Tuesday, June 12, 2012

11 June 2012 Letter (Bekescsaba)

Dear Family and Friends,

This week I hit an achieving mark for my mission.  On Thursday, I finished the final page of my first journal.  I am now onto the second of the three books.  It was slightly strange to finish it.  It's weird to think it contains over a year of my life.  I began it last year, and have only missed writing about 2 days (both of which were before my mission).  When I finished, I spent a while thinking back and being able to remember sitting at home, in the MTC, in Nyiregyhaza, at my desk in Szekesfehervar, in Buda, and now here in Bekescsaba writing in my journal each night.  This one book contains the first half of the tale of my mission.

Monday, 4 June
Today was a great day activity-wise.  This morning after taking care of Branch business, we went emailing. Afterwards, we met with the Sister Missionaries and biked out to Gyula.  On the way out, Elder Vandermark and I learned how to ride with no handlebars.  Once we arrived out there, we left our bikes and just walked around.  Gyula's a really small, but nice tourist town.  The balvaros is probably the best I've seen.  After a while of roaming, we found our way to Gyula Castle.  This one was an actual castle, and the second medieval-looking one I've seen (with Buda Castle being the first).  I loved it.  If I stay in the area, we'll go out there again next transfer as it was closed and we couldn't go inside.  After the castle, we resumed wandering around town.  We found a fountain you can walk under, which felt really good (as there was a mist underneath).  We finished our Gyula experience with a visit to the Hamburger Bar, and biked back.  Something about the bike ride I forgot to write is that the bike-ride only takes about 45 minutes, and half of it is through a path alongside a small river where you are surrounded by trees and bushes on both sides.  The bike ride itself was one of the most enjoyable parts.  My miracle today is that, in the end, all will work out.  With the Plan of Happiness, all will, one day, end well.  Our day today, like the path of life, ended with a blessing.  After everything was done, and we had made it back to our apartment, one of the biggest thunderstorms I've seen since being here started and continued all through the night, with flashes of lightning every few minutes, some of them waking us both during the night.  (I'm glad it waited until the evening to rain.)

Tuesday, 5 June
Four programs today.  First was with E about the temple trip.  Second was with E on the sacrament.  Our third program was with G on 1 Nephi 17.  Last was with B on Baptism and the Doctrine and Gospel of Christ.  She still very much wants to get baptized and is happy that we only have 3 or 4 programs left.  She'll probably be baptized next month.  We're praying for her.  My miracle today is that one day, at the appointed time, we will be judged by our Heavenly Father and will be granted those things "according to [our] wills, whether they be unto salvation or unto destruction."  It's up to us.  We have been given our agency and that will determine what kind of eternity we will ultimately receive.

Wednesday, 6 June
Three programs and one cancellation today.  D was first.  We went over 1 Nephi 1 with her, talked about her trip to Italy, and wished her luck on her big oral exam on Saturday.  We went to E’s again, and were able to get her registered for the temple trip.  M was last on endurance.  Today we also managed to get a good amount of flyers passed out and an advertisement in the newspaper.  I'm having trouble recognizing a miracle today.  The main thing coming to my mind is that E will get to enjoy some of the blessings of the temple, and that members who don't have a temple in their land can travel and attend ones in nearby or even distant lands.

Thursday, 7 June
Today was my last Zone Conference and interview with President Baughman.  We caught the train to Szeged early in the morning, then started with President Baughman's training on Leadership Principles, followed by Sister Baughman's on the commonality of sins which are committed by both disobedience and perfectionism.  The Assistants gave one on Finding, and the Zone Leaders finished with Teaching.  We made it back just in time for Angolora.  I tried to challenge all of my class to meet with us to learn the gospel, but none accepted the challenge.  My miracle is that the Spirit can work through all five senses: sight - visions and illusions; hearing - still, small voice/visions; touch - tingling or burning; taste ~ eh, speak by power; smell - some things just "smell" wrong or bad.

Friday, 8 June
My first entry in my second Journal!  Hopefully this journal becomes filled with things as meaningful to me as the last.  Today we spent up in Pest.  We took an early morning train and were joined by Elder Swett and Elder Wright in Szolnok.  Upon arriving we made a few shopping detours before being joined by Elder Wiscombe, Elder Carlsen, and R.  After that we just walked and talked with R, mainly about his wedding, our reason for being up there.  R is from France, but served his mission here in Hungary, and was companions with Elders Vandermark and Wiscombe (R was his trainer), and served around Edlers Wright and Carlsen.  He was engaged, and is now married to a member here.  The actual wedding happened around 12:30.  (The ceremony lasted only ten minutes.)  It was a really interesting experience.  It was the second wedding ceremony I've ever been to, with the other being one of my aunt's.  All the music I recognized from the Bella Tuscany Symphony, and the song during the actual wedding was Pachelbel’s Canon in D.  It was an interesting thought to suppose that I could still be a missionary when Elders Vandermark, Molnar, and Moffett all get married.  R finished his mission the day I arrived in the country, about nine months ago, and all of them will have been home for nine months before I finish my mission.  It's definitely possible.  After the wedding, we went and got lunch with E from Nyiregyhaza, and I took some time there to write a short message and testimony in my Hungarian copy of "True to the Faith", which I gave to the ZL's to give to Elder Reese, to then give to S at his baptism tomorrow.  My miracle today is that although I haven't been able to see any of my investigators being baptized, the third one is about to.  I have now, however, had the opportunity to see a marriage and the start of what will be an eternal family on my mission.  Lastly, today was Sister Baughman's birthday.  I'm thankful for all she does for us, as well as all the love and support she gives President Baughman.

Saturday, 9 June
Three programs today.  First was with E.  Second was with M on the story of Nehemiah.  Last was G, talking about King Lamoni's father.  Today was ridiculously hot, and we literally fulfilled the Lord's words to Adam, "by the sweat of they face shalt thou eat bread."  We were sweating all right.  In the evening there was a big thunderstorm.  However, the first hour it was just lightning from cloud-to-cloud with neither thunder nor rain.  However, later it did end up raining hard.  S was baptized today.  Yay!  One of my investigators has been baptized in each area I've been in.  My miracle today is the Word of Wisdom that not only helps improve health, but causes me to avoid being drunk or hung-over.

Sunday, 10 June
Thunderstorms continued today (rain has been on and off).  Our only program today was church.  The Zone Leaders, Elder Nealy and Elder Moffet, came and were our two speakers in Sacrament Meeting.  My piano playing is continuing to progress, although not as fast, as I haven't had much time to practice recently.  My miracle today is water.  Today it is as necessary as it ever has been, but it's so much more convenient and accessible.  We no longer have to walk one or two miles to a stream or well and haul back buckets to get it.

That's all I have for this week.  Went to a wedding, S was baptized, and also had Zone Conferences.  Quite a decent week.  Email you all again next week.  I look forward to reading all of your emails.

Sok Szeretettel,

Shipp Elder

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