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

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