Wednesday, May 16, 2012

14 May 2012 Letter (Bekescsaba)

Monday, 7 May
Transfer calls came today.  I have continued my pattern of always staying two transfers.  I will be leaving Buda and Elder Reese to go serve in Bekescsaba with Elder Vandermark.  He is my oldest companion yet, being in his 14th transfer.  He is also the Branch President.  For me, I will remain Junior, yet be District Leader as well as the Branch Clerk.  I've also heard that I am going from one of the biggest wards, apartments, and busiest parts of Hungary to one of the smallest.  My miracle is appreciating what I have more.  I Buda I've had a lot of space, a great shower, air conditioning, near the Mission Home, and in the city.  Elder Reese and I have been blessed to successfully build a companionship out of nothing.  Number-wise, this was my second-to-best transfer.  Going back to the miracle, I think missions can really teach you to appreciate what you have.

Tuesday, 8 May
I was done packing by 9:30 this morning.  It's weird to remember that every couple months I'm able to pack up everything I need for two years of my life into only 2 suitcases in only 2-3 hours.  We went tabling with the two Elders Christensen.  One cancellation today and one program which was with D and T on prayer; and we watched the Restoration Film.  That was officially my last lesson with Elder Reese in this companionship.  The new missionaries came in today and I got to briefly meet them.  We went flyering a little and ended with a meeting.  Tomorrow is transfers!  My miracle today is temples.  I spent some 10-20 minutes today looking at different temples and especially the Celestial Rooms in various temples.  It made me really wish I could be in one of them.  (The Vancouver Temple seemed really big and really beautiful).  I must admit, I am quite sad we don't have a temple here.  Two years is a long time for not going to or even seeing a temple.  It wouldn't at all surprise me if this is the longest I will go without seeing or visiting a temple in the rest of my life.

Wednesday, 9 May
First entry from Bekescsaba.  So, from the start: today was transfers.  I saw everyone else today.  There was quite the crowd at the Mission Home.  My whole MTC district was there, so we took a few group pictures.  I met my new companion, Elder Vandermark, and Elder Reese's greenie, Elder Nebrowsky.  I'll write more about my new companion tomorrow.  In the late afternoon we started the three and a half hour train-ride.  Elder Wright and Elder Swett rode with us during the first half to Szolnok.  After arriving, I managed to unpack about half my stuff.  Our apartment is a small attic.  It's definitely my smallest apartment yet, especially after coming from Buda.  Stromburg and Erikson, the two oldest MTC teachers, stayed in this apartment when they served here.  The kitchen, washer, and shower are all significantly older than either of them.  I will admit, I very, very much miss my previous apartment in Buda.

Thursday, 10 May
Today we had a good number of programs.  Our first was with M, a really nice investigator.  The second program was with M, a member in the Branch here.  We just shared the story of Noah with her.  Third was G, who is a fairly new investigator.  He practiced English for the first half then discussed the story and the importance of The Fall.  Last of all, I taught a Halado English class of 13.  In other news, we went shopping.  Also, I've begun trying to really clean our apartment as, looking around, it has clearly not been cleaned in at least 6 months, and some of the many, many cobwebs say much longer.  My miracle today is that I'm already finding ways to adjust to being here and liking it here.  While I still have a ways to go, I am starting to be comforted and have found that the Belvaros here are pretty beautiful.

Friday, 11 May
Can I start out by saying that I hate bugs?  I would not survive if I were serving in Central America or the Philippines.  I'm so glad I stayed in the Northern Hemisphere.  While I'm learning not to freak out as much with bugs, I'm still determined to clean the apartment and get some ant killer.  I hope one day in the future my wife will appreciate my learning how clean and cook.  On a more positive note, the Branch House isn't too much smaller than Nyiregyhaza or Szekes.  Today, we had three programs, all with members.  E was the first, followed by J, who was my first feeding program in forever (strange note: with her bathroom – it has a wooden toilet, and the door is made of glass and is therefore see-through...); and last was Institute, which consisted of me, Elder Vandermark, and four sisters in the Branch.  Lastly, I got the brakes on my bike fixed this afternoon.  My miracle today is all the past Liahonas I found in a box, hiding in a closet, and have begun to read through.

Saturday, 12 May
So, today we met with two members, M again, and G.  We also spent some time cleaning the Branch House.  This morning, I had the opportunity to conduct and lead my first District Meeting and training.  I shared a summary of my notes from when Elder Bednar came to the MTC and taught about being a "Preach My Gospel Missionary".  Three other notes: K was baptized by Elder Peterson back in Székesfehérvár today.  Yay!  I hope to get pictures from Elder Molnár or Elder Peterson later.  I wish I could write more about it.  I just don't know what, other than that I'm glad that I was a part of that.  Next, I'm not entirely sure why, but I am seeing DC 123:16-17 everywhere I look.  It's not a scripture I've commonly read or heard, but in the past week I've seen it at least 5 times.  So I guess it is trying to tell me something.  I feel like it's occurring enough for me to ever record it in my journal:

16.  You know, brethren, that a very large ship is benefited very much by a very small helm in the time of a storm, by being kept workways with the wind and the waves.

17.  Therefore, dearly beloved brethren, let us cheerfully do all things that lie in our power; and then may we stand still, with the utmost assurance, to see the salvation of God, and for his arm to be revealed.

I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be hunting for a small helm to lead me through troubles, explore what it means to be 'workways' in life, be cheerful, do everything in my power, or to watch for God's salvation, or all five.  Thirdly, I need to finally write about Elder Vandermark, my new companion.  Out here, he is in his 14th Transfer, and is the Branch President.  I am his 13th companion.  He was also Elder Cox's trainer.  That's about all I have to write about him for now.  (He's awesome).  Last of all is a miracle that came during the District Meeting.  Sister Barnhart was kind to offer a spiritual thought, in which she shared Elder Neil L. Anderson's talk "You Know Enough".  I had always attributed this address to those who lack spiritual knowledge or understanding; and to be honest, I felt it didn't apply to me.  However, at the start I thought two things: "This was taught by an Apostle" and "Sister Barnhart said she felt like she needed to share this with our District", both of which made me feel like it should apply to me.  So, I listened with my heart and tried harder.  I received my answer.  It does relate.  I had a very strong sense that Heavenly Father was trying to tell me that with the language, "I may not know everything, but I know enough."  I still make mistakes in Hungarian.  There are still words I haven't learned.  But I know enough to convert others.  I know how to share scriptures; I know how to share my testimony.  For the most part, I know how to understand and answer questions.  That is enough for conversion.  That is enough for me.  "I might not know everything, but I know enough."  Such a message couldn't seem to apply to me more.  So that is both my miracle and message.  In every gospel message you may hear, there will be something that you can learn and take away from it.  You might need to search a little more, or listen a little harder to find it, but that will not make it any less powerful.

Sunday, 13 May
Today was Mother's Day!  Happy Mother's Day, Mom!  I got to talk to my family for the third time on my mission.  It was great to hear their voices and hear that they're doing well.  In other news: it was also Elder Molnar's birthday (so I called and talked to him a little as well).  I'm sure his main present is getting to talk to his family.  Separately, the armies of ants in our apartment and kitchen are finally vanishing as I've continued to clean and use a very generous amount of ant poison.  Today was my first time attending church here in Békéscsaba.  So a few things about it: for the past nine months or more, no one has been able to play the piano; and they'd been singing along to CD's instead.  So, I'm reunited with my job as Branch pianist again.  Rumors I heard about the members here are true, in that as far as the branch goes, there are about twenty active sisters, but only one active priesthood holder.  He's a little outnumbered.  (And some people asked why the Church practiced polygamy in its early stages).  One of the two speakers today called us this morning an hour before church saying she wasn't coming.  So, Elder Vandermark and I quickly started outlining talks.  Church itself is only two hours here.  In Sacrament Meeting, Elder Vandermark gave his 15-minute talk.  I followed with mine, but half-way through, I strongly felt like I had said what I was supposed to, and that I shouldn't continue.  So, I didn't.  I skipped the second half of what I had prepared, briefly shared a part of my testimony and closed.  I still don't know why.  It would've been easy to just finish since I'd already prepared and outlined it.  But it just didn't feel right.  Some quotes from Brigham Young about that popped into my head.  I guess I did what I was supposed to.  My miracle today is my family.  I love them.  It's Mother's Day; I love my Mom, but I also love the rest of my family.  They are so supportive of my Mission.  They have done a great job raising me.  They have helped me grow, and while I've been out here I have continued to grow, and I've been able to see them grow.  Once again, I love them; they are the greatest blessing my Heavenly Father has put into my life.  (To anyone reading this:  Love your families.  Cherish them.  In the words of our beloved prophet, President Monson – "What is most important almost always involves the people around us. Often we assume that they must know how much we love them. But we should never assume; we should let them know."  Let them know.  They are important.  And they are Eternal.)

That's about all I have for now.  I'm pretty sure I'll have more things to write about next week.  I will talk to you all again then.


Shipp Elder

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