Monday, January 30, 2012

30 January 2012 Letter (Szekesfehervar)

Monday, 16 January
Today was indeed more of a day of rest.  We got dogged once, and then met with C.  In our lesson with her we discussed the Law of Chastity, which doubled as both something that was good for her to hear again as well as a practice for our lesson with R tomorrow.  My miracle today was an article President Baughman had forwarded of a non-member's testimony.  He recorded a few of his experiences with the Church and its members.  It was a great testimony of the truthfulness and amazingness of the Church.

Tuesday, 17 January
It snowed all today.  I liked it; it wasn't cold.  In addition to making everything white and brighter, it also made the ravens everywhere seem much more beautiful.  Normally, ravens are fairly ugly birds, but their black feathers became slicker and they looked almost classy in the snow.  Dogged thrice today, but B discussed the Restoration with us, and we reached the long-feared Law of Chastity lesson with R.  It went smoothly.  She had a question or two that were easily answered, said she understood the rest, my miracle today, without hesitation or resistance and agreed to start living it immediately.  Wow!  It was much easier than we had supposed, and needless to say, I felt very content afterwards.  We are now completely out of all our Pass-Along Cards and fliers.  In the evening we had a two hour meeting with the other Elders and our new Branch President.  He wants to do things much differently than they've been done.  He has some big goals; changes are coming.  We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, 18 January
Like yesterday, we got dogged thrice; however, we only had three lessons planned...ouch!  This morning I wrote over three pages for my talk to send home.  This evening the Zone Leaders arrived for splits and we had a good District Meeting.  The most interesting part is that there have been workers doing construction on the floor below us.  Two nights ago we learned it will be a Night Club (Club Revenge).  Tonight, during our meeting, they installed and tested the speakers.  The entire floor of our Branch House was vibrating the entire time.  The music speakers were loud and powerful enough that not only could we hear the music in the Branch House, but we could also see all the chairs in the chapel vibrating as well.  When Elder Molnar and I returned to our apartment a couple minutes away, even up on the 9th floor with all the windows and doors closed, we could not only hear it, but could tell which song it was.  Things will definitely be interesting to say the least.  So, while we couldn't meet with the three lessons we planned, we had a miracle.  Around 5:30pm we went out streeting, and the first two people we talked to, two men in their mid-to-late twenties, stopped to listen.  One had never heard anything about the Church, while the other had met with the missionaries once before and had received a Book of Mormon.  We talked for a few minutes, and then asked if they had a half hour to watch the Restoration Film.  They answered yes.  They came with us to the Branch House.  So, we not only had an hour long restoration discussion with them, but they said they feel like visions and angelic visitations are possible, and while they aren't sure it's true, they at least think everything they learned is a possibility.  We got their phone numbers and plan to meet again on Monday.  Hopefully they stick around.  They really helped save our day today.

Thursday, 19 January
Today we had two lessons and only one dog.  However, both the dog and the second lesson told us that they don't care to meet in the future.  In other words, they both dropped us.  Interestingly, though, the second of the two said he read two chapters of the Book of Mormon, thought it was unique and wants to continue reading, just not meeting.  Our other program was with G on dispensations.  My miracle today is that he has become one of our two best investigators, the other being R.  Last of all, today I found a cinnamon-orange-nut Milka, which is by far the most Christmas-y tasting chocolate ever.

Friday, 20 January
So, today was a day of failures, more so than any other day of my mission.  Not only did we have another person drop us, nor did just all four of our programs today dog, nor did just one person show up to our "Big" Branch Activity that the Branch had been planning for 2 1/2 weeks, but we also biked an hour and a half to a store to replace a piping valve, only to be unable to find the size we needed; and also, we spent so much time trying to get something to work, that we didn't do any proselytizing.  So, today we had no programs at all, lost an investigator, no streeting, tracting, flyering, or tabling, a branch activity outrightly failed, and our piping still isn't fixed.  From all perspectives it was a failure of a day.  Yet, strangely, and my miracle today, I don't feel bad.  Not that I feel great about today, but I don't feel bad at all either.  I'm sure in large part it's because we did what was in our power.

Saturday, 21 January
I only have one thing to write about today.  It is that we met with K, N, and L again.  This time we discussed the Plan of Salvation.  They not only thought that the questions "Where did we come from?" and "Where are we going?" are important (L especially said she thought about it a lot), but they also all participated in the lesson, as well as each one of them prayed and read a part of the Book of Mormon.  That was my miracle.

Sunday, 22 January
Today our Landlady came over.  Things went a lot better than we thought they would, and she complimented us over and over on how clean our apartment is.  Hopefully they can have our washing machine fixed by next week.  R came to church for two hours today.  We are still hoping to put her Bapt. Date in our next lesson.  So, this week we were dogged eleven times, and didn't have any new investigators...however, my miracle today was that this evening we managed to arrange two lessons, with two different Is, successfully meet with them, arranged a second lesson with each, and finish last minute with two new investigators!  We also have seven potential investigators lined up for next week.

Monday, 23 January
The water in our bathroom, in addition to our laundry machine, is not working, so we did laundry and showered at the other Elders' apartment.  While showering for the second time in 3 months, I really, really felt like going swimming.  My miracle today was Faith, the topic of my talk.

Tuesday, 24 January
Today was Zone Conference.  I didn't enjoy it as much as past conferences.  It was a very basic overview of “The Plan of Salvation” and “How to Teach Investigators”.  I didn't learn nearly as much as past trainings, only a small handful of new scriptures.  While there, we picked up another 44 Books of Mormon, and 500 Pass-Along Cards (half of what I wanted).  Within the past couple days (5 or so), I have developed a love for oranges that didn't exist before.  Lastly, (and the miracle today), Elder Crandall gave his departing testimony and I met and talked to Elder Runnells, who is also from Orem, and who, for some time, lived in my home-Stake.  That makes three of us from Orem. Yay!

Wednesday, 25 January
Another half and half day: two dogs and two programs.  We met with B and reviewed the Plan of Salvation.  Our second lesson was with A, one of the people I spoke of in my talk on faith.  We talked with him briefly and then went into a lesson I had prepared.  He expressed last time that he likes short films with lessons or life teachings.  So, I brought the Mormon Message CD and we watched 30 minutes worth of the spiritual thoughts and testimonies of the Apostles.  Twice we stopped and asked him how he felt, and he thought a moment, then insisted we continue and he would tell us at the end.  Three or four times during the clips, he took off his glasses and wiped his eyes (although, I never actually saw any tears or anything).  After thirty minutes, we paused the video and told him we had one last one we wanted to watch.  We said it was about Joseph Smith's martyrdom and the Book of Mormon.  We then commenced watching Elder Holland's "Testimony of the Book of Mormon".  After, we again asked him how he felt.  I am sure he felt something.  That much is certain.  When we asked the question, he sat there a while in silence.  We waited for over a full minute (though, less than three).  Finally, he said there are a lot of churches, they all have good messages; then unfortunately, built into his same rant as last time, that God could be anything, that we can never know, that faith doesn't exist, nothing is important, etc.  Dang.  Well, Elder Molnar and I shared our testimonies.  I told him we can only invite others to come unto Christ.  I bore testimony that I know God lives, that He loves us; that I prayed and received a powerful witness that the Church is true, and that I invite time to learn and ask as well.  After finishing our testimonies we quickly departed.  I did, for some reason, ask if he learned anything from the Mormon Messages, to which he replied, "of course", and said that they all were good ideas and philosophies.  He just doesn't count them as being alone in the truth, or more important than other theories of the world.  My final impression, both in the lesson and looking back on it is that, as told to Nephi, the churches of the world would become a great stumbling block to many.  I truly believe that the apostasy and the abominable churches and religions of the world have destroyed this man's faith.  Other than that, I have had one thought and memory come to me that I never before thought about on my mission, nor while at college.  It was my Dad's weekly Sunday evening call, "Waffles are ready!!!"  (Sometimes with Jonathan running up and down the hall yelling it, and Buddy barking.)  It's been a long time since I've heard that.  My miracle is my family.  One of, if not the greatest, blessing Heavenly Father has given me in this life.

Thursday, 26 January
Four dogs today.  Our only program was with I (the second one we had met with last Sunday).  We spent all 45 minutes answering questions he had about the gospel and our church.  I thought it went quite well.  Today was supposed to be the day that we gave R a Baptismal Date, but, she missed the bus and called us.  Not only was she unable to meet, but we learned that something has come up and she has to travel to and from Pest every Sunday for the next several months.  So, she won't be able to come to church until Summer or Fall.  It definitely put a damper on the idea of Baptism and on our day.  I'm still thinking about it trying to figure out what's best.  Luckily, she's still keeping commitments, the commandments, and will continue meeting with us each week.  My miracle today was that the repairmen came, and we have a working washing machine, as well as both hot and cold running water in the bathroom for the first time in several months or even longer.  Also, it was Elder Peterson's birthday, so, I rebelled against mission rules and gave him a pet rock, along with a family of oranges with some funny faces drawn onto the peels.  Last of all, while talking with Elders Molnar and Remy, I quoted and referenced some things that came out during my time at University of Pennsylvania, and when noticing they didn't react, I realized how many things they've completely missed or are unaware of during their isolation out here.  It reaffirmed that I'll miss a thousand and one things during my mission.  Oh well.  They are all just insignificantly temporal anyways.

Friday, 27 January
Today was a day of dropping.  One of the three Is dogged us for the third time, so we're dropping him for a couple weeks.  We met with a different one, K, who said he was atheist, laughed at everything we said, then after twenty minutes, got up and left saying that "he was bored".  Needless to say, we won't be contacting him again.  A third person called and said they don't care to meet in the future either.  In the evening we met with G.  The big struggles with him are that he thinks Peter is the first pope and wants to read the entire Bible and Book of Mormon before committing to baptism.  He said he thinks and feels the Church is true, but needs to make sure by completely reading everything.  Gyuli Buli bombed again, with next to no one showing up.  Lastly, in the late afternoon, we went streeting, and while the first person we stopped was actually a Catholic Priest, the second person we gave a Book of Mormon.  That's my little miracle today.  Hopefully it changes her life.

Saturday, 28 January
So, right now I'm pretty depressed.  Although I charged my MP3 player this afternoon, it died a few hours later mid-song.  I've tried charging it, and doing what I can to revive it, but have been unsuccessful.  I'm not sure what all I'm going to do.  Anyways, another dog and drop this morning.  We met with K, N, and L.  L read a little and K read the entire Plan of Salvation pamphlet.  All three have begun to pray weekly.  Things are going well with them.  We tried to meet with I.  We had scheduled a time with him, but, when we showed up at his house, we learned he had forgotten, and he asked us to return later.  My miracle today was the opportunity to perform service.  I have been hunting for opportunities to help with a bigger project, and one of the member's relatives needed help moving; so, Elder Molnar and I spent over an hour (almost two) helping a 60-70 year old man move.

Sunday, 29 January
Today in church Elder Molanr gave a talk on sacrifice.  The main event today was a humbling miracle that was a sad way for me to learn a few of my weaknesses.  This morning, my MP3 player was still dead.  I had tried charging it overnight.  This morning I performed the standard procedure of what to do when an electronic device starts failing and began whacking it against things.  When it still didn't turn on, I whacked it some more and tried again.  After that, I went N64 style: took it apart, opened it up, blew inside it, and put it together again.  Nothing.  After church, I tried it again; still nothing.  Several hours later, before Weekly Planning, I simply picked it up, slid the button, and it turned on!  I hadn't done anything.  It is still working.  It is a miracle.  However, shortly afterwards the whole experience made me feel like a fool.  I am a missionary.  I try to be a good one.  I pray for my investigators and my companion.  However, when my MP3 player broke yesterday, one of the first things I did was pray.  I repeated including that in my prayers this morning.  I put a fair amount into worrying about how to replace it so I could listen to MoTab again.  I was saddened, even at church thinking about it.  I was so happy when it amazingly started working again...WHY?...Why was that so important to me?  While I pray for many things, including investigators, why is it that I immediately drop into prayer over a $40 music device, when I never do or even consider doing so when someone drops or rejects us, putting eternal salvation at stake?  Every time we get a phone call from someone who's not interested or doesn't want to meet anymore, why do I not drop onto my knees and pray for their heart to be softened, their mind changed, and the gospel suddenly becoming everything to them?  Why do I not pray each time for each and every one of their salvations, yet I make it such a priority to pray for my MP3 Player?  Am I that materialistic?  Where are my priorities?  I'm always asking and hoping that others will constantly consider these things more important, yet am so blatantly failing to do so myself.  "Can [ I ] be so foolish?"  Anyways, I'm happy I have my music back, but was just disturbed that I cared more about listening to "Come Thou Fount" one more time more than praying for someone to change their heart, pick up their phone, and call us back asking to meet.  Hopefully this motivates me to be better.  I'm still thinking and reflecting upon it all.

Overview for the last two weeks:
Just one thing to add in while writing these and looking back in hindsight; things are topsy-turvy.  We had some really high points a little while back, however, now we're hitting some lows.  Both weeks we had more lessons fall through than succeed.  Also, G and R, who had become our top investigators, are vanishing.  We haven't met with G for over a week and a half, and he hasn't picked up his phone since we last met with him.  R is in a type of internship for training to be a police woman (her dream since childhood).  She at least says she'll still be able to meet with us, but everything is being pushed back.  Also, I wrote that this last week we started with seven potential investigators.  Not a single one went through and they all dropped (with the exception of two who told us to call them later this week).  Hoo-haa... Well, we are still finding new people, but it just goes to show, nothing is stable in predicting missionary work.  On to this week!

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