First of all, plans for me and Ben's wedding are going very well. We are all settled on getting married the 16th of February. Mom and I spend a few hours a week on the phone discussing and planning. She has an assignment every week and so do I. When our weekly talk comes around we pool our notes and what we’ve accomplished for the week and make decisions. Mom has been wonderful! She is so cute about getting clippings of flowers, cakes, bouquets, center-pieces, act and scanning them over to me. She’s putting a lot of work into our wedding. I have her running all over Billings doing things for me, and she has just been so fun about it. We are enjoying the process a lot, and I can’t wait to be back and help out with wedding plans in the flesh!
This past week I spent 4 days in Budapest Hungary. It was so wonderful! I love Budapest! It is a very beautiful city and there is so much to do! I also learned a lot about the history which was really interesting and sad. I have never heard much about Hungary, but it really went through a lot and I’m surprised that it’s not talked of more. After World War II, they were taken over by the Communists. It was a very scary time and didn’t end completely until about 15 years ago. The government literally bugged the whole country. The phones were tapped, homes were bugged, there were spies in church, and everywhere the people went they were afraid of being randomly arrested. Civilians were taken to a certain prison for no apparent reason and tortured for years. It’s a terrifying story. I went to the old jail they were taken to. It was very scary. I couldn’t believe what happened to these people who had done nothing. They usually had no idea why they were there. There was no rhyme or reason to it. They just took people off the streets. I won’t describe to you the means of torture that I saw, but it was terrifying. The basement, where all the torture cells were, still stunk from disease and human decay. It was a hard, but good experience to see and understand what they went through.
The more time I spend in Europe and the more I learn about the history of individual countries, the more I love America. I can’t tell you how patriotic I have become. I have always loved our country and appreciated the freedom we enjoy, but I don’t think I ever understood what the rest of the world is like. I talked to people on the streets of Hungary who remember that time of fear and sadness very well. It was not that long ago that it was still going on. I can not imagine living in the kind of fear they described living in. I cannot express how grateful I am and how blessed I feel to call the United States of America my home land. I love our country. Some of my friends talked to a woman on the street who asked where they were from. When they replied “The US.” She said, “Oh you come from the blessed land! There is no sadness there. You are so lucky. It is so horrible here”. It is interesting because we walk around looking at all the beautiful buildings, the opera houses, the parliament buildings, the gardens, the landscape, and we think “how wonderful Europe is”. As soon as you dig past the tourist appeal, you start to understand that those things mean nothing to the people. The things they think of are the freedom they’ve lived without, the darkness in their lives during times of war, and their fear of the government. These are the things that matter most. It is beautiful here, and the culture is rich, but there is no place like my beloved homeland. I will never wish that I lived anywhere else. I can’t imagine calling another place my home. People ridicule America because they think we are a pompous nation, that we lack culture and historical substance, and that we seek to control the world. The truth is, America is the best nation in the world, and to say so is not pompous. It is just true. As for history and culture, we happen to have the history and culture of all nations of the world brought together into one flourishing nation. And I don’t recall any time in our history when the cruelty I’ve learned about was dispensed amongst countrymen. We have the horrors of slavery to look to, and I don’t discredit what an awful thing it was, but what I have seen and learned about over here is FAR worse.
I have one more patriotic push to make. I am republican through and through. My convictions in my political standing have become stronger than ever. I have listened to a lot of criticism on the War in Iraq, even from LDS people, and I have some words to say about that. In almost every concentration camp, jail house, work camp, torture chamber I have seen, the end of its existence came when an American flag was sighted in the distance. Many of these places have huge memorials built for the American soldiers who liberated the innocent captives. “Their sacrifice to liberate will never be forgotten”. I hear a lot of people saying that we are in Iraq to get oil, that we are seeking to push our ideals onto a people who don’t want it, that we are putting our noses in the business of a country we have no authority to put our noses into. I see these same people going to museums at concentration camps and I see them saying “This is so awful, how could such a thing happen?” It’s true, it is awful! At the end of touring facilities such as these, the tour ALWAYS ends with something to this affect, “We need to remember the past and use it to prevent this sort of thing in the present and future from happening”. People shake their heads in agreement and seem deeply moved. Then I see these same people go out and fighting the war that we are involved in. HELLO!!!!!! Are we missing something here? Are these horrible things not happening all over the world still? Are we not fighting to liberate the innocent people in these countries where unexplained persecution, torture, and death are taking place? Have we not put a stop to things exactly like this by bringing Sadam Hussein (sp?) down? We have, we are fighting the very same horrors. So why do these people,e so horrified and disturbed by what they see in these museums, fight the war? I could go on for hours. All I have to say is that in a few decades there will probably be museums in Iraq about torture chambers, about jails, about oppression from the government, and memorials for the people who are dying there right now without a cause. I hope every person, American or not, who fight the war right now will walk through them and feel like idiots because they fought the liberation of these people they are looking at pictures of. The only way evil can prevail is enough good people stand by and do nothing. That is why I stand by our president. That is why I think America is the greatest nation in the world. I love my home land! I am so proud to be an American! A lot of the kids here talk to the Europeans and insult our country because they feel like Europeans are so much better than Americans and they want the Europeans to know that they think America is crap. I hold my head high. I am an American through and through and I am proud of my country.
Ok, I hope you are all doing well. I love you very much and I can’t wait to be back in the States by Christmas time. I will kiss the ground I walk on! Thank you for your prayers and support. I love you all, and I will write again soon!
Yummy.....This is eggplant slices with a tomato and fresh grilled mozzarella cheese on top, jasmine rich in the middle and a wonderful tomato sauce and cheese sauce on either side. It was SO yummy! -Christina
These are bullets left in the buildings after WWII
Looks like Disneylands Castle
In front of the train station. It was designed by Eifel.....same guy who designed the Eifel Tower
View of Budapest..... beautiful!
Underground...In the Labrynth