Saturday, March 27, 2010

Fiesta Labamba

Mar. 27,2010 Norm: They just kept on comin! We had anticipated and prepared for 10 or 12, but they just kept on coming. It was a great night, we loved it, the kids loved it and it will be a tough night to match. We ended up with 20 young adults. Twelve of which were potential investigators. It was a Mexican Fiesta night which started with a quiz game on Mexico followed by musical chairs to Mexican Hat Dance Mariachi Music. A big highlight of the evening was the Macarena. We took our laptop and played the music from a Youtube production and tapped it in to the Chapel sound system.....It was "muy grande". Heathers Tacos did a quick disappearing act and were very popular. Another highlight of the evening was receiving a Skype call from where else but Mexico. Thanks to our dear friends the Gronnestads who are awaiting visas for their call to the Denmark Copenhagen Mission. Kids were able to chat and see the country side of Mazatlan from their condo deck. This went over cool big time with the kids. The evening ended with the chaotic demise of our homemade pinata. We will do this activity in Kaposvár April 17th --hope it will be as successful there. Next week we have no activity because of Easter, but instead, we Senior Missionaries are getting together for our own get-together weekend in Budapest.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

A Solemn Experience

March 23, 2010; Heather
Today we attended a funeral for the mother of one of the members of our Branch. It was a very somber occasion and very different from our funerals at home. We found our way to the very large cemetery in Pécs. It has a high wall all around it and inside the wall are several buildings used for services including a Catholic church. These buildings can be rented for the service but many families do not use them because of the expense. We found the Elders and the Church members waiting in the square in side the gate. As we waited the family arrived and a group of about 200 friends gathered. We are very fond of the young man, and we were glad to see that he had so much support from friends and members of the church.
He has been a member of the Church for about a year and is very devoted to the Gospel. He is a single Dad with 2 very sweet children and he obviously loves them very much. He was very devoted to his Mother as well and took very good care of her while she was ill. She died of lung cancer at 57.
After we had all gathered, the hearse arrived and we all slowly walked behind it to the grave site. Cremation is very common here partly because there is so little space in the old cemeteries. I think this was a family plot. It had a large stone slab the the funeral people lifted just enough to place the urn inside the grave. The slab was replaced and covered with lovely flower arrangements. Then we had a short service conducted by the Branch President. I am almost certain he read from Mosiah 11. I had used that scripture in my talk and I recognized some of the words about the Savior coming to earth and suffering pain and afflictions so that he could succor all of us who suffer here in this life. Then Elders Hay, Recksiek, Mason , and Németh along with Maja and Beatrix sang Nearer My God to Thee in Hungarian. Their song was lovely, so haunting in those surroundings. They sang acapella but there were some birds that could not resist joining in.
After the service, we all filed by to give our condolences to the family and place our flowers on the grave. The members of the church stayed after most people had gone and President Sabadkai dedicated the grave just as we do at home.
We had our cameras with us but we did not take any pictures even though we we told it was alright to do so. The occasion was too solemn and no one else was taking pictures, unlike our funerals where family members stay around and visit and take pictures of each other, the flowers etc. I am glad the day was pleasant for the service and that everything went well as our friend deserved.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Shopping at the Piac

Just a short 1km walk from our apartment is the local market. Good prices....Fun people.

Hair.....Maroon hair.....Purple hair.....Magenta hair. Then we come along...Silver hair and no hair.

Pigs feet...Pigs heads.....Turkey necks....Turkey feet. Yesterday there was a bin of Pigs tails.....Not today, the Elders must have beat us to it.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pushing Norm's comfort zone

March 15 2010 Norm: Today is a national holiday. 1848 Revolution Day to remember the uprising against Austrian rule. Stores are closed. The Elders have put together a little celebration at the branch house at noon. Yesterday we spoke in Szolnok, a church unit 200km to the northeast. It is of interest to note the growth of this unit. Elder Hay, now serving with us here in Pécs, tells us that Szolnok was his first area some 20 months ago. At that time there was but a handful of members. At yesterdays meeting there were about 40. Next Sunday it will be officially made a branch. In fact Szolnok even have a missionary serving in the field. He is Elder Hays companion Elder Német, a great young man making a difference with his fellow countrymen. Still on the topic of growth we also learned that our neighboring Kaposvár Branch who have outgrown their little rented facility will soon be moving into a larger space formerly occupied by Citibank on a very pretty walking mall. We speak again next week in Kapasvár and again the week after in Szeged and Békéscsaba.
Had some fun with our last YSA activity. It was movie night. We showed the movie that you North Americans would remember as "8 Below". That play on words doesn't translate well. In Hungary it is called "Kutyahideg" which means (Dogs Cold). We could not resist serving Hot Dogs with Cold Dogs. Had 8 young adults, 2 were new investigators.
We have been struggling with an approach in starting a Young Adult Family Home Evening program. Putting the emphesiz on Home we have created and outfitted a living room (that used to be our bedroom) in our little apartment. We have in our branch a rather large group of single parents with small children who we feel need our help with their families. Their needs are very different from the regular Young Adults, so our plan is to hold two FHE nights per week in our home. We want to recruit the Elders to help us as well so as to cordinate their reactivation program with ours. Besides we need their language skills for the lessons.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kaposvár YSA Night

March 8, 2010, Heather
We had a great Mini Olympic night with the young adults in Kaposvár Saturday, March 6. The Branch house there is quite small so we had to be creative, but Norm figured out a complex course that kept everyone on their toes. He had to ski and found it was not as easy as it looks. He just about took the knees out of his new suit. We didn't have chairs with casters either so we had the bob sled run using cardboard and brute strength. The girls finally figured out that they could go faster with two pushing. That was not quite in the rules but, hey, they were creative. We just about killed Elder Morgan. He was not feeling to well having eaten too many Hungarian dumplings at a program just before the evening's activities. After we had the brownies, we played a game of LDS Mafia and another guessing game. We think the evening was a success.

We did not leave Kaposvár until after nine pm. When we got home we found the the neighbors upstairs were having a party. The walls here are not sound proof in the least and we felt like we were in the middle of a party that did not quit until 7 in the morning. I do not know what Hungarians can talk about non stop for 12 hours.

That morning we met at the bus terminal to ride to Dunaüjváros to the Multi Branch conference. So it was another 2 hours of non stop Hungarian. We have got to learn the language so we can understand what is going on all around us. The conference was great. The missionaries sang several hymns for the prelude music and that really helped bring the Spirit. Elder Hay was in charge of that and did a great job. Maja translated for us and the talks by the two Mission Counselors were great, as were the testimonies given by several members. We enjoyed hearing President and Sister Baughman's talks on missionary miracles and the Book of Mormon. It was exciting to be in a regular chapel filled with Saints. At the end of the meeting all the women were given flowers, which was very nice. Then it was the ride home. We were exhausted. So for our P-day today we have caught up on chores and rest. We made plans for activities for the rest of the month and worked on the talks we have to give in 4 different places this month. We are glad to be anxiously engaged in the Lord's work here in Hungary.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Transfer Day

March 4, 2010: Heather
Wednesday March 3 was our second transfer day. We were sad to see Elder Cheney leave. He is a great missionary and we enjoyed working with him. He and Elder Recksiek were a great team. Elder Mason from South Jordan has joined us here in Pécs. He has been in Pest. We went to check the Cheney/Recksiek apartment before Elder Cheney left. I documented the state of the kitchen, which was immaculate. Their mothers would be proud of them as they had to do their dishes in the bathtub. Their kitchen hot water heater was not working. Elder Recksiek in now Senior companion and District Leader.

Sunday was a pleasant day so we went for a walk after dinner. Norm was taking pictures of potential building sights for a church house here. We will out grow the rented building here in the next year or so we hope. It was the first time I had done any walking other than to the Branch House. I was glad to get out and see green grass. There are some wonderful old buildings here and I am looking forward to getting out and taking pictures on our P-days.

I spend 2 to 3 hours a day working on Hungarian grammar until it gives me a headache. Hungarian has to be the most complex language ever. There are so many ways to say and write each verb and noun that I will never get to know them. Last night for our Hungarian lesson with Maja we translated a Relief Society Meeting survey to help determine the needs of the sisters here. It was nine sentences long and it took more than an hour to translate them. Then I came home and wrote it out using the Hungarian keyboard Elder Recksiek installed for me. It must have taken me 4 hours altogether to produce a 9 sentence survey. I just hope some of what I learned in the process will stick in my brain. I am NOT giving up.

Today I am going Visiting Teaching with Maja and Gabi. This will be Gabi's first Visiting Teaching experience as a new member of the Church. Tomorrow Norm and I will visit with Diana again. We will teach a brief lesson on eternal families. Of courses Elder Recksiek and Elder Mason will have to go with us to translate for us. Saturday we are going to have our first YSA activity in Kaposvár. We hope it will be as successful as the one we had here last Friday. We hope we are doing some good here we do love the people and the city.