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The Storks (Gólya) are Back

We have been wondering when the white storks (féher gólya) would return. They have been gone since it got cold in November. White Storks on a Telephone PoleWe keep watching the two large stork nests as we drive from Pécs to Kaposvár. This is our way of keeping track of the storks. We found out that they spend the winter in sub-Saharan Africa.

The white storks have traditionally built their nests on houses, but have more recently moved to the top of telephone poles or large poles installed by the village. We learned that the stork couples are very loyal to each other and their nests, and return to the nests year after year (some nesting sites are hundreds of years old).  The white stork’s most important habitat is the Carpathian Basin, the area where Hungary, Romania and northern Serbia meet. This is where we now live. About half of the white stork population lives in this area.

These graceful birds seem to be comfortable living among humans, which is good because they bring so many babies (kisbaba) to the people in the villages.

White Stork's Nest

A Giant Chess Piece

Near our apartment Giant Chess Piecein Pécs are the remains of different castles. This one reminds us of a giant chess piece, and provides a good idea of how they protected their castles, and how large the walls were.

This structure is at least 1,000 years old, and they still allow people to go inside and climb to the top (the inside boards are kind of creaky).

That is Elder Bailey down at the bottom the picture on a cold winter day, while we were walking inside the city wall.

The Ancient Village of Hollókő

A few months ago, while we were living in Szombathely, we purchased a painting of a Hungarian village.  Later, we found that the village was named Hollókő, and was located in north-central Hungary.  We visited the village this week after attending the Senior Missionary Conference in Budapest.  Hollókő has the reputation of being very old, and very quaint.  We compared a photo we took with the painting we purchased.Comparing the Painting with a Photo

The day we were in Hollókő they had an infant baptism, and then later in the day the Catholic church celebrated a mass.  This picture shows inside the old church just before the child’s baptism.Inside of the Little Church

There were many well-kept older houses in Hollókő, which has made the village a very popular place to visit.Village House with Roses

Later in the day, we observed several older women (no men) going to the little church for Mass.  And then we saw them walking slowly home on the cobblestone roads.Going to and from Mass

The local castle overlooks Hollókő, and has been partially restored.  It was originally built in the 12th century, and was used then and at later times for the protection of the townspeople.Castle in Background

When the Mongols were raiding in the area, for example, the people would quickly leave their homes and go up to the castle.  The following picture shows the castle on the hill, and the church at the right end of town.Castle (on the hill) and Old Church (on right)

Shoes on the Danube

From October 15, 1944 to March 28, 1945, Hungary was ruled by a national socialist party known as the ‘Government of National Unity’ (also known as the ‘Arrow Cross’ party). During its short rule, 10,000 to 15,000 people (mostly Jews) were murdered outright, and 80,000 were deported from Hungary to their deaths in Auschwitz and other death camps.Empty Shoes Along the Danube

Many were shot on the Jewish Shoes on the Danubebanks of the Danube River.  These shoes show one area along the river where many men, women and children were murdered.

As we walked among the shoes, it was very sad to ponder the thought that soldiers could kill so many innocent victims.

We continue to ask ourselves, “how could one person do this to another person?”

Black Sunflowers

We drove by several fields of sunflowers on our way to and from both Zalaegerszeg and Kaposvar each week.  We curiously watched to see when the sunflowers would be harvested, and how they would do it.

We were amazed that they waited to harvest the sunflowers only after they had turned black.  The fields all looked like they contained nothing but wilting, withering dead plants.  After seeing the bright yellow and green sunflowers as they were maturing, it was haunting to see them turn into dark skeletons.Comparing Bright and Black Sunflowers

Then in late September a large combine swept through each of the fields, and collected the millions of sunflower seeds (along with the rest of the plant).

Moving to Pécs with New Assignments

As of about September 1, 2011, we were transferred from Szombathely to Pécs.  Pécs is about a four hour drive south and east of Szombathely.  It is a larger town than Szombathely, and our apartment is closer to the city center (belvaros).Map of Hungary

Living in the downtown area means more cars, trucks and sirens.  We are in a fairly quiet neighborhood that looks a lot like a town in England.Our Pecs Neighborhood

Our building has four stories, and we live on the third.  There is no elevator, but we do have a small underground parking place.Pecs Apartment Building

Our new address is:Brenda at Outside Door

  • Szendrey Júlia 40
  • 7623 Hungary Pécs

Our assignments in the Pécs Branch includes working with the Young Adults (to organize a Young Adult Center), and coordinating a Branch family home evening each week. Pécs has about 100 members, and they have about 60 attending each week.

In addition, we are to drive an hour and fifteen minutes northwest to Kaposvár twice a week. In that branch Elder Bailey is the first counselor in the Branch presidency, and Sister Bailey is the Relief Society President. The Kaposvár Branch has 40 members, and about 20 are active. One final assignment is to help those in the Komlo Branch (30 minutes north of Pécs) where we see a need.

We have four Elders serving in Pécs, and four serving in Kaposvár.

In Szombathely, we were only 12 minutes from the Austrian border. Now that we are in Pécs, we are about 30 minutes from Croatia.

Painting of an Old Hungarian Village (Hollókő)

We have tried to purchase a painting from each of the places we have visited in the world. Sister Bailey saw a print of this painting of Hollókő hanging in a small local art gallery. We had them track down the artist and find out if the original was for sale.  It was.  So our neighbor, Aron, helped us negotiate a reasonable price.Village Painting

We liked the picture because it showed the church, which is in every village, as well as the small homes (surrounded by flowers) along the main street.

The Missionaries Visit Sümeg Castle

On one day a week, the missionaries have a ‘p’ (preparation) day. This week, we took them to the underground boating cave, which all of the missionaries love, and then over to the Sümeg Castle. We planned to tour the old castle (built in the 1200s), and then attend a medieval show and jousting performance later in the day. After parking the car, we hiked up to the castle.Looking up at the castle from the parking area

The missionaries tried ‘stocking’ with the other visitors in the castle. They did this by locking their legs in the stocks, and when people asked why they were there, they would begin to teach them. This temporarily hampered their ability to tour the castle ruins and teach other investigators, but they still could distribute pass-along cards if anyone dared to get close to them.Hard to do Tracting

When they did get free, they decided to have a little fun with one of the younger missionaries.Having a Little Fun with the 'Greeny'

They then spent some time riding the battering ram, and other ‘medieval toys’.Elders on the Battering Ram

Finally it was time for the medieval performance. They had numerous acts, and many people in full costume involved.Sumeg Performers

The highlight of the evening was the medieval jousting, where knights competed to see who was really best. It was a great day as we experienced how Hungarians lived in the middle ages.Jousting Tournament

The Large Sunflowers are Blooming

As you drive from village to village in Hungary this time of year there are two things happening in the fields: (1) the many, many wheat fields are being harvested, and (2) the numerous fields of  sunflowers are ready to be harvested.Sunflowers

We find the sunflowers to be very interesting.  When we drive in the early morning, after the sun has been up for an hour or two, ALL of the sunflowers are looking in the same direction – toward the rising sun. Toward evening they are looking toward the setting sun.Sunflower

We Googled and found the following: “The sunflower originated in Central America. Young, growing sunflowers show a specific phototropic response known as heliotropism where they orient themselves according to the position of the sun and their orientation often changes from east to west Sister Bailey and Elder Bailey in a Sunflower Fieldduring the day as the sun changes its direction. At night the plants go back to their original position. The daily orientation of flowering heads continue until the plant attains maturity – then the movement stops. Most sunflower plants attain a height between 5 and 10 feet. The scientific literature reports that sunflower plants with a single headed flower have attained heights up to 24 feet in both the Netherlands and Canada.”



Weekend with the Bagozzi’s

Elder and Sister Bagozzi, the mission’s ‘office couple’ were assigned to speak in Szombathely on Sunday morning and in Zalaegerszeg on Sunday afternoon. We entered the Hungarian mission at about the same time as they did, and have had lunch and dinner with them on numerous occasions.Exploring Sumeg Castle

We invited them to come from Budapest Sigligeti Castle with Balaton in Backgrounda day early, go with us to explore the local castles, and then stay overnight at our apartment. On Saturday, we went to the Sumeg and Sigligeti Castles, and to the cave where the boats take you exploring deep underground (where it is cool). After a long day of exploring, we went to Szombathely’s belvaros (city square), and then to get pizza.

On Sunday, they spoke in our Branch, and then came to our apartment for lunch. We then jumped in our cars and drove to Zalaegerszeg, where they spoke again, and then headed for Budapest.Bagozzis and Baileys in Zalaegerszeg

© Copyright 2011 Our Hungarian Mission - By Bob and Brenda
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