Kiev, Ukraine

After the wedding, we went to the Sofiia Posen Hotel, near the Kiev Temple.  We were thinking it would be close enough to walk to the temple; but we also thought the main street over to the temple was a normal street.  It was a freeway and we did not know the back ways to the temple so the hotel hired a taxi to take us over there.

We went to the temple on Friday and Saturday mornings.  It was wonderful being back in the temple after a year long absence.  Because of the scheduling of the ordinances, we did not do any family names; but it was good anyway!  (I left all my family names with our children.)

Before our trip, I had contacted the YSA couple, the Ws, in Kiev for some hotel ideas, etc. and they were so wonderful.  They arranged a LDS taxi cab driver, Yuri – who spoke English – to pick us up from the airport – and he also took us around sightseeing after our mornings at the temple.  The Ws came with us Friday and Saturday.  Very fun and educational.  Felsted Elder is always interested in the cold-war era doings, and Yuri had definite opinions about these things, so they hit it off great!

Friday afternoon we went to The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945) museum, that was originally built by the Soviets, to honor the Ukraine togetherness the Soviet Union had with Ukraine in their fight against The Third Reicht!  (RIGHT!)  The poor Ukrainians thought the Nazis were liberators when they first came!  One terror after the other in some of these countries…

These "motherland" stautes seem to be everywhere in these former Soviet countries.

These “motherland” stautes seem to be everywhere in these former Soviet countries.

The men liked looking at all the war stuff and discussing war issues.  Inside the museum we learned of the terrible treatment of the Ukrainian people.  An estimated 10 million died during the starvation years or being sent off to concentration camps in Siberia.  The farmers refused to participate in communal farming, so Stalin ordered all their food stores (grains and food stuffs in barns, homes, etc.) taken away by the soldiers and the farmers and their families were eliminated in that manner.  It was called the Holodomor.

Western parts of the Ukraine also fought against this evil government for years before finally being overcome.  Communism is certainly part of Satan’s plan and these types of actions by governments demonstrate man’s inhumanity to his fellow man!  For more on this subject check out Global Museum on Communism.

Massive statutes or three dimensional bas relief artwork at The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945)

Massive statutes or three dimensional bas relief artwork at The National Museum of the History of the Great Patriotic War (of 1941-1945)

The walkways to leave the museum were pretty impressive, though.

The walkways to leave the museum were pretty impressive, though.

Beautiful Church in the background...

Beautiful Church in the background…

After this visit to the museum, we went to tour the Kiev YSA center, actually more an Institute Center.  It was in an office building on the third floor.  They had a large kitchen, two very large classrooms, a library room, restrooms.  Very nice.  Since the building is not owned by the Church, different rules apply and they are allowed the use of their kitchen.  There were eight wards with many active YSA plus BYU-Idaho had a continual presence there as many of their students came to voluntarily teach English for a semester at a time and do internships in the community.  Each YSA has their own unique set of circumstances, we are finding!  The ward had the fifth floor in that building.

The Ws have been on a few other missions – CES directors in India, for instance.  Since he was a Seminary Teacher/Supervisor for the Church as a profession, teaching has been a way of life for them…  The headquarters over the Church in this part of the world is centered in Russia.  Ours is in Germany.

The next day, Yuri picked us up after our temple work.  The Ws had come to the temple that morning also.  They had a planned outing to an Indian restaurant with some YSA members.

The restaurant is on the upper left in this picture.

The restaurant is on the upper left in this picture.

Loved the door to the Indian restaurant.

Loved the door to the Indian restaurant.

Only one of the YSA showed up but we enjoyed eating some new-to-us authentic Indian cuisine in the Ukraine.  We got several dishes and shared them.

Note the furnishings..

Note the furnishings..

Afterwards, we enjoyed walking down one of the main streets in Kiev and looking at the architecture, wide streets and all that was going on during a Saturday afternoon.

Built as a showcase building during the Stalin years.

Built as a showcase building during the Stalin years.

Next door is a more modern building.

Next door is a more modern building.

The streets seem wider than Budapest.  There seems to be more variety in the styles and heights of the buildings than Budapest.  However, since we were only there a few days, that might be a faulty assumption!

Cute double decker Merry Go Round on this street.

Cute double decker Merry Go Round on this street.  Loved this!!!

Can you tell that Brother Welty is an extrovet?

Can you tell that Brother W is an extrovert?

His wife said that he has been dying to do this for a while.  So the YSA that came to lunch with us (former BYU-I student) helped him up!  This statue was a very popular item for picture taking – we had to wait a while to get this!

Part of the European Square.  It has had several names down through the years.

Part of the European Square, or Freedom Square. It has had several names down through the years.

Some important people in the foundation of the Ukraine (can't remember, though..)

Some important people in the foundation of the Ukraine (can’t remember exactly how, though..)

On Sunday we got a taxi over to the temple grounds and attended the Kiev International Branch.  This is composed of mostly missionaries – temple missionaries, the other senior missionaries, the Mission President and his family, and some BYU-I students.  It was Fast and Testimony Meeting day!  And I bore my testimony and told why we were in town. It is so wonderful to see how the Church all over the world is the same! The Mission President had a journal entry about meeting with Clinton and Tanya, which he showed me.  Two of his children are leaving for BYU this semester.  Also, one of the Assistants to the President (young missionaries) had been involved in teaching Tanya in Cherkassy before his calling to be an AP.

Kiev International Branch Relief Society members

Kiev International Branch Relief Society members

Group picture because some of the BYU-I students were leaving to go back to school.  The tall black girl had been here on a some kind of medical internship.  She wants to become a doctor.  Sister W is sitting on the far right.  Pretty great to have a ward building on the temple grounds!  There are two congregations that meet in this building.  After our meeting, one of the largest Ukrainian wards meet.

This was our dinner that evening…. supposed to be shish kabobs?  We love trying to figure out what to eat in foreign countries… ??

We shared - mine was supposed to be chicken and his beef...

We shared – mine was supposed to be chicken and his beef…

Monday was our departure day.  Yuri picked us up about 10 AM and we had some time for another quick tour before our fight out at 2:30 PM.  He took us to another part of Kiev to see some of the beautiful old Orthodox Churches.

Overlooking the Dniper River, which divides Kiev.

Overlooking the Dniper River, which divides Kiev.

The Dniper River divides Kiev into two parts, much like the Danube divides Budapest.  The small airport is on the side with the old downtown and many of the attractions.  This is the side we stayed on.  It is the left side of this picture.  Actually the right side is an island in the middle of the river and is like a reserve or protected area.

This picture of St Michael's as found on Wikipedia is much better than mine!

This picture of St Michael’s, as found on Wikipedia, is much better than mine!

Evidently, some of the Ukrainians have their own version of the Russian Orthodox Church, called the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, Kiev Patriarchate.  There is another branch called the Russian Patriarchate.  St Michael’s is of the Kiev branch and this church has been recently restored and was outstandingly beautiful.  We did not go inside, as I did not have any head covering and I did not want to be disrespectful of their traditions.

On St. Michael’s grounds there was a display of the genealogy of the founder of Christianity in the Ukraine, which I found interesting…  Love this graphic display of the family…  The founder is dead center of this display.

Love any genealogical information... doesn't matter whose..

Love any genealogical information… doesn’t matter whose..

In the square outside St. Michael’s was this display of “A Chornical of the Communist Inquisition” during the 1930s.  We copied this to read this as time permits.  We must never forget the terrible times of the past… You can read about them here.

We took pictures of the individual frames so we could read them later.

We took pictures of the individual frames so we could read them later.

Nearby was another church – St. Andrew’s, considered the mother church of the Ukrainian Autocephalous Orthodox Church.  I took this picture from Wikipedia, also.



The architecture is similar yet different than what we see here in Budapest.

IMG_2438After our brief tour, we went to a local Pizza place that Yuri recommended.  We ordered pizza and I had a traditional salad that people used to prize during the Christmas season under the Soviet rule.  Canned vegetables were hard to get and were saved for this salad.  It was tasty – although very different from what we would consider a salad in America. But anything with mayonnaise is good to me!

Traditional Ukrainian salad from the Soviet era.

Traditional Ukrainian salad from the Soviet era.

The pizza was good, too!  But the most hysterical moment came when we ordered some juices to drink.  Yuri picked orange and we picked lemon!  We love the fresh lemonade here in Hungary!  However, this was 100% lemon JUICE!  WOW!  puckersville… then we asked for sugar, then water to add to it… we left before we got it right…  Think I already said that we love ordering food in foreign countries..

Notice the cyrillic writing but there was English, too.

Notice the Cyrillic writing but there was English, too.

We had this cherry dessert – like cherry filling in a pancake.  Probably prefer an American cherry pie!  But it is always fun to try new things…

After lunch, Yuri dropped us off at the airport and we boarded our WIZZ airlines for Budapest.  When the stewardesses started speaking Hungarian and we recognized some of the words, we knew we were on our way home!  Cyrillic was completely unintelligible to us!



The Wedding Day

In my last posting I neglected to say how we loved Clinton’s bride-to-be, Tanya, the moment that we met her.  Her Spirit just shined and we felt we just instantly bonded.  Her mother and her brother were equally charming.  They are a choice family reserved for these last days!

The limousine Clinton reserved for us all arrived at the apartment at 9:30 AM.  Tanya, her mother, Lena, her brother, Valentine, his girlfriend, Ira, and the photographer were already in the limo.


The darling couple!

Off to the local government building for the required civil wedding!


Valentine and Ira

Tanya's mother.

Lena and us.

We met up with Tanya’s close friends, her Branch President and his wife, her grandmother and her mother’s friends.  There were last minute details, like the boutonnière for Clinton.

The woman to the left is Tanya's best friend.

The woman to the left is Tanya’s best friend, Oksana.

Once we got to the government office, we waited for a little while for the officials to make sure everything was in order.


Before the Civil Wedding Ceremony

Tanya and Clinton designed the wedding dress.  They wanted something simple yet some- what traditional.  In my humble opinion, it is a classic and very beautiful!!  Tanya hired a seamstress to make the dress.

Once the ceremony started, we were actually a part of it all so I did not get any pictures of that.  But … Tanya sent some over that her friends took.

As part of the wedding ritual, they had to step on a special wedding cloth… which Valentine and Oksana laid down before them.  Other parts of the ceremony included each was given a candle to light and then they used those candles to light a “family candle” together representing beginning their new family, tying their wrists together in this cloth and the traditional dance together.

Clinton Tanya Wedding 6After the ceremony, there was the signing of the wedding documents…

Note the pretty robe the official is wearing.

Note the pretty robe the official is wearing.

The ceremony lasted about one-half hour.  I just love this picture that one of Tanya’s friends took as they came out of the building!

Clinton Tanya Wedding 19Over to the nicer government building for pictures.  It was not available for the Aug 1 date that they chose to get married.


It appears that the Ukrainians use colors to beautify their buildings like the Hungarians!

I liked a couple of buildings that were across the street from this building.  I was interested to see how Ukrainian architecture compared to Hungarian.

Used for Children's Theater Arts

Used for Children’s Theater Arts – how about that color?


I like the style of this little place of business.

Here are two of Tanya’s favorite people – the Branch President and his wife, Victor & Sveta.  Sveta went to the temple Friday, July 26, 2013 with Tanya and Lena, when they went to receive their endowments, a necessary step before the sealing ordinance.  I believe Tanya and Lena had been to the temple to do baptisms for their dead ancestors before this date (1 Corinthians 15:29).  The limo made back and forth trips from the yellow building to the restaurant to get everyone there..


I am assuming the blouse is traditional Ukrainian embroidery …

Look at this darling loaf of bread!  The mother of the groom (me) had to present this bread to the married couple – with some sage words of advice and/or encouragement.  The bread was presented on a fancy traditional table-runner-sized cloth.  (I was pretty weepy during this.)  Then the bride’s mother had some salt and she said something about that (in was in this foreign language and no one translated it for us…).  Then Tanya and Clinton took a bite of the bread.  The theory is whoever took the largest bite would be the domineering person in the family (I think both were trying to take as small a piece as possible!).  Then they had to take another piece of the bread and dip it into the salt and feed it to each other.  (I think that represented the first trial in their marriage…)

It smelled so good, too!

It smelled so good, too!

Then we sat at our places in the restaurant and look at the beautiful food:  salads, cheeses, fruit, rolls – all the healthy kinds of foods that Tanya and Clinton love.  Notice the decorated goblets that were used to swallow some water after the “bread and salt ceremonies.”  One of Tanya’s friends made them.

IMG_2209Oksana made up some of Tanya and Clinton’s most favorite pictures in their travels all over the world and hung them up as a decoration in the restaurant.


The picture above Clinton’s arm is one of their most favorite – in front of a LDS temple in Peru.

Don’t you love this colorful cake?  It tasted good, too!  Rolled frosting is big in this part of the world, I am thinking, after seeing one in the Hungarian wedding, too.

IMG_2217Tanya and Clinton worked together to take the small cake off the top.  I told them of the American tradition of saving a piece of the wedding cake for a year in the freezer and eating it on the one year anniversary date.  They did not think that would work!  For a year??


They did the traditional feeding each other a piece of the cake – but I did not get a picture of that.

We were running a bit late as we left the restaurant.  We still had a 3 hour trip up to the Kiev Temple.  But then when they were looking for the wedding certificate, they realized that the lady who married them, took it from Tanya, when they were posing for pictures.  So back to the government building.  They were closed for LUNCH!  After some banging on windows and doors, they finally opened up the door and retrieved the certificate.  Clinton and Tanya were unfazed by the whole thing…. very cute reaction!  They both just knew that their wedding day would be perfect – no matter what!


There was some serious napping going on during the ride up to the Temple.

No posting of Elder Felsted sleeping – not as cute as that picture!!  Their photographer really loves his job.  We stopped at picturesque places along the way and he posed them in the middle of a huge sunflower field, down by a stream, in a field of large round hay bales…

While others were napping, Valentine and I had some interesting discussions about the Church, about his schooling and he was wonderful to translate some conversations between us two mothers…  His English was very good, as is Tanya’s.

Luckily the Temple allowed Clinton and Tanya to change their sealing time of 5 to 7 PM.  We got there at 6:15 PM and the photographer took a few more pictures in front of the temple  before the sealing ceremony.

One cute picture after the other!

One cute picture after the other!

Once inside the temple, Valentine and Ira and the photographer sat in the waiting room.  Only LDS members in good standing are allowed inside the temple. Also, picture taking is not allowed inside the temple – in order to maintain the quiet spiritual reverence that is present there.  (This temple does not have a visitor’s center and it has started to rain very slightly at 6:30.)  Did I mention that the weather was gorgeous the whole time we were in the Ukraine??  Budapest was having unbearable heat (90s) when we left!

The temple workers are so wonderful – no matter which temple you attend.  It was the same here in Kiev.  Everyone is so loving and kind and they attended to Tanya and Clinton and her mother and us.  The “sealer” is a man who has a personal calling from our Prophet to be in that position.  He was an American, and on a temple mission to work in the Kiev Temple.  He took the time to review the covenants that Tanya and her mother had taken the previous Friday and compared them to steps in a ladder on their path to return to Our Father In Heaven.  There was a native Ukrainian woman temple worker who translated his words into Russian.  We believe that the sealing ordinance is at the top of the ladder on this pathway to return to God.

Then the sealer had Tanya and Clinton kneel across the altar from each other, holding hands, and he read the ordinance in Russian and repeated it in English, as they agreed to this New and Everlasting Covenant, sealing them together for Time and All Eternity.  It was a very touching moment and the Spirit was testifying that this was truly a marriage made in heaven.  We knew that Tanya and Clinton felt really married in God’s eyes through this sealing ordinance.

Afterwards, the sealer showed them two mirrors which are across from each other in the sealing rooms.  As they gazed at their images which seemed to go forever in one direction, the sealer told them to imagine that you are looking at all your ancestors – it goes back to Adam.  Then looking in the next mirror, you see the same images, but now imagine you are looking at your posterity, which can go on forever.  Pretty sobering thoughts – which are really not part of the ceremony but a reminder to take care of our ancestors (why we do temple work for them) as well as our posterity.

A Temple worker took this picture afterwards.

A Temple worker took this picture afterwards.

After the sealing, we (including the limo driver and the photographer) had very nice dinner at the hotel where Tanya and Clinton were staying.  Then the limo driver, the photographer, Lena, Valentine and his friend, left for a long ride home to Cherkassy,  We got a taxi to a hotel back near the Temple.

Clinton waited for many years to find Tanya.  Tanya told me that she knew when she first met Clinton that he was the one – so she waited a while, too!  They found a nice apartment and are living in Cherkassy at the moment.  Clinton can manage most of his business dealings from there.  Eventually, I imagine they might visit America – Tanya has not been able to get a visa into the USA so far; maybe as a spouse, she can.  Perhaps they have a mission to accomplish in the Ukraine – at least that is what Mom and Dad Felsted think!

We also believe that this is just another blessing because of our service to God – first as temple workers and now on our mission.  We are truly BLESSED!

“The temple is concerned with things of immortality. It is a bridge between this life and the next. All of the ordinances that take place in the house of the Lord are expressions of our belief in the immortality of the human soul.”

—Gordon B. Hinckley

Cherkassy, Ukraine

The next few posts will have nothing to do with our mission in Budapest… but everything to do with our family!

A bank in Cherkassy

A bank in Cherkassy

Our son, Clinton, told us a few months ago that he and Tanya were getting married – maybe in May 2013.  We knew this was a possibility, since he and Tanya have been traveling companions since August 2011.  Clinton loves to travel.  Of course, when he met her, he told her upfront that he was LDS.  She had some experiences with the “Mormon Missionaries” before she met him but was a bit more interested after she met Clinton.  She and her mother joined the Church in April 2012.

Russian Orthodox Church. Notice Motherland Statue in far right distance.

Russian Orthodox Church. Notice Motherland Statue in far right distance.

The date was settled:  August 1, 2013.  We got permission to leave our mission area from our Mission President and once we had a final date, we got permission from the Area Presidency – in 20 minutes!  We are allowed to leave our mission area for a “life-changing event” and having our 41 year old never married son get married was certainly a life changing event!

The Motherland Statue overlooks a beautiful park on the bank of the Dniper River.  There used to be a castle or fortress where the statue is now.

The Motherland Statue overlooks a beautiful park on the bank of the Dniper River. There used to be a castle or fortress where the statue is now.

Elder Felsted and I flew into the Zhulyany Kiev Airport on Monday, July 29, 2013.  Tanya had arranged a taxi to pick up Clinton at the Boryspil International Airport when he arrived Tuesday, July 30th.  We met up with Clinton there and drove down to Cherkassy – 180 km or a 3 hour drive.  That gave us some time with Clinton to see what has been going on with his businesses, farm, travels, etc.

At the apartment

At the apartment

Tanya met us at an apartment where Clinton stays when he is in Cherkassy.  There was room for us to stay there, too!  We went out to lunch at a little mall across from darling blue bank in the first picture.  Yummy!  Then Tanya went off to do some last minute things – including a wedding dress fitting.  Clinton took us for a little walk around the town and later we went to Tanya’s apartment for a dinner that she and her mother made for us.  Authentic Ukrainian food!  Some yummy potato dish that Clinton loves, chicken, salad and sauces.

The next day, we and Tanya and Clinton walked to her dress lady for a final fitting and we waited out in a park strip that is in the center of the street for that.  Then we walked a short distance to an authentic Russian restaurant for lunch.

Next door to the Russian restaurant.  We ate under the awnings on the left.

Loved this building next door to the Russian restaurant. We ate under the awnings – on the left.

We had very lovely salads for lunch.  The waitress let me take her picture…

Loved her outfit and the skirt had the same trim.

Loved her outfit and the skirt had the same trim.

Afterwards, Tanya had more things to do so Clinton showed us some other sights.  This beautiful Russian Orthodox Church was closed but we walked around the outside grounds.  It has some beautiful mosaics.

IMG_2143This next night, Tanya’s mother, Lena, fed us AGAIN!  This is after she worked hard all day!  Another very nice Ukrainian meal of borscht, fish, salad…

The traditional picture when someone comes to visit!

The traditional picture when someone comes to visit!

We did not stay too late!  Big events were happening the NEXT DAY…

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.

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!

May Senior Missionary Conference

Every 2 months or so, we have a gathering of all the senior missionaries in Hungary for a Conference.  They are directed by President and Sister Smith and are wonderfully spiritual events!  This one was no different.

We have three senior couples who will be leaving their missions before the next conference, so President Smith had each of the six missionaries relate to us their feelings about their missions.  I told President Smith (afterwards) that I wished he would have passed tissues out before the meeting started!  It was a multi-tissue event!


L-R: The Scotts, The Flammers, The Cromars

I will summarize what many of them talked about.  Their missions were a wonderful growing experience. They learned to study the scriptures better and prayed more diligently for help to do their callings.  They were humbled in trying to learn what some consider the 3rd hardest language in the world.  So they learned they could smile, pantomime, speak Hunglish, or what ever it took to try to communicate to the youth or the members.

They were stretched and never felt more out of their comfort zone.  Sister Scott quoted President Lorenzo Snow, “The nature of those demands upon us [is] such that no person can comply with them, unless by assistance from the Almighty. … He has promised this aid.”  She said she felt very vulnerable when she came to Hungary.  Brother Scott lost his sight shortly before they left on their mission!  He is the Branch President!!!

They showed their love of the members in various ways.  One gave each branch member family a tied quilt they made.   A couple of the senior couples taught music lessons to potential ward pianists and taught the members the hymns (the Hungarian version of our Church hymnbook came out about July 2012).  Many LDS are very talented musically and while on their missions, they used their talents in helping others learn music.  One couple showed CES talks to a few YSA in their home every Sunday evening.  One had Sunday dinners and invited non-members; if there were no non-members, then members were invited.  Many serve in various positions in the branch leadership.  One Elder reminded us to support the junior proselyting missionaries because they are on the firing line and are a basic key to the work!

President Smith then asked his two counselors and secretary to speak.  President Szabadkai, President Ballatoni, and Elder Carpenter, (also known as the Office Missionary).  President S quoted Nephi, “I will go and do the things that the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they might accomplish which he commandeth them.”  This explains why he accepted the call to be a counselor to President Smith and travels 2.5 hours one way to attend meetings –  and also why we (senior missionaries) are here.  President B has a young family is away a lot visiting the various branches.  (He lives in the Pest Ward and his children are darling! He also has a wonderful singing voice!)  He has had offers to work in the USA but feels his mission is with his people of Hungary.  As a convert at the age of 14, he remembers the role the senior missionaries played with him as sometime surrogate parents and mentors. Elder Carpenter was humbly thankful to work with these wonderful men!

Then President Smith concluded with some ideas from the book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton M. Christensen.  President Smith listed all the blessings that can be ours if we share the gospel… things like:  none shall stay you and you shall receive strength, and many more which are all taken from the D & C, and then he asked, Who would not want to have these blessings!  So we are asked to stretch even more!  This is way above most of our comfort zones…. but we will try our hardest to be obedient!

The Senior Couples of the Budapest Hungary Mission May 2013

The Senior Couples of the Budapest Hungary Mission May 2013

On a sad note, Cummings Elder and Növér had to leave their mission early.  Sister Cummings had some health issues come up and needed some time to heal.  We hope they can return to their mission when she recovers!

Mt Janos Hike

Saturday, April 20, 2013, we had no mission activity planned, so the Carpenters and the Felsteds decided to take a hike up to Mt. Janos.  It is in the Buda Hills and we took the tram 61 to the end, where we caught the Children’s train and got off at the Mt Janos stop.  It was a beautiful spring day and the trees were starting to fill out and we saw some wildflowers.  (I am wishing I had room in my luggage to bring my wildflower and tree identification guide books!)  We walked up a steep path, through the woods, and arrived at this point.  Looks like cars can drive up to this area by another route than what we took.

IMG_1530János-hegy is the highest point in Budapest. The Erzsébet lookout tower offers panoramic views of the city and the Buda Hills.  We walked up the road on the right to the top.

IMG_1531The Erzsébet Tower – Elizabeth Tower – was once used for watching for fires.  It is a very attractive building that has pictures with explanations of its construction and the history of different buildings that were here before this one. There is a chair lift that goes up and down from a certain area.  Some skiing is done here when there is enough snow.  The chair lift was closed for repairs on the day we went.  But you can see it in the video below about Erzsébet Tower.

I loved how they had little sitting areas with windows along the steps!

IMG_1539After viewing the beautiful view, we walked down the hill, got on the Children’s Train to its end.  Then onto the Cog Train down to cur neighborhood.  We found a Chinese Restaurant that looked promising around Széll Kállmán tér – and it was!  Elder Felsted and I actually went back to this one again…