Monday, April 9, 2012

9 April 2012 Letter (Budapest)

Dear Family,

Happy Easter!  I have a whole lot to type today, so I'm going to jump right into the blog:

Monday, 2 April
It doesn't feel like anything really happened today, but I'll see what I can come up with.  This morning we went shopping and emailing, which both went well but not great.  We sat at the mission home for two hours not really doing anything except 'resting', which isn't bad; it's just not productive either.  One thing I've forgotten to write so far is that Elder Szabo finally departed for the States this morning, so Elder Christensen has joined our companionship until his Greenie arrives.  Our only program dogged.  In the evening we went to Janos Hegy a second time, but with a completely different group.  It was also cool to be there later in the evening, after sunset.

Tuesday, 3 April
We are still in a threesome, and thanks to our combined work, our week is full.  We had two cancellations today, but still managed to meet with A in a program in which we asked a good amount about his church.  Towards the end of the inquiry we shifted into the third missionary lesson.  At the end, we asked him if he would ever consider being baptized, and learned two things from his response: 1) his religion encourages them to study and learn about other religions; 2) while they encourage exploration, and even church attendance to different faiths, each of their members covenant to never be baptized or partake of the Sacrament in any of those churches (ours included).  Our second program was with a new investigator named A.  She's meeting for English; however, she also said she doesn't know anything at all about our Church, and would be fine learning.  It's too soon to tell anything else.  Our last program was with Z, who was baptized just two Saturdays ago.  We discussed temple marriages with him and his wife.  The highlight, by far, was learning that since her husband's baptism the wife has strongly felt like she needs to be baptized.  She volunteered herself to take all the missionary lessons and do what she has to in order to be baptized.  Their family (which includes them and their two sons, both toddler-ages) has already set a sealed, eternal family and marriage in the temple as their ultimate goal.  I found that I like the missionary work the most when it's like this!  The miracle today's a little strange.  In addition to falling nearly 150 pages behind in my scripture reading due to Conference and P-Day, I haven't felt terribly well spiritually as of late.  Reflecting on it, one conclusion I came to was that even with General Conference, something can be missing without sufficient personal scripture study.  Now I am halfway caught up (I had to read all of Luke, and all of John, and half of Acts today), and am feeling better; but part of me, for whatever reason, feels like life would be going better now if I had spent more time the last three days studying the scriptures.  I thought I'd be fine with 8 hours of Conference, but I guess I was wrong.  It is still a little confusing.

Wednesday, 4 April
Today was my Mom's Birthday.  Happy Birthday Mom!  We only had one cancellation today.  We had a pass-over program for F with the Pest Elders and A.  My miracle was within that program, we watched the Restoration film in Spanish which A had found.  Despite not being able to understand the language, it was surprisingly still just as powerful a message as always (even without the words).  We went and helped teach at a high school today.  It was a little weird since the class consisted of seven girls and one boy.  We discussed the differences of Hungarian and American schools, and nearly all the class voiced that they wished they could go to the States.  There really are so many hidden advantages and blessings.  We then taught an inactive member, E, who has not attended church for over 10 years.  Amazingly, she's going to try to come this weekend.  Our usual Wednesday night "Hungarian Hour" was cancelled.  We met A because he said he needed help and advice for some problems with his roommates at college.  Lastly, we spent 45 minutes or so speaking with Sister Smith's son.

Thursday, 5 April
We began today with a service project.  We helped a member for nearly two hours by digging up and weeding a heavily weeded area, about 10x6 feet.  The yard work made me think of home.  We had a program with G, one of Elder Christensen's investigators.  He had a lot of questions after reading about Nehor in the Book of Mormon.  He's actually said that he'll get baptized once he receives confirmation that the time is right.  We had one cancellation, and four people dog.  Because we are in a threesome, we got to help with Angolora again.  I gave the Spiritual Thought on the Resurrection.  My miracle today is that despite not having too much time, too many tools, or not really being a cook, I have somehow managed to keep a good variety to all my food and meals (and also pretty healthy).  I'm sure that last bit will make my Mom happy.

Friday, 6 April
We started our day by receiving three cancellations all before 10:00am.  However, we still had one successful program with D.  Both Elder Reese and I feel like we probably could've committed him to baptism today, and decided that it will be one of our goals for next week.  Our evening consisted of several hours of flyering, a correlation meeting (the first one we've had in almost a month), and attending Gofri Est.  In other news, two other things happened:  I finished the Bible today, and am now into the Book of Mormon with my reading.  Less than two weeks are left for me to finish.  Today's funny miracle was that I had a little free time, so I Googled Elder Christensen, and immediately found his mission blog.  I noticed that his emails from his whole mission were on there, including all of his investigators' full names and a bunch of pictures.  I congratulated him on it, and told him I would use it to learn all his secrets, and his reaction surprised me.  He asked what I was talking about.  I explained a little and he immediately hopped on the computer to look at it.  Pretty much, he didn't know one of his sisters had started a blog for him, and got fairly stressed-out when he realized that she had copied and pasted all his letters for the past 15 months without editing or filtering them.  So that's my accidental and hilarious (for me at least) miracle today.  Lesson to be learned: If you are going to put someone else's life on the internet, please let them know first.

Saturday, 7 April
We had four programs today, and everyone came (compared to yesterday's one out of four).  Our first was with D.  He's in his mid-twenties, works at an ice cream factory (I was a little jealous), doesn't really believe in anything, and today was the first time he's met with the Missionaries.  Despite his not being religious, he appears open enough that I'd say he's more promising than most.  We then held Angolora, and only three showed up again (two were new).  Then we met with K, a really 'intense' person from Szekesfehervar.  He had met with the Missionaries about a year ago, he's read a chunk of the Book of Mormon too; it's just hard to keep him in a spiritual lesson.  We then met with D from Couch Surfing.  It was his third time meeting with the Missionaries, but this was the first time we met at the Mission Home.  The program was all in English, went fairly well, and we're going to meet again to see if he'll actually progress.  We went shopping today since Monday's a Super P-Day.  Last of all, and the miracle, I'm now in the Book of Jarom and have finally caught up to where I am supposed to be in my reading.  Also, I found Jacob 6:8, which I thought could be a cool verse to hear someone read to a failing or dropping investigator.

Sunday, 8 April - Easter (US)
Today went well.  We went to both wards in Pest and in Buda.  On the way to Pest, I saw a giant billboard in the metro of a picture of fencing and a list of all the Hungarians competing at the Junior World Championships.  In the Pest Ward, half the speakers were in English and the other half spoke in Hungarian.  Also, not only F, but his inactive girlfriend came to Church and Sacrament Meeting.  It sounds like she's been inactive for nine years, but she said she'd like to begin moving closer to the Church again.  We then went to the second half of the Buda Ward, where something even more surprising happened.  At the end of Priesthood I was approached by a man in his twenties who I didn't recognize (but who looked familiar).  He realized that I wasn't sure who he was, so he removed his glasses and told me to ignore his beard.  I finally recognized Joe C., one of the only other LDS students who attended UPenn.  We talked for a while and I learned that he's studying abroad in Berlin, Germany for this school year; and since he's in Europe, he's been visiting the surrounding countries in his spare time.  It was really cool that I was able to be stationed in Budapest, specifically Buda, at the one time that he chose to come to Hungary.  It was great to see him and made my day, (although, I will admit, it was weird for a while, as he is the only face I've seen from past experiences since leaving the MTC).  What a small world.  Today was Easter back in the States.  Apparently Europeans celebrate it on Monday (so we will get a Super P-Day tomorrow).  I do feel a little bad in the fact that I won't be able to email anyone sooner.  I was hoping to wish my family Happy Easter.  (I hope everyone back home enjoys it.)  Elder Reese and I were invited with the other Elders in Buda to celebrate a little by going to the V’s family dinner.  It was fun and enjoyable.  Last of all, I only have 10 days left in my reading to finish the Standard Works.

Monday, 9 April - 300th Day on Mission, Easter (Hungary)
Yep, I've been serving for 300 days now.  That's today's miracle.  Today was a Super P-Day, so all three of us slept in, then joined 10 other missionaries for 3 hours of football, followed by a 3 hour break of games and a movie, and concluded with 2 hours of basketball.  It's been a very physically strenuous day; and most, if not all, of us will be sore tomorrow.  I'm tired.  We'll finally get to email tomorrow.  Happy Easter!  Good night.

That's all for this week.


Shipp Elder

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