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Archive for the ‘July 2013’ Category

Wednesday, July 31 2013:  Wow, where did July go?  Today the actual mission transfers take place and the Sisters and Elders stopped by early to say goodby.  They brought us a signed picture of the four of them and it immediately brought tears to our eyes.  We will miss Sister K and Elder B so much but wish them well as they go to other cities to continue this great work.  Elder B asked if we could have a prayer together before they head to Budapest so we all got on our knees in the living room and I offered a prayer.   As they passed by on the sidewalk leaving our building I yelled to them from our window, “Hooray for Israel” and they responded with the same.  Most of the missionaries who have assignment changes travel to Budapest to meet up with their new companions and then drive or catch trains to their destinations.  They do not go to the Mission Office unless requested to do so.  The main train station is the primary gathering place.

A fond farewell

A fond farewell

After the Sisters and Elders left and we dried our eyes, we walked over to the new apartment to show it to Win.  I was disappointed in how much stuff the landlord still has to clear out of the rooms. They obviously didn’t do anything after we left there last night.  After lunch there was knock at our door and it was our young friend from next door.  He is a dental student from Israel and has been gone for a month and a half to visit his parents back in his homeland.  We invited him in and we updated him on our last six weeks and he told us of his experiences in Israel.  To our surprise, he presented us will a small dish which depicts the miracle of the loaves and fishes.  It is a copy of a mosaic found on a floor near the sea of Galilee.  It was a very thoughtful gift and so kind of him to bring it back to us.

This afternoon is going to get really busy so I am writing this ahead of time in case it’s just too late to update the post when we get home tonight.  Win has sewing class at 5:00 but I will drop her off early and go get the new set of Elders and their luggage at the train station around 4:30.  Once I get them oriented to the new apartment, we have our weekly missionary coordination meeting with the Branch mission leader at 6:00.  I will have to miss most of that meeting to take Win home and then attend Branch Presidency meeting at 6:30.  PEC will follow that meeting and then Win and I have tickets to attend a concert at the outdoor theater at 9:00.  One of the Branch members is an accomplished violinist and gave us tickets.  We are anxious to see her perform in the orchestra.

We just got home and it is a little after midnight so I will continue with this post tomorrow.  Goodnight from Szeged.

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Tuesday, July 30 2013:  Big thunder and rain storm last night that has dropped the temperature about 15 degrees.  It’s transfer notification day and the Sisters were the first to call and tell us that Sister K is going to Debrecen.  Later we learned that Elder B will go to Dunaufvaros.  Two of the  Elders in Bekescsaba will also leave.  But, the big news of the day was that a third set of missionaries, Elders, will come to Szeged tomorrow.  I could not say anything until now but for the last 5-6 weeks the Branch mission leader and I have confidentially been looking for an apartment for the new companionship.  We could not speak to anyone in the Branch or to the missionaries because if we were not successful, then they would not be assigned here.  It is not an easy task to find a completely furnished apartment in the price range required and in location that is safe and convenient. But, thanks to the efforts of our Branch mission leader, who is one of our YSA group, we got it done just in time.  It is really exciting to have another set of missionaries in this city.

At 1:00 we and the Sisters and Elders went to Geza’s for lunch.  He is quite the cook but it is just so hard to eat that much food.  He loves the missionaries and does this almost every transfer.  The first course was a hot chicken noodle soup, then came the yummy cold fruit soup. That was followed by a small bowl of tomato salad with chicken stew over noodles.  Then a piece of slow roasted chicken and finally a bowl of  chocolate ice cream.  We finished the meal at 3:45 which gave us just enough time to get home for Wins “girls day” with four of the YSA sisters.  They each learned to use the sewing machine and made a pin cushion, had dinner, talked about preparing for marriage and learned to make cookie strips.  While they did their activities, I went to the Branch house for a couple of hours and studied.  At 7:00 I went to the new apartment to meet with the landlord to complete the inventory of furnishings and went over how the appliances and hot water system works.  I got home at 9:00 and Win was just finishing up giving two of the girls a new hair do. One YSA colored another one’s hair and Win trimmed one’s hair.  Then she curled both.  After looking in the mirror, one said to another, “Oh, ve better not valk home alone tonight.” The girls totally enjoyed the day and asked to do this again every 3 months. I hope to meet with the boys soon for a boy day.  Then we will pull them all together for a marriage Prep and financial counseling chat.   Just as the girls were leaving, the Elders called and said the four of them would like to come over at 8;00 in the morning so Elder B and Sister K can say goodby.

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Monday, July 29 2013:  It is 100 degrees outside today and feels like 110.  We walked this morning to see if we could tell where the loud music came from until 3:00 AM.  There must have been a really big concert somewhere downtown or along the river but we didn’t see and signs of it. I took two pair of suit pants to the cleaners after our walk.  The lady didn’t speak any English but I think I will get them back on Wednesday, at least that is the day she pointed to on the calendar.  At 10:00 we inspected the Sisters apartment.  They reported that the landlords husband came to look at the leak below the shower stall and agreed that a plumber will have to be hired to fix it.  At 11:00 we inspected the Elders apartment and learned that one of the Elders is pretty sure he will be transferred.   But, he also thought that six weeks ago and it didn’t happen so we shall see.  I got a hair cut after lunch and then tried to study a little while Win cooked for tonight.  The menu for FHE is:  Chili, corn bread, creme fresh, vegetables with ranch dressing and peanut butter cookies.  There were sixteen people to feed tonight and Win had just the right amount of food for everyone.  Besides the Sisters and the Elders, there were two investigators and eight YSA.  One of the male investigators stood up in front of the group and said that he would be baptized at the end of August.  It was a thrill to experience the joy and excitement in the room and see the look on his face as he made the announcement with such confidence.   What a great evening this was and such a good group to have in our home.  Before the young man left, he gave us a picture of himself so we would always remember him.

Downstairs where the garbage cans are for the building there is a swallows nest and usually one or two of the birds are flying around the courtyard/garden area.  One evening we noticed that a swallow was perched above our apartment door.  There is no nest there but just a bend in a pipe that makes a perfect little resting place for this bird.  Now that we are aware of him, it appears that he rests there every night and is like a mascot for our visit here.  I have named him Dobo after a heroic commander of a Hungarian fortress in a book I am reading.

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Dobo

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Sunday, July 28 2013:  I haven’t said much about the heat lately but we turn the AC off when we go to bed and turn it back on shortly after we wake up.  Sitting in church with a wool suit on is a real trial and especially when I have to do it twice each Sunday.  There were about 5-6 investigators at church this morning including the younger brother of one of our YSA group in Szeged.  We left after two hours of the Szeged block so we could get to Bekescsaba early.  After next week, this will be our regular schedule so I can have more time for interviews or Branch meetings as needed.  Our first young male investigator came to church today in Bekes and he seemed to be comfortable with the meetings.  We are hoping that he may be our first Aaronic Priesthood holder in the Branch.  The fields from Beke to Szeged are now so dry that they look almost burned by the sun.  The corn stalks and sunflower plants look wilted.

CULTURAL MOMENT– Win writing here.  Today’s blog was short so I thought that I would insert a little culture.   There are many Locust Trees around our apartment in Szeged.  They bloom a tiny yellow flower in early summer and then, now, when it is very hot, the tree sheds these flowers.  It is like it is snowing yellow blossoms.  (My kind of snow!)  The air is filled with floating yellow petals and the ground is covered.  You cannot see the sidewalk under all the blossoms in some places.   Speaking of flowers, it is wedding season in Hungary.  Bells are ringing and brides are being photographed in the Square near our apartment.  After the wedding, the families and friends load up in their cars and rush to a reception area. The traditional way to make this transition is:  all of the cars have a small floral bouquet or ribbon bouquet on their car to designate that they are with the wedding party .  Once, we saw that all the bridal party had either a pink or blue bouquet on their door handles depending on who’s side of the family they were on: bride’s or groom’s.  I love it. It is fun to see what behaviors are universal .   We have noticed that Hungarian bicyclists use the same hand signals as the USA does.  (We can’t understand the language, but we can understand where the people on bikes want to go.  )
We have learned some of the history of this part of world.  During the Russian occupation 20 years ago, Hungary was know as the ‘Pantry to the Soviet Union’.  That sure tells you how many crops are grown here for the use of other countries.  The soil is rich, the growing season is long, and the rainfall is such that they don’t need irrigation.    Speaking of richness, Randy and I have noticed an unusual amount of twins.   We barely go a day without seeing at least one pair.  We have counted up to 3 pairs in one trip to the grocery store .  Some people  say that Heavenly Father is sending as many babies as He can in a pregnancy because the custom is to only have one child.

Wildlife sightings:  1 deer, 1 crane, 1 rabbit, 5 storks.

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Saturday, July 27 2013:  As we walked along the river this morning, we came upon an older man carrying a bag in one hand and a full size wooden screen door in the other.  He was moving pretty slow and when he stopped to rest we asked if I could help with the door.  He pointed to his leg and we assume he was telling us that he has trouble with it.  He let me carry the door a block or two but then motioned that he would continue on from that point.  I gave him a pass along card and we headed back. It is times like this that we really wish we could communicate better.  We cleaned the apartment and I went to wash the car.  About noon, the Sisters called and said they had a water leak around their shower and they could not get a hold of the landlord.  We went and picked them up in the car and drove to the landlords house.  Luckily she was home and said her husband would come take a look at the problem later today.  We took the Sisters to a store to get an ice cream bar and then dropped them off on our street so them could go tracting.  This afternoon the Elders came over and we walked to the corner to visit with a couple that hang out there in the shade each day.  They were nice but not interested in our message.  They have been together for 30 years and live in the same flat that she was raised in.

Before dinner we drove out to the botanical garden to check it out.  The best part was the lotus blossoms which were starting to bloom.  I don’t think I have ever seen them before.  The flower is about as big as a child’s head and the leaf is bigger than a basketball. It is the national flower of India and an individual lotus can live for over a thousand years.  They are an aquatic perennial. Zhou Dunyi, a Confucian scholar wrote:  “I love the lotus because while growing from mud, it is unstained”.  We had burgers at McDonald’s and then shopped for the FHE dinner supplies.   While in the store, the Sisters called and said they have an investigator who wants to take the sacrament tomorrow but she is gluten intolerant.  So we picked up a small loaf of gluten free bread so there will be some available if needed.

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Friday, July 26 2013:  Off to Bekescsaba first thing this morning for District meeting at 10:30.  The Elders were excited to see us and wanted the meeting to go fast so they could get started with gofri nap.  We spent a few minutes updating everyone on the current investigators and then had a well thought out lesson on listening and helping people to resolve their concerns.  We finished up with a role play where Win and I had to be the missionaries rather then the investigator.   At 11:30 the meeting concluded and Win helped the Elders make waffle batter from scratch.  They also cooked bacon and scrambles eggs.  We had a great brunch with juice, milk and lots of toppings.  One Elder made a waffle sandwich with apricot jam, pudding, white chocolate nutela and whipped cream.

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Before heading back, I spent a few minutes getting oriented on the Branch computer so I can access a few things in case a couple of these Elders get transferred next week.  We got back to Szeged a little after 3:00 and tried to take a nap before dinner. At 6:30 we headed to the Branch house for institute class.  After the class Win served rice pudding with whipped cream on top.  Then before coming home we all cleaned the building.  It’s been a long day.  Win keeps saying “we sure have kind of a different life here”.  I guess it’s different in that you do pretty much forget yourself a lot of the time and focus on these two Branches, the YSA’s and these wonderful missionaries.

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Thursday, July 25 2013:  No walk today, we had to get ready for District meeting at 10:00.  The Dragon Boat Championships have now moved out to the World Cup kayak and canoe venue for the rest of the week.  Last week the Elders at Bekescsaba said they wanted to have waffle day or “gofri nap” instead of going out for lunch.  We offered that idea to the group here so the meeting today was held in our apartment.  There was a lot of discussion about all the investigators and less actives members that have been contacted.  We also shared some personal thoughts concerning what we have learned while here thus far.  After the meeting the Elders and Sisters helped cook waffles and scrambled eggs.  Win also served bacon, whipped cream, vanilla pudding and maple syrup for toppings.  They all ate several waffles and we even sent some home with them.  For a closing hymn we sang “God Be With You Till We Meet Again”.  With transfers coming next week, this will most likely be the last time the six of us are together.

Gofri nap

Gofri nap

At 2:00 we went to the Branch house so Win could start on all the mending work she has collected.  I met with the Elders and Mr. C.  At the conclusion of the program we offered to give him a blessing to help him with his challenges and he asked if I would do that.  I gave the blessing and one of the Elders translated.  When Win finished with what she could mend on the sewing machine we went home for some dinner.  Then, at 6:00 we went back to the Branch house because Win had been asked to give the spiritual thought at the end of English class.  Following that, we met with the Branch President to talk about welfare issues and the organization and role of the Relief Society with regards to provident living and assessment of needs.

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