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Mission Information

Information for HunBud Missionaries

Useful Information

written by Jarrod Ribble, December 1996

Quick Reference: Weather Transportation Food Accomodations Language


The weather in Hungary is mildly seasonal. Winters are cold, but not too cold. I don't think I ever saw it get below -6 C (about 15 F) - and that would have been really cold. It does snow, but not so much that it causes a big problem. If you have a good overcoat, hat, gloves, scarf and thermals you can stay outside almost all day. Although I can't imagine why you'd want to.

Summers are fairly humid, and it can get uncomfortable to be in the sun too long. It wouldn't be so bad with shorts and t-shirt, but we don't have that option. Short-sleeve shirts are a real blessing on hot summer days. A couple pairs of machine washable slacks are nice, too. You probably won't be wanting to wear dry-clean only wool suit pants every day. it can get uncomfortable and expensive.

Hungary's very flat, and in spring and fall rain can blow in without much notice and it blows out just as quickly. A nice compact, lightweight umbrella is a real blessing. I suppose a really light waterproof raincoat would be good, too. I always had my umbrella in my bag at that time of the year, which wouldn't have been worth it if it had been unwieldy.


Hungary is a fairly densely populated place. Public transportation is really good, so most missionaries are expected to use it. Bicycles aren't allowed. Many zone leaders have cars, but not those serving in Budapest. Trains are probably the best way to travel between cities. They come often, are usually on time, and don't cost too much. Buses also travel regularly between cities and aren't bad. They do a good job of filling in the gaps. If you're travelling from one side of the country to another, often you'll have to go to Budapest first and then to your destination, even if it's way out of the way.

Travel inside of cities is done mostly by bus. Budapest is a special case, since it's really pretty huge. Budpest's mass transit includes buses, street-cars, subways, and the HÉV, a "suburban railway system." The system you use most will depend on where you are in Budapest. They're all pretty good. Most of the people in Budapest use the public transportation system, so it runs often. You don't even really need to know when things run, because most routes run about every 10 minutes. I've heard you need to watch out for pickpocketers, and I've heard stories about missionaries who have had things stolen, but other than that the transportation is pretty safe. Though you might see some pretty interesting people....

Outside of Budapest the city transportation varies. All of them have bus systems, but the frequency and layout of routes can be quite different. The transportation you'll use will depend on the city, where you live and where you work at the time. Walking's good, too. It keeps you fit.

Your shoes will be your greatest friend. I bought a nice pair of Gore-tex lined shoes in my first city. You can find all sorts of good shoes in the country, and service for any shoes you might have. Bring something comfortable, more comfortable than dressy. Conservative, polishable hiking-style boots are my personal favorite.


Hungarian food is really good. It's spicy, too. The main flavor is paprika, which comes in many varieties, not just the red powder you sprinkle on deviled eggs. Paprikas are peppers, and the legendary Hungarian can eat food that will fry a lesser man's mouth. In reality not every Hungarian likes hot peppers, but a large majority of them do. A proper Hungarian meal starts with soup, has a main course, and ends with sütemény. Some favorites are stuffed cabbage (töltött káposzta - cabbage leaves stuffed with rice and pork), stuffed paprika (töltött paprika - peppers stuffed with rice and pork, served in a tomato sauce), goulash (gulyás - a soup with large pieces of meat and various vegetables), chicken paprika (paprikás csirke - diced chicken in a sauce flavored with paprika and sour cream. Served with noodles or galuska) and potatos paprika (paprikás krumpli - potatos in a paprika sauce, also often served with noodles). They cook with more oil than most Americans, but it certainly tastes good. Pork is king, as historically it was the easiest to keep ahold of. (Hungary was occupied by Turks for a good long time, and Muslims don't eat pork.) A great event to see is a pig killing (diszno vágás), a family affair that starts with killing and butchering a fattened pig and ends with sausage making and a very fresh meal. It's quite an event, especially in the country.

There's no worry about water or special viruses. I believe Hungary is the only mission in the Eastern Bloc that doesn't require the famous "peanut-butter" shot. Mothers can be relieved, because food is plentiful, safe, and actually quite good. There's even more and more opportunities to find "foreign foods" like peanut butter.


Missionaries usually live in apartments as single companionships. The apartments vary in size, usually about two rooms in large apartment complexes. Most of the people in the cities live in apartment complexes. They're usually pretty comfortable. The heating is either a central heating system that serves several buildings or gas heaters installed in most rooms. The hot water is done the same way, either heated centrally or by small inline gas heaters placed above the bathtub. The former is pretty expensive and has the drawback of annual service which means there is no hot water in the apartment for about a week. The latter is cheaper, but it doesn't heat fast enough for you to ever get any decent water pressure. It can also be dangerous for sister missionaries. There have been more than one sister to start her hair on fire by getting too close to gas appliances. The kitchens are usually really small, but adequate for missionaries' needs. More and more apartments have automatic washing machines inside of them, small ones that sit next to your bathtub. It makes laundry much easier.

The Language

Hungarian is considered by many to be one of the most difficult languages in the world for English speakers to learn. It's not really related to any other languages in the area. It's considered a distant relative to Finnish, a member of the Finn-Ugor language family. Other than that it's really quite different. It's a beautiful language, and not impossible to learn. It just takes a lot of practice. Reading in Hungarian is easy, once you know the basic sounds. Each letter in Hungarian writing corresponds to a specific sound, which never really changes. It makes it really easy to read words you've never seen before and pronounce them perfectly.

Hungarians are proud of their language and their history. If you make the effort to learn something of them, the people you meet will be impressed. It's well worth the effort, too, because the history is great and inspiring and the language is really beautiful. Hungarians pride themselves on a rich library of poetry. Unfortunately, it's not really something that can be shared with those not familiar with the language, as the poems really lose their artistic quality in translation.


On being called to the best mission in the world. Work hard, love the people as you serve them and Hungary will become a second home. It truly is a choice land with a choice people, and all those priveleged to serve there can show their thanks by losing themselves in the work.

Note to returned missionaries: Updates are appreciated and wanted! If you have anything to add, or if something has changed, please let us know.
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    Country maps and flags are courtesy of the World Factbook (public domain).
    World Factbook article on Hungary
    Introduction - Geography - People - Government
    Economy - Communications - Transportation - Transnational Issues

    Population: 10.02 million (#74 out of 245 countries)

    People Groups of Hungary
    # Group Primary Language Population Percent
    1. Hungarian-Magyar Hungarian 10318000 102.9%

    Selected people groups and language data from and other sources.
    Total population of above peoplegroups: 10318000 (102.96% of national total).

    Cities of Hungary
    # City Population Local Map # City Population Local Map
    1. Budapest 1962855 Map 2. Debrecen 214245 Map
    3. Miskolc 185877 Map 4. Szeged 173860 Map
    5. Pécs 167772 Map 6. Györ 129089 Map
    7. Nyiregyhaza 114276 Map 8. Székesfehérvár 108868 Map
    9. Kecskemet 105064 Map 10. Dunaujvaros -
    11. Eger - 12. Erd -
    13. Papa - 14. Szombathely -
    15. Vesprem -

    City population data courtesy of GRID-Arendal

    Population living in cities over 100,000: 3161906 (31.55% of national total).

    Weekly average in church (all faiths): 2104410
    Weekly National Church Attendance (all faiths): 21%
    LDS Membership: 3605. (#67 out of 245 countries.)
    Approx. LDS Activity Rate: 28%
    Approx. Active Members: 1009
    LDS, as percentage of churchgoers: 0.047%
    LDS, as percent of population: 0.0359%
    Active LDS, as percent of Population: 0.01%
    Missions: 1 (#36 out of 245 countries.)
    Temples: 0
    Stakes: 0
    Districts: 3 (#38 out of 245 countries.)
    Wards: 0
    Branches: 19
    Total Church Units: 19 (#58 out of 245 countries.)
    Population per ward or branch: 527421
    Average members per unit: 189
    Average active members per unit: 52

    LDS Membership Growth in Hungary

    Membership growth graphs courtesy of Mark Davies' ww-lds. Used with permission.

    Annual LDS Membership Growth
    Year Members Annual Growth Rate Wards Branches Units Unit Growth Rate Proportional Index
    1992 600 % 0 10 10 66.66% N/A%
    1994 1400 40% 0 18 18 28.57% 71.4%
    1996 2100 20% 0 20 20 5.26% 26.3%
    1998 2800 14.28% 0 19 19 -2.56% -17.9%
    2000 3191 6.52% 0 19 19 0% 0%
    2002 3605 6.28% 0 19 19 0% 0%

    LDS membership and unit data 1976-2000 from Mark Davies' WW-LDS.

    Proportional Index is the ratio of the increase in units to the increase in membership. A proportional index of 100% means that membership and church units are growing at the same rate. A proportional index of greater than 100% indicates that unit growth is greater than membership growth, suggestive of increasing activity or high convert retention rates. Proportional ratios below 100% indicate that fewer new units are formed than expected by membership growth. This may be due to the transition of units from branches to wards, or it may represent low retention or activity rates. There may also be a time lag between membership increase and the creation of new units.

    Current LDS Membership Growth Rate: 6.28% (#60 out of 245 countries).
    Current LDS Unit Growth Rate: 0%
    Hungary Annual Population Growth Rate: -0.33% (#234 out of 245 countries.)
    Relative LDS Population Growth Rate (LDS membership growth rate minus population growth rate): 6.61%
    Relative LDS Unit Growth Rate (LDS unit growth rate minus population growth rate): 0.33%

    Projected LDS Growth
    Projected growth at current growth rate (from last four years' average):
    Year Proj. Population Proj. Members Proj. Units
    2004 9954970 4072 19
    2007 9856740 4889 19
    2012 9695173 6632 19
    2022 9379941 12204 19

    Projections assume a constant growth rate; however, growth rates are rarely constant.

    Major Religious Groups
    # Faith Congregations Active Members Adherents Percent Annual Growth Projected adherents, 2010
    - Population - - 10021000 100% -0.33% 9695173
    1. Catholic - - 6764100 67.5% -0.33% 6544170
    2. Calvinist - - 2004200 20% -0.33% 1939034
    3. Lutheran - - 501000 5% -0.33% 484710
    4. atheist and other - - 751500 7.5% -0.33% 727065
    5. Jehovah's Witnesses 245 21253 41865 0.41% 4.5% 65015
    6. Seventh-day Adventists 110 4426 8852 0.08% 1% 9778
    7. Latter-day Saints 19 1009 3605 0.0359% 6.28% 6632

    Country religious adherents data courtesy of the World Factbook. LDS membership and unit data is from the LDS Church Almanac. Seventh-day Adventist active membership and growth rate statistics are from the Adventist yearbook statistical reports. Jehovah's Witness data is from the Jehovah's Witness yearly statistical report. Other data is from a variety of sources available upon request.

    Full-time LDS Missions
    1. Hungary Budapest

    Average baptisms per mission per month: 17.2
    Average new converts retained per mission per year: 57

    Mission Productivity ranking: 49
    Mission productivity ranking, is ranked among all countries with full-time missions. Ranking is per mission rather than per missionary. Countries with small missions are much more productive per missionary than suggested by the mission productivity ranking alone, while countries with larger missions are slightly less productive. A rank of 72 correlates with no net member increase per mission. Rankings above 72 imply positive growth, while rankings below 72 suggest membership loss.

    Quality Adjusted Mission Productivity Ranking: 50
    The Quality Adjusted Mission Productivity Ranking is a measure of growth accounting for member activity and convert retention rates.

    International LDS Atlas: Hungary

    Maps from Marc Schindler's International LDS Atlas. Used with permission.

    Photos of Hungary
    Left: Tihany Ter Chapel in Budapest, Hungary
    Right: Tihany Ter Chapel view 2
    Left: Tihany Ter Chapel view 3
    Right: Tihany Ter Chapel interior
    Left: Tihany Ter Chapel view 5
    Right: Kispest chapel in Budapest, Hungary, photo courtesy of Hungary Budapest Mission Alumni Site
    Left: Closeup of Kispest chapel entrance, photo courtesy of Hungary Budapest Mission Alumni Site
    Right: Budapest 1
    Left: Budapest 2
    Right: Budapest 3
    Left: Budapest 4
    Right: Budapest 5
    Left: Horses in Budapest, Hungary
    Right: Old Hungary Budapest mission home
    Left: Heroes' Square (hosokter), Budapest, Hungary
    Right: Organ in Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary
    Left: Table tennis players at a park in Budapest, Hungary
    Right: Hungarian Parliament, Budapest

    Hungary Church News and Ensign Articles
    # Date Article Source
    1. 7/2/88 Church Granted Legal Recognition in Hungary. Church News
    2. 9/1/88 Hungary Grants LDS Church Legal Recognition. Ensign (p. 75)
    3. 9/24/88 Stake Opens Homes to 50 Hungarians. Church News
    4. 2/1/89 Anna Nadasdi: Preserving Her Pedigree. Ensign (p. 72-73)
    5. 4/1/89 He Beckoned Me. Ensign (p. 60-61)
    6. 8/12/89 Unlike Earlier British Emigrants, This Couple Headed East, Not West. Church News
    7. 10/1/89 Getting Things Started. New Era (p. 34-37)
    8. 11/11/89 Meetinghouse Dedicated in Hungary. Church News
    9. 3/3/90 Eight New Missions Added to Europe. Church News
    10. 6/1/90 Teaching the Gospel with Karlcibaci. (Condie, Spencer J.) Ensign (p. 14)
    11. 6/1/90 The Gospel in Hungary--Then and Now. Ensign (p. 8-14)
    12. 7/1/90 Church Creates New Missions in Europe, Asia. Ensign (p. 79)
    13. 6/22/91 Singers Are Celebrities in Hungary's Capital City. Church News
    14. 6/22/91 Choir Wending Way Through Europe. Church News
    15. 7/20/91 Choir's Media Impact. Church News
    16. 10/1/91 An Encore of the Spirit. [tour of middle Europe and Russia] Ensign (p. 32-53)
    17. 12/1/91 Drama on the European Stage. (Nelson, Russell M.) Ensign (p. 6-17)
    18. 3/1/92 Hungarian Museum Donates Collection of Dried Plants. Ensign (p. 77)
    19. 5/30/92 Hungarian Gift 'Is Particularly Sweet.' Church News
    20. 6/27/92 Seeking to Enthrone Religious Liberty. Church News
    21. 7/11/92 Faith, Courage Sustain German Couple. Church News
    22. 12/5/92 News Article Sparks Memory of Hungarian. Church News
    23. 3/1/93 Hungary for the Gospel. New Era (p. 8-10)
    24. 4/1/93 Alone With God. Ensign (p. 50-52)
    25. 6/1/95 Joseph, Son of Joseph. New Era (p. 24-27)
    26. 9/1/95 Light Out of Darkness. New Era (p. 20-25)
    27. 5/1/96 Horvath Gergo, Imre, and Peter of Budapest, Hungary. Friend (p. 16-18)
    28. 8/24/96 Elder Holland Visits Hungary, Bosnia. Church News
    29. 9/1/96 Sister Sisters. [Nagy Erika and Palinkas Bernadett] New Era (p. 28-31)
    30. 11/1/96 Elder Holland Visits Bosnia and Hungary. Ensign (p. 108)
    Country Church News and Ensign Article database courtesy of Mark Davies WW-LDS. Used with permission.

    History, Culture, and Analysis

    They are proud of their heritage. Hungary was still prosperous and open during the Communist Regime. Hugarians value family, education, security, property, and independence.

    Part I: History and Culture


    Population: 10.4 million.
    Worldwide Hungarian population: 15 million. Over two million ethnic Hungarians live in neighboring Romania, Slovakia, and northern

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