A Present From Cove

When we went into the Mission Home today, Saturday, Dec 29th, we were told that there was a package for us.  We were surprised, since we told our kids NOT to send anything – it was too expensive and just donate to a charity for us…

IMG_0437So we opened it and Lo! and Behold! it was from the Cove Ward LAURELS!  How fun! and what a sweet gesture!!!

IMG_0439Not only that, but they had this cute picture that they sent!!!

IMG_0445And they each wrote us a note wishing us a Merry Christmas season!!!  We are a small ward and the youth are SPECTACULAR!  Of course, their leaders are super, too!  Thank you so much!!!  (Only one of the myriad of reasons why we LOVE COVE WARD!)

IMG_0442There was a Christmas card plus the box was filled with presents with scriptures on them…..  We were to look up the scriptures, then try to guess what the present was.  Some were easy… D&C 9:8 … I will cause that your bosom shall burn within you… (TUMS), some were more difficult .. Psalms 23:4 …thy rod and thy staff they comfort me… (Candy canes).  VERY FUN ACTIVITY!

IMG_0443Here is a picture of our loot!  I imagine all the ward missionaries got one of these for Christmas.  Thanks so much for thinking of us!!!  WE LOVE YOU!

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Christmas Booths in Pest

On Wednesday afternoon, November 30, 2012, Sister S, Sister C and I went to check out the Christmas booths in downtown Pest.  The booths are wooden and seem similar enough to be standardized. Not sure if the government supplies them or the owners of the businesses do.  There were perhaps 50-75 booths in this square.

IMG_2560A booth with Christmas gingerbread goodies.  Note the costumed proprietor.

IMG_2561Hungarian costume – wish I knew from what area of Hungary.

IMG_2566This is a variation of fried dough with cinnamon and sugar.  The dough is wrapped around a form and baked, and then slipped off the form. They are called Kürtöskalács.  We shared one and they are good!

IMG_2570They had all kind of glazes on their pottery items.

IMG_2573There is a certain area of Hungary known for their blue and white items – clothing, pottery, etc.  I would like to see if they have any nativity sets in those colors.

IMG_2574No controversy about this beautiful large nativity set here!

IMG_2569Beautiful large tree and lots of shoppers.  Actually, the tourist ships that come up the Danube, make a stop during this season so the tourists can come to this marketplace.  We met two sets of Americans – one from Louisiana and the other from North Carolina at this Christmas “mall.”  Pretty easy to pick out the American speakers… So we got to tell them that we are LDS missionaries, here for 1.5 – 3 years…

IMG_2578I don’t know if they bought these hats at the Christmas Booths, but we ended up following them down to the metro and got on the same train.  So I asked (sign language) if they would let me take their pictures!

IMG_2579An entrepreneur selling roasted chestnuts in a period costume.  He was situated just as we were coming out of the metro.  Not sure if he had to have a permit, but I believe so.

I did not buy anything.  Not much of a shopper and anything that is bought has to be taken home or sent home…  but fun to see the items – so many were hand-made – and the costumes.

Felsted Elder’s Facebook Christmas Posting

He felt impressed he should communicate his thoughts and testimony of the Savior and to the youth we serve on the Budapest YSA Facebook page:

What a joy and privilege we feel to be in Hungary this Christmas season! We are filled with love and appreciation for the people of this beautiful country. How is it possible that we can be so blessed? Why are we so privileged to discover a whole new family half-way around the world? How is it possible to leave the comforts of home and family only to discover peace and contentment among strangers in a distant land? We are so humbly grateful to be here! We thank you for the love and patience you all have shared with us! We want you to know of our love for the Savior and for the privilege of serving Him here in Hungary! How blessed we feel for the opportunity to place our fortunes and lives at His disposal! We love you all and pray for God’s blessings to be upon you and your loved ones this Christmas eve. May we keep Him in our hearts and minds not only today and tomorrow but throughout the coming year!
Hard to believe that he feels he is not a good communicator!

(Ether 12:27:  27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their aweakness. I bgive unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my cgrace is sufficient for all men that dhumble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make eweak things become strong unto them.)

Christmas Zone Conferences

We have 5 zones in our Hungarian Mission.  The Mission President decided to have Christmas Zone Conferences this past week.  So one zone came on Monday, another Tuesday, etc.  Here was our zone upstairs (I took the pictures with everyone’s cameras.)

IMG_2631

President had the conferences in the main floor chapel from 11-1:30.  The APs had some training thoughts about the attributes of Christ (which our President has been having us study this past month from the Preach My Gospel Manual).  The Zone Leaders then presented their training.  In our session, Elder Felsted, then gave a talk on the spiritual side of our Christmas celebrations.  (President Smith had a Senior Missionary do this from each zone.)  Sister Smith related the story of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day to the hope we feel in Christ.  President Smith is always positive and showed us how the missionaries are working hard, but need to work harder – especially with our new baptism goals for the new year.  We will have 25 additional new missionaries (16 Sisters and 9 Elders) coming to Hungary in the spring (more might come after the school year), which will increase our total missionaries from 110 to 135, so we are hoping to step up to these higher goals.

( had taken wonderful notes of all the talks on my new iPad app, Daily Notes; but lost them in a what-do-I-do-now moment… even President Smith could not retrieve them…  But I learned how to retrieve them if that ever happens again…)

Sister Smith was in charge of the FOOD and other activities.  She had a wonderful chicken dish, which she did in crock pots, rice and senior couples from that zone brought vegetables and desserts.  (We volunteered to bring dessert on our day and wanted to make enough chocolate chips for each missionary to get several, so we ended up making 4 batches of the Toll House recipe.  I made them and Ron cooked them.  We had enough for an after-Institute treat that same day!)  Sister Carpenter and I helped in the kitchen – getting the rice on in time, with setting food out and serving and things like that.  One of the YSA women came and also helped us by doing all the dishes every day!  (I forgot to take any pictures of the eating part, which was in our 2nd floor center recreation room).

After lunch, a missionary year end CD slide show was played, showing all the missionaries in various moments during the year.  Each missionary was given one of those CDs plus an EFY 2012 CD that was done in Magyar with local talent!!!  Next the zone went up to the Mission Home apartment and played games, like Christmas Bingo, Christmas charades, figuring out Christmas carol lyrics from crazy hints – some of these kids need their vocabularies enlarged – they did not know the word quadruped (and a few others!!!), white elephant gift exchange (see below)

IMG_2634anonymous gifts for the missionaries and even a visit from Santa!

IMG_2643He looks a bit SKINNY, though…

The white elephant gift that Elder B got was wrapped in ties!  (I hear that some of the Elders buy a “bag” of ties while on their mission…)

IMG_2648All in all, it was a spiritually uplifting and, also, a fun time for the missionaries to be together as a zone – in the mission home!  Sort of a pre-Christmas Christmas…

I enjoyed meeting some of the missionaries that we had not met yet and visiting with the other Senior Missionaries.

Holiday Service Project

While Adri was on her mini-mission, the Humanitarian Senior Missionaries, started buying some material for making blankets for a homeless shelter in Szeged.  The Adams and their YSA and ward had found this shelter and asked what did they need.   Our YSA kids were looking for a service project to do in Budapest, but I said we could make 25 of these blankets for the Szeged project, while we tried to find someone here to help.  With our large group, making 25 blankets went fairly fast.  Our family makes these every year at our annual Felsted Christmas gathering for the Primary Children’s Hospital so I was familiar with the process.

IMG_2551Well, as soon as we finished, one of our YSA found a hospital that would allow us to make blankets for them and deliver them, sing some Christmas carols and deliver some Clementines.  So we asked the Humanitarian Missionaries to see if we could get our project approved.  It was and the Wiggins went off to buy some more fabric for 50 blankets – these were too be smaller than the ones we did before.

Here is Feri finishing up one of the last blankets for our project:

IMG_2588So Saturday, Dec 15, 2012 was our planned day to deliver the blankets to a children’s hospital in District 8 in Pest.  We had 9 YSA signed up to meet at our center at 9 AM – 5 showed up and Feri met us there; the Wiggins, the Felsteds and Rita, the Stake Humanitarian Specialist who spoke both Hungarian and English!!! (we cannot stress how important that is!).  It was sleeting a bit, so the Wiggins called taxis and they took us to the door of the clinic.  Eva, who had arranged the project, was to meet us there.  She did not but luckily for us, we had RITA!

IMG_2597Here we are on the steps at the entrance door, with our shopping bags with 50 blankets.  Rita is on the extreme right.

A nurse came and asked us what we needed.  None of us brought the name of the nurse that Eva had mentioned, because we assumed she would be there to do the talking for us.  But Rita explained to this nurse, and she made some calls and took us to three separate areas where children were being treated for various maladies.

IMG_2598Here we are waiting in one of the hallways.  (The YSA in a suit is in medical school and plans to go on a mission after he has completed his second year.)

IMG_2599Above:  one of the young patients and his mother.  This girl with her father, was in the bed next to the mom and the baby in the above picture. There were 3-4 beds in this room, kids of various ages.  We let them pick out the blanket that they wanted.

IMG_2603Here is another area we were in… We sang a few songs at each area.  There are some Hungarian Christmas songs in their Hymnal, that are not in ours…

IMG_2604Many of the children in this hospital were home for the weekend.  Both their parents work so they cannot care for them during the week and they are allowed home on the weekends.  We were there about one hour. I think the YSA were touched by this activity – I know that I was.  We need more service projects!  Maybe the Felsteds need to help the YSA find some other places to serve.

We then we traveled on the Metro (underground subway) under the Danube and back to Buda and to our center, where we had homemade cinnamon rolls and hot chocolate.

Our Trip to Sopron

We used our new GPS to travel to Sopron and it was very easy!  We got out of Budapest without a hitch.  The very nice thing about this GPS gadget is that it even shows exact duplicates of the over head road signs that we saw; so it was a confirmation that it was working right and we were on the correct path.

Sopron is about 3 hours away in the extreme NW corner of Hungary and the Flammers offered to let us stay overnight in their extra bedroom with a couch that converted to a bed (not like ours in America).  Flammer Elder told us to call him when we got to a certain little town close to Sopron, and he would tell us an easier way than the GPS would bring us.  So we did and the GPS quickly adjusted.  We had programmed their home address as our destination.  The only issue was that although I thought I recognized their home from Flammer Növér’s blog, we could not see the address, so we were not sure.  And they were not home – they were at a Church function.  But they quickly came home and confirmed where we were.

After we got settled, they had a Skype lesson with our most favorite of all the MTC Hungarian tutors – Kyle!  How fun it was to sit on their couch and see him.  And he was surprised to see us, claiming to be the Flammers!  We gave him a few phrases that we had learned and he filled us in on what is going on with him.  His wife is expecting a girl in April and he will retire this month from being a MTC tutor and start as a Teaching Assistant in his major field, Civil Engineering.  Then we just listened to him tutor the Flammers.

Afterwards, the Flammers took us to a cute Hungarian restaurant.  When you walked in, it looked like a bar, but on the side and in the back, there were tables for their patrons.  We choose what to eat by looking at the four colored pictures and not the other food, without pictures and no English.  It was good – pork strips and veggies on french fries!  The Fanta (soft drink) did not have the brilliant orange color that I remember having in America.  (It appears to me that Hungarians, maybe all Europeans, use less artificial things than we do?)  They also had two live singers with instruments, who sang some Hungarian and some John Denver!. I forgot to take a picture there but it was dark anyway.

Szolnok Branch Building

Sopron Branch Building

Since Flammer Elder is in the Branch Presidency, he left early Sunday morning for meetings.  We and Sister Flammer came in time for the Sacrament Meeting.  The Sopron Branch meets in part of this Best Western Hotel building.  The main part of the hotel is around the corner to the left of the picture.  The Church occupies the 3rd and 4th floor and the Elders live on the 5th floor.  The curved white windows are the RS room on the 4th floor.  It is a VERY nice building and will be handicap accessible when the newly installed elevator (behind this part of the building) is completed.  Everything inside looks fairly new: white walls, the carpet, the familiar blond wood chapel podium area.  The Branch is small and really needs more members. There are two sisters who joined the Church in 1990, when the Church first was recognized by the government.  I would say perhaps they had 20 total members there. A sister, a new convert, came up to us and through a translator, thanked us profusely for visiting and giving our talks.  Maybe when the new group of missionaries come in March (from the October Conference announcement), they can get another set of missionaries to help out with spreading the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

IMG_0282Down the stairs to the chapel area.  Pictures of all the Prophets in this dispensation and a picture of Christ at His Second Coming.  Here is a picture from the RS room of a very picturesque walking street:

IMG_0276After Church, Flammer Elder took us to see a couple of sights while Sister Flammer went home and got the dinner on the table.  Sopron is surrounded on three sides by Austria, so we went to a very famous park, where the tearing down of the “wall” or Iron Curtain, started.  It was cold and snow covered, so we did not do a tour.  But we will be back to tour this area.  We have both read the book by James Mitchner, The Bridge of Andau, and we have a Hungarian friend who escaped Communism through this area – so this is an area we definitely want to explore in greater detail in a summer trip.

At the Austria border

At the Austria border

Elder Flammer also took us to downtown Sopron and we walked to the Roman ruins behind the main street of the town.  AMAZING!  Such history in this whole area!

IMG_0355The sun was so bright, shining off the snow covered streets, that I had to stand in the shadows to get a decent picture.  Main street is on the other side of buildings in the back of this picture – although the town wraps around these ruins.

IMG_0378I don’t think this brickwork below was from the Roman period but thought it was interesting to see how it was just incorporated into that building.  These stairs were on one edge of the ruins…

IMG_0374Here is a square behind main street with Christmas booths set up.  Seems like these little towns have little nooks or squares all over the place.

IMG_0361Brigham Young definitely did not design these towns!  Little curvy streets and walkways all over the place.  Which is why they are so charming, I suppose.

IMG_0373Sister Flammer had a delicious dinner of fried chicken, corn, mashed potatoes, gravy, home made rolls (YUM) and chocolate chip cookies for dessert!  They had invited the missionaries for dinner, too, so we got to know them a little better.  It was a fun trip and fun to get to know the Flammers better.  Their home is in Cache Valley, so I assume we will get together after our missions.  He was a HS counselor for his career and they both have funny humorous streaks!!! (Of course, so many of these Senior Missionaries are very humorous!  We feel we are pretty dull and boring!)  She made quilts to support their missionary children.

Flammer Elder and the missionaries had to leave to take the Sacrament to a house-bound member of the Church after dinner and it was time for us to travel back home.  Another lovely little Hungarian town and another little branch!

District Meeting Spiritual Thought

We have District Meetings every Thursday morning, except once a month, when we have a Zone Meeting.  In attendance are the District Leader and his companion, the Zone Leader and his companion, one set of Sister Missionaries and two other sets of Elder Missionaries and us.

Last Wednesday, the DL asked me to give the spiritual thought the next day.  We did not have our English copy of Preach My Gospel in our apartment, so I went online and went to the October Conference talks and found one about missionaries by President Monson, called See Others As They Become.  After reading the talk, there were many parts that were outstanding, but the part that grabbed my attention was where President Monson told the story of N. Eldon Tanner and an outstanding missionary.  I read it to our missionaries:

“In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”

The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”

Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”

I then told the missionaries that they were truly blessed to mostly come from homes where the gospel of Jesus Christ had been taught.  Their parents had lived the Gospel and that their parents had lived the Word of Wisdom and because of that had been blessed with mostly healthy bodies.  They were not raised with the standards of many of the Hungarians, who come from broken homes, from a history of alcoholism and addiction to cigarettes, from a history of being a repressed people, etc.

Then I read the following words from an old LDS pop song, which our son Dan liked when he was on his mission.

The Promise – by After Glow

Before the seas were formed,
Before the fields were warm,
Before our father let us come to earth to dwell,
I knew you well.

I made a promise there that we would meet again.
That I would search for you wherever you might roam.
And bring you home.

But I didn’t realize,
I wouldn’t recognize your shining eyes,
And glowing face,
Your cheerful smile,
And warm embrace.

And so to keep my vow,
And search you out somehow,
I lift my lamp to every wanderer in the night.
To bring you light.

And someday I’ll pass by
We’ll hear my cry a
And we’ll look eye to eye,
And tears will show. Remembrances of long ago.

And so to keep my pledge
I’ll search earths farthest edge.
I’ll raise my voice and pray my message will be heard.

I keep my word.
Friend I am calling you.
Oh, hear me calling you.
I keep my word.

I said I believed this song/poem.  We were sent here to Hungary to find those that we promised in the pre-existence to find.  We might not recognize them; they might not be like us, but we needed to heed the counsel of our Prophet and See Them As They Might Become.  To quote President Monson, “Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation [I added: the temptation to judge them by their looks] , courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.                                                                                                                              “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”

And this is my testimony, that God loves everyone of His Children.  It is our responsibility to allow everyone the chance to hear His Word.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.