Monday, February 20, 2012

20 February 2012 Letter (Budapest)

Monday, 13 February
Today was a very long and surprising P-Day.  This morning we received transfer calls: Elder Molnar is going to be a Zone Leader in Gyor, and I'm opening up a new companionship area in Buda with Elder Reese.  The only things I've heard about it are that we're getting the Sisters' old apartment (which sounds promising, since Sisters often get nicer places than Elders), it had been a very dead area when missionaries were there in the past, and that we're starting from ground zero with no investigators or finds.  Our companionship here in Szekes is actually closing – no new missionaries are coming to replace us.  This is now the second area in-a-row that Elder Molnar has closed, and I'm going from closing a companionship to opening one.  The other Elders (Remy and Peterson) have mixed feelings.  They're going to be alone in the area, have to pull off the Book of Mormon Art Show alone, as well as Angolora and any other big projects they try to do.  However, they inherited our work, boosting them from five scheduled programs this week to 19.  So, they'll be busy this coming transfer.  There is also a new senior couple coming in a week or two to either Szekesfehervar or Veszprem.  Being here in Szekes is my miracle.  Today I spent emailing, followed by a visit to the Basilica.  I found out that the UPenn Men’s Fencing Team is undefeated 17-0 having beaten Penn State, making them the only undefeated Division1-A Fencing Team!  Way to go Penn!  We had two programs today.  The first was with the three girls.  We told them "Farewell" and had the other Elders join us in the program so we could hand them off.  K and N have continued to read and to pray, and both committed to come to Church this weekend.  We also met with L and passed him off.  His program was great and he said he really wants to be baptized.  We tried to arrange a baptismal date right there, but he said he wants to wait and think a little more before picking a specific date.

Tuesday, 14 February
Happy Valentine’s Day!  This holiday feels slightly stranger as a missionary; not too much though.  By 9:30 this morning I had finished packing; however, we need our apartment spotless, and our Area Book and Find Sheets filled out and organized and ready to give to the other companionship.  Elder Molnar and I went to a coin shop where I got some of the three previous currencies used in Hungary.  We also got pictures with the other Elders, and the sheep of Szekes.  We had two more farewells with our investigators, passing them off.  The first was I and his family, who we found out, was born in one of the new areas: Nagykanizsia.  The rest of his family still live out there along with many of his relatives, and he said he would be willing to give their information so that we could get them to the Elders going there as referrals.  We also saw R, who came in the evening to say goodbye.  The Branch threw a Farewell Surprise Part for F, who's moving to England.  The surprise part could've used some work.  At the party, most of the members found out that Elder Molnar and I are both leaving and were all disappointed about there only being two missionaries left.  Things will be interesting.  My miracle today was remembering and seeing so many of the investigators who I've taught and met with for the past several weeks.  Finally, something I learned during our second lesson with I, but never remembered to record, was that several years ago, he had two strokes that left him bed-ridden and partially paralyzed for some time.  After not too long though, he made a full recovery, and hasn't had any problems since.  He attributes the majority of his faith that there is a God who loves us to this major event in his life.

Wednesday, 15 February
I am now in Buda.  It is cold.  Our apartment, while large and pretty nice, hardly has anything in it.  The Sisters were under the impression that the apartment was going to be closed, so they took everything they could.  Also, the main heater doesn't work.  Luckily, our kitchen is nice and we have one of the best showers in the mission.  We are also within a 10 minute walk of the Mission Home.  Transfers went well.  I got to see a lot of familiar faces and talk with many Missionaries whom I had met before.  Elders Velasquez and Headrick are spending the night with me and Elder Reese before they head out to Nagykanizsia tomorrow morning.  That's about it.  We really are starting from scratch – no investigators, no Area Book, no programs, not even an Angolora Class.  My miracle today is my new companion, Elder Reese.  Last of all, it snowed incredibly hard today.  Worst snow yet.

Thursday, 16 February
Not much happened today.  Finished unpacking; took an incredible shower; still trying to figure everything out; got my new Bus and Metro Pass; and am trying to learn where things are.  We are in-charge of the II and XII Districts of Buda.  We spent some time trying to get a new Area Book, as well as planning out a new Angolora course.  We have our work cut out for us.  We went to the old Ujpest apartment (where I slept over in my first transfer with Elders Moffet, Molnar, and Braman).  It's a winter hurricane here.  It has lightened since yesterday, and it is still snowing most the time; and even when it's not snowing, the wind is strong enough to pick up the snow and make it look like it is.  My miracle today was trying a bunch of Bulgarian chocolate, left by Elder Nikolov.  Last of all, I had previously said there was no Hungarian accent.  To be more precise, there is no pitch-accent.  The only thing this language changes is unique sentence structure (word order), and mannerisms.  But sound-wise and pitch-wise, it's all the same.

Friday, 17 February
It is still snowing.  Today we had a District Meeting, set some goals for the transfer, and most importantly, received some records in an old Area Book.  Now we have a place to at least start from.  We also had our first program this transfer.  We met with a Kurd (Turkish) man named A.  He's from Elders Reese's and Nikolov's old companionship, so we'll need to hand him off to the Pest Elders in the near future.  Anyways, he speaks English and Hungarian very well; is a student at a nearby university, and is actually doing his thesis on Mormonism.  He would like to read the whole Book of Mormon before writing his thesis, and is already mostly through First Nephi.  He can't meet next week as he will be in Turkey for a while, but he agreed to meet Sunday evening, and, just as exciting, to bring us some real Turkish Delight when he returns.  My miracle tonight was a short tour, walking from near Parliament down past the Lion Bridge.  There are some amazing buildings and architecture here.

Saturday, 18 February
This evening we went on splits with Elders Lindelof and Christensen.  The other two went to a trade-over program with one of Elder Reese's investigators, while Elder Lindelof and I went to Kispest's "Fiatal Est".  They have a nice, big building, as well as way more youth than Szekes and Nyiregyhaza combined and doubled.  Also, this evening I saw a sign for a two-part Count of Monte Cristo musical.  I didn't know that existed.  My miracle today was that the snow finally stopped, and it was sunny and actually quite warm.

Sunday, 19 February
Today was my first Sunday in Buda.  It was a strange feeling to be in a big ward again; one that was over 3-4 times the size of the Szekes or Nyiregyhaza Branches.  We spent several hours making calls again.  In the evening we taught A.  He really is an open, kind, and happy guy.  He leaves for Turkey on Wednesday.  Elders Pendleton and Mathews came over for P-Day tomorrow.  My miracle today was our investigator (at least for a little while longer) Ali.

That's it for the blog.  We went walking around Budapest today, and stayed in a large group (a group of six other missionaries – eight of us total).  I'm a little short on time.  I'm enjoying my time here, and serving with Elder Reese.  We're getting along pretty well.   Talk to you all later.


Shipp Elder

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