May 31, 2015

If your steak is flat,is it 'ironed?'  And if there's only one apartment, should it be apartman!

Oh my goodness, where did May go?  We are not sure, but it means that there are only 5 weeks (posts) left of our Hungarian mission!  

This week has been one adventure after another, making this a very long post.  We left Monday– in the rain – to wend our way across the country to Debrecen to close two projects. 

We drove through the small town of Hajdúböszűrmény that looked interesting.  Because we were getting closer to the east side of Hungary, the buildings reflected Russian architecture.
Silverware is never set on the table, but served on a plate.
In Debrecen we met Elder and Sister Broadhead and had a delightful walk to town for dinner.

I must recant an earlier statement in which I said “there are no smooth sidewalks in Hungary.”  We found one, and walked on this beautiful tree-lined, wide sidewalk to town.   There are no cement sidewalks in Hungary; sidewalks are asphalt (which have been patched scores of times), brick (used in parking lots), cobblestone (historic areas) or tile (pedestrian streets). 

We had some time the next day before our appointments, and took some time to explore: 

The Nagy Templon (Large Church), the very well known Great Reformed Church of Debrecen is the symbol (and largest) of Protestant churches in Hungary.  It has seating for 3,000, and was built in 1805 – 1824.  Its interior is like other Protestant churches – simple and white.   

We climbed above the bell -- largest in Hungary -- (shown in photo set above) to the top of the tower and took a picture of the city from each direction.

Next was the Modem to see a temporary exhibit of a Hungarian artist, Andres V____, (whose name I was sure I would remember) and who, between WWI and WWII, was the first to begin using sketches on cards (postcards).  His work of sketches, oils and water colors was very nice – but we could not take photos.

The Déri Museum recently acquired  (from Hamilton, Ontario, Canada) for $5.7 million the third, Christ Before Pilate, (top right) of a trilogy of larger-than-life famous paintings by Hungarian artist, Mihaly Munkacsy.   These were awe-inspiring and very similar to Carl Bloch’s paintings. 

Debrecen is a university town, the second largest city in Hungary, was the largest city in the 18th century, is one of the most important cultural cities, and served as Hungary’s capital two different times. Its ‘town’ area has lovely, wide, and well-kept streets.  

 In town, buildings are well cared for.

Even though a branch, they have their own church building – with an actual mowed lawn (these are hard to come by in Hungary).   Near the church is this lovely home/estate/manor/mansion. 

On the way back to the hotel, we took a walk through the peaceful, spacious and very wooded park.

We then went to the St. Teresa’s Nursing Home where humanitarian funds provided 25 new mattresses and plastic mattress covers.   The lady in red has been a nurse for 40+ years.  She retired and because there was not a place in Debrecen for private hospice care, she started one.  In a small home, she has 10 beds; she buys used beds and mattresses.  She, her daughter and a few staff lovingly care for patients whose families cannot care for them at this stage or who cannot stay in the hospital.  For instance, one 82- year-old woman broke her hip and she is deemed too old for surgery (socialized medicine), so she is lying in a bed.  Because the need is great, she recently mortgaged her home to remodel a larger home for 25 beds.  It is mostly ready, but she is waiting (3 months so far) on the government for their final inspection and to issue the license so she can open.  She already has 25 people anxiously waiting for her to open. 

To close the other project, we were invited to the semi-annual Carnival Day at the Kemény Kindergarten.   Out of their 180 children, they have two autistic groups, and have never received any help for them.  Humanitarian funds helped with a couple of playground toys and some bicycles for the autistic playground section.   They said we were ‘good luck’ because right after we visited, they were able to get their first-ever donation from a pharmaceutical company for the autistic children.  The children were having a great time, and the staff treated us royally – publically thanked the Church and presented us with gifts – a ceramic bowl and hands, an autistic symbol.

Back to Kaposvár and the next day we did missionary apartment inspections – that means baking  a treat for these hungry elders.   The following day we were off to Pécs to inspect three more apartments there.  
Historical and nouveau samples -- a few of the hundreds!

After inspections, and since it was our last time in Pécs the elders suggested we visit the Zsolnay Cultural Quarter, home of the famous Zsolnay porcelain.   Zsolnay porcelain began in 1800, exhibited at two world fairs, and by 1914 was the largest porcelain manufacturer in Austro-Hungary.  During WWI, production was stopped, and facilities were used for the military.   After the Depression, production resumed but during WWII, their production plant in Budapest was bombed and during Communism, the factory was nationalized, the Zsolnay named dropped, and they only manufactured everyday tableware.   Finally in 1982, it regained its operational independence, its name and became a public company.  Five years later it was purchased privately and now has a contract with IKEA – to produce 5,000 tons of ware annually. 

In the beginning, everything was pink!  Lard pots and other uses of pink in the home. 

And on the Street of Shops we stepped into a candy store just in time to see the process for  their menthol candies from beginning to end:  1) pour base (sugar, corn syrup, water) in form and mix in food coloring, 2) remove forms, knead by hand (using gloves) and pull like taffy over hook on wall (not shown), roll in snake-like tube,  3) put through extractor machine, and candies will emerge in long chain with perforations, 4) knock them against the glass and they will separate to perfectly sized, individual candies. . .


. . .to be packaged ready for sale. 

 And there is even candies that look like porcelein tiles! 

Also in the sector is a glove manufacturing business.  Turkish leather tanners formed a dynasty in the area in 1762.  Janos Hamerli, master of tanning and glove making opened the first glove factory in Pécs in 1861.  His gloves, made of perfectly processed leather, were a match to even German and French gloves. The hand is very intricate and to make gloves that look smooth and will move like a second skin requires knowledge and skill.  The peak of the factory was in the 1980’s, with an annual output that exceeded 3 million pairs of gloves and employed 3,000 people.  After many changes through the country’s history, the company now operates as Gant Pécsi Kosztyű Lt. and makes gloves for the international fashion world. 

 Porcelein tiled roofs in the Zsolnay Quarter.

Buildings and fountain in the Zsolnay Quarter.

Friday Stan was asked to drive a missionary (emergency transfer) to another city; I was preparing for our Friday night YSA activity.   

And Saturday we were asked to find a doctor for another missionary.  We found the address of a clinic suggested; it was not open.  We went to the hospital, they sent us to another clinic.  We went there and waited our turn.  then the doctor would not see us because people in Hungary are assigned to a doctor (socialized medicine) and the missionary didn’t live in the right area for that doctor.  He sent us to another clinic.  As we walked up, we were greeted outside and taken in by the receptionist (we think that’s who he was).  When it was finally out turn and the missionary showed his insurance card, we were in the right place!  She said missionaries had been there before!   She prescribed antibiotic for his very sore and inflamed tonsils that have been bothering him for quite some time. Success! 

Afterwards we walked through the Rippl Ronai Spring Festival happening in town.  We saw a young branch member and her friend after they had been to the face painting artist. . .

. . .and lots of booths, lots of people, but only one head of this red color!

President and Sister Balint were out of town today, as was the sister going on a mission.  They all needed to go to Pécs where the stake president would be visiting to get their temple recommends signed as they will be going to the temple for the first time in a month – a very exciting happening.  Wish we could be with them!

Church attendance was sparse today for some reason, and we only had one non-member.   Since transfers are coming this week, and we think we will lose some of our good elders, they came for dinner.  A sister in the branch was going to come with them, and at the last minute she had company arrive. 

We continue to be grateful for the Lord’s hand in our daily lives and activities.  We know He directs His work.  We are very blessed to live at this time and to be serving in the Hungary Budapest Mission.  We know the Lord loves His children here, and will bless their homes and families as they choose to follow His teachings  -- just as He promises His children throughout the world.    

May 24, 2015

Another menu 'special.'  Maybe we should order for our next stake conference.
A very wet and drizzly week!   By Saturday morning we were ready to petition the Lord for the plans to build an ark!   It did let up a bit Saturday afternoon; the sky was blue and the clouds were white and fluffy.  We took the racks of drying clothes out to the deck for the sunshine, and within minutes we discovered those white fluffy clouds were also full of water. 

Today is cool; no rain so far.  However, the forecast is for another rainy week.  Hungary is about the same latitude as Seattle.  There are moments we wonder if we might be in Seattle – but after a split second, we’re sure we’re not!   But all that lush green – like Seattle – requires rain – like Seattle!

One day we came home and noticed that water had been on our floor, but the curious thing was that it also looked sandy/dirty!   We checked several things, and finally looked up – to see that we had had a leak through the ceiling (benefits of being on the top floor).   The manager came, looked and then went up on the roof.  It seems a tree limb had fallen and stopped up the drain; there was a foot or more of standing water which he quickly drained!   Later I found an inch of water in a plastic pin with toiletries in the top of my closet.   However, nothing was ruined.  And we are very blessed – again!

Tuesday we headed to Békéscsaba, a 4-hour drive, to close a project.   The drive was a beautiful one – 

. . . flourishing green fields,

 . . .a luxurious field of poppies,

. . .we crossed a serene river with a fountain.

The hospital in Békéscsaba was referred to us by Elder and Sister Smith, the senior couple serving there.  She is teaching piano lessons to a lady whose husband works at the hospital.  They were very happy to receive some medical wrist and leg restraints – which they assured us are only used when absolutely necessary.   We are grateful for Zoli, a member who works for a medical supply company who has been very helpful for a couple of projects to order the medical items through his company.   We hope it is beneficial to his company as well as to him.

A quick stop in Budapest on the way home to return some items borrowed for the YSA activity; and then on home.  When we arrived back in Kaposvár around 10 p.m. it had been an 800+ kilometer trip!

The rest of the week was paperwork time and attending some programs with the elders.  With one member family we did have a  gospel-centered discussion, but we also learned what  Hungarian animals say:

·         Dog – “wow wow”
·         Pig – “ruf ruf”
·         Duck – “háp háp”
·         Goose – “ga ga”
·         Mouse – “cin cin”  (tseen)
·         Cow – “bő bő”
·         Sheep – “be be”
·         Chicken – “csip csip” (cheep)
·         Rooster – “kukery ku”
·         Horse – “Ni ha ha”
·         Goat – “mek mek”
·         Bear – “brum brum”

Cats may not be totally Hungarian; they actually say “meow meow.”
After district meeting Friday, we had lunch with the elders.
Some sidewalk scenes as I sloshed to a Saturday Relief Society activity.

A building we've passed many times and just noticed the detail.
Saturday evening we went to the Flower Baths.   Hungary is known for its thermal water throughout the country.   This place is fabulous – three thermal pools, two huge lap pools, a large indoor and outdoor water park area, a pool with no water in it yet, a couple of hot tubs, several saunas – Finnish style, up to 85-100ᵒ C!  We quite enjoyed the three thermal pools (36 - 40ᵒ C) and lovely surroundings for a couple of hours.

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the Lord’s plan for us.  We are so grateful for its restoration here upon the earth and for the privilege of being part of His Kingdom.  We know that the gospel would bless the lives of so many of His children here in Hungary – if they would just listen, learn and accept.   One man we visited this week was just about finished reading the Book of Mormon.  He had many questions, but hope he will be willing to put Moroni’s promise to the test.  Our elders keep working and teaching.  We pray they are planting seeds that will be harvested when the time is right.     

May 17, 2015

Squeezed in this week was a home and visiting teaching visit to our German friends.  Rouladen, German dumplings and rotkohl to die for.
Whew!  It is the end of a good, but non-stop week. Had a bit of déja vu on Thursday.  We had walked to do shopping in the morning--nice day.  In the afternoon, suddenly the clouds let lose and we had hail -- the size of marbles, little and big!  It was exactly one year ago that there was a huge storm --wind and rain -- that caused flooding in both Hungary and Serbia.

We left Tuesday morning to close a project at a home for disabled adults in a small village several hours away.  

On our way through Kecskemét, we parked and walked several blocks to find a place to have some lunch.  On the way, we enjoyed the lovely pedestrian street with trees and flowers.  

Among the green, these plants look like autumn leaves.

This woman was eating close to us (and this had to be a quick, discreet photo).  She's wearing high fashion denims – the kind that are ripped all the way down the leg.  Look closely; she has shoes to match.  
During the Soviet Era, the disabled were all put in homes away from the population centers.  They were cared for, but were really not welcome in public areas of the cities.   We have visited several of these homes.  This home received such supplies as curtain fabric, vinyl tablecloths, a camera, a tablet (for a speech program), an outside ‘lawn bowling’ game, a metal shelf, and supplies for their craft area.   The craft leader was thrilled; they will now have supplies to work with.   We visited the craft room and met several busy people – one weaving with only one hand and another weaving so laboriously with his very disfigured hands.  Two people were sewing very small 1” X 4” strips of fabric together to make longer strips and rolling them in a ball.  These will then be used to weave rugs.  They make use of every little morsel. They always make do with what little they have, but in every place we have visited, the people are well cared for, happy and always so grateful for the visit and whatever they receive. 

Back to Kecskemét we visited a home where their two sons with Muscular Dystrophy were taken out of the home because their bathroom is not wheelchair accessible.   Right now they are attending a school in Budapest during the week and can sometimes come home on weekends.  It is becoming hard for the parents to lift them for all their needs.  A member has a foundation who helps struggling families.  She contacted us about this one.  We mentioned it to our supervisors and they asked us to go visit and evaluate. 

We finished there, picked up a used computer from the ward building and then headed to Budapest.  We arrived early evening and actually saw a parking space along the Duna (Danube). 

We parked and walked along the shore seeing kayaks and a very large, long tour boat. Strauss would be happy that these photos actually show a Blue Danube.

We walked across Margit’s Hid (Margaret Bridge) to a little Thai restaurant and had a yummy curry Thai dish. 

We then walked to and through Margit’s Sziget, which is an island park.  The Holy Crown is part of the entrance wall.

The park is in full bloom,

And full of families, couples, bikers, runners, students – all enjoying the beautiful surroundings and evening. 

We sat for a few minutes to enjoy the dancing water fountain.

The next day we went to the stake center to receive used computers that had recently been 
updated in church buildings.   Brother L, one of the facilities men, knew that his daughter’s 
school was in desperate need of some newer computers; so we then went and presented 
five of them to that specialized high school.

Several months ago, we helped an autistic school and home, and were invited to their 
annual talent and thank you program for school supporters.   These leaders were very 
gracious and happy to see us.  We very much enjoyed the program and the musical 
numbers -- several piano solos from the boys, recorder solos from the girls, and girls, boys 
and mixed choir numbers.   Our interpreter needed/wanted  to leave, so we missed the last 
part of the program and the reception afterwards. 

On to do a bit of shopping for the stake-wide young single adult event happening in 
Kaposvár on Friday. This is the first time a young adult event has been held outside of 

We were fortunate that Elder and Sister Peterson (Highland, UT) YSA leaders in Budapest came to see and help.  they arrived in time for lunch at Gecko, our token Mexican offering.

The first of the YSA guests.
Our guests arrived early evening -- several came from Budapest, one from Szeged and three from Pécs, our two members and two non-members.  first it was get-acquainted time, then dinner and afterwards they had a great time competing in Minute-to-Win-It games.  We were very involved in the 'running' of the games and didn't take photos of the fun.

then it was dance time, complete with a disco ball (which the girls in the branch thought was the most important supply item for the event)!  After the dance, President Balint took them on a walking tour of the city before getting them to their hostels quite late (or early).  

The next morning was breakfast, a fireside, a fun game and then lunch (Cafe Rio-style as best I could do).  We were told lunch had to be right at noon because people needed to leave.  Well, they sat around and talked for a couple more hours.  they seemed to be in no hurry, and said they had a great time.  We think it was a great success.

Our service is varied and never boring.  We are grateful to serve in any way that might be needed.  We continue to pray for the growth and strength of our branch members and for those whom the elders are teaching.  We do have several 'regulars' at home evening and our YSA activity on Fridays.  They are not committing, but at least they are in safe and good activities/company on those nights.  We will continue to feed, teach and share testimonies with them until we can number them with the ninety and nine (Luke 15:4).