Friday, March 30, 2012

Fried Brains!

We are not sure how smart it is to post this blog as our kids might have us committed before we even get home but this is too funny not to share. We have been studying a lot of hours on the language this week so our brains might be worn out. We are really digging deep for an excuse for this one!

It was transfer week so we too Elder Bullock and Elder Wright (Elder Wright just transferred here) to Tesco to get a few groceries. We have been to three stores already this week so we only needed two thing. Steve went to get a paper to write down what we needed. I said we can remember two things all we have to remember is that they start with M & S. We picked up the elders and got to Tesco and picked up the milk. M is for milk, right? Then we just wandered around the store trying our hardest to remember the S word that we needed. We were quite sure that it was a non-food item because we had been to three food stores already. We finally came up with the idea that we could ask the elders to tell us all the things that start with S and if they guessed the right one we would buy them a candy bar. No, not soap, not shampoo, not steak. It was taxing our brains as you can see by the picture above.

We had been home about two hours when we remembered that it was a spray bottle for our ironing.  Is there any hope for these two brains to learn Hungarian?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A week in the life of Elder and Sister Flammer

I thought it would be fun to let you see what a week is like for us in Sopron.

Last Sunday we were assigned to speak in Szombathely. This is a very friendly branch that is about an hour and a half from Sopron. It would be closer if we could go through Austria but we are not suppose to leave Hungary. We are going to ask for permission to drive that way because we will be going there more often for YSA. 

After the meetings Sister Szvoboda invited us to their home for lunch along with the four missionaries that serve in that city. They feed the elders every Sunday night. They have nine children and three of them are on missions now. They lived in Vietnam for five years. He is Hungarian and she is Swiss. They are a  great family.

This is a picture of the back of their home.

Monday night we went to the Filharmonia Concert with Richard and Eta. He teaches English at the university and she is now our Hungarian teacher. This is a picture of the back of her head. The performance was really good. Actually, the picture is of the performers  and Eta's head. I will get a front shot soon.

The concert hall is in the middle of Sopron and was once owed by a wealthy Hungarian but when the Communists took control of Hungary they used it for their leaders. It was renovated in the last couple of years and is a nice concert and art building.

On Monday, after we took the elders shopping, we stopped by a place that said Bali Beauty. Because of Steve's ability to speak German we were able make appointments for him to get his hair cut and for me to get mine colored. This took place on Tuesday with just a little hitch, Steve's cut took 15 minutes and mine color took an hour and a half. I know for a fact that next time I will be going by myself to Bali Beauty. The color is darker than I have ever been but it beats "mouse gray". One strange thing is that there was a dentist office in with the beauty salon. I am thinking that next time I could get my teeth worked on while the color is doing its thing.

Our good friend Eva came Tuesday afternoon and we started THE quilt. Eva has been so good to us and speaks very good English. She lived in Pennsylvania for a couple of years. Her ability to speak English and Hungarian has helped Steve out a lot in his German and English classes. We didn't want to stop sewing but Richard and Eta and their son came to dinner that night.

Our land lady wanted this tree moved from the back yard to the front yard so Steve worked on it on Thursday. What a guy!

Elder Olsen and Elder Bullock came over on Saturday morning to help make the move. We just hope that there is not a strong wind anytime soon.

Eva came back over on Saturday morning and we were able to finish the quilt. Now we need to figure out how to get some seven and eight foot boards to our house for some quilting frames. I told Steve that we could just carry them home from OMI, it is only a couple of miles from where we live. He thinks that we can bring them in the car. No one that we know has a truck here.

Elder and Sister Gudgill were assigned to speak in our Sopron Branch today 
so they came on Saturday in time to join the English Club. On our way to dinner we met Tibor who is in the English class. He is one of the nicest guys we could ever meet. He let us see is garden. Steve will blog more about him and his talents another time. 

This is part of  the stone wall in his back yard that was build around Soporn hundreds of years ago.

I forgot to say that on Monday we went to lunch to celebrate our anniversary of our engagement 42 years ago. Steve had this idea last week but we didn't have time to go. The food was great and the ice cream menu looked really good with the fresh raspberries on it. It was still cute with canned fruit cocktail and the ice cream is very yummy here. We probably won't blog about the day we did a taste test to see which place has the best ice cream until we are sure we have tasted them all. Two in one day was really great!

This was in the entry way of the restaurant we ate at, I wanted Steve to get on it but he wouldn't even stand by it. Anyone hungry for wild boar?

 We saw this motorcycle at the Sopron Mall. Pretty cool wouldn't you say? We also made three pans of brownies to deliver to branch members and other friends during the week. We had paparika chicken at the branch presidents home yesterday which was delicious.  Game night on Friday night at the branch house was great where my team creamed Steve's team in pictunary. We do  need to come up with some new games soon. 
We are loving being in Sopron with such great people.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Hungary's Day Off

We were told there is one holiday each month where everyone is supposed to NOT have to work.  That was yesterday.  There was a meeting at the City Office Building, which we went to.  It is the one below.

It was impressive as we were walking toward this, they had started the meeting, so we were late.  We could hear a choir singing a song, and people were stopped.  So we stopped also. Someone told us their national anthem sounded "like a death march".  They were right.  We couldn't get too good of pictures because of the number of people.  It's interesting to note there was something in the middle of the plaza there where people could not be, so a lot of people were not very close.  They had a prayer and then a man spoke about ????????????????.  It was interesting to watch the people.  After the speech they had a group dance and a couple of songs.   That is when we left.  This building is in the "down town" area, where there are a lot of tourist attractions, old buildings, some roman ruins, statues, etc.  So we left and walked around there.  Following are a few of the pictures we took.

We were still there, but wanted to take this picture of a "typical Hungarian" outfit.  Someone told us he was a student.  A lot of people had a small ribbon on their shirts, like the one you can see on the fellow in the background.  

This, I believe, is part of an old Roman wall.  Following is another picture of this same area.

These below are not part of the ruins.  

We see this a lot with the double doors.  The one above this is closed and this is open, just in case you didn't notice.  It is usually a driveway back into a courtyard, where other apartments are.  There are a lot of these on busy streets, and it interesting to see how people negotiate their ways into the driveways.  

There are a lot of statues like this around.  That is my handsome bride standing there detracting from the beauty of the statue.  Notice the cobblestones all around.  Mostly that is what we walked on back in that part of town.  You can see they are renovating what they call the "Fire Watch Tower" in the background."  Apparently that was a very important item when it was built.

There were setting up this outdoor restaurant.  This is one of the first days it would be warm enough to eat outside.  

Try to read the second menu item down.  They were written in Hungarian, German, and English.  The second group English item was interesting.  In case you can't read it I will tell you what it says:  "Cold goose liver in its own fat, with purple onions and toast."  I had to work on it, but I was able to pass it up.

I accidentally took this picture of my foot, but it will show you that I am still upright, most of the time.  It is also a testament of my photography skills, which I want to impress you with.  Plus it IS my best side.

This is an excavation of some ruins, Roman I think.  I thrill when I see stuff like this.  That is a cat you can see on the left side towards the bottom.  Yes, they do have cats in Hungary and dogs!

These are just a few more of the ruins.  You can tell how exhausting it must be.  Notice which one of us is upright, and which is not.  I never walk by these that I don't think, "There was a time when people walked these very walkways, kids played here," and it was obviously a very long time ago that  they were here.  

These are just a few random pictures of places we went.  I am always thrilled to see old stuff.  There are castles, old churches, etc.  in the area we are going to try to get to in the course of our mission.  When we talk to the native people here about all the history there is around them, they are just so "ho-hum" about it.  There is still a great deal of this area we want to explore.  Again, this is in the middle of Sopron.  There is a road that goes all around this area, which is approximately two blocks long and one block wide.  There are stores all around the "Centrum" as they call it, and people live in apartments in the middle of it.  One of our members live there.  I have gained a whole new respect for the Hungarian People.  A missionary lent me a book called, "The Bridge at Auchon."  It is a blow-by-blow account of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, and the Russians quelling it.  The Hungarians have a long history of "always choosing the wrong side to be on," as one Hungarian friend put it.  Just one other quick thought:  On Wednesday night I attended a "English Club", instituted by an American who lives here.  It was an interest accumulation of people, each wanting to practice their English.  We all ordered drinks, and I was able to wow them all by spilling my drink down my sweater and pants.  They were all impressed.  It really was fun.  One of the men I sat next to had been a singer on cruise lines and had been all over the world.  He lost his voice, so he can't sing any more, but he is 62, so that isn't so bad.  There were about 20 people there, and several of them came from Austria to be there.  It was just an interesting evening.  
Your comments are appreciated.

Monday, March 12, 2012

An Apostle in Hungary!

It has been four years since there has been an apostle in Hungary so it was a big deal to all the members here.

This is the only picture that I took, this is all the missionaries trying to find a place to sit. It was all so good I forgot to take any more pictures so this will mostly be a writing blog. I may throw in some random pictures to keep you awake.

We picked up Peter and Timea, the counselor in the branch presidency and also the RS president, Judit. She packed a lunch for all of us which was good as there wasn't much time when we got to Budapest to
get something. We left at 9:00 and got to the stake center at 12:30. Budapest is a big city. The picture below is of Timea and Peter. The picture above is of the RS president Judit.

Our meeting was suppose to start at 1:30 but Elder Christofferson  had met with the counselor over religions in Hungary and thanked him for being instrumental in recognizing our church as an official church in Hungary now, so he and Elder Kopischke and President Baughman didn't get to the stake center until 2:15.They invited all the missionaries to shake their hands and tell where we are from and where we are serving. Elder Christofferson started his part with a question and answer session. He said that we could ask him anything except about the three Nephites. He said they never call, they never write. We thought that was pretty funny. The missionary meeting finished up at 4:00 and the Priesthood leadership meeting started at 5:00 and all the sisters met in the cultural hall and had a question and answer period with Sister Christofferson and Sister Kopischke. They had all the same problems with RS and Young Women as the wards back home.

Here is your 1st random picture, Steve promised me he would buy me a hat like this before we go home. They are the "in" thing over here but I might need to be a little older to wear one.
Back to the meeting, at 7:30 we met with all the church members in Hungary that could come. There were about 550 to 600 members there and there are around 5000 in the whole country. Our little branch had 15 members there. Elder Christofferson gave an amazing talk and told us that the church has not forgot Hungary and that is why he is here. He said that he was blessed to be here with a people that have been too long without the rays of the gospel. He talked a lot about Joseph Smith and all that has happened since his 1st prayer. He also gave an apostolic blessing on the members. I would have to say that is was an amazing experience to be there. We didn't get back home until 12:30 but it was well worth it.

PS: The church is going to invite the Hungarian Religious Counselor to speak at BYU sometime. It is a big deal to have the church recognized as an official church. They has a TV camera man at the meeting to film the first part and most people here are following the election with a Mormon candidate. They know more than we do about what is happening in America.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Our "P" day,

Each Monday is the Elder's P day, so we drive so they can show us some of the neat things around.  I thought we would take you on a pictorial tour of our neighborhood, and a little bit of downtown, on the way to the Branch House.

This is our home. We live on the left side.  We hired Robert Redford to stand up there...  We believe this is also a "Bed and Breakfast" as there is an apartment up stairs with nice stuff in it like a tall frig and a real washer, but they haven't said anything about that to us. It may have something to do with the fact we can't speak their language, and they can't speak ours.  Shauna was standing out in the street to take this picture.  The next two pictures will be as she turns right, and then around down the street.

This is the road we go down to get into town.  There are some pretty nice houses around here.

This house is right across the street. What you don't see here is the millions and millions of dogs hidden in the brush so they can bark at all times of the day and night.

This is the street that leads into "downtown" Sopron.  This is one of the bigger streets in downtown. 

This is the street our branch house is on.  Look at how close the sidewalk is to the street.  We were going down the street yesterday when a little kid on a trike was coming towards us on the sidewalk on the right.  It scared the heck out of me because he was riding right next to the road.  If he would have fallen off into the road..... well  I don't really want to think about that.  Some people drive really fast, even down narrow roads like this.

  This is the a church in Harka.  It is a small town close to the border.  I will show you some pictures of it below.

This statue tells that the town was originally names Harka then was changed to Magrarfartra by mistake in 1947 but in 1990 it was restored to  Harka.

It is a small village but has two churches.

 We then went a couple of kilometers further and came to the Austrian border,  The area is grape vineyards almost as far as the eye can see.  Below will give you a little information about them in the green part and it is in English. There are these small statues all over Hungary to remind us what the dominant church is and it isn't ours.

 We went into a store, one of the bigger ones in Sopron, and they had a display of wines from Sopron. Apparently it is a pretty big business. Three rows in the grocery stores.  

This is the Austrian side.

This is the Hungarian side

.The town are always compact.  You don't see a lot of farm houses in the country.  That is the way it is in all of Europe I have seen.  But everything is well manicured.

This is the border between Austria and Hungary. You can see how intimidating it must of been to cross. We are sure it looked different back then.

This is a small guard house that sits right on the Austrian side of the border.  This is also Shauna doing her impression of Adolph Hitler.  That is one good lookin Hitler.  It is such a privilege to be here.  It is an experience never to be forgotten.  We sure do appreciate the support of all of you.  Your comments really help us.  Thanks so much for being who you are.

PS.  Our prayers have been answered.  This is the beauty salon where Shauna got her hair cut. It is just a couple of blocks from our home on a street where there are just houses and then a little shop. Shauna was happy to have it done, and with the hair cut. It is amazing how one can communicate without words. We think they call it charades in America, here we call it survival!

Steve let me edit this so I thought it would be good to put one more picture of the cute guy!