Gringos Amigos

1378779_609749815734844_364927814_nHere is the original staff of the newly opened Gringos Amigos, patterned after a couple of popular Mexican-American restaurants in the western United States.  There are four LDS owners, two people who live here in Budapest and are involved in a Utah based company, one returned missionary to Hungary who married a Hungarian girl, lived in the US and was looking for a career change, and another Hungarian woman.  Their first restaurant opened in Kecskemét and this one, in Buda, opened in November.  The original date for opening in Buda was May but they had many governmental delays, which I won’t detail here. (Use your imagination!)

We went on the opening day and received a bunch of these coupons to pass out to our friends!

IMG_3952The mustache is part of the advertising and the workers all wear black shirts with these cute mustaches on them…

The place is decorated very charmingly.  We like the homemade tiles.

New best choice for the missionaries!

New best choice for the missionaries!

IMG_3983Very nice art work….

Dare you to pronounce those Hungarian words!

Dare you to pronounce those Hungarian words!

On one of our many trips there.

On one of our many trips there.

It is a block from a popular mall and across from office buildings, which include the Utah based business.  Within walking distance of the Mission Home.  One of the great bonuses of this business is that it has been hiring some of our YSA:  Norbi, who has never worked before and has been looking for work since he got out of HS, Ricsi, his fiancee, Heni, Gabus, and Viktor and Lena, a young married couple.  Norbi has discovered he loves to cook!  And if the business does well, they will make more restaurants and these kids can hopefully work their way up in the business.

And the food is good!  They have contracted to use local foods – no preservatives, etc.  I am trying to influence them to use local leaf lettuces or cabbage, though – who wants iceberg?

My taco salata. I never order meat.

My taco salata. I never order meat.

Americans who love American-Mexican food are a sure bet for this new restaurant.  Missionaries are there as often as they can afford it.  And it seems to be gathering some attention from the locals.  See the site below.

http://welovebudapest.com/hu/ettermek-bisztrok/cikkek/2014/01/23/a-varos-legfrissebb-tortillaja-gringos-amigos

The cost is pretty comparable to other places that we have gone for lunch.  Perhaps out of the price range for the poorer Hungarians, though.  But we are hoping they are a success and that some of our YSA can find a career with this company.

Szeged 2

We have been to Szeged before but did not have too much time to look around then.  This time we arrived on Friday afternoon, November 15, 2013, and we investigated Szeged for a couple of hours before the mini-conference started.

Szeged is the third largest city in Hungary and its University of Szeged is one of the most distinguished in Hungary.  The name Szeged was first mentioned in 1183, in a document of King Béla III.  Szeged is known as the home of paprika (a spice made from dried, powdered peppers), a type of goulash, a fish soup made of carp and catfish and Pick salami.  (In most large grocery stores in Hungary you can see large fish tanks with large fish to buy fresh!)  The downtown section is not too old, having been rebuilt after the great flood of 1879, which literally wiped away the whole town (only 265 of the 5723 houses remained).  All this information comes from Wikipedia…

One of the missionaries told us not to miss the Votive Church.http://www.1hungary.com/info/szeged/  So we started there.

This picture from Wikipedia is much better than mine.

This picture from Wikipedia is much better than mine.

However parking was an issue.  There were no central parking meters that we could find.  Finally, after driving around for a while looking for these meters, I said I would go into a nearby restaurant and ask how do we get a parking permit?  The man told me to go across the street to a camera store!?  So I did that and bought an expensive all day permit and we dutifully put it in on the dashboard, so it could be seen…… and went on our way to sight see… (I did try to ask the man how did they know which day it was used; but he did not understand my question, so I left.)

Inside the church

Inside the church

Beautifully done paintings and decorations

Beautifully done paintings and decorations

The oldest monument of the town is the Dömötör Tower, part of a former, 12th century church, is now used as a baptistry.  http://www.1hungary.com/info/szeged/

The oldest monument of the town is the Dömötör Tower, part of a former, 12th century church, is now used as a baptistry. http://www.1hungary.com/info/szeged/

This Dömötör tower is adjacent to the Votive Church, which is on the right..

Love the unique architecture of some of these buildings.

Love the unique architecture of some of these buildings.

Reök Palace

Reök Palace

I kept taking pictures of this beautiful building every time we went near it.  After doing some research I found it was designed by a famous architect Ede Magyar and built in 1907.  It had to be renovated after WW II.  It is in downtown Szeged.

How darling is this building?

The Szeged Town Hall

IMG_3808

How darling is this building?  And Hungarians love color on their buildings…

We found a walking street in downtown Szeged.  These walking streets are very popular all over Hungary.

These statues were across from each other.

These statues were across from each other.

Darling pink building in the background.

Darling pink building in the background.

Virag means flower.

Virág means flower.

America's presence is everywhere!

America’s presence is everywhere!

After this brief tour, we went back to the car to find this on it!  OH! NO!  a parking ticket in Szeged…..  How could this be, when we were so careful to find the parking permit?

IMG_3963We are very slow at some things, obviously!  I looked on both sides, but did not realize there were instructions in ENGLISH down a ways. …. Punch out the holes for the date, DUMMY!

Slow learners...

Multi-day and month use….  Oh well, live and learn…

Back to the church building to be a part of the mini-conference.  After the mini-conference was over, on Saturday afternoon, Brother H took us on a little tour with Sister W, who came down from Debrecsen.  We saw some other interesting things…

Szeged Bridge over Tiz River.  Steps on right are part of the flood wall.

Szeged Bridge over Tiz River. Steps on left are part of the flood wall.

Severe floods are marked on this addition to the flood wall.

Severe floods are marked on this addition to the flood wall.

Towns built on rivers often have to deal with floods.  After the great flood of 1879, flood walls were built to help protect Szeged.  We have also seen that in Budapest, which I reported on in an earlier post about the flooding here.

This building was built over a road.  And there is some beautiful artwork in the arches.  During the Soviet occupation, these were covered up with plaster!  But fortunately, they survived and were later uncovered and restored.

IMG_3897With Soviet style statues on the sides… can’t get away from the occupation years!

Honoring heroes of the past.

Honoring heroes of the past.

Maybe names from WW I

Names from WW I – Elso = 1, Világháború = world war.

Another reminder of the Soviet past:  “10 stories” – your basic concrete apartment buildings.  Some are being painted to help in their street appeal.

IMG_3938Another interesting little unknown is why they plant these acreage in trees?  We have seen these plots of trees all over Hungary. Are they cash crops or for winter heating of the homes?  Hopefully I can find out before we leave.

on the way home...

on the way home…

And we probably will not return to Szeged again before we leave our mission.  So it was good to have a better look at this important third largest city in Hungary.

Mini-Institute Conference in Szeged

We have a wonderful Institute Director in Hungary (and I think he even checks up on Institute in Romania!)  He suggested that we have a mini-institute in Szeged.  It would be a Friday evening and Saturday morning and end with a tour of Szeged, for those who wanted it.  Sounded like an interesting opportunity for the youth to get some concentrated religious teachings – and meet some new YSA.

The YSA in Szeged planned it all:  registration online, sign up if you needed overnight housing at a local university (some stayed with friends or family), who was teaching, what games and activities to have, food, etc.  The Hulberts, the YSA/MLS couple in Szeged would make the food that was requested.  Institute could donate some funds and the Budapest YSA could donate some funds for food and our YSA travel.  Some of the Bishops also paid for some of the YSA to travel and for boarding at the university.

So on November 15, 2013, we used the mission car to drive down to Szeged.  Unfortunately, there are mission rules that prohibit non-missionaries in our mission cars.  So most of the  youth took the train down.  These Budapest YSA attended:  Ricsi, Heni, Levi M, Viki, Levi Cz, Timi, Bernadette, Panni, Szandi and Peter F, who recently graduated from a University in Szeged and is now working in Budapest.  Zita came with her family Saturday morning.  Dinner was the first item on the agenda.  We had burritos with all the toppings!

IMG_3829There were about 50 youth who attended from Hungary, one from Romania and one from Poland!  After the dinner, chairs were rearranged and Bishop Mecsari of the Kecskemét Ward gave a fireside talk.

IMG_3852After this, there were some fun games and activities.

IMG_3718They even had a humanitarian project planned – fleece blankets!

IMG_3779The meetings were at the Szeged Ward Building.  it is a commercial building remodeled for the Church purposes.  The good news is that a new chapel is being built on a nice walking street in downtown Szeged.  Pictures at the end of this posting.

At the end of the day, they had a Wii set up with some dancing competition.  Then we went to the University dorms!  I can’t believe I did not get any pictures of that building and our rooms, and bathrooms. (Maybe I was tired by then?)  It appeared the buildings were built maybe in the 1940s. In the main entrance there was a type of knotty pine walls.  The dorm rooms were very large and held eight to ten beds – arranged in little areas, with a closet and desk to separate the beds from the next person. We slept in a room like that but by ourselves. I was very happy that we brought our own pillows and blankets!. (Karolina’s suggestion) The shower room was very ancient looking – maybe like you would see in an old primitive camp, with pipes running along the wall and rather creepy stalls with mold.  The water had to be reset every 30 sec or so to keep it running.  Boy!  are our kids spoiled!  While we slept, some of the youth went out for an evening stroll… getting back about 2 AM.  They are big kids and can do that…

Breakfast was at 8 AM!  Are you ready for this?  Virsli (hot dogs), fresh veggies, fruit salad and bread!  I understand this is very European… There is not much difference between a hot dog and a sausage for breakfast; but we are still not used to veggies at that time of the day.

In this picture, you can see part of the podium - as this room is where the Sacrament Meeting is held.

In this picture, you can see part of the podium – as this room is where their Sacrament Meeting is held.

After breakfast, the youth were divided into three classrooms and they rotated for an hour each for the next three hours and had discussions about Gospel Principles.

Then we were provided a wonderful lunch of Chinese Chicken Salad and fruit and bread.

Then we were provided a wonderful lunch of Chinese Chicken Salad and fruit and bread.

I love this picture of Peter F!  He loves his thoroughly Hungarian mustache and I love the T-shirt that goes with it!

IMG_3929

Both are pretty cute!

After lunch the mini-conference was over. The youth who attended were spiritually fed and had the opportunity to meet with some of the new youth who have joined the Church recently.  Youth of this age group are constantly joining the Church and there needs to be the chance to meet other like-minded youth.  These type of activities will continue to be provided for them.

Here is most of the group

Here is most of the group!

We did a tour of some of Szeged while we were there and I will show you some pictures of the places we went in a different posting.  Here are the pictures of the new Ward Building in downtown Szeged.

Two story building to conserve land.

Two story building to conserve land.

There is room in the back for parking and a sizable addition when necessary.

There is room in the back for parking and a sizable addition when necessary.

There are two mini-Institute Conferences being planned for 2014.  One in April in Pecs and another in the fall.  They will be in other cities and maybe the youth will stay over for two nights and have their own Sacrament Meeting together.  So many of the YSA are in leadership positions in their own wards and branches. But they need husbands and/or wives and to be able to start their own families. In Pest Ward, the Primary President, the Young Women’s President, the Ward Clerk are YSA.  In Buda Ward, the Mission Leader and the Relief Society President are YSA.  In Szeged the Branch President is a YSA.  Great activity!  Thanks Brother K.