Monday, February 27, 2012

Amazing Experience

We had an experience that moved me deeply today.  I have, over the years, read a lot about the "iron curtain" and the effects it had on people on both sides.  Today Shauna, Elder Olsen, Elder Bullock and I drove ten minutes from our apartment to the Austrian Border, where the first breach took place in allowing people to move from Hungary to Austria.  We took so pictures we will share with you.

This is just on the Austrian side of the boarder and recounts day, the 19th of August, 1989 when the first people moved over the boarder, right by where we stood.

This is the border, looking back into Hungary.  There is a park created here, but apparently when this the gate opened, thousands flocked across the boarder, tasting freedom for the first time in many years.

This statue sits in the middle of the park.  It graphically illustrates the "coming down of the wall", and the power that created it.

Notice the dividing of the building and in the middle you see a rock.  They said that rock came from the Berlin Wall, that went down shortly later.  I guess it was a symbol of the complete removal of that barrier that stood for so many years.  

There sits a former guard tower, where soldiers watched to prevent people from crossing into freedom.  

 This what the part looked like after everyone had left.  People left the cars and everything else just to get to freedom.  Notice all the abandened cars there.  I will attach a few other random photos from the park there.

Perhaps it was just me, but I felt a strong sense of appreciation for what we have always enjoyed.  What we saw here is the place where so many people got to taste freedom.  What went through my mind was all those people who so desperately wanted freedom that attempted to cross the boarder that stretched from Northern Germany to Southern Europe, and lost their lives in the process.  Freedom is fragile and so easily lost, and too often we treat it too lightly.  Anyway, it was an amazing experience for us.  I love the USA.  But I love being here so much also.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The car

We love having a car and it was very dependable through the first three weeks of our mission but then it decided it had been good enough through the cold spell and started to not want to move. I can relate to that. It acted like the emergency brake was on all the time. After it was warmed up then it would be ok. Steve took it to the dealership a couple of times but they didn't know what the problem was. They did change the oil but strangely that wasn't the problem.

The check engine light came on and Elder Bagozzi told us to take it back to the mission home so he could get it checked out.

So a trip to the car wash was in order.

Lucky for us they spoke German and could say roll up your windows!

Ah, there is a world out there, this car was really dirty!

Steve finished by using the vacuum to get the rocks out of the car. I would say sand but these are really big pebbles they scatter on the road.

We headed straight east to Budapest.

We got into some haze that is hard to see on the picture and then heavy fog before we got to the mission home. The check engine light went off on our way there so Elder Bagozzi said to keep the car because it was better than the one he was going to trade us for.

The one good thing that came out of our trip is that we got to meet the Cromar's who just got in from California. We are no longer the new kids on the block. The office elders took us to a government office to apply for our visas. The stack of papers they got ready for each of us was twenty pages. Hopefully there won't be any problems in getting our visa. We realized today that we came through Amsterdam without going through customs, I sure hope they let us go home  when the time comes.

The First Sewing Class

The branch has a new sewing machine. It is a Singer Machine. We decided to make rice bags for the cold nights. We probably should have each made several to last through the season.

Our first victim was Csilla. She was a great sport and it is basically impossible to ruin a rice bag.

Anna was our second RS sister to take a crack out sewing and she was excited with the finished product and made two more. One for the RS president, who helped fill the rice bags, and one for the branch president. We made ten bags in all.

Elder Bullock decided that he would like one for his aching back. I hesitated to tell him that is going to take more than a rice bag to help backs that sleep on a board and four inch foam pad. Trust me Steve and I know this.

Elder Olsen also needed one and he knew his way around the sewing machine.

It was also the primary activity a dress up party kind of like Halloween. They had two leaders in there and two primary age children and Bianka, the one young woman in the branch.

These are Csilla's sons, Fetzo and Laszlo. They came because it was also cleaning the branch house day. That is why the missionaries are in casual clothes. It is the first time I have worn my jeans outside the apartment.

This picture includes Peter and his wife Timea behind him. He is the only counselor in the branch presidency and keeps busy keeping us doing what we are suppose to be doing. He teaches English and interprets for us when we speak.

And last but not least Sandor with Elder Olsen. He came to help with the cleaning. Between the cleaning, sewing and party a good time was had by all.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Something to make us smile

Our apartment came supplied with everything including dishes. These are our favorite glasses to use every morning for our cherry juice. Sometimes Steve has orange or apricot or peach or multivitamin or apple or the blend. It is the glasses that make us smile with the saying across the top and up the side "I love dog". We can't decide if he loves his dog or if he is thinking I would love to eat this dog. There are more than a few that we would like to have eaten in our neighborhood. It would sure be a lot more quiet if these dogs would learn sign language. I am pretty sure that I don't
 love dog!
FYI: dog in Hungarian is kutya

Sunday, February 19, 2012

1st Speaking Assignment in Papa

We left for Papa (not your Mama) at 7:00 this morning. Lucky for us we only had to stop for one train on our way to the main drag of Sopron. We will blog about that another day. This is the outside of the church which we never would have found without Bess. Bess is the name of our GPS and her favorite phrase so far is "you are going over the speed limit". I think Steve has tuned her out.

We have speaking assignments every other month and have three places we need to speak at, Sopron,
Papa and Szombathely. The translator today was a counselor in the branch who had served his mission in Boise, Idaho. He spoke very good English. Steve bore his testimony at the end in Hungarian and I just stuck with English. We both tried to use a little humor but that did not go well at all. Steve told them that it would be easier for him if they all learned English. 

They have a two hour block and most of the time it is Sacrament Meeting and RS/Priesthood but sometimes they have Sunday School. I played the piano for RS. Elder Johnson from San Antonio played the piano for Sacrament Meeting and no one led the music. The people really sing out in our meetings.

This is the road that the church was on, like I said we never would have found it by ourselves.
On the way out of Papa we stopped at an old church and took a few pictures.

We love the statues on everything'

All the cemeteries (2) are by a church. They are really crowded. We hear people of dying to get in!
Sorry, I just had to throw that in.

This well was just inside the gate of cemetery. We weren't thirsty so we didn't try it.

There is a church in every town but not many of them look like they are being used.

We saw this one which actually had cars in front of it. Not very many people have cars but the ones that do seem to have newer ones.

Don't they look like merry fellows?

We saw lots of farmland today and even saw a rabbit hopping through a plowed field.
It was 90 kilometers from Sopron to Papa and took an hour and a half to get there. We sure enjoyed the ride. The weather is warmer now.I don't even zip my coat up most days.

We wanted to share with you how we know what town we are in. This is Csorna pronounced Chorna. Do you wonder how we know what town we are leaving?
We love it!

 Every single town has these signs so now not only do we  know where we are going but where we have been.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Washing Day

Washing day at our home is Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday if necessary! I wanted to share the process.

This is our washing machine.
 She sits between the sink and the shower in our bathroom.We know that the machine is female because she works really hard and is not quiet while she works.
The first thing we need to do is plug her into the only outlet in the bathroom, which I might add took more than a minute or two to find, since it is in the medicine cabinet!

Next we open up the lid and then open up the inner chamber to put in our dirty clothes

and then add the soap, I really don't think it matters what slot it goes in because I have yet to figure out how it gets out of there!

Then we close the lid

and try to decide what setting we want. The landlady said that the instruction book is lost and her trying to explain it got me as lost as the book. Do I want the cotton plant or the cotton plant with the bird beak or maybe just the bird beak?  After the bird beak we have the shower icon then a circle drawing starting in the middle and going round and round so I think that might be the spin cycle. At last we come to the word we all know, "stop". I think that means that the laundry is done. You will also notice the buttons to the left, one is for 1/2 a load and the other says 95 degrees. I think that means that the water would have to be 95 degrees before it went in the washer which is something we have never seen yet. But then we have only been here four weeks!

We try hard not to wash our hands while the washer is going so we don't electrocute ourselves It takes about two hours to run a cycle and a little longer if we turn off the bathroom light which turns off the power to the washer.

This is when Steve takes over and finds the warmest spot in the house, which is sometimes a long process, puts up the dryer and goes to work. This is why I say that we do laundry on two, and sometimes three, different days. Our dryer is not as efficient as the washer. The mission home did have a dryer but they do not vent them to the outside here in Hungary. The water collects in a container that you take out and empty after each load dries. In the summer we may move our dryer to our small deck if it will fit.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A trip back to Budapest

Before we start to blog about our return to Budapest I would like to share our experience at church today. Steve leads the singing and I play the piano. The branches in Hungary just got the green song in December. Before that they had a small spiral bound song book. The problem we have is that we have no idea what songs are on what page. I usually can pick out what song we are singing after I play a couple of measures. Today Elder Olsen was picking out the hymns and he suggested "Outside the City's Big Walls" for the sacrament song. I told him I have never heard of that song and he said everybody knows that song and he handed me the book. It was "There Is a Green Hill Far Away". He did admit that was it did not translate well. The next funny thing was when Rebecca, a new member of the branch, was giving her talk on songs, she asked if I would come up and play the song on page 78. It is always such a big surprise to see what song it is. She said that her roommate had taught it to her this week. It was "If You Could Hie to Kolob" the first couple of lines went ok but she learned a whole different tune for the third line. After the first time through I just played a couple of notes through that part. Oh well!

Friday was Elder Olsen's birthday and it was also the day that Pres. and Sister Baughman came to Sopron for a meeting with all five of the missionaries here. They are so great and brought such a great spirit with them. After the elders talked about each of their investigators we headed to the all you can eat chinese restaurant. It was great to have another female to visit with during dinner. After, we all came back to our home and had cake and ice cream.

President Baughman gave permission for the elders to go to Budapest to a baptism of Peter who Elder Olsen had helped give discussions. They asked if we would take them and they would show us some of the sights. We had just filled up our little Opel on Thursday for a mere $78, it only holds 10 gallons. We figure we should be able to make it until next Thursday. We left Sopron at 8:30 and got in Budapest at 11:00. We first went to a big indoor market. It had three floors and everything from meat, spices, fruits, and vegetables to beautiful hand embroidered tablecloths. We are definitely going to have to come back to this place before we leave. The only bad part was that it was colder than it was outside.

We crossed the Danube several times and the bridges are amazing. It was a bit foggy on Saturday but we can get better pictures in the summer.

We then went to the mission home where we could park the car for free and walked three or four blocks to a Mexican Restaurant and had a big burrito. The best part about this place was that I didn't have to figure out which restroom was for the girls.

We then took the Metro to the Parliament Building. The front faces the Danube River but we didn't get a good shot of that. It has 691 rooms and 242 sculptures inside and out. It has identical sides and one hall is used for tours and the other for political meetings.

Yes, I did stay warm, and thanks for asking!

This is just to the right of the Parliament Building, its is a guy on a horse, I know it is profound but it was too far away to go read the stuff and it was probably in Hungarian anyway. Another warmer day and you may get more information. 

This is the Hungarian flag, Steve was trying to get a picture of it blowing in the wind but it was one of those brief moments when the wind had died down. When the Soviets took over they put their star and sickle in the center of the flag. When Hungary was liberated they cut the center out of their flag.

This is a seven foot statue of Ronald Reagan, it was unveiled in June of 1911. The Hungarian people were very grateful for his stand on bringing the cold war to a conclusion. Pretty cool! This statue is on Freedom Square and faces the Soviet Monument below.

This monument was erected when the communists freed Hungary in 1944-45. Most of the Hungarian people feel like it should be moved to Statue Park with the rest of the Soviet Statues.

Here is a closer view.

This picture is of one of the buildings that surrounds Freedom Square.
and another

and two more!

This is a picture of the center of the parliament building from Freedom Square.

We have no idea who this is a statue of but we now have a picture!

A man and his dog, we haven't quite figured out the significance of the arm straight out but we will let you know if we find out! This was in the metro center and we know that it is the stop we are suppose to get out at because of the dog.

This is the escalator when we are about half way going up. It is the longest one in Europe.
The baptism was great, they have three strong wards in Budapest with great leadership. We are having Elder Christofferson come on March 8th to talk to the missionaries and in June Hungary is hosting a nine country YSA conference for five days. The church is amazing. Sorry this is a long blog but it is my scrapbook when we get home.