upheld by My gracious, omnipotent hand.

When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of sorrow shall not overflow;
For I will be with thee thy trouble to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.

L-R, Dori and Balazs Balint, branch president, Mirko Kovacs, stake clerk,
 Christopher Southwick, stake president, and Stan
We invited the stake and branch presidency to lunch afterwards.  We knew they would have some meetings afterwards and didn’t want to send them off for a two-hour drive back to Budapest with no lunch.  Meetings and interviews took quite awhile; they didn’t end up here until after 3 p.m., and then left after 5 p.m.   What a long day for these men.  But we did enjoy our visit. President Nemeth-Toth is missing from the picture as he went to 'rescue' a branch member's car issues (long story).

Earlier in the week we were in Budapest where we spent a day paying for orders, shopping for three different projects and closing the project for a children’s home.  The Humanitarian Fund provided the home with a fridge, microwave, stove, a projector and sound equipment.  They have classes that make movies and they wanted to be able to show them to the students and to visiting students.  We were looking forward to knowing how excited the students were to have this equipment.  However, the director apparently forgot the appointment or double booked as he was away at a conference at appointment time.  They called the assistant and she showed us around and we ‘closed’ with her, but didn’t get his personal touch. 

We met with a new potential project – a home for mothers and families in crisis.  This usually happens when families lose their housing, their job, etc.  Yes, there seem to be quite of few of these places for which the government then becomes responsible.   We are waiting to hear from them. 

While in Budapest, we went with Elder and Sister Peterson (fairly new senior couple) to visit the House of Terror – a rather poignant and grim experience.  Again, we could not take photos.  The House of Terror is now a museum, but the building and the block were “witnesses to two shameful and tragic periods in Hungary’s 20th century history.  It was truly a house of terror.  In 1944 it was the headquarters of the Hungarian Nazis.  Then between 1945 and 1956, the notorious Communist terror organizations took up residence there.”

We thought we would see actual torture chambers and devices, but thankfully, there were none. We saw empty, but horrific cells in the basement.  Experiences were talked about tastefully on video clips; there were newspapers and photos of victims and the ‘victimizers.’  Uniforms were displayed, showing the change from Nazi to Communist rule, but the terror did not change.  The leaders executed anyone suspected of being against the ruling party.  Many of these leaders were never brought to justice; and some are still living.  Sad statistics show millions of people perished over the decades in the camps of the Gulag; and 600-700 thousand former Hungarians citizens ended up in Soviet captivity.  Many of them were not allowed to return to their families even after the expiration of their punishment. The last Soviet advisers left Hungary in 1989.  The last Hungarian prisoner-of-war, András Toma, returned home from Russia in the year 2000.  

Oh, what a sad and tangled history Hungary has had.  Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated this land for the preaching of the gospel in 1987.  The mission was opened in 1990.  The country is young in the gospel sense.  It is only the current generation of youth that do not have the background of thoughts, teachings and traditions to overcome. 

Slowly we see some progress being made in our little Kaposvár Branch.  Members are starting to attend more regularly.  There were 8 non-members/investigators there today.  In fact, the father of a family that has not attended since we’ve been here came and even stayed for priesthood meeting.  We and the elders have visited several times to let them know that we need their family and their family needs the Church and the gospel.  It was thrilling to see him walk in.  We all so need the support and strength of the Church and its members and we also need to give of ourselves to the Church and its members.  We are so blessed and so thankful for our Savior’s love, mercy and His Atonement for us.  We must spend our days – and far beyond – serving with our whole souls and hopefully this will help us become at least somewhat profitable servants. 


  1. The cornice on the Museum (?) is fantastic. What a great use of graphics. And I LOVE hazelnut and chocolate: my absolute favorite! Haven't seen that kind of Snickers in the States. Keep on truckin'.


  2. I've been out of town again and have had family here so I've been behind on reading blogs. It was great to catch up on yours. First off you need to bring me back a couple of those snickers!! I love hazelnuts! We are actually going to Europe the end of August so maybe I can find some. I think you'll be home by then??
    I love the red hair color or should I say purple. That was a very popular color when we lived in Germany years ago. I'm glad you've had lots of investigators to church. If only they knew what lie at their fingertips they would jump right in. Its one big family and everyone helps everyone, no matter where you are!
    The house of terror sounds very interesting. We missed that when we were there. Very sad to read about. Keep up the good work!!