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

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