Happy Birthday Felsted Elder

Felsted Elder’s birthday was Friday June 14, 2013.  We are on Facebook, so everyone knew about his birthday. The YSA had planned a karaoke night and we could hear some planning going on.

IMG_3075All of a sudden they were all singing Boldog Születésnapot and pointed in Felsted Elder’s direction…  How darling!

IMG_3080I think they like Felsed Elder a lot – and why not, he is great!


Hungarian Wedding

At the Institute Graduation last Saturday, June 8, 2013, the Institute Director gave a talk and it centered around the need for our YSA to GET MARRIED (and get settled down and prepare to take over the duties of your elders…).  Later that same day, the YSA had one of the Stake Presidency give a talk before their testimony meeting and he said – GET MARRIED!  He stressed the importance of getting your life in order to have families.  Later in the evening we heard from Apostle Ballard, in a special devotional for all European YSA members.  Guess what he said???  GET MARRIED!  You cannot progress in the next life without the saving ordinance of being SEALED for time and all eternity!

With the world’s notions of co-habitation instead of marriage, the family as an institution is suffering.  The divorce rate is 60% in Hungary our High Councilor speaker in Sacrament Meeting stated today.  The children are suffering with broken homes and by being raised in one parent families.  There is no stability for our children in those circumstances.  So the Church is strongly encouraging our YSAs to actively seek an eternal mate and get married and settle down.  They are the future leaders of the Church in these countries!  We need to set an example of stable marriages and have stable families for our children.

So it was very refreshing to see one of our YSA couples find each other, fall in love and get married.  Most of this has happened since we have been here and, although we personally had nothing to do with their getting together, we have enjoyed seeing the relationship develop at some of our activities.

IMG_2287Here are Evi and Istvan (Istvi) in September 2012, as they are getting to know each other.  They are the tall couple on the right.  Istvan’s brother, Zsoltan, and Livi are on the left.

There was some match making going on soon after Eva joined the Church and she was told (by friends?) to look out for Istvan at the YSA conference in Hungary last summer.  However, Istvan spent most of his time translating and they did not get to meet. A couple of invites up to Buda resulted in their finally meeting and getting to know each other.

Istvan’s family is from a little town called Papa, and their entire family was baptized about 20 years ago and are stalwarts in the Church there.  Istvan served a mission in the US and he currently works for the Church full-time as a translator in Győr – close to the Austrian and Czech Republic borders.  (The American sister missionary responsible for teaching them the Gospel came with her family for the wedding!!)  Eva was baptized right before we arrived in Hungary and her mother joined shortly afterwards.  Eva has been on the YSA council and after Christmas (when she got engaged) moved from Buda back to her home in Érd, in preparation for the wedding.  So sometimes they were in Papa and sometimes up here in the Érd-Buda area.

IMG_0800They came as Moses and the 10 Commandments (see her shirt …) to the Farsang activity in February!

IMG_1331In April, during a Karoke night, they were working away on one of our puzzles…

Yesterday, June 15, 2013 they got married.  And it was a wonderful event!  We were so thrilled to be invited…  We went with the Wiggins, who have been assigned to attend the Érd Branch of the Church (Branch is a smaller congregation than a ward, for our non-LDS friends).  We helped them by picking up the dress at a rental store in Pest and driving it over to their apartment.  (Just the dress – we are not allowed to drive non-missionaries in the car!!)

IMG_3087Here they are as they arrived at the Hivatal (or Town Hall) of a little town/suburb of Budapest to get married.  As in most European countries, a civil wedding has to be performed before a Temple Sealing.

IMG_3091Tibor, a friend, acted as the Master of Ceremony (and was a Best Man) and gathered us all at the Town Hall steps and said a traditional Hungarian poem and gave advise and performed a certain ceremony.  He held a staff of some sort that was decorated with colored strips of fabric and had Evi and Istvi add another color to it…

IMG_3097Afterwards, we all entered into a nice room – not the governmental office we were expecting – and the wedding ceremony began!  They had a traditional march down the aisle; we think Evi’s brother gave her away.

IMG_3115The officiator was a woman and she seemed to do a great job.  The candles to the right represent Unity in the marriage…

IMG_1884Here is Eva’s mother, Istvan, Eva, Istvan’s father and mother at the head table…

IMG_1896One of the activities at the wedding reception:  Istvan was blindfolded and had to identify Eva by distinguishing her by touching … back of hands, noses, cheeks, ears, ankles!  He finally got it at the ankle (we think he accidentally touched the dress at this point and got it!).  The decorations were flowers made of napkins and sewed onto fishing line and draped from the sides of the room – and they were also on all the tables.  Very inexpensive yet so tastefully done!

IMG_1899Of course, there is the mandatory dance!  BTW, Istvan is 6’8″ and Eva is about 6′ – some of those tall Hungarians I have told you about…

IMG_1906The beautiful wedding cake that I came across in the back room before it was put on the head table.  That is marzipan frosting – a typical Hungarian item!  (and ribbon…)

IMG_1921The traditional feeding each other a piece of the cake… and beautiful going away outfit!

IMG_1889Livi and Viki, two of the bridesmaids and two best friends of Evi….. all very darling girls… Livi wanted to make these dresses and she did a lot; but I had to help once we were running out of time!

IMG_1881One last look at the beautiful Bride and handsome Groom.  They are off to a little town for a honeymoon – then the following week will attend the Temple in Frieberg Germany to be sealed for Time and all Eternity!  Then to fulfill their destiny to be some of the future leaders of the Church in Hungary!  Very joyful event!

Danube Flooding in Budapest

Danube River MapLate Sunday evening, June 9, 2013 was when the Danube crested in Budapest.  We had been following the story of the flooding in Germany, Austria, Czech Republic (not the Danube there but other rivers) and had assumed it would eventually get to Hungary – and it did!

The Government called on citizens to volunteer to sandbag all along the Danube – and the citizens responded very well. Some of the YSA commented it was refreshing to have politics put aside and everyone working together…

Picture taken from The Daily Mail - online

Picture taken from The Daily Mail – online

Volunteering in Hungary is a little different that what happens in America.  To volunteer here, you have to fill out a form, with name, address and other important information, sign up for a two hour time slot and submit it to the proper authorities!  Our Humanitarian Missionaries and our Stake Humanitarian person wanted to get a group of missionaries and others to work on Friday, but figuring out the paperwork took a while and there were so many other volunteer groups that they ended working on Saturday morning instead.  Since we had Seminary and Institute Graduation from 10 AM -12:30 PM that day, most of our YSA who had been attending Institute, went to the Graduation.  However, some YSA and other members helped the missionaries.  Including the Humanitarian couple, the Wiggins, there were 41 members in their Helping Hands vests, 21 missionaries and 20 members from Buda, Kispest and Pest Wards.

Sister Smith and I take an hour morning walk on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.  We kept an eye on the flooding situation by walking down to the Duna on several days – and she took pictures with her iPhone…

Margit Hid June 5, 2013

Margit Hid Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Notice where the water mark is on the stone base of Margit HId.  You can see the sand bags on the Margit Island in the background.  No one was allowed on the Island for a week and I am not sure if they are allowed there yet.

Danube Flood Margit Hit June 10 2013

Danube Flood Margit Hid Monday, June 10 2013

The Margit Hid picture taken on June 10th was a few hours after the crest went through and you can see the water mark of the crest.

Lower road along Duna as it begins to flood. June 5, 2013

Lower road along Duna as it begins to flood. June 5, 2013

The lower roads along the Danube (Buda side) were completely flooded.

The lower roads along the Danube were completely flooded. This is the Buda side from the Margit Bridge.  June 10, 2013

Sandbags were put alongside the concrete retaining walls to make sure the water would not leak through those thick walls.

We heard that they purposely flooded one of the subways (?) along side of the Duna to relieve pressure and prevent a possible collapse of the tunnel.  Then they put heavy buses and dump trucks on the road over the subway so the water pressure would not force the road up.

Row of trucks and buses June 10, 2013

Row of trucks and buses parked over the flooded subway June 10, 2013

We have not be able to get within two blocks of the upper road adjacent to the Duna for several days.. The roads are closed with police enforcing that.

Helping Hands:  Getting instructions

Helping Hands: Getting instructions

Our LDS group was assigned to sandbag the banks of a park which actually was below the level of the Duna.

Helping Hands

Helping Hands: Lug those sandbags…

Helping Hands:  Pass those bags along...

Helping Hands: Pass those bags along…

Coming or going?

Helping Hands:  Coming or going?

Some of the missionaries commented that their arms were a bit sore the next day… Can’t imagine that passing 50 lb bags of sand had anything to do with that!

This was a 500 year event, according to the Prime Minister of Hungary, and Budapest’s defenses were good enough to prevent any serious flooding damage to most homes and businesses.  Some of the other little towns along the Danube were not so fortunate.  We heard that those communities that had the money built flood walls and those who did not have the money could not build them…

Szentendre (could not capture the picture but that above is the site):  They were installing this flood wall when we were in Szentendre last month!  Looks like it might have held the waters back…??

Calamities all over the world seem to be the norm these days.  We are always grateful to see people working together to help those in need.  These European floods will take months to clean up!  And I am sure we have not heard the last of the flooding along the Danube as it winds its way to the Black Sea.

Batyus Bál

A group of our YSA women have been having dances at the Stake Center every couple of months.  In May it was a ball with fancy attire.  This is the second year that they have planned this ball.  They funded this ball “auctioning” off each attendee.  They would pay to spend some time (a date) with whomever they “bought.”

They started the dance with a prayer and a inspirational thought.  Gabor gave the Church doctrine about why we do not wear masks at our parties and dances.  Then the instruction began..

IMG_1710These dances take several months to prepare and this one was no different.  For this one they asked professional dancers to teach them how to waltz.  Unfortunately, at the last minute there was  a conflict and they had to find someone else.  They asked Timi and her brother Norbi to teach!  And they were fantastic.  They took their roles as dance teachers very seriously and did a fabulous job!  They have had dance lessons, themselves…

IMG_1716The dancers were instructed on the proper way to stand and hold each other as well as the actual waltz steps.  The instruction part took about one hour..  Then some very formal (classical music formal) waltzes were played and the participants danced.

IMG_1735Unfortunately, a lot of the over 18 crowd did not attend this dance but it was a success anyway!

Barbie & Peti Batyus Bal May 2013Barbie and Peti looked so darling …. and are now an “official” (announced on Facebook) item…

Ron & Kathie Batyus Bal May 2013We even got to dance!  The committee had an area set up for taking pictures…  here are some of the pictures that I took!

IMG_1752Aniko brought a friend.

IMG_1769So did T Adri.

IMG_1770Peter was one of the investigators at the dance… Timi “bought” him… and also Gabor…

IMG_1759Another one of the investigators at this dance, Margit was baptized last week.  Andras is one of our former YSA members.

IMG_1757Most of the girls lined up for their picture… Hédi, T Adri, Aniko, Cs Adri, Cs Adri’s non-LDS friend, Annamaria, Vivi, Barbie

Batyus Bal Gabor Peti NorbiSome of the boys were more creative in their picture poses – Gabor, Peti, Norbi… I labeled this one as James Bond I, II, III….

IMG_1783Even the Carpenters had fun!

After the formal part of the dance, they brought out the open faced sandwiches, chips, flavored drinks – and then back to the regular dance music.  We left them dancing away…

To get to the dance, we took the metro to the last stop and walked over to the stake building; the Carpenters drove us back home.  We are getting so brave!  (HA)

Special Pickup Garbage Day

This notice appeared on the apartment “foyer” wall.  Foyer is not exactly the word but will do for now.

IMG_1707We could not read it but we figured that it was something to do with trash – we can “read” pictures.  And whatever it was, it was going to happen May 24, 2013.  When that day came we were amazed at what we saw!  People started bringing all sorts of trash out of their apartments and dumping it on the sidewalks and parking areas in front of their apartment buildings.

IMG_1705This was the pile in front of one of the apartment buildings across the street from our apartment.   The government allows people to sort through these piles for 24 hours and take what ever is useful.  We saw a car filled with old suitcases driving down our street.  Other cars filled with various “treasures.” The people who do this tend to be the poorer class of people – many of them were Roma people (politically incorrect to call them gypsies).

IMG_1708This is what that same pile looked like the next day.  People still going through the piles and claiming items.  We saw some people that sat by their piles until their relatives or friends showed up in a car or truck to haul it away.  Men from our apartment building were taking building materials and trash from the basement and putting it out front; but our building did not have as much trash as some of the others.  Some places, the trash filled the sidewalks.

Garbage Day 2Here is another view taken of the same pile (it was by far the biggest pile on our street!) taken by Sister Smith.

Garbage Day 3This picture also taken by Sister Smith of the same pile on our street.  In this view, you can see the mission home across the street.  Brick on the bottom and green-gray paint on the top.  Except part of the building is brick all the way up.  (Do you notice the red tiles and the gray tiles on the sidewalk?  The red are a bicycle lane!!! And if you are not careful and watchful, the bicyclists get mighty close and scare you to death!!!!)

We had at least 3 garbage trucks come down our street the next day and we were amazed to see the trash gone!  We found out later that each district in Budapest has a certain day for this trash pickup every year.  And this goes on all over the country.  It is probably a logical way to get rid of large household trash in a country where the majority of the people do not have cars to take their trash to the dump!

Garbage Day 1This is a before picture – on the mission home side of the street.  Below is the after picture.

IMG_1709Here are the trash men with a final sweep of one of the piles.  AMAZING!

Doors of Szentendre

I guess people are fascinated by doors and windows when they are different than what we are used to.  There are a couple of posters here – Doors of Budapest and Windows of Budapest.  And I think you can get postcards with those on them too…  So we saw some very cute doors while in Szentendre and I took pictures of them…

Some are old and some are new.

IMG_1650Cute entrance into a little cafe…

IMG_1653Very creative entrance into a back yard?

IMG_1654We did not see any hobbits…but it looks like a hobbit house  and door or two or three…


IMG_1660IMG_1661Or maybe a lot of Szentendre-ites just like rounded doors?


IMG_1664A rounded cellar door?


IMG_1692IMG_1696IMG_1703IMG_1704That is all!