Tuesday, August 21, 2012

21 August 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 13 August
Today the four of us went to Koszeg, a small little city just a short train ride north of here.  There we walked all around the town.  The two highlights were the Jesus’ Heart Cathedral and a Castle.  It was at the Koszeg Castle that the Turkish invasion was halted and, eventually, repulsed.  It is in memorial to those events that the Savaria Carneval will be celebrated at the end of this month.  During our trip to the town, I took almost 100 pictures.

Tuesday, 14 August
One thing I haven’t really included in any past entries is that since President Smith replaced President Baughman, there have been several changes.  Some examples include rules on iPods, P-Days, Super P-Days, an increase in District size, District splits, and District meetings; and a reduction of Zone Leader and AP splits, trainings, and Zone Conferences.  Today we had a really empty day (up to 8 hours of finding).  We spent an hour cleaning our apartment.  I made 13 phone calls and we streeted and tracted for five hours, but we didn’t get a single program or find out of any of the three. 

In the evening we looked up a house where Elders Headrick and Remy quickly gave a woman a Book of Mormon two transfers ago.  Elder Alldredge and I biked out there and the woman that answered the door asked if we were Mormon and excitedly let us in.  In short, and in no particular order: they were super kind; the woman and her husband owned one of the two biggest houses I’ve been to in Hungary; only the wife was there at first, her husband later joined us; I also got to talk with their daughter for 5-10 minutes on the phone; the daughter has lived in Provo for three years; the parents have visited her there, and the Mom loves Utah, said that everyone was super kind and sincere, that the families are beautiful, and at one point said that after Szombathely, Provo is her favorite place in the world; she said she’s kept an eye out for Missionaries for over a year but has never seen any; the daughter has met (still meets with) the Missionaries, and the Mom knows a good amount about our Church; all three are open; the parents committed to start praying and reading out of the Book of Mormon; both the mother and the daughter offered to relay any messages to our families, and the mother offered us use of her iPad to text, email, or Skype our families if we ever want to in the future (not really possible, but still a really kind offer); also, lastly, the husband and wife said we are welcome to come over anytime.  Awesome!  Now, for the miracle of it all: as I said, or wrote, earlier the wife “said she’d kept an eye out for Missionaries…but has never seen any.”  They didn’t have a Book of Mormon, but accepted one and committed to read from it.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, the miracle is that we went to the wrong house!  We chose one house, just one out of thousands, trying to get to one, but went to a different one, and had an encounter better than we ever would have imagined.

Wednesday, 15 August
Another empty day.  We got dogged twice.  Went streeting, and got one find for a mother of two; but she actually lives in Pest, so I got to pass all her information off to Elder Headrick.  We also had plenty of time to go tracting.  We got one let-in; however, it was with a very scientific woman (almost atheist) who was very set in her ways.  Angolora was tonight.  Only one person in my class, and only three total.  My miracle is that our trials in life always cause reflection, and reflection is always necessary.  In addition, I had one idea for somewhere to go today; however we questioned it a little at first, and later, when the time came, we completely and entirely forgot it and could not think of it at all, even to the point where it became pointless and impossible to try.  I have taken that to be a fulfillment of the patterns of the Holy Ghost and the stuttering of minds it can cause when we follow false ideas.

Thursday, 16 August
Two cancellations today.  All of these dogs and cancellations recently have been frustrating.  However, we still had three programs with members today, all of which were feeding programs.  This morning we went over to X’s and I’s to help mow their lawn and weed.  After we finished they fed us lunch.  1 ½ hours later, Elder Alldredge and I ran over to K’s.  She also had a very large snack for us as we shared our object lesson.  Immediately after K’s program, we went over to have dinner with T and her parents.  It was the first time I’ve tried langos’s.  My first one wasn’t as great as I was accidently told that the salt was sugar.  The rest were much better.  I’m really tired tonight.  My miracle today is Hungarian history.  I learned the names of the chiefs of the original seven tribes that inhabited this land back during the time it first became a country: Almos, Elod, Ond, Kond, Tas, Huba, and Tohotom.

Friday, 17 August
I’m in Sopron right now and am on splits with my second cousin, Elder Bowen.  Jumping back to this morning, Elder Alldredge and I took a 7:00 train to Gyor, arriving over an hour before the Zone Training started.  So, we took that time exploring Gyor; finding the Belvaros, a castle/monastery, an obelisk; went on a river walk; then made our way to the Branch House.  This afternoon we had our first “Zone Training.”  While I much prefer “Zone Conference”, the shorter Training does leave more time for us to get back to our areas and work.  After the training (which was on Prayer), we began our splits.  Elder Bowen and I made it to Sopron in good time arriving around 3:00.  It was nice as it gave us enough time to go streeting, tracting, and take part in the Branch activity, each for nearly two hours.  The apartment in Sopron is huge and is super nice.  It is far bigger than any I’ve served in.  It is also on the fifth floor of a building, so it has a nice view.  Also, the Branch House is located on the third and fourth floors of that same building.  My miracle today is that the way we see and feel about our Missions reflect the way we see and feel about God and His work.  I have felt good about my Mission so far; my progress and success, both outside and inside.

Saturday, 18 August
This morning we postponed the train ride to split back until the afternoon, to give me and Elder Bowen, as well as Elders Alldredge and Abrok, time to study together.  Upon splitting back, Elder Alldredge and I received permission to go with the other Elders and a member to a soccer game here against the team from Gyor.  In the end if finished 0-0, which is by far my biggest problem with soccer: no one ever scores!  In the evening we played dodgeball for Fiatal Est.  Missionary work is going to be dead this coming week: Monday is August 20, one of the two biggest National Holidays; Thursday night to Sunday night is the Savaria Carneval, which is even bigger; and this whole week is the last week of summer before school starts and is predicted to be hot and sunny the whole week.  My miracle today is that I have decided to take a break from my MP3 Player and Ensigns, and give myself more time for silent meditation and to read the Book of Mormon.

Sunday, 19 August
Nothing special today.  Went to Church, did weekly planning, dinner at Szvobodas’, and made some calls.  Could not get a single program scheduled.  No one is willing to meet this week.  My miracle is that the ordinance of the Sacrament was more reverent and more spiritual today.

Monday, 20 August
Today was a Super P-Day, since it was also one of the two biggest national holidays.  Elder Alldredge and I left our apartment by 8:00 this morning and began biking out to various castles.  We did not return until 2:00.  First was one in Vep.  It had nice grounds, being surrounded by a peaceful forest; although, it did have a lot of bugs.  Something interesting about the castle is that it was actually located on a college campus.  The building itself was really similar to the one at Szabadkigyos near Bekescsaba.  Our second stop was Ikervar.  However, it was surrounded by a gate and walls, which were shut.  There are currently a couple rich families living there, and, while it was really big; the walls prevented us from getting any pictures or walking around it.  Sarvar was the highlight of the day.  It was a big, real, medieval-looking castle (similar to Koszeg and Gyula).  While it’s generally closed every Monday, we were able to get in thanks to the holiday.  While there, I bought some pieces of lapis and apatite.  On the way back we tried going to Vasszecseny, where we learned our map was inaccurate and that we’d need another hour detour to see the castle there (which we were too tired to do).  Some other notes about the trip are that in each town and village we visited or passed through, there were dozens of men and women dressed up going to church to celebrate Szent Istvan (Saint Stephen) who was the King that allowed Christianity within the country.  Elder Alldredge and I returned tired and sunburned.  It wouldn’t have been so bad, except that today became windy and we were pedaling straight into the wind the whole way back.  When we got back, the other Elders came over and we just lounged around and lazied away the rest of the day.  Out of all the Missionaries I’ve ever served with or around, only Elder Vandermark and Elder Reese really liked to travel and go see things on P-Day’s.  I’m looking forward to getting to email tomorrow.  My miracle was getting to ride through the Hungarian countryside today.  We saw storks (haven’t seen them since leaving Bekescsaba), tens of thousands of yellow Sunflowers, literally several to dozens of millions of pumpkins, and a drinking fountain (not at all common here in Europe).


Shipp Elder

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