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. 


June 14, 2015

When ordering 'only vegetables,' we wait  to see what they bring with a pleasant presentation.

‘Tis cool, that early hour of dawn that comes to awaken all humanity;
Then light and warmth and heat – arrives with such fidelity.
Morning is here; we ready and prepare, albeit with timidity,
A cause for care – the hair.  It is sprayed for absolute rigidity.
A walk to the church, to town, stepping in spots of shade -- not with rapidity!
It’s hot out here!  Whatever are we doing?  This could border pure insanity.
Attending programs.  Is this the Spirit, this sensation of warm liquidity?
Ah no.  Small rooms, upstairs, no A/C – these sensations are drops of fluidity.
Back home with total wetness; body aroma evokes acridity.
Night.  No reprieve.  Sleep evades.  Oh, cursed humidity!

We did have a welcome, short, surprise rainstorm on Tuesday; and read that in Budapest there were over 100 reports of damage from hail that day.

A week at home – attending programs and district meeting, hosting family home evening, young single adults, home teaching, rescuing elders who took the wrong train.  We had our next door neighbors over for dinner – with no translator present!  With their little English and our very little Hungarian, we had a good evening and visit.  They have a 4-year-old girl, Emi, who wanted to ‘play.’   Everything we have lasted about 4 minutes each – puzzle, Set, balloons, ball, and Bananagrams.  We’re not too equipped for children, but we enjoyed getting to know them.  They graciously brought us a bottle of wine.  We thanked them and explained why we could not take it.  They would not take it back.  She said, “Please keep it so my husband won’t drink it.”   Now, what do we do with this?

I finished a skirt and am in the middle of a dress for our soon-to-be missionary sister.  Hopefully, I will finish that tomorrow.  Pray for the process; I have not sewed a dress in many years.

Saturday we had a Relief Society activity at the park, in the sun! There were 4 of us.  We answered some questions about ourselves for a get-to-know-you activity. 

Some good things at church today.   Only one member lady did not have on a dress (and she probably doesn’t own one).   Even two of the non-members were wearing dresses.  But we had 5 investigators present. One member who was probably offended (and has not attended for a month or more) was there today with his non-member wife and daughter.  However, another member says he will be taking some time off because he does not have a good feeling in priesthood meeting.   Oh, the refining, the learning, the growing, and the sifting process that is taking place here so that these saints will be strong and ready to move the Kingdom forward is an interesting one to watch. 

At the beginning of the meeting, the branch president asked if people wanted the air conditioning on or off.  OFF!!!  It was set for 74 degrees.   Hungarians do not like air conditioning!  Period!  They think it causes colds. So Stan had a hard time; he said he just kept wiping off the drippings.

Still, we are grateful for these wonderful people.  We are grateful for the things we have learned and especially the blessings we have received.   We know the Lord’s hand has been in our mission daily and we pray that we may stay strong and continue always to be instruments for Him wherever we are.

June 7, 2015

Another delightful menu description --'sunny side up' egg on spinach pizza.

In many ways, it’s been a very calm, quiet week – even the trees have barely moved –and the deck didn’t even need to be swept.  Now that is unusual!

We did have one new project approved – a remodel of a bathroom so two young brothers with a rare deteriorating muscular dystrophy disease can get into it with their wheelchairs – which should only take a few days and hopefully we can close it next week.  

As you may know, the Church keeps its equipment up-to-date.  We have been blessed to be here at the time all the computers in the Church units have been upgraded in Hungary, and the used ones have been given to us for humanitarian purposes.  The old computers are typically only three years old and so much newer than many institutions in Hungary can afford.  We were happy to donate the last of the Church’s older computers to the Institute for the Blind in Kaposvár.   We had visited them when we first arrived here; they requested some computers, but did not have room for them and were hoping to move to a new location in a couple of months.  That didn’t happen until recently and they contacted us.  Gratefully, we still had a few of the computers.  

This week I spent some time with our young sister (who is going on a mission) and her mother who we are praying will be baptized soon (she has been faithfully attending church).  I will spend this week sewing Évi a couple of missionary skirts and maybe a dress – if my tiny (toy) sewing machine cooperates.

We had one program cancel, and Stan attended another with the elders while I was preparing dinner for our YSA evening.

We have  also been preparing for the end.  Many of the project payments finally 'showed up' or 'came through' on the Church accounting system so Stan has been closing out those and finishing their summaries.  I have been preparing some lists and information for the new humanitarian couple. 

The elders of Kaposvár -- Elder Winkel, Sterling, UT; Elder Lee, Orange Co., CA; Elder Cox, American Fork, UT; Elder Parkinson, Boise, ID; and Elder Miller.
It was transfer week, so we had a welcome dinner today for our two new elders. Actually we were all fasting together for some investigators and broke our fast together this evening.  We took the opportunity after dinner to watch the funeral service for Elder L. Tom Perry.  What a blessing the internet is!  What a blessing and example Elder Perry was.   

Here are a few photos that didn’t make it in the past posts.

Actually we discovered this week that this prominent fountain right here in Kaposvár was made by Zsolnay.

Chess anyone?   These large boards can be found throughout Hungary.  Haven't seen anyone playing yet.

It's so fun to actually see a stork in her nest.

The Pecs Mall had a large display of dinosaurs -- and their heads and tails were moving!

This was the name of an ice cream store.  Does that mean this ice cream is from Heaven?

This one is for our daughter -- a Tony and Guy Salon; but it doesn't look too productive.

Fast and Testimony Meeting was very good today.  We had more people in attendance, including three investigators.  However, one that has faithfully attended for several months announced that he is going to Switzerland to work.  This is typical.  If someone can find work outside the country, they take advantage because the pay is so much better than in Hungary.  He did tell the branch president that he would find the branch in Switzerland and continue to attend – and he was one for whom we were fasting.

Besides being grateful this week for the internet, we are also very grateful for the Holy Spirit in our lives and because of our membership in the Church we have the opportunity, if worthy, to have Him as our constant companion. Yes, we are very blessed to have served together as companions on our mission, but an even more important companion for each of us is the Holy Ghost.