Saturday, December 31, 2011

It's meatball time!

We've been accused of having too much fun on our mission. But you know Thompsons, we can't miss having a good time while eating. We've had spiritual pizzas, spiritual tacos, spiritual volcanos, spiritual Cuban, and spiritual apple and cherry pie, among other things. We thought we'd end with spiritual meatballs--mhm good.

Our favorite party game is "word toss," a German game that caught our eye in the checkout lane of a grocery store. The way we play it is you throw the dice with the letters, then decide if your team is going to spell German, Hungarian, or English words. Then you turn over the egg timer and see how many words your team can spell in the chosen language. (You ignore accents.) This toss earned 42 points for Hungarian words.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Boldog szülinapot!

Today was Mom's 69th birthday. Why don't you sing along with Judit Halász the Hungarian birthday song.

Here we are at Mom's birthday dinner at Erika's. Earlier we had an birthday lunch at Judit's, the relief society president. Don't the stuffed cabbages and bread look delicious?

She got some wonderful presents, including the traditional horse calendar from Dad.

How do you like the enthusiastic cake cutting?

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Boldog karácsonyt!

We just finished our traditional Christmas eve caroling. We did 25 families. This year we gave all the members a bag of Florida oranges (from Greece) and their own family copy of the new green hymnal. They were thrilled--even a few tears as we sang from it. To the five nonmember families on our caroling route we gave big plates of brownies and oatmeal chocolate chip cookies fresh from the oven.

As we walked around we saw all sorts of manger scenes such as this gingerbread one...

and this marionette one.
But of course our favorite is this one in our living room under our tree.

Merry Christmas!

Christmas zone conferences

Since things slow down at Christmas time, we had an all day zone conference on Monday in Budapest with lots of fun Christmas activities. Caroly and I did some last minute shopping for things to take home to Florida next month.

Here are the missionaries in our zone relaxing in the family room of the mission home singing Christmas carols with Sister Baughman at the piano.

As I recall, here is President Baughman using a football analogy to inspire the elders. Right now for the first time there are no sisters in the zone except for Sister Thompson.

On the way home I quickly snapped this picture of a streetcar decked out in lights.

New pictures in chapel

We had six beautiful new pictures delivered to the chapel this week. It took a while to figure out where to hang them as there isn't a lot of wall space and the pictures were gigantic. This spot in the stairway looked perfect. I'm glad they sent someone to do the balancing act on the board taped to the ladder so it could be hung. He almost fell twice.

The final result looks great. I'm glad they don't let us climb ladders to do small chores. We'll see if the members notice the changes on Sunday.

Friday, December 9, 2011

A typical week with a senior couple in Sopron

Now that our mission ends next month, I'm sure you've wondered what a senior couple does during a typical week beside read, sleep, and study. Well, the week starts and ends at the chapel.

After the meetings on Sunday, this is the combination library, junior primary room, clerks office where I help count the tithing for the week.

Then on Monday, the first thing we do is go shopping with the elders. Since we have a car, we can take them to the less expensive stores away from the center of town.

Then we stop downtown to take the tithing money to the bank...

pay the church's bills at the post office...

and do other errands.

Here mom is practicing the piano for next Sunday and getting ready to give a piano lesson.

On Tuesday morning Mom does an exchange English lesson Hungarian lesson at the church with someone as part of her community service. You should hear mom's Hungarian progressing along.

Since we are at the church, we always check on the progress of our long promised lift.

Usually once a week we visit a member for a Hungarian cooking lesson. That's great help for learning Hungarian. Sometimes we have them over at our place. The missionaries usually join us later to help eat up the food.

On Tuesday evening we check up on how the seminary is doing...

and have some fun with the institute kids.

When we do our member visits, we usually end up eating some great Hungarian food. This is Judit, our relief society president.

All church deliveries are made to our house since we are the most likely ones to be home in the morning. You can see here that the new green church hymnal just arrived. We love singing from it--about 150 more songs than in the old book.

Here we are wandering through the fields and woods gathering thistles, pines cones, and natural things for a Christmas homemaking activity.

Of course, as long as we are out, we check on the road construction. They are building an underpass under our railroad tracks so we won't have to wait every 3 minutes for a train to pass to get from our side of town to the other.

Usually on Wednesday and Thursday mom makes pies or cookies to take to people on our visits. Here she is making apple and pumpkin pie for German and English class.

On Thursday we teach German and English conversation. This is the beginning German conversation class--taught completely in German. They love it. It's our biggest language class, between 15 and 20 every week. This week the flu has been going around so only 8 were there.

It's Friday already and time for the branch council.

Saturday is usually a branch activity of some sort. Here we are making advent table decorations using the things that mom collected in the fields and forests.

There's your sampling of the fun things we do during a typical week.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Is that you St. Nick?

Who's that coming in through the window? Why it's St. Nick, or Mikulas, as he is known in Hungary. He visits on December 6 and comes in through the window rather than down the chimney

Then he puts candy and chocolate in the shoes of good boys and girls.

This Mikulas is even giving the adults a chance to change their ways and be kinder so they can have some candy too.

Too bad grandpa was late to the party. He missed the whole thing ;-) At least grandma was there to take pictures.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Mom's Christmas present

Here I am petting the weasel that passes by our house in Sopron twice an hour. It's the commuter train to Vienna, 35 miles away.

We got permission to take it to Vienna for a special Christmas present for Mom.

When we got there, we found Santa practicing his Jingle Bells karaoke with an angel dressed in black checking the naughty and nice list. Mom was on the nice list, of course.

Of course, you'll never guess what she asked for...a horse. But Santa seems to have gotten the order a bit mixed up.

So we went to the Hofburg, the downtown palace of the Habsburgs, the rulers of Austria and Hungary until the end of World War I. Can you believe that the left side has a stable housing 72 horses, a magnificent riding arena and a horse training facility called the Spanish Riding School, all in the middle of town next to the most expensive stores and real estate? I guess the Emperor can bend the zoning laws.

When you go left around the corner, the performance arena is on the right, the stables on the left.

Here's a look inside the inner courtyard holding the stables for the horses in training. They muck the stalls once an hour 24 hours a day to keep their coats white. They say that is easier than washing the horses. On the right you can see the pit where they put the horse "droppings."

Mom insisted that we show this one.

We'll let you decide which of these was Mom's favorite during the performance.