A message of happiness and hope was given to Saints in Hungary recently during a visit by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve.
Elder Holland also visited LDS servicemen involved in Operation Joint Endeavor, the international peace enforcement mission, stationed in Bosnia, Serbia and Croatia - parts of the former Yugoslavia.Nearly a thousand Hungarian Saints gathered in a rented building, Nemzeti Sportesarnok, for an all-mission conference. Accompanying Elder Holland were Elder Dennis B. Neuenschwander of the Seventy and president of the Europe East Area, and Pres. John Toth of the Hungary Budapest Mission. Sister Neuenschwander and Sister Toth accompanied their husbands.
Prior to the conference, Elder Holland was interviewed by reporters from Magyar Televizio, Hungarian national television. Elder Holland and Elder Neuenschwander explained to them about the priesthood, and told of the beginnings of the Church in Hungary.
In his address at the conference, Elder Holland told the Saints how he had always admired the famous Hungarian freedom fighters and compared them with the members and missionaries in Hungary.
A highlight of Elder Holland's talk came when he called a young mother with her child to the stand. Holding the toddler in his arms, Elder Holland explained the power of sealing to the Saints. He emphasized that this sealing bond was so strong, "that no external power could break it if we remain faithful to the covenants we make. Heavenly Father has a plan prepared where all families can be sealed together forever in His Holy Temple."
Elder Holland went on to challenge the Saints to smile, to tell their friends and families about the gospel.
"You are the only way they will learn about these truths," he said. "The people of Hungary have the right to know they can be safe and through the gospel their children can never be taken from them."
Among those faithful Saints was Katalin Lazar from Szombathay, a widowed mother of three. As Elder Holland spoke specifically to the singles and widows, tears rolled down Sister Lazars' cheeks. During a short conversation with Sister Lazar, prior to the meeting, she made the statement that if she had lost her husband a few years earlier she would not have been able to handle it, but with the gospel and having been to the holy temple as a family, she knew the separation was only temporary.
Elder Holland commented that the day would soon come that no one building in Hungary would house all the Saints in the country.
Today there are about 2,500 members in Hungary, most of whom have been baptized in the last five years. During the last year, the Church completed the first three meetinghouses to be built in Hungary.
After leaving Hungary, Elder Holland and the other Church leaders were escorted by U.S. Army Maj. Jami Comish, senior group leader for the region, to a conference for a group of 20 members in Taszar, Hungary. They were joined by other servicemen and women who traveled from Slavonski Brod on the border of Croatia and the Serbian-held region of Bosnia-Herzegovina. The members were very grateful for the visit and the interest of the First Presidency in their efforts in peace-enforcement operations.
Elder Holland then traveled to Tuzla, Bosnia, and spoke to about 70 service men and women from base camps throughout the American sector. There, soldiers, sailors and airmen had an opportunity to associate with Elder Holland.
The service members, though tired, crowded into the small, hot facility and were refreshed by instruction from Elder Holland, Elder Neuenschwander and their stake president, Pres. Larry A. Mickelsen of the Germany Service Members Stake.
In his address, Elder Holland emphasized that the service personnel, though thousands of miles from their homes and families, are not alone. As he looked upon the smiling faces of the group, Elder Holland said, "I can see in your faces, the faces of your loved ones; your mothers and fathers, your sons and daughters, your brothers and sisters and the loved ones who are praying for you and looking forward to your return - bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh. They are lending their support to you in whatever ways they can and you need to acknowledge their efforts and love them for their concern and interest in you, even as you have great concern and interest in them."