Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Saturday Fun in Pécs

April 27, 2010; Heather
Pécs Branch hosted a Ping Pong Tournament on Saturday. The Elders and some members from Kaposvár came up by bus. Everyone had fun eating pizza and playing games as well as Ping Pong. Elder Rowland from Kaposvár was the winner of the tourney. Poor Elder Golze spent most of his time trying to fix my computer. It is working much better because of his help.

Friday night we had a waffle night with the YSA group. They loved the waffles because I used a recipe Val sent me. They played games until almost 9pm and we think they had fun. We had several investigators there, which is wonderful.

Sunday evening we had FHE for our single parents and were really pleased that Beatrix's two older children came. They seemed to enjoy the evening and they have committed to attend the EFY camp in Switzerland in June. On Monday Beatrix and Maja came for FHE. We worked on our plans to make a table cloth for the Branch hall table. We are so grateful for their support for the YSA program here.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A Busy Weekend

April 24, 2010; Heather

We have had a very busy week end. Our Friday night activity in Pécs was a game night and we had 8 YSA attend. Maja, Mimi, and Zita provided delicious sütti -- cookies, and cake. Norm and I played Chicken Foot dominoes, while everyone else played a new Hungarian game that was way to complicated for us.

Saturday we prepared for our Mexican Fiesta in Kaposvár. Mimi came with us and was a great help. We hauled food, dishes utensils, the big electric fry pan, and our microwave. The Skoda was loaded to the hilt. When we arrived the Elders were waiting and helped us haul everything up the flight of stairs to the Branch House. We were a little nervous because President and Sister Baughman were going to join us for the evening. The Elders indicated that not many YSA were going to be there. But we had 9 attend plus Pres. and Sister Baughman and the Kellems who are teaching at the university in Kaposvár. We had a delightful evening and I had great help fron the Sisters. Vida and Kaare Gronnestad Skyped from Mexico and took their camera down to the beach. The day was perfect in Mazatlan. They even had a native Mexican tell us all about it in Spanish. It was a great addition to the festivities.

It was the Pécs Branch Conference today and Norm was called and sustained as the only counselor in the new Pécs Branch Presidency. Balázs Makkai is the new Branch President. He has been a member just over a year. He is a fine young man and I am sure he will rise to his responsibilities. Hay Elder is the new branch clerk which will help Norm with the language barrier. The Branch conference went well President and Sister Baughman both gave excellent talks. The presidents was a very direct and powerful talk on the important message the the Gospel has to offer to the world.

This evening we had our first Family home Evening with single parents. Again we depended on Hay Elder to translate for us. We had 2 delightful children and their mothers here. I think it went well. The kids had a good time any way and the treats were good, which according to Elder Bouck is the most important part of FHE. Our children always thought that was what FHE was about.

The only disappointment of the day was that we did not get to Skype our daughter, Sheryl, on her birthday. I am sure she had a great day. We thought of her often as there were 2 sisters in the Branch who had birthdays today as well. Norm is exhausted for the activities and the stress of the week end. He was up until one this morning printing out the program for the meetings today and is already feeling the effects of his new responsibilities..

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Transfer Day in Hungary

April 15, 2010; Heather
Yesterday was transfer day again, time is flying by here in Hungary. We lost Elder Németh who went to join Elder Cheney up in the north east part of the country. We will miss his cheerful smile. Elder Recksiek traded places with Elder Golze, who had helped us get our visas while in the office. Elder Recksiek is the new secratary in the office. We will miss him and his multiple talents. Elder Hay's new companion is a Greeny, Elder Bouck from Texas.

Norm and I spent a few anxious minutes just before English class as all the students arrived and there were no Elders yet. We had visions of having to teach 3 English classes, which would have been a disaster. But just before class time the Elders came huffing and puffing , bag and baggage having run from the train station a few blocks away. We were so glad to see them we let them have 5 minutes to catch their breath before they did their teaching duties.

After teaching English to 30 or so students, the Elders had a Branch Mission meeting with the Elder's Quorum Pres. the Mission leader and Branch missionaries. I think they might have been able to go home and unpack by eight o'clock that night. They had a very long and exhausting day but they handled it with enthusiasm as always. They are awesome Elders. We are looking forward to getting to know Elders Golze and Bouck better and best of all -- we are not the Greenies any more.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Driving in Hungary

Norm Apr 12,2010. I read a U.S. news item a while back that indicated State , County and local governments in America were considering the increase in traffic fines to help compensate for budget shortfalls. I can tell you Hungary has had this figured out well in advance. This is a cash society and taxation doesn't work well. Not everyone can afford to buy a car and not everyone can afford to drive it if they had one. I have been asked on facebook what my attraction was to the Post Office? It is a beautiful building but that is not the attraction. It is where traffic fines are collected. I am proud to say, I am major contributor to the nation economy in this regard, Throughout the country a plethera of hidden cameras seem to lurk in the ditches, slither from behind road signs, hide in potholes or are comouflaged in cabbage rolls at the roadside stand. All taking pictures of my popular license plate. Soon I get a dear Norm letter sending me to the Post Office to pay my 30,000 forint donation. So if I don't drive and get speeding tickets (by the way, I'm the slowest guy on the highway) I'll save a bucket full of money....right? Wrong, for parking in a no parking zone in front of the branch house for 5 minutes......another 30,000 forint. 30,000 forint equals about $160.00 US. Our girls and boys in blue prowl the streets of Pecs in search of parking victims. They are armed with digital cameras and portable computers, earning their keep and fattening the town coffers.
The more we can keep the car hidden in the basement of our apartment the better. With the numerous little narrow one way streets, it is about a 3 km. drive to church with no place to park when we get there. To walk to church with our shortcuts, it is less than 1 km. and with gas at just under $7.00 a gallon that's a plus.
Otherwise driving in Hungary is pleasant. We have a new freeway that just opened up from Pecs to Budapest with rest stops and service plazas that would rival anything in North America, and I love the round-a-bouts. I also have to compliment the Hungarian drivers as very courteous. They are good on the yield to pedestrians and excellent on merging. I do however withhold any compliments to those driving taxi cabs, BMW's or Audi's. And Hungarian drivers are very friendly....always beeping their horns, flashing their lights and waving...well sort of waving.
You see on the roads just about any model of car you would see in North America plus a few others such as Renault and Citreon. I did see a vintage three wheeled Messersmitt one day as well as a Farrari and a Maserati. Suberbans, Explorers and pick up trucks that we are used to in Wyoming are almost non-existant. The mission car that we drive ( the one that loves to get tickets) is a Scoda Fabia. Quite an adequate little car actually as long as you remember to keep the hills behind you and not let one get in front of you.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Tragic Piece of History in Budapest

April 6, 2010; Heather

Just 58 days before the Liberation of Budapest by the Russian Army, Nazi extremists took over the control of the city. The Jewish population in the city had been herded into a ghetto earlier while those in the countryside had been rounded up and sent to the death camps. The people in the ghetto had suffered a horrible winter with many dying of starvation and exposure.

The Nazis knew the war was lost but in their unrelenting hatred for the Jewish people, they spent their last 58 days in Budapest in a unmitigated reign of terror. Over 100,00 Jews who had survived the deprivations of winter were systematically slaughtered their bodies left piled all through the ghetto. One of the first tasks of those who liberated the city was to bury those victims. Many were buried in mass graves in the courtyard garden of the Great Synagogue in Budapest.

The Synagogue had been the symbol of the acceptance that the Jewish people had felt in Hungary. It was built in the mid 1800's with the help of non Jewish people in recognition of their support and patriotism for Hungary. In Hungary the Jews were free from many of the depredations they suffered in other near by countries. The building is magnificent and unique. But now it bears it's own part of the history of Holocaust tragedy.

In the courtyard there is a beautiful and symbolic monument to the victims of the Holocaust. It is a Menorah that is upside down and in the shape of a weeping willow tree with the name or number of a victim on each leaf. The hollow black stone tablets represent the Ten Commandments with the moral meaning of the commandments cut out by the actions of those responsible for the Holocaust. This memorial was sponsored by Tony Curtis who was Jewish and whose parents came from Hungary. In front of the tree there is a stone marker with the Hungarian word for "we remember" chiseled on it. It is important to remember these people and their history.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Senior Missionary "Sleepover" in Budapest

Apr 03 2010 Norm. Our Group. The Senior Missionaries of the Hungary Budapest Mission. Gary and Marilyn Baughman of Texas, Mission President. Kaye and Lynn Garner of Orem Utah serving in the office. Bruce and Karen Haslem of Cache Valley serving in Sopron. Larry and Barbara Williams of California serving in Debrecen. Faye Wade and Ruth Harris of Bountiful Utah serving in Budapest and ourselves serving in Pecs.

The Parliament in matchsticks no less. "Believe it...................!"

A morning tour of the Hungarian Parliament Building. A more magnificent buiding I cant imagine. Gold painted accent, gold leafing and gold plating everywhere..... and the building is huge. Picturesqe setting on the bank of the Danube River.

A great weekend with the senior missionaries of the Hungary Budapest Mission. Saturday afternoon was a culturally and religiously diverse experience. A visit to a Jewish Synagogue and Hungarian Jewish Memorial and Museum. After talking with some Harri Krishnas we toured a magnificent Roman Catholiic Cathedral. Spent the evening visiting and stayed up much beyond our normal bedtime playing Mexican Train dominoes.