Wednesday, December 24, 2014

He Is the Gift!

Merry Christmas from Hungary!!!!

I hope that you take time to remember the first gift of Christmas--our Saviour and Lord, Jesus Christ.  Have a very Merry Christmas and wonderful New Year!

Bunker Elder


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

A Christmas Zone Conference


Sorry this email is a day late, but we had zone conference all of yesterday in Budapest, and our p-day was bumped to today!! 

Zone conference was really good. Because it is Christmastime, zone conference was a Christmas one, we only had zone conference the first half of the day and then played some Christmas games that President and Sister Smith organized the rest of the day. It was super fun. Everyone really felt the spirit during zone conference. For Christmas as a mission we are talking about the attributes of Christ as listed in Preach My Gospel (faith, hope, charity and love, virtue, knowledge, patience, humility, diligence, and obedience). The Sister Training Leaders talked about patience, then the Zone Leaders gave a talk about hope, then the Assistants to the President talked about obedience, we had an intermediate hymn, then two senior sisters shared Christmas stories, and finally Sister and President Smith both gave talks. It was really good. At the end of the day we had a white elephant gift exchange. It was fun.

This week everyone in the mission was challenged to give out double-digit book of Mormons. My companion and I (but mostly my companion, since he does a lot more speaking!!) did it!! It was really hard, but we already have one new investigator out of it. We gave out most of our Mormon Könyvék when we were tabeling. 

About the new investigator. When we were tabeling, my companion went up to this lady and told her that this book would change her life. She asked if we could help her daughter, because she was sick. We told her that we could come over later. We came over later that week. She lives in a little tiny village outside of town. We got on the bus, but we didn't know when we were getting off, but a lady on the bus happened to be getting off at the same place and she even escorted us all the way to her house. We gave her a Mormon Könyve as a thank you! The lady was actually waiting outside her house. Her daughter has some sort of disorder. She had already read most of első Nefi (first Nephi) but didn't really understand it.  We read the chapter from harmadik Nefi (third Nephi) about Christ blessing the children and then told her to read it out loud to her daughter every day. It was a good lesson, and we really felt the spirit. I'm so glad that I have such a great companion!!!! 

The lady who came to church last week, came again this week! Later we had a program with her and invited her to say the closing prayer. It was a beautiful prayer, and she started crying in it! After the prayer she said that she was feeling a feeling that she couldn't describe, and Elder Cox told her that it was the Szentlélek (Holy Ghost). 

So we don't call people with the title of "brother" and "sister" very much in church. It's reeallly communisty, and everyone here hates communism and Russia. They also don't like Italy, France, and a couple of other European countries. But they do like Austria, the UK, and Germany. I guess that's Europe for you! 

So in Hungarian you can turn any noun into a verb and any verb into a noun. Even more freely than in English (because we can kind of do that). But there's a bunch of complicated rules on how to do it.   :/    So in church I never play the piano, I just piano. It's not "will you play the piano during choir practice?" It's "will you piano during choir practice?"

Every week I get one more liter of milk than the last week, thinking that it will finally be enough!! But it's never the case! Last week I got five, and the week before I got four, but it's never enough. This week I'm going to get six. Maybe. I do have to carry it all home in a big bag.... 

Every day when we come home we are both sooooooo tired. That's a good thing, right? Except for the times when we both fall asleep in nightly planning... 

So sometimes when we're a little rushed we forget to eat breakfast (which is funny, because we do studies for at least three hours every morning). And sometimes our stomachs grumble at the wrong times. Right now both of our stomachs are grumbling. lol. 

It gets dark really early here. Yes part of it has to do with winter and we are a little north, but it's mainly because we are on the verrry end of a time zone. The sun sets at like 3:30 or 4:00 ish. But it rises at a pretty normal time. So we're not going to have long summer nights or anything.... 

Bunker Elder

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Pillows, Polka Dots and Dwarves


Thanks so much for the emails this past week!! I loved reading them all!! Writing this email is really really weird, because for some reason, the computer is trying to spell check all of my words... ;)

Sorry I don't have any pics! The computer at this internet café doesn't have a little place to put the picture thing in. If that makes sense. This internet café is basically a pékség in the top of a little mall. A pékség is a little type of bakery that is found all over Hungary. The stuff you find in there is really tasty and usually really friendly to your wallet, so it makes for a good snack or small lunch if you're in a hurry. You usually can buy a couple of little pastries with a 200 forint coin, which is equivalent to about one dollar.

They have this cold cereal in Europe called Pillows. Its really good, but really unhealthy. I use it sparingly -- I'm still on the box that I bought the first day here! Pillows are like woven little pillows of grain with a creamy hazelnut or vanilla filling.

This image taken from a google image search

A really good candy bar here is called polkadots. At least that's the translation into English -- I can't remember right now what it's called in Hungarian! It's a chocolate bar with a flavored cottage cheese filling. It's really tasty!
This image was taken from
This image was taken from

Today we are going to walk around the Veszprém castle. I'm pretty excited. Apparently we live really close to it. We live in the belváros, which is basically the old and pretty and ancient part of a Hungarian town. I's been really rainy and misty since we have come hear, so it's pretty hard to see that far anywhere, but today is fairly clear (comparatively!) so that's good news!

We usually have at least a couple of lessons each day, and we spend the rest of our day streeting. We've been tabling (sp?) twice. Tableing is where we set up a table in the middle of a pedestrian zone and put a bunch of pamphlets and a couple copies of the Book of Mormon, or  a Mormon Könyve, and hand out fliers for English class and pass-along cards. Usually at least a couple people come up to us with questions about the church or English class, and it's a great way to meet people who are genuinely interested in church.

A new investigator came to church this Sunday. It was awesome, after sacrament meeting she went around and talked with everyone how wonderful the meeting was, and during the classes she made sure she wrote everything down. We gave her an a Mormon Könyve after church. None of our other investigators were able to make it to church, unfortunately! The other elders in this district are helping a lady get over smoking. She hasn't smoked in several weeks! We are really happy for her!

One of the craziest things about Hungary is how obsessed everyone is with their personal appearance, even more than in America! Apparently sometimes for tracting the elders go around and conduct a public survey, and one of the questions they ask is "What is the most important thing in your life" and the most common answer is something about how healthy they look to other people. There are so many public working-out places scattered throughout the town that the government maintains, and people will go there and run and run and run around the track, and the gyms are always full too. Everyone under a certain age wears skinny jeans, the girls and the guys.

Today when we were shopping I got a pomegranate (sp?). I'm really excited to eat it. The food here is really low priced. I usually spend the equivalent of about twenty dollars for a whole week of shopping, including five liters of milk and fresh bakery bread. But the gas here is really expensive, about the equivalent of eight or so dollars per gallon.

I finally got my last suitcase! It had all my socks in it!!! Don't worry though, I bought new socks awhile ago when it became clear that I only had like three pairs and a lot more than three days in between laundry cycles.

BTW we have a washing machine in our place! I think most of the Hungarian missionaries have them! Super happy about that!

The pedestrian zones are where you can see evidence of the Christmas season the most. They're filled with temporary wooden stands selling fresh Christmas-y food and other seasonal treats and gifts. The air is filled with the smell of fresh pastry and the sound of Christmas music.

I love European milk! But I think that, at least among the other elders and sisters in this mission, I might be alone in that opinion. Except the other elders and sisters who were raised in Europe. We have a two native Hungarian speakers in our mission, a sister and an elder, and at least two (that I know of) elders from Austria. Just about everyone else is from the USA. Apparently sometimes people are really surprised when they meet a missionary not from the states. They're like, "wait, non-American Mormon missionaries exist??!!" It's kinda of funny, especially since I'm pretty sure there are more Latter-day saints outside of America than inside America!

So the other day we went to Budapest to get our visas. Usually they wait in line for like an hour, but this day there was a problem with numbers or something, and we waited for almost six hours!!! The only thing I really had with me to study was a picture of the old Hungarian alphabet on my camera, so I now have that pretty much memorized! The old Hungarian alphabet is what J.R.R.Tolkien used for one of the languages in his books, I think for the Dwarves, but I'm not quite sure. I looks really really cool. It's also written right to left, like Arabic or some other languages.

Szekely Hungarian Rovas alphabet Szekely magyar rovas ABC.svg
This image was taken from 

For my English class I think it would be fun to do some tongue twisters, but I can't think of very many! If any of you all have some good ones, please send some to me!!

Hungarian is sooooooo different than English! This guy we met on a train showed us a picture of the language tree and evolution of languages. It had all the European, Asian, and African languages on it, and how they were related. It was really cool. He told us to find Hungarian on the tree. We looked, but we couldn't find! He then showed us a separate little tree at the bottom, which just had Hungarian, Finnish, and Estonian! The rest of the other languages throughout the world were on the big tree. I'm certainly feeling this difference when trying to speak. I can speak in simple sentences, but I have to really think. I can usually understand what people are saying by the context and picking out a root word here or there, but it's really hard to respond to questions and stuff!!!

Sorry if the spelling is all messed up! If I actually used spell check, this email would all be in Hungarian, and it wouldn't make any sense at all!!!

Boldog Karácsony!
Bunker Elder

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Páprikás Csirke

This recipe was taken from Cooking the Hungarian Way by Magdolna Hargittai, page 48.

Páprikás Csirke
or Paprika Chicken

Serve paprika chicken with small dumplings or with noodles.

One 2 1/2-3 lb. chicken, cut into 8 pieces
4 Tbsp. vegetable oil
1 large Onion, peeled and finely chopped
1 tsp. Salt
1 Tbsp. Paprika
3/4 c. Water
1 1/2 c. Sour Cream 
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 Green Pepper, cored and cut into rings

1.  Wash chicken pieces in cool water and pat dry with paper towel.

2. In a kettle or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat for 1 minute. Add onion and cook until transparent.  Add chicken pieces to Dutch oven and cook, turning often, until lightly browned on all sides.

3. Sprinkle salt and paprika on chicken and add 1/2 c. water.  Cover and bring to a boil.

4. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, or until chicken is tender.  Add a small amount of water if necessary.

5. In a small bowl, combine 1 c. of the sour cream, flour, and 1/4 c. water, and stir well.  Pour mixture over chicken and stir.  Simmer, uncovered, for 5 more minutes.

6. Place chicken in a deep serving dish.  Spoon sour cream from pan over chicken.  Garnish with green pepper rings and remaining sour cream.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

First Week in Hungary!

So I've spent my first week in Hungary. It's a really different place than the United States. The first night we spent here we spent in Budapest. It was really cool -- they take the missionaries on their first night to the castle district to walk around and take pictures -- the view over the Danube is amazing, with parliament and all these other big buildings all lit up. 

We got our new companions the next day. My companions name is Elder Cox. He's really cool. We are serving in Veszprém. It's kind of next to the big lake Balaton, if you are trying to find it on a map. We live in the middle of the old part of the city, in this little on a side street. The craziest thing about this city is most of the housing. There are miles and miles of these fifteen story tall cement apartment apartment buildings. I think they are communist era, but that's just a guess. The elevators are really rickety. These are where most of our appointments and programs and stuff are. This week a lot of people called and cancelled appointments, so we spent most of our week tracting and streeting. We also teach an English class. I guess a lot of investigators are met that way. Not very many people come to it. Me and my companion teach the advanced class, which is good, because we just speak English, and I'm really fine with that. 

BTW the y and z are switched on the Hungarian keyboard. I didn't know that we used so many y's and z's when typing until I had to focus on them. So they don't have QWERTY, they have QWERTZ, but I think they still use the word QWERTY which is pretty funny. 

I gave a short introduction talk in church. Everyone says I spoke tökéletes Magyar (perfect Hungarian) but I'm pretty sure they were just being nice! Sunday was the primary program - their primary consists of four girls. It was really well prepared. There are about five youth in the ward - three young women and two young men. Right now two missionaries are serving out of this ward. One is in the Scottish-Irish mission and the other is somewhere in the USA. Fun fact - Hungarians call the USA one word "Usa" (pronounced ooshuh). It's kinda funny. 

For thanksgiving we went over to the university here in Veszprém to their English club, which was having a Thanksgiving themed event. We were able to talk to a couple of people about the church. It was pretty cool. I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving and Black Friday!!!!! 

My companion and I made páprikás csirke (sp?) for dinner one night, and had leftovers for several nights after that. It was really good. They have these little waxy looking yellow peppers that they use in everything and eat fresh also. They taste pretty good. We put quite a few of them into the páprikás csirke. When we went shopping today we got two huge bags of them. With the páprikás csirke we also had nokedli (sp?) which is this little Hungarian noodle that you make with the regular noodle ingredients. I remembered reading about that noodle in a world recipe book in our house, it was fun to actually make it. You can put a lot of sugar in your serving of páprikás csrika and turn it into a sweet soup - it's surprisingly good. 

I love it when Hungarian people are really into a conversation -- their sentences go on and on and their eyes get bigger and bigger and eventually they have to take a breath. It's not very often, but it happens. 

If anyone is wondering what Hungarian sounds like to foreign ears, its kind of like "beh-teh-teh-keh-leh-keh-teh-teh-keh" but realllllly fast! 

Their food is really fattening. We kept the skin on the chicken in our páprikás csirke and put in a couple containers of sour cream. They soak their loaves of bread in pig fat before they bake them. Things like that. 

We take the buses and walk everywhere. In case anyone wanted to know.

So on the way here we lost about two thirds of our luggage, and had like a four hour delay on our last flight! It was exhausting! Only one person actually had all their luggage - Krueger Elder. They got most of our luggage to us the next day, but about four or five of us still don't have one of our suitcases - I'm one of them!! Lucky me there was nothing necessary for survival in it. I did have to got to the store and get a couple pairs of new socks, though! 

Boonkehr Elder
(that's how they pronounce my name)

Friday, November 21, 2014

Singing for Sister Wixom!


So we were able to play our musical number! It was for relief society, and the speaker was the General Primary President, Rosemary M. Wixom, so that was really cool! We then did the number again for our branch sacrament meeting, so everyone in our zone could hear it. 

We got 10 new Huns yesterday! It's crazy because usually In our zone there aren't two groups of missionaries going to the same country here at the same time, like, ever. I haven't really met any of them yet, but they seem pretty cool. They consist of 6 Elderek and 4 Nővérek.

So on the first day at the MTC you do an activity called "People and my Purpose" or some similar name. Basically all the new missionaries are in different rooms and meet investigators and see a couple of minutes of them being taught by missionaries and then all the new missionaries take over the lesson. Our district had the opportunity to be the official missionaries, so that was pretty fun! 

We are leaving on Monday!!!! It's already here! We'll be flying Salt Lake City to Chicago to London to Budapest! We report to the travel office at the MTC at 6:00 a.m., and we're mostly packed. 

This week in class we finally learned about formalization. Lucky us we won't have to use it that much! It's only used to people over 40 that you don't know or most people over 70 that you do know but don't go to your church. If you use it any other way, it's flirting. 

Bunker Elder

Monday, November 17, 2014

Some Merry Christmas MTC Pictures!

so today (p-day) was the first *real* snow, so we felt obliged to take a couple of pics to celebrate...

Here is our official Christmas picture...


Thursday, November 13, 2014

Hey all!!!!!

Here's an update on my everyday mission lifeeee:

So for several weeks we have been teaching two practice "investigators" twice a week for about two weeks: Eszter and Evilin. We have finally committed them both to baptism, though we have a consensus that they are going easy on us ;). We are also teaching a practice less active member named János.

On Tuesday, our district had our first practice with door approaches. We couldn't come into the classroom until we had three successful door approaches and were let in for a short lesson.

This morning Jeppsen Nővér and I tried out with a musical number (I was her accompanist) and we made it to the "yes list," which meant we will be able to perform as soon as she can fit us in. The song is a really cool arrangement of "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" that Sister Jeppsen found before her mission. The lady who tried us out was the MTC president's wife, and her musical knowledge and stuff blew us away. We're excited to perform it if they can fit us in, which we hope they do!

Bunker Elder

sziastok! do you like the christmas tree in the background???!!!!

Thursday, November 6, 2014

The Hun's are leaving in 3 weeks!


This week has been pretty great! We had our first Skype lesson with a Hungarian member, so that was pretty exciting. The manager person who gets the contacts all set up didn't think he would have enough people until last minute, and he only gave the other Hungarian district like a five minute notice before their lesson! We went after them, though. But for some reason, the other people doing Skype apparently thought they were only doing a lesson with the other district, and didn't know we were coming later, and only one lady stayed on. To be more convenient, after the sisters taught her, us elders gave her a lesson as a foursome. It was really hard, since we didn't know how to give each other cues to say things, because we are all used to just teaching in companionships. But it was a good lesson -- we talked about faith,  and different things that we can do to grow our faith. 

Six new Estonians arrived in our zone yesterday, four sisters and two elders. I haven't met them yet, but they seem really nice. It has been really fun getting to know the new Fins and Albs. 

The Huns are leaving in 3 weeks! Then we will be in the real world. It's kind of hard to comprehend! When we first got here, the Estonians had about three weeks left before they left to Estonia. It's crazy to think that we're in the same position.

I've got a calling! I'm music coordinator for my branch. I pick out all the hymns on Sunday, and I coordinate who will be the pianist and chorister for different meetings. We all sing in the languages that we are learning, so there are only about 30 hymns that are in all four languages (Estonian, Finnish, Albanian, and Hungarian) but all of those hymns are pretty well known.

Bunker Elder

P.S. when I refer to people like "the Fins" I am talking about the people who are going to Finland, same with the Huns, the Albs, and the Estonians (they really don't have a cool name). Just in case you were wondering!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Finnish Elder's Have Left


This week has been crazy! All the Finnish missionaries in our zone left for Finland on Monday, and we got new Fins and Albs (Albanians) on Wednesday! We got 12 sisters and six elders, which pretty much balances out our whole zone, something pretty unusual in the MTC! Finnish speaking there are five new elders and seven new sisters, and in Albanian speaking we have five new sisters and one elder. The elder is from Hungary, believe it or not, so we have a native speaker in our midst! But all of us get the impression that he prefers 'practicing his English.' 

We hosted new missionaries two weeks ago, it was pretty fun! My companion and I are going to try and sign up to host the same day his older brother comes in, in about two weeks.

Ever since a year or two ago, native speaking missionaries have gone from spending three weeks in the MTC down to eleven days in the MTC, 9-week foreign speakers now spend 6-weeks, and 12-week foreign speakers now spend 9 weeks here. Hungary used to be a 12 week stay, and with three-and-a-half weeks left, we are really starting to miss the extra 3 weeks. It seems as if we learn at least one new slightly obscure but necessary-to-know conjugation chart every day! 

We gave our first lesson to an investigator/teacher less than 48 hours of being in the MTC in Hungarian. With all that we learn about the language every day, we are amazed that he was even able to understand us that first lesson. 

Bunker Elder

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Companion and District

My District
Both Hungarian Districts
My companion - he's pretty cool!
Check out our smolders! lolol

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Laundry Room and Chalkboards


So since lots of people have been leaving, my the people from my district were like the only people that help put away the gym, along with the staff that does it every week. So that took awhile, but it was kinda fun. But when we got to the last part, folding and putting away the 600 pound mat, we had to go recruit more people, because you need at least 30 people to put it away. So off we went, out to do our first "street contacts" ;). Before we could really get anywhere, though, we got word that we had enough people..... 

Christmas lights are starting to pop up everywhere. We don't think we'll see them on, though, because we haven't seen them on yet and we are leaving, at the latest, the day before Thanksgiving. *sigh* 

We got to Thursday, and I realized I hadn't taken many pictures, so my companion and I put on sweaters over out T-shirts and went outside for a photoshoot lol. I hope you like them!

The only normal picture


hehehe i don't know what I was trying to do there

So we didn't make this up, this is literally what one of our teachers turns the chalkboard into every day.


Just realized the date on my photos if off by literally like hundreds and hundreds of days
And laundry room bc idk, k? 

Bunker Elder

I will try to have more legitimate photos next week.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

My favorite things about the food, and other fun stuff

Sooooooo my companion is from Idaho, my favorite thing about the food is that it is always there, and they always have lots of juice, and sometimes they have this crab salad that's really good. They also have these corn dog things for breakfast, except they are sausages and pancakes, and you dip them in syrup.

Every Sunday and Tuesday our zone turns the auditorium for devotionals back into a gym. It takes awhile, since it seats two thousand. It actually is super fun, because we all dress up in p-day clothes and get to push around giant carts of chairs.

My favorite part of the day is gym time, during which I usually just play four square, except on Tuesdays and Saturdays, when I play sand volleyball with the rest of the zone. I usually can get to the king spot six or seven times now every day, lol.

I play piano usually for priesthood meetings on Sundays, and sometimes on p-days.

Hungarian is coming along fine, but its really weird. For example, "I read from the Book of Mormon" translates to "Olvasom a Mormon Könyéről," or "Read(I) the Mormon Book-from." Most pronouns are usually just dropped. So sorry I don't have pictures yet, but I promise I will have some next week!

Bunker Elder

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Another Picture of Paul at General Conference

Just in case you were wondering where in the Conference Center he was sitting at....

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Paul singing in General Conference

Here are some pictures of Paul singing in General Conference.  I know he enjoyed it, but I think that I enjoyed it more!

Singing in the Choir and doing Laundry

October 9, 2014

Singing in the choir was cool. there were a couple of tvs at the front, but they were mainly for the choir director and the other official people that were sitting up there. so we mainly saw the back of their heads. it was funny because i could kind of see the prompt screen, so i knew what the speakers were going to say before they said it. 

the laundry room is like a laundromat. yes, you do have to buy soap and stuff, but its super cheap, and we didn't have to buy any anyway because a group left our zone right after we came and gave us the rest of their soap. 

in our zone, we have all the missionaries going to hungary, estonia, finland, and albania. there are only three missionaries right now who are learning estonian (two sisters and one elder) and apparently there are less than twenty missionaries in estonia right now!!

we go to the temple on p-days in the  morning, so its a great way to start the day!

Bunker Elder

Friday, October 3, 2014

Paul is singing in the Priesthood Session

I will be in the Priesthood Session choir of general conference. Pretty sure I'll be on your left, my right, and somewhere in the middle up-and-down-wise. spread the word!!! it's actually pretty lucky that I got in since the final applications were due on my first day, and the first practice was just two days later!!

Bunker Elder

p.s. feel free to forward my e-mails to whoever wants them!

andddd we taught our first lesson in Hungarian to an "investigator" less than 48 hours of being in the MTC. we've taught three lessons to the same guy since then. Each one has been exponentially better, lololol.

Bunker Elder

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Thursday is P-Day!

Sooooooo my pday is on Thursday, but all the new missionaries' first Wednesday and Thursday are use for orientation and special classes and stuff, so it was bad luck that Thursday is when my p-day is, since that means I have the longest possible wait time before I can do my first e-mail home, lolol. BTW, the world "elder" is still "elder" in Hungarian, but since this language is so backwards, I'm called "Bunker Elder." It says so on my name tag. This language is crazy because, so far, we have learned 24 possible ways to conjugate each verb, and that's just for present tense. and a bunch of other stuff like that. 

Put my e-mail on facebook, so if anyone wants to access it they can. Do something like "If anyone wants to contact Bunker Elder use"

Bunker Elder