Saturday, November 27, 2010

Az elsö hó--the first snow

Look at what greeted us this morning! It was a combination of ice and snow so we'll have to wait for the sun to come out to get into the car. I may need to stop wearing my Florida pajamas when I go outside. The way I remember that hó means snow, I think of Santa saying "ho, ho, ho."

Would this be a good back up if we can't use the car?

When it gets cold, we are supposed to wear a "culturally appropriate hat." We went to TESCO to check them out. Which of these do you like the best?

How about a muff instead?

I decided to look around some more before I decide. How about this one I found at the Christmas market? Looks like something from Frontierland in Disney World, about right for a Floridaboy.

You can't get more authentically Hungarian than this! How about the fur coat? I'd probably scare away everyone I'd try to stop for a conversation.

I think I'll stick with the hat that my Hungarian missionary daughter Bonnie made for me--she thought it was "culturally appropriate."

Friday, November 26, 2010

Adventi koszorúk-Advent wreaths

Advent starts four Sundays before Christmas. Here is the branch Advent activity where everyone is making an Advent wreath.

Here Elder Müller is translating the instructions for Mom.

Dad's putting the finishing touches on our creation.

Here are some of the finished products. There are four candles. Each Sunday the family lights another candle and sings Christmas carols. This Christmas custom started in Germany.

Doesn't ours look lovely? Can you see the Florida touches? Slices of orange and boiled peanuts! Click on the picture for a closer look.

Hálaadó ünnep--Thanksgiving

Is that me up in the tree looking for the meat to serve for thanksgiving?

Are these sheep or goats? Whatever they are, I don't think they'll do.

I think we'll pass on the ham. This boar is a tall as I am and a lot stronger.

We'll grab one of these turkeys if we can get past the rooster guarding the flock.

Mom is surrounded by her Relief-Society-special turkeys waiting for the real thing.

Do you think this will make it to the table? You know the Thompson rule, whoever carves the turkey has first choice before it is served--just to test it out, of course.

The Haslems, the other couple in our zone, think we should start out with sticky buns.

No matter what we served, the fourteen missionaries dug right in. Our three German elders weren't quite sure what to make of the custom--especially the turkey and the pumpkin pie. (We forgot the cranberry sauce special ordered from America.) But they developed a taste for everything and were the last to leave.

Road Kill Apple Pie

Whenever we walk into town rather than take the bus, we pass this apple tree at the side of the road that is filled with apples. No one seems to claim it, so after the frost got the leaves off the tree and the fruit was falling to the ground, we decided to think of the apples as good old southern "road kill,"free food for the taker. If I jump, I can pull down the branch and get the apples.

Here mom is picking up those that are on the ground at the edge of the road.

I'm getting into the tree. Without the leaves it is easy to spot the apples.

Of course you know what they say about Mom and Apple Pie!

You can see that I agree entirely!! Free apple pie!! yum, yum!!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Quaint living?

I'm sure you've enjoyed looking at pictures such as this one of a narrow road with bright colored houses with window boxes right next to the street. Notice in the background that the street is taking the car right through the barn to continue up the steep hill.

But if you get out and walk around, as we did on our way to a service project, this is what you see.

How would you like this to be the entrance to your house?

Or this to be the wall by your back door?

Here are Elders Baumgartl and Muller helping Brother Horvath clear out the years of debris piled behind the house so he can get to the wall to plaster it and perhaps plant a garden in the spring. Now you know why ancient civilizations got buried. They didn't have elders willing to do service projects!

We spent two and a half hours shoveling and hauling debris to the dumpster. Mom says that projects like these will make sure that we have strong bones in our old age--all the better for building our log cabin when we get home.

Here's mom putting the final touches on the patio next to the sand that will be used to plaster the walls of Brother Horvath's house. You now know what lies behind the pretty walls that line the streets.

Teaching FHE

On Monday nights we have families over to teach them how to have family home evening in their homes. Of course, for Thompsons, food is a basic part of FHE. Here we are enjoying American hamburgers, hotdogs, and potato salad. We couldn't find any root beer. We wouldn't dare try to serve Hungarian food to these master chefs. We had the Edes (Sweet) family over tonight.

Now boys, don't fight over the food!

You might wonder how we communicate when no one here knows English and we know little Hungarian. You guessed it! Everyone carries a dictionary to keep the conversation going.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Do it yourself!

We got a call that three white boards that had been ordered before we even got to Hungary were being delivered immediately. Of course, the question was, who is supposed to put them up to replace the old ones? Me, a grammar professor, or my counselor, a top chef? Tibor, one of our English students is a professional window installer. He took pity on us and with Thompson Növer's able assistance got them up in no time after English class. Sorry that the picture is a bit blurry.

Forró csoki--hot chocolate

We're always trying out new ways to meet people. Here we're giving out free hot chocolate in front of the branch house. We wrote chalk arrows on the sidewalks everywhere to lead people to us. The message says "Free Hot Chocolate." Our best customer was one of our English students, Zsolt.

The weather warmed up too fast so the hot chocolate didn't go over too well. Better luck when another frost comes.

The weak things shall ...break down the strong

Here are two famous paintings about our ancestors that I like to show people to strike up conversations about the church and the power of the gospel. The first is of a Mormon missionary preaching to a Danish household about 1852. Yesterday we visited some members who live in similar poor conditions. In fact as I saw their house and sat teaching in it, I felt I was living in this picture.

Some debate if we should even teach the poor. I think the answer lies in the next picture. Some of both Caroly's and my ancestors were so poor when they joined the church that when they left Europe to come to Utah, they had to walk the thousand or so miles across the plains with handcarts because they couldn't afford oxcarts to haul them and their things. But when they got west, the gospel changed them and their descendants to be the wonderful people they are today. That's the miracle of the gospel--it changes people so that as the scriptures say "the weak things shall come forth...and break down the strong." (D&C 1:19)

Now the church tells the members to stay where they are. It's our task to patiently show them how the miracle of gospel works to change them and their children to make Hungary a better place. Yes, we need educated people filled with talent like the Apostle Paul to join the church, but we have to remember that Peter was just an uneducated fisherman before the gospel performed its miracle. That's my insight for the day from working with our wonderful members.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Pannonhalma--Hungary's biggest private library

When we go out to do apartment checks, on the way home we like to stop and see things that our Hungarian ancestors were involved with between 1000 and 1300. As you drive through the countryside south of Györ, you see this huge complex of buildings on top of a hill outside Pannonhalma. It houses a Benedictine monastery that was established by our royal ancestors in 1002 to help Christianize the Hungarians.

Here's the entrance.

As you can see, the complex has been built and rebuilt many times through the centuries as various wars took place in the area. The version today is less than 200 years old, much rebuilt in the past century and since the fall of communism in 1990 and houses a secondary boarding school for 300 students as well as a monastery for 50 monks.

Only a few things date back to when our ancestors visited the place. If you click on the picture, you can see the date. These faces represent some of the deadly sins and vices that that the monks needed to avoid. Which sins do you think these represent? Your guess is a good as ours.

Here is the baptismal font from the 1200s. Do you think you would fit in?

What we thought was most interesting was the library, built about 200 years ago. Are you reminded of Harry Potter and Beauty and the Beast?

It houses the largest private library in Hungary with over 400,000 volumes. When the Turks took over in the 16th Century and turned the complex into a mosque, much of the library went missing. When the monks returned a century later, they worked to replace as much as they could. If you click on this closeup, you can see how they protect the books behind a wire screen. They had portable dehumidifiers stationed throughout the room.

If you happen to daydream while in the library, perhaps this portrait on the ceiling of Minerva, the goddess of wisdom, will inspire you to get back to studying.

This doesn't seem to be a "working" library--more of a showpiece for tourists. They probably have the library that the monks and students use with computers and modern books elsewhere, though if you look closely at the pictures you can see doors that lead to hidden back rooms.