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Monday, July 14 2014:  At 7:00 I went to wash and vacuum out the car.  Then I came home to shower and suit up so I could take the Sisters to an Internet cafe at 9:00 so they could email home.  Before going back to the apartment I went to the Posta and the Bank.  After making the Sunday donations deposit for the last time I said goodby to three people at the bank and thanked them.  They were very nice and the security guy who sits by the door followed me outside.  He wanted to talk and I felt so bad that I couldn’t understand what he was saying.  I asked him if he had a family and he said yes, so I gave him a pass along card and pointed to the web site and phone number on the back.   I think he will at least go to the web site.  I made one more stop at the mall to print off some pictures of the baptism on Saturday for E.  About noon I went back and got the Sisters and  dropped them off downtown.  Win worked all  morning making some popcorn balls, a relish tray and salad for tonight and cleaning  the oven, microwave, fridge and scrubbing the bathroom tiles.  I got one more of our big suitcases packed so three are now ready to go.  At 4:30 we took a load of food to the church and got things set up for FHE.  At 5:00 Win got to sit in with the Sisters for one last program with E.  Then at 6:00 we tried to start FHE but people kept coming in the door.  Win and I were overwhelmed.  The Magda family came from Szeged which was a total surprise and Edina and her family were back from vacation.  In all, 31 people were there, and again 12 were non members.  We just couldn’t believe it.  We sang “As I Have Loved You” and then after Elder O gave a spiritual thought, Win and I each said a few words.  I showed them all the two pictures from our wedding that I posted last night and they loved it.  Then we all sat around and ate and visited for a couple of hours.  We were showered with gifts that we can’t begin to take home.  We got the building semi cleaned up and got home about 9:00.  We are emotionally drained again and just completely in awe at the fellow-shipping and interaction that took place tonight.  It was just amazing.

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Sunday, July 13 2014:  This is post number 550 to this blog and the last Sunday of our mission.  Most of the talks in sacrament meeting today will be in English so that will be good.  I went to the branch house at 8:30 so I could have a little time alone before everyone else arrived.  I set up one extra row of chairs hoping that we would need them.  R, his mother, and his younger brother and sister came at 9:30.  President and Sister Smith came shortly after that so President Smith could interview R for his patriarchal blessing.  The Sisters and Elders followed and then the people started to come.  The attendance exceeded our expectations and there were still several active members who were out of town.  There were 38 total with 12 non members.  It was amazing.  Elder O said he didn’t know if he was in the right building or not.  There were 7 people who had never been to one of our sacrament meetings before, including E’s mother and J and C and their daughter.  Plus, at the last minute E & N, the little mother and daughter, walked in.  We have not seen them at church for maybe six months.  Win lost it at that point and we pretty much cried the rest of the meeting.  After the opening song and prayer, President Smith released me and sustained Elder S as the new Branch President.  Then, President Smith confirmed E a member of the Church and gave here the gift of The Holy Ghost.  Elder O and brother L administered the sacrament and Elder S and R passed it to the congregation.  Following the sacrament, Sister and Elder S introduced themselves and bore their testimonies.  Then, the Elders and Sisters surprised us by singing “A Child’s Prayer” accompanied by Sister S.  I felt sorry for Win to have to follow the number because we were both in tears again at that point.  Win got up and gave a warm and touching  message about our hearts and what we feel.  I talked for a few minutes about making good choices.  President Smith gave some concluding remarks and then we sang “God Be with You Till We Meet Again”.  My handkerchief was as wet as it could be when we finished.  And then, B, our institute teacher, broke-down in tears saying the closing prayer which was very touching.  There were lots of hugs and more tears, pictures taken and some gifts given to us before we could get classes started.  We were surprised again at the number of people who stayed for the second hour.  After church Elder S and I had just two contribution envelopes to record and then a group of the branch members gave us a Hungarian Cookbook (in English) that was very thoughtful.  The ten of us missionaries then went over to the Sisters apartment and had a nice lunch.  We couldn’t stop talking about the people who had come and what a banner day this was for Bekescsaba.  It really was a special meeting and we were touched by the outpouring of love and kindness.  I wish we could get on a plane right now and fly home but we still have a busy week ahead with family home evening tomorrow and Senior Conference in Budapest on Wednesday and Thursday.  Below is a picture of part of the people at church today.

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Yesterday our Mission President brought us a letter from our daughter in law Lacey with some drawings and artwork from Mason and Jaylee.  Also included were the two photos below from our wedding day at the Logan Temple and our reception in Win’s parents backyard.  Since we just celebrated our 40th wedding anniversary a few days ago, and have had another very memorable day today, I thought I might as well include these as part of our overall memories on this blog.  Who would have thought back then that 40 years latter we would travel to a far away land together.  That we would leave our children and grandchildren in the hands of the Lord and come on this amazing adventure.  That our hearts would be torn by the thoughts of leaving our new friends and fellow missionaries.  But as with all callings in the Church, the day comes when your are released.  How thankful I am today for my sweetheart and eternal companion and for all she has done to share her love with me and the people of Szeged and Bekescsaba.

Wedding 1974

 

 

Saturday, July 12 2014:  Well, our final weekend in Hungary is here and what a busy one it is going to be.  It was still raining this morning so we passed on a walk.  Too much to do anyway.  We showered and suited up so we could do our last apartment checks.  The Elders were first at 10:00 and then the Sisters at 10:30.  At 11:00 I drove the Sisters around for an hour to deliver invitations they had made for some inactive members and investigators who they wanted to invite to the baptism and church tomorrow.  I then came home and had some lunch before going to the branch house to set up the chairs and serving table for tonight.  I also went to get a few groceries.  Win was in the kitchen again most of the day making chocolate crackle cookies, jubilee jumbles and  brownies with peanut butter frosting for tonight and the lunch tomorrow.  She will also serve watermelon slices .  President and Sister Smith arrived a little early so the 8 of us missionaries drove out to the restaurant at Postelek at 5:00.  They had set up a table outside for us which was perfect.  There was a wedding party reservation also so it was good we got there early for dinner.  We had time after dinner to walk around a little and it was great that all the rain we have had finally stopped and the skies cleared.  At 7:00 we had the baptismal service.  There were 19 in attendance, 5 non members so we were pleased with that.  I was most grateful for E’s mother being there to support her.  I gave the opening prayer, Win gave the talk on baptism and Sister B gave the talk on the Holy Ghost.  About 7:45 we walked to the Spa and Elder S baptized E in a small tub like pool.  A few of the swimmers and bathers were curious about what was going on and watched from just a few feet away.  Win gave a man in a very skimpy swimming suit a pass along card.  We all walked back to the branch house about 8:30 and had Win’s delicious fruit soup and a whole array of treats.  The evening went very well and we are so happy for E.  We have worried and stressed over this day for a couple of weeks or more and it will be one of our fondest memories.  It was the best way we could have spent this last Saturday in Hungary and we got to share it with our great Mission President and his wonderful wife.  A few of the members stayed and helped us clean up afterwards.  We got home about 9:30.

Friday, July 11 2014:  We didn’t walk this morning because of the soaking rain that has come down all day.  Win gave me a hair cut first thing and then I took the Elders to a program with J & C at 10:00.  I met the Sisters at the branch house at 11:00 and they got onto the computer and typed up the baptismal program for tomorrow.  Before going home I picked up a suit at the dry cleaners.  Win has been in the kitchen all day making fruit soup and a big pot of navy bean and kolbasz soup.  She also made foil dinners for us for the next couple of days.  I continued picking away at the job of packing which is looking a little better but still not sure what all with go and what will stay.  At 4:00 Win and the Sisters had their last program with E before the baptism.  I asked the Elders and Sisters to divide up the branch list and give everyone a call to invite them to the baptism on Saturday and our farewell on Sunday.  The Elders called and reported back that we may have some people there we haven’t seen for a while.  R and I are hoping we will need the second water tray for the sacrament.  We shall see.  We learned this afternoon that there may be water coming from the Sisters apartment which is causing some serious damage to the ceiling of the apartment below them.  We contacted the landlord and sent some pictures of the damage to the Mission Office.  At 7:00 Win and I went over to clean the building so it will be ready for the baptism tomorrow.  I have taken so many pictures that I’m not sure if some have already been posted.  Below is the Museum, the Catholic Church, and the electronic bell monument.

Thursday, July 10 2014:  As soon as we got home from our walk Win baked banana nut muffins for our last district meeting with the Elders and Sisters at 10:30.  While she was doing her hair I walked to the Posta and to the ATM.  I only got 20,000 forints or $88.00 so I hope that will last us until we leave here next Tuesday afternoon and head up to Budapest.  Our district meeting was a little sad and emotional as Sister B and Win and I each had to give our parting thoughts.  All six of us shared some of our expectations about mission life vs reality.  Elder S’s training was from PMG p. 137.  I hope we will leave this area/district a little stronger than we found it.  The closing scriptures we talked about were Alma 26: 27,31,37.  After the meeting we walked to the FEK restaurant and had fruit soup and fried chicken with rice (rizi-bizi).  Win and I then drove the Sisters to a program with A at 2:00 and then went to LIDL for groceries.  Just as we finished our shopping, the Sisters called and we went back to pick them up.  We came home and I pulled the suit cases down from above the living room wall unit and started to lay things out for packing.  Win had a program with the Sisters and A at 4:00.  I got one suitcase packed while she was gone but it is overweight.  Win came home for some dinner at 5:00 and then we went back to the church for our last English class at 6:00.  Some of the class were in tears when Win got up at the end and said goodby to them.  Below is a picture of our district at lunch with fruit soup on the table and the profi English class.

Wednesday, July 9 2014:  Yesterday’s storm left some downed limbs and debris along the canal banks but the air was fresh and cooler this morning.  Win did some more ironing and laundry while I went to the dry cleaners and a grocery store.  At 1:00 Win and the Sisters had a program with T at the branch house.  Then at 4:00 Win and the Elders had a visit with our neighbor P.  At 5:30 I went with the Sisters to a program with the man and woman from the garage sale they visited with on Monday.  It was a great program.  They are among the nicest people I have meet here.  I would really like to continue having discussions with them but it is time for us to go and it will be very good for the couple who is taking our place to have programs with people who are so friendly.  We sat down in some chairs in their garage because the sale did not end till 6:00.  When I put my stuff on the garage floor under my chair, A said to put them on the little table.  I said it is ok if they are on the floor close to me and then she said, if you put your bag on the floor, your money will fall out and if you put your scriptures on the floor, they will run away.  The Sisters taught A & L the plan of salvation and asked me to share the story of my fathers death and how I know that I will see him and my mother again after I die.  When we left I gave L his own copy of the Book of Mormon and he was very appreciative.  The Sisters then went tracting for about 45 minutes while I went home to get Win and then back to take Win and the Sisters to a program with Z and her daughter J, who attends school at UNLV.  I went to pick Win and the Sisters up at 8:30 and they talked about Z and J all the way home.  J speaks perfect English and Sister B invited her to come to St. George and meet her family.  Z gave Win a bottle of jam as a going home gift.  During the program earlier with the Elders and our neighbor P, Win said P told them about a man we know in the next building who has just lost his job and does not have any food.  So Win boxed up some of the food we are trying to use up and we took it to him.  He speaks good English and accepted it graciously.  We did not let on that we knew of his current circumstances.  Below is a picture of a bar along the canal where people gather in the evenings.

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Tuesday, July 8 2014:  As if we have not been emotional enough these last few days, today was maybe the roughest.  Win ironed most of the morning, I walked and went to clean up the car before loading it up with our surplus clothes and stuff for the YSA auction.  Back when we had weekly FHE with our YSA group in Szeged, they each earned play money dollars to buy things we would not be taking home with us.  About 12:30 we drove to Szeged.  It was a nice drive for about an hour and then we encountered one of the most violent storms we have had here.  When we arrived in Szeged it was mostly over which was good.  From  3:30 to 5:00 we did our last apartment checks with the two sets of Elders and the Sisters there.  Then we went to Burger King for dinner and shopped for a new blouse for Win.  We also drove by the new branch building construction project and took a picture.  It is going to be so nice and such a great addition to the community.  At 6:30 we went to the branch house for a FHE reunion and auction with our YSA friends.  The tears started to flow as we greeted each one.  Most of the core group were there and we had a great time eating sweets and auctioning all the stuff we brought for them.  The item with the highest bid was a small tool devise that went for $30 and then a little flash light sold for a lot also.  Both blankets that Win made were hot items and the salt, pepper and sugar set from our old apartment got lots of bids.  The ranch dressing and hot chocolate mixes went for more money than we expected.  It was probably the hardest goodby we will have to experience here so it was good maybe to get that over with tonight.  We love each of them so much and they will be in our thoughts and prayers always.  We talked about them all the way back to Bekescsaba.  We got home about 10:30 and were surprised to see that our apartment door had been hit with a heart attack by the Elders and Sisters here.

Wildlife sightings: 1 stork, 2 rabbits