Tuesday, December 18, 2012

18 December 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Tuesday, 11 December
Two cancellations today.  With I, we again talked about the "gate of baptism," as well as the Higher Law of Christ.  In our program with J we talked about different theories of men and God (such as Nehor, Korihor, and King Benjamin).  We met with Z one last time to have a formal dropping program.  He showed up with a list he'd made saying how he'd only met because we're American; how he will never be a religious man; how God does not help us, but leaves us on our own to help ourselves; and the eighth and final point, that he just "does not care about God."  Bummer!  We did let him know how much his friendship and lessons meant to us, and left on good terms.  In the evening was Angolora.  We sang and translated "Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer."  My miracle today is that there are many Kingdoms after the judgement, not just heaven and hell.  I think that it is yet another way God's love is manifest for us in the Plan of Salvation.  He provides the Telestial, Terrestrial, and other degrees in the Celestial Kingdom so that all those who fall short of exaltation may still receive a state of peace, of glory, and of paradise – much preferable over the abyss of Outer Darkness.

Wednesday, 12 December
This morning I planned out District Meeting assignments, the training, and a very unique set of role plays that I'm looking forward to.  We had one investigator dog us today.  We had four hours of finding but without success in the finding part.  We met with Z in the late afternoon and helped her prepare for the Christmas Concert.  In Seminary we studied Mark.  My miracle today is enduring.  A mission is a great time and opportunity to learn how to endure, and to learn how to endure well.

Thursday, 13 December
This morning and afternoon we taught at the school again.  Since today was the last time we'll see these three classes, we talked about Christmas.  We had a very similar lesson as with our two classes last week.  In the groups, once again, from about 90-100 students, Family Time, Food, and Presents came out as the "most important parts of Christmas."  One group today said "The Spirit of Christmas" which made me happy.  Once again, there was very little thought about Christ.  So, what did I do?  I took ten minutes in every class and talked specifically about the "Spirit of Christ."  I also learned from all three classes that there are no traditional Hungarian Christmas stories.  The majority of them had never heard of “A Christmas Carol," Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer, Frosty the Snowman, "The Gift of the Magi," and a fair amount didn't know anything about the Nativity Story (Christ's birth).  Nor did they have any new stories or traditional folk lore about Christmas.  In the evening we met with I.  Once again E was unable to come.  We had a chance to talk about Jacob 5, the Family Proclamation, and Elder Nelson's dedicatory prayer, all of which he'd read; then we commenced discussing Matthew 24.  The program got really interesting when Z walked right in, saying he'd seen the lights on inside.  So, he invited himself into our program.  I found out that he too, has a very good knowledge of the Bible and religious history.  Our two investigators taught each other for over an hour at a pace and level that, frankly, I struggled to keep up with.  I wish it had been in English.  Crazy and strange things happen on missions and this was one of them.  My miracle today is the Gospel of Jesus Christ; "gospel" meaning "good news," or the joyous message and teachings of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Friday, 14 December
We had our District Meeting this morning.  The Zone Leaders came to it.  Elder Loveday gave an insightful thought on being unified within ourselves.  During the training we focused on using many unique role plays to learn companionship unity.  Our District Goals are going well.  Everyone is doing all of them.  In my opinion, this was our best district meeting yet.  We all felt very good afterwards.  I also went on splits with Elder Clavel after the meeting.  We went down to Szeged and had two programs.  The first one was with E and V.  We talked about Tithing as well as following the prophet.  Our second program was with M.  We talked to her about Humility and Obedience.  Afterwards we went and split back.  Overall, Elder Clavel and I had about five hours in the car to talk.  We had to take a ferry across the Tisza.  That was a fun experience.  Unfortunately, I didn't have my camera.  When we split back, I learned both A and Z had dogged the other elders.  Ouch.  My miracle today is Faith.  Faith is a principle of power, and we receive it through the gifts of God as results of our thoughts, our actions, and the actions of others.  Faith is the foundation of everything we do.  It's something the majority of the world just does not understand.

Saturday, 15 December – 18 Months on My Mission!
One cancellation today.  We did a lot of work on our Area Book today, making over 150 calls and organizing it for nearly six hours.  I'm totally re-vamping our book, and when we're done, she'll be a beauty that radiates and shines.  During that time we found six interested people.  My miracle is that I've begun a study of Christ's parables.  Christ really was the master teacher.

Sunday, 16 December
First off, this morning the shower head fell off.  Rust had completely eaten away the inside of it, and when I turned it on this morning, the top shot off!  Anyhow, we had our usual Ward Council Meeting this morning.  During Church, I blessed and confirmed A a member of the Church.  She came in during the Sacramental Hymn, so after, we confirmed her, then proceeded straight to the Sacrament.  It was the first time I can remember anything being between the Sacrament Hymn and the Ordinance.  Not many members were there today.  Z didn't come.  However, the Adams's were there and they gave departing testimonies.  Choir practice today was a disaster.  Only two people stayed.  In the evening we met with A and discussed the apostasy.  We also began to talk about baptism.  The first thing he said was, "I've already been baptized."  I know like that sounds like a common thing, but I was a bit caught off guard.  The last time anyone said that was back in Szekesfehervar, one year ago.  However, we were able to partially address it and he knows it wasn't valid.  My miracle today was A's confirmation.  I've never had the opportunity on my mission to baptize anyone, but now I have had the chance to confirm someone.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

10 December 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 3 December
Transfer calls came today.  As always, there were surprises.  Elder Hunnicutt and I are staying together.  We were both glad to be able to stay and this will be the first time I’ve remained with a companion since Elder Reese, almost a year ago.  The Sisters, on the other hand, will both be leaving.  One Missionary returned home from the MTC, and one other changed the date, so we currently have a threesome of Elders and a threesome of Sisters, and were forced to close two companionships, with the Sisters’ here being one of them (and the other in Eger).  In other news, Elder Alldredge is coming to Kecskemet and will be in my District again; Elder Headrick has been called as the new Zone Leader in Miskolc; and Elder Walker is replacing Elder Reese as an Assistant.  So, the major change for us is the Sisters.  We will need to absorb their work, their roles and responsibilities with investigators, English class, teaching at the school, meeting with members (such as the newly baptized A), and other odds and ends (like playing the piano in Church meetings and having a larger role in the Christmas Concert).  Blaugh.  There is no way we will have time for it all.  This could very well be the busiest transfer of my mission!  We still had to go shopping and emailing.  We went through Christmas Village and all the Advent shops with the Sisters.  At Csaladi Est, all the members were depressed due to the Sisters’ departure.  However, my miracle today is that yesterday I wrote that I felt I was still needed here, and the fruits of my efforts were hard to see; well, now I’ve been gifted another six weeks time to finish my work here and accomplish whatever I’m meant to do.

Tuesday, 4 December
One cancellation and two dogs today.  We met with I.  We talked of baptism and he said he would never be baptized.  Upon further questioning, we learned it was because he thought there would be numerous new commandments after baptism, and that it was necessary to have a perfect faith and knowledge before baptism.  So we continued discussing baptism and faith, but we need more time.  Towards the end we got a referral from him: another I, imagine that!  We’re going to try to meet with him this week.  Later, Z dogged us.  That hurt.  We had lunch with the Sisters and used it as an opportunity to hand-off records and information about their work.  In the evening was Angolora.  No one came to Kezdo or Profi today.  We only had four of my Halado students.  For 20 minutes or so we talked about Lehi’s vision and all four students committed to read 2 ½ to 3 pages daily this next week.  We had a couple funny parts.  One older gentleman asked what “Google” was, and the rest of the class tried to explain it to him in Hungarian, but he still couldn’t quite grasp it.  My miracle today is this marvelous missionary work we are involved in.

Wednesday, 5 December
Transfers were today.  Elder Hunnicutt and I went over to the Sisters’ this morning to help them with their luggage.  We were able to help them get everything loaded and take off.  In other news, it snowed today.  Not much of it stuck, but it was nice to have more white.  We taught at the school today.  Two interesting parts were that hardly any of the students had ever heard of Rudolph the red-nosed Reindeer, and that in the classes we divided them into groups and at the end, those groups, (made up of 16-18 year olds), voted on what the single most important part of Christmas is.  Out of 9 groups of 4-7 students each, one said “no school,” two said “food,” two said “presents,” and four said “time with family.”  Despite it being His birthday and Him bringing the gifts in this culture, Christ was completely forgotten among the youth of Hungary.  After school, we met with the two I.  The new one is an English professor.  He had only read negative views of the Church in the past, but we had a fair conversation.  Afterwards we spent awhile just talking to I.  That was followed by Seminary.  In the evening we made several calls.  I called and talked to A.  The Elders in Pest had not yet talked to him, but he told me that he is very busy with his new job, and is too tired the rest of the time.  I told him there are about twenty Missionaries in Budapest and at least one companionship would gladly match his schedule, but he said, “no thanks.”  I asked if he still wanted to be baptized, which received a, “not really, but thank you for your time and concern.”  And that’s about how our conversation ended.  He said he has a life now, and is content with it.  In my mind I can hear Elder Holland’s voice, “Is this all my love meant to you?”  Now, my biggest hope is that in a month or two, the Missionaries will look him up, and he’ll open back up.  We’ve begun contacting all the investigators the Sisters gave us.  So far three of them are unable to meet in the near future (due to the Advent).  Tomorrow Sister Hudspeth from my MTC group returns home.  I’m about to become a Mission Bacsi and start my 12th transfer.  For today, the miracle is the Spirit World.  That is probably my favorite part of the Plan of Salvation.  Most people believe that after death we go directly to Heaven or Hell.  However, we know that there is another world, a world of spirits, where everyone from all ages of the Earth will have a chance to hear, learn, and accept the gospel, and thus qualify to enter the Celestial Kingdom.

Thursday, 6 December (Mikulas Napja – Santa Claus Day)
Today is Santa Claus Day!  We had one cancellation today.  This morning we met with A.  He is a new investigator from an old finding sheet.  Z came to his program, and we learned he knows her parents and uncles well.  A has a personal religion, but we talked about why the Church is important (such as to strengthen our testimonies, serve, preach the Gospel, have leaders who receive modern revelation, and participate or perform in ordinances), as well as Moroni’s promise, and prayer.  I then had a short time to plan District Meeting assignments and the training.  Our second program was with B.  He is from the Sisters’ English class, and they met with him twice, but, he said he has met with the Missionaries several times across the years and has told them (and again re-emphasized to us) that he will never, ever join the Church.  So, we’ve already dropped him.  So, out of the eight investigators from the Sisters, only three are left.  Elder Hunnicutt and I met with J and E afterwards.  We taught J the entire Plan of Salvation.  We also talked to him, like A, about the importance of the Church.  J continues to pray daily and read often.  Our last program was with I.  E was unable to come.  We talked of missionary work, families, and the living prophet.  At the end, strangely, he gave us a commitment to read Matthew 23.  My miracle today is temple work.  We cannot be saved without our ancestors, and they cannot be saved without us.  (Likewise with our posterity).  Temple work and vicarious ordinances are such a necessary part of salvation, and are especially crucial for those beings in the Spirit World.

Friday, 7 December
Two cancellations today.  This morning we went to Kecskemet for our District Meeting.  There we set five goals and I gave training on the triumph of good over evil.  Soon afterwards, we got a call from Sister Smith and learned that we needed to go to Budapest.  While on the train there, I called Z to follow up on his reading and praying.  During the phone call he said that he’s made his decision; he doesn’t want to be baptized or be any kind of religious person.  My miracle today is the resurrection.  One day we will all be united with a perfect body.

Saturday, 8 December
To celebrate someone’s birthday today, we had two cancellations and a dog.  We finally got a full morning of studies today.  This afternoon was our first choir practice for the Branch Christmas Concert.  And, with the Sisters gone, I am the only one that knows how to play any Hymns.  So, once again I am the Branch Pianist.  Today’s miracle is that we shouldn’t judge others.  One day we will all be judged, but it will be by a fair and just judge, our Heavenly Father.

Sunday, 9 December
A wasn’t at church today, so she still hasn’t been confirmed.  However, one member, P, just returned to the Branch from serving a full-time mission in Spain.  After church was choir practice.  I’m starting to get a good grasp on playing most of the songs on the piano.  Afterwards we had weekly planning.

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Monday, December 3, 2012

3 December 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Sunday, 25 November
A and Z came to Church.  It was great to see both of them there.  Today was actually my first time meeting A.  Like Z, he said he was coming to Church last week, but didn't make it until today.  I found A off a Finding Sheet from three years ago.  Like Z, all we knew was his name (and just his first name, not his family name) and that the Missionaries tracted him three years ago.  Both Z and A stayed for all three hours of Church, during which we learned about Eternal Marriage, the Law of Chastity, and the Word of Wisdom.  We gave A a Book of Mormon and already have two programs scheduled.  After Church we stayed an hour for choir practice, then came back and did lots of planning.  My miracle today is that I am thankful that the great apostasy ended, the truth was restored, and that the earth is beginning to bathe in a radiant light of knowledge.

Monday, 26 November
Another early train this morning.  We went down to Szeged today for an extended P-Day to celebrate Thanksgiving, and headed there early to help the Adams cook.  Elder Hunnicutt and I were the first to arrive.  Around 11:00, we had two giant three-kilo loaves of french toast (a total of six kilo's before the eggs, milk, and toppings).  After brunch we went to play football and whip for a couple hours.  The Sisters started watching "Hugo" and we made it back for the second half.  Then came the full Thanksgiving dinner.  I was so full by the end of it.  Afterwards we had no problems catching our train back.  My miracle for the day would be the Restoration of the Priesthood.  It's quite something to be able to act in God's name.  Life and salvation would be kind of impossible without it.

Tuesday, 27 November
Today was crazily awesome.  We started our morning with I.   I asked about his wife and started working more for referrals.  While his wife isn't interested in meeting, and has what sounds like quite the negative view of the Church, I hope to find a way to get her to come to A's baptism this Saturday (and I too, of course).  Also, I is going to try to arrange an appointment between us and one of his friends this next week.  Hopefully it goes through.  We went to the bus station immediately after and barely caught a bus with the Sisters to go visit A.  The main purpose of our visit was for me to meet with her for her baptismal interview.  She passed!  She will be baptized this Saturday at 4:00, and this Sunday I will confirm her a Member of the Church.  Upon taking a bus back, (well, before the bus we found a Neni and her goat which Sister MacKay absolutely loves), we immediately ran into Z.  We actually split up for 30 minutes, and then met again in the Branch House for our program.  We discussed the Holy Ghost and the Gift of the Holy Ghost.  We also talked about baptism again.  He said he's thought about it and doesn't care to be baptized currently.  I tried to challenge him to a baptismal date in January, but he still said no.  I asked him if he had prayed about it, to which he said he's prayed, but never about baptism.  We gave him a challenge to pray sincerely three times this next week just about baptism.  Then, we'll ask again next week.  We'll be praying for it too.  Finally, after Z's program we had an hour to plan and study.  (We left our apartment around 7:40 this morning).  Angolora was tonight.  We didn't talk about the Articles of Faith at all, but I shared a 10-minute Spiritual Thought and successfully committed each of my students (A being one of them) to read 1 Nephi 8 by next time.  Lastly today we met with A.  I have to write "Wow!"  He has a baptismal date for December 15, in two weeks.  Right off the bat I asked if he'd like to be baptized and he said yes, and asked how soon it would be possible.  We outlined all that we need to teach and all he needs to do to be baptized.  We are planning on nine programs, three a week.  Tonight we taught him about the Godhead (he previously believed in the Trinity out of tradition).  We also taught every single part of the Restoration.  It helped that he had already read all the prefaces since receiving the Book of Mormon on Sunday.  We asked about the lessons from Sunday about the Word of Wisdom and the Law of Chastity.  He answered that he's already and will continue to keep both.  We have another program set up for tomorrow and he's coming to Seminary.  We committed him to read at least 10 minutes a day from the Book of Mormon and to pray daily, particularly about Joseph Smith's First Vision and the Book of Mormon.  He said he probably will have time to read the Book of Mormon an hour a day!  Lastly and most importantly, we taught him how to pray.  He said his first personal and uttered prayer.  For today's miracle can it get much bigger than that?  So, today was awesome!  I hope your day was/is too.

Wednesday, 28 November
Two cancellations and two dogs today.  Ouch!  A was one of the two dogs, but two hours later we managed to get a hold of him and find out that he's in Pest for three days.  So, we made a couple hours of calls today, and had Seminary in the evening.  Not much else today.  My miracle is that like today, life is all a part of a bigger plan.

Thursday, 29 November
I am currently in Kecskemet on splits with Elder Moses.  The splits began this morning in front of the Szolnok Train Station.  After taking a train back to here, I had a baptismal interview with M, one of the Sisters' investigators who will be baptized at the end of next week.  Like everyone else I've ever interviewed, he was awesome, prepared, and excited.  We then met with P and taught about Repentance, the Atonement, and Prayer, and extended the commitment to pray daily.  Next we met with K.  A man whose dream for 10 years has been to sell one of his houses so he can afford to travel to Salt Lake City and be baptized there.  We talked about the Word of Wisdom and Fasting.  I enjoyed meeting with him, but he is extremely stubborn.  There was going to be a Missionary meeting tonight, but it was cancelled.  Elder Moses and I took two hours to organize the Area Book instead.  My miracle for the day is the Pre-Mortal Existence.  It is that we actually dwelt with God before this life, talked with Him, and learned His Gospel.  Now we're all here working to learn it again and remember it.

Friday, 30 November
Elder Moses and I caught a train with Sister Kimball and Sister Kennedy this morning to come to Szolnok for District Meeting.  The training and goals appear to have gone very well.  Our two programs today both cancelled; so, we made calls and studied.  In the evening was a youth activity that we went to to support.  They went over some basic kitchen and cooking tips and made pumpkin pie.  Today's miracle is the gift of our bodies.  Our bodies are not only temples, but are even more precious and can be even more holy than any of the other temples constructed by men.

Saturday, 1 December
One cancellation and one dog today.  We met with Akos and talked about obedience as well as faith, hope, charity, and what kind of people we try to be and why.  Attila was unable to meet again!  We've had to push his date back to the 22nd instead.  We met with Baksa Istvan.  He is very talkative; especially about the Bible (he knows a lot about it).  It was very good that Biro Elnok was there too.  Aniko's baptism has been postponed to tomorrow, and her confirmation to next week.  We'll see if I'm still around to confirm her.  Today's miracle is that there are eight investigators who have said they are coming to church and the baptism tomorrow, with another three who said, "possibly."  It will be wonderful if that many show up.  We'll find out soon enough.

Sunday, 2 December
So, today was a bit of a depressing day.  Only I came to church today, and only for the first half of Sacrament Meeting.  No one came to the baptism (well, none of our investigators).  It is cool I came for some though.  He's been investigating for over 3 years and today was his first time attending the meeting.  I also talked to A, and learned that he has moved to Pest.  I gave all his info to Elder Headrick.  Hopefully he still gets baptized by the 22nd.  After church was A's baptism.  It was wonderful to see her nephew be the one to baptize her.  For miracles and closing notes today, this afternoon I feel like I caught a glimpse of what Christ might have felt when, during his ministry, he used his time, his energy, and his faith to work, teach, and even perform mighty miracles, only to have thousands reject his efforts and, by the end, leave him standing completely alone.  I have worked hard, and for a while have had quite tangible results, but now at the end of the transfer and contemplating the possibility of leaving, they aren't so visible.  I know there are still blessings and many things I've accomplished; they just aren't in forms the eye can see.  Lastly, transfer calls come tomorrow.  I'll accept whatever the Lord calls me to do, but I am hoping I'll get to stay one more transfer.  We'll find out in the morning.

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3 December 2012 Pictures (Szolnok)

Aniko's Baptism

I found Sister Kennedy (from Brigham City)

Merry Christmas!

Monday, November 26, 2012

26 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 19 November
This evening we spent 3 1/2 hours cutting and tying blankets to give to a hospital and orphanage.  My miracle today is my Dad.  Last night I bragged about my Heavenly Father, but my Father here on Earth has also given me so much.  He gave me life.  He's always been a great provider and an even better example.  He's loved my Mother as she deserves and has taught me many things in life.  He's always been a worthy priesthood holder, a covenant keeper, and the head of our home.  Isn't he a great Dad too?

Tuesday, 20 November
One dog and one cancellation today.  This morning we met with I.  We talked about Repentance for most of the lesson, but finished by talking about Abortion and Marriage.  We recommitted him to come to Church and learned that this week's Sunday School lesson will be on Marriage.  Perfect.  After the program we went with the Sisters to meet with the principal of the school where we teach.  It looks like we are going to continue teaching there.  In addition to the principal coming to the classes for the next week or two to make sure the students behave, we received permission to post anything we'd like on the bulletin board as well as bring up religious subjects within the classes.  (It sounds like this is a private school, not a public school).  Later we had a program with Z.  We talked about Faith and Repentance.  We found out his date went well and he got a job as a basketball referee (in addition to being a waiter).  He too recommitted to come to Church.  In the evening was Angolora, during which I taught the fourth and fifth Articles of Faith.  My miracle today is how the Gospel and Church have blessed my family.  I've grown up in the Church, being a member all my life, but it hasn't prevented me from seeing the differences it makes in family life.

Wednesday, 21 November
Someone dogged us for the third time today.  We had a cancellation as well.  We taught two classes at the school today.  It was a huge help having the principal there.  The students paid much more attention.  During the two classes our main topics were Families, Thanksgiving, and Love.  In the evening we had Seminary.  In other news, Elder Hunnicutt still cooks for the two of us on occasion.  (However, he and his cooking still haven't even begun to gain a glimpse of catching up to Mom).  Today's miracle is that missionary work and the Gospel are not at all new.  This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ, not the new Church of Christ.

Thursday, 22 November (Thanksgiving!)
One dog today.  We met with J today.  (E was away babysitting two of their grandchildren).  With J we discussed the Restoration.  He doesn't currently care to attend any kind of organized church meetings, however, he did teach us how to make nokedli (Hungarian noodles.  Not half as important, but kind of cool).  He has already read the first eight chapters of the Book of Mormon too.  After, we went directly to meet with B and Z.  Z is continuing to make commitments about praying, reading, and coming to church.  We also taught him the Word of Wisdom.  In the evening we went tabling with the Sisters.  Unfortunately, we didn't find anyone interested tonight.  My miracle today is Thanksgiving and gratitude.  I wish Thanksgiving, a holiday of gratitude "one of the noblest of virtues," was more widespread.  I'm thankful I'm able to be here.  While I'm sure I would've had a much fancier dinner if I were back home, it is worth being out here.  Yes, my Mission is worth more than pumpkin pie and I am grateful for it!

Friday, 23 November
This morning we caught an early train to Szeged.  At today's Zone Training I gave the Language Tip.  I'm almost the oldest in our Zone (only Elder Velasquez is older).  There were absolutely no announcements about transfers.  However, there were several announcements about new rules, such as wearing our suits every single day until next summer.  After the training, we began splits with the Zone Leaders.  Elder Hunnicutt remained in Szeged, while Elder Velasquez and I returned to Szolnok.  We had three cancellations today.  We still managed to meet with P.  We spoke of faith and the role of the Church.  It was nice to have Elder Velasquez there, and to teach with someone older than me.

Saturday, 24 November
One cancellation today.  We split back late morning and had a program with Zeno.  We talked about Baptism and the Church.  We challenged him to baptism, but he said he needs a little time and will give us an answer next week.  We tried our best to explain that we'd like to set a date out in the future to work towards, and that we'd be with him all along the way.  After, we went straight to meet with Z.  We found her off a finding sheet, streeted once 3 years ago.  We managed to have a program.  She has an apartment full of cats, and thinks the world will end on December 21.  Yet, since she last encountered the missionaries she has completely read through the Book of Mormon, cover-to-cover.  She also accepted nearly every commitment and challenge we offered.  (Not baptism, unfortunately).  The program and new investigator ended up being quite the surprise.  At the end of our evening we had a music night at the Branch House.  Hardly anyone came.  Z called to tell us he's been called in to work tomorrow morning and can't come to Church.  Elder Hunnicutt has been exhausted and crawled into bed to fall asleep before 8:00.  I found out my third suitcase has finally made it to Papa.  Now I just need to get it here!  My miracle today is our living prophets and apostles.  When meeting with Z, one of my main points in saying that the world is not going to end next month was that our Church leaders would've warned us.  There's no way the world could change too much or be destroyed without us being forewarned by the prophet.  It simply will not happen.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

19 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 12 November
Today I learned that B, back in Szombathely, has referred ten other people to the Missionaries since I left, and Elder Nabrotzky's already begun to meet with eight of them. Also, my miracle today is that two women approached me today in the Spar. At first they thought I was a worker, but realized I wasn't when they saw my nametag. However, upon beginning a conversation with them, I learned that neither of them was familiar with the Church at all. While neither of us had a Book of Mormon to give them, we did receive both of their information and a way to contact one of their husbands as well. This miracle only happened because we were obedient and dressed in our proselyting clothes on P-Day. Otherwise they wouldn't have approached us.

Tuesday, 13 November
Today we had one dog, one reschedule, but several programs. We met with a young man. We spent most of the time getting to know him, and then began the Restoration. He says he is busy this Sunday, but promised to come to church the following Sunday. Second was with I. E was also there and we spent an hour and a half just discussing faith. He too said he'll be coming to church next week.  In the afternoon we met with J and E for the second time. Once again they were very kind; but, more importantly, they kept the commitment to pray every night, as well as promised to continue praying nightly in addition to a reading assignment. Last was Angolora. I actually spent 30 minutes going over and teaching the first three Articles of Faith in both English and Hungarian, and the entire class said they wish to continue next time.  My miracle of the day is the closeness of J and his family. They are all on really good terms, and they spent time together every weekend.

Wednesday, 14 November
Today was a great day. We caught a bus, and then a train at 6:00 this morning. On the two rides, I was carrying a wooden katana to give to Elder Jones. I got some strange looks. Once we arrived at the Mission Home, I went to the Leadership Meeting. There we mostly talked about the two main jobs of a leader: to teach truth, and to invite. Following the meeting (which was led by our Area President, President Richards), we had a 4-hour Zone Conference with President Richards. Three main topics in the teachings were the Spirit, Covenants, and our Purpose.  It was a very uplifting and inspiring conference. President Richards is very scriptural. Afterwards I had quite the “To Do” List to do. I was able to try to do all 17 things, but was not very successful. There were 8 things I was hoping to be able to receive and only 1 was I able to get. Dah!  After the meeting and tasks were over, we came back to Szolnok and planned and made calls. My miracle today is that a General Authority asked me to extend, go home July 4 rather than May 23 as planned, and help with President Monson's announcement in “hastening on the work.”

Thursday, 15 November
Two cancellations and a dog today. Only one program went through which was with B and Z. We taught them a two-part lesson on the prophet, and the Sabbath day. At the end, they both committed to come to church, pray, and read the scriptures on Sunday. My miracle today is that I've begun memorizing several quotes. While doing so I've found several thoughts of various sizes related to the particular word choice in them. Two examples are: “When God speaks and we obey, we will always be right,” and, “When we want God to speak with us, we search the scriptures.” Both of these I began memorizing incorrectly at first. In the first, I started saying, “When God commands.” However, by using “speak” rather than “command” we can learn that all of God's words are eternal and important, and it doesn't need to be a “Thus saith the LORD!” commandment for us to follow it. In the second quote we see that “reading” alone is not enough, but we must “search” the scriptures. There are several others, but I lack the time to write them.

Friday, 16 November
Just like yesterday we had two cancellations and one dog. So, we spent two hours streeting and three hours making calls. (The calls were much more successful). That's most of what our day was.

Saturday, 17 November
So, good news to you, Reader! Well, maybe... I have a fair number of things to write about today. First off, on Wednesday I wrote that I wanted to extend and take the late transfer, changing when I would be going home.  Well, it has been announced that there will be changes made to transfers, so currently I have no idea when I will be going home or finishing my time as a full-time missionary anymore. Between all our teaching records and finding sheets, we have nearly 800 different names and phone numbers. Out of these, Elder Hunnicutt and I have called over 300 of them, with nearly 80 of them us having called multiple times. Today we had two programs. First was with A. He prayed daily and read the Book of Mormon since we last met. We taught him about the Restoration and committed him to continue reading and praying daily. Also, we've asked him and Z to begin having Family Prayers each morning. It is hard to meet with A mostly because he has school, followed by 4-5 hours of swimming, and then studies each day.  Our second program was with Z. He read Ether 12 and had 3 verses which really stuck out to him. We had a good program and discussion focused entirely around the Atonement. He said he'll come to church next week. I must admit that I am impressed he met with us today as within an hour after the end of our lesson, he said he had a date and school dance to go to. (If he was a woman, he'd never make it in time).  In the afternoon and evening we made calls for 3-4 hours (out of the 800 #'s). Today during studies I resumed marking all the scriptures that stood out from back when I read the Standard Works in 40 days. Now that I'm done with the Ensign's and Liahona's I can focus on going through the Bible again. Lastly, my miracle today is since I know I don't record my testimony as much as I ought to, I want to write down a piece of it: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, Redeemer of Mankind. He is the Living Son of the Living God who came down to earth to show us the way, atone for our sins and our weaknesses, to die for us, and save us from physical and spiritual death. He appeared to a 14 year-old Joseph Smith. He showed us how to live, and through His atoning grace He lifts us to follow that example, and lifts me personally that I might be here. And boy, am I ever glad and thankful of that. Anyone that searches for Christ can find Him. And anyone that searches to find His love and blessings in their lives will find many. I hope you will look for the happiness He has brought you and your loved ones. His love is sure.

Sunday, 18 November
I don't think today's entry will be as long as yesterday's. Today at church, we taught the priesthood lesson, and I was asked to play the piano and conduct (however, I only did one. I am not nearly talented enough to conduct music while playing). Out of our five investigators who had said they would come today, none showed up. Elder Hunnicutt and I planned for several hours. It looks like I'll have a lot to email tomorrow. My miracle today is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. I think that's a fairly good description: He's loving, and we can see and feel His perfect love for us in our daily lives; He's heavenly, divine, holy, and righteous; and He is our Father, literally being the father of our spirits and the creator of our bodies. Isn't He a great Dad?

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Monday, November 12, 2012

12 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Tuesday, 6 November
Today could’ve potentially been the busiest day of my mission, but it wasn’t.  To start, we got dogged three times and had four cancellations (one of which was because she lives in Debrecen).  However, we still met with I at 8:00 this morning.  It went well.  He gave us a referral, and we talked about temples and baptisms for the dead.  He said it is completely new and amazing and would like to learn whatever he is allowed to about Temples.  We also reviewed the Plan of Salvation, which he had almost entirely forgotten.  In the evening we had Angolora.  Halado class is still going strong.  Today was really cold and rainy.  The Sisters returned from Budapest this evening.  My miracle is that despite seven programs falling through today, the work here is still growing.

Wednesday, 7 November
The first thing I learned today was that Obama won the election.  Other than that, we had yet another dog.  We went to the school and taught two classes.  Fortunately it went better than last time.  In the evening we had Seminary.  Today I finished calling every single teaching record we have.  All that’s left in our entire Area Book are some finding sheets.  Today has an important miracle.  I found out that Elder Harvey from my MTC group is happily married!  Having not seen, talked to, or heard from him since he left, it was great to hear that he is doing well.

Thursday, 8 November
Today I was on splits with Elder Loveday.  The two of us met with J and E.  Both of them are super kind.  We got in a good discussion, and they actually fed us lunch as well.  I found them in the Area Book (just like all but one of our investigators here).  On their teaching record it describes J as one of the happiest men in the country.  I look forward to meeting next week.  Later I made calls for three hours, setting up another six programs.  It also gave me more time to talk with Elder Loveday.  My miracle, and my gratitude, is that all of my companions have been amazing and fun while still being obedient.

Friday, 9 November
Today was a crazy day.  It started with District Meeting… well, the journey to District Meeting.  This week we were holding it in Kecskemet.   We missed one of the two stops. Dah!  Once we finally made it and started District Meeting, we found ourselves short on time and we had to shrink our 1 ½ hour meeting to 45 minutes.  Afterwards, we split back and returned to Szolnok.  Elder Hunnicutt and I then had 3 programs.  First was I (different than Tuesday).  He is very, very talkative and very theoretical.  We are going to need a member’s help with him.  Second was I.  (Another new I.)  He spent 15 years in school studying Judaism and Ancient Scripture.  He’s interested in studying the Book of Mormon and actually seemed really promising.  It’ll be an adventure meeting with him.  He has a great knowledge of the Bible.  Last was P.  We talked about the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  He’s really big in comparing Hinduism to Christianity.  I took some more time learning about his personal religion and beliefs.  My main concern is how I can best help him develop faith in Christ, since he already has his own beliefs, with Christ not being one of them.  Luckily, he is still accepting commitments to read, pray, and to continue meeting.  My miracle is that at the end of our program, P said his first prayer to Heavenly Father (and he even made it slightly personal and closed in the name of our Savior).  While the outcome of our programs is uncertain, I do have hopes for it.

Saturday, 10 November
This morning we spent studying and cleaning.  In the afternoon a new senior couple, the Wiggins, came to inspect our apartment.  We passed and got Oreos.  We then attempted to go to Sport Nap for an hour, but it fell through.  We took a bus with the Sisters out to Ciblakhaza where we met with the S Family.  My miracle today is that Elder Hunnicutt and I have been breaking out the Christmas music.

Sunday, 11 November
Today in Church one of the speakers forgot to prepare his talk.  So, their solution was to have me give an impromptu one instead, which I did on the influence and example of our actions and words.  Later, we sang the funniest Hungarian hymn: “The First Noel.”  I say it’s the funniest because in the translation they change the chorus from “Noel” to the equivalent of “Christmas time, Christmas time, Christ-mas, Christmas time.”  I had a hard time not laughing as we sang.  It reminded me of District Meeting last year in Szekes when we sang it with the Zone Leaders, and Elder Braman blurted out, “This is sooo retarded!” which resulted with all of us laughing so hard that none of us could sing.  Anyhow, in addition to me having to give a 10-minute impromptu today, Elder Hunnicutt and I have also been put in charge of the lesson in Priesthood Meeting next week.  My miracle today is the generosity of my companion.  Today he volunteered to make five different cakes for five different missionaries in our Zone.  Also, this week we and both Kecskemet companionships all had the same number of programs.

There’s all that.  Now it’s time for the scattered ending.  Here are a couple quotes I found this past week: “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today.”  “No matter how briefly we interact with someone, we can leave a positive impression of the gospel and ourselves.”

This week Elder Hunnicutt and I saw 4 dogs and 9 cancellations, yet our work is still improving, and I’ve started having some of the best work this area has seen for a while (if I have heard and read correctly).  So, both of us are feeling pretty good about the work here.  On Wednesday we have a Zone Conference which our Area President will be coming to.  I look forward to getting to hear from him.  It’s nice and early though.  We need to leave our apartment around 5:45 in the morning.

That’s about all the time I have.  I love you all and will email you again next week.


Shipp Elder

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Monday, November 5, 2012

5 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 29 October
First off, the coolest part of today: when we woke up, it was snowing; first snow of the season. That's today's miracle. During studies, I prepared tomorrow's training. I based it off of one of my earliest trainings of Promising Blessings. Later, I made a couple calls from the Area Book as Elder Hunnicutt and Csaba worked on designing a new flyer. Our night ended with Family Home Evening at the Branch House. I shared a spiritual thought focused around the story and symbolism of Lehonti.

Tuesday, 30 October
Early this morning we had an encounter with an investigator. We had a program scheduled, but he showed up and said he only had ten minutes, so we rescheduled after talking for five minutes. Two hours later we had district meeting. During our district meeting we decided on three district goals, and I gave my training. It was weird being the oldest there. It was also different to have half the Missionaries be Sisters, and to not have a Senior Couple almost acting as chaperones.  Later in our apartment we continued calling past investigators out of the Area Book. In the evening we had three programs. First was A. He already reads and prays daily which is wonderful. He's already half-way through Alma! We taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation focusing on Adam and Eve. We challenged him to be baptized. He said the Elders had challenged him in the past, but he is from Yemen and would never be able to go home and his life could be in danger. I started touching on some of the baptismal interview questions, and he has a good knowledge of the lessons. More importantly he says he believes them to be true. He asked if it's possible to baptize him in secret. I'm still working on ideas for what we should do.  Next was Angolora. I taught the Halado class of six people. Usually I've liked Halado the least, but I have a good group here. Lastly we met with H. The program was short, but she committed to read and pray, as well as said she'll bring her daughter next time. Liking my Halado class is today's miracle.

Wednesday, 31 October
Today we were on splits with the Zone Leaders. My miracle is that I was with Elder Snyder, who I haven't really been around since the MTC. Our first program was with A. He had read the first 30 pages of the Book of Mormon. He actually didn't understand much, and had a lot of questions. We answered them the best we could. Csaba was also there to try to help. In the end we committed him to continue reading and begin praying daily. We didn't challenge him to be baptized (despite that challenging everyone on the first lesson was one of our district goals).  Elder Snyder and I made several Area Book calls as we had two phones, not just one like usual. We later went to Seminary, followed by being dogged by a member. So, we went and got pizza with the Sisters and Csaba. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 1 November
Today was the Day of the Deads and an Extended P-Day. This morning I spent organizing my notes and folders. Around 10:00 we met Csaba at the train station and then headed to Kecskemet. Once we arrived, we wandered the city with the Sisters. Sister Kennedy gave us a tour explaining several facts about many of the buildings and monuments. She is probably the most knowledgeable Missionary I've met concerning their familiarity with their city. Later, the Szolnok Sisters, MacKay and Christensen arrived. All seven of us went to the Sisters' apartment to celebrate Sister Christensen's birthday (today). Elder Hunnicutt, Csaba, and I had to remain in the hall, but we pulled chairs and a table into the hallway and played card games. Later we had lunch, cake, and more games in the hallway with the Sisters.  In the evening we went to the cemetery for the holiday. It was fun to see all the candles and flowers on the tombstones again. The miracle I found today is the quality of friends I had back home.

Friday, 2 November
We had two cancellations, so we made several phone calls and cleaned instead. In the evening we met with P. He met with the Missionaries once in the past. We reviewed the Restoration with him. However, he has his own religion, believing that every church is true. He said he will read the Book of Mormon, but will NEVER-ever come to Sacrament Meeting. Strangely, when I told him that we hope he will choose to be baptized in the future, he was completely silent.

Saturday, 3 November
Our one program today actually canceled then called back, rescheduling for a couple hours later. In the afternoon we met with them. We helped one of them move, cut, and stack several logs of wood. We got back just in time for the Halloween Party. When we walked in, Elder Hunnicutt and I were the only ones in costumes. Lame! We played games for a couple hours, and at the end, the two of us and three members were the only ones that stuck around to clean. My miracle today is that two people that I called out of the Area Book came to the Halloween Party. They also committed to coming to church tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 November
This morning we had a correlation meeting. With us having had nine programs this last week, compared to the one program the week before; we had a lot more to talk about. The two new investigators from last night came to Fast and Testimony Meeting. They also said they'll be coming back next week. After church we did studies, planning, and I'm starting to catch something, so I ended up taking a nap. We're already at the end of the second week of this transfer. Things are zooming by.

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Monday, October 29, 2012

29 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 22 October
Transfer calls came this morning. Parts of my predictions were right and some were wrong. I am indeed leaving and the other three Elders here are staying. I will be going to Szolnok to serve with Elder Hunnicutt. I will finally be near Hortobagy and have a chance to go there. Other changes are that Elder Nabrotzky is going co-senior with Elder Forsyth (despite being in their 5th and 10th transfers, respectively), Elder Headrick is training, Elders Rosen and Snyder both became Zone Leaders, and Elder Pendleton has been called as Secretary.  This afternoon, nearly everywhere was closed for the holiday tomorrow. I called a couple members and investigators to say “good-bye.” In the evening we had Family Home Evening with the K Family. My miracle is that during the past week the K family went with a couple other Hungarian members to the Freiburg Temple. It was important to the K family because, in preparation for his mission, B was receiving his Endowments. While there, President Monson walked in. They all had the opportunity to shake his hand, talk to him, hug him, or all three. B spoke to him for a while and said he feels like that was a great confirmation about his choice to serve a Mission. Tomorrow's my last day in Szombathely and with Elder Nabrotzky! Crazy!

Tuesday, 23 October
Today is a National Holiday in celebration of the revolution against the Soviet Union. This morning I listened to Elder Holland's talk from this last conference. When he talked about the Apostles returning to fishing after Christ's death, it made me think of the guy who yelled in my face on Saturday. If the apostles weren't quite sure how to react to our Lord's death, I guess it would only make sense that there are some people today who just don't understand either. Anyhow, it was a really powerful talk.  We met with both K's today. K fed us again and we were able to spend 45 minutes just reading the scriptures with her since she didn't read them on her own. We later visited with K and shared a spiritual thought. Lastly, we swung by the Branch House so I could say “good-bye” to five other members. My miracle today is that I'm leaving my first city as Senior, and that the work gradually increased all three transfers that I was here. On to Szolnok…!

Wednesday, 24 October
Transfers were today. I am now in Szolnok with Elder Hunnicutt, but first, back to this morning. When we arrived at the Keleti Train Station - looking around at the other Missionaries - I realized that out of the 18 of us there, I was the oldest! Later, two older Missionaries came, but that was it. I'm getting old in the Mission. While waiting at the train station, I spent quite a while talking to and getting to know Elders Hansen, Mullen, and Hunnicutt, my new companion.  Around 2:00, we all split up. Upon arriving in Szolnok, we dropped of my bags and went straight to the Branch House. At Seminary I had a small chance to meet eight of the members. When we returned I began cleaning, vacuuming, and unpacking. I have everything unpacked, but still some cleaning and organizing to do.  I am already beginning to like this city. We have a good apartment, are close to a fair amount of things, and I have a good companion. I'll write more about Elder Hunnicutt in a day or two (as usual). He's already been more mature, and really nice to me. I look forward to serving with him. On a miracle note, the Sisters here are on fire. They have two baptisms arranged for this Saturday, and tonight they scheduled another for December. Well done Sisters!

Thursday, 25 October
Couple things today. First, something I forgot to write in the past is how well we got patriotic songs stuck into Elder Nabrotzky's head. Every day for almost two weeks he would wake up with, and throughout the day have, “God Bless the USA” stuck in his head. Today we went to a school and joined a couple classes for 3 hours. The second class went really well. It was the youngest group, but the most open and the only one I really look forward to returning to. The last and oldest group was a joke and pretty disrespectful. Afterwards we went streeting and tabling with C for several hours.  My miracle today is my companion, Elder Hunnicutt. He is in his 4th transfer, having served two in Erd with Elder Runnells and Elder Swett, and two in Szolnok, one with Elder Pendleton and now one with me. Elder Hunnicutt is super nice. He has two older brothers, is from Texas (but also lived in California, Washington, and New York), says “y'all,” and likes video games and card games. He also lived with his grandparents for a couple years to help take care of them.

Friday, 26 October
Today I began working on the Ward List and the Area Book. The Ward List is much smaller than Szombathely's, shrinking from 16 ½ pages to 1 ½ pages. Elder Hunnicutt made lunch for both of us today. He really enjoys cooking. We had a program with C this afternoon and challenged him to read the Book of Mormon straight through for his first time. We then went streeting with him.  In the evening we met with G and D. I also planned out the agenda of District Meeting. My miracle today is that I am getting to know many of the members, their faces and names, really quickly here.

Saturday, 27 October (500th Day as a Missionary)
This morning, following studies, I cleaned half of our apartment. Elder Hunnicutt cooked lunch again. The main events of today were two baptisms. A and Z, investigators of the Sisters here, were baptized in a hotel in the city around 4:00 this afternoon. President and Sister Smith were there and I had the opportunity to talk with them and ask President two thoughts on my mind.  After the baptisms and talks, there was a linger longer at the Branch House. There we all talked, ate, and visited, giving me more opportunities to get to meet members. Today's miracle is that at both the baptism and linger longer, A and Z both seemed to be welcomed, accepted, and fit right in alongside everyone. I'm tired. I'm glad the clocks all fall back one hour tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that hour of sleep. It will be heavenly.

Sunday, 28 October
This morning began with an early Ward Council Meeting. Following the meeting, I pulled E aside and asked him to help me go through the lists of active and inactive members I'd collected. That was a huge help. We then had the rest of Church. Elder Pendleton came back from Buda to do A's confirmation.  After Church, we came back to our apartment and did all our studies, followed by scheduling and planning our week. I've already called eight of the fourteen inactive members in the Branch. Two told me to call back later and only one was willing to meet this week. In the evening, I got to spend two hours on the phone fulfilling my District Leader duties. Since I've gotten here to Szolnok, despite our lack of programs, things have been so busy. This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my Mission. Once again I walked into a dead companionship, and I have work to do to build up the work. I'm sure tomorrow will also be a full and busy day. Today, the miracle is that Elder Hunnicutt and I are already getting along well. We seem to be more similar than either of us thought at first.

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29 October 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

My Szombathely Group before we split!

Elder Nebrotzky used a roll of butcher paper to try to make it so I couldn't leave!

Elder Hunnicutt, my new companion in Szolnok.

Monday, October 22, 2012

22 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Tuesday, 16 October
We started our day with studies and a quick cleaning of our apartment.  We had to go shopping today as the stores were closed yesterday.  We met with an inactive family.  They originally met the Missionaries twenty years ago, and one of their daughters is currently serving a Mission in Finland.  After their program, Elder Nabrotzky and I played and sang Hymns (including some patriotic ones) at the Branch House until Angolora started.  My miracle is that while it rained today, we were greatly blessed with our weather yesterday at Sumeg.  Yesterday's sunshine was much brighter and warmer than all of last week or what any other day this week is forecasted to be.

Wednesday, 17 October
Only one program today which was with K.  We're starting to progress finally.  It's taken longer than usual, but we're finally starting to understand one another better and be able to talk about the gospel.  Today we were even able to fit in the entire Plan of Salvation from start to finish.  One thing I've learned on my Mission is that most people of other faiths believe that The Plan ends with the Spirit World.  Their belief is that after this earthlife comes the Resurrection, Judgement, and then Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison.  With that picture in mind, there would indeed be no way for those who died without knowledge, without faith, without baptism, or without repentance could be saved.  But our God is more loving than that.  Spirit Paradise is not "heaven," and Spirit Prison is not "hell," and the judgement cometh not until after every soul has been given opportunities to receive light and accept Christ.  Anyhow, jumping back to today, we were very happy about the program.  Our other would-have-been program with a member dogged.  So, we made calls instead.  Lastly, today's miracle: as we were riding back after being dogged, Elder Nabrotzky and I were having a slightly pessimistic conversation about the work.  As we were talking, a member zoomed by on his bike shouting, "Remember… the Book is blue, and the Church is true!" then took off.  We don't know if he knew what we were talking about when he shouted that, but we thought it was funny enough to end our conversation.

Thursday, 18 October
This morning I spent planning out District Meeting.  I also tried calling Z again.  We have been calling Z every week trying to set up with her, but she has been in Gyor the past four weeks taking care of her Mother.  I would've loved to have gone to Zalaegerszeg to meet with her every other week if we had had the chance.  We had four programs today.  First, we met with B and D.  We talked about Alma 32 and read part of it together.  B committed to read 3 Ne 11 and to come to church this week.  Our second program was with Z.  It was mostly Gospel with little English.  He read Mosiah 27 but was confused by it, so we talked about it and committed him to read the prefaces.  The third program was a referral arranged by a member.  We met with a man who, for the first 40 minutes, talked about all his problems with the scriptures, with clergy, or any kind of organized religion.  It was impossible to get a word in and very contentious.  However, somehow, miraculously, I was able to gain everyone's attention and read the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses, with it somehow remaining silent the whole time I read.  After, I talked of the millions of other witnesses of the truthfulness of the gospel and added my own.  That was the first time I have ever used the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses in a lesson like that.  It would appear as though there is indeed a good reason why their testimony is right after the Introduction in every single Book of Mormon.  After that, the entire spirit of the lesson changed.  During the last 10 minutes, we were able to give him a Book of Mormon, commit him to come to Church, and say a closing prayer.  After the closing prayer, he was crying.  He asked us why he felt the same as when his wife died.  He described it feeling like his heart was warm, but more than just his heart, but his whole chest, and more than just warm, but he said a strange feeling.  We told him it was the Comforter, and it meant he was closer to God.  What a great ending!  Our last program was with B.  We had another feeding program.  We talked a lot about prayer and her son.  I asked her when the last time he heard her pray was, and then, when the last time was that he heard her pray specifically about him.  We also talked about his twelfth birthday coming up this next week, and what we can do, and what we could ask other branch members to help do, to get her son ready and worthy to receive the priesthood.  I plan on asking our branch leaders at church on Sunday.  In the evening, we finished our day with calls and updating teaching records.

Friday, 19 October
Today we were the victims of a series of unusual events.  On our way over to District Meeting, my bike seat broke off.  Then we received two calls from a private number, but no one was on the other side.  After the second call, for the first time on my mission, someone chased us down on a bike shouting, "Elnezest, elnezest! Mormonok! Mormonok vagytok?" (translated to "Excuse me, excuse me! Mormons!  Are you Mormons?").  He said he was interested in meeting sometime and had two nieces who would be interested in Angolora.  After talking, he crossed back to the other side of the road and took off.  An interesting miracle encounter.  At District Meeting we analyzed D&C 4 together.  Afterwards we went to get my bike seat fixed.  On the way, we saw a Neni lying on the road who had fallen off her bike.  A man helped her up and she started walking home leaning on her bike.  Elder Nabrotzky and I hopped off our bikes and I asked if I could help.  She said "no" and kept walking a few steps then fell forward, faceplanting it onto the asphalt.  I called the ambulance, and then handed the phone to someone nearby so they could better explain.  We remained with her until the ambulance and the police arrived.  After we got my seat fixed and then got dogged.  We met with K, talked about peer pressure, and then headed to Sopron.  There we met with J and B, and I did J's baptismal interview.  Like B, she did great. 

Saturday, 20 October
Back in Szombathely today.  We had Fiatal Est in the evening.  This entry will mostly be scattered notes.  For the first time, today I had someone scream in my face "Christ is dead!  He died!  Get it?  Christ is dead!"  It was quite disturbing and something I never care to have happen again.  My miracle today is that this transfer Elder Nabrotzky and I achieved both our District and Zone goals.  Lastly, some thoughts about transfers.  36 hours until transfer calls.  I have 5 out of 15 left.  I'm pretty sure I'm leaving and the other three elders are staying.  I've really enjoyed serving with Elder Nabrotzky.  I wouldn't mind staying here in Szombathely for a fourth transfer.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday, 21 October
Today at church I talked to a lot of the members.  It could possibly be the last time I see them.  We went to the S's for lunch today.  Afterwards we did some studies, planning, and then had a silly night with the other Elders.  This morning I woke up with, and have had since, an eye infection.  It's annoying, but leads me to a miracle on sight: glasses and contacts.  It's nice to be able to see better most the time rather than walk around blind.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

15 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Tuesday, 9 October
It was cold today.  Today Elder Nabrotzky and I tried something new: “For the Strength of Youth” tabling.  No one was interested and we only got a bunch of strange looks.  We joked about making a “Chastity and Virtue” display to really shock the Hungarians.  Today we cleaned our apartment, and in the evening we made a few silly videos; and I had the stereotypical miracle of not being able to find something, praying, and then finding it.  With my camera, I have two memory cards.  The spare I had kept next to my camera in the case.  This afternoon, it was not there.  Upon finding it in the evening within two minutes of praying for help, I was able to figure out what had happened.  While we were tabling, I wanted to get a picture of the display.  As I pulled my camera out, the card slid out with it onto the ground.  The only reason I still have that card, part of the miracle, is that out of all the places it could have fallen, it fell into the box of Books of Mormon we had on the ground.  Anywhere else it would’ve been left in the Foter.  The fact that it fell into the box and that I found it after praying, were tender mercies in my eyes.

Wednesday, 10 October
It was cold again and rained today.  Luckily, this morning our landlord came and turned on the heater.  We had three programs today.  First was with K.  We read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” with her and talked about eternal families.  We also gave her “The Living Christ” to read before next time.  Our second program was with Z.  It was half English-half gospel, and we talked about Alma 32 and faith.  Our third program was with A.  All four of us Missionaries were there.  We talked about the afterlife.  My miracle today is my Dad.  In addition to being my Father, he is a great provider, mentor, and example.  He has done a great job in teaching me and my siblings.  We’ve always held him in high respect as the head of our household, and he has met that responsibility well.  He has always been someone I could look up to.  And most importantly, he has loved my mother well.  I love him!

Thursday, 11 October
Elder Nabrotzky and I had three programs today.  The first was with B and D.  At the end we talked about the Book of Mormon and challenged them to come to church.  Our second program actually called and set up with us.  Upon meeting, we realized he was also meeting with the other companionship, which made it a little awkward at first.  However we talked about the love of God, the tender mercies of the Lord, and the blessings in our lives.  At the end, he also committed to come to church as well as to pray every night during the next week.  Our last program was with B.  We talked about her mother for a while and ended with a lesson similar to L’s (our second program), and we talked about our blessings.

Friday, 12 October
Today, we had hardly any downtime.  We left our apartment by 6:30a (having got up around 5:30a), and didn’t return until 10:20p.  Today started with Zone Training in Gyor.  The Assistants gave a training on Unity.  Following the AP’s, the Zone Leaders gave trainings on Commitment and Baptism.  Upon getting back we went over to a member’s house and spent the next 5 ½-6 hours helping him move.  For the most part it was the four of us and Z, with C joining in during the second half.  While travelling, Elder Jones’ bike pedal broke off and Elder Masters found a funny way to continue to ride it.  My miracle is that I had a rather trivial choice between something right and something wrong.  While it likely would’ve had hardly any large consequences despite whatever choice I might’ve made, things happened that caused it to be postponed until it was much easier and I had already decided on what to do.  I wish any temptation could just be postponed until a spiritual high, and then come when it’s not even a challenge.  Also, on a final note, I started toying with an idea today of a spiritual thought: “The Angels in Our Lives.”

Saturday, 13 October
We went streeting, worked on the Area Book and made several calls today.  During Fiatal Est we were able to get Elder Nabrotzky to sing some Patriotic songs.  My miracle today is that, in the past, we found someone who only speaks Chinese and very, very little English, and today we were able to give her a Chinese Book of Mormon.

Sunday, 14 October
Today was Fast Sunday.  I’m still playing the organ every week in Priesthood, and today I played for Sacrament Meeting as well.  After church we had lunch with a member.  My evening was ridiculously stressful.  I spent over an hour and a half in phone calls: calling the Zone Leaders eight separate times, the Assistants, President Smith three times, and the Elders in Sopron over ten times.  I finished with (and still have) a killer headache.  We were trying to fit two splits, a District Meeting, a trip to Zalaegerszeg, one to Papa, and another to Sopron for a baptismal interview, all into less than a 36-hour block.  In the end, and to my relief, we cancelled both splits and the trip to Papa.  My miracles are that we had s’mores today, and both pairs of my shoes are still in good shape.

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15 October 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

The main entrance to Sumeg Castle, with guard dogs up on the wall.

Sumeg Castle stocks.

Escaping Sumeg Castle prison.

Inside Sumeg Castle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

8 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

This week I decided to write about many of the benefits and changes I have experienced and noticed during my mission.  (I’m sure there are many that I haven’t noticed as well).  While there might be too many to list, and while there will definitely be some I forget, I hope the email from this week will help you see some of the many personal benefits one received by serving a mission (granted, some of these might not apply to everyone, such as a second language).

On my mission, I have learned how to better plan.  I’ve always considered myself a fairly effective planner, but on a mission, one becomes concerned daily about making sure that one remembers everything, and doesn’t miss or postpone anything important.  I have developed many healthy habits, such as learning better cooking and laundry skills.  On a mission one makes and breaks many habits.  I feel that each missionary comes on their mission with some habits they wish to get rid of, and on their mission tries to replace them with better routines.

I have learned how to better deal with stress, and cope while under stress; as well as how to reduce it.  I have become a better budgeter.  On a mission, one deeply studies all of the basic gospel principles and fundamentals.  As you teach them every day they become engrained in your mind, heart, and soul.  You learn how to teach each them simply and clearly, and as you do so, you learn how to embed them into your life with that same clarity.  On my mission, I have better learned how to study.

I have also become more appreciative of friends and family.  (“Absence [does indeed] make the heart grow fonder”).  I have learned how to be stuck to someone 24/7 and have good teamwork with them, communicate better, increase my social skills, and have prepared to one day be a better spouse and parent.

I have learned a second language; had my testimony strengthened; and increased in knowledge.  I have had a shift in values, the many of the earthly, temporary things losing their attraction, and eternal things increasing in status.  I have moved out of my comfort zone time after time again, stretching myself.  I have learned how to appreciate a fully operating Ward and Stake.  I have seen differences between our Gospel and the other churches of the world.  I have learned how to better prioritize and spend more time on those things that matter most.  I have also learned how to better serve others.

I have learned “why every young man should serve a full-time mission.”  As one serves a mission, they come to realize that there is great “worth” in being “worthy”.

Due to the events of these past two days, aka General Conference, I must write that I had already decided to do this and thought about this throughout the week.  It was a great surprise to me, as I’m sure it was to everyone else in the world, to hear about the change of the age-eligibility limits of missionaries.  I guess now this would also apply a lot more to both genders.  The change in missionary age limits has already begun to affect my life in a very personal way.  Already I am hearing of some of my female friends seeking out calls to serve.  For any that do, it will be 3-4 years before I see any of them again…  That missionary communication gap just doubled.

In conclusion, I would re-emphasize that a mission, just like the gospel, isn’t just about doing, it is about becoming.  And my mission really has proven to me that it has been the “best two years for my life.”

That’s it for this week.  If any of you need anything in the meantime, “Ask the missionaries… they can help you.”

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

1 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 24 September
My miracle today is that yesterday was the dedication of the Brigham City Temple.  In the evening we went to Family Home Evening with the T family.

Tuesday, 25 September
Today we went tabling and were met with a fair amount of success, having five people who were interested approach us.  We dropped off some items at a member’s house, and then went tracting.  In the evening we had Angolora.  We’ve started having more and more moral discussions.  My miracle today is the Atonement, because nothing is more of a miracle than that.

Wednesday, 26 September
All four of us here in Szombathely met with a member today.  We also went Home Teaching with C again, set up a meeting with a new less-active (new in the sense that no one’s met with her in almost a year), and took my suit to the dry cleaners (it’s much needed).  My miracle today is that I have had way more feeding programs here in Szombathely than anywhere else.  (Nyiregyhaza is the only one that even comes close and only because of M.)

Thursday, 27 September
Today I was on splits with Elder Jones.  This morning I prepared my training for tomorrow’s District Meeting.  We met with K, but our program was limited to 45 minutes, so we didn’t get in the lesson we wanted on the Plan of Salvation.  We also met with B and talked about Obedience.  We were fed at both programs.

Friday, 28 September
This morning we had our District Meeting.  I gave a training on Sacrifice.  Elder Nabrotzky and I went tabling after and biked back out to Tesco so I could return some things and pick up my dry cleaning.  In the evening we played ping-pong for Csaladi Est.  My miracle today was a fun musical number in our District Meeting in which Elder Alldredge played his ukulele and sang “A Child’s Prayer.”

Saturday, 29 September (2/3 done with Mission)
Today we would’ve gone to Zalaegerszeg, but both of our programs cancelled and the one other potential didn’t pick up.  So, we did more tabling today.  In the evening we played Ultimate and Soccer for Fiatal Est.  My miracle today is that I finally got a hold of an inactive member who is willing to meet this next week.

Sunday, 30 September
Today, during Sacrament Meeting, all four of us Missionaries sang.  We also received some of the Conference Flyers.  Something I forgot to write is that last Thursday night Elder Nabrotzky and I decided to spend this next week advertising General Conference as much as possible.  My miracle today is that although our numbers for this week were ridiculously low, I know that’s not what matters to the Lord.

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Monday, September 24, 2012

24 September 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 17 September
Today I was the first one done emailing.  That’s pretty unusual.  All four of us spent a while cleaning our apartments, and then went to X’s for FHE and dinner.  The Meyers, a senior couple serving in the Freiburg temple, were there too.  (They were also at the Szvoboda’s last night).  We had a very, very American meal of sloppy joes, salad, root beer floats, and Oreos.  Today’s miracle is that although I know and can see so many imperfections in myself, I also know that one day each of those will be made perfect.

Tuesday, 18 September
We had Zone Training today.  Finding hours has been reinstated.  President Smith came and gave a presentation on the growth of the Church, and our Zone Leaders gave training on goals.  We had one cancellation, by a member again.  Our only program was Angolora.  No one came to Kezdo today, but there were eight in Profi and Halado.  My miracle of the day is from Bishop Rife: it is a spiritual reasoning that our God is a happy God.

Wednesday, 19 September
One cancellation today.  Went streeting and tracting with mild success.  We dropped by J’s and S’s to see if we could offer our help with anything.  They answered no and revealed that they’re not really interested.  However, a miracle today was that on the way out we saw their neighbors and talked with them.  They are Mongolian siblings, brother and sister, and were willing to listen and ask several questions about us.  The sister accepted a Book of Mormon, committed to read out of it, and we set up a program for next week.  My hidden or additional miracle today is that while we were streeting and tracting, I had the opportunity to talk to and get to know my companion, Elder Nabrotzky, better.

Thursday, 20 September
More streeting and tracting today.  Unfortunately no success.  Met with A and B today, and talked to them about Family History/Genealogy Work and conversion, respectively.  Elder Clavel is here right now, and Elder Nabrotzky’s in Papa for splits.  My miracle today is that I still haven’t missed a day on my mission with my journal writing.

Friday, 21 September
Today we were on splits with the ZL’s.  Elder Clavel and I went tracting.  Also, I spent a good amount of time practicing the piano as I was asked to play 10 hymns for a good portion of the Branch.  We met with a new investigator, Z, today (half-English program).  Our expectations don’t quite line up, and we can only hope that he’ll become interested in the gospel part.  I bought a second whip today.  My miracle is being able to play 70+ hymns.

Saturday, 22 September
I saw some deer today.  They’re pretty unusual here, so that’s today’s miracle.  We went up to Sopron today.  Elder Abrok and I had two programs and I interviewed one of their bapt dates.  She passed!  Trains stick on weekends since over half of them don’t run.  When we got back to Szombathely, we were taken out to dinner by President and Sister Smith.  They also brought the rest of my winter stuff up from Buda.

Sunday, 23 September
Today was a combined District Conference between Szombathely, Sopron, and Papa.  Despite our best efforts, none of our investigators came.  In the evening we had dinner with the K family.

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