Saturday, July 23, 2011


The branch hadn't heard of pioneer day so we thought that for the Elder's Quorum activity this month we'd do some pioneer day activities since both Caroly's and my ancestors pulled handcarts across the plains. Of course, we couldn't find handcarts for a nice pull.

However, we made some nice bonnets and cowboy scarfs. Don't our Hungarian pioneers look great?

We pretended we had taken a lunch break from pulling our carts to first have a stick pull...

and then play pick up sticks.

How's this for an action shot of a wheelbarrow race?

It stopped raining long enough for a tug of war...

a three legged race (on closer inspection I think the winners cheated!)...

a watermelon seed spitting contest (the women said "I don't spit.")...

and an egg on a spoon race.

The cook said the pioneer food was ready so we went back to the chapel and chowed down on white bean soup and bread and milk with blueberries and currents--all pioneer favorites according to our consultant Aunt Gwen.

New Missionary

There's our new missionary Elder Beaumont from Canada on the right being treated to McDonald's hamburgers with his companion Elder Wright from Utah. We got a special coupon the last time we got gas and knew the missionaries would enjoy all this food more than we would.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Summer Camp

Do these look like desperate hands reaching out for help? Actually, it is a monument to the 1956 Hungarian revolution against the Russian occupation. However, I thought it was an appropriate symbol for the phone call we got on Thursday from the organizers for the all Hungary LDS Youth Camp. One of their presenters had to drop out for a funeral and they asked us to substitute. Since two of our youth in Sopron would be there, they said we could bring them up Tuesday, spend the night, and then have fun giving a presentation to four groups on Wednesday.

Saturday night we got our theme: the first part of the 13th Article of Faith: "We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous."

On Tuesday at 8 we picked up Kiki and Bianka, set our GPS for Kóspallag in the woods north of Budapest on the other side of the Danube and started out. The GPS decided to take us on a scenic shortcut along the border with Slovakia. As we were driving along the Danube, the GPS said, "turn left," and about 1 kilometer later "board ferry."

Can you see a ferry anywhere? Kiki thought he might swim across and find one for us.

Half an hour later the ferry arrived and we crossed over.

Finally we arrived at the camp after a four hour trip.

We were greeted by the camp counselors doing a dance. Sorry that the music isn't louder.

This was the largest camp they have ever had. Counting the counselors, there were over 120 there.

Here Kiki is showing off his new shirt and meal pass.

His sister Bianka looks like she is having a good time too.

How about Öcsi, our counselor from Sopron?

Here are the four presenters for the sessions on the 13th Article of Faith. Sisters Tedd and Farkas, President Takacs of the Szombathely district and me. Caroly and I were the only missionaries there. This "all Hungarian" means what it says.

Since most of the kids are the only members in their school, or maybe the only youth their age in their branch or ward, Caroly and I decided to focus on the power of ONE. They first took turns pulling objects out of a bag and as a group brainstormed how they could use the object to change the world, or at least make the world and people around them more pleasant. The objects were a frisbee, a match, a Book of Mormon, a food storage container that they use here to deliver meals, a hammer, a bar of soap, a toothbrush, a pen and a measuring tape. We then talked about how not only can one object make the world a better place, but one person can do the same thing by following the words of the first part of the article of faith. We showed pictures of some of our children and grandchildren and told how their good examples to their peers of this first part of the 13th Article of Faith have changed the lives of others. At the end we showed a picture of the Savior and reminded everyone that he was just one person too. Everyone got a badge with the powerful ONE that I am holding.

Standing next to me is Oliver, the director of the camp, who was our emergency live dictionary for when my Hungarian failed since I hadn't had time to think out everything in Hungarian. I did make it through about three fourths of the presentation.

As a reward for good effort, they invited us to join them for lunch. This should remind our kids of the school lunches they had in Pecs when we lived there in 1990--noodles covered with sugar with a choice of ground chocolate, nuts, or poppy seed. Mom chose the nuts, I the poppy seed.

On our way home, the GPS took us on another creative route, down a muddy road past this horse stable. Of course, mom didn't complain a bit. She said the horse looks like our Monty.

Night at the Opera

As a birthday present, our landlady Eric and her son Csaba treated us to the Mozart opera Don Giovanni performed about 10 miles away in a Roman rock quarry in St. Margarethen. Here is a view of the stage as we descend into the quarry. This is the oldest quarry in Europe and the largest natural outdoor stage in Europe. Sandstone from this quarry build many of the buildings in the center of Vienna.

Here is the "lobby."

You can see that it was rainy when we were there. The performance was interrupted three times for torrential downpours. The start was delayed until 9 and the opera didn't end until 1 a.m. because of the delays.

Csaba and some of his friends had bit parts. That is Csaba standing by the corner of the building in the middle. You can see here how the sets moved around on rails to change the scenes. On the side you can see where they projected German subtitles in case you don't understand Italian. The music was kept the same as the Mozart original but the staging and plot were updated to take advantage of the outdoor setting. We were soaked by the end but the performance was spectacular

They have a larger second stage that they use this summer for a "passion play" on the weekends.

Birthday Bash II

Doesn't this look great? The Joós had us over for a family night birthday party to celebrate my 69th. I forgot to take a picture of the delicious food--paprikas chicken with betsies and chicken breast coated in eggs and cheese with mashed potatoes.

Here's Julia and my balloon. Notice my new birthday name tag

Monday, July 18, 2011

Deja Vu?

As of this week, we have been missionaries for one year. When we saw this field of sunflowers, it reminded us that on our drive to Sopron one year ago, there were fields of sunflowers everywhere--definitely a deja vu moment.

Friday, July 15, 2011


It's birthday time again--starting my 70th year. Yesterday my German class gave me current/apricot jam and my English class this Esterhazy cake--known for being rich and decadent like the Esterhazy family was. You might remember seeing their gigantic palace not far from Sopron in our blog last fall.

The cake has seven thin layers of cake separated by what seems to be thick layers of butter cream frosting. Mmhmm good. The "safe" Robby Bubble drink hit the spot too. I had another piece of cake this morning with a hotdog wrapped in bacon, mushrooms and peppers, and a boiled egg for a "light" breakfast in bed.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Missionary Digs

I'm sure you have wondered what kinds of apartments the Hungarian missionaries live in. Last August you saw pictures of our apartment in Sopron. Since we inspect the apartments in Sopron, Györ, and Pápa every other month, we thought we'd give you a look at life in the "old country." I know you might think that this nest on a telephone pole near a church should be an example for frugal living, but this is actually a nest of baby storks in a village near Pápa.

Elders Hommes and Wright in Sopron probably feel they live in a nest on the top of a telephone pole as they climb the metal spiral up to their attic apartment on the 5th floor above the chapel.

Elders M. Allen and Masters are showing how comfy the beds are in Pápa.

Here is where elders H. Allen and Tracy in Györ study in the morning, when they aren't distracted by visitors bringing zucchini and banana bread and asking them to pose for the folks at home.

Of course, Sisters Feller and Skiba in Györ look like they are posing for House Beautiful--the place definitely has a woman's touch.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Apricot Jam-Hungarian Style

Hungarians love apricots and apricot jam so of course we wanted to know how to make it. First you have to pick the apricots. No dangerous ladders here--just shake the branches with a long stick...

then pick them off the ground.

Here Caroly and Andi are showing how they are pitted...

and weighed--4 kilos apricots for a batch.

They are then boiled until they break down into shreds. Then 2 kilos sugar is added.

Here Andi is sterilizing the many pickle, spaghetti sauce, and other jars and lids collected through the year.

Julia is filling them to the brim. They are capped and turned over for 5 minutes to seal.

Then they are packed in a bucket with a blanket to slowly cool.

I'm the official taster. The jam is heavenly. Since there is no pectin, you use the jam within a few days of opening it--but our experience is that this is no trouble. We put it on our chicken, in salads, in musli, and of course on bread.

As you probably have guessed by now, we aren't going hungry in Hungary! We'll diet when we get home!