Sunday, March 27, 2011


Why did Caroly make a chocolate cake with the colors of the German flag (black, red, and yellow)...

and a spice cake with the Hungarian colors (red, white, and green)? (The whipped cream frosting was heavenly.)

Why did people bring lots of sandwiches...

put balloons and streamers with the German and Hungarian colors everywhere...

then sit around waiting?

Because the first missionary sent out from Sopron just came home from Hamburg, Germany! Here is Caroly welcoming Elder Istvan Bordas, better known locally as Öcsi (Urchi).

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Warm winds

We woke up this week with the winds blowing from another direction. This weather vane wasn't much help. The missing N means west. Based on that, we'll let you decide what the E, D, and K stand for. I think the swan may be frozen in position.

However, it has been in the 50's and 60's the last few days and flowers are popping up everywhere. Here are a few that we saw near our house on our walk downtown. Tulips should soon be blooming everywhere.

They have been selling pussy willows on the streets everywhere for several weeks now.When we drove to Szombathely to speak on Sunday, there were people stopped along the side of the road to cut their own in the wild. They are the first signs of spring in Hungary.

When we lived in Hungary twenty years ago, we loved following the Hungarian tradition of using them as the base for an Easter egg tree. Here's ours. We figured, why wait until Easter? We might as well enjoy the visual delight now.

Here's what our eggs look like close up.

Here's what the pussy willows look like at the next stage in the field if they haven't been cut to stop their growth--large white puff balls. When the green leaves come out, the balls disappear and they look just like willows.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bonnie in Szombathely

On Sunday we spoke in Szombathely where Bonnie served on her mission in late 1999 and early 2000. We took pictures from her missionary days, including this one that used to hang in our ward chapel to remind people to write to her, to see if anyone remembered her.

We already showed you this picture of Agi, who has Bonnie's name in her special missionary registry in the back of her Book of Mormon.

Mom was in charge of checking the memories of people while I was doing branch business for Sopron with the district leadership so she found all sorts of people before I could get my camera to get some pictures. The woman on the right, Katalin Nemeth, remembered Bonnie right away--Bonnie taught her the gospel so she has warm memories of her. She was baptized 2 May 2000 after Bonnie left. The other woman remembered Bonnie too but I didn't get the name.

The woman on the right next to mom says that she moved to Szombathely just about the time Bonnie started serving there so she remembers her well too. The blond on the left is the branch president's wife, Sister Lazar. She came after Bonnie but Mom wanted to include her in the picture. Sorry that I was too busy to get more memory pictures.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Deb and Eric visit

Eric and Debbie were the first to come visit us this time in Europe. We thought we'd have a good Thompson breakfast of squash and eggs before the day's adventures.

We stopped at an abandoned border guard tower to see if we could find Hungarian freedom fighters. I think Debbie spotted one.

It looks like Eric and the most famous freedom fighter of all Szechenyi were separated at birth.

Here they are, welcoming everyone escaping from communism.

Debbie is showing one of the ways they escaped once they removed the mine fields and turned off the electric fences.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Welcome home surprise.

The first missionary sent out from our branch is coming home next week. To surprise him, his family decided to repaint the apartment. The elder's quorum volunteered to help. Does this look like a cheery crew? Papa Istvan is on the ladder. Below him are Elder Wiborny from Germany, big sister Andi, Caroly, Peter, the elder's quorum president, and Elder Müller from Switzerland.

What we lacked in painting skills we made up for with enthusiasm.

All that work tired out our supervisor.

Hidden surprises!

Most of the members of the Sopron branch live walking distance of the church, which is in the middle of downtown. You might wonder where they live, since in the USA people don't live downtown. Take a close look at this building built in 1818 (if we can read our Roman numerals correctly.)

Mom and the Elders are showing us a hidden door in the front under the balcony between two businesses.

Inside it opens up to a courtyard with children playing and apartments on the second floor (first floor in Hungarian.) The doors on the ground floor are mostly the back doors of the businesses that line the surrounding streets.

Here they are trying out the well water. Notice the children's sled to the side.

Mom has discovered the grand staircase to the apartments on the next level.

Guys, don't shut the gate to the stairs and leave me behind!

These hidden surprised are everywhere and are often shortcuts through the blocks. Exploring them is part of the adventure of walking around downtown.

1848 Hungarian Revolution

March 15 is 1848 Hungarian Revolution Day commemorating when the Hungarians rebelled against the Austrian attempt to kill the Hungarian language and the Hungarian culture. Szechenyi was one of the heroes of this revolution.

On this day there are Hungarian flags and colors everywhere...

even on lapels.

Anyone who has a uniform, old and young alike, seems to be wearing it.

Here you can see all the flags and the wreathes that various patriotic groups are placing at the base of Szechenyi's statue in Sopron.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Nönap--woman's day

March 8 is Woman's Day, when Hungarian men are supposed to give flowers to the women. Our girls loved the holiday when we lived in Hungary in 1990. It was more of a communist holiday that isn't as popular today. But the Apostle Paul said to "prove all things and hold on to the best," and we think this is one of the best to hold on to. So Caroly and I took tulips to all the women in the branch in a 5 hour "flower-thon". Of the 25 we visited, only one wasn't home--all were surprised and thrilled. We attached from Proverbs 31:10 "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above the rubies."

Our camera ran out of battery power, so I had to recharge and take this picture at home so you could see the tulips we delivered. Caroly had already received the orchid and the poinsettia.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Rozsi néni's baptism

Do you remember the earlier blog of us with our 89 year old member missionary Gizi néni who would go with the missionaries every week to teach 78 year old Rozsi néni? You might remember the blog about them eating at our house with Rozsi néni's dog Bambi. Well, here are the two of them at Rozsi néni's baptism on Saturday. Gizi is on the left.

The only time we can rent the spa pool for baptisms is 9 at night so only about a third the branch made it on this cold night when public transportation is shutting down.

When we got to Gizi néni's apartment complex at 10:30, she invited everyone in the car to come up for a quick visit. Since we are trying to get the members to visit each other and form lasting friendshops by interacting more outside of church, we accepted. I figure that if they look at each other as friends, they will look at home teaching and visiting teaching as fun visits with friends rather than a "duty" that you hate to do.

Gizi néni brought out the "kiddie champaigne" (bubbly pear juice). When I couldn't get the cork off, the comment was "I can tell you don't drink!"

Then she brought out the traditional Hungarian kolbasz (sausage) and a huge machete-like knife. The Hungarian way is for the guest (I was the first) to hold on to the end of the kolbasz, while the host whacks off a huge piece in mid air with one quick blow, much like a pirate whacking off someone's arm--or like Ammon whacking off arms in the Book of Mormon. If you click on the picture for a close up, you can see Gizi néni holding the kolbasz and machete girl Caroly holding the knife. Believe me, it was a scary experience!

Here I'm demonstrating how to eat your chunk of kolbasz, alternating with a bit of bread.

My excuse for cutting the fun time short at about midnight was "Gizi néni, I'm the branch president. I HAVE to be at church early tomorrow morning and I expect all of you to be there too."

They were all there, still giggling about the fun time we had together, the first time they had ever visited each other at home.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Righteous dudes

Caroly, I know it is P-day, but missionaries can't go swimming, even in shallow Lake Fertö. Besides, you are so righteous and have so much faith, I bet you can walk on water.

I said "Walk on water" not "Run." Slow down! I can't keep up!

Look! Even the missionaries can do it!

Whoops! I sense a momentary lack of faith.

Elders Müller and Wiborny are showing that calm faith does it.

For you doubters who think that grandma can't walk on water, click on the picture and you'll see that grandma is walking on the water over to some swans swimming around.

Look! Grandpa can even sleep on water!