For about six months they've been working on starting a new branch in Zalaegerszeg (Zala for short). Once a month senior couples are assigned to be the sacrament speakers. This month it was our turn. This afternoon I gave my "the sacrament prayer as coach's pep talk" speech. Mom talked about being a faithful gospel hero. There are only 3 active members so far. One was present today. Two more we imported from Szombathely. (We spoke there in the morning.) The other 8 today were missionaries, two from Sopron, two from Zala, and four from Szombathely.
Richard, one of our English class members, left this spring to work in London. On Saturday, we had the rest of the class over to eat hamburgers and Skype him to test out his English. Both the food and the conversation were great.
This week we got to travel to Szeged to bring home Zsuzsa (rhymes with Zsazsa Gabor), our senior missionary from Sopron, who just finished her mission as a Family History Consultant. Our GPS took us on the scenic route, the first four hours to Pecs where we lived in 1990. Here's the main square with the church that was once a mosque during the 150 year Turkish occupation, probably the symbol of Pecs. Here's a night view. We stayed in this modern hotel right behind the church. How do you like the stainless steel bars that serve as a door to the hotel and the parking lot? The interior looks like it came from Architecture Digest, a minimalist blending of old and new. Notice how the stairs are bare concrete with marble slabs. In the bathroom, the radiator also serves as the towel rack. The buffet breakfast seems to be well guarded. The city is gorgeous at night, filled with students and tourists . . . though not everyone looked happy to see us. The next day the GPS continued the scenic route, oft taking us off the main road to hidden surprises such as this Hungarian German village. We decided to ignore the GPS and take the new expressway to the new bridge across the Danube. Since the GPS didn't have this new route, it showed us flying through the countryside Harry Potter style while shouting at us "Recalculating.. recalculating... recalculating." Three hours later it looked like we had arrived at Hogwarts. This is actually the rear of the cathedral at Szeged. Here is Caroly with our missionary in front of the chapel in Szeged. We decided to ignore the GPS and take the expressway through Budapest home. The "long route" took only four hours. It think it helped that the traffic was going 150--kilometers per hour, that is. You'll have to figure out yourself how fast that really was. Here is Zsuzsa back home with all her luggage--four suitcases, a large backpack, and four shopping bags. It's no wonder she didn't take the train home.
Elder Baumgartl, our trainer when we first got here, returned from his home in Germany with his bishop's family to check up on us. He's been home from his mission since July. He says we passed, but I'm sure the British breakfast we served them influenced his report.
Three times a year we have a two day couple's conference. Here we are getting ready to board the metro for our night on the town. We ate at a fish restaurant then went to watch the Budapest State Folk dancers. No photography is allowed so these ghost dancers will have to do. You can see the other things we did in the entries below.
Budapest is gorgeous at night. Here's a look at the parliament building. In the daytime, close up, it looks like this. This is the eternal flame to the victims of the 1956 revolution near the entrance. Notice the reflection of the nearby parliament in the polished stone. Here we are standing next to the grand staircase at the start of our tour. How much gold is there in this entry staircase? Here's the inside of the dome... and a sample of the heroes that support the dome. They changed the guard while we were there. They are guarding the Hungarian crown with the bent cross in the glass case. Along the hallway... are statues depicting everyday citizens. Outside the legislative chambers, they have numbered cigar holders for the legislators since there is no smoking inside. Here is where the laws that govern Hungary are made. As you can see in the ceiling, there is gold everywhere. Afterwards, we walked across the street to the Danube to look across the river to castle hill on the Buda side ... and stopped to see the memorial to the hundreds of Jews, who in the closing hours of the Second World War were lined up along the Danube by the Germans and were shot and dumped into the river.
Three subways intersect at Deák tér in downtown Budapest. So it is a good place to do a walk about when you have a spare moment or two. Now that the cold weather is here, the summer flowers have been replaced by the winter flowers. Here you can see the pansies.. and the colorful cabbage. It's a great place for people watching. Here a daredevil is trying out bike tricks on the skateboard ramps. Here are some sheep... and a young man is struggling with his goose. This man is ignoring all the beautiful people around him... which seems to worry this young man. (I think he needs to dress a bit more warmly.) Here's a baker at a street stand... and a strudel maker. Doesn't this homemade goat cheese look good? Hungarians love their bacon, pig fat, and kolbasz (hard sausage). This bull looks like he is taking no chances and is getting out of there. These pals didn't make it. Here is a leather vest for a child. I'm trying out a boar skin for size. I don't think it will fit in my bag. Mom is ending our walk about with some nice cabbage strudel at the strudel house sidewalk cafe.