Monday, November 7, 2011

7 November 2011 Letter (Nyiregyhaza)

Monday, 31 October
Well, I'm honestly not sure what I feel.  First off, we had a lesson with M today, and after the program my companion said he's seriously considering dropping her.  M has good intentions, but there are many key principles that she just doesn’t understand.  We've been over and also reviewed all the lessons, yet she still thinks that baptism is sprinkling a baby's head, that other churches have the priesthood, and is willing to keep the commandments, although she doesn't really understand why.  I hope we don't lose her, but we also don't want to baptize her in ignorance. 

Tuesday, 1 November
November 1st is a national Hungarian holiday.  During the day and evening it's sort of like a Memorial Day, where they visit graveyards, but they leave lit candles on the graves instead of flowers. 

Today I thought I'd record some points unique to Hungary and my mission.  The entire country of Hungary is a valley, so the weather is fairly consistent.  This past week and a half, smog rolled in and has been trapped in since.  In Hungary, the trains provide a lot of public intercity transportation and the buses and vilamoses provide plenty of local transportation.  Food is a lot fresher in Hungary, but perishes quickly, forming a cycle where you have to shop on a regular basis and buy fresh food multiple times a week rather than buying in bulk.    Meats and oils are guaranteed in almost every Hungarian dish.  Just like as in the states, building size varies.  In central Budapest there are hardly any buildings with less than 5-7 floors, and many are over 10 stories tall.  In Nyiregyhaza, the vast majority of buildings are 1-2 stories, all the ones in the center are 3 stories (almost without exception), and then about 30 minutes away is a 10'er district with about 12 buildings between 10-12 floors.  One has 14 and is the tallest building in this part of the country.  While tracting (with the exception of the 10'ers), we never knock on the front door.  There is always an 8-9 foot tall metal gate and a csengu (doorbell) to ring.  With the metal plate gate, you almost never know if someone's going to open it or not or who they may be.  Last of all there are two main classes in Hungary.  The vast majority of the population is either Hungarian or Gypsies.  That's all I have concerning Hungary for the moment. 

My companion and I met up with twelve other Elders in Budapest this morning.  After visiting for an hour we broke up into two groups.  One group started going to the Chinese Pioc and the other went to the mission home.  Elder F, Elder M, and I ran to hand our bags off to the mission home group and then went to join the Pioc group.  However, I was the last to hand off my bags, and got stopped by a red light.  When Elder F and I finally crossed, we couldn't see anyone.  So....Elder F and I were lost in the middle of Pest, an hour and a half away from the Mission Home, by ourselves, without a phone, without, we went exploring.  I got some pictures of St. Istvan's Basillica, saw the Opera House, and also the only Subway restaurant in all of Hungary.  After two hours of wandering we finally found a place to break up some change, find a pay phone, call our senior companions to learn the name of the metro station nearest the Mission Home, find a map, figure out where we were, and finally figure out our way back to the Mission Home.  Elder F speaks even less Hungarian than I do and has absolutely no experience with public transportation, so I got to be in charge.  Well, at least we made it.

I met many of my Kicsi and Osi today.  It was Sister C's birthday and Elder F and I went with her and her trainer, Sister B, to an enormous graveyard and saw the many thousands of candles that had been put on the tomb stones.  I loved the experience.  The graveyard was unbelievably big and went up and down multiple hills.  The tombstones were all different and many had designs or even full statues.  The only light was from the stars and the candles (otherwise everything was completely dark) and because of all the candles everything smelled really nice.  This has been one holiday I think would be cool to have in America.  Well, Zone Conference is tomorrow.  My companion and I are sleeping over with some other Elders here in town.  My miracle today was having everything we needed when we got left, and being able to make it back to the Mission Home.  On to tomorrow!  (I almost forgot: the name of the holiday was "Halottak Napja" meaning "Day of the Dead".)

Wednesday, 2 November
Today was my first Zone Conference.  President Baughman started the conference by talking about 11 highlighted points concerning "The Inevitable Apostasy".  He was followed by Sister Baughman, who spoke on stress and relaxation.  After a quick break for lunch, the AP's gave training on Area Books, the Zone Leaders did training on helping our investigators receive revelation, we did some role playing, listened to the testimonies of all the departing missionaries, and finished with some concluding remarks from President Baughman.  I enjoyed it, but it was long, taking over 7 hours!  The miracle for today: as President Baughman was talking about the apostasy, things made so much sense, and appeared so obvious; and the Restoration and the gospel we have today seems all the more wonderful.  As you strengthen your testimony and understanding in one area, the rest build and grow as well.

Thursday, 3 November
E spent most of the day with me and my companion.  She came to the internet cafe, copy center, and tabling with us.  We taught her in the evening, and then she stayed for a member-present lesson with A, who committed to read and pray.  E even stayed for Angolora and then hung out afterwards.  Only one week of Angolora left this transfer.  My miracle today will actually be fulfilled over this next week and a half.  I was volunteered by Elder W to give a 15 minute talk next Sunday.  So, trying to actually do so will be my miracle. 

One last thing:  Today I spent some time wondering "What is Love?"  How would you define it?  Are there different kinds of love?  What are they?  How are they actually different?  How does Heavenly Father love?  I'm going to end there and I hope you (the reader) dedicate some time and thought to thinking about those questions.

Friday, 4 November
Today my companion and I had to stand guard at the Branch House while a worker changed all the locks.  It took several hours and gave me enough time to read nearly all of 2 Nephi.  We met with X today, who is progressing along nicely.  Our other lesson is with M and went much better than the previous lessons.  Personally, I think she just needs a stronger testimony that President Monson is a true, living prophet, then she should be ready for baptism (although my companion is still somewhat considering dropping her, he's not sure if he wants to try to push her baptismal date back or just leave it instead).  We'll see what the Zone Leaders say next weekend.  I found some good scriptures in the Isaiah chapters to keep me thinking for the next while.

Saturday, 5 November
So, first off, a random note – about a week ago, something unexpected happened: the city became filled with Ravens.  A bunch of massive black ravens can be seen nearly anywhere you go, and since they appeared, I've seen less and less pigeons.  I see ravens multiple times a day; they're big, and also smart from what I've seen.  I have no idea how long they will stick around.

Today we had Besyelgetesi Club, met briefly with N, and then spent the rest of the day (3:00-8:00) at M's.  We spent three hours helping put together a new bookshelf she bought, ate dinner, talked with her, and spent more time with her cats.  The two highlights for me were that we met her sibling that she lives with and takes care of, and that during the past five months my companion has assumed it was a brother, when we learned it's actually her sister!  The other was at the end, M brought out and showed us a really cool Bow (with 22 arrows), a Pistol (from colonial times; Pistol and Ball), a set of 11 Daggers, and coolest of all, an old Crossbow.  Fast Sunday is coming tomorrow and we began Fasting with lunch today so that we can go with M tomorrow after church.

Sunday, 6 November
Another Sunday, another good feeding day.  While it was Fast Sunday, we broke our fasts early to eat lunch with M, and two hours later we ate dinner with T.  The other Elders left for Greenie Training.  One week until my talk in church.  My miracle is that I am able to communicate with my family every week and know how they are doing, even though I'm spending two years on the other side of the world.  A second miracle is that we can always learn, and I'm guaranteed to find something new each time I study the scriptures.

Only two other things I can think to include:  I'm pretty sure I only have two weeks left with my companion and that he'll leave at the end of this transfer.  The other thing is I asked some questions about love, and I'm actually curious to hear someone else's opinion of them.  If any of you would like to try to answer any of them and send them to me, I'd be interested to read them.

Well, that's all I have for this week.  Hope you're all doing well.


Shipp Elder

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