Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Paprika, Peppers and Sour Cream

This week has been great! We met with lots of people, and we also did lots and lots of tracting!!! So basically just about everything.

Sunday was amazing. The stake president, who is actually an American who served a mission here 15 years ago and then moved back to Hungary after his mission, came and gave a talk. Udit Vasvary, who either used to be or still is the stake relief society president, also gave a talk.  Her husband Karoly, is the second counselor in the stake president and they have a son who started his mission in Scotland a week before I started mine!  She invited her friends to church. Of course, both the talks were amazing. It was awesome that they could come, the wife has been pretty interested in the church for a while, but it has been pretty hard to set up with them. Also, this other lady came. We tracted into her, and she said she was really busy, but that it would probably good to come to English class to help with her job as a receptionist here in Veszprém. She came to English class, and while there, she said she probably would be able to come to church the next day, and that she really liked the building and the feeling she felt. There was, of course, a surprise blizzard on Sunday, but she still came -- she walked in right when church started.

We also tracted into another cool lady and her little daughter. When we first started talking at her door she said that she wasn't interested in religion and stuff, but that she would take our little survey anyway. The last question we usually ask is "if there was a question you could ask to God, what would it be?" She started crying and said "why did my parents have to die?" We all felt the Spirit, and we gave her a plan of salvation pamphlet and said that we knew families can be together forever. Even though she wasn't interested at first, she was able to feel the Holy Ghost and she even set up with us to meet later and talk.

So transfers are tomorrow. I was so nervous that I was going to be transferred from Veszprém, but we got the phone call this morning and thankfully we are both staying :). Also, also, from now on transfers are going to be every nine weeks / two months so I know for sure that I am going to stay here two more months. I wanted to stay so much for several reasons. One is that Veszprém is such a beautiful city, and Elder Dellenbach and I are also working really well together. Another is that there have been several people that I keep running into when tabeling and stuff that I want to share the gospel with. The lady that was spoke English that ran into me that other day when we were tabeling ran into us again this morning, coincidentally, and we weren't able to talk much because we were going to different places, but I was able to introduce her to Elder Dellenbach and we were able to talk a tiny bit about her job as a German teacher and other things. Also, there is another lady that came up to me when we were tabeling one and asked for a Book of Mormon and then later came up and asked when church was. The other day we ran into her while walking back to our apartment. I recognized her and just stopped and asked her "hogy vagy?" or "how are you doing?" and then she told me and my companion right there about all these problems that were happening. We said that we could come and talk about Christ some time and she said okay and gave us her phone number.

So I have developed a new passion for sitting and looking at maps. Whenever we are planning I like to put a map of Veszprém in front of me and sit and look at it. I don't know why I like it so much, but I do.

Picture from Google maps

I've also developed a taste for these Hungarian scone things. I never asked anyone here for the recipe, so I just kinda made one up and it turned out pretty much the same. I mixed just some flour and a tiny bit of water, with tiny bits of oil, salt, and baking soda, and fry it till it just barely turns golden brown. Then I rub it with a clove of garlic and top it with salt, sour cream, and cheese. Sometimes I also get some boneless pork and chop it into little cubes and fry it in oil and finely chopped cloves of garlic with just some salt and pepper and eat that with the scone. It's not very healthy, but it's super delicious. I'm pretty sure that the scone thing with sour cream and cheese is called "lángos." Super tasty!
Picture from Google search

We also tracted into this lady this morning (Yes it's a p-day, but the rule is you have to have three working hours on a p-day, so we did ours in the morning) and she insisted we stay over for lunch, which was already cooking. She fed us rice flavored with -- you guessed it! -- paprika.  It was really good. They put that in everything. And in Hungary there's a different typed of paprika for every different kind of pepper, which makes sense seeing as paprika and pepper are the same word in Hungarian.

It's getting easier to mimic Hungarian foods as I get familiar with the ingredients they use the most, mainly paprika, peppers, sour cream. I really want to learn how to make fruit soup. I've had it twice and it's really yummy! Next time someone feeds it to us, I will have to ask for the recipe.

One of the other Elders' investigators invited all four of us over for dinner -- it was really tasty, she made probably the best paprikas csirke I've had since I've come to Hungary. She also fed us palacsinták, and while the palacsintas were warming up because there was no food on the table she quickly made this fried-egg noodle dish so we could eat while we were waiting for the palacsintas. It was incredible how fast she made it. There was so much food! When she put the fruit bowl on the table after we finished the palacsintas, and told us to please take some fruit, I took an orange, but the other three elders were too full to take anything! I was so full I didn't eat anything the rest of the evening, and I don't think my companion did either.
Palacsinták--image from google search

We have been faithful to our commitment to run every morning! Even though there is still snow outside, depending on the day ;)

So our mission president has this thing he does where every mission companionship reports the number of "working hours" they work each week. Every lesson with an investigator, recent convert, or less active member, counts as one hour no matter how long or short it actually was. We also report finding hours, which is every hour we spend tabeling, tracting, and streeting. Every companionship has a bare minimum requirement of 25 hours per week, 10 of which should be finding. It sounds really easy, but the truth is it's possible to be out working all day doing good things for 10 hours straight but to only actually get in about one or two legitimate "working hours," so this is a good way to focus on always using your time the best way possible. We found out in an email from the mission president today that this system is being piloted in a couple other missions with really favorable results. But our mission did it first! :) BTW in case you were all wondering, my comp and I don't have a problem of getting all of our hours in :)

On transfer week Tuesday, not Monday, is our p-day. According to the transferologists in the local vicinity, I had a high chance of leaving tomorrow, because greenies often leave their first area after their first full transfer, especially if their original companion is already gone. So our original plan was to go to the Balaton, part of which is in our area, this morning. However, I am staying!!! So we can go to the Balaton some other time! Also before we leave I want to check out Tapolca, another town in our area that I have heard is absolutely gorgeous! Elder Beaumont is leaving Veszprém -- :(  -- and Elder Höferl's new companion is going to be Elder Kellogg, who is in Elder Beaumont's MTC group, which is one group older than mine. Also, the next group is coming to Hungary tomorrow! Or right now! But they're getting their new companions tomorrow! It will be exciting to have 10 new missionaries in the mission with us!

Bunker Elder

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Rakott krumpli

Paul told us about this as one of his favorite Hungarian Dishes.  This recipe comes from the Hungarian Girl Website.  The link is here:The Hungarian Girl

It is super yummy!  I should have taken a picture of the one that I made for dinner tonight.  This picture that I found on a google search looks pretty close!

Here is the recipe.

Rakott Krumpli is one of Hungary’s most favorite comfort foods. It contains a generous amount of sour cream along with potatoes and smoked Hungarian sausage which gives it a very rich and creamy taste.
8 medium red potatoes
3 large eggs
1 1/2 cup (300 grams) sour cream
1 smoked Hungarian sausage (hot or mild), thinly sliced
1/2 cup (100 grams) trappista or cheddar cheese, grated
salt, pepper
butter to grease casserole dish
Place potatoes in a large pot and bring to a boil. Cook potatoes until just tender, about 20 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch rounds. Set aside.
In another large pot, cook eggs until hard-boiled, about 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle. Peel the egg shells. Cut the hard-boiled eggs into 1/2-inch rounds. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C).
Butter bottom and sides of a medium casserole dish. Arrange 1/3 of potatoes in bottom of casserole dish. Cover with 1/3 of eggs. Season with salt and pepper. Cover with 1/3 of sausage followed by 1/3 of sour cream. Continue layering, ending with potato layer and sour cream on top. Sprinkle with grated cheese. Bake for about 40 minutes covered, then 10 minutes without cover until cheese is golden brown and bubbly.
Serve warm with fresh salad or pickled cucumber.

Monday, January 12, 2015

The Lord Listens to our Prayers!

Hello all!

This week has been pretty awesome! As usual!!

So we don't have snow anymore. It rained, and the snow, like, disappeared. Huh. The weather is a little above freezing, so its still jacket weather. But my companion, Elder Dellenbach, stated that the way things are looking, it might not snow anymore this winter. :(  The best thing about the snow is you can just kind of slide down all the wheelchair ramps in your shoes. The wheelchair ramps don't really serve their function here. Half the time they just pave half a staircase with cement, so its a ramp, technically, but it is just as steep as the staircase, which is way too steep for a wheelchair in my opinion.

So this week we ask two of our investigators if they wanted to be baptized in February. One sister said she wanted to be baptized, but not that soon! and our other investigator said she would be baptized as soon as she gains a testimony of the Book of Mormon. At least we know that when they do get baptized, they will probably be solid members! I heard that while Hungary has one of the lowest baptizing rates, it has a really high retention rate, so that's good!

We tracted in to this lady, the other week, who is now our investigator. We have had two programs with her. We hope it turns into something!

This week we are having zone training, in Duna, I think. I'm not sure if that is the right location, though, because Duna is the name of a river, not a city! Maybe we'll have zone training on a boat (lol). It will be fun to see my friends from my MTC group!

So, since it is winter, the fruit section of the store has been full of tropical things. I've been getting lots of kiwis and mandarin oranges, and also some guavas and pomegranates, and this week I got a Sharon's Fruit. At least thats what the label called it. I thought about Sister Sharon West, from my home ward, when I ate it! That fruit was kind of like a fleshy, sweet cross between a guava and a tomato. I can't wait for the summer, when there are lots places to buy berries.

The other night Elder Dellenbach and I made palacsinták. A palacsinta (sp?) is kind of like a Hungarian cross between a pancake and a crépe (sp?). We made like a raspberry syrup with some frozen raspberries I found at the neighborhood Spar, as well as some whipped cream. Cooking lesson learned: It is not necessary to use the whole container of cream when making whipped cream. Just a cup or a cup and a half will be plenty. I think we made like a gallon and a half of whipped cream. On the bright side, I can eat whipped cream with fruit or whatever whenever I want! We're not going to run out any time soon!

So we have apartment checks this week!!!! I'm kind of nervous, but we have been keeping the apartment pretty clean. I think all we have to do is clean the oven and the microwave, and maybe mop the kitchen floor. So that's good. I hope.

So the new mission president has been called! He is the first native Hungarian mission president, so that is exciting! I think that right now he is the bishop in Pest, but I'm not sure! It will be weird having mission conference and interviews and stuff in maybe Hungarian and not English! His name is József Szabadkai. Super excited!!

So it is a new year, and not the holidays anymore, and people are actually starting to come to English class!!! Yay! On Thursday, with both the classes put together, I would say there was about eight or nine people! There was this one guy that came to English class. He went to kezdő, or beginner. None of us recognized him, but he got a flier that one of us left at his house. He really like the spiritual thought at the end about charity. We are hoping that he turns into an investigator!! The other elders, Beaumont Elder and Höferl Elder, would teach him if he did, but its still really cool.

So miracle that happened: Yes, I am learning Hungarian, and I think that I am coming along just fine, but it is still pretty hard to just, like, talk to people in Hungarian. We were tabeling, and I really wanted to talk to someone in English, because Hungarian just wasn't working that day, so I was like praying and praying like just give me someone who speaks English! This lady came up, and believe it or not, she started speaking English with me! She wanted to know, ironically, about what the church thought about the gift of tongues, and other spiritual gifts. Her favorite scripture was Acts 2. Believe it or not, I had read Acts two that morning!!! We were able to talk about spiritual gifts and stuff, and I shared with her Moroni 10:5 which goes something like "and by the power of the Holy Ghost ye shall know the truth of all things." She took a Visszaállítása (restoration) pamphlet, but didn't want a Book of Mormon, yet! Remember that the Lord is always listening to your prayers!

Bunker Elder

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Fireworks on New Year's Eve!

Hello from Hungary!

This week we had transfers (already!!) which was pretty crazy but good. Elder Dellenbach really likes to work, which I am totally fine with!!! Elder Dellenbach's last area was Nyíregyháza, and Elder Cox went to Kecskemét. 

So I am trying my best to get rid of all that chocolate and other stuff I consumed over Christmas week. I have been eating tons and tons of kiwis and oranges, as well as pomegranates and other  fruits and veggies I find at the store. I think right now I prefer that stuff over the chocolate. 

Our investigator has been continuing to come to church and that has been great! During gospel doctrine class she kept on asking all of these questions and writing everything down, which is amazing, because it shows she really wants to learn about the church! We are going to try to set up a specific baptismal date this week, and we are shooting for February 14 ... hopefully it happens!!!!! 

We tracted into this guy yesterday night, and we gave him a Book of Mormon and marked Alma 32 and Moroni 10. He had some interesting opinions about faith and said we could meet with him later and we set up a lesson.

We also just met this family,who are friends with another family here in the Veszprém branch, and seem pretty interested, and the wife seems super excited about the gospel and church. We also have been meeting with some other investigators.

During New Years Eve we heard fireworks all night, and there was a live concert a couple of blocks from our apartment, that we heard, too. We could see a lot of fireworks from our window from all over the city. People take New Years pretty seriously here!!!!!

One day only one person came to English class!!! She was our investigator. We were glad at least someone came!! It seems like the more flyers we hand out, the less people come -- I think we have been averaging about like five hundred flyers a week! At least the photocopying place is really cheap! 

The New Years party at the branch house was really fun! (Don't worry, we got back to our place by 9:30!) There is this couple in the ward, the Kovácsék, and they had all these games that everyone played, and there was a tooooon of food. A couple of investigators came, so we were happy about that! Because of New Years and transfers and prep and everything we officially had 3 p-days this week. We didn't know what to do with all that time.

Also, the buses here in Veszprém have never been the best, but this past week they were awful. One time the bus never showed up, and we had to walk 45 minutes to get home from the branch house. The worst is when a bus is like ten minutes early and just comes by and goes off. On Sunday my companion and I had a meeting at the branch house at 7:45 a.m., and we were walking to the bus stop, about ten minutes before the bus was supposed to come, and we saw the bus come up to the bus stop and leave, and there was nothing we could do about it because we were so far away. So we ran all the way to the branch house. Based on how long it takes to walk there, I think that it is about 3 miles. We got to the meeting on time. Everyone else but one family showed up late, so funny!

Sacrament meeting was great! So many people bore there testimonies, and everyone felt the Spirit so strong. 

So the last snow that happened, the one the day after Christmas, melted a couple of days ago. But, Its snowing again, and this time for real!!! Super excited! We are hoping that next week on p-day we will be able to go to the Balaton, which missionaries are allowed to visit in the winter. Right now it's really snowing hard!!!!!! 

Until next week!
Bunker Elder

Monday, January 5, 2015

Chocolate overload

Hey everybody!!!
The Christmas week was really crazy, and we didn't have much of a chance to really do emails.... Sorry! But we were able to visit some less active members with plates of cookies, and we had a great Christmas program that was really successful.
First, the Christmas program on Tuesday! It started out with the choir singing several Christmas hymns acapella with some of the members reading poetry.  The lady who we got a referral for and has been a super solid investigator, read this cool Christmas poem. I didn't understand it that well, but it was pretty. Then we did this sort of readers theater thing dealing with the nativity with some hymns and other things with the ward choir, and at the end we all shared what Christmas meant to us, and bore our testimonies about Christ. I think everyone felt the Spirit really strongly, and it was super awesome because a lot of less active members and investigators were able to come.
So this week is the first week it hasn't been super foggy. I guess Veszprém is always foggy because of its proximity to the Balaton -- at least that is what everyone tells me! I guess it got to cold and all the fog condensed into ice or something, because the day after Christmas it snowed -- finally!!!!! Apparently Hungary usually has a white Christmas, but not this year! However we will have a white New Years!
Funny story: so no one was out the morning after Christmas except for us, and we were like walking through the Belváros to get to the other elders' place, and literally no one was out. So I sang Christmas songs really loud (but not louder than beautiful!). Picture to come of empty street when I finally email at a computer capable of sending pictures!!!!!!
So when we are out and about I'm always the person who is fine without the hat and scarf. But when we get home and I take off my coat, I finally get chilly, so I sit all huddled on the couch under a thick blanket. I wonder what my companion thinks of me. Speaking of my companion, we are cousins!!!!! We even found the linking ancestor, which I'm pretty sure is our great-great-great-grandpa. I don't really remember though.....
And also speaking of my companion, we are having transfers tomorrow, already, and my companion is getting transfered already!!!! Elder Cox is going to be with Elder Baird, who is from my MTC group and my new companion is going to be Elder Dellenbach, who right now is with Elder Evans, who is also in my MTC group. I guess a lot of missionaries in my MTC group are getting changes. I know for a fact that Sister Jeppson, who was also in my MTC group will be getting a new companion, because her old comp, Sister Kovács, is just finishing out her eighteen months as this transfer finishes up. I don't know about anyone else, though.
Elder Cox has been a great companion!! He has a very strong testimony and loves Hungary and Hungarian. It has been awesome serving with him, and I wish him luck for the rest of his mission, and when he goes home in July! I also can't wait to serve with Elder Dellenbach, I've heard lots of good things about him!

Funny story: I have become really used to sounding things out since I've come to Hungary and have had to sound out words in Hungarian if I want to write down and remember them, and along with that, in the previous paragraph I kept on trying to spell "MTC" like "emptysee." Not kidding. LOLOL
So the highlight of this past week or so was talking to my family!!!!! It was fun talking to them and getting up to date. I'm not joking when I say my family travels a lot, and it hasn't changed since I left for my mission. They went to family in Washington DC for Thanksgiving, and I just found out through email that they just barely went down to Mississippi to see some more family sometime before or after Christmas. (I know they were home Christmas day bc of the Skype call!)
So the pattern seems to be we go up to Budapest for this and that between one to two times a month, maybe sometimes even three. But we only really see the three blocks between the train station and the ward house / mission home / mission office / multi purpose building.
I haven't really talked about that building, much, have I?? It's a cool building. the first two floors are a ward building, the third and fourth floors are mission offices and related stuff, and floors five and six are the mission home, and theres also a basement that connects to a garage thing. I might have gotten it a little wrong, because whenever ever I go there I don't really pay attention to the floors, I just go up and down stairs until I arrive at wherever I am trying to get to. I geuss there is only one other building in the ward quite like it. (BTW, the ward that meets there is the Buda ward. I guess if you want a seat, you have to get there really early, because there are a lot of people and not a ton of seats.)
Hopefully more than like two people will come to English class this week! From what I have heard, Veszprém has the smallest English class by far, at least compared to the other areas that missionaries here have been in. Were hoping the class numbers will rise. We give out like a million fliers every day. Also, this English teacher at the university here in Veszprém has asked us if she could promote it to her class for extra English practice. If what I hear is true, a lot of things here in Hungary with mission work tend to pick up after the holidays, because everyone isn't quite as busy. We are keeping our fingers crossed that this will be true with English class! (And in case any of you were wondering, usually more than two people show up, but there have been those weeks!!) 

If the labeling is true on all the chocolate I ate over the Christmas week, then I averaged 1000 calories of chocolate a day. I have given up trying to come back from my mission all fit and healthy and am going for coming back from my mission without having a heart attack. Its going to be a hard goal to follow through. But I think with self control, strenuous workouts, much prayer, and a TON of fasting, I might be able to do it. LOL
Speaking of eating lots of food, two stories. The first, we were eating at an investigators house, and for seconds they just gave me the serving bowl, as kind of a joke. The kept on telling me I didn't have to eat it all, and they didn't want me to get sick or throw up or anything, but if I was hungry to just go ahead and eat, but it was easy to see that János, the man we were visiting, wanted to see if I could do it. I just kept on eating and eating and somehow I did it. Everyone applauded when I finished.
Second story, I was reading Jesus the Christ when I came across this: "We believe in enjoying good food ... We believe in getting all the enjoyment out of eating that we can." It made me chuckle.
Have a great week!!!!!
Bunker Elder