Christmas Day

Christmas Day, 2013, we were invited to the Stake President’s home, with eight junior missionaries and the Mission President and the Office Couple.   I suspected we were invited because we love and interact their daughter, who is 18 and a potential YSA member.  (She will be in High School until she is 20, as she is taking a concentrated course of German, English, Russian and Biology… She is also involved in a sport and music training.  I think the brighter kids here graduate from High School with like an Associate’s Degree.)

Anyway, with all of us there, it was a houseful!  We all brought food to share – I brought “funeral potatoes” – and they thought that was a hysterical name for a food.  It was explained that in Utah, this kind of creamy, cheesy potato dish was often brought for the traditional after-the-funeral dinner and that is how the dish got its name.

Our Stake President's home in Tinnye, a little suburb northwest of Budapest.

Our Stake President’s home in Tinnye, a little suburb northwest of Budapest.

This area is on the other side of the Buda Hills and is nearby to Perbal.  It is quite a rural area and we understand one of the more wealthy suburbs in Hungary.  It appears that individual homes are normal in this town and most who live here have a car to commute.

We arrived about 10:30 AM and we immediately went to a neighbor’s home to sing Christmas carols. We all crowded into their lovely home and they listened attentively.


President Smith and the Office Elders had made a little booklet of Hungarian Christmas Carols – most of them from the Hungarian LDS hymnbook.

We returned to the Stake President’s home and before we ate, they had each of us receive a present!  (Ours was yummy Belgian chocolate)…. I was happy that we brought a hostess gift!


You can see the three tables that were set up in their dining/living room area.  Our Stake President is next to me.

Then we ate a FEAST!  The family had made some yummy traditional foods. I do not know the names, but I will describe them.  They started out with your choice of two traditional soups:  fish soup and goulash.  I took fish and Felsted Elder took goulash and we shared a taste of each others.  Then there were some unusual meat dishes.  One was turkey meat stuffed with a dried plum mixture and wrapped in bacon and baked.  Another was chicken stuffed with a chestnut mixture and covered in sesame seeds and baked.  These seemed pretty work-intensive dishes!  The two mothers – of the Stake President and his wife – helped cook these dishes and the wife’s mother was there and ate with us.  Of course, there were the potato dish, a Chinese chicken salad made by Sister Smith, carrots, and the other missionaries brought food, too!  We tried to have a taste everything but we filled up quickly!

Then desserts!  Here are some that were made by the family – or brought by the missionaries.


The desserts on the left are made of a thin cake-like batter, cooked then layered with various ingredients (poppy seeds, chestnuts, etc.) then rolled. Others are stacked with fillings in between the layers.  One missionary made no-bake cookies and others brought other things.

The 18 year old daughter made these candies and her siblings were very excited to eat them.  They are made of —- crushed Oreo cookies, formed into a ball, and then dipped in white and dark chocolate.  Ron and I shared one!  VERY RICH (and yummy).  I have not seen any Oreo cookies here but they said they are available at some stores.  American influence…. perhaps a recipe from a former missionary?


Three of the 4 children and mother in the background.

Afterwards, we took a long walk and went to some of their friends and acquaintances to do some more caroling…  Ron thought it was like 3 miles of walking but I am not sure.  I was glad I had good walking shoes on. He would have worn his walking shoes, if he had of known.  I took lots of pictures of darling homes all along the way. I will include them at the end of the post…

Many of the roads in this tiny town were not paved.

Many of the roads in this tiny town were not paved.

The family gathered in the backyard and we sang...

This family gathered in the backyard and we sang to them…

After our singing, the Stake President's wife presented the family with a gift.

After our singing, the Stake President’s wife presented the family with a gift.

After we were through singing at this house, we went to another.  They also had us sing to them in their backyard and then invited us inside and gave us some warm fruit tea, which is very popular here.  It is not green or black tea.  We noticed that they had interesting 3-D puzzles of the Hungarian Parliament and St. Mattias’ Church in their bookshelves.

The last home we caroled to.  Stake President took the picture.

The last home we caroled to. Stake President took the picture.

We were not the Mormon Tabernacle Choir but at least I don’t think we were like the cartoon below – no one had dogs that howled!! (compliments of LDS cartoonist Arie Van De Graaff).

1272060Here are some of the beautiful Hungarian homes we saw:

Most of the homes and apartments have fencing around them.

Most of the homes and apartments have fencing around them. And this fence is pretty creative!

This one was quite a large home.

This home seemed quite a large..

Some are a very modern style.

Some have a very modern style of architecture.

This home almost looks Mediterranean or Spanish.

This home almost looks Mediterranean or Spanish.

Love the unique style of this home.

Love the unique style of this home.

Look closely at the fence.  These are slabs of wood attached to a frame.  I like this a lot because it is unique.

Look closely at the fence. These are slabs of wood attached to a frame. I like this fence a lot because it is uses natural wood and is very different.

Tile roofs are normal here.

Tile roofs are normal here.

And that is some of what we did Christmas Day, December 25, 2013.  When we arrived home, we Skyped some of our children!  (Some were not available on Christmas day.)


Kellemés Ünnepeket from Hungary!

Missionaries from the five Hungarian zones.

Missionaries from the five Hungarian zones.  President Smith designed this card and sent it to all the missionaries and their families.

During the week of December 16 through 20, the Mission President held five zone meetings.  The mission is divided into 5 zones, the West, the Southwest, Budapest, East and Southeast.

At these conferences, the Assistants to the President (APs) gave us a training about who we are and who we want to become.  We were challenged to make POSITIVE statements in the third person, on a piece of paper, on who we want to become. then post it where it can be read and read the traits daily.

The Zone Leaders of each zone had some time to train, also.  Our ZLs chose two Christ-like attributes, Hope and Knowledge (see Preach My Gospel on Christ-like Attributes).  Our Training Sisters talked about Why do we love the Lord?  They mentioned diligence and obedience as ways to show our love of the Lord.  It is so amazing to me that these are 19-21 year old youth, planning and conducting these training sessions!!!  And they do a terrific job!

Two Senior Missionaries talked at our zone conference.  The Wiggins will be leaving in February, so this will be their last zone conference.  Brother Wiggins mentioned some of the humanitarian projects that they have completed.  The Church bought two electric dryers for the Disabled Home for Youth in Perbal, for instance.  Before they had them, the halls were filled with the typical drying racks.  BTW, the Church does not do advertising about these kinds of projects… they prefer helping in a quiet way and gradually the Church is becoming known for these kinds of humanitarian projects (and they do a LOT of them!!).

Sister Smith told the story of the service her daughters and husband did one Christmas for her. Their missionary son sent home a pottery nativity set from Brazil and it arrived in pieces.  While she was off, they glued all the pieces back together!  Then she told “A Nephite Christmas Story, The Night Without Darkness” one of their favorite Christmas stories.

President Smith then concluded the training with some details about the increased missionaries in our Mission and the increased units in the Stake.  Once the smaller units have a certain number of priesthood members, they can become a Ward.  Once they have 5 wards in a certain area, they can make a new Stake.  That is the next goal – to have 2 Hungarian Stakes, which will bring more blessings to the Hungarian Saints.  For instance, there is a two year wait for Patriarchial Blessings now.  With two Stakes, there will be two Partriarchs and a much shorter wait.

Tables all set for the Christmas Zone lunches.

Tables all set for the Christmas Zone lunches.

Sister Smith, Sister Carpenter and Sister Felsted spent a couple of hours the Saturday before the conference, preparing some ingredients for the homemade lunches served during the conference.  We made up stuffing ingredients, froze them and then on each day, Sister Carpenter and Sister Felsted assembled Chicken and Stuffing dinner, cooked them and cooked the other parts of the meals, peas and corn.  Seniors brought salads and desserts.  Don’t think anyone went home hungry!  (NOTE:  there is nothing like Pepperidge Farm stuffing packages that we found here…)

After lunch, everyone went upstairs to play games, do a white elephant exchange and have a visit by Miklós (St Nicklaus).

The upstairs family room in the Smith's mission apartment.

The upstairs family room in the Smith’s mission apartment.

IMG_4483Some of the white elephant gifts were pretty funny – like the Hello Kitty case or the bag of garlic like we got!

Miklós dresses a bit differently in Hungary.

Miklós dresses a bit differently in Hungary.  He brought everyone a package of gifts!

IMG_4495The gifts included a Christmas Card from the Prophet and his two Counselors and a temple recommend holder with the Hungarian Seal on it… and some donated items from parents and senior missionaries.

Everyone was spiritually fed and had the opportunity to have a wonderful meal and some relaxing time with their peers!

Kellemés Ünnepeket from Hungary!

Sewing Lessons?

One of the YSA women asked if I could teach her to sew.  Sure!  I learned to sew in 7th and 8th grades on a treadle machine!  However, I graduated from college in a science field – so I am not exactly your typical Susy Homemaker… We decided on Thursday evenings, since that is when Felsted Elder is doing art class/lessons…  I usually liked to be around for English classes (the hour before art class) but that had to end for the sewing classes.

The previous Senior Sisters left a box of fabric and skirt patterns.  The fabric was sent from American by friends or relatives.  I think they had quite a skirt sewing project going on.  Many Hungarian women wear pants everywhere and the idea was to sew some basic A-line skirts for them to have something more appropriate for Sunday Services.  (We LDS feel that we show respect for Christ by the way we dress, especially in Church – as well as the way we act.  He loves us any way we are, but just like we would dress up to meet someone really important, we should dress up for our Lord!)

So Livi picked out a fabric and she wanted to sew for her best friend, Viki.  We chose a size that we thought would fit Viki and just to make sure, we cut it a bit larger.  Viki was not around very much for fittings…  Of course, when she was, it was way too big… So Livi had to resew all the seams…. and the fabric was very cute but a bit silky, so it was hard for a beginner because it wanted to move around.  Viki decided that she wanted a fitted waist – not the slightly gathered waist that the pattern called for.  So it took more fittings to get that right PLUS we needed to put in a zipper!  The zippers here do not come with instructions and it has been years since I put in a zipper. I LOVE THE INTERNET!!!  I found instructions on the internet, which I printed off and filed away for future use.  And I thought I had a picture of Viki in her skirt… but can’t find it!

After the skirt, Livi decided that she wanted to sew the bridesmaid dresses that she and Viki would be wearing at the wedding of their friend, Eva.  She bought a book that had the patterns inside and I helped her transfer the pattern to some other paper.  She and Viki are two different sizes, so that had to be accounted for.  The patterns here are not in the envelopes like what I am used to in America.  All we had was a model wearing the dress in an artsy picture to see the dress – no simple drawings of the dress.

The recreation room is used for everything...

The recreation room is used for everything…  And using the Mission Home Bernina sewing machine has been wonderful…

She bought some fabric that was a bit lightweight, but she thought she had bought enough for it to be self lined.  She had not; there was enough to make the two dresses only.  They had full length slips (from their grandmothers!) so that would act as a liner.  She cut the fabric and started to sew.  Once it was together and tried on, there was a glaring problem!  It was an off the shoulder dress (not readily discernible in the picture that we looked at) and was not appropriate for their needs.  SO – back to the drawing board.  I thought that perhaps by making the sleeves higher up on the shoulder, we could gerry-rig something.  She took off the raglan-style sleeves and re-cut new sleeves to fit higher up on the shoulder.  I designed a strip of fabric that could be inserted between the two sleeves to raise the neckline and she sewed it in – front and back… There were some other modifications and I actually had to help do some of the finishing work because the wedding was sooner than the dresses were getting done.  Here is the finished projects.

Cute YSA in their cute dresses!

Cute YSA in their cute dresses!

After that project was over, we took a bit of a breather… no sewing for a while.  Then Livi wanted to start another dress – 60s style classic sheath style.  She picked out some fabric from the magic box and we started that whole process again.  She wanted to wear it for her second cousin’s wedding – but, alas, it did not get done in time for that…

By now, some YSA aged investigators wanted to do some sewing… Dia is a great friend of Viki and she attends Church in the Buda Ward and many of our YSA events. Dia wanted to learn how to sew a skirt;  Panni wanted to do some alterations on some pants, shorts, etc.  She knew Viki and some other Church members through a common business.

Dia sewing on her skirt

Dia sewing on her skirt

Panni modeling her modified pants - from long and wide legs to capri length and narrower legs

Panni modeling her modified pants – from long and wide legs to capri length and narrower legs

But my issue now was there was only one machine for all these people to use at the same time.  And the sewing machine left in our apartment had no cord.  However, the landlord was doing some work in our apartment and they had another older sewing machine which they brought and it works fine!

Dia and her completed skirt.

Dia and her completed skirt.

Along the way, Barbi found a used temple dress in some used clothes bag that showed up at the Buda Ward building, which fit her perfectly, except it was way too long for her.  So I had her cut it off – after showing her to how to use a measuring gauge to make sure it was cut off evenly.  She was very nervous doing this!!!  She then turned up a first hem and sewed it and then turned it again to complete it.  She is engaged and will be married next spring and having a temple dress (that actually looks sort of like a wedding dress), to wear to the temple is super!

One of the members of the Pest Ward had to clean out her mother’s home and found bags and bags of fabric!  Viki (as well as Karolina and her mother and who knows who else) was having a field day with this fabric!!!  Viki found some material that they could use to make part of the bridesmaids dresses for Aniko’s upcoming December wedding. Viki, Dia and I had spent an afternoon looking at three different fabric stores and had not found anything that was exactly what they wanted for the other part.  And it was expensive.  A visit back to the bags of material and she came up with some FREE material that would do!  BTW, Viki got her college degree in something like technical drawing and she designed the dresses and drew up the patterns.  I was amazed at her abilities!!!  And… she did not need too much instruction in the sewing part… She just took off!

Viki and Livi working on phase one of the second set of bridesmaid dresses. Older Pfaff sewing machine in background.

Viki working on phase one of the second set of bridesmaid dresses for her and Dia. Livi is working on something else, as she declined being a bridesmaid this time around.  Older Pfaff sewing machine from our landlord in background.

There was an issue with the pattern…. Viki made a pattern for the dress bodice and skirt but not the sleeves.  So I found a pattern with sleeves and we had to do some “modifying” again to make everything work!


Here is the final bridesmaids’ dresses and the designer/seamstress and consultant!

Another interesting development… (just when I was getting used to having Thursday afternoons free – HA)… Livi got a ring two weeks ago and asked for help making a WEDDING DRESS… What could I say but YES?  BUT… you HAVE to have a pattern for the dress, I said…

Here is the cute couple...

Here is the cute couple… Livi and Zoli

Oh, and Viki said something interesting to me the other day…. Sister Felsted, whoever replaces you HAS TO SEW….  Luckily, most LDS women my age know how to sew…

Perbál Home

Perbál is a little village on the other side of the Buda Hills.  There is a home there for severely handicapped youth. A couple started it when they were looking for somewhere for their own handicapped daughter to stay during the week, while they worked.  There are some wonderful aides there who treat these youth very lovingly.

The Humanitarian couple, the Wiggins, were referred to this home by some LDS Church members and through the Wiggins, the Church has donated some clothes dryers and other things to the home.  Timi is the main translator for the Wiggins and that is how she became acquainted with it.  She decided that our YSA needed to be involved in traveling to the home and maybe helping to entertain them for a few hours.  The trip was planned for Saturday, November 9, 2013.

It involved a bus ride of about 40 minutes to get there and we met at Szél Kálmán Tér.  This is not a city bus, so our usual tickets would not work.  But Timi could figure out all the various types of tickets to buy for our group of 11 who went!


From Left: Zita, Arpi, Adri, Dia, Lavi, Viki, Levi, Timi, Eszter

One of the buildings of the Home are behind us.  There are 4 buildings; the largest houses the less severe.  Most of these youth (ages 9-39) have combined cerebral palsy and autism; but there is a range of disabilities there.  They live in dormitory type rooms and many are confined to wheelchairs.  We only visited the largest building and many were at their own homes for the weekend.

Eszter is a elementary school teacher and had the knowledge of several children’s songs; so she spent about 20-30 minutes leading us in traditional Magyar children’s songs.  Some of the youth were able to join in on some of the words and actions.  Then we broke up and tried to interact with individuals…  One young man loved to play throw the ball:  Timi and Elder Felsted played that with him.  Another young man would not look directly at you but he would take the ball in his hand and put it back into yours.  We brought treats and they liked those.  Lavi had fun passing those out to everyone who could eat them.  We also took some outside for a walk on the property.  I took some individual pictures of the youth to make pictures for their rooms; but I do not feel comfortable posting those.

Timi and Dia with Mark.  He crawled into the tractor, as he cannot walk.

Timi and Dia with Mark. He crawled into the tractor, as he cannot walk.  But he loves being outside.

Timi, Levi, Elder Felsted with four of the patients.

Timi, Levi, Elder Felsted with four of the patients.

Not exactly the best road for a little walk with wheel chairs...

Not exactly the best road for a little walk with wheel chairs…

Dia and Viki in front with some of the YSA and some patients who had no trouble walking.

Dia and Viki in front with some of the YSA and some patients who had no trouble walking.

A college professor was there doing some yard work with some of his college kids.  Some were raking leaves and some were planting some new fruit trees.  The home is able to provide for some of their own food – growing pigs and fruit.

IMG_3674Some of the patients are able to make woven rugs and other items to sell to help in the upkeep of their home.  But after only one visit, I know there are many needs, like building upkeep, painting, yard work, etc.  Another group visiting from America recently paid for new beds for everyone and also did some free dental care for patients of this home.

A rug like this hangs on the wall next to every bed.

A rug like this hangs on the wall next to every bed.

We have made some fleece blankets to give to the 42 patients here; but we were not able to schedule a time before many of them returned home before Christmas.  So we will return on January 4th to deliver the blankets and interact some more with these choice spirits of our Heavenly Father.