Monday, October 31, 2011

31 October 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Dear Family,

I don't have an incredible amount of time today, but at the same time I don't have too much to say.

Monday, 24 October
During today's P-Day I had the opportunity to do something I haven't really done before.  My companion and I went with the other Elders to the Botanical Garden for over two hours.  M had arranged for the head caretaker to give us a tour of the entire place and explain about many of the plants as we went along.  The three parts I enjoyed the most were the Carnivorous plants, a hedge maze, and most uniquely, a plant (looked like a normal tree) whose petals would close if you touched them.  Similar to the zoo a few weeks ago, the diversity and beauty of the many plants Heavenly Father created was my miracle today.  The night finished with dinner at M's and I am stuffed again.

Tuesday, 25 October
We had two lessons dog us, and two went through.  Both D and R failed to meet today, so we tabled instead and were unsuccessful.  However, we did teach B, where we got fed lunch and in the evening we taught M.  Tonight was the first time that we've taught M at her house, and will probably be the only time.  While she claims to only have two cats, she's picked up 12 strays for a total of 14, and spent much of the time showing us them, and trying to give one to H.  We didn't even manage to talk about baptism.  Afterwards, we went over to the other Elders' apartment and had palacsintas for the first time since my first week in the country.  For a miracle today I chose to think about Heavenly Father's unlimited love and power, and likewise, our endless potential as His children.

Wednesday, 26 October
Another two programs fell through today, but we still managed to teach J (who brought us donuts), M (no cats this time), and S along with her daughter.  S is a member of the Branch, but isn't very active and as far as I can tell, her daughter has never been a member.  Lastly, a funny miracle is that I had to actually cook a real dinner for myself for the first time is five days.

Thursday, 27 October
Well, things are continuing to go downhill.  Finding has still been ineffective, and, while we only got dogged once today, we did manage to meet with B.  However, she brought the Book of Mormon we had given her back, said she wasn't interested, and that her mom had enrolled her in a "language school", so it would be the last time we would meet with her.  So, we got dropped.  M is now our only progressing investigator.  To make things worse, I somehow got called as our Branch pianist, and was volunteered to play four songs this coming Sunday.  So, now my companion and I will get 4-6 less hours a week while I practice, and with there being little to no member missionary work, and only two missionary companionships, things are going to start going even worse each week.  My only consolations about the calling are that I am supposed to dedicate all my time, energy, and talents to the Lord (although I've never counted piano among my talents), and that I'll get to learn piano out of this.

Friday, 28 October
Well, our hours are already starting to hurt.  I have tomorrow to learn how to play 4 hymns (I did get started today, but have a ways to go).  I missed our program with K so I could practice, and will miss another 2 programs tomorrow as well.  We did manage to meet with X today and spent 45~ish minutes talking about prophets and the scriptures.  We'll give her a Book of Mormon next time, but currently it's hard to tell if she'll keep commitments and read it or not.  Lastly, the miracle for today was that all 4 of us went to M's work and had a 18 minute interview on Live TV, where we briefly talked about Halloween in America, then also why we are here.  It was a cool experience, and I'm hoping we get something out of it.  Now I can officially say I've been on Hungarian television.  Funnily, they spelled all of our names wrong except Elder W's.  They spelled mine as "Roys".  Oh well.  Long day ahead tomorrow.

Saturday, 29 October
Our working hours for this week stink.  I'm constantly busy, but am not actually getting any proselyting hours.  This morning we played soccer with B again and shared a quick spiritual thought and two lessons.  The first was with M where we (actually, just my companion) talked to her about baptism.  She started crying when he told her how big a commitment it is and that she'll have to break some ties to her previous Evangelus church.  However, she did say she wishes to continue with her baptism.  The second lesson was with A, but I had to go on splits, and Elder F went to the lesson with my companion so that I could stay at the Branch House and practice piano for tomorrow.  Last of all is my miracle.  Today we were not completely obedient and broke some fairly basic rules.  Also, all of today, my piano practice didn't go even half as well as yesterday, when things just started to flow.  I can't help but think that these two are connected to each other, and that it also shows just how weak I am without the Lord and how much I need His help.  (Which, if that is the lesson I need to learn, struggling with playing the piano in one Sacrament Meeting isn't a terrible situation to learn that lesson from).

Sunday, 30 October
Looks like I'll continue to be the Branch Pianist.  They originally said they were going to try to call someone else, but apparently that effort never got made.  The only other significant thing today was that we went to one of my companion's Angolora student's place for dinner.  Pasta was served as an appetizer and that was the first time I've been served noodles at a Hungarian's house.  We came back with enough food to last us two more meals.

Well, after typing up the blog post, I realized how negative this week sounds.  It's been interesting recently.  Our hours have decreased and work has about stopped.  Yet I've been having the most unique experiences (like more meal appointments, Botanical Garden, TV, ect.)  In a way we're back to square one.  Our only progressing investigator is M....exactly how it was when I arrived here nearly two months ago to the day.  Anyways, this week will be fun, but not much work is going to get done.  Today's not an actual P-Day, but we have 2 hours to email and shop.  Tomorrow's a Super P-Day, and Wednesday is Zone Conference in Budapest.

That's all I have for this week.  Love you all.

Shipp Elder

Monday, October 24, 2011

24 October 2011 Pictures

Bearer of the Torch

Buda Castle

Hero Square

24 October 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Monday, 17 October
Another P-Day come and gone.  Today we had 3 lessons.  Although it was a P-Day, we met with L in the morning, tried to meet with A, who would've been a new investigator, in the afternoon, but we got dogged, and we had FHE at H's in the evening.  While it was nice to have work, it did break our P-Day into shorter segments and made it harder to do shopping and email.  In our lesson with L, she continued the whole "saved by grace alone" thing, and then we got held up talking about tithing.  I plan on limiting our lessons with her to less than one hour in the future.  Lastly, we watched "The Road to El Darado" today, the first movie I've seen while out here.  For a miracle I would have to choose the slightly warmer weather we had today.

Tuesday, 18 October
I'm currently on splits with Elder F.  This morning we met with M for the first time in weeks.  She really is kept busy by her new job at the factory.  We're going to meet again next week, and also start meeting with her daughter on a regular basis for English.  She offered us wine multiple times during our visit and had a hard time understanding that we will not drink any alcohol.

Met with D agian.  She's progressing, but so, so slowly.  We got some pizza from a restaurant tonight, and Elder M and I found 19 bone fragments on our slices, each about the size of half a dime.  Last of all, while streeting I decided to turn onto the campus of a nearby college, and we spent nearly an hour walking around, and trying to see if we could advertise the Church or Angolora there.  While there we ran into H.  It's quite a small world.  My miracle came as a realization about the great blessing of America's standing, past and present, on religious freedom.  That's something that has existed from the founding of our nation, and will hopefully continue to last for a long time.

Wednesday, 19 October
Today I spent the day filling the role of senior companion while on splits with Elder F.  Today was a good and successful day.  We started by teaching L who informed us that she will be out of town the next couple weeks, so we won't be able to meet.  We swung by R's reestablished contact with him, spent 40 minutes talking to him, shared a quick lesson, and set up a lesson for next week.  While he hasn't been reading the Book of Mormon, he has been praying regularly.  I also started setting up our Facebook finding efforts.  We went tabling and found a Neni who said she knows a member of our Branch, said she likes what she's seen of our Church, and hopes to attend Sacrament Meeting this weekend with two of her sons.  Today's miracle also happened during tabling when a man with a camera walked up.  In short, he runs a page in the local newspaper, and wanted to advertise our giving away free books, so he asked a couple questions, brought a young woman to pose with us, and took a couple pictures.  Hopefully that actually gets advertised.  That would be quite fun.

Thursday, 20 October
Two more programs fell though today, but luckily we still taught four.  With M we reviewed the Plan of Salvation.  Luckily her hand is starting to do better.  We also taught B and A a second time; however we aren't sure how interested in the Church they actually are.  And last of all we had Angolora. This week went better than last week's class, but it is still taking some getting used to.  I know I've written about memory before, but the miracle I want to remember today is still having my Patriarchal Blessing memorized and always being able to think of the blessings in it.

Friday, 21 October
We met with two new people today.  The first was X, who we are meeting with in part to teach English.  We aren't quite sure how interested she is in the gospel yet, but will find out in future lessons.  We also met with S, who's one of the oldest members in the Branch (in how long she's been a member, not actual age).  She's been a member for 16 years.  Her conversion story, of a friend simply inviting her to church is today's miracle.  While at her house, one of her cats kept staring up at the ceiling light.  It was fun and interesting to watch its pupils shrink to 1/5 of their normal size, and get the cat-eyes with the little slit.  On our way back to our apartment, a Neni chased us down on her bike.  She said all kinds of strange things, and grabbed our hands to make a prayer circle.  It freaked us both out a little.

Saturday, 22 October
Tracting and streeting are still proving unsuccessful.  After eight weeks, and several dozen hours, we've never managed to meet with a single person we've found while streeting, and M is still the only person we've really found while tracting, and she's been able to meet less and less lately.  The only lesson we had was with M2.  I was in charge of the lesson today.  It went well for the first 30 minutes, but during the last ten we started talking about baptism and learned that she still believes in the Catholic version of it.  It made it really easy to choose a topic for our next lesson with her.  The miracle today was having someone from Angolora call and say they want to start meeting for private lessons, outside the usual class, which will mean we can give her a 30 minute spiritual thought each time we meet.  Tonight we got with the other Elders and made Tacos.  That has been the most American food I've eaten while out here.

Sunday, 23 October
I am so stuffed, and feel both content and a little miserable (but that part is getting better).  We had a lesson at 3:30 with a woman who fed us the biggest meal I've eaten on my mission.  It was 5 courses and she was so pushy about having us eat it.  It was so good, but also so much food.  The hardest part though, was that within 40 minutes of finishing we went to another lesson where we were fed again....why?....why couldn't we get those kinds of lessons on different days?  Anyways, it was all great food and now I'm going to go experience the miracle of sleep. (Also, the Neni that Elder F and I found while tabling didn't come to church with her two sons, nor did the advertisement appear in the newspaper).

That's all I have for this week.  Talk to you next week.


Shipp Elder

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Monday, October 17, 2011

17 October 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Dear Family,

It's halfway through October!  How are you all doing?  I wanted to start this email with just a brief reflection on my mission so far, and then let you know what's new over here.

Last transfer I came here to my first area.  I met my trainer as well as the two other Elders here.  When I first got here, the Branch began to revitalize, in large part due to the returning of two members.  We started our transfer with only one investigator but found six more during the past six weeks.  Last transfer, we had little to no long-term success streeting, tracting, flyering, or tabling, with only one investigator that came out of any of those activities (and we haven't met with her in over 3 weeks)...  My language skills have improved during my time in the country, but I still can't speak too well.  My cooking skills are much like the language; better, but still a ways to go. J   One of the things I've enjoyed the most while being out here has been learning new ways to teach.  It's always interesting to hear different views and perspective on many of these subjects I'm teaching and finding out how people best accept them.

So, with this transfer so far and things that are new: we have a new companion in our District.  He's been pretty fun to work with so far.  Also, it's incredibly cold over here.  All of this week has been pretty chilly weather, and unlike most Utah weather where it can vary from hot to cold to hot on a day-to-day basis, the cold has been consistent, and it rains half of the time.

Monday 10 October
Today was my Dad's birthday, and his role and influence in my life is definitely worth using my miracle to remember.  This morning two things happened: we taught an investigator for 2 1/2 hours in the morning, during which I had the "fun" opportunity to hear, learn, understand, then explain some of Brigham Young's talks on African Americans; the other was receive transfer calls. 

Tuesday, 11 October
Today wasn't good, number wise.  We only got one lesson.  We had two lessons set up, but one wasn't there.  Also, today was one of the other Elder’s last day, so we spent half the afternoon planning and getting things from him before he leaves.  We went on a visit in the evening for dinner and a lesson.  It went great and her apple dessert was delicious.  Lastly, my Kicsi are in Hungary, and one will join us tomorrow.

Wednesday, 12 October
Today was a fulfilling, good day.  We started by teaching an investigator, and we spent most the time reviewing questions we'd already discussed and solved during the first two lessons.  The most annoying is that since day one she's kept saying that "we are saved by grace alone", but said the only reference for that is Ephesians 2:8, which says we are saved "by grace through faith", which connects to James 2 "Faith without works is dead, being alone", so we know it is by grace, faith, and works we are saved.  However, she keeps disagreeing.  It's annoying that she expects us to explain everything with the Bible, when she doesn't listen to some of the main things the Bible teaches.

We should have had a second lesson, but he dogged us.  So, we went streeting for two hours and got two finds, the most successful for quite some time.  With an investigator we reviewed the Restoration which was basic, but good.  We also taught another, and ended by talking about referrals.

Thursday, 13 October
Today was fairly wonderful.  My companion and I started our day with two lessons planned, but finished our day having taught five!  In the morning we got a call from someone asking for English help, and we taught his wife afterwards.  Then another called, who invited us over for lunch and a lesson.  We got two new investigators in the evening, and then we finished our night with Angolora.  I must admit that teaching Halado really stinks after being in the Profi class all of last transfer.  We would have had a sixth lesson, but one called us and cancelled until next Tuesday.  Other than that, we had invited an investigator to come teach and advertise during Angolora, but she called us half an hour before and cancelled as well.  Oh well, at least we tried to do some service.  I reviewed a large part of the beginning of my journal and reflected on many other memories this morning.  It made me happy, but it also took a lot of energy out of me.  It's also been consistently rainy and cold the past four days.  Last of all is today's miracle which is receiving two new investigators in one day; something we can't usually do in an entire week.

Friday, 14 October
Another day on my mission.  We only had one lesson planned today, but she called and cancelled.  She told us she had been bitten by a dog and had to go to the hospital.  We completely understood, told her not to worry, and that our prayers would be with her.  During studies, my companion and I went into deep doctrine, talking about the 12 Tribes, the Millennium, and Predestination.  Later we had a fairly unhelpful District Meeting with the two other Elders where they just repeated some of the things we had already discussed.  I called President Baughman this morning and received permission to use Facebook as an advertising and finding tool.  Also, after the District Meeting, we went streeting yet again, but this time we got two names and numbers!

Last of all was a thought that I developed today and is also my miracle.  It was the realization that my life is good and that I have made a lot of good choices in life. Granted I've made some bad ones too, but the good, happy times and things in my life are the results of good, right choices that I, or others, have made.  In fact, nearly everything I thought of could be broken down into a combination of both results of my choices and of someone else's choices.  Fencing, school, and the mission I am currently serving; I have made many, many good choices to start, continue, and put forth effort in each one of them.  Each class I chose to attend, each fencing practice I showed up to, each day I go out and proselyte is a good choice that improves my life.  Likewise, without my parents, I never would've put forth the same effort, or even be able to take part in any of those activities.  My friends never would've become friends if they had not each made efforts and choices on their parts.  The Gospel that I am trying to share would not be the same without the choices and contributions of Joseph Smith, and every other prophet in the Church.  I would not even be alive if my parents hadn't made some choices.  Choices in life really do make a difference, and will continue to make a difference in the eternities beyond this life.  It truly is important to remember this and always try to "Choose the Right".

Saturday, 15 October
Today was a unique day in my mission so far.  My companion and I had not planned any lessons this morning or afternoon, so that we could spend our day tracting, which we managed to do for four hours (more counting travel time).  The fun parts were that we didn't get a single let-in or telephone number, and it was raining all of today.  It has been so consistently cold this week, and rain comes and goes on a daily basis.  Luckily, we did manage to place a Book of Mormon and five Pass-Along Cards.

The miracle I saw today was modern clothing, to help keep us warm and dry in the cold winters.  In a way they allow us to conquer the elements.  It also reminded me of a story I heard while in the MTC of when President Hinckley was a counselor to Howard W Hunter, and he travelled to a Mission Zone Conference.  At the start of the meeting he made some announcements and finished, in short, by saying, "As you all know, it is currently snowing outside and has been predicted to continue to do so for the next couple days.  However, we have an important event tomorrow afternoon which will be held out on the pavilion, and we need the weather to be good.  Elder _____ will now give the opening prayer, during which we ask him to ask the cold weather to stop."  And he sat down.  They told us at the MTC that the missionary did pray, after a brief heart-attack, and despite the snow the weather-forecasts had predicted, the next day was sunny and warm.

This brought the scripture Matthew 17:20 to my mind, as well as 1 Nephi 17:50.  If I had been that missionary who had been called to say that prayer, it is hard to know what exactly I would have thought or how I would have felt.  Hopefully my being and my testimony contain a "mustard seed of faith" that I could perform whatever the Lord commanded me with the same surety, hope, and faith that Nephi and others did in times of old.

Sunday, 16 October
Today we only had church, which went well, and we tracted for another hour, during which we actually managed to get a phone number, more than we could receive all of yesterday.  The only other noteworthy thing today was the remembering of President Eyring's and Elder Holland's video "Missionaries and the Atonement".  I encourage anyone who hasn't seen it to look it up.  In it lies my miracle for today.  (Link: ) 

I also came up with two other spiritual thoughts this week.  The first is the video where Elder Holland and President Eyring talk about the Atonement and Missionary Work.  I just thought it was a powerful video and has a message that extends far beyond a full-time mission.  The second is I read the first chapter of 2 Nephi two days ago, and noticed some fun things in it.  Verses 5-12 talk about some visions and prophecies concerning the Americas in our time, some of which have come true (immigration was an interesting one), and others that have yet to come to pass.  Verse 14 has an interesting quote from Lehi, "Awake! And arise from the dust, and hear the words of a trembling parent".  It really helped me realize just how powerful Lehi's words and love for his sons and desire for their welfare was, and how closed their hearts had to be to not heed that love.  Likewise, I was also a little surprised by verse 25, in which Lehi says he would have blessed them above Nephi and Sam if they would just harken to the councils of the Lord.  In verse 30 is one of my favorite quotes when he is talking to Zoram, "I know that thou art a true friend...forever".  Lastly, the part that connects to my blog post is actually between chapters.  In my blog posts I talked of the blessings of choice.  In the heading for 2 Nephi 2, it says "Freedom of choice (agency) is essential to existence and progression."  That's just something I felt tied in really well to a thought I had dwelt on the day before.

The last things I'd like to share this week is that earlier this week I reflected on my journal and on many of my past experiences and memories.  Memories are one of the things I've always appreciated and been the most thankful for.  They allow good times and events to last forever, far longer than the short moments during which they happen.  I'm glad for some many events and memories in my life, and for Heavenly Father’s great gift to us to allow us to remember them in our memories.  I love remembering the many fun times we've had together and the memories we've shared.

That's all I have this week, both to say and also time-wise.  Talk to you next P-Day.

Shipp Elder

Monday, October 10, 2011

10 October 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

It's P-Day again, and the last one during this transfer.  There have been a lot of calls going back and forth between companionships to see who is going where.  My companion and I are staying together.  One of the Elders in the other companionship, however, is leaving.  The other Elder is staying and is actually getting a Greenie, so I'll get to serve with one of my Kicsi!

Monday, 3 October
Today was a fun P-Day.  Started off with shopping and emails and used some of the new MSF =D.  Then, this afternoon we went with the other Elders and one of the members to the zoo.  The zoo here is pretty big and has a fun variety of animals.  There was a baby otter that was really cute.  The strangest were the seagulls, and they had a small pen with a dog house in the middle, in which laid the saddest basset hound I've ever seen.  We all felt so bad for it.  Near the end we fed some llamas and their tongues tickled.  Despite moving through it fairly fast, we didn't have enough time to quite make it through everything, it was quite a big zoo.  I'm not sure if I'll ever get the opportunity to return and go through the last parts.  Still, it was very enjoyable and I got to take a lot of pictures. 
After spending a couple hours at the zoo we went to a member’s house for dinner and a spiritual thought.  As always, her food was amazing.  She stuffed us with a four whole courses, and I somehow managed to eat two plates of each. 
Lastly, the miracle of the day was looking online and finding that six new temples were announced.  Although, I must admit, the variety and design of the few of God's many creations we saw at the zoo helped put into perspective how amazing and creative Heavenly Father is, which is another miracle.

Tuesday, 4 October
My companion and I taught three lessons.  We were also fed both lunch and dinner.  Other than that, not too much happened.  We tabled for a couple hours in the morning, had a program with an investigator who never came, and swung by another’s to try to re-establish contact but he still wasn't there.  Luckily, today we finally managed to create a good opportunity to give one a Book of Mormon.

Wednesday, 5 October
Today was a unique and fairly hard day.  We waited for our first two lessons, but no one showed up.  We had three other lessons, one on Fasting, a 15 minute one with a Neni who we gave a Book of Mormon to, and who said she'd like to meet again next week, and a 2 1/2 hour lesson with the last.  This last one is American, but has lived in Hungary for the past 6 1/2 years. 

Thursday, 6 October
Time is still continuing to be distorted.  Today I spent some time setting goals for myself during the next couple weeks.  Very few were actually language goals.  We taught 3 lessons today.  We met with a woman for 15 minutes to discuss, talk about, and give her a Book of Mormon.  In the evening I taught my biggest Angolora class yet, with nine of us taking part in the discussions. 
My miracle is tied into the spiritual thought I shared.  We are all sons and daughters of God.  We each have limitless potential, and Heavenly Father has an infinite love to help us reach that potential.  In the words of President Uchtdorf, "knowing all that changes everything.  It changes us, and it can change the world."
Friday, 7 October
Today we got dogged again, and our only lesson was on obedience.  Tabling has really died out, so we went back to streeting today.  While it wasn't too successful, we did get one phone number and that is my small miracle today.  Last of all, it started raining this evening, and neither of us had jackets, so we got soaked.  Although, now that it's over, and I'm dry again, it just provides another memory that I'll have to smile about.

Saturday, 8 October
Today was a good day.  We taught two lessons, and both lessons went better than usual.  We knew more of what to expect with the first, and planned accordingly, and with the second we reviewed the entire fourth lesson, which I'm very glad to write, she understood, remembered, and follows.  This week we had more lessons fall through than show up (which actually is true for our week overall as well), but we still taught more than the past 2-3 weeks, so while we suffered greater rejection, we also had greater success this week.  Tomorrow we are going to watch the first two sessions of General Conference in Hungarian.  I guess I'll have to see how much, or possibly, how little, I actually understand. 
My miracle is that we were able to plan better and more closely follow our teaching plans than usual.

Sunday, 9 October
Today our Branch watched General Conference.  While I was able to figure out and understand the topics of nearly every talk, that's about all I was able to understand.  Sadly, only about 10 members came today to watch the sessions.  Miraculously, I stayed awake and focused all four hours, which is usually hard for me, even when it is in English and I could understand it.  After General Conference, my companion and I went tracting for a couple hours but didn't get a single find.

Well, that's about it.  I just have some quick concluding remarks.

I'm at the end of my first transfer and nearly 1/6 of the way done with my mission, which is crazy and hard to believe.  It feels like I've done so little out here, but I know that while this feels like it's way too fast, I still have the vast majority of my mission ahead of me.  Reflecting on this transfer makes me really appreciate our one true investigator, and makes me glad to teach her.  She's still the only one we have on a Baptism Date, but it's so exciting to think about her baptism.
Here's a good, final quote from the scriptures:
"Even so hath the Lord ordained that they which preach the gospel should live the gospel." - 1 Corinthians 9:14

That's all for this week,
I love you all!
Shipp Elder

Monday, October 3, 2011

3 October 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

It's October!  (I think in the future, when I have more stories, or at least can understand more of what's going on around me, I might change the style of my entries to more of a weekly overview with a spiritual though instead of these excerpts of my daily journal entries.  While I could start doing short spiritual thoughts, the experiences are something that is still in the process).  Anyways, I'll figure out if I'm going to change that or not later, in the future.

Monday, 26 September
I went whipping for the first time today.  I can get the whips to crack, but still have a lot to learn.  Next time I plan on taping my wrists, as half of my wrist is now yellow and purple.  I also have two nice lashes on my right shoulder and just above my elbow.  I'm sure I'll get progressively better each time I do it.  Lastly today, my companion and I set a goal to try to increase our obedience by choosing three rules each week to find ways to follow more closely.

Tuesday, 27 September
Today we taught two investigators.  I don't have much to say about either lesson, other than that we failed to extend the planned commitments in either one.  We went tabling today, and at the end two kids came up asking us for money.  After they pretended to cry and act pitiful, we told them we had none, but told them about the Book of Mormon, and gave them one after hearing them say they read the Bible regularly (which they did have some knowledge of the scriptures.  By the way, it was two 12-year-old boys).  At the end, they turned around and found that their Mom and Dad had happened to walk into the park, see them, and had been standing behind them since the second half of their "crying for money" scene.  They were both very surprised and there was a bit of an awkward silence.  It made us all laugh later.  Anyways, we figured we made the best of that situation, and who knows, maybe since their parents were standing there nearly the whole time listening in (we didn't know it was their parents until the kids turned around and they started talking), they heard our message as well, saw us be nice to their sons, and maybe they'll take a slight interest in the church, or read the Book of Mormon we gave their sons.  Truth be told, you never know.  Today a miracle was having a teenager join me, my companion, and a member while playing soccer.  He played with us for almost an hour, and then spent over an hour talking.  He said he'd come the Branch Activity on Saturday, and seemed to enjoy spending the evening with us.  Hopefully we'll see him again.

Wednesday, 28 September
Today was a much better day.  I'm on splits again; this time with one of our Zone Leaders.  It's been interesting and good to work with him for a day.  He's on month 23, and will be going home in a month and a half.  We had three lessons planned today, but no one showed up for the first two.  The third was a great, short, simple, and spiritual message (and we stayed on topic the whole time).  Lastly, we went tabling for 3 hours, and got two finds out of it.  My miracle of the day was communicating with the others more often and better than I usually do.  Hopefully I can continue to push and grow.

Thursday, 29 September
I left the MTC a month ago.  So far, things are going great.  Today we had a full schedule.  My companion and I finished our splits this morning and went to teach an investigator.  It went well, and we learned that he's read a fair amount of the Book of Mormon.  Upon finishing his lesson, we were approached by a girl on the street who said she's from Washington State, and would like to meet and talk some time.  We taught another investigator, and had an unplanned discussion on the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  In our third meeting of the day, we taught about tithing and followed up on the commitments for keeping the Sabbath Day holy.  She said she won't have a problem with tithing, but that it is hard for her to attend all three hours of Sacrament Meeting.
Angolora went well and contains my miracle for today.  We had a small group.  The cool part was they stayed for half an hour extra to continue talking.  Out of the hour and a half I told them about many parts of the gospel, and only 5-10 minutes were not focused on the gospel.  That's it for today.  Currently on splits.

Friday, 30 September
Splits are over again.  I'm tired and ready to sleep so I'm going to make today's short.  We taught one lesson and tabled for 3 1/2 hours during which we got four finds.  I memorized 22 verses of scripture today.  Also, tomorrow is the big activity that I'm really hoping is successful.  In the last three days, more lessons have fallen through than succeeded.  Last of all, today I read many conference talks, and nearly all were on the Atonement or on Love, both of which were good for me to hear.  They really are both basic, yet important fundamentals in the gospel.

Saturday, 1 October
I'm still tired...oh well, today was a good day.  This morning we spent two hours harvesting Sunflowers.  It was a unique and memorable experience.  They were all ridiculously tall (8-10 feet) and we were working in a large field full of them.  The beautiful part about them was when the seeds would all be covered with yellow balls of flowers.  There were so many (one per seed) and looked like golden raindrops as we brushed them off.  However, on the older sunflowers, the balls of petals had fallen off and left little spikes.  They actually made my hand bleed in three places.  At first everyone would bend the stocks down to reach the flowers at the top to harvest them, but I took my sickle (yes, I had a sickle) and started felling them in one blow, which allowed me to work 2-3 times as fast as anyone else.  I felt like a pro.  Also, a fair amount of the flowers themselves were nearly a cubit in length (almost 1 1/2 feet).  Afterwards we came back, made brownies, and went to the activity at the Branch House.  There weren't many members there, and only one of our investigators attended.  We watched the Other Side of Heaven, ate desserts, and talked to everyone.  The miracle of the day was the uniqueness and beauty of the Sunflowers.  Also, another fun miracle was that I saw my first Ladybug since starting my mission, sitting on top of a giant sunflower.  It made me sort of wish I had my camera to capture the irony.

Sunday, 2 October
General Conference was this weekend, but I didn't get to see any of it.  We'll watch the first two sessions next week instead.  We had another Fast Sunday today and an hour and a half meeting after church.  It was really hard for me to stay awake today.  During weekly planning, I discovered that my companion and I can get up to eight new investigators this week.  Hopefully it works out.  My miracle today was the great success we had in scheduling appointments for 8 of our 9 finds from last week.  (Also only 3-4 days left until my wrist should be completely recovered from whipping last week).

Lastly, everything else
How was Conference?  Did you all enjoy it?  Did you do the tradition of brie and baguettes?  I haven't gotten to see any of it yet, and although we will watch the first two sessions this coming Sunday, it will all be in Hungarian, so I won't actually understand all the Conference talks until the end of next month when we get a Liohona.

Something I found strange and funny is that the Hungarian Parliament has passed a new law concerning Churches.  Because "Church" organizations have been exempt from certain tax laws, it sounds like groups have been labeling themselves as a "church" to save money.  So, Parliament passed a law where they decide who can hold the title of "church", and have given that 'permission' to the ten oldest churches in Hungary and to the three biggest ones outside of the original ten.  So, currently, our church is not recognized as an official "church".  However, there is a petition to get us "Churchdom" that is currently being processed, and it should go through just fine.  However, if something really crazy should happen and they deny it, we'll have to change all our signs and refer to ourselves as "The Organization (or Community) of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints".

I enjoyed receiving Griffin's letter.  Sounds like he's having great experiences, miracles, and success.  I can't really say that I can match those miracles or success, although maybe there are more miracles than I can realize that I just haven't seen because of the language barrier.

Well, that's it for today.  We're going to take off and meet six other missionaries at the Zoo for the afternoon.  Supposedly, it's a fairly big and nice one.

Talk to you next week.


Shipp Elder