Saturday, June 15, 2013

15 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Monday, 10 June (10 Days Left)
Well, in ten days I’ll be home.  I can’t remember too much about today.  Because the Carpenter’s were gone for a while in the afternoon, we wound up stuck in the office.  We had a Staff Meeting this morning.  In the evening once we made it out, we finished calling everyone in our Area Book.  Despite our companionship being open five times longer than Szolnok, we had less than half as many numbers.  I am now half-way done re-reading my journals.  My miracle is that today Heather left for Africa, to spend the next two and a half weeks in Kenya.  I’ll beat her home now.  It will be interesting to hear what experiences she has. 

Tuesday, 11 June
Each day now brings me closer and closer to the end of my mission.  Our monthly Book of Mormon shipment of 610 copies arrived this morning, so we got to haul them all downstairs.  It was my last Zone Conference today.  President Smith gave a training on obedience, followed by Sister Smith on enduring to the end.  The Assistants talked about desire, and Sister Hardy focused on companionship exchanges.  The Zone Leaders had the last training on commitments.  At the end of the conference, Elder Swett and I gave our departing testimonies.  It was surprising intimidating!  Well, so much for my mission transforming me into a fearlessly confident lion.  We learned today that a sister from Kecskemet recently opened her mission call and has been called to serve…Magyarországon!  Looks like we’ll soon have a Hungarian Elder and Sister.  Today I translated a page long legal document President Smith received.  Legal talk is hard enough to understand in English.  In Hungarian it’s near impossible.  We didn’t have any time to teach or proselyte today.  Elder Loveday finished making cinnamon rolls in the evening.  My miracle today is that I have very little left that I need to do before the end of my mission.
Wednesday, 12 June
Two dogs today.  Today was also Zone Conference for two of the other four zones.  It was my last chance to see many of the missionaries from the southern areas.  We met with S today.  A came with us to help, which he definitely did.  We focused the discussion on the Restoration and the Holy Ghost.  A appeared to be able to get through to him in parts where we couldn’t seem to connect.  We spent the rest of our day translating and helping around the office.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to proselyte today.  My miracle is the progress I’ve made with the language, even in the office, despite not being able to use it as much as when I was in the field.
Thursday, 13 June
One cancellation today due to E becoming sick again.  In the morning we had apartment inspections.  Due to the Carpenter’s and Smith’s being gone, we were stuck in the office all day.  We met with I and M.  R came to our program.  We mostly talked about temples and the Holy Ghost.  After their program was my last Angolora class.  The class was once again smaller, with only eleven attending compared to the twenty-seven at the start of the transfer.  In the late evening, we received a call from President Smith.  He let us know that Elder Magda has been called to take my place as the new secretary.  The miracle of the day is that I have one week left and each day will be different with significant steps in each:  Friday – Elder Magda arrives;  Saturday – last preparation day;  Sunday – final time attending church in Hungary;  Monday – main training day;  Tuesday – Transfer call day;  Wednesday – last day!

Friday, 14 June
With the third and final Zone Conference being today, with everyone else from the office attending it, Elder Loveday and I were left to hold down the fort.  We met with another S today (the one from several weeks ago who said God had “washed his hands” with us).  Our meeting with him today went significantly better than last time, concluding, after a lesson on obedience and commandments, with S saying he would join the Church if it were not for one thing: the temples.  He insisted that he cannot accept how secretive the temples are or how we perform ordinances for the dead; claiming it is undoctrinal and that Christ always taught openly and not in secret.  I don’t agree with either of those statements, but currently S is convinced about them.        

Well, this is my last preparation day, my two year mark, and my mission concludes on Thursday.  I hope that all you readers have enjoyed the entries and have been somehow enlightened or uplifted from them.  I’ve loved my mission and am so glad that I have had this chance to serve the people of Hungary as well as the Lord.  I’m sad to bring an end to my service as a full-time missionary, but am excited to come home and see many of you again!  Thanks for reading!
                                                                                                                          -Shipp Elder

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15 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

8 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 1 June
Preparation day today.  Elder Loveday and I went to the tourist traps of Váci útca and Fűvámtér.  After stopping to get lunch at IKEA (probably the only hotdogs I’ve had on my mission, and definitely the best ones if there actually were any others), we went over 45 minutes early for E’s baptism.  While waiting for the program to start we had a fair amount of time to talk with E as well as her three relatives who came to see her baptism.  There were actually two baptisms.  M, an investigator the Pest Elders have been teaching, was baptized as well.  My miracle is that we never did encounter any real problems or set-backs in our experiences with E and preparing her for baptism.  The fact that we never really got much of a phone number or address for her made quite a potential problem, but thankfully nothing ever became of it.

Sunday, 2 June
We attended the Pest Ward today.  It was smaller than I remember it or thought it would be.  There were also more English speakers there than Hungarian speakers.  It made the hymns harder to sing and not as pretty as half were singing in Hungarian and half in English and didn’t mix or match well.  We saw and took part in E’s confirmation.  Elder Loveday, the Bishop, and I all stood in as Elder Bebel confirmed her.  After, we stayed for the rest of church as well.  We made it back to Buda in time for the end of priesthood.  Later we went tabling and had studies.  My miracle is that I got to see and be there for E, start to finish.  We were the ones she found and talked to; we taught her all the lessons, baptized her, and were there for her confirmation.  However, now that she’s a member, I told the Pest Sisters they should try to meet with her once a week.  Our experiences with E have drawn to a close.

Monday, 3 June
I’m happy I have so many mission memories.  I’m thankful that I’ve been able to keep a daily journal throughout my whole mission.  One program dogged us today.  During the morning and afternoon I spent my time completing 100 pages for the next set of Hivatal Packets, however, we still need 70 more pages.  I want to leave enough for the new secretary to practice and learn, but not overload him.  During the early afternoon we also had a Staff Meeting and I had one of my last interviews with President Smith.  In the evening we went streeting.  However, I’ve gotten lazy in my approach and it’s not working too well.  I need to start putting more energy and active, conscious testimony into it.  My miracle today is that while “men are that they might have joy,” “missionaries are that they might share joy.”

Tuesday, 4 June
Well, it looks like we’re still going to fall short this week work-wise.  Over half of our current investigators aren’t able to meet this week because they’re off celebrating the first week of summer.  Summer and its start really are causing our work to drop.  While in the office today I completely re-read and revised the “Secretary Handbook.”  In the evening we met with the M family.  They are a family of a mom, a dad, and their two teenage sons.  They are all strong, practicing Catholics and met with the missionaries in the past.  They are hard to teach since they feel like they are already familiar with everything in Christ’s gospel.  In addition, because they both have jobs (meaning the parents, as well as one son, I guess), because their family is healthy and strong with them all getting along with each other, and with them all already being active, practicing Christians; they don’t feel like we really have much if anything to offer.  They are all really friendly and nice though.  Earlier tonight I received a call from Elder Miller in Szolnok.  A and G are both getting baptized in a week and a half on June 16th, and I’ve been asked to return to perform a baptism or two!  Also, tonight I reviewed some goals I set for myself on my mission, and while there are many of them that I have accomplished, there is one in particular I am not going to make.  Reflection on these goals has helped me become more honest with myself though.  My miracle for today is that my family has written me every week of my mission.  While they may have forgotten once or twice and been a little late, they’ve still managed to continue emailing me every week during these two years.  And I’m grateful for it!

Wednesday, 5 June
So, currently in this section of Europe there’s a lot of flooding.  Some neighboring countries are facing much worse situations, but here in Hungary the Danube (or Duna) River is flooding.  It’s supposed to continue rising until Monday and already the streets closest to the river are completely submerged, with the second road soon to be as well.  It’s also letting off a bit of a stench.  We met with a man named S from the Area Book for the first time today.  He met with the elders a couple times some five years ago until they dropped him.  S wants to prove everything with science until there are no doubts left and claims to find it impossible to believe in anything that he still has questions about.  He’s going to take a miracle to convert; but if it takes a miracle, then why not?  We also made it out to the H family for the second time.  They fed us dinner again.  We met their children and learned that they’ll soon be moving.  We ended our evening sharing a message with them about eternal families.  My miracle today is that more religions are beginning to cooperate to combat secularism and defend many people’s freedom of religion and its role in society.

Thursday, 6 June
Today was a slower day, mostly because I had a hard time and did a terrible job of focusing on the work.  Dah!  This morning we made a Hivatal Run with Elder Bennett and Sister Rupard so they could get their pictures and fingerprints re-taken for their Residency Permits.  We later met with E.  R was there.  We reviewed the first half of the Plan of Salvation, some of which E had forgotten.  After, we met with I and L.  We also talked with them about the Plan of Salvation.  They kept their reading commitment and committed to come to church this weekend.  Lastly was Angolora.  It was my last time teaching it, as Elder Loveday will be teaching it next week.  E came, so I got to see and talk to her.  My miracle is that since E re-appeared and began meeting with us, she has only missed attending church on one Sunday, when she was sick.

Friday, 7 June
More Hivatal work today.  We had a District Meeting today, with a training on questions.  It was the last district meeting of my mission.  I found out today that I will not be able to go to Szolnok for the baptisms, as I need to be here training the new secretary.  We had one program with a referral from a member.  However, we learned two other Elders are teaching him already, and after we got started they walked in (that’s how we learned).  Oops, that was a little awkward.  In the evening Elder Loveday shared a message on hope and faith at the YSA Gofri Est.  The miracle of the day is that I love my mission.

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8 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

1 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 25 May
We spent this Preparation Day with the Assistants.  After the four of us emailed we all left for Esztergom.  Esztergom is a cathedral-castle (it’s positioned up on a hill and surrounded by a wall, and used to be an enormous castle a couple centuries ago).  It’s currently the largest Cathedral in Hungary.  Afterwards we took further advantage of the AP’s car and went shopping with them at Auchin.  In the evening the four of us joined the crowd attending the Walker family concert.  There were a lot of people there.  With the Walkers, today was probably the day I’ve seen the most blonds in one place since leaving the MTC. 

Sunday, 26 May
At Church today, only E attended out of our investigators.  I’m still praying that L’s wife will recover so she can come to church, be taught the lessons, and be baptized.  The would-have-been Sunday School teacher didn’t show up, so the Assistants winged an impromptu Sunday School lesson.  After church, Elder Loveday and I went tabling for several hours.  However, very few people were outside and even fewer were receptive.  We haven’t had a very successful week missionary-work-wise.  My miracle reflection is that while our missionary work isn’t increasing currently, I’m gratefully glad that my piano and cooking skills have improved over my mission.

Monday, 27 May
Today was a Hivatal Day.  This morning we took Sister Grigg and Sister Maxfield to submit the applications for their residency cards.  It was my second to last trip, my last being next Thursday to retake some pictures and fingerprinting.  In addition to the Hivatal, we’ve had a bunch of workers in the Mission Office and YSA level cleaning everything and we got kicked out of the office for a couple hours.  We met with E today.  R was there.  We talked about Christ-like Attributes and service.  The program went great and E’s bringing all her relatives to her baptism as well as set-up a program between us and one of her friends who she has already given a Book of Mormon to, and will be coming with her friend to meet with us on Thursday.  Awesome!  Our second program was with M.  He asked if we could watch the Restoration Film, then practically had his face glued to the screen the whole time.  In addition to watching the movie, we talked about faith and enduring to the end.  M is still reading and praying, and he asked us if it was still okay for him to be baptized in August.  Of course!  Things are going well with him. In the evening we devoted our time to calls and Area Book work.  My miracle today is that as I have continued reviewing my journals I am thankful for the memories.

Tuesday, 28 May
One dog today.  The cleaning of the Mission Home continued, moving down to the main floor and basement.  E had her baptismal interview today and finally decided who she would like to perform the ordinances.  She passed the interview of course, and asked that I be the one to baptize her, and for Elder Bebel to confirm her with the Bishop standing in.  In the late afternoon Elder Loveday and I went streeting and tracting for several hours.  While we were tracting, we got a call from Z who dropped us over the phone. 

Wednesday, 29 May
One cancellation today.  Our investigator became sick.  The workers finished cleaning the building today.  However, they moved stuff to clean and didn’t move any of it back, leaving behind a mess.  We got the camera to the front door fixed today.  We worked more on our Area Book today and made home-made pizzas in the evening with the Assistants using a 3-Kilo loaf of bread.  My miracle is excitement to meet with E and her friend tomorrow.

Thursday, 30 May
Two cancellations today.  It was pouring rain until the afternoon.  This morning we received a call and ran to the Mission Home early so I could stand as a witness to someone getting re-baptized.  We later met with E.  R was there.  We filled out her baptismal form with her.  Unfortunately, her friend was not able to come with her to meet today.  The next time we meet with E she will be a member.  Several missionaries were here for interviews today.  We also met with E and watched the Restoration Film.  She’s currently been having many family problems, especially with her husband.  Angolora was really small tonight.  I don’t know if it’s due to summer or the rain.  Today’s miracle is that in three weeks I’ll be home.

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1 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, May 25, 2013

25 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 18 May
Another adventurous P-Day!  Today was the first time the Assistants joined us for a Preparation Day.  The four of us went to the Pest side of the city to visit a castle in a giant park.  After walking through, we walked over to Hero Square.  It was my first time there since my first night in the country.  After a couple pictures and a break at Hero Square the AP’s returned home; however, Elder Loveday and I went and spent over four hours at the Zoo instead.  It was great.  There were so many animals.  I really enjoyed seeing all the lizards and the large mammals.  I wish they had a bigger aquarium, but I guess it’s supposed to be a zoo, not an aquarium anyways.  Elder Loveday and I enjoyed our time there and returned exhausted.  If we weren’t Missionaries we could’ve gone to the nearby amusement park and the giant thermal baths that were there.  Oh well. My miracle is that I have every P-Day I have left all planned out.

Sunday, 19 May
One dog today.  We had two investigators at church, E and Z.  I finished reading the Book of Mormon and am now to Doctrine and Covenants 23.  I tried making fruit soup again tonight.  I still need to learn how to do it properly.  This week we had our highest numbers yet.  We’re going for the record.  My miracle today is all the baptisms.  In Szolnok they have nine baptismal dates.  Z, A, G, and now I are all on baptismal date as well as two other investigators I found.  In addition to that, E’s been baptized; and here in Buda we have E and M on a baptismal date.  The work really does seem to be going very well.

Monday, 20 May (One Month Left)
Only one month left.  Wow!  This morning we had a Staff Meeting.  We also met with E.  Today we taught about the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  She already knew everything about both and accepted to live according to the commandments.  We had several hours to go tabling in the evening.  My miracle is that with having been reviewing and reading all my journal entries since the start of my mission, one thing that stood out to me today is how much easier it has become for me to teach.  For example, today it took hardly any planning to teach E two of the most feared missionary lessons.  However, during the first year of my mission it would’ve been ridiculously harder, and not have flowed as well.  Hurray for learning and progress.

Tuesday, 21 May
Our only program with an investigator today cancelled.  Elder Loveday and I made more trips for the Hivatal forms.  The packets are all put together and finished now.  We have more packages stuck in customs again.  Fun, fun, fun…  Elder Channell and Elder Magda are here right now.  They’re spending the night with us so they can make it to an appointment early tomorrow morning.  My miracle today is my brother, Jonathan. 

Wednesday, 22 May
Today was the first half of the Senior Conference.  All the couples and Senior Missionaries are here.  Because President and the Carpenters are attending that, Elder Loveday and I had to stay in the office to hold down the fort.  We had one dog and one cancellation today.  Our only program was with E.  R was there too.  We talked about testimony, enduring, and temples.  We also talked to E about her baptism.  She has no idea who she wants to perform the ordinances, but feels very excited about it all.  We’ve had a lot of dogs and cancellations this week.  It’s already Wednesday night and we’ve only met with E.  Today my miracle is that I finished reading “Preach My Gospel.”

Thursday, 23 May
Two more dogs today.  Today was the second half of the Senior Conference, so we were in the office all day again.  We met with I and L and talked about temples, as well as taught about infant baptism.  In Angolora I gave the best lesson I’ve ever given about Past Participles.  My miracle is that while our work is crashing, it’s leaving time to study.
Friday, 24 May
Another program fell through today.  This morning we had Zone Training.  It went well and was focused around teaching skills.  Elder Walker gave his departing testimony.  Later in the day we met with P.  We taught him about the Law of Chastity.  He said he’s never really thought about any kind of sexual commandments before.  The Pest Sisters had their second program with E today.  A couple other notes about today are that we went with the Assistants to lunch, which turned out to be a huge disappointment as the daily special of Vegetable Lasagna we all got turned out not to be lasagna, but rice, cheese, peas, and mushrooms.  Worst lasagna ever.  Today was their national garbage day.  Like when I was with Elder Reese, they have a day once a year when everyone throws anything and everything they don’t want onto the sidewalks and streets.  Elder Walker’s family arrived in the evening to pick him up and President Smith released him.  We had a chance to meet all of them.  With him released, I am now the oldest missionary in the mission (in terms of being here in the country).  My miracle today is that my time is wrapping up as well.  I’m almost out of time and things I determined to do before the end of my mission.

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25 May 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 11 May
Today was a relaxed preparation day.  We didn’t go anywhere today.  While emailing I learned that more friends, both from my ward and from high school, have gotten married and more are engaged.  I think it might be one of the biggest contributors to culture shock when I return home.
Sunday, 12 May (Mother’s Day!)
Today was our Fast Sunday.  We had four investigators at church today.  E, Z, Z and her husband, all came.  It was great!  After church was a short choir practice.  In the evening, because today is Mother’s Day, I had the grand opportunity to talk to my family.  I’m happy and very grateful to write that they are all doing well.  My miracle on this Mother’s Day is of course my beloved mother.  Mom is awesome, kind, and loving.  Everything I have and am I owe to her.  What more can I say?  God be blessed for creating Mothers!

Monday, 13 May
Today was a crazy day.  One investigator called and cancelled his program.  In the morning I spent my time working on the Hivatal Residency Permits.  We met with E today.  R came again.  E had more questions today, her main one being a question as to why we drink water rather than the wine in the Sacrament, when the Book of Mormon and Bible clearly specify wine.  She’s still progressing towards her baptism, which will be two weeks from Saturday.  After her program, R took us out to lunch.  Upon returning to the Mission Office, we streeted a man who said he needed help and was going to kill himself.  We met with him at the Mission Home, and learned that he’d lost all relationships with his family and friends, lost all of his possessions, his faith in God, and had cut his forearms to shreds.  We tried to talk him out of taking his own life.  About 45 minutes in, while Elder Loveday was reading parts of D&C 121 to him, he actually fell asleep.  We finally got a hold of the Bishop and President Smith.  After finding out the hotline was out-of-service, we ended up calling the police who, after showing up a half-hour after we called, talked to him and loaded him into an ambulance to take to a psychiatric hospital.  I just hope we really did the best we could.  Next we met with M.  He has read the entire Book of Mormon and Index since we last met.  He said he knows it’s true and this is Christ’s Church.  When I asked if he would like to join the Church he asked if he could be baptized on August 31?  So, we have a new baptismal date!  The only foreseeable problem is that he only works on Saturdays and Sundays since he lost his job as a Geography teacher and had to get a job performing physical labor, and doesn’t have any savings to fall back on.  He doesn’t know when he will be able to come to church, as it is hard to support yourself off of working only two days a week.  By the time we got back and started to catch up on our office work it was already evening.  We keep winding up in late nights.  My miracle is that I’m now teaching two people who have entirely read and gained a testimony of the marvelous work and wonder that we know as “The Book of Mormon.”  It really does have a main role in missionary work.

Tuesday, 14 May (700th Day on Mission)
I’ve been a missionary for seven hundred days now.  We had one program dog us today.  We first met with I.  We finished teaching her the Plan of Salvation.  She’s read through the Stop-Smoking Program and is beginning to apply some of the steps, but still needs to start doing the rest.  I has continued reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily.  She’s doing much better health-wise and tomorrow is returning home to her family in Kecskemet.  So, this is the end of our time meeting with her.  However she has agreed and promised to continue meeting with the elders in Kecskemet, so Elder Hunnicutt will be in charge of teaching her now.  Our second program was with P.  B came to our program to help.  We taught P about the Word of Wisdom.  The only problem he has and doesn’t already keep is drinking wine and tea.  He had a hard time understanding why he shouldn’t drink a little wine from time to time.  However, I’d still have to say the programs are going well.  After P we met with Z.  R came to the program.  Z committed to come to church again and said she’ll try to bring her husband again.  With her we talked about prophets and the Sabbath.

Wednesday, 15 May
Mission Leadership Council was today.  We met with E again, and once again guess who was there?... If you guessed R you were right.  We talked about the Ten Commandments, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and prophets.  The discussion went great.  In the evening we met with the H family.  A and A are a young married couple.  They have a five year-old son and a two year-old daughter.  They are all very endearing and kind.  We had dinner with them and mostly got to know them.  They met with the missionaries in the past.  They are practicing, active Catholics, but open to our message.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet with them more in the future.  My miracle is that with all the Zone Leaders here I got some news about some of my past cities.

Thursday, May 16
This morning we ran to two different government buildings to get the Hivatal forms (well, some of the forms we still needed).  We had a fair amount of office work today.  I wasn’t feeling very well through all of it.  Elder Loveday and I met with E and R.  We finished reviewing the Restoration.  I’d say E’s pretty much active again.  Now we just need to get the rest of her family active as well.  We then met with I and L and talked about Christ’s life.  They failed to read or pray at all this past week.  During Angolora tonight Elder Loveday taught the English part and I gave the Spiritual Message.  My miracle is that I’ve started making a “Time Chart,” helping me decide better between what is important and what is not.  It is also supposed to function to help me better prioritize and see how much time I truly wish to give to various activities.
Friday, 17 May
One dog today and a member cancelled.  We had District Meeting this morning.  There were brownies and ice cream which automatically made the meeting the best.  The Pest Sisters finally met with E today.  We’re trying to help make sure they meet with her at least once a week so they can help her better fit into the Pest ward and build a stronger support system.  Our second program was with Z.  She still likes to talk and literally I had to interrupt her every single time I said something.  We watched the Restoration Film with her.  At the end we invited her to be baptized, but she said she wasn’t sure.  She did accept a commitment to pray specifically asking to know.  It’s pouring rain in a massive thunderstorm right now.  That’s why my miracle is modern shelter.  Shelter has never been as strong or great as it is in the world today.  I’m thankful for strong, concrete walls and a roof that doesn’t leak.  Lastly, I don’t think I’ve written this before, or at least not lately, but I have tried every single flavor of “Boci” and “Milka” chocolate that I’ve ever found on my mission, in both big and small bars, regular and limited editions.  It’s just been a fun little hobby I’ve had.  Oh, also, something else, I finished reviewing the brown Hungarian grammar book we received in the MTC.  That’s one more thing to check off my mission bucket-list before I kick-the-can.

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18 May 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

St Istvan's Basilica 

Inside climbing all the way to the top

View from the top (well, part of the view)

At the top with Parliament in the background

At the front of the St Istvan's Basilica

I found a fencing sign for an event happening in August....but I'll be home by then!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 4 May
P-Day today.  Mother’s Day is next week so I’ll get to talk to them (meaning my family).  We spent some time today walking around Pest and WestEnd.  We also went up to the top of St. Istvan’s Basilica.  We did not get any kind of transfer call today which confirmed that we will be staying together.  My miracle today is that my computer is rolling along in the restoring process.

Sunday, 5 May
We had early morning choir practice today.  It was followed by Stake Conference which we sing in.  E and Z both came to the conference.  After the main session was a special session for investigators and recent converts which ended with a Q&A session with the Stake Presidency and President Smith.  Unfortunately, E is still sick and couldn’t come.  My miracle today is that E met several members.  Sister Fox and I did our best to introduce E to many of the leaders in the Pest Ward to better help the fellowshipping process begin.
Monday, 6 May
Busy day today.  I’m still significantly behind on my office work.  Most of today was taken up by trying to fix my computer.  I’ve finally begun to find all the problems from moving everything.  One program dogged today.  We met with E.  R came to the lesson.  We talked about the First Vision and gave her a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants.  Later we had our first program with S.  She’s from English Class and the program was half English.  During the other half we talked about the Book of Mormon.  In the evening I finished the Mission Newsletter and sent it out.  Then I spent the rest of the evening sorting and reconnecting programs.  I have a lot of work to do still.  Today the miracle is that I learned that Elder Headrick’s foot is continuing to do well, and I also learned that one missionary who returned early from his mission will be coming back tomorrow night with the two new missionaries.

Tuesday, 7 May
Today was a long day.  Throughout the day I discovered more tech problems.  Some I was able to fix.  Others, I wasn’t.  Transfer calls were made today.  While ours wasn’t a surprise, some of the others were.  The Nyíregyházá and Szombathely companionships I served in have both been converted to sister companionships.  Elder Anderson is the new Assistant, and Elder Alldredge has become our youngest Zone Leader by quite a margin.  Over half the Sisters in the mission changed cities, and many of the Elders did as well.  Soon I will be the oldest (or longest serving) missionary in the country.  Because of transfers, we have a much bigger workload this week.  Not having my computer for nearly two weeks has only increased it.  Our only program today was with I.  We taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  She has read into the ‘R’’s in “True to the Faith.”  We made several calls in the evening.  My miracle today is the Title of Liberty that my Mom sent me my last week in the MTC.  I’ve managed to get every missionary who served in the same cities as me to sign it.  It has become a very nice keep-sake.

Wednesday, 8 May
Transfers were today.  Another long and busy day.  It was weird to see everyone in the group ahead of me getting ready to head home.  It’s weird to think I’m in my last transfer.  The miracle of today is that I’ve noticed that my journal has been improving my grammar and handwriting.  It’s easier to read the most recent entries than the ones at the start of my first journal.  And I know it’s my journal helping because my journal is about the only writing I really do. 

Thursday, 9 May
Busy day today.  One program, and one member dogged.  We had six successful programs.  The first was with E.  R came to the program.  As always, E’s doing amazingly.  For the actual lesson, we discussed the Plan of Salvation.  We also learned that she read the entire Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price within two days!  She not only read it all, but filled up a large portion of a notebook with notes, questions, and impressions.  Awesome!  Moving on to the other five programs: we had our first program with T.  He’s from English Class, but the entire meeting was on the gospel.  From this first encounter, it would seem he’s mostly just curious about different religions.  Lesson #3 was with I.  We introduced her to the Stop Smoking Program and congratulated her on finishing “True to the Faith.”  After I was Z.  R came to help in her program as well.  Z had another rant in the program again.  We found out what stood out to her at Stake Conference.  She showed up a little late, so she got stuck further back and we didn’t get to talk with her there, but she was there!  She’s been reading from the Book of Mormon and committed to come to church this weekend.  After her program we met with I and L.  C came to the program.  We focused the discussion around the Book of Mormon and Agency.  Our last planned program of the day was English Class.  We had fewer students this week, but there were two new attendee’s, and they both agreed to meet with us.  So, my miracle today is three final notes.  The first is I’ve begun re-reading all my journal entries.  From reading my recordings from the MTC, I’ve noticed that my prayers have gotten worse lately, and that I’ve become less enthusiastic about them.  They’ve also gotten gradually shorter.  I’m glad I’ve noticed and can now begin turning it around.  Second, G, the Hungarian who we taught in the MTC while he was attending a football camp at BYU is currently meeting with Elder Rosen in Dunaujvaros.  Thirdly, I learned today that one of S’s aunts and two of his cousins that live in Nyíregyháza have all been baptized as members of the Church.  More of his family members have begun investigating as well.  Since Elder Nabrotzky took my place with Elder Reese here in Buda last year, he knows S and was here for his baptism.  Yesterday, Elder Nabortzky got transferred to Nyiregyhaza.  So, he will very enthusiastically get to help take part in the conversion process of S’s relatives.

Friday, 10 May
Two dogs today.  We had to travel to all of our programs today which took up a bit of time.  We had District Meeting today and set some new goals.  Later, we met with J, a new investigator from Angolora.  He has two eleven year-old twins and is open to the gospel.  My miracle today is that work never stops.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

4 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 27 April
I feel good.  Today was a good day.  First, it was our P-Day today, with everything that comes with it.  During the afternoon we went to Szolnok.  There at the Hozam Klub we attended E’s and E’s baptisms.  I baptized E and Elder Herd performed the ordinance for E.  I felt clean in the font.  I know the ordinance was for E, but that was quite possibly the cleanest and best I’ve felt on my Mission. While there in Szolnok I saw a lot of familiar faces.  Three people I taught were there, and I recognized all the members as well.  G was one of the three and expressed his positive feelings about the baptism and the possibility of him being baptized soon.  Z is also on baptismal date again.  We got back later in the evening.  My miracle today is that I finally got to see the ordinance of one of the people I taught getting baptized. 

Sunday, 28 April
We had church this morning and afternoon.  A came to the first hour.  Afterwards we met with N, a woman from Angolora.  However, because she lives far away she said she can only meet once or twice a month.  Later we met with I.  While we spent the time talking about the index, how to use the footnotes, and answering questions about what she read, we did discover at the end that her marriage and family relationships are struggling.  So, next time will all be about the family. My miracle today is all the help I’ve received to help me better understand the scriptures.  I’ve always had them available to read, I’ve been taught how to use the notes and other resources, attended Sunday School, and been taught in Seminary.

Monday 29 April
This morning we had our first Staff Meeting in a while.  We still haven’t had a Correlation Meeting at all this transfer.  During the day we had some mildly successful streeting and made many phone calls to fill up our week.  We’re going to get quite busy.  Also, with transfers coming up next week my work in the office is going to begin increasing again.  I need my computer! In the evening we went with a few other Missionaries to the V family’s home for dinner.  They are a very fun and kind family.  Their massage chair worked wonders on my back for some fifteen minutes.  I vote that we should get one for the office.  That would very much be loved, used, and appreciated.  My miracle for today is that E from Nyiregyhaza stopped by the office today.  It was great to see and talk to her.  It was fun to be around her in Nyiregyhaza, especially since she spoke English when I didn’t speak Hungarian.  (She and V were the only two members there who could really speak English, so I could always talk to and understand them the most as a new Missionary).

Tuesday, 30 April
One cancellation and two dogs today.  We met with Z, a woman from Angolora.  R came to the program to help.  While Z is from English Class, the entire program was gospel-centered.  We spent our time together talking about families, the importance of them, the ever-increasing need to protect them, and our relationship with God.  We already have another program set-up for Friday.  We them met with I again.  We focused everything on the family.  We read the Proclamation together along with a few verses out of the Book of Mormon.  I committed to read the entire “For Strength of Youth” as well as “True to the Faith” by Monday.  It looks like she’ll be learning about all the commandments twice this weekend as they are all discussed in each book. My miracle today is that a member who’s been in-active for twelve years decided to just swing by the Mission Home today.  I got to talk to him for an hour, give him the latest Liahona, and he said he will try to come to Stake Conference this weekend.  Also, as a sub-miracle: it has been several weeks since we have met with M.  However, I’ve been calling him consistently each week, and he’s always said he’s been reading and praying.  Recently he just said that he has finished reading the entire Book of Mormon and the index, and is starting over so that he can understand it better!

Wednesday, 1 May (Labor Day in Hungary, and 50 Days Left)
This morning as we went to the Mission Home, there was a woman waiting outside the door.  When I asked if I could help with anything, she asked if we could meet.  So, we did.  As soon as we got inside and sat down, E began bearing her testimony about the truthfulness and divine origin of both the Church and the Book of Mormon.  She said she had attended church once and met with the Missionaries back in 2009, but didn’t have a good feeling, which she says she knows now is because she was not following God and was being chastised by the Spirit.  She said she knows every other church is missing something and that this is the only true Church and that she would like to do whatever it takes to be baptized into it, as soon as possible. We met with E for about an hour.  She already lives the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity, and strives to be modest.  She has read through the Book of Mormon several times (straight through, cover-to-cover), and has highlighted and marked almost every page.  Throughout the entire program she was quoting scriptures and referencing stories and verses in the Book of Mormon.  She also said a beautiful opening prayer.  We are meeting her again on Friday and she said she will come to Stake Conference on Sunday.  At the end she asked for a couple copies of the Book of Mormon that she could give to share with her friends.  It was quite a miraculous and amazing experience. Later I received a phone call from Elder Miller in Szolnok.  Last Saturday I wrote that at E’s baptism, G was there.  Jumping back to that, after the baptisms, G actually came into the changing room and asked if we could talk.  For around ten minutes we talked about the baptism and the spirit that was felt.  The conversation concluded with G saying he thought he should and would like to be baptized sometime, which I told him I agreed and that he should take that opportunity as soon as he was ready.  Afterwards I told this to Elder Miller, who was surprised as earlier that very week they had invited Gabor to be baptized and he said he didn’t think he would ever be baptized.  However, Elder Miller and I agreed that they should ask again. Now, jumping back to today’s phone call; they did indeed ask again, and G indeed wants to get baptized.  He has accepted June 15th, the last Saturday before I return home, as his baptismal date.  The Spirit truly did touch him and change his desires. Now it is time for today’s miracle.  While either one of these two events could easily qualify as a miracle, I would like to add a miracle that required additional reflection.  For today’s miracle I have chosen the theme of one of President Eyring’s talks that was included in the First Presidency Message at the front of a Liahona.  In his message, President Eyring talked about how the Lord will put people in our path, or put us in their path, who are prepared to receive the gospel.  However, in large part this depends on our mind and our heart being prepared and willing to share the gospel in the given situation.  That’s what happened today.  I believe one part that led to the encounters was prayer, as both encounters were prayed for, and miraculously they were prayed for by both the investigator and the Missionary.  We prayed this morning for our investigators to prepare themselves for baptism, as well as specifically that we could somehow find a new golden investigator today; E prayed that she’d be able to find us and to make the right choice; and G prayed to know if this Church is true.  All three prayers were heard and answered, and each one of us was given the things that we had prepared our minds and our hearts for.

Thursday, 2 May
One cancellation and one dog.  The intercom to the front door broke, so now it is much less convenient to try to let people in to the Mission Home.  We had our last District Meeting of the transfer.  We then went out and met with F.  We found out that he met with the missionaries and was on a baptismal date in the past, but never was baptized because he refused to attend Church.  He told us that he suffers from depression, paranoia, anxiety, and several phobias, and that he can’t come to Church because of them.  In the evening we went on splits with members again.  Elder Loveday met with P and they talked about the commandments.  I met with I and L again.  We focused our discussion on the Restoration and Book of Mormon.  After their two programs we taught English Class which went well.  When we returned to our apartment, one of the first things that happened was that the handle to the faucet of the kitchen sink snapped off in the “on” position.  So, we had to turn the water to our apartment off until someone comes tomorrow night to fix it.  My miracle of the day is that everything is breaking (the intercom, faucet, my computer), but they are all temporal and can all be fixed.

Friday, 3 May
Another dog and cancellation.  This week members have also been faulty with programs, two calling and cancelling and three never even showing up this week (to programs).  This morning we met with E, which was the highlight of the day.  She had already read both Liahona’s since Wednesday, and she brought questions. We had a very spiritual discussion with her.  The Pest Sisters were there for their district meeting, so I briefly grabbed the three of them and pulled them into the room to introduce them to each other.  E is still firm on coming to Stake Conference.  She’s said that she’d really like to be baptized as soon as possible.  We went over everything that needs to happen before a baptism, and while she wouldn’t mind it being sooner, we have chosen June 1st as a date; four weeks from tomorrow.  Huzzah!  In the early afternoon Tech Support called.  They said that they had never sent the device we’ve been waiting for as they had found another way to fix my computer.  However, they forgot to call and tell me a week ago…  So, I’ve begun fixing it.  Most of the files have been restored and just need to be organized now.  It should be up and going by tomorrow. We had our second program with Z.  R came again.  Today Z just needed someone to listen to her.  So we did.  There was hardly any lesson. But, it worked.  By the end she felt much better and is, like E, coming to Stake Conference. In the evening the Landlady came with a plumber to fix the kitchen sink.  It is now fixed and we have running water again.  We were unable to visit the H family again as their other child has become sick.  Today’s daily miracle is E and the power and role The Book of Mormon has had on her and in her conversion.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

27 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 20 April (600th Day in Hungary; Two Months Left)
Another P-Day. We met with a man named V from English Class, but during the lesson he repeatedly expressed his lack of interest in religion, so we won’t be setting up with him again. Later, Elder Loveday and I explored the entire mall. In the evening, the two of us went up to Buda Castle. It was really cool and my first time to go up to Buda Castle at night time. I enjoyed seeing everything lit up. My miracles today are three good things that happened to three other people. Elder Headrick doesn’t need surgery after all. He’ll be in a cast for the next five weeks and then be coming out here on June 18. C from Szolnok is back and active again. Lastly, M from Nyiregyhaza was baptized today. Hurray!

Sunday, 21 April
Church today. A is not doing well at all health-wise and was unable to come. Later in the day we tabled for several hours. My miracle today is that I did a lot of thinking about the future today, and am trying to seek the Lords guidance in what I will need to do.

Monday, 22 April
One cancellation. Today we made our third trip to the Hivatal. This time we took Elders Haws, Judd, and Nelson to pick up their Residency Cards as well as check on and finish the process of four others. After returning, we met with G. We focused the discussion on prophets and obedience to the commandments. He said that because of finals, he won’t be able to meet again this week, but he plans on coming on Sunday. Later I merged the inactive, the ward, the home teaching, and the visiting teaching lists together. It’s finally time to look up the inactives. Today’s miracle is that I don’t have any Hivatal stuff for two weeks.

Tuesday, 23 April
This morning upon arriving at the office we found that my computer had shut off over the night. We tried turning it on, but were unsuccessful because the OS Files were not found. So, currently my computer is completely out-of-commission. How marvelous.  We had two programs get cancelled today. Due to the cancellation and my computer, I had plenty of time to study. We also made it out tracting for the first time this transfer. It is about as successful as last year. In the evening we met with a man named S. S met with the Missionaries over 8 years ago. Unfortunately he has very strong feelings about the fallen state of man and a truly depressing view of God. After the lesson we had a short choir practice. The miracle of this day is that Gods personality is not as S claimed. God has not washed His hands of this world like Pilate and left us to Satan. We know that God is our loving Father. And as Joseph Smith taught, this understanding of the persona of God is a necessary pillar to the foundation of faith.

Wednesday, 24 April
My computer is still not fixed and we have no idea when it will be. I can’t get a hold of the tech guy. We had one person dog us today. So, between no computer and no programs I got a lot of time to study and go finding today. Yay! The miracle for today is for tomorrow. Tomorrow we are booked. We have choir practice followed by the concert, English Class, and four programs. Hopefully they all go through.

Thursday, 25 April
Today was indeed a busy day. We had no time to be secretaries today. This morning we had choir practice for one hour. After a short break it was followed by the concert in which we performed for a class of sixteen students from a nearby college who are studying music and its effects. The singing lasted nearly two hours and was followed by an hour and a half question and answer discussion that was almost entirely about our Church and beliefs. We managed to get a quick lunch in before meeting with E and R. We talked about the Saviors ministry, the organization of the Church, E family members, and how to help them, especially using the temple as a goal. After E program, we went on splits with two members so that we could make it to two programs at the same time. Elder Loveday went to meet with P to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I met with two new investigators from Angolora, and we spoke about some basic beliefs of the Church. Following the two programs we split back for English Class. Unfortunately, my lesson plan was saved on my computer which is still not usable, so I had to wing-it. There is still no sign of when I might be able to get it fixed. After the class we traveled to the south part of Budapest to meet with a man. He met with the missionaries a few times a little over five years ago, until he got incredibly sick for over a month and hadn’t met since. He’s been a policeman for over 16 years, and is interested in religions, not being affiliated with a particular one at this time. While it seems he’s meeting out of curiosity and not thirsting for the word it was an enjoyable discussion and I hope he will progress in the future. My miracle today is our Heavenly Father and that out of all the titles we give to God, he asks that we call Him Father.

Friday, 26 April
We spent a long time in the office today. It’s hard for me to do my job as secretary without a computer. Germany is sending me some stuff to fix it, which should arrive around Wednesday. In the evening we met with L, an older gentleman from the Area Book. My miracle today is that our English Class is beginning to open up. Five more people this week said they’d be interested in meeting to learn about the gospel.

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27 April 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 13 April
One cancellation today.  We practiced the song this morning with T.  Our Ward Correlation Meeting was cancelled.  We stayed and sang at the baptism.  Elder Miller came up from Szolnok for it, so I got to see Elder McCurdy as well.  After the baptism, we went on to our regular P-Day activities.  In the evening around sunset, Elder Loveday and I spent two hours walking around Buda Castle, the Lion Bridge, and Parliament as it grew dark.

Sunday, 14 April
First in today’s entry, I saw Sister Barker, one of my MTC teachers at church today.  She’s temporarily here in Hungary, and shared her testimony in Sacrament Meeting today.  It was fun to get to see her again.  It was also strange to have Fast Sunday half-way through the month.  E came to church today.  After the meetings we went with her and R to have a program at her home. Later we got studies.  In the evening Elder Alldredge and Bennett arrived for the Hivatal tomorrow.  I get to spend this evening and tomorrow morning around my mission son and grandson.  That’s pretty rare out here.  In fact, currently only Elder Swett and I have that possibility.

Monday, 15 April
I’m 21 now.  That feels old.  I didn’t really feel or notice the jump last year from 19 to 20, but for whatever reason I noticed this one.  This morning I made my second trip to the Hivatal.  I should only have two trips left.  Later I got to take care of customs and insurance forms.  Wheee.  Elder Loveday and I made it out streeting and organized the entire in-active list we received from the bishop and will probably begin looking them all up soon.  My miracle today was the kindness of many who remembered my birthday.  Many people, missionaries and members, called to wish me a Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, 16 April
Well, it seems that A has vanished.  I haven’t been able to get a hold of her for several days now.  We met with G though.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and G committed to come to church, although probably not this weekend as this week and next week are finals week.  Later we just went streeting around parts of Buda, becoming more familiar with the city as we looked for people to teach.  My miracle today is Elder Shawn Michael Loveday.  He is from Boulder, Colorado.  He is also the seventh of eight children; loves sports, particularly baseball; did not attend a college or university before beginning his mission, but does plan on attending BYU-Idaho afterwards.  He would like to be a physical therapist, preferably in the military.  He is in his eleventh transfer.

Wednesday, 17 April
We had a busy morning today.  There were several missionaries entering and leaving the Mission Home for interviews.  Elder Loveday and I went to look up a man named F who said he’d be interested in meeting.  (He looked us up and called us).  Unfortunately, F was very short on time, but we set up a return appointment.  We had some time to go tabling later.  I learned today that the Szolnok Elders have been meeting with the older siblings who Elder McCurdy and I talked with.  Lastly, today’s miracle is that while going to F’s we had to travel quite a bit to get there, and one of the times we turned the wrong way.  However we streeted a very kind woman and her son, and they said they’d love to meet in the future.  If we hadn’t turned the wrong way, we would’ve completely missed them.

Thursday, 18 April
We had District Meeting this morning.  Afterwards we went and got Chinese food with R.  We finally met with P again and reviewed the second half of the Plan of Salvation.  His program was followed immediately by one with E.  We’ve begun re-teaching her the missionary lessons.  Today we reviewed the first part of the Restoration.  The size of our Angolora class in the evening increased from 17 last week to 26 today.  Five new students said they’d be willing to meet.  My miracle today is that I got a call from Elder McCurdy informing me that E would like for me to perform her baptism next Saturday.  I received permission to go and this will be the first time I’ll get to see anyone I’ve taught get baptized.  And I’ll not only get to watch, but perform the ordinance as well.

Friday, 19 April
Two cancellations today and no successful lessons.  It was another busy morning in the office.  I learned today from President Smith that I will indeed be concluding my Mission in the office, and will be returning home June 20th.  Because Elder Loveday and I had no programs, we were able to go streeting for several hours.  While out streeting we met two members from Kispest.  G called and said he needs to study for finals and cannot come to church this week, but will come the week after.  My miracle today is a new small obsession I’ve been developing concerning the Armor of God.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

13 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 6 April
We taught the English Classes today for the other elders.  It sure has grown since Elder Reese and I started the Saturday class, going from around two a week to forty.  With it being Saturday, today was also our P-Day.  In the evening was the first session of General Conference.  This will be my last Conference in the country.  That’s my miracle today.  I got the fireman picture today.  We found out the Assistants are currently out-of-commission; Elder Headrick broke a bone in his foot and Elder Orban has become really sick.  Lastly, I finished preparing the Hivatal packets today.

Sunday, 7 April
Today was General Conference.  We watched three of the five sessions today.  A came to the final session.  A newcomer, R, showed up looking for the English Class.  I talked to him for a while; he stayed for the Priesthood Session, and at the end said he’d be willing to meet and gave me his name and number.  There were more missionaries there to watch the session than investigators and members combined.  In the third session, President Monson spoke and shared a story about a Hungarian and German.  The pronunciation of “Debrecen” was a wee-bit off, but everyone here loved the story.  The Sunday Morning Session was by far my favorite and stood out to me the most.  I found it interesting that 80% (or so it seemed) of the stories in Conference had been shared before, President Monson’s included.  I actually used that story in one of the talks I gave in Szombathely (which I found in an Ensign for a past conference).  Elder Pendleton and Elder Larson came down tonight for our Hivatal trip tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s one of my big days as secretary.  My miracle today was R.  It’s terrific that he just walked in and was willing to stay.

Monday, 8 April
This morning was the big Hivatal run.  Elder Bowen and I took off early to get to Tibor’s in order to receive the last of the forms.  After we got them, we tried to catch up to everyone else, but “took the scenic route” showing up nearly an hour late.  However, they were waiting in line the entire time.  Overall, it was really easy, went smoothly, and very well.  A lot of the new missionaries asked how old I am in the mission and how long ago I got here.  It caused me to remember my first day here.  It’s been nearly two years, but also hardly any time at all.  Later we went out tabling.  I want to find a better place to table.  In the evening, Elder Bowen and I had dinner with W and T.  I finished watching the Bible Videos in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 April
Guess what, my dear reader?  My mission world has been turned upside-down once again.  To start, Elder Headrick will be going home to have surgery on his foot.  It is currently expected to be six weeks of recovery, and he hopes to return to the mission on June 18, the same week I return home.  All my senior companions have been home for awhile now, and now my junior companions are beating me home.  I hope he gets better and can come back out here quickly.  As a result of Elder Headrick’s departure, Elder Swett will be coming in as the new AP.  I’ll get to be around my MTC companion for the rest of my mission.  To replace him as Zone Leader, Elder Bowen will be leaving the office.  Surprise!  Again!  So, I will be getting a new companion, who will be… Elder Loveday.  Elder Loveday will be coming up from Bekescsaba to be my new companion and secretary.  All of these changes will be happening tomorrow morning.  That not only means it’ll be quick, but Elder Loveday will not be receiving any training on how to do his job as secretary.  So I’ll get to help him wing-it.  Well, no one saw any of this coming.  At this rate, I will probably leave the office too in 3 ½ weeks to white-wash train a third time.  Elder Bowen and I met with A.  A member who was with her at conference was going to come but forgot.  We taught A the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  We invited her to be baptized, but she wants to think about it for a while.  She did, however, receive an invitation to come to church.  G cancelled his program because of finals.  In the evening we took time to give Elder Bowen the opportunity to pack and prepare for tomorrow.  The office is really about to change, mid-transfer.  My miracle today is gratefulness that I’ve been blessed with good health during my mission.  Just as I wasn’t very actively thankful for my sight until the fireball incident in Szolnok, I haven’t been terribly thankful for my feet until today.  We’ll see which other body parts I become grateful for in the future.

Wednesday, 10 April
Well, I have a new companion now, Elder Shawn Loveday.  This morning Elder Headrick headed home, the AP’s, Zone Leaders, and Elder Bowen switched, and later, in the afternoon, Elder Loveday arrived.  President Smith was interviewing missionaries today, and one of those who came in was Elder Channell.  So he was able to help me train Loveday for nearly an hour as he waited for his interview and train-ride back.  Later, we met with M, a man we’d been emailing back-and-forth with for a week now.  This was the first time he’d ever met with the missionaries.  He’s an interesting person, and wants us to also teach him English.  We talked about the first half of the first lesson today.  In the evening was a Stake YSA Coordination Meeting that I got to help translate for slightly over two hours.  My miracle is that I’ve pretty much got the hang of being secretary.

Thursday, 11 April
One cancellation today.  I actually got a fair amount of studies in today while Elder Loveday was reviewing the secretary handbooks.  We also went out streeting for a couple hours.  In the evening was Angolora.  The Szuperinfo Ad actually began to be released and distributed tonight.  Hopefully our class will explode during these next 2-3 weeks.  After English Class, R introduced us to E.  We had half a program with her and learned that she, as well as her four children, are all baptized members, but have been inactive for 8-9 years.  E expressed that she has recently felt a desire to come back, and we got her number, address, and arranged another time to meet.  This encounter is my miracle of the day for many reasons.  First, because it’s a family.  Secondly, because it was arranged and accomplished through the member missionary work of R.  And thirdly, it is my miracle that they were found because they have been inactive for so long that they are not on the ward list, the in-active look-up list, or in any of our area books.  Up until tonight we had no way of contacting them, or even knowing they existed.

Friday, 12 April
Busy day today, although it failed to live up to its potential.  We had one dog and two cancellations today.  In addition, we had to unload a shipment of nearly 1,250 lbs of Book of Mormon’s that came in, followed by a 3 hour 15 minute Zone Training.  Later I practiced a special musical number with T and Elder Quinton for the baptism tomorrow.  Elder Loveday and I had our second program with M.  We watched the Restoration film and talked about the First Vision.  He already prays daily and has read around 15 pages in the last two days from the Book of Mormon, and accepted a challenge to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  M is still too focused on the English part, although today’s lesson was 40/20 (minutes gospel/English).  At “Youth Night” we gave the spiritual message on Faith.  I’m a bit disappointed that we did not get a single call today about English Class.  I’m not sure what’s going on with the newspaper.  It’s starting to bug me.  Lastly, my miracle today is that next transfer at Zone Conference I will have to be one of those giving a departing testimony.

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13 April 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

With my companion, Elder Bowen.

Posing with the statue LAST year.

Posing with the statue THIS year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 30 March
I’ve been in Budapest for a week now.  It’s going by so fast.  Today was our Preparation Day.  We got taken out to lunch by the Carpenter’s for helping the Buda Sisters change apartments.  In the evening we had dinner with the Smith’s and L along with his wife.  Although she’s never met with the Missionaries before, I could see her getting baptized soon.  Tomorrow is daylight savings.  It’s going to be early.  We haven’t had many programs this past week, but we’ve been busy.  Hopefully M and G come to church tomorrow.  That would be nice.  My miracle is that although only L is a member, and only for three months, both he and his wife have being sealed in the Temple as a goal for the future.

Sunday, 31 March: Easter!
We attended Church today.  I still haven’t seen a lot of people there that I would’ve liked to.  While I didn’t see her today, I learned that T (whom Elder Reese and I found and taught last year) was baptized last November.  After church I did more work on the Hivatal packets; not just adding to them, but also finding more mistakes, which I have now found on 7 of the 16 Missionaries’ forms.  My miracle today is Easter and our Lord’s resurrection.  While the Resurrection guarantees resurrections and immortality to all who have dwelt, who dwell, and who will dwell on Earth, it should never be taken for granted.

Monday, 1 April: April Fools’
Everything was still closed today, with the day being a national holiday.  Hungarians celebrate “Easter Monday” every bit as much as they celebrate “Easter Sunday.”  With today being April Fools’, one Missionary surprised us all by pulling a prank on President Smith.  I thought that was a pretty bold move.  Most of my time today went into calls and actually scheduling our trips to the Hivatals.  Only one week until the first group comes in.  My miracle today is that I’ve begun reading “Our Heritage.”  My time to study is finally returning.

Tuesday, 2 April
This morning we got pulled into translating for the Carpenters as they met with one of the local landlords.  Afterwards, I was interviewed by President Smith.  During the interview, he announced that I would not be dying in the office, but returning out to the field for the end of my mission.  I told him I was surprised.  He asked why and I told him how much time I had left.  He expressed that he thought I was younger than my 15th transfer, and thought I had twice as much time left.  Surprise!  It looks like I’m not the only one the end of my mission snuck up on.  Later, Elder Bowen and I went to the Foldhivatal Office to pick up a Tulajdoni Lap (some kind of immigration property form).  We also designed and made new English class flyers and a new tabling display.  In the evening we met with A.  It was a half-half lesson.  During the gospel half we talked about prophets and authority.  At the end, A said the closing prayer and committed to read all the prefaces in the Book of Mormon during the next two days.

Wednesday, 3 April
This morning the tech guru came and worked on my computer for a couple hours.  I can use the internet now!  I finally watched a few of the Bible Videos throughout the day (the first three).  I’d only seen two before.  Elder Bowen and I helped Elder Carpenter shuttle cars back and forth to get summer tires on all of them.  Later we met with G.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation.  He’d read from the Book of Mormon since our last meeting, but forgot to pray.  We’re meeting again on Friday, and are trying to get him to General Conference.  It was good to hear him say that he always has a good feeling when he meets with us.  I worked today on preparing everything for finding out about different options for a newspaper ad.  In the end, we will be using Szuperinfo.  We will also be expanding it from just Buda to all of Budapest.  I made a couple calls to various companionships, and everyone is on board for it.  This should be huge.  There are about 3 million people within the city limits, and as long as everything goes well tomorrow we will get a sizeable ad in the newspaper for two weeks, and with 700,000 copies being published and distributed a week, we should have nearly 1 ½ million newspapers circulating around Budapest with our name on it.  We’re all hoping for quite the turn-out!  Later in the day Elder Bowen and I started pounding the Area Book.  In the evening we got a call from Bishop Southwick saying they had some left-over pizza from a priesthood meeting.  While there, we went over the Ward List and talked about all the inactive and less-active members, organizing them.  The Assistants have a lot of people to go look up, and the Sisters have a couple as well.  I found out tonight why I still haven’t seen S.  He moved onto the other side of the river and now lives in Kispest boundaries.  Hopefully I’ll see him sometime.

Thursday, 4 April
So, first off and most importantly, my miracle today is my Mom, as it is her birthday.  She has truly done so much for me.  I think that I too can quote presidents of both the Church and country by saying “everything I am and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  Elder Hunnicutt’s package finally made it out of customs today, only to now have President Smith’s and Elder Ekstrom’s packages replace it.  Great…  We had our District Meeting.  I took the time to share all the information I got from the Bishop last night.  Immediately following District Meeting we left for Ujpest to go place the advertisement in Szuperinfo.  It ended up using only half of the money Missionaries in Budapest are given for finding each transfer.  Not bad.  We met with P today.  It was his third time meeting with the Missionaries, and the first time since I got here.  Like with G, we discussed the Plan of Salvation and invited him to Institute tomorrow.  We had Angolora in the evening.  About 17 came to our class.  I was hoping to talk with and try to set-up with over half of them, but only managed to speak with five.  I had to leave mid-way through the class to get President Klinger to sign some papers for the Hivatal.  I finally found out about the last three members I hadn’t seen, and learned that the former Branch President from Nyiregyhaza has moved to Budapest and is now the Ward Mission Leader in Kispest.  In the evening we spent over half an hour discussing with Sister Felsted things we can do to help get the youth more involved.  It’s finally time for me to write about my current companion, Elder Colby Bowen.  He was born and has lived in American Fork his whole life.  He enjoys sports and is the sixth of eight children.  We are also second cousins.

Friday, 5 April
This morning Elder Bowen and I ran over to one of the government buildings near Parliament so that we could get the last of the forms for the Hivatal.  We met with T, the man in charge, but learned that we won’t be able to pick up the forms until Monday around 8:15.  We have planned to leave the Mission Home with the new missionaries by 7:50.  So we’ll have to break into two groups, and now Monday morning will get to be even crazier.  When we got back, we met with A.  We talked about the First Vision and watched the film.  She’s already begun a habit of regularly reading and praying.  She also committed to come to General Conference.  Following her program, the two of us met with President Smith for an hour to talk about expectations and planning.  He wants us getting out of the office to street and tract for a couple hours each day.  In the evening was our program with G.  We talked about faith and repentance and forgiveness.  He has begun reading straight from the start of the Book of Mormon.  He also stayed for Institute and Youth Night, and now wants to come to Institute every week.  He also committed to attend General Conference.  My miracle today is music.  It has power to encourage, enlighten, and motivate.  Also, two other memories about tonight: the Youth Nights are tiny now.  Last year we were averaging around thirty people at every activity.  Tonight only seven members were there.  I don’t know what happened.  The second thing is that some maple syrup accidentally got burned, setting off the alarm, and we later had a fire truck pull up and a bunch of fire fighters come into the Mission Home.  Someone took pictures.  (I may need to get them from him later).

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