Monday, June 25, 2012

25 June 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Sunday, 17 June
Today included a lot of studies, which was nice.  During the two hours of Church, Sister Barnhart gave her last talk that she'll give in Hungary; I played piano for what may be the last time for this Branch; and Elder Vandermark and I taught Sunday School.  Transfer Calls will come tomorrow morning.  I have five Missionaries telling me that I'm leaving, and I think they're right.  If so, this will be my first "one and done" and the only time I will not have been in an area with the same companion for two transfers.  I'll probably go Senior as well.  My miracle today was that although I chose Hymn #152 "God Be With You Til We Meet Again" as the closing hymn for Sister Barnhart's last week, while playing I realized this might be the last time I see the members here.

Monday, 18 June
Transfer Calls came today and were full of surprises.  I’m leaving Bekescsaba and am going Senior with Elder Headrick as my Junior in Szombathely.  I won't be Branch President here, but will instead be serving in yet another corner of the country.  The other Elders from my MTC District all got interesting calls as well.  Elder Rosen left Nyiregyhaza after one transfer and is coming to take my place in Bekescsaba, and will be the next Branch President.  Elder Swett is staying in Szolnok, but will go from being Junior Companion straight to Trainer.  Elder Snyder's moved from Veszprem next-door to Szekesfehervar with a second Transfer, and is expected to be training soon.  These were President Baughman's last transfer calls.  For our P-Day, Elder Vandermark and I saw a castle, a fourth of a castle, and some castle ruins.  First, we biked out to Doboz.  There we saw a little, but cool looking, fortified church.  We called the number on the door and the owner's daughter came, unlocked it for us, and took us on a small tour inside.  We were able to explore all the little nooks and crannies, and go up into the bell tower.  Elder Vandermark and I then doubled back to Gerla where we saw 1/4 of a castle.  I say 1/4 because it was a very small mansion (smallest one yet), so it only counts as half, and we couldn't go past the front gate, which cuts it in half again.  After Gerla, we biked through a forest to get to Postelek, the castle ruins of the day, and the coolest ruins I've ever seen.  They were so cool, so large, and we had it all to explore for ourselves.  It completely made up for Gerla and was the best castle I've been to (with the exception of Buda Castle).  For Csaladi Est, we went with M and the Sisters to B's place to help with gardening, picking raspberries and zucchinis, and shelling two giant buckets of peas.  I was sweating all day long, and Elder Vandermark and I both got slightly sunburned.  Tonight, I actually don't feel too well emotionally.  I'm fairly certain it's from dehydration slightly, and in large part, from change.  Soon I will be changing cities, apartments, branches, districts, investigators, and companions.  Yet, I think the changes which are exhausting me the most and stretching me the most are the internal and personal changes I have been trying to make.  My miracle today is that we can change, we need change, and the one thing that will never change is that life is full of change.

Tuesday, 19 June
This morning, I was all packed by 9:00am (except for laundry).  We met with D, my last program in Bekescsaba with an investigator; followed by E, my last member program.  We then received a call from B that she would like to meet for 2-3 hours tomorrow night and learn all of lesson four in one day rather than the planned two or regular four.  She is hoping, and Elder Vandermark and I are hoping, that she will be baptized within the next three weeks.  We also went around the town looking at places and statues.  It was the hottest day yet on my mission: 111 degrees and super humid.  In fact, due to the humidity, I had to keep the two fans on my laundry from last night as, after twelve hours, they were still wet.  Luckily, a couple hours with the fans did the trick, and I finished packing.  This is my last entry from Bekescsaba.  I'm not sure if this transfer or last transfer went by the quickest, but this was definitely my fastest city.  Today's miracle was the Lord deciding that, although I don't know everything, I do know enough to go Senior.  I don't want to let Him down.  On to Szombathely!

Wednesday, 20 June
I'm on the other side of the country now.  This morning we got up early to catch the train.  Once we reached Budapest I met my new companion, Elder Headrick.  As always, there were a lot of Missionaries there.  Elder Wright, one of the first missionaries I really got to know or serve around, is going home.  On that note is something even weirder, and my miracle today.  With some counting and basic math, I was able to find that there are exactly 40 missionaries older in the Mission and 40 missionaries younger in the Mission today than me and my group (not counting senior couples).  We are exactly at the 50% mark.  By the end of this transfer, fourteen missionaries are going home and thirteen missionaries are arriving, which will put it at 53/26 (younger/older), putting my group almost perfectly in the top third.  In six weeks I'll be one of the "old" missionaries.  About Szombathely, I haven't gotten to see much of the town yet.  We had Angolora tonight (ten people came; four were members).  We also ordered pizza with the other Elders: Bullock and Loveday.  The apartment here is on the fourth and top floor.  It's bigger and nicer than all my past apartments, with the exception of Buda.  However, it is super hot with no A/C and only one fan for the whole apartment.  The Branch House here is a full-size, American-style, actual Church building.  That's it for today.

Thursday, 21 June
First full day in Szobathely.  This morning I continued unpacking; I cleaned part of the apartment, and spent an hour defrosting the fridge.  The freezer had layers of ice on both the door and the box, and Elder Headrick said they haven't fully shut the freezer in at least two transfers.  It can close now.  The freezer has a lot more space, but the fridge changed even more, with me melting and removing three pieces of ice, each bigger than my head (one significantly more so).  We also went shopping so I could have food to eat.  We spent over four hours streeting, during which we found an Eternal.  He's been an investigator since 1991, almost since the country first opened.  His brother's a member; he's met with missionaries throughout the years, speaks Hungarian, English, and German fluently, and has been to America twelve times.  He's also our neighbor, living only two buildings away.  It was interesting to street him.  Last of all, for my miracle, was while reflecting today, I realized that, while I have seen very little to almost no success tracting during my mission, it has been during those times when I've spent the most time and energy tracting, that the most investigators fell into my lap or appeared out of nowhere.  The Lord's ways and views are higher than our ways.

Friday, 22 June
We went streeting for several hours again and had five finds.  We met with A (my first program here in Szombathely).  She was baptized last month and we began reviewing Lesson Four with her.  We had a game night for FHE in the evening.  Today, for a miracle, I have chosen a part of our lesson with A.  It is obedience.  Thanks for it – for consequences when we do something wrong and blessings when we do something right.  Also, it is a realization that without obedience, the commandments would be useless.  People joke that "rules are made to be broken."  Yet the truth is the opposite: rules exist to be kept.  If no one followed them, rules (with the commandments included) would be completely worthless.

Saturday, 23 June
Today was filled with tabling.  We ran into a "Bible Hippie" who actually persuaded a couple past investigators to stop investigating the Church and avoid us.  We set up a program with him for next Wednesday morning.  We also talked to a Satanist.  He was super creepy.  We had a small meeting in the evening followed by a very unproductive Fiatal Est.  I ended up practicing the piano.  In the evening from our roof, we could hear a concert going on and see fireworks.  Today, the miracle is serving as Missionaries – not being Missionaries, but rather using our time and energy for two years to serve others and bring temporal and eternal blessings and well-being into their lives.

Sunday, 24 June
Today was the first time going to Church in Szombathely.  It's a large branch and there's a lot more families here than any other of my areas except Buda.  We actually have several priesthood holders.  Also, I ended up playing the piano again, but only for Priesthood.  After church, Elder Headrick and I went with a member to take the sacrament to an elderly member of the Branch.  We then went with the other Elders and had lunch with the S family.  On the bike ride back, Elder Loveday and I crashed on the highway when he tried swerving.  My bike is a bit messed up, but I'm fine.  I'm just super grateful that there wasn't a car within 5 seconds behind us, or that really could've turned out badly.  In the evening, I organized a surprise birthday conference call, got some other Missionaries on the line, and then called Elder Moffett so we could all sing "Happy Birthday" to him.  For my miracle today, I'm grateful that the bike accident wasn't worse; and I echo President Hinckley's gratitude for the women in our lives.

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