April 26, 2015

A sign on a machine at the bank! 

“On the road again.”  It’s not a music tour like Willie Nelson’s, but it still seems to be a familiar ‘tune’ for us anyway.

Tuesday we headed northwest to Sopron to visit a home for the mentally and physically disabled that our stake president referred to us.  This county facility and its staff care for 170 residents, ages 3 – 58; then on that afternoon to ‘close’ a project at a Christian school in Győr.   A member is a teacher at this school and her children attend there.  Earlier this school year they separated themselves from their previous partners because of the things that were expected to be taught.  They are housed in old, massive buildings but are slowly renovating.  The children have no outside areas in which to play, and the school is accessed by driving through an industrial area.   Their object is to learn and study.   In America, we have so many extras and luxuries that we sometimes take them for granted.  

They were helped with some tables, storage cabinets and chairs and large rug for the kindergarten, educational books and supplies and musical instruments and headphones for the older classes.   When we first visited, the principal said she had heard negative things about the Mormons, but this time she told us she had changed her mind, and they love and respect the member teacher that is helping them.  Staff are all currently working at 70% of salary until they build up the school to full capacity.

The drives continue to be beautiful as the country is turning green!  Flowers are being planted,

leaves are coming out, 
Parking along the street in front of the hospital has just been completed -- very nice.

summer city and street renovating projects are in the works.  Life is busy in Hungary. 

On the way in to Budapest later that afternoon we stopped at IKEA to buy some metal beds.  After previously pricing them and getting the project approved, we learned that they have discontinued the metal beds!   Now, we are searching again.

Actually, while still at IKEA we received a call from our area supervisors in Germany.  Because the Eastern European countries were not receiving humanitarian missionary replacements, they had told us a month or so ago to not worry about the budget, but to do as many projects as possible.  Well, this call was to halt that instruction.  They are now receiving replacements!  Good news.   And, we forgot to mention last week that the Hungary Budapest Mission is also getting a humanitarian couple, Elder and Sister Lund from Sandy, UT!   So, the area may not approve any more projects for us; we need to leave some budget for the new couple.   We will continue wrapping up the actual projects and paper work for the ones we are currently working on, and, if possible, get some ‘in the works’ for Elder and Sister Lund. 

 Wednesday we crisscrossed Budapest to several places to order and make payments on project orders and then to several furniture stores asking about metal beds. 

We have also been asked to look at a project possibility that would have a high impact on a
large number of people.  We have daily noticed and then it was confirmed with research, 
“Tobacco is the leading single cause of death in Hungary” and “Smoking is the most 
important public health issue in Hungary causing in excess of 28,000 deaths per year.”  So,
have been researching and preparing some information for a possible anti-smoking 
campaign that the Church might partner with the government. Big dreams, absolutely!  Our 
mission president suggested we meet with the former stake president.  We did , and he directed us to meet with the head surgeon of the National Center for Spinal Disorders, who
is a member (albeit less-active), and who has contacts in the Ministry of Health.   So 
Wednesday afternoon we were able to meet with this doctor.  He was very amiable and 
helpful.   He knew and was involved with a government program several years ago in which 
they emphasized:  1) anti-smoking, 2) healthy  eating, and 3) physical education in the 
schools.   He is sending us that program and we will study it and see if we might propose to 
collaborate in some way and continue at least the anti-smoking part.  This is just in 
beginning stages, and hopefully we can do enough to get this off the ground, and it
can be accepted and continued.  

First thing Thursday morning I actually had a physical -- at a clinic in Budapest that serves 
Americans.  I went because Stan had previously had a required physical for his driver’s 
license and was very impressed.  (And since we’re paying for the insurance, decided we 
might as well use it once.)  Contrary to previous mention about the quality of  medical 
facilities here, this place is wonderful and very thorough.  The only result I have so far is a 
'calm heart.'  (The EKG was very routine.)
At Sports Village, we saw these very small skate boards.  Are they for toddlers?
Then there were three more places we needed to go to make payments.  Thanks to our trusty GPS, again we were at opposite ends of town to accomplish this.  One suburb town actually seemed newer and better kept than most. As mentioned before, there seems to be no zoning regulations; this business was in a home – which also was very nice.   The owner’s son (who spoke English) said the town is not newer but they have renovated much of the city.   Wish there was Church presence in that city.

We’ve mentioned before about needing to pay cash for most things.  Another peculiar characteristic of shopping in Hungary is that you will always get at least two receipts, sometimes three.  Even the bigger stores print one for themselves and file in a little makeshift cardboard box on the counter.  If they give us a szamla (invoice), then there are several copies, all of which get two rubber stamps.  Sometimes, they even need to write something by hand on a ledger -- all very labor intensive.  

We arrived home at 4 p.m. Thursday and had company for dinner at 7 p.m.   We made it!   The German couple that we home and visit teach alternate with us each month for dinner.   Thank goodness for their son who translates for us.   She speaks some English, but he speaks very little.   They are about our same age; we have a good time and have become good friends.  

Our branch was scheduled to have a baptism this weekend.  However, there does not seem to be a place in Kaposvár to have one.   They previously rented a pool at a school; it is no longer available.  The branch president has called hotels, schools and other places he has thought of and so far, no one has or will rent a pool.   This is a problem!

While we were away this week there was a murder in Kaposvár just a couple of blocks from us.  Don’t worry, we have never felt unsafe.  Apparently a 21-year-old woman worked at the National Tobacco Store and when she closes at night she is to call her boss.  When he didn’t hear from her, he called and got no answer.  He came to the store and found her.  I guess there was a robber who got away with around $75.  I only mention this because the person that was to be baptized is the policewoman who was called to investigate the case.  She has been very involved this week and probably wouldn’t have been baptized even if water had been found.   So we heard all this from the elders and then we just happened to walk by the place and noticed the candles, so snapped a photo.  So sad. 

We did have a good sacrament meeting today.  Attendance was good; 7 investigators.  A brother who has recently got active again spoke.  He was called about three weeks ago to play the piano and chooses the music.  He loves it, does a great job and mentioned today that he is grateful for this calling.  His message of the importance of conference (stake conference is coming up) was a good one, and his testimony was strong.   Little by little these saints are becoming stronger, the roots are strengthening and we continue to pray that those the missionaries are teaching will desire to know the truth and make the commitment to be baptized.  We are grateful when they continue to attend church. 

This is the Lord’s Church.  We are grateful for the opportunity to serve and represent Him in His work. 

April 19, 2015

Pork Medallions 'good housewife' style? 
We look out the window and what do we see?  Popcorn popping on all of the trees!   There are so many beautiful blossoms – but not sure we’ve seen any apricot trees!   As we were driving home the other day noticing all the blossoms, one elder told us that he grew up singing that song and never understood it.  “But when I turned 18, suddenly I got it,” he said.  And spring is doing its job exactly right -- warm, lovely days alternating with cold, windy and rainy ones. 

We left last Sunday evening for Budapest as we had a full day on Monday shopping for a project.

One stop was at Office Depot to find an electric stapler (seemingly the only place in Budapest to have one) and it was across the street from the Avilai Nagy Szent Térez Templom.  We stepped inside for a few minutes. They had huge numbers above the altar '1515' and '2015' which seems to suggest the church is 500 years old this year, but the information I found only talked about 200 years.

Another stop was in the Mammut (mammoth) Mall and we thought this display hanging upside down from the ceiling was unique. 

Bet you don’t see these openly displayed in American store windows every day!

Refresher in the afternoon – and this was the small one!

Finally we were near and had a chance to go into the Eiffel Palace in the day. 

This building was the publishing and print house beginning in 1893, hence a couple of old printing presses were displayed in the foyer.   The roof and top floors received much damage during WWII.   In 2013 it was renovated, restoring its 1893 character, to an office building housing some Fortune 500 companies.

Its internal structure and superstructure comply with the highest 21st century technology and they have received a number of building and environmental awards in the last few years.  We could only stand (in one spot) in the open atrium and take this picture of two different sides – one very modern, the other retaining the old iron work.

Our day was a success and we finished in time to have a free evening – and found a theater with a movie in English – Cinderella.  Oh my, every girl should see this!  It is a fairy tale of epic proportions.  Disney spared nothing!  And, to their credit, there is nothing off-color inserted anywhere.  What a delightful experience.  We were the only two in the theater.

Tuesday was Senior Conference.   Since there are six couples and the mission president 
leaving in June and July, hearing from each of them constituted most of this day.  

In the evening, we ate a quick sandwich and hurried off to see Aida, at the Erkel Theater.   
We were hoping for the State Opera House, but got this instead.  This was not the stage 
play Aida, but Verdi’s original opera – a first for Stan and me together.   

Voices and costumes were marvelous. With a 45-minute intermission between acts 1 and 
2, another 15-minute one between acts 3 and 4, the traditional Hungarian rhythmic 
clapping and seemingly endless encores, it lasted 4 hours!   Our English speaking 
group was watching this Egyptian story sung in Italian with Hungarian subtitles! Good 
thing we had looked at a summary of the story.
Wednesday the seniors all made the annual trek to Szentendre, a riverside town known 
for its museums, galleries, artists and shops – emphasis on shops.  Here’s a photo of the 
shopping day.  The men had as much fun as the ladies.  

This is the town where we saw the miniature museum last year, and we only learned about
the galleries after the fact.  We did see a few artists on the street.  

We stepped into a small Jewish memorial, a home set aside by family for their brother 
who was killed in the holocaust.  From this small town 350 people were taken.

Interesting experience – the group had lunch reservations at this small, but well-known 
restaurant that we learned was started in 1979 -- the first restaurant in Hungary to be 
privately owned, a rather sensitive thing at the time.

Hanging above the kitchen were all these bank notes (money) from around the world.  We were told they could build another restaurant with the amount that is hanging up there.  

Here’s a cute little lemon squeezer.  We were also shown a photo of Laura Bush with the
restaurant staff when she visited there.  

Most started with their yummy, famous cold blueberry soup.  Then all our group began 
getting their orders.  We were first to order, and then we were waiting. . .and waiting. . .
and waiting.  They were very busy.  It was time to go and we asked about our order; the 
waitress was adamant that we had only ordered one-half order of soup each.  Oh well – 
if we only spoke better Hungarian.

So that evening in Dunaujvaros we were grateful for dinner -- a plate of vegetables – had
spinach gnocchi on mine and Stan’s had mashed potatoes.

Stan and Buci, the branch’s only 16-year old, caught a 6 a.m. train to Budapest on 
Saturday morning to attend a youth activity at the stake center.  A youth can't go alone 
and only missionaries can ride in our car, so it was the train.  They had a good day; there 
was a good attendance.  Buci enjoyed the activity; I hear he made some new female 

 And here are a couple of scenes as they walked from the train station to the stake center.

A tree out of control. 

Hungary's version of Deseret Industries.  Put all your unwanted 'stuff' out on the street and 
for a few weeks it's open season.  And then it is all picked up.  And yes, it could rain. 
Stan said from the time he took the picture on the way in to when they passed it on the 
way back, it had grown about three sizes.

On Thursday morning we had zone training and we were asked to give a presentation 
telling about our humanitarian mission.  Many of the young missionaries had no idea 
about the humanitarian arm of the Church and were quite surprised to learn.

We also had four new projects approved this week.  Lots to keep us busy.

Our zone goal is to have 150 ‘friends’ (investigators) visit church on Sunday during this 
transfer.  Our own district here in Kaposvár has committed to 50 of those.  We have 
consistently had 8-10 each week. Right now, one sister is scheduled for baptism next 
Saturday – if a place can be found.   The pool that has previously been used is apparently 
not available that day.   

Another good meeting today with a visiting returned missionary sister speaking along with 
the high councilman.  She is a life-time member and is from a town only a couple of hours 
away and just finishing serving in the Hungary Budapest Mission.   It is wonderful to know 
and hear from those who have been members for their life  – an example to all that the 
Church is growing and members’ roots are going deeper and are being strengthened.

April 12, 2015

Sign on a door at Tesco. Now we know how the door really feels.

The week turned into a most beautiful spring one – no wind and the sun is shining.  On Saturday, our P Day, we cleaned and washed – even some extras and all could dry outside in a short time.  Love this time of year!

Church today was wonderful  -- good, prepared talks and the branch house was full.  AND, VERY EXCITING NEWS -- our young sister who sent in her mission papers received her call and announced it today.  She will serve in the England London Mission, leaving August 6th!   She is a pioneer; the first missionary from our little Kaposvar Branch. 

This week’s report can almost be summed up in one paragraph.  It was a week at home to finish paperwork, accounting and details from our last week of visiting new places.   Our translator made calls to places we met with, items were researched (one day we made a quick day trip to the outskirts of Budapest for prices), and several projects have now been submitted. 

And, we met with three of our YSA sisters to discuss an upcoming activity.  Typically any stake YSA activity has been held in Budapest and the members from outlying cities must travel in.  The stake suggested that the other branches host some activities.  So, a couple of our sisters volunteered to be the first – in May! This will be interesting to see how this is supported and how our small branch can host this overnight event.   Stay tuned.

In lieu of exciting happenings and photo ops this week, we are going to post a few random photos:


Last week with Elder and Sister Sharpe, we stepped into St. Stephen’s Basilica and it was the Easter Mass.  Lights were on, the room was full, candles were lit and the music was beautiful.

And oh, so close is the famed fagy (ice cream) store that serves it up as a rose.  This one is chili chocolate and hazelnut.  It was yummy!

Wall radiators are not so bad – when they keep the towels toasty or can be treated as part of the décor.

A few of the handcrafts done by residents one of the homes for the disabled that we visited.

This is the room of two elderly women in a home we visited.  One of them was so excited to show us that she loves flowers.  Her side was fairly blooming.  She was also proud to tell us that she had done all the handwork on the dresser scarves and doiles --exquisite handwork all over the room.

Beautiful stained glass windows in a very old mansion now serving as a children’s home.


Our LDS church building in the city of Miskolc – we think Harry Potter would feel comfortable here.

Novelty purses made with only zippers sewn together.  Some unzip to just one long piece.

Here’s a photo of the delicious chimney cakes.  They are a cinnamon roll like dough and put around a rolling pin-size dowel and baked over coals (or oven) and then rolled in cinnamon, sugar, nuts, whatever. . .

A great idea – candy bars with wrappers for every occasion.   The pink one says "Life should be a little crazy."  

A table from an antique sewing machine.  All the tables in the restaurant had these for bases -- they were all different.  The treadle was still on some.

It’s tradition to go to lunch with the elders after district meeting each week.   We tried a new, very good place this week.
And a couple of the lunches. . .

Today's Relief Society and Priesthood lesson was about the Prophet Joseph Smith.  What a privilege it would have been to know him; and something to aspire to.   We know that he was called of God, that he did see God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ.  He restored the Church and opened this last dispensation, which has been led by a living prophet since then.  We thank thee oh God for His prophets.