Friday, February 26, 2010

Hungary goes for the Gold

Norm: Feb 27,10 I'd say we had our most successful activity night yet. Our theme was Mini-Olympics. Twelve young single adults attended. Six were branch members and six were investigators. Many new faces which was super. Our kids in the branch are doing a super job of getting their friends involved. We started low key with the Opening Ceremonies game of "Love Thy Neighbor" which allowed our late comers to arrive to make up the competition teams. With the help of the Elders, we had four teams of four each. Each team was identified by colored patches on their back. Then we let the games begin. First event was the Three Man Slalom. Two teams at a time with 3 kids to a pair of skis (Picket fence boards with straps attached). They had to manuever the figure 8 course marked by slolom chairs, but each team had to go in opposite direction. No practice runs allowed. Fun to watch the kids learning he art of cooperation and coordination. Second event was the Biathalon. We used the same figure 8 course, but this time they had to run the course with Hula Hoops around their ankles then stop at a station to throw 3 darts. Any bulls-eyes got their team extra points. Third event was the wild one. The Bobsled Run. We stole a pair of chairs on casters from the Family History room. One team member was the driver sitting in the chair with a pusher behind, going around the figure 8 with the other team in the opposite direction. The whole process reminded me of human bumper cars.
All in all no one was injured, we didn't break any chairs and the chapel remained in tact, and everyone had a BLAST. After scores were tallyed. gold, silver and bronze medals were awarded and all sang the Hungarian national anthem. This was followed by a cool down with lemonade, brownies and ice cream. We will repeat this night next Saturday in Kaposvar, a town 60 km to the north. The real challenge will be that the size of that facility is no larger than an average living room. What next??? Hey Kevin we're running out of ideas. Help!!
PS This is wierd. My program keeps switching my words around. I think it is conforming to Hungarian sentence structure. You may also notice that my English spelling talents are deteriorating as well. I'm not sure thats the fault of the program.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Last week of February -- Hooray.

I am celebrating the last week of February by nursing a head cold. I will be very happy to see the last of winter. Already we have seen more sun shine and less cold and Gabi told me today that she has seen "ho virág" meaning "snow flower" already. We walked to our district meeting this morning and it was very pleasant after 3 days of being confined to the apartment. In our meeting we split up to do some role play teaching practice. Norm and I taught the 3-5 minuet lesson plan in Hungarian to Elders Hay and Cheney. They were so patient with us and I am sure they could hardly understand what we were trying to say. It was good practice even if we just read our script. Transfer day is next week so I took a picture of our disritrict in case we have changes.

I found that I can buy flowers at Tesco, beautiful tulips and hyacinths for less than $5. So I can indulge my passion for fresh flowers at Church. Maja and Gabi came this morning to take me to the piac where one can get all kinds of fresh vegetables, fruit , and flowers. I was really looking forward to that outing but was not feeling well enough to go with them. I hope they will ask me to go again sometime.

Our work with the Young Single Adults is going well we think. We have had several activities where there have been more non members than members. Last Friday we had a wild game of balloon bashing. We had 2 teams, boys against the girls. I am sorry to say that the girls despite their heroic battle and various bruises, lost 6 to 1. We were lucky enough to find a large electric frying pan at the Metro so I made scones which are close to a Hungarian treat called langos. They eat langos with sour cream, jam, and even mustard. However, they also liked the honey butter and whipped cream.

In March we will be starting a program in Kaposvár that will be every other Saturday night. We are looking forward to working with the young people there. We hope that we will be able to have some combined activities when the weather gets warmer and the days are longer. These activites are needed to help the youth stay connected to the Church and to each other. All new members need to have the feeling of belonging especially as they often have to leave their old lifestyle friends behind. We hope that we are doing some good here and that the Branch here in Pécs will be a little stronger because of our efforts. Our testimonies have grown stronger in serving and we are grateful for the blessing we recieve daily. We appreciate our family and all they are doing to support us here. Thank you for your prayers and love.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Norm Feb 15,2010: The Elders baptized a fine young man on Saturday. His name is Andras (Andrew) which by the way is also the name of our latest great-grandson who was born this week. As I watched this new convert come out of the water I pondered upon my own baptism almost 50 years ago when at a similar age. Would this baptism prove as durable as my own? Statistically 2 out of 3 new converts here in Hungary fade away within months of the event.
I recently received a wonderful letter from my nephew Alan Peterson who made a very perceptive statement that these European Saints today have much in common with the early ones in that they too have "Their own Sweetwater to Cross." That is so true and it is not easy for them. These souls with their fragile testimonies face currents of critisism from their friends and family molded from the religious skeptisism and atheism of the communist era. Then there is the quicksand of morality which lacks the sand of the Christian base that is familiar to the rest of us. The whirlpools of addictions that can suck them back into a smoking or drinking habit. An exceedingly high percentage of Hungarians smoke. Not to mention the stuggles of a shallow income of the unemployed where the cost of a bus ticket to come to church can be all that it takes to not reach the shore of activity.
Pesident Baughman, our Mission President at our last Zone Conference made the analogy of judging a diving contest. The Lord will judge, and we too must judge as well, the Hungarian Saints by their "Degree of Difficulty." If it takes more on the job training, perfecting and tollerance, so be it. If some of these new members need a back to cling to, I pray that I am up to that task.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Another view of Hungary

It is my turn to write a bit about our adventures here in Pecs! We have been busy working with the Elders on a "Linger Longer" after Angol Ora. Norm and I get to the Branch House early so we can get organized with snacks and something to drink after class. Then Maja arrives and we have our lesson on Hungarian grammar and pronunciation. I quite like learning grammar, Norm quite dislikes it. Maja is a very good teacher and is especially good at getting Norm agitated over long words that are nearly impossible to pronounce. After class we encourage everyone who came to try my latest cookie creation. So far the cookies have been quite a hit. I have been asked to provide receipts for them. The only problem is that I usually have altered original and have no idea exactly what I did. Hungarians do not like a lot of sugar so I only use half the required amount. They really like cinnamon so I always put it in what ever I am making. Then there is the whole cups to grams conversion.
The idea for the linger longer is to give the Elders a chance to meet with the people who come to learn English and interest them in learning about the gospel as well. They love to talk to Norm and I and practice their English as we practice our Hungarian. The Elders have several investigators that started out as English students. We learned at our Zone conference on Thursday that there are over 1000 people a week that come to English class in the country. That means that they are coming into a church building and into contact with the missionaries every week.
We also have an activity on Friday night for the young single adults. Last night it was Sloppy Joe's and ping pong. Maja was excited because she learned about Sloppy Joe's on her mission and loves them. It was a new taste experience for everyone else. The other thing they have never eaten is raw celery. They thought that was really strange but they ate it. We have more non members at the activities than members which is great. Our goal is to have enough young people and enough activities to qualify for recognition as a Center for Young Adults in Pecs. The young adults seem to have a good time and we are hopeful that a Center will become a reality. We are happy to be so busy at last!
We had our first ride on a Hungarian train this week. We went to Zone conference with the Elders. They helped us get our tickets made sure we were on the right train, and walked us from the train station to the Mission home once we got to Budapest. We are grateful that they take such good care of us! The Zone was great. We had good training from President and Sister Baughman and the AP's as well as the Zone leaders. It wonderful to be part of such a enthusiastic group of Missionaries. Elders Recksiek and Hosch were helping me adjust the mini tripod I bought with my new camera so I took this incriminating pictures of them goofing off. Elder Cheney was the pianist for the conference and as always did a great job! Elder Hay was busy translating for our two Hungarian Elders as he is the on of the best Hungarian speakers. Norm is convinced that next time we have to go to Budapest we can make the arrangements and the trip without the help of our "Senior Sitters", I am not so sure.

"Half Armed Kidnappers"

The Magyarul (Hungarian language) continues to haunt us, and translations to or from English can sometimes be quite unreliable. Within the first weeks of being here I volunteered to print up the Sunday church bulletin. It of course had to be in Hungarian. Well each week corrections were suggested from many sources. Now two months have passed and I still get suggestions of alternate translations or opinions. Heather and I speak at two different branches a month across southern Hungary. Each time we have a different translater. Sometimes a branch member or a young Elder. Sometimes we get to give them a copy of the talk in advance, sometimes not. How our talk is presented to the Hungarian people is and will continue to be a mystery at least to us and maybe to them as well. Last night I had a rather painful discussion with a young man who attends our English classes and our Young Adult Socials. The discussion centered on his unemployment status. When inquired of his skills, I was infomed that he was a mechanic of
"Half Armed Kidnappers" This had me baffled for serveral moments. This was a Hungarian interpritation of ("One Armed Bandits") for Casinos.