Senior Missionary Training

We have had two Senior Missionary Training Meetings since we have been in Hungary.  For these, all the Senior Missionaries come to the Mission Home for two days of training, visiting and visiting famous sites.  This is important to receive needed counsel from our Mission President and his wife and also to “recharge” our batteries.

Some of the Senior Missionaries serve in what is called Mission Leadership Support.  They are called to live in the outlying branches and wards to help with the leadership needs of their congregation.  However, they are usually many hours away from the other Senior Missionaries, so these training meetings afford them the opportunity to visit with the rest of their far-flung compatriots.

The first senior meeting was at the end of August.  President gave us some words of encouragement about the growth in Hungary and our roles in Hungary in that in our training meeting.  He had a great power point to go along with that.  (He loves technology!)  Later we went to visit Heroes Square.  The centerpiece of the square is the Millennium Monument, built in 1896 to commemorate the 1000th anniversary of the Magyar conquest.  Think about that for a moment!!!  We then toured the nearby Vajdahunyad Castle, which was built originally of cardboard at the same time as the Millennium Monument.  It was much loved because of the various architectural styles that were used, and it was later rebuilt of brick and stone.

Heroes’ Square – Hősök Tere

We also visited St. Stephen’s Catholic Church; St. Stephen is the patron saint of Hungary.  Some of us climbed the 302 circuitous steep stairs to the balcony around the main round steeple… I did – Ron did not…

St Stephen’s Basilica – Szent István Bazilika

And we also walked by the famous statue of Ronald Reagan.  The Hungarian people love him because they feel because of him “The Wall” came down and they regained their freedom from the Soviet occupation of their land.

With Ronald Reagan – you can barely see the Parliament Building in the background

We also had dinner at a local favorite, The Bistro, and lunch at another wonderful place, The First Strudel House of Pest.  Not only was the food delicious, but the decor was charming:  antiques displayed on the walls and even under the clear plastic sinks in the bathrooms!  (A family history nut like me loves this kind of stuff…)

Picture and artifacts on wall at the First Strudel House of Pest

Our last senior training was October 17th and 18th.  This time Sister Smith had us bring various foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  The training meeting on Tuesday afternoon was informative and deeply spiritual. President Smith had each of us talk about the various jobs that we did.  It ended up that we reported of some of the miracles that have occurred while we were doing our various service.  For Tuesday night’s dinner she hired a local Hungarian make Rokött Krumpli and we brought salads.

The next day we toured The Parliament Building.  WOW!  What a beautiful building!  It is one of the oldest legislative buildings in Europe and is currently the largest building in Hungary.  It was bombed during WWII and had to be repaired.  Some of the beautiful stained glass windows were hidden away and re-installed when things were safer.  It sits overlooking the Danube and they are currently doing some construction around the Danube side.  I have used some Wikipedia pictures for this posting.

The Hungarian Parliament Building

Afterwards we walked down to The Shoes on The Danube, a very poignant memorial to the Jews that were forced to take off their shoes at this spot before they were shot by a local pro-communist and anti-Jew group in 1945.  After they were killed, they fell into the Danube.  Man’s inhumanity to man is staggering.  I am glad that God is our Judge.

Bronzed Shoes on the Danube

We then got on the Vilamos (tram) and rode over to Gellert Hill.  We walked up the hill to the top – a MAJOR climb with stairs and paths (235 m or 771 ft high)!!!  Gellert Hill is named for a Christian martyr, who tried to bring Christianity to the early Hungarians.  It also has been a fortress and has a Statue of Liberty (also called the Freedom Monument) on top.

Our starting place to hike up the hill – St. Gellert’s statue

We also walked down the hill to the tram to get back to the Mission Home after getting to the top! This was the most walking we did in one day since we have been here – several miles total.  Ron’s knee was sore for a few days…  I was glad I had been doing early morning walks three times a week with Sister Smith!!!  It was beautiful fall weather and a very nice day.

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Talks in Szolnok

We were assigned to talk in the Szolnok Branch today.  So we and the Carpenters started off at 8 AM, meetings started at 10 AM.  We got there in plenty of time, we thought, 9:45 AM.  However, the address programmed into the GPS was not correct.  So a quick call to the Sister Missionaries in that Branch, resulted in a darling 17-year-old boy running over to where we were and directing us to the correct place.  The whole branch was awaiting our arrival – but now we were a few minutes late!

The Szolnok Branch Building

Of course, we were the speakers, so we had to sit up on the front chairs – right in front of the podium and piano.  Just entering the room, we both noticed the sweet Spirit of the Branch members.  It had me reaching for the tissues almost immediately.  It seems that the Holy Spirit is very strong here in Hungary!

One of the Sister Missionaries spoke first – she bore her testimony.  She believes that she will be transferred to a new area this week was was sad to go.  (Transfers are very 6 weeks for the young missionaries.) Then I spoke.  I did the entire thing in Magyar – except that I asked one of the Sister Missionaries to tell them one sentence: that I felt the Spirit so strongly when we walked into the room.  Then, in Magyar, I apologized for my Magyar (Baba Magyarul – baby Hungarian) and explained to them that I really wanted to learn their language.  I explained our calling in the Church and then I told them a bit about myself:  I was a convert (Megtért vagyok).  I was baptized at age 18 by Felsted Elder.  We have 7 children and 24 beautiful grandchildren.  Then I went into my talk, True to the Faith, the same one I gave in a previous branch.

This time it was easier and I could actually look at the members occasionally.  And when I got to the part about them being the pioneers of Hungary and we feel so privileged to be in their presence…. I had to wait until I could talk.  The Spirit was testifying to all of us this was true.

The ward leadership and members came up and were so thankful that I had spoken to them in their native language.  Very sweet people.

Ron had a similar experience while he was giving his talk.  He told them that he had to get out his handkerchief.  He spoke on the Three Voices that try to influence us.  One of the Elders translated for him and he was nervous but some of the sisters, who know English, helped him from the audience.  It was very endearing – but typical Hungarian.  (If you greet someone on the street – Jo reggelt – and don’t say it exactly right, they will correct you.  Pretty hysterical, actually!)

The branch choir sang a song in English, while one of the Sister Missionaries played her flute during the song.  It was quite a nice production – 6 or 7 singers.  One sister on the piano and one on her flute…  (To the grandchildren – can you see how important those piano and musical skills are??)

Back of the Branch Building

We learned that there are at least three very strong families in Szolnok.  They form the nucleus there.  One family have one son who went on a mission and is now in the branch presidency and another preparing to serve.  Another has a grandson, the 17-year old, who is also preparing to serve.  With the new announcement changing the age the youth can serve, we are hopeful that more Hungarian youth will consider serving a full time mission.

Their building is beautiful.  It has had a large addition built by the Church and the rooms are filled with light and are very attractive, with white stucco type of wall finish.  Two rooms have fireplaces, which I assume are gas, and the way they heat the rooms.  Parking is inside the property, which you enter through a gated wall.

We brought the Elders back to Budapest with us – one is being transferred to be an Office Elder.  We ate our lunch in the car on the way home and arrived back home about 3 PM.  We will be in Papa Ward/Branch next Sunday.  The Carpenters have a speaking assignment there and with only two cars and 4 senior missionaries to get to various places, it is either go with them or take the metro to Pest Ward… I think NOT!  (We would probably end up in some other town….or country… with our limited Magyar…)  Anyway, we will bring a lunch this time to share with the missionaries there.  They were excited to hear that!

Another spiritual Sabbath day in Hungary!

Our Apartment

Missionaries in Hungary live in apartments, flats, or parts of homes… at least that is what I have seen so far.  We live in an apartment in a what I suppose is a typical apartment home in Budapest. Our street is one apartment home after the other.  The Mission Home is sort of an anomaly on our small street.  There is a large door to the entrance of our apartment.

Our Apartment Building

It opens with the proper code or with a fob on our key chain.  It opens to a large concrete floored entry, where the garbage cans are stored to the left.  At the end of this corridor, is a door to the court outside.  Some of the tenants use this to get to their apartment, as the building is wider on the right side than on the left side.  Our entrance is on the right, just before the entry to the court.  We go up 3 stairs, enter a door and we find ourselves in another little “foyer” with a door to a ground floor apartment and the curved stairs which lead up to more apartments upstairs.  There are 58 stairs to our apartment, which is on the third floor.  You can see 3 of the 4 front windows at the top of this photo.  Two of those windows (on left) are our bedroom and the other two are our front room/kitchen area.

As you enter our apartment, there is a window overlooking the courtyard to your left, a second bedroom directly straight ahead and an entry with storage cabinets and shelving and a half bath, with a toilet and sink.

Entry WayThe little bedroom has a single bed and a very small unfinished shower area.  This will be completed in a few months.  This small bedroom also has a window that overlooks the courtyard below and the deck which acts as a walkway for some to get to their apartments.

Shower

Shower

There is a very small window in this shower area which opens to an open area that is between the little bathroom off the hall and this shower area.  My guess is that is how they used to ventilate the bathrooms?  I am sure this building is about 100 years old.

Front Room AreaOur apartment was furnished with most things that we needed.  We bought some Ikea comforters, some cooking items (such as a skillet and bread pans) and enough silverware for us to entertain other missionaries.  Little things like that.  One front window on the right side of this picture above.

KitchenThe kitchen looks like a typical Ikea kitchen.  The upper cabinets are quite tall for me but that leaves plenty of space between the counter tops and the bottom of the cabinets.  I actually need a step stool to reach the back of the second shelf!  But that is no surprise, as I am 5 ft 4 in tall!  Also, luckily for me, I have a very tall companion!!!  The sink is in the corner.  We have a new kitchen which is easy to keep clean.  The flooring in this area is pebble-like tiles.   The refrigerator/freezer is much bigger than most senior apartments I have seen – many only have a refrigerator the size of the top half and it sits on the floor!  We have a 3 drawer freezer on the bottom.  And we bought the cutest little ice cube maker forms that we bought so we can have some ice with our drinks.  (Dorky Americans that we are!)  Another view of the kitchen which shows the 12 foot tall ceilings, the pebble floor, corner sink, washing machine (and dishwasher is under the counter to the left – adjacent to the washing machine).  One person kitchen but has everything we need.

The bedroom is quite large.  As you walk in, there is the windows to the left, the bed in front of the windows and a loft built in on the right.  The owners have used the loft for storage; but their son used to sleep up there.  (I think there is a bed hiding up there…)  We have stored our luggage up there; but there is no way we wish to climb the ladder to get to the loft.  Under the loft is a desk area and a walk-in closet/storage area and the entry to our full sized bathroom.

Bedroom

There is also a bank of 7 foot tall cabinets used as a closet on the far wall – so we have plenty of room for our 2 suitcases of clothes.

So this is our little home away from home.  And when we are tired after a strenuous day, we are so happy to come home!  We count our many blessings!

Some Learning Going On

The YSA adults decided that they wanted to cook their meals on Fridays for a while for their activity. They meet at 7 PM after Institute and have announcements, a Spiritual Thought and then a dinner. So they told us what the recipe was at our weekly YSA council meeting and we bought the food.

September 21 was make your own pizza.  I recommended that I make the pizza dough ahead of time because it took a while to do.  They agreed.  The YSA cut up the light colored bell peppers (that are called paprika here), mushrooms and onions.  We had some left over salami type meat for the pizzas and we bought pizza sauce.  Then Felsted Elder and I pinched off globs of dough and the kids rolled them out and put on the ingredients they wanted.  So this was the situation: 40 kids making their own separate pizzas, trying to keep track of which pizza was theirs on a pan with 3 other pizzas, two ovens – one in our kitchen and the other in the RS kitchen around the corner…. One darling investigator had her carefully made pizza taken by someone else…. so she made another with a curly tail on hers so she could identify it.

[We had a visit by the local fire department, also…. since the heat vapors from the hot ovens set off the fire alarm in the kitchen and we did not know how to turn them off.  We have since learned how to do that!!!]

Make your own pizza

Sept 28 was make your own salad night.  We washed the greens, paprika, tomatoes, etc and put them out.  The YSA cut up the veggies and then the YSA President announced to the group – go get what you want…  ??  It sort of worked out….

October 5:  They requested 5 Kg (a LOT) of pork for Pörkölt, a traditional Hungarian stew time of dish) and rice to put it on.  When we were at the meat section of Metro ordering this pork and I showed him the recipe title, he asked shoulder or rump (sign language) and I told him rump.  Just then one of the young sisters, Sister M, called me about something and I asked her to talk to the meat man and ask if he could cut it into stew sized pieces – so he did!!!)  If it had not have been cut into pieces – ?? – our center knives are not that great – although Felsted Elder did try to sharpen them.  Adri is a vegetarian but a very hard working young woman.  So she and a friend decided that the pieces were too large and they cut them into very small sections – even though she was not happy to be handling the meat…   (We have left over meat for another dinner sometime.)  Meanwhile, others were cutting the onions, tomatoes, paprika and lots of the spice, paprika, hence the red color.  An older lady (older than 18-30) appeared on the scene and decided to cook the rice the Hungarian way.  Since I was trying to stay out of the way, that was fine with me.

Traditional stew called pörkolt – only we served it on rice.

PS – This lady turns out to be a lost member – the Sister missionaries thought she was an investigator – but after a lengthy conversation with her during dinner, I found out that she was baptized in 1992.  Her husband was not happy with that and she did not attend for several years.  Meanwhile, the Church changed buildings, so she did not know where they were meeting.  She just ran into the missionaries who were handing out English class fliers last month.  (PS – we have a few non-18-30 wander through our “center.”  The missionaries announce that there is a YSA function on Friday nights and they don’t hear the 18-30 part and show up.  Eventually we get the message to them that the program is for the youth and they stop coming…)

Anyway, the young men were not too happy that dinner was not getting done anytime quickly…. We finally ate dinner at 9:30 PM…. Delicious, though.

In the kitchen with two Adris

October 12 – the dinner choice was mákos tészta, a traditional Hungarian dish.  Adri told us to buy 1 Kg (a LOT) of ground poppy seed.  Our favorite little neighborhood vegetable and fruit market had this!  (3 other little local stores did not have the ground seeds).  However, when I offered to buy some noodles, Adri insisted they could make the noodles by hand, if we had flour, oil, salt and water.  SO, she started making the noodles at 7 PM while her sister ran the rest of the program.  I think everyone had eaten some mákos tészta by about 9 PM….  BTW, the topping is just room temperature ground poppy seed mixed with white sugar and sprinkled on top of the noodles… INTERESTING dinner.  And we will have enough ground poppy seed for MANY, many meals.  I put the excess in the freezer.

mákos tészta

In an email today, I asked Adri to evaluate the cooking dinner by the YSA (pros and cons) for our next meeting.  I think it is an admirable desire to want to do the dinners.  IMO, they just need to start earlier – which might not be practical if they are coming from a job!

We will be making the dinners for the Friday dinner for the next little while.  Next Friday the YSA activity will be rolling and cooking and decorating rolled sugar cookies for the upcoming country wide Halloween party, where we expect about 100 youth.  (That is a LOT of cookies…)