Monday, April 2, 2012

2 April 2012 Letter (Budapest)

Dear Family,

The past two days have been great.  I had the opportunity to watch four of the sessions of General Conference, (two of which were live).  I hope you all enjoyed them as much as I did.

Monday, 26 March
Transfer calls came today.  Like I had guessed, Elder Reese and I are staying together.  That’s today’s miracle.  Elder Christensen and Sister Skiba are each getting Greenies.  Elder Austin is replacing Elder Smith as AP, and Elder Carlsen is replacing Elder Christensen as Zone Leader.  For our P-Day, we went to a Tourist Center “Fuvamter”.  I found a good number of items I would like to get, but didn’t actually buy anything.  Instead, I recorded all the prices as Elders Mathews and Reese said they know a cheaper place.  Later, Elder Reese and I ran to our only program; however, when we got there, we found out she had dogged.  We ended our evening with a Riverside Walk that Elder Reese and I did at the start of last transfer, but we went with a group this time.

Tuesday, 27 March
So, a couple of things today.  I learned that if we didn’t have to hand off our two main investigators last transfer, then number-wise, last transfer would’ve been my second-to-best transfer.  However, as it was, Elder Reese and I got the worst numbers last transfer in the entire Mission.  Yet, I know we were obedient and tried just as hard as a lot of the other companionships and Missionaries here.  Unfortunately, once again, we have to hand over our two best investigators, so I’m not entirely sure how much better this transfer will be for us.  Two of our lessons called and cancelled this morning.  Our only successful program was with F.  Antonio came to help out.  He bore his testimony and shared his experience with the Book of Mormon, and his conversion story for a good thirty minutes.  All of us felt like the lesson went well, and F has read all the prefaces and some of 1 Nephi already.  The whole lesson was on the gospel and we didn’t bother teaching him English.  Things are looking good thus far.  The program was today’s miracle.

Wednesday, 28 March
Today was transfers.  We didn’t spend all day there as neither of us got transferred, making today a work day for us.  However, we did take some time to say hello, and went to lunch at ‘Arribas’ with a group of almost twenty.  We then met with a new investigator named D.  The lesson went well.  He is one of our three Angolora students; and despite being found through that, we spent the whole time discussing the gospel.  He’s never been religious before and it is really interesting to him.  He’s already in 1 Nephi 9, and said he understands it all well enough that he doesn’t have any questions.  We went to the “International Hungarian Hour” group for the second time.  There were only 5 of us this time: me, Reese, two of the mathematicians, and a new girl from Texas, who’s here majoring in “Transylvanian History”.  We spent twenty minutes at the end speaking in English (despite it being “Hungarian Hour”) about our Church.  The girl seems pretty interested.  She said she is “Protestant, but open”.  We then took A out to dinner, since he took us out last time.  He’s finished and submitted his paper, and said we can read it sometime.  When I told him about General Conference, he said he wants to come to as much as possible.  Despite being Muslim, he continues to say he’s amazed with our Church, and he expressed great interest and appreciation in our teachings of God’s Love and of Sacrifice.  For my miracle today it has to be in two parts – we are up to five investigators: D, I, A, A, and F (although we will have to give the last two to the Pest Elders, Abram and Cox); and, part two, all five of them are from English Class.  English really is by far our most powerful tool for finding people to teach and get them interested in the gospel.

Thursday, 29 March
So, first off, something I forgot to record yesterday was that, although we are supposed to have two Greenies here in Buda, one hurt her wrist and the other his knee, and both are still back at the MTC, leaving Sister Skiba and Elder Christensen Greenie-less.  It will be at least two weeks until either of them is able to come.  Today we met with a new couple: the M’s (we originally tracted into the Bacsi (the elderly gentleman) back on the 10th).  We met with them for two hours, had a surprisingly good program, and gave them a Book of Mormon.  Afterwards, we went tracting and streeting with no success other than building our patience and leg muscles.  In the evening we taught the other Elders’ Kezdo class, as they were unavailable.  It’s the biggest class I’ve taught in, but really, here in Buda, it should be bigger.  Last of all, my miracle, I’m on Day 20 of my reading and am at the end of Amos.  Halfway there!

Friday, 30 March
I’m in the New Testament now, halfway through the book of Matthew.  I’m on the second half of my goal.  Speaking, or rather, writing about goals, we had a District Meeting this morning, during which we only set one goal: to have more RCLA’s (Recent Convert/Less-Active Lessons).  Afterwards, we went out to lunch as a group.  Eating out is always significantly more expensive, and we’ve gone out a fair amount recently.  Our only program was with F.  We had Antonio help us again as we talked of The Plan of Salvation and of Faith.  He gave Antonio some Hispanic music, which made Antonio the giddiest and the most excited I’ve ever seen him.  My miracle today is in two parts.  First, we taught F how to pray; second, I had the opportunity to see and hear him pray for the first time.  Now, I couldn’t understand what he even said, as the prayer was in Spanish, nor have I baptized anyone; however, thus far, I would have to say that being present as an investigator says their first real prayer, communing and beginning a new chapter in their relationship with their Heavenly Father has to be the best and most spiritual and important experience that I’ve had the opportunity to share with anyone whom I have helped teach.  On a less spiritual and more random note, today was a “Garbage Day” of sorts.  From what I understand, for the next while it is legal to litter on any level, even an extreme level.  Pretty much, a large part of the population takes any garbage, any old books, papers, furniture, doo-hickies, thing-a-majigs, etc. and throws them in front of their apartment, and as people go digging through it, squads of garbage trucks make rounds, trying to scoop up what they can.  It’s quite the messy event, and oft-times has already resulted in us having to walk in the road instead of the sidewalk.  Sometimes there’s a strong stench.  This afternoon was windy which really made it fun.  That’s it today.

Saturday, 31 March
So, a quick run-down of today.  Today, we had Angolora Class for the third time, and like last week only three people attended: F, D, and one new person.  Afterwards we met with F (without Antonio this time), and talked about the trials and difficulties that he’s experienced while here, and a few before coming.  We then met with A to teach him the Plan of Salvation.  He asked a good number of deeper doctrinal questions, like whether or not it is possible to progress between kingdoms.  In the evening, we went to the first session of Conference.  A and D both came.  I really enjoyed Elder Oak’s and President Eyring’s talks.  Last of all, my miracle is that I’m trying to write 2-3 short testimonies in a little book every week.  I’ve realized that my little miracles have turned from what I originally wanted them to be.  Instead of searching and reflecting each day, outside of what I would regularly record, to find a hidden miracle from the Lord, it has turned into just giving the label ‘miracle’ to one of the main things in my day.  I’d like to change and shift it back.  So, today’s hidden miracle was the book, and a second is that, like my family has joked about in the past, it always rains during Conference – even on the other side of the world.

Sunday, 1 April
Well, no April Fool jokes from the Apostles during Conference.  In this journal (or for now at least) I’m not going to record my Spiritual thoughts about it.  Instead those are all recorded on five other pages (I might put them in here later).  However, I will include some other short tidbits.  This is the first time I’ve seen Elder Packer chaired; I loved Eyring’s polishing quote; everyone here in Hungary got an enormous laugh out of Elder Christofferson’s “Translate that!” remark; and I thoroughly enjoyed Elder Bednar’s and Elder Nelson’s talks.  I thought Nelson’s talk was one of the most humorous and practically presented.  Overall I’ve seen all but the Sunday Afternoon session.  It was an awesome day, and Conference took up our time from 9:30 this morning to 9:30 at night.  Also, A came to one session, F to two, and D to all eight hours.  During a break between two of the sessions, I talked to F, and was asked if he could join the Church, and when could he be baptized.  I went over all the baptismal interview questions with him and discussed with him the things he would have to go through.  Also, in a few short minutes I taught him the Word of Wisdom, which he said he already lives, except for the occasional cup of coffee.  With the baptismal questions he said he was good with all except he felt he still needed to change a little (he’s not completely sure if Joseph Smith and Thomas S. Monson are real prophets) and he still needs to learn the Law of Chastity and Tithing.  Can I just say I love Mexican investigators?  It really is sad to think that we have to hand him off to the Pest Elders.  I introduced the three of them to each other at the end.  The pass-over will happen pretty soon.  Conference was great.  My miracle is continuing Divine Revelation on both a Church-wide and on a personal level.

I hope you all enjoyed General Conference.  It is a much more special treat for me since I’m here as a Missionary.  It was also really nice to listen to them in English rather than Hungarian, like in Nyiregyhaza.  One talk that stood out to me was Elder Uchtdorf's talk on the importance of understanding "the Why" of the gospel and not just "the What".   I thought this one was probably the most applicable to missionary work.  Reflecting on the reason why we teach investigators and share the Gospel is our most powerful motivator to continue the work.  Also, the often quoted scripture in Moses, “For behold, this is my work and my glory to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man” shows that as we strive to bring others to Christ, we are literally doing the Lord’s work, and glory.  We are trying to bring about the eternal life of man.

That’s it this week.  I’ll talk to you all next week, and hope you have a good day.


Shipp Elder

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