Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Christmas in Southern Hungary

Heather: Our second Christmas in Hungary started with a Christmas Eve party with our 8 Elders from Pecs and Kaposovar. We had lots of food including the traditional Hungarian Christmas dish of stuffed cabbage. After dinner we watched a Disney version of  "A Christmas Carol," with Elders sprawled every which way on the floor. 

Then we went to the Pecs Cathedral, which had its beginining in 1055 AD,  to take in the Midnight Mass in D Minor. The Elders were appropriatly reverent and we were there early enough to get seats. By the time Mass started the cathedral was filled with people old and young. We were quite spell bound by the whole experience. The music was wonderfully performed by a full orchestra, well trained choir and magnificent organ.  
The Elders went home while Santa filled their stockings with care for Christmas morning breakfast! They arrived at 10 am and we consummed 2 pounds of bacon, 2 dozen eggs, a plethora of pancakes, and 2 dozen cinammon rolls! 
We had our own quiet celebration before the Elders arrived, Santa left Norm a new vest because she was tired of the old one and Heather recieved a lovely piece of Zsolnay jewlery which of course she deserved!
Later in the day we went dinner at the Koczka family's home. They had a wonderful meal ready with many different dishes that were delicious. We ate and ate some more! The Elders were entertained with games and magic tricks and had a few of their own to share. At six we went to visit the Szabadkai family. Sister Szabadkia fixed us traditional Hungarian fish soup. It was very good and just the right thing to have after all we had consummed during the day! We were so well treated by the Koczka and Szabadkai families that we were not even home sick! We had a wonderful second Christmas here. 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Tis the Season to be Jolly

Heather: We have enjoyed several activities that have given us a wonderful feeling of Christmas. Tonight we went caroling with the Elders and Maja, Gabi, Kira, Beatrix, Gizella, and Marci. Beatrix brewed some wonderful herb tea that we put in a 12 liter thermos. Then we all trekked to Szénchenyi tér with a pile of Books of Mormon, the tea cups, and our best singing voices. We sang and passed out tea for an hour and the Elders handed out all but one Book of Mormon. Marci and I looked after tea distribution and I had several very nice conversations with folks who were happy to have hot tea. One homeless person was particularly grateful and came for several refills for her friends. She spoke some English and said she was so happy to hear the beautiful music. She even joined in on one of the Hungarian carols. Our feet were cold at the end of the hour but our hearts were warm.
Last Friday the Branch had a special Christmas program. Beatrix worked hard and worried more to get everyone to participate in the Bethlehem as a Nativity program is called here. Little Hunor was quite amazing as he had all his lines memorized. The Christmas story was told in word and song and went without a hitch. It would have been nice to have had more members in the audience, but there were several non members including Hunor's school teacher. Last night we went caroling to our neighbors here in our building. Only three families were home but we had a special vist with the couple above us. They invited us in and fed us wonderful süti on beautiful Zsolnay plates. Even more wonderful the husband brought out his Bible and read us the Christmas story from the second chapter of Luke. We felt the Christmas spirit in their kindness and were happy to have the opportunity to share that spirit with them. We are so enjoying our second Christmas here in Pécs!
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Monday, December 20, 2010

Gingerbread Frieberg Temple

Norm: In place of my spiritual presentation for primary this week, I presented to the Pécs Branch Primary children my attempt at creating a gingerbread Frieberg Temple. The kids thought it was great, however the uphoria was short lived. Problem started when we could not find molasses to make gingerbread, so we substituted a plethora of small flour biscuits mortered together with icing. Niether the icing or the biscuits proved to be structuraly sound. Within 24 hours after this picture was taken it started to self distruct. I actually learned the principle years ago to never comprimise on the use of proven building materials.
The temple for the Hungarian Saints is located in Frieberg Germany and was built in what was then East Germany, the only temple to be built behind the Iron Curtain.
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Notice to parents and family of Missionaries serving in Pécs and Káposvar Hungary Budapest Mission. Watch this blog for our Christmas posting. The following missionaries will be spending Christmas with us. Bennion/May/Mullen/Galland/Hosch/Runnels/Miller/Hansen

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Andrea Bocelli - The Lord's Prayer.

Boxing Day, Alive and Well

Heather. We had a special YSA-YW-YM Branch service project last night. It all came about while discussing ideas for our Christmas activity. We were glad to hear that Dec 26 is recognized as a special holiday. We mentioned that in Canada and Great Britain that day was the traditional day for boxing up food and gifts for those less fortunate and is called Boxing Day. Maja informed us that a similar tradition exists here in Hungary as well. Here shoe boxes are collected and filled with toys and goodies for needy children. This we will do.
The members brought the boxes, toys and games that their chilren no longer used. I thought we would do well to fill ten or twelve boxes, but when we arrived at the branch house, 2 tables were loaded with donations. We were also pleased to have 12 Santas helpers, half of which were non members. Fanyi and Cintha made the cards while Gabi, Sylvia and Iren wrapped. The rest of us sorted gifts and put them in boxes, as Andrea Bocelli provided the Christmas entertainment and ambiance.
Marci, the Elders, Zita, Sandi and George trimmed the tree and decked the halls to look festive for tonights Branch Christmas program.
Here is our industious group with not twelve boxes....but twenty. We were so pleased with the support of the branch and the youth.
Today in the Christmasy snow we will deliver the boxes to the toy store that distributes them to those in need.
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

New Elder in Pecs

Norm: For those new to this blog , we have a tradition when we get a new Elder, to head for our local Mexican Restraunt so we can sit and get to know him. You may ask. Whats a Mexican Restraunt doing in Southern Hungary? Nem Todum, but its close to the branch house, the staff is great, they speak reasonable English and the food is semi familiar. From left to right: Rollingson Elder, Rollingson Nővér, Gizzella, May Elder (from Alaska), Elders Bennion, Mullen and Galland. We are sorry to see Elder Crandall move on to another area.
May Elder is his replacement and our new "Greenie". This is the end of his first day in the mission field. We're happy to have him here as we are hoping
his presence here will ad some much needed stability to the present missionary group. We will not give names to those above as to protect any family that may check this blog for further light and knowledge as to the well being of their loved ones (should they choose to claim them).
Our Family Home Evening group practice for next weeks carroling in our apartment complex then on to the main town square.
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas is coming.

Christmas lights are going up. Szénchenyi tér has a beautiful tall Christmas tree and people milling about visiting and enjoying the sights in the brisk evening air.
Kossuth tér had a group of shepherds singing to the crowd and occasionally would single out women in the group to be smacked with thin sticks. That must have had some significance that escaped me.
This is the life sized Bethlehem or Nativity that is in the tér. It is made from reeds, straw, and corn stalks. The traditional Bethlehem in Hungary is made from corn husks. That is a medium that is available to even the poorest farmer. There is a potter in Kapovár that makes very lovely pottery Nativity figures that you can see in the Haslem's blog.
This is the Christmas tree in the Baughman's living room in the Mission Home. Norm had a great time making the Angel Moroni for the top and he managed to get it up there when we were there last week. We are certainly feeling more of the Christmas Spirit here this year! Posted by Picasa

Sunday, December 12, 2010

YSA Service Project

Wall scrubing at the Branch House. Elder Galland, Elder Crandall and Zita at work.
We had billed it as a Gofri Est (Waffle Night) without telling them that we were going to be scrubbing walls. We were about to start when four new investigators walked in. What a wonderful group....they rolled up their sleeves and went right to work. One was a beautiful piano player. After Gofri, she sat down at the piano and played songs from the hymm book. Now this group has great potential.
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Monday, December 6, 2010


Norm: Heather says our blog needs some color. How about white and red? We call Pécs here in southern Hungary, the St. George of Hungary. Well its close. Dec. 6 and still no snow and only a little frost so far. Roses are still blooming and some of the trees still have their leaves. However its time to get into the Christmas spirit. The local mall has a snow scene display using a truck load of cotton batting. Wintery yes. Christmasy no. Has a gingerbread house with Hansel and Gretel as well as a sub zero copy of a Cabellas display. Also has many booths within the hallways selling Christmas decorations. However no where in the mall is their anything that resembles Christmas as a celebration of the birth of Jesus.

Today is Mikulás Nap (Santa Claus day) Ho...Ho...Ho.
Heather: Norm has had a great time playing Szent Mikulás the last 3 days. Saturday he and Christof were on duty for the children of the Branch. Here in Hungary Santa is Szent Mikulás and he comes on December Sixth. The parents of the children write letters about their children and discribe how well they behave and whether they deserve a present or whether they get the gold sticks that you can see in Szent Mikulás hand. Each child is called to come and stand before Mikulás while Christof read the letters and gave his OK as to their worthiness to recive a gift. After all the gifts are handed out the children sing a special song for the Szent.    

Christof was an excellent helper and he loved his role as chief elf. He is a fine young man and will be a great missionary some day. Such a cute boy and his Mother says he is an angel as well. 
Posted by PicasaSunday we made a special vist to see Kira because she could not be at the Saturday party. She wasn't sure about Szent Mikulás at first, but when Norm had to take his beard off to eat one of Gabi's delicious treats she overcame her reluctance and was happy to sit on his lap. Tonight he made another appearance at the home of a friend of one of the Branch members who has a little girl. He was afraid his daughter would be sad because she would not get to see Szent Mikulás. Norm was more than happy to make another special appearance. He Ho Hoed all the way to the door and back again which made everyone laugh. Santa only makes this one appearance in Hungary then his role is over in the Christmas traditions. Gifts are brought Christmas Eve by the Baby Jesus. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Angol Ora

Heather: Angol óra is one of the highlights of our week here in Pécs. We start by making süti for those who come to the class. We do this because we want to have an opportunity to talk to the class members about why we are here in Pécs and what we are doing in this great country. As you see the süti is surrounded by Gospel related material. Our hope is that they will pick up some information about the Church along with the goodies.
The Profi class is for those people who speak English well and is ably taught by Elder Crandall. He has put a recipe for the blond brownies we brought last week that were a hit with everyone. There are about 12 people in this class.
The largest class is the beginners class. Elders Mullen and Galland teach about 50 people every week ranging in age from 10 years old to plus 70. This class takes quite a bit of preparation because the Elders are teaching basic grammar and vocabulary to people who have very little English. This is a great place for a "greenie" like Elder Galland to practice Hungarian because the class is mostly done in that language.
Probably the most difficult class is the intermediate class taught by Elder Bennion. Usually the Elder with the most experience in Hungarian teaches this class. The class is a mix of college age students who are taking English in school and older people who have been coming to classes for a long time and are learning English as a hobby. Angol óra is an important missionary tool for finding those who might have been prepared to receive the Gospel. It is also a valuable community service that the Elders can be involved in. We like angol óra because we get to meet some great Hungarians and make some good friends.

Norm: I was initially concerned about the concept of imposing a western culture thing such as speaking English upon the Hungarians. During the era of communism the people were forced to learn Russian and many of the older folks do speak Russian as a second language although they are not really proud of that era and are comfortable to forget it. Only Hungarians speak Hungarian. No other country speaks that language. Hungary is on the lower end of the economic scale in Europe which makes job opportunity here rather bleak, however being within the European Union allows everyone free travel and work throughout the Union, yet the people are handicapped to do so without being able to speak English or German. So they are motivated students. Our classes have the great advantage of having native speaking teachers which the universities do not have. Besides our price is right and it makes for a great positive cultural exchange and these eager students are coming to us which cuts down on a lot of door knocking. Country wide over a 1,000 people are attending classes in our church buildings per week with direct dialog with the Elders. Missionaries from Germany serving here spend much of their time in the Northwest part of the country where that language is more prevelant.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Dead Bird Day

For Thanksgiving we'll just go out and buy a turkey...right. Not so, they don't sell whole turkeys in Hungary. At least not that we could find. We did find parts however I guess you buy a kit and put it together yourself. (Some assembly required) A little string, some glue, duct tape and we'll be set .
The parts we did find were huge. Tom on steroids. And yes Heather was in heaven with a neck all to herself. We figured there isn't an oven or a frig that would handle a whole Tom.
And Elder Mullen and Elder Galland baked us a pecan pie. You have to appreciate the fact that pies just don't exist in Hungary. And pecans are a rare find.
Eight hungry Elders serving in Pécs and Kaposvár. Elders Galland, Mullen, Bennion, Proctor, Crandall, Miller, Runnells and Hosch.
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Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pécs Relief Society Cooking Fun

Heather : Last month our Pecs Relief Society got together for a baking demonstration by our resident professional baker. Konig Silvi bakes for a couple of restraunts in town and makes the most beautiful cakes. So we gathered at the branch house kitchen for this fun event. As you can see, the kitchen is about the size of a closet and is tight for three people let alone the dozen or so that were there.
Everyone loves to make suiti in Hungary.

I was very intrigued by how different baking is done here. Everything is weighed rather than measured. Silvi came equiped with a set of scales instead of measuring cups. I would have great difficulty cooking by this method as it requires one to do math at every step.

Even using vanilla is a pains taking process as the vanilla seeds are scraped by hand from a pod to be used in the recipe. Silvi even made her own powdered sugar in a special machine that she brought. There are no short cuts in Hungarian cooking.
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We all could not fit in the tiny kitchen so resourceful Gizella dragged a table from a class room and we finished the class with everyone lined up in the hall. That way we could all see and take a turn at rolling dough and cutting out the cookies. The whole process was rather involved and lengthy -- much too complicated for my simple skills but Norm sure enjoyed the final results. Now you know why we are looking well fed -- because we are!
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