Hungary for the Gospel

“Hungary for the Gospel,” New Era, Mar. 1993, 9

Hungary for the Gospel

Miracles in a newly opened country.

Now was the time. My companion and I felt it, and we knew what we had to do. I looked at our friends and spoke with all the faith I had. “We have talked for a few weeks now about the gospel of Jesus Christ,” I said, “and now we want to know if you will be baptized?” The silence hung there for a moment. We had all felt the Spirit that night.

She looked at us, this charming mother and her only child, her 30-year-old daughter. “Yes,” she said, “I suppose I know that I must.” Her daughter nodded her assent as well. We had the commitment. The plans were made. We had a little over two weeks to set up everything. And that was the biggest problem.

Oh, we could baptize, all right. The Hungarian government allowed us that now—not like back in January, when it became angry about our trying to use a hotel swimming pool. No, we had permission to baptize now. We had permission to preach openly and to wear our name tags. The only thing we lacked now was a font. And a place to put it.

We still had no meetinghouse in Hungary. Our tiny branch of about ten members from Budapest, a city of two and a half million people, met every Sunday in the bedroom of our small apartment overlooking the Danube River and the Communist Party building. It was cozy. But when we began sitting on overturned trash cans because we lacked seats, we knew it was time to find a real church house with a baptismal font.

Our mission president continually told us to work toward our goals with faith, and the Lord wouldn’t let us down. It had worked before. This time, though, we had no idea how the Lord could help us reach our goal of baptizing this mother and daughter. As the weather began to turn colder, the outdoor pool we had used before was covered and drained. The hotel pool we had tried to use back in January was off limits, and the Danube was flowing dangerously fast—too fast for the mother, now 60 years old. Time was short, and we were out of ideas.

My companion and I did the only thing we could think of. We prayed, and we prayed hard. But as the baptismal date approached, no solution was in sight.

Two weeks before they were to be baptized, the Lord sent his first miracle. The Church bought a large house in the hills of Buda, large enough for church meetings. Now we had the building, but we still had no font.

Talking with the mother and her daughter was like seeing the glow of a newborn child—we felt renewed in spirit with every visit. We knew they had a deep love for, and faith in, Jesus Christ. We told them of our problem finding a font. They replied that they knew the Lord would provide a way for them to be baptized on the day we had set. “We Hungarians keep our commitments,” said the daughter. “God will keep his.”

Two days before the baptism, we received a call from our mission president. “Good morning, elders,” he said.

“It isn’t a very good morning here, president,” I replied. I was beginning to think the Lord had let us down.

“I cannot agree with you,” he said. “I know it is a wonderful morning. I am coming to see you. And I am bringing your font.”

It was true. When the president arrived, in the back of his car was a portable font, found in a basement somewhere in Germany and rushed to Budapest. It took two days to transport it, two hours to set it up, and 15 hours to fill it with water. But it was a font.

Our friends were elated, but not surprised. “We had faith,” the mother said.

The water in the font was very cold and was colored a light rose from the rust in the house’s aging pipes. No one seemed to notice. We had no electricity in the building yet, so we lit candles. Our hymns were played on a cassette player using batteries, which eventually grew weak and stopped working. So we sang “Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow” and “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” hymns we all knew. Some sang in Hungarian; we sang in English. It all sounded like one tongue to me.

After the baptism, we confirmed them members of the Church and blessed them with the gift of the Holy Ghost. They sat on a rickety chair with a white sheet draped over it. The rest of us sat on the stairs. It was a moment none of us will ever forget.

That night the Lord proved to us again that any seed can grow in any soil when it is watered by faith and receives his light.

Photography courtesy of Christopher J. H. Jones and Brother Alen Macfarlane

As seen from a viewpoint in Buda across the Danube River to Pest, the parliament building in Hungary glows with a radiant light that seems to symbolize the move toward truth and freedom. (Top to bottom) The Haraszti family hosts a group of missionaries before open proselytizing is allowed. The author, standing to the far right, waits with a Russian family and a Hungarian couple as they prepare for baptism. The first priesthood meeting held in Hungary occupied one room of a small apartment. The view from that same apartment overlooks the Danube River. (Far right) Elder Chris Jones stands with Evi and Josephine Pikola, mother and daughter, as they await baptism.

Finding a font to perform the sacred ordinance of baptism seemed like an insurmountable task. But the Lord provided a way that the commitments made by two of his Hungarian daughters could be kept. They came to understand Nephi’s faith (see 1 Ne. 3:7). Brother and Sister Macfarlane, while serving a mission in Hungary, pose for a photo by the portable baptismal font.