Monday, September 26, 2011

26 September 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

I don't have very much to email this week as this was a pretty dead week and there's been less time than usual since my last email.

Wednesday, 21 September
Not a lot got done today.  We had personal and companionship study for the first time since Saturday.  We visited a really kind, old Neni for an hour and a half, missed our program with a family, and finished our evening with a meeting.  Because we missed our P-Day, we were able to email a little bit today, although, not for too long.  I sent an email to my Kicsi, and hope they enjoyed it.  My miracle today was that, although we missed our lesson with a family, they saw us driving, pulled over, and we were able to reschedule for tomorrow afternoon.  We'll get to teach them after all!

Thursday, 22 September
Today we taught two people and did a whole lot of streeting.  The first lesson was mostly review, followed by obeying the law of the land.  The second lesson was good, although I only had a class of 3 today, and none were new.  Despite going streeting for 4 1/2 hours, we only found one person who seemed even remotely interested.  However, that is also when my little miracle occurred.  We found a man again we had met last week, got a new phone number for him, and will try calling him again later to see if he'll keep the reading commitments.  (We were also supposed to meet with the family from yesterday this afternoon, but we showed up 3 times at half hour intervals, and no one was there).

Friday, 23 September
Today I went Tabelling for the first time.  We found out that it's more effective.  Scripture Masteries are incredibly long, especially Joseph Smith History 15-20.  My fun miracle today was that my companion and I only had to fix breakfast today, as we were fed both lunch and dinner, neither of which were planned, nor were either expected.  I also learned horse Kolbasz tastes good.

Saturday, 24 September
We had only one lesson today, which was on the Law of Chastity.  As usual, we quickly got off topic.  Luckily, a memeber was able to come, and she really helped the lesson become refocused.  We went fliering and streeting for an hour.  We didn't manage to street anyone except one old Neni.  We're also almost out of fliers.  Tonight we had some Szalona.  It's average on taste, is unique, but is super unhealthy.  (It's basically the fattiest part of pig fat (around the part that's usually used to make bacon), and it's smoked, then you heat it up over a fire and drip the melting fat onto bread, like super fat butter).  For my miracle, it would be managing to give a pass-along card to the Neni, the only one we managed to street today.

Sunday, 25 September
It's hard to street or tract on Sunday.  Sacrament meeting today went well, but we weren't able to meet with anyone today.  We went fliering for three hours, and as we passed through a neighborhood, we saw a member riding past.  We stopped and talked for a little while.  She recently got a new job and works the night shift.  That was my miracle for today.  Lastly, the other Elders went out tabling this afternoon, and they had an angry drunk guy (in his early 20's) come up and shout at them, punch one Elder in the face, overturn their tables, and spit repeatedly on the Book of Mormon's.  The two Elders picked up the books and table and just walked back to their apartment with the guy still standing there yelling at them.  I'm not entirely sure what I would've done if I had been there.

Random thoughts:

- I had a bit of an idea during personal study earlier this week.  When teaching the "Word of Wisdom", why not read verses 18-21 first, make those promises of specific blessings that come from the commandment, and ask them what they think the commandment might be that promises such large blessings? (I'm assuming that they'd guess something pretty big).  Then tell them what the "Word of Wisdom" asks us to do, and show them how easy it is.  If wanted, it's a good opportunity to share the story of Naaman, and show that we don't always need to go on big quests for miracles, but sometimes just small, easy things.

- Scripture Mastery are incredibly long, and they don't teach all the parts of most of them in seminary, but I figured there's a reason why all the verses were chosen, so I've been trying to start to look at those.  For example, in JSH 1:15-20, most people focus and memorize just the first vision, but there's more in there than that.  For example: the thought never occurred to Joseph that all the many churches could be wrong.  Joseph was a lot further spiritually than most of the people I'm encountering, and it's really making me wonder how many of them have even considered that all the other churches could be false, and the importance and significance of finding the one true church.

That's all I have for this week.  I look forward to reading all of your emails that I printed out.

Talk to you all next week!


Shipp Elder

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

21 September 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Hello Everyone, I'm sure you wondered why I didn't send an email on Monday.  I was attending Greenie Training.  We all missed our P-Day, but we have been allowed a short time today to send some shorter emails.  So, I'm going to do a quick blog post.  Thanks for bearing with me. J

Monday, 12 September
Another P-Day, another email, another shopping trip, and another fast: completed!  Tonight my thoughts spent some time drifting to fencing.  I hope I'll be able to build my fencing skills back up as fast as I hope.  I also hope my teammates at both Utah and Penn are doing well, and also that I'll have some amazing new teammates to meet when I get back.
A highlight of today was breaking my fast and eating dinner with a member.  She is a great cook and made fruit soup, Hungarian-style loaded potatoes, and some kind of really good dessert.  Also, her house and garden were amazing.  They both looked like something out of a movie (sort of like the Weasley's house in Harry Potter, but only 2 floors). 
Before going to bed, I first need to get in my little daily miracle.  One of my little miracles today was not being very hungry, tired, or thirsty during my fast.  It was fairly uncommon and helped make my day even better =).

Tuesday, 13 September
Today was a very busy and very tiring day.  We cut our studies short this morning, and left at 8:30am so we could meet with an investigator and her daughter.  Her daughter just returned over the weekend after being in New York, DC, and Miami for two months, so we talked to her about it for the first while, but most the time we spent discussing the Restoration.  We ran twenty minutes late, so we got to jog for half an hour again to get to our next investigator. 

We discussed the Restoration again.  He leaves for London this weekend, so we'll only get to meet with him one more time.  However, he asked us if it was alright for us to continue to communicate via email, and said he'd continue to read the Book of Mormon and pray every day while he was in London.  I really hope things work out with him.  He is a great, smart, and mature person.  That lesson lasted over an hour and a half (although the first 30 minutes was the English part), so we got to jog to our next appointment as well.

The lesson with this investigator went well as we talked about the Plan of Salvation.  He has a good personality and gives a lot of thought to important things in life, but, unfortunately, he rarely does the things that he needs to and we aren't quite sure how we are going to get him to read the Book of Mormon or keep commitments.  Also, because we started late, we finished late, and got to jog to our next lesson (if this keeps up for the rest of my mission, then I'll be in great shape). 

She told us today that she doesn't like to read, so, while we haven't given her one yet, it will make asking her to read the Book of Mormon harder.  She's putting more effort into her prayers, and I am hoping to see some progress there. Next time we plan on giving her a Book of Mormon.
We had a fifth lesson planned with a member of the Branch, but when we called her a couple minutes before, we learned she had forgotten and also decided to back out.  It was a little strange to have my first cancel be from a member.  We instead spent the time with a different member who was having a rough day.

Lastly, my miracle today was the blessing of a healthy body, having the energy to jog from lesson to lesson, and not getting incredibly stinky while doing so. =)

Wednesday, 14 September
Today we spent the day in RCLA's, teaching 3 lessons (all members).  All three lessons went well.  I am on splits right now and will be teaching four lessons tomorrow.  Lastly, today the little miracle was finding out that Joseph Isaac won Junior Epee at Summer Nationals.  Congratulations Joe! It will be fun to see how I do against him when I return.

Thursday, 15 September
I have now been on my mission for exactly 3 months, and am 1/8th of the way through.  Yet, I still have a long ways to go concerning the language, the work, and just about everything.  I spent today on splits and am still on splits until tomorrow evening.  Today we taught five lessons.  We taught two lessons on Charity and Service, taught one on the Kingdoms of Glory, and one on scripture reading.  I taught the English class again tonight, and, while there was only one person at the start, I had a class of five by the end.  Unfortunately, none were interested. 

My miracle today was having money for bus tickets, even though I rarely take money with me, and I had grabbed enough to cover two tickets before I knew about the splits and also before I knew about the bus.

Friday, 16 September
Splits are now over.  The damage to my food supply is bearable, although the dishes have built up again.  I didn't have any programs today, and I feel like we accomplished very little.  We planned a little bit of the "PMG" class for Sunday, got in hours of studying, and went streeting for an hour, but did not manage to get a single person to listen to our message for more than ten seconds. =P  We finished the day and splits with Out-Reach, where we once again played ping-pong.  One day I'll be able to speak the language better and help make it more creative.  I may try to sooner and try to have one of the other missionaries interpret for me. 

The miracle today was learning how vast a majority in our branch are the only members in their family, yet are still active.  Despite all but a few being from part or no-member families, it's amazing to see their testimonies and their efforts, even during just these first two weeks.

Saturday, 17 September
We taught four lessons today.  The first two went well, but the last lesson was even worse than last time.  We didn't feel the Spirit, nor did we even manage to teach a lesson.  The whole 50 minutes was just them yelling, with the exception of my companion getting in one sentence.  That was literally all either of us said. 

The other crazy thing was that we went to play soccer with a member for a little while, and within 60 seconds of playing he ran into a post and left a 1 1/2 inch gash running down his forehead and another below his eye, that were  as wide as about 2-3 times the thickness of a fingernail.  We took him home, from where, he went to the hospital.  As a result, we met with him again in the evening to check up on him.  He got 5 stitches, but should be okay in a couple weeks. 
So, that is my miracle for the day, modern medicine.

Sunday, 18 September
We had Sacrament Meeting earlier today.  A senior couple came and both spoke.  It's amazing that they're both here serving the Lord.  I also learned that one of the Elders here is blind.  His determination and commitment is definitely my miracle of the day.

Monday, 19 September
Back in our apartment finally.  I spent today sitting in lines and at Greenie Training with the rest of my old District.  It was fun to see them all again, and hear what experiences they've been having across other parts of Hungary.  Our "networking" plan here in our city is definitely the most unique, which isn't really a bad thing.  I know I've enjoyed my time here a lot.  As nice as it is to be done with the long train rides, we need to get up nice and early again tomorrow to catch the 7:00 train for Interviews.  So, I'm going to bed (before 10:30 I might add). J
Today’s miracle: Being so busy, but also enjoying it.

Tuesday, 20 September
I know I've written this before, but time is so distorted while serving a mission.  It truly feels like I just got here, yet, I'm halfway done with my first transfer.  Stranger still, everyone I've talked to has said that, like the MTC, it will only start to go by even faster!  I spent the day in Interviews.  It went well, but also took all day.  This week doesn't feel like it's really begun.  During the entire week we are only going to be able to meet with one of our five investigators.  We got back to our city in the evening, went shopping, ate, and are now at 10:30.  My mission so far has been busy, tiring, and also enjoyable.  It's more unique than what I used to believe missions were like.  (I'm sure it'd be different if I served elsewhere).  Get to email again tomorrow as we missed our P-Day. 

Miracle: How far and how fast we can travel with modern technology.  It really does make so many more things possible and much more convenient.

Since coming out here, I've begun to glimpse more of how awesome missionaries are, and that only the best are sent to serve in Hungary (that doesn't mean all the best get sent here, but just that everyone here is counted among the best) =D

Love you all.  I'll be sure to email on Monday when we are actually able to have our P-Day!


Shipp Elder

Monday, September 12, 2011

12 September 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Monday, 5 September
Today was my first P-Day in Hungary.  It was very enjoyable.  This morning, we started by going to TESCO, the Hungarian version of Wal-Mart.  While there, we got light bulbs to try to lighten our apartment, but they were all the wrong size....oops.  We also planned on going to the zoo today with the other Elders in our district, but we received a call from a member that needed help, so an hour and a half was devoted to that instead.  I also went to an Internet Cafe for the first time, but due to the instructions being in Hungarian, the workers only speaking Hungarian, and having my computer freeze twice, it took almost an hour just to get started!  We ended our P-Day with FHE with 8 other members.  I got to try Fruit Soup.  It tastes great!  Also, I learned that "What If" is hard to play and isn't as funny when you can't speak the language well.

Tuesday, 6 September
Today was a busy day.  My companion and I have been really blessed.  We taught 4 lessons today (far more than usual).  The first was to a man.  He's 25 years old and is an incredible person, and a golden investigator.  He does not have a very religious background, but is very mature and has clearly thought about many of life's harder questions.  He believes in God, believes that He loves and wants to help each and every one of us, knows about and cares about everything in life, and that everything happens for a reason, even if we don't always understand it.  The biggest foreseeable trial is that he goes to London every other month for work, helping an incredible man he told me about.  (The man has been paralyzed from the shoulders down since he was a teenager.  Yet he's worked hard, holds a leadership position in a company, and most importantly, chooses to always be happy and out-going, despite his hardships).  We scheduled to meet with him again tomorrow, something I'm really excited about.

Our second lesson was to a man I met just this morning on the street.  He lives a ways away from us, but comes into town fairly regularly.  He speaks English very well (which he learned when he spent 3 years in LA), and was the first to fulfill the many tales I heard at the MTC and out here in the field of older Hungarians loving to complain, debate, and complain some more.  He has a very negative view of life and of others, and thinks everyone's main thoughts and concerns are how they can take advantage of their friends and neighbors.  He said he already has a Book of Mormon, so I challenged him to read Mosiah 2-5 on service and love.  I also got his phone number, so we can check-up and see if he wishes to continue meeting.

Our third lesson was with a girl.  She's 15, and her mom contacted us to help her as she is struggling with her English class at school.  She knows English about as well as I know Hungarian.  At the end, we talked about religion and found that she doesn't believe in God or anything else, but has never thought about it.  We're scheduled to meet again on Thursday.  It will be interesting to see how she progresses.

Our last lesson was with a lady on the Word of Wisdom.  She only had a problem with Coffee, but like the great investigator she is, she committed to follow it.  She also asked the fun question of where Zarahemla was located.  To my great amusement, my companion and the member we were with both pulled out maps and tried to find it. =)  However, they couldn't see it labeled anywhere.
The gospel is true. I feel myself growing. It feels great. =)

Wednesday, 7 September
Today I fasted again. It's always a good experience and worth it at the end.  We taught two lessons today.  Neither one went well lesson-wise, but both were over an hour in length (we're to blame for any problems).  We taught one about the Restoration, but made it a little more confusing than it needed to be.  However, I still feel great about him and he kept his commitment.  The other, we also planned on teaching the Restoration, but instead spent the time listening to some of the many incredibly hard things she has gone through.  It was good to remember today that often it is more important to listen than to talk.  She didn't read the intro to the Book of Mormon, so I recommitted her to read it.  We ended the night and my fast with omelets, which were delicious.

Thursday, 8 September
I am currently on splits.  It is the first time I've been on splits or been to the other companionship's apartment.  We taught 5 lessons today.  The first was to a man.  We had some incredible fruit soup with him and his family, taught him a great lesson, and spent only an hour there this time.  The lesson was great and he had some incredible thoughts and beliefs about how God created everything with a purpose, and also that there needs to be opposition in all things. 

Our second lesson was with the girl from Monday.  We had a shorter lesson today, during which we found out that while she doesn’t really believe in God, she somehow prays every day, so we challenged her to think more about the purpose and reason of prayer and to pray for specific answers.
We taught the lady from Monday an interesting lesson about following the prophet, and tried to answer her many questions about the Word of Wisdom. 

I taught the English class again, but this week there was only one person there, a man.  We spent the hour having a good conversation, and after the spiritual thought he asked for a Book of Mormon, said he'd read the introduction, asked when Church usually is, and also said he really loved "Come What May And Love It", which I showed during the spiritual thought, and said he wanted to and will look up more Mormon Messages.  While I wish more people had come, I guess 100% of my class showed good interest, so I'll count it as a success for now.

Friday, 9 September
Today I was on splits again.  We went streeting for 30 minutes, but did not find anyone.  We also taught a lesson to a man on Temples (he is getting baptized in 2 weeks!), and we taught a woman on Trials.

Saturday, 10 September
I did some real exercise in Hungary for the first time today.  We went jogging for 30 minutes, and then met up with the other missionaries to play soccer for another half hour.  Afterwards, we had to quickly jog back and get ready for our lesson with an investigator. We reviewed the Word of Wisdom, as she is still struggling with coffee, and also discussed following the prophet.  I was in charge of our lesson with some members tonight.  The man is middle age and married, and has a daughter about 15 who was baptized only 8 months ago.  He, along with his wife and mother, loves to talk, and talk, and talk.  I still managed to squeeze in a couple minutes before we had to leave.  Afterwards, we went back to the Branch House where my companion and I labeled and stapled over 300 fliers.  Hopefully we'll get to use them soon.  Tomorrow we get up at 5:00 so we can catch the train to Zone Conference.  Lastly, today I thoroughly studied 1 Nephi 11, learning the cycle, process, and progression of following the Spirit and receiving revelation..

Sunday, 11 September
Today was our Zone Conference, so we got up at 5, and took the train, making it onboard literally within 30 seconds of it leaving (because we waited 15 minutes for a member to come).  At the conference, there were many speakers who I couldn't understand.  However, I did understand when President Baughman spoke.  He spoke about a meeting he was at in Copenhagen just recently (within the past couple weeks) with the other 29 European Mission Presidents and Elder Bednar.  He shared how Elder Bednar said that while many speak of the highlight of the Atonement being the power to cleanse sins, the greatest blessing of the Atonement is its power to Elevate; to raise us to far more than we ever could have been before.  Each time we take part in the Atonement, we improve ourselves.  Also, as two side notes, the church here is an actual, large, and nice church building, and the Hungarian countryside is mostly just fields of corn and sometimes sunflowers. 
The last thing for today is that I'd like to try to start recording just one little miracle a day.  I don't plan on writing some incredible story each day, but I do hope to better see and appreciate the Lord's hand, constantly in my life.  For this first night, I noticed and remembered how close the train was, both there and back.  It was a great blessing to not be a minute late and miss it.

Random facts and other things:
·         It feels like it was just 2-3 days ago that I was in here emailing.  The days are already starting to zoom by. 
·         There are four missionaries in our District. 
·         While we only had one progressing investigator when I arrived here, we are now up to five!
·         I sleep like a log every night, and long for when I'll be able to sleep in until 9:00am again.
·         I cooked eggs again.  I'm getting better, but still have room to improve. J
·         I found a street on Saturday called "Ship Street"
·         Missionaries in Hungary do less streeting and tracting than most missions I think.  It just doesn't seem as effective here, but I'm hoping that will change with the hundreds of fliers we put together.  Instead of streeting, we've been focusing our energy into strengthening the Branch.  In addition to trying to get referrals and help from the members here, we're also really trying to just keep them active.  From what I've heard, within the past couple years, the Branch here has shrunk from 80-90 to the 25-30 it is today!

That's it for my email today.  I look forward to reading all of your letters and responding next week.

Love you all,


Shipp Elder

Monday, September 5, 2011

5 September 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Wednesday, 24 August
Consecration week is over!  I can speak English again, although, I actually found it quite difficult to speak just English, as I'd always want to react and start talking in Hungarian.  I'm glad I can speak English and finally was able to talk to Elder Powell.  I had a good temple session today, last one for two years.  We also met and taught Istan Maria the first lesson.  Oh, at the temple we met Rosen Elder's grandmother again, and also discovered that "CTR" means "Choose the Red-Head" (which was taught to us by an 85 year old lady at the temple).

Thursday, 25 August
3 days left!  Today we said goodbye and took pictures with Barker Nover and Stromberg Testver; they've both been great and really helped all of us learn the language.  I finally talked to Elder Dastrup in English, and learned from him that Elder (Spencer) Arneson is already serving in Finland.  Also, I ran into Zack again, and learned that while his call is still in "Limbo", Devin received his mission call to Washington!  Also, we have In-Field Orientation tomorrow, and today taught a lot of lessons.  Due to time, I can't write much, but we taught our last lessons to Hajnalka, Zoltan, and Aron and our last TRC (They all went great, TRC especially.  We completely left the lesson plan, but felt it went better).  We also taught Lilla, along with Christenson and Kramer Nover.

Friday, 26 August
Today was a long day of meetings.  I had "In-Field Orientation" from 8AM to 9PM.  It was good, beneficial, and I had the opportunity to be taught by 8 of the missionaries from the "District" videos.  But, it was still long.  I'm mostly packed and finally got a haircut.  I'm excited to head out.  The MTC's been great and I've learned a lot, but my country needs me and the Lord has called me, and "I must obey. Amen." =)

Saturday, 27 August
Today Lilla and Edit (the other group's investigator) and also Gyula all were baptized.  We had all three in a row and did a 45 minute service for them.  I'm completely packed except for a few last things which I need for tomorrow.  Classes are over and I said goodbye to all my teachers.  Only one full day left!  It's finally here!

Sunday, 28 August
We leave tomorrow at 5:00 AM.  We took lots of pictures on the temple walk, said goodbye to the Noverek and Branch Presidency.  We had a Departure Devotional by President McIff and President Brown, followed by a Fireside, also by President McIff.  All 3 talks were great. =)  In the evening we explained and passed down both the Ark and the Talpra Magyar.  I failed to get a recording, but it was a good experience.  I can't believe the time is finally here.  I'm nervous, but also so excited to reach my mission field of Hungary.  I'll do an entry during the flight tomorrow, but soon my entries will be from Hungary.

Monday, 29 August
Halfway to Hungary!  I'm having to write this during our flight as we arrive at 11AM.  This morning we got up at 3:45, showered, got ready, said goodbye to the Kicsi, and left.  During the flight to New York, I sat between another missionary and a guy named "Mick".  Mick was Catholic and from Russia.  He also started chewing tobacco as we spoke.  After arriving in New York, we each got to call home.  I only got to talk to my family for 30 minutes, but it was still great to hear from them.  I loved hearing their voices and that they are all doing well.  Next time I'll get to speak with them won't be until Christmas in 4 months.  Like I wrote earlier, we're on our way to Hungary.  Only 4 hours left!

Tuesday, 30 August
It's amazing how much a mission can distort time.  First off, I arrived in Hungary safely.  This morning we landed around 10:30, got our luggage, and met the mission president, his wife, and their assistants.  Upon landing, and even walking out of the airport, it didn't feel like a different country.  I don't think that (along with everything else) will really hit me until tomorrow.  Although, on the drive from the airport to the mission home, we talked to the AP's and as they talked about what things were going on two years ago when the left, it hit me pretty hard about how long two years is.  It made me a little frightened, almost, and pretty homesick for a couple hours as I tried to imagine the many, many things that happen in two years.  At the same time, thoughts have been coming into my head from the other side of the spectrum.  While each day at the MTC felt so incredibly long, now that I'm gone the twelve weeks I spent there seem to have been a blink of an eye.  Nor does it feel like it's been a full year since I first went to college.  I'm sure that like the MTC or UPenn, my mission will feel incredibly long and feel very difficult and tiring at times, but once it's over, it will feel like it went by so fast.  Also, talking to the AP's, it sounds like, similar to the MTC, the longer I'm here, the more it will blur and the faster it will go. 
On a final note, we did some fun activities tonight.  We all went out for dinner.  At dinner, President Baughman accidently almost ordered beer for all of us (by answering a Hungarian question "do you want anything to drink?" with the English "sure", which the waiter understood as "sor" (sh-ore), which means "Beer".  Luckily the AP's caught it and fixed the problem before we were all served beer).  I tried Hungarian food for the first time, and I found that I love it, but it is very, very filling.  And we finished our evening with a visit to Hero's Square and also to a look-out point where Russel M Nelson first opened Hungary for Missionaries.  I took plenty of pictures.  Tomorrow I meet my trainer, start streeting, and head out.  I pray it will be an amazing experience.  My fears, anxiety, and homesickness have already begun to fade, perhaps because I am tired.  Luckily I know God loves me and that he will take care of his missionaries. =)
Thus ends my first entry from Hungary!

Wednesday, 31 August
Part 1: Hello again.  I decided to do two entries today (This first part I'm writing just after getting up).  This was my first time waking up in Hungary, and there are 5 thoughts that came to my mind: First off, the mission home is really nice and comfortable, and also big.  It has 7 floors.  Secondly, I forgot to actually write yesterday, because I just sort of assumed, but this morning decided I should be sure to write that the AP's and the Mission President are all really nice people.  Third, today's a big day and by tonight I'll likely be in a different part of the country.  Fourth, I'm really here.  I'm really in Hungary and will be here for the next 21 1/2 months!  And lastly, this morning, upon waking up, I felt better and more calm compared to yesterday.  Hopefully these better feelings continue throughout the day.

 Part 2:  So, a lot has happened today.  We went streeting this morning where I gave someone a Book of Mormon.  Afterwards I received my debit card and sat through a discussion about missionary funds.  We don't really get much, and it's going to be fun to budget it.  At 12:30pm I met my new companion and trainer, and found that I will be serving in the Northeast corner of the country (the furthest area from Budapest).  My companion’s a great teacher and a good missionary.  He has been patient with me, knows the language very well, is the District Leader, and has obviously made a strong effort to go out of his way to meet and get to know all the members in our branch.  We got pictures and stopped by a McDonalds for lunch.  (McDonalds are pretty nice and have an entire bakery section in Hungary) and then we caught the train to our area.  Upon arriving we went straight to the Branch House for a District Meeting, where I met the Branch President and his First Counselor.  They spoke way too fast for me to understand.  It sounds as though the Branch here is 25-30 people.  I'm sure I'll get to meet most of them on Sunday.  We arrived at our apartment around 9:30pm where I got mostly unpacked, did some quick planning, and I ate a bowl of cornflakes for dinner.  Our apartment is nice in size, but needs some upkeep.  Fourteen of the twenty-two lights in the apartment are burned out, so the rooms are all dark.  We only have one progressing investigator. There are four missionaries in this area.  I'll be teaching an English class each Thursday night.  Tomorrow’s going to be yet another full, unique, new day.  It is past 11:00pm already, and I still need to adjust to both the time change and the life style, and need whatever sleep I can get.  Hope you enjoyed part 2.

Thursday, 1 September
Today was my first full day with just me and my companion.  This morning the other companionship in our District came over, and we all ate policsinta's.  They're basically Hungarian crepes.  We taught two lessons, one to a man.  He has 6 dogs (4 are bulldogs), he fed us lunch, and his dad joined in the last half hour of the visit.  The second lesson was with a lady.  It was short, simple and sweet.  She's a kind, elderly woman, is our only progressing investigator, and has a baptismal date way out on November 26.  Soon after her lesson finished, we started "Angolora" (English Lessons), and I taught the advanced class for slightly over an hour.  Only 4 came, but one was interested in the gospel, so I guess 25% is a good statistic.  It looks like I'll be teaching again next week.  Lastly, tonight I discovered that I really am a terrible cook.  I nearly messed up scrambled eggs!  Hopefully my cooking improves a ridiculous amount on my mission, preferably at a ridiculously fast pace.  If not, I may end up with many sad stories to tell concerning my food.  That's all for today.

Friday, 2 September
As like every day we'll have in this transfer, my companion and I began with 4 hours of studying.  We went streeting for a couple hours this afternoon, and passed out pass-along cards, but didn't get a single find.  Nor did we teach any lessons today.  However, this evening we had a "Welcome Home" party, where I discovered Hungarian treats are delicious.

Saturday, 3 September
Today went well.  We started off with 4 hours of studying this morning and I learned some new things about King David during Companionship Study.  Lunch wasn't very well planned with the other companionship, so I ran into a store and bought rolls and cheese.  I'm happy to say that there is some really yummy cheese over here, and will probably become a common lunch for me.  Afterwards we went tracting several hours, and at the very end we got accepted into a house where we gave a 40 minute lesson.  We left the two women we taught a Book of Mormon and a Pass-Along Card, and received their phone number to set up another lesson next week.  I'm really hoping it works out.  After finishing the lesson we realized we were running late, so my companion and I jogged for 35 minutes to our next appointment, arriving 15 minutes late....oops!...It is hard, hot, and tiring to jog in a white shirt, tie, church shoes, and dress pants.  Luckily, our investigator understood and we were able to have a good lesson with her on the 10 Commandments, which she was familiar with and already follows.  We held a District Meeting for 2 hours afterwards, and then came back here for dinner.  Luckily, I'm proud and able to say that I did a much better job cooking spaghetti, peas and carrots, and bread than I did with scrambled eggs.  My cooking's improving already. =)

Sunday, 4 September
Today was my first Sunday in Hungary.  I got to meet all the members of the ward, and of course, it was Fast Sunday, so I got to fast and share my testimony (in Hungarian =)).  After church we took the sacrament over, and I went inside a 10'er for the first time.  We finished the evening by having the other Elders come over for Policsinta's, but the pan was ruined, so I luckily had some food left from last night, so we improvised, planned, and shared stories.  Also, my companion and I had weekly planning for 2 1/2 hours this afternoon.  I'm looking forward to P-Day tomorrow. =)  I sleep like a log each night!

One thing I've learned at the MTC and this first week in Hungary is to better appreciate all the little things.  Not only to appreciate them, but to find joy and happiness in them.  Heavenly Father really has given us so much to be grateful for.  During personal study I've also had the time to find many fun and cool scriptures.  These ones made me think of missionary work, and my time here, although, I hope they will continue to apply through all of my life.

2 Tim 2:3  "Though therefore endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ" (For that is whose name is on every missionary’s nametag.  We are his missionaries! =D)

Romans 12:21  "Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good."

1 Tim 6:12  "Fight the good fight of faith, to lay hold on eternal life"

And by the end of my mission, and again at the end of my life, I want to be able to say:

2 Tim 4:7-8 "I have fought a good fight, I have finished by course, I have kept the faith.  Henceforth there is laid up for me in a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing."

That's all for the scriptures.  While I was experiencing a whirlwind of emotions and feelings when I first got here, they've pretty much calmed out now.  And, with them faded, I am happy and excited to be here.  I know that this is the right thing I need to be doing and is also what the Lord wants and has instructed me to do.  The country of Hungary truly is in the dark.  I've heard 3 missionaries now describe the country as being run by "the carnal man", and that's pretty much held true.  At the same time, the members here are amazing, and have taken such leaps of faith for the gospel and have gained powerful testimonies of it.  "The worth of every soul is great in the sight of God".  One of the sayings that has continuously come to my mind is that to those who are in darkness, the smallest glimmer of light seems as bright as the sun, as long as they have their eyes open to see it.  I know the Lord put me here for a reason, and even if baptisms aren't high, there is at least one person here who I need to bring that glimmer of light to, even if it's to me.

I have to get going.  I'll be sure to send another email next week.  Until then, I'm going to quote one last scripture from the very end of the book of Matthew: "And, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen."


Shipp Elder