Monday, March 12, 2012

12 March 2012 Letter (Budapest)

This week, since the whole mission had gathered to hear Elder Christofferson, we decided to do Mission Pictures with all the missionaries in Hungary.  This is the first time in at least six years that this has happened, with all the Hungarian Missionaries.  Hope you enjoy the picture.  (I'm in the very, very top right.)  Now on to the blog…

Saturday, March 3
Elder Reese and I started our morning today by meeting with one of his past investigators in Pest.  We then met with A for about fifteen minutes before taking him to attend and watch two baptisms at the Mission Home.  It was good for A to see what baptism is like.  (They were also the first two baptisms I’ve seen while on my mission.)  After the baptisms, we all rushed over to Pest for the Open House.  It was my first time at the Tihany Ter building.  It is big, and pretty nice.  There, we had choir practice for about thirty minutes, then performed for another forty-five minutes.  All together we sang ten songs.  The finale was a trio.  (Earlier I wrote it was a duet; however, I learned that the third singer just wasn’t able to be at the practices.)  Lilla did one verse of the song solo, then I did one solo, then all three of us did the last two in harmony.  It went really, really well.  I’m not a performer in anything other than fencing; however, I thought it was a great ending and really enjoyed it.  It was my miracle today.  Afterwards, I got more compliments for singing than quite probably everything else on my mission combined.  The Open House was a success.  Everyone enjoyed it.  Forty-three investigators showed up along with lots of members.  We finished our evening with Correlation Meeting.

Sunday, March 4
Today was Fast Sunday.  Our one program dogged.  Tomorrow is looking like a tightly packed P-Day.  Elders Payne and Wright are staying with us tonight.

Monday, March 5
Today took up a lot of energy.  This morning we started by shopping.  (Each week, inflation becomes more obvious.  A lot of foods and other items have increased between 20% - 40% since I entered the country.)  We went with a group of Missionaries to the Chinese Piac (Market).  After the market, Elder Reese and I took off to an address I had found to get Ladybaby and Bangs!. While I had my suspicions, I wasn’t sure until we arrived that the place was the actual factory where they make and ship the games to retailers.  They told me that they generally only do mass shipments to retail and department stores, and don’t sell to individuals; but they realized I was American and didn’t want to send me elsewhere, so they ended up selling me the games.  My miracle today was that by going straight to the manufacturing company, I avoided any shipping and handling costs and the retail markup; so I bought the games for less than one third of the usual price.  Because I could get them for the equivalent of $4, I bought two.  In the evening we made a trip up to Janos Hegy, an outlook overlooking Budapest.  It’s the highest point in the Budapest area, and has a fun tower at the top.  While trying to get up there, we went the wrong way and ended up hiking straight up the very steep face of the hill.  Once we actually made it to the top, it was a lot more enjoyable. 

Tuesday, March 6
It was a shorter day today.  We did a little brainstorming to try to get Angolora advertised, saw a strange bird that I’ve never seen before with an even stranger call, and met with A again.  This time, we walked along both sides of the Duna for almost two hours while talking.  While he likes and admires our Church, it is hard to tell how open he actually is to joining it.  Admiration is not enough to qualify for or to obtain baptism.  Our only program, and my miracle today, was with A.  Unlike usual, today he asked that we do half English and half Gospel.  After the lesson we went out to dinner with him at a Turkish restaurant.  The food was amazing and much more authentic than any other Turkish place I’ve been (and there are many, many more Turkish places here than you could ever find in the States).  At the end of dinner, he insisted that he must order some Turkish Tea for us to try.  However, upon inquiring, we learned it was nearest to Black Tea.  We briefly, and very quickly, told him that Joseph Smith received a revelation called the “Word of Wisdom”, from which we learn that we should not drink coffee, black or green or white tea, alcohol, or use tobacco or drugs.  After just that, with no invitation or pressure, A replied, “That sounds really smart.  I don’t think I should do those anymore.  You guys really don’t drink coffee?  Well, I guess I shouldn’t either.”  Just like that, we had a miracle.  Without us doing hardly anything, our investigator committed to live the Word of Wisdom.  What a miracle and a good way to end the day.

Wednesday, March 7
Today Elder Christofferson came and spoke to all of us.  Elder Reese and I got to attend a devotional for all the Missionaries in the afternoon and a fireside for everyone in the evening.  At both, President and Sister Kapishka (the Area President) spoke, followed by Sister and Elder Christofferson.  In the Missionary Session, Elder Christofferson began by asking us to come up one by one, shake his hand, and tell him our names and where we were from.  President Kapishka spoke to us about “Baptizing Our Replacements”.  He read from the ending of Matthew 9, told us we need to visualize our goals each day because “we find what we see”, and we need to see and find a generation of Hungarian Missionaries.  Sister Kapishka spoke very vividly and enthusiastically about the importance of understanding and interpreting the feelings we each receive from the Holy Spirit.  Sister Christofferson shared her thoughts on the love we must have for the Hungarian people.  Elder Christofferson did a Q & A session with all of us, in which he began with a bit of humor, saying: “I don’t know about the Three Nephites.  They never call, they don’t write, so don’t even bother asking about them.”  There were parts that really stuck out to me.  “We do not need perfection, but rather repentance.”  Concerning worthiness for members and non-members to partake of the sacrament: the sacrament is a renewing of baptism, and therefore requires the same things: Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and Repentance.  Last of all, and most interestingly, an understanding of tithing is the best and most efficient way to stop or overcome inactivity.  An understanding of the sacrifice, the blessings and principles behind it, is the way to remain closest in maintaining activity within the Church.  To end his talk, Elder Christofferson shared a story of when his father was unemployed.  They had savings and were doing fine materially; however, he would hear his Mother pray that his Father would get a job; not to buy material things, or even food, but instead so that they could have an income from which they could pay tithing, to show their willingness, dedication, and obedience to the Law of Tithing, and receive the blessings from Heaven. 

In the fireside, there were hundreds (or more) filling the Chapel, overflow, gym, and two other rooms beyond capacity.  Luckily for me, our Ward Choir performed “All Creatures of Our God and King” at the start of the meeting, granting me a reserved seat in the second row.  There were a few outside of our Ward that joined the Choir, and one of the two men was Elder Nealy.  He and I got positioned right in the front and middle of the group, directly in front of both the microphone and Elder Christofferson.  During the fireside, the same speakers went in the same order.  President Kapishka spoke of how, in today’s world, we stone our Prophets by selection, indifference, and rejection.  He quoted the Savior’s “O Jerusalem”, and other scriptures, on how “God will leave your house” when you hearken not to His servants.  He also spoke of how Prophets lead by example, and referenced President Monson’s biography “To the Rescue”.  Sister Kapishka also talked about Prophets, Apostles, and other priesthood leaders, leading by example.  One hilarious part was when she talked about how polite Elder Christofferson is and how he always compliments her, making her feel special; to which Elder Christofferson said, outside of hearing to everyone except the very front rows (Yay Choir!): “You are special”; which made Sister Kapishka go a little red while talking.  Sister Christofferson shared an experience of when she played the piano amateurishly back in Nashville, but a professional accompanied her and made it sound much more beautiful.  She related this experience to how much higher we can reach with the Lord’s accompaniment and help.  Elder Christofferson shared a quick story about his track team in New Jersey, and then he promised the congregation that the First Presidency and Apostles think and pray about us at their temple session each Tuesday.  He asked that we pray for each other and take time each day to try to feel everyone else’s prayers for each of us.  Elder Christofferson then spent the rest of his time speaking of Joseph Smith and the Savior; of their trials, their sufferings, and a few of the many blessings each of us have because of them.  Elder Christofferson discussed the recently published “Scholar’s Bible”; how it doubted, through voting, that Jesus would ever say that he is the Christ and the Son of God.  He warned us that many in the world are sadly beginning to doubt the divinity of the Messiah.  He closed with his testimony (during which some of the congregation, along with the translator, began to cry).  At the end, he said he had ten minutes, and asked that all the children come forward, that he would shake their hands before departing.  I will let you, the reader, decide which part should be the miracle today.  In the evening, we went with Elder Wiscombe and Elder Snyder to get dinner, then we came back and crashed.  Wiscombe and Snyder are staying the night with us, and then heading back to Pecs in the morning.  That’s it for now; time to bring this lengthy entry to a close and go to bed.

Thursday, March 8
Well, today we were hoping for four programs.  Two dogged and the other two rescheduled.  Once again, to show that we never miss an opportunity to get cancelled on, we had been asked by the Zone Leaders and the APs to go on splits with each of them.  Today, both companionships called and canceled both sets of splits, leaving us with six failed activities today, and us having been cancelled on by the ZLs and the APs thrice now.  Man, we are skilled.  In other news, I did actually have three good things and a miracle happen today.  While streeting for nearly four hours, I found a csengo (doorbell) labeled “Avatar Aang”. J  During the communism rule over Eastern Europe, the communists started an international holiday that is still celebrated and was today: “Women’s Day”.  Oddly enough, they never organized a “Men’s Day”, and “Women’s Day” has turned into a second Valentine’s Day.  Last of all, we finally talked to all the other missionaries and leaders so that Elder Reese and I can get an Angolora (English) Class going.  We’ll begin holding Kezdo and Halando (Beginner and Advanced) class every Saturday afternoon starting two weeks from now.  That’s all for today; I’m tired.

Friday, March 9
It’s a miracle.  All three of our programs showed up!  The first was D.  He was the first guy who rescheduled yesterday.  We spoke in English the whole time and walked along the Pest side of the Duna.  One of the main topics we discussed was the Word of Wisdom, and he was surprised to learn that neither of us gets offended or annoyed whenever someone else offers us a beer.  Our second meeting was with E.  We met at her apartment, helped her move some things, cleaned some high places she couldn’t reach, and replaced five light bulbs before sitting down and talking with her.  The last meeting was with Z.  We climbed around all the sides of Gellert Hegy, stopping at a surprising amount of lookout points and hidden towers and benches.  At one point, Z and I climbed up a good section of the face of the mountain.  Elder Reese ended up taking the trail around and meeting us at the top.  After a half hour or so, ironic to our conversation with D earlier today, Z pulled out a beer.  We ended up talking to him about the Word of Wisdom as well.  He said he’s never done, nor well ever do, drugs or tobacco.  Even better though was a great discussion we had at the top of the hill on families and the gospel.  We spent a good amount of time conversing about our own personal goals, dreams, strengths, and weaknesses.  I really enjoyed it.  Altogether, I can say it went amazingly well.  We all had fun; the views were fantastic and magnificent; and we all got to know each other better.  Throughout the experience we actually taught the entire first lesson, referenced the third, and taught parts of the fourth lesson, such as the Ten Commandments, following the prophets, obedience, and the Word of Wisdom.  To top off the day, I came up with a spiritual thought about being worthy to be a vessel of “the voice of the Lord”; as well as having the small material miracle of finding three new kinds of Milka, one of which has Pop Rocks in it.  I haven’t had those in forever!

Saturday, March 10
We had two programs today.  The first was with an old Bacsi who we tracted.  We didn’t get invited into his apartment, but we talked on the porch for some forty minutes.  It was pretty cool to learn that he is a World War I veteran.  The second program was with A.  We finally had a pass-over program, giving him to the Kispest Elders.  He promised to attend Church tomorrow, and was as golden and awesome as always.  This morning, we spent two hours cleaning our apartment.  We still need to mop, but we managed to do everything else.  My miracle today was that I’m trying to get through all the Standard Works by the end of my one-year mark.  So, today I read the first forty chapters of Genesis.  I highlighted a lot of cool things and got a fairly good chuckle about an insight into the story of Joseph in Egypt and Potiphar’s wife.  That’s it for today.  Good Night!

Sunday, March 11
I’m already into Leviticus; that’s my miracle.  Attended church today, and received a few more compliments about singing.  The investigator we handed over to the Kispest Elders went to their Branch meetings.  Elder Reese and I made a few more calls out of the Area Book, and got a bunch of emails ready for tomorrow.  Last of all, it rained today for the first time in a couple of weeks.

That’s about it.  I love you all and will talk to you next week.

Sok Szeretettel,
Shipp Elder

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