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Flying Back to Salt Lake City – Going Home

On August 19, 2012, we boarded a Lufthansa plane in Trieste, and flew to Munich in Germany.Flying Home from Mission

We were surprised that the plane had propellers, and that the airplane mechanic rode out to the plane on a girl’s pink bicycle.Leaving Trieste Italy on Luftanza

We then boarded a United Airlines flight to Chicago, where we cleared customs and then boarded a United Airlines flight to Salt Lake City.  We only had to clear customs with two large bags because we accidently left two at the Mission Home in Budapest.  Earlier in the year (when it started getting warmer in Hungary), we sent one bag with Maja, and two bags with Laura and Derek.

The Olympics had just ended in England, and we saw the Russian basketball team before leaving Munich. Are they that big, and is Brenda that small?Russian Basketball Player and Brenda

We arrived in Salt Lake City at 8:30 pm, where we were met by James, Garett, Rob, Chad, Amelia and Carlin.  It was a great homecoming.  I guess this means that the mission (and the blog) is finished.

Cruising the Adriatic (Mediterranean) Sea

We stayed another night in Trieste, Italy and then boarded a ship (Costa Classica) for a seven day cruise in the Adriatic Sea.  This body of water is part of the Mediterranean Sea, and runs down the east side of Italy to Greece, which is just below and to the right of Albania on this map.Adriatic Sea

The ship had 1,500 passengers, and a crew of 500.  Each day, the ship stopped at a new port, providing us with an opportunity to leave the ship and tour the towns.Costa Classica

Our room was quite roomy for a ship.  Most of the cabins on this ship had large portholes.Our Room on the Costa Classica Ship

The first port was Ancona.  This is another old Italian city, that is on the east coast of Italy, and south of Venice. The second port was Dubrovnik in Croatia.  The most significant thing about Dubrovnik (shown below) was that it was a totally walled city.  Dubrovnik - Walking the Wall

We were able to walk the wall all the way around the city.  This was our favorite port. The wall was very high in some places.Dubrovnik - Very High Wall

We enjoyed a snack in Dubrovnik.Dubrovnik - Having a Snack

The third port was Corfu in Greece, and the fourth port was Argostoli, which was also in Greece.On Scooters in Greece

We rented motor scooters and toured this part of Greece.On Scooters in Greece

The country-side has many fig and juniper trees – also we saw many olive trees.Greece Countryside

The houses overlooking the inlet.Houses Overlooking the Inlet in Greece

The fifth port was Kotor in Montenegro.  It had another totally walled-in city, and you could see the walls high up the mountains behind Kotor.Kotor Montenegro - Town and Wall

We were able to hike a long ways up the mountain, and look back at our ship.Kotor Montenegro - Our Ship

The sixth port was Split in Croatia.  This was another old city, and was hidden inside the current modern city of Split.  This was our second favorite port.Split - Diocletian's Palace 305AD

Brenda was able to visit with the Roman soldiers.Brenda with Roman Soldiers

We were surprised when we found the old Christian ‘chi-rho’ symbol in two places in Split.  This (and the Roman Soldiers) suggested to us that the city and old church dated back to the Roman Empire, probably between 200 and 400 A.D. We saw the symbol first on the entry way to an old baptismal font.Croatia - Split John's Baptistry

Secondly, in a display in a very old church. Brenda saw this first. Can you see it?Chi-rho Sign in Split

Leaving Hungary and the Mission

After saying goodbye to President and Sister Smith, we rented a car and drove three hours west to Vienna.  After checking into our hotel, we toured Vienna.Touring Vienna

Later that evening, we attended a concert in the same theater where Mozart, Strauss and others had performed several years ago.Attending the Mozart Concert in Vienna

The next day, we drove through Austria and Slovenia.  This is an Austrian castle (Gussing) that we visited while driving south to Italy. It was a rainy day, but we were still able to climb to the top of the bell tower.

Later that evening, we rented hotel rooms in Trieste, Italy.  The following day, we drove over to Venice.  Venice is one of the most unusual places we had ever visited – and we loved the experience.Bob and Brenda in Venice

We loved the wonderful experience of touring the Venice canals.  Venice is truly unique.Venice canals

We ate dinner at a riverside restaurant.Dinner in Venice

We hired a gondola that had an accordion player and singer, and then relaxed for 45 minutes as we traveled the canals of Venice.Gondola in Venice

 

A Visit from Our Son (Skip) and His Wife (Shauna)

Our son and his wife (Skip and Shauna) arrived in Hungary during the last week of our mission.Eating Out in Pecs

We spent the first couple of days touring Pecs, and then went out to explore some castles.Belvaros in Pecs

They enjoyed drinking from the Church’s fountain.Church Fountain in Pecs

We took time to find Laura and Derek’s padlock, and then we each added our own close by their lock.Adding a Lock

We visited the Early Christian cemetery.Early Christian Cemetery

In the evenings, we strolled on Pecs’ city square (belvaros).City Square (Belvaros) at Night with Fountain

Traveling from Pécs to Kaposvár

It is a beautiful drive from Pécs to Kaposvár. In the summer, flowers and flower boxes appear on many of the homes in the villages.Flower Boxes with Red Flowers

Here is a pink home that has pink flowers. It is difficult to find two houses in the same village that are the exact same color.Flower Boxes with Pink Flowers

One house had different kinds of orange, pink and white flowers.Flowers and Flower Boxes

Some of the houses are very quaint with their flowers, wood piles, a fence, and brick and rock facing.Good Landscaping

 

The Wheat is Being Harvested

The country between the villages as we drive from Pécs to Kaposvár is beautiful, particularly during the summer. The wheat is now being harvested.Wheat Fields near the Villages

This is a picturesque view of the many wheat fields that come very close to the villages. Each village is characterized by a beautiful Hungarian (usually Catholic) church.Fields Surrounding the Church

Because the wheat is being harvested, we saw many rolls of straw waiting to be picked up. As soon as the straw is taken from the field, they immediately plow and prepare the field for the next crop.Rolling the Straw

We keep a close watch on the two stork nests that we see on the drive from Pécs to Kaposvár. Most of the new chicks now have been pushed from the nests, although the ones in the following picture are still living at home (it must be getting a little crowded). Because most of the stork nests are over a road, it must be a scary experience for the chicks to take that first flight …Stork Chicks are Getting Ready to Leave Home

Visiting Romania

We obtained permission from our The Impalermission president, President Baughman, to visit Romania while Laura and Derek were visiting.  After waiting at the border for a half hour while they checked our passports, we were able to proceed.

Our goal for the day was to go to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania.  The home of ‘Vlad the Impaler’ (aka Dracula), and other interesting people.  Entering Romania by Car

We drove through many quaint and picturesque villages.Romanian Village

We saw mostly people walking, driving cars and riding bicycles, but there were many old carts being drawn by horses.  When we were in Romania, some of the carts were being used to bring in the hay.  We watched some of the hay fields actually being cut with a scythe.Horse and Wagon in Romania

The traditional Romanian haystack is built firmly around a pole that is placed solidly in the ground. Romania - Haystack

To see how a Romanian haystack is made go here:

leafpile.com/TravelLog/Romania/Farming/MakingaHaystack/MakingHaystack.htm

We purchased an original watercolor picture of the Romanian haystacks in winter.Watercolor Picture of Haystacks
Dracula’s castle is in a village called Bran.  The village was shrouded in a heavy mist.

Foggy Village of Bran

The 15th century castle, itself, was located high on a hillside.  This is the view from our hotel room.

We purchased an original watercolor picture of the castle.Watercolor Picture of Dracula's Castle

We had breakfast at our cozy hotel, and then went out to explore the village and the castle.Breakfast at Hotel

We entered the castle using a long staircase.  The mysterious woman on the steps had a long knife, and seemed to be ready to use it.  The man was surprised. Sister Bailey stayed at the bottom of the stairs and smiled …Steps into the Castle

There was a secret door that took us into the main living area.  It looked safe enough …Castle Hidden Staircase

There were many rooms.  This was the bedroom.Castle Bedroom

Laura and Derek in Hungary

Our granddaughter (Laura) and her husband (Derek) arrived in Hungary for a two-week visit. One of the first places we went was to the ‘locks’ located above the city center in Pecs.La and Derek at Locks They were very interested in the archaeological sites showing the early Christian burials. The Christians began coming to this area in about 200 AD.La and Derek at Christian Burial from 200 AD

We immediately started investigating the nearby castles.La and Derek at Medieval Bastion

One of our favorite castles is this one in Sziglegeti, which is located high on a mountain top about two hours from our apartment.All Exploring the Sziglegeti Castle

We finally took a break at an outside restaurant for dinner.Eating in Kaposvar

Visiting Siklos Castle

About 30 minutes south of our apartment is a large refurbished castle.Old Picture of the Castle

We visited the castle on a missionary p-day with the four Elders.Castle Missionaries

This is the door down into the dungeon. The castle owners also keep their valuables in this area, and had it guarded by a 30 foot long python snake, that had a body the size of a tree trunk.Entrance to the Castle Prison-Dungeon

These are the leftovers after the restoration — they are very old.Castle with Sister Bailey

Early Christians in Hungary

We were joined by Elder and Sister Bagozzi in a tour of  Pécs, including the underground early Christian cemetery. Baileys and Bagozzis Touring Pecs

We also invited the Elders (Wiscomb, Snyder, Nielsen, Wright) for this tour of  Pécs by a professional guide.Baileys and Missionaries - April 2012

Christianity spread from its origin in and around Judea in Israel to Europe during the Roman era. The history of Christianity in what is now Hungary began in the Roman province of Pannonia, which later would be included in Hungary.Roman Empire

The presence of Christian communities in Pannonia was evident as early as the 2nd century AD. Beginning in the 5th century, the land was under the successive control of the Huns, Germanic peoples, and others. Even so, some of those early Christian communities may have survived up until the 9th century, when the Hungarians arrived.

The history of Pécs goes back more than 2,000 years. Pécs and its surrounding villages were known as Sopianae, and have been continuously inhabited since about 200 AD. By the end of the 3rd century AD, Sopianae (Pécs) had become the administrative center of Pannonia.Sopianae Sketch

The early part of Christian history (the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD) was an age of religious persecution in the Roman Empire.Roman Christian Persecution

To believe that Jesus was the Messiah was a very dangerous way to live.Roman Christian Persecution

By the early 4th Century AD, Christianity had been established as the ‘state religion’ (thanks to Constantine). By the end of the 4th century AD, the teachings of Jesus were well-known, and Christianity had attracted many believers.

In Pécs, there are some early Christian churches from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th centuries AD buried about 20 feet under ground. Under these small churches there are some very old burial chambers. In total, archaeologists have discovered and excavated 16 crypts, hundreds of graves and thousands of late Roman relics.

Early on, there was no artistic Chi-Rho Christogramconvention for representing the new religion of Christianity. How could you tell if a person was a Christian or not? The first symbol used by early Christians was the ‘chi-rhoChristogram’.

The chi-rho monogram is the oldest known symbol of Jesus Christ, and dates back to the 2nd century. The chi (χ = chi) and the rho (ρ = r) are the first letters of Christ (Χριστός) in the Greek language. Among other uses, this symbol was the first used to designate a Christian (like a cross on a necklace for modern-day Catholics, a lapel image of the angel Moroni, or the CTR ring for some members of the LDS faith), or the grave of a Christian.

chi-rho at Szombathely MuseumSister Bailey and I first saw the Christogram on a 1,900 year-old tombstones in the museum in Szombathely in June of 2011. The curator of that museum explained what it meant, and we have been watching for evidence of early Christians ever since.

The chi-rho Christogram’s popularity got a strong boost when Constantine Constantinethe Great (306-337 AD), one of 133 Emperors of the Roman World, was on his way to a difficult battle against a much larger and stronger army. Constantine purportedly saw the chi-rho Christogram in a dream the evening before the battle. In the dream, he was told to affix the symbol to his shields before facing the enemy, which he did. In the battle on the following day (October 312 AD) his army won a decisive victory.

This experience solidified Constantine’s positive attitude towards both Christ and Christianity. In fact, he converted to Christianity, and allowed Christians to practice their religion freely throughout the Roman Empire. Even though the chi-rho Christogram was used by Christians long before Constantine became emperor, it became much more widespread after he used it for winning that major battle.

chi-rho coin - 353The emperor who reigned right after Constantine issued bronze coins showing the chi-rho Christogram in 353 AD. He also added the Greek letters of alpha and omega, which were the first and last letters in the Greek alphabet, and this is also related to Jesus (see Revelations 1:8 and 22:13). This was the first sign of Christianity to appear on Roman coins.

Most of the old burial chapels in Sopianae (Pécs) were one-storey buildings, constructed for two purposes: (a) as chapels for ceremonies on the main floor, and (b) as burial places in the basement. In the chapels and crypts, the early chi-rho Christograms were found on the walls of crypts, in several pictures, and on jewels, rings and earrings found in the graves.

This is the inside of one of the tombs we visited. The tomb is about 1,900 years old, and is the burial place of a well-to-do Christian, as can be seen by the Christogram painted on the wall.chi-rho in Burial Vault

This is another almost 2,000 year-old very colorful fresco that shows the Christogram on the ceiling of the tomb — again, indicating that the people buried here were Christians.chi-rho Ceiling Fresco

© Copyright 2011 Our Hungarian Mission - By Bob and Brenda
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