Monday, September 24, 2012

24 September 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 17 September
Today I was the first one done emailing.  That’s pretty unusual.  All four of us spent a while cleaning our apartments, and then went to X’s for FHE and dinner.  The Meyers, a senior couple serving in the Freiburg temple, were there too.  (They were also at the Szvoboda’s last night).  We had a very, very American meal of sloppy joes, salad, root beer floats, and Oreos.  Today’s miracle is that although I know and can see so many imperfections in myself, I also know that one day each of those will be made perfect.

Tuesday, 18 September
We had Zone Training today.  Finding hours has been reinstated.  President Smith came and gave a presentation on the growth of the Church, and our Zone Leaders gave training on goals.  We had one cancellation, by a member again.  Our only program was Angolora.  No one came to Kezdo today, but there were eight in Profi and Halado.  My miracle of the day is from Bishop Rife: it is a spiritual reasoning that our God is a happy God.

Wednesday, 19 September
One cancellation today.  Went streeting and tracting with mild success.  We dropped by J’s and S’s to see if we could offer our help with anything.  They answered no and revealed that they’re not really interested.  However, a miracle today was that on the way out we saw their neighbors and talked with them.  They are Mongolian siblings, brother and sister, and were willing to listen and ask several questions about us.  The sister accepted a Book of Mormon, committed to read out of it, and we set up a program for next week.  My hidden or additional miracle today is that while we were streeting and tracting, I had the opportunity to talk to and get to know my companion, Elder Nabrotzky, better.

Thursday, 20 September
More streeting and tracting today.  Unfortunately no success.  Met with A and B today, and talked to them about Family History/Genealogy Work and conversion, respectively.  Elder Clavel is here right now, and Elder Nabrotzky’s in Papa for splits.  My miracle today is that I still haven’t missed a day on my mission with my journal writing.

Friday, 21 September
Today we were on splits with the ZL’s.  Elder Clavel and I went tracting.  Also, I spent a good amount of time practicing the piano as I was asked to play 10 hymns for a good portion of the Branch.  We met with a new investigator, Z, today (half-English program).  Our expectations don’t quite line up, and we can only hope that he’ll become interested in the gospel part.  I bought a second whip today.  My miracle is being able to play 70+ hymns.

Saturday, 22 September
I saw some deer today.  They’re pretty unusual here, so that’s today’s miracle.  We went up to Sopron today.  Elder Abrok and I had two programs and I interviewed one of their bapt dates.  She passed!  Trains stick on weekends since over half of them don’t run.  When we got back to Szombathely, we were taken out to dinner by President and Sister Smith.  They also brought the rest of my winter stuff up from Buda.

Sunday, 23 September
Today was a combined District Conference between Szombathely, Sopron, and Papa.  Despite our best efforts, none of our investigators came.  In the evening we had dinner with the K family.

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Monday, September 17, 2012

17 September 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 10 September
Transfer calls came today and surprised all of us.  I am the last man standing in Szombathely.  The other three Elders are all leaving.  Elder Alldredge is going to Sopron with Elder Abrok, Elder Bullock is going to Gyor, and Elder Haws to Buda.  Because Elder Alldredge will be in Sopron, he will still be in my District so I will see him each week at District Meeting and be able to go on splits with him.  On the arriving side, I will be receiving Elder Nabrotzky.  He is Elder Reese’s greenie who I mothered; is starting his 4th transfer, and has only served in the Buda companionship which Elder Reese and I opened.  Elder Masters and Elder Jones will be whitewashing the other companionship.  Also, Elder Carlsen became the new assistant.

In the evening we had a program with K and ate sandwiches.  K’s cat took a leak on Elder Alldredge’s backpack causing it to reek.  My miracle today is Elder Alldredge.  It was great to get to serve with him.  While I’m sad we won’t get a second transfer together, I am glad he’s still in my district and I’ll get to see what happens to him and how he likes serving with a Hungarian.

Tuesday, 11 September
This morning I gave Elder Alldredge plenty of time to pack.  We went and found some good ant-killer to get rid of all the ones in our apartment.  We also met with A, talked about the Atonement, and finally started talking to B.  We hope to meet with her in the future.  We finished our day with Angolora, in which I read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World.”  Transfers are tomorrow.  My miracle today is an experience from three years ago.

Wednesday, 12 September
Transfers were today.  We got up at 4:30 to make sure that we’d catch our train in time.  Hauling baggage (especially up and down stairs) is always so much fun.  Upon arriving in Budapest, Elder Nabrotzky quickly joined us; and he, Elder Alldredge, Elder Haws, and I set off.  We first went and found Elder Alldredge a ukulele, which he plans on playing a lot this coming transfer.  I then took the three of them to Vaci utca and Fuvamter (the two main souvenir places in the country).  I bought a couple of things, including 3-Player Chess.  The four of us then went back to the Mission Home and saw most of the other Missionaries.  In the late afternoon we caught our train-ride back.  We made it back with only 10 minutes to run to Spar before it closed to buy some essential food.  My miracle today is that I’m in double digits: Transfer #10!  So fast…

Thursday, 13 September
Today was my first day with Elder Nabrotzky.  We went shopping this morning and met with the other Elders for about an hour so I could tell them about the Branch and the city and the work here.  Today I also got several programs in Z set up for tomorrow.  In the evening we had our only program with D, who Elder Nabrotzky and I both taught while in Buda.  He has attended Church a couple times, one baptism, still reads and prays weekly (not daily), and recognizes answers and promptings to his prayers.  One time he prayed due to loneliness and then felt like God was there.  My miracle for today is that when I asked him about the baptism, he said, “Woah!  This is a power that could destroy the world in a second,” as a way to describe his feelings.  He said he’ll call us again the next time he comes up to Szombathely to visit his parents.  It was fun to get to see him yet again.

Friday, 14 September
We went to Zala today with Z.  Our first program was with Z.  She read out of the Book of Mormon, but said that even after re-reading a few sections it was still sometimes hard to understand.  We talked about prayer and how she can pray for help before and after to understand what she reads.  She also asked about what differences there are between our Church and other churches.  So we read through all 13 Articles of Faith together, talking about each one.  The program went very, very well and at the end she committed to come to Church.  We then met with the A family.  They had met with Missionaries in the past.  Within the first three minutes the wife said they are willing to talk and visit with us, but, as they have told Missionaries in the past, they have no interest in being baptized or in joining the Church.  The husband seemed like he would’ve been a lot more open if the wife wasn’t there.  In the end we only shared a spiritual thought before leaving.  After their family we met with Z.  We assisted Z in sharing a Home Teaching message.  I also anointed Z, and Z gave him a blessing at the end of our program.  Today’s miracle is that we barely caught the train.  The ticket checker saw us running out of the station and across the platforms and waited just after we got on before shutting the door.  If we had missed it, we wouldn’t have gotten back until 11:30.  Also, two other notes: Elder Nabrotzky had some very funny mistakes while trying to speak Hunglish today; and I learned I have the same birthday as Z.

Saturday 15 September (15 Months on Mission)
District Meeting was this morning.  We have a District that’s good at singing, and I finally found someone out here that can sing lower than I.  During the meeting, I led a training on the Book of Mormon.  It was fun to already see and talk to Elder Alldredge again.  We met with K.  Her husband was there this time and we had lunch again.  She once again started saying there weren’t any differences between our two religions, so, like with Z, we started reading the Articles of Faith.  Now she admits there are differences, just not important ones according to her.  Unfortunately, she didn’t read the Book of Mormon or the pamphlet we gave her, and rejected our invitation to come to Church.  After her program we had one cancellation and one dog, both by members.  In the evening Z called and said she can’t come tomorrow, but will come next week for sure.  At Fiatal Est we played American Football and Capture the Flag.  My miracle today is that it is time to write about my companion, Elder Brandon Nabrotzky.  He is from Ontario, Canada, is half French, and also of some Polish decent (“Nabrotzky” is a Polish name).  He’s in his fourth transfer, having served his first three in Buda.  He is the oldest of six children, having three younger brothers and two sisters.  He’s studied German, French, the clarinet, flute, and piano; and wants to be a music or language teacher in the future.  I’m tired and that’s about all I can think of for now.

Sunday, 16 September
Today two of the less-actives I contacted in Zalaegerszeg came to Church.  The secretaries asked me to collect addresses and contact information for 9 members, which was crazy to try to receive before any of them left after Church.  Today’s miracle is that I was able to take the Sacrament.

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17 September 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

With a member in Szombathely

Fuvamter (a large tourist store)

With Elders Nabrotzky and Alldredge in front of the Duna

Monday, September 10, 2012

10 September 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 3 September
Another pretty uneventful P-Day.  We went out and tracted for several hours in the evening.  My miracle is that I always have loved whenever it has been within my power to fulfill and keep any of the promises I make.

Tuesday, 4 September
Went on splits with Elder Bullock.  We went tracting and got one let-in.  In the evening we had Angolora.  Two new people showed up that I had invited.  Elder Alldredge gave the spiritual thought on families.  My miracle today is not a miraculous event insomuch as it is a reflection.  Lately I have had a couple moments in which I've questioned my views of some parts of the gospel.  Not my faith in it, or the truthfulness of it, but just whether or not what I believe or am expecting actually aligns with the doctrine of the Church in complete accuracy and harmony.  One example would be about the perfection we all try to aim for.  More often than not, I have looked at “perfection” as being able to not only do everything flawlessly, but to also do as much as possible at the same time, all perfectly and flawlessly, and often for extended periods without any decline, decrease, or break.  Now I'm not so sure that will ever, ever happen.  Even the Lord stopped to see "that it was good."  Rather, perhaps the Church and the gospel teach us to aim for more what I would call "precision" over "perfection." I'm not sure what I often aimed for exists, even in the eternal realms.

Wednesday, 5 September
This morning I planned our District Meeting and made two hours of calls.  Our only program was with K.  We went and did some look-ups.  My miracle is that my character has changed more in these last two transfers than I ever thought it would.

Thursday, 6 September
We're on double-splits right now.  This morning Elder Alldredge and I came up to Sopron to go on splits with Elders Abrok and Bowen.  Elders Bowen and Alldredge went out streeting and tracting while Elder Abrok and I made three hours of calls.  We then had a program with two of their investigators on Baptismal Date.  In the evening was Angolora, where I gave the spiritual thought.  We then celebrated Elder Abrok's birthday, which was yesterday.  My miracle is that in the apartment here I found more Ensigns, including a few special ones on Joseph Smith.  The reason I said it's a double split is that tonight the Zone Leaders came down, also to go on splits with the Sopron Elders.

Friday, 7 September
I'm back in Szombathely.  This morning was District Meeting.  I conducted the meeting, gave a training on Goals and the Key Indicators, learned the Sopron Branch has fallen to shambles (really, it's practically destroyed), and learned that the "golden investigator" Elders Alldredge and Bullock found on splits is actually just gay and seriously interested in both of them.  When we got back, we went straight to the shop and picked up my bike then headed to B's.  She fed us langos's, gave us a referral, and says there are a few others who might be interested and she'll try to have their contact information for us next time.  Our second program was supposed to be at her house.  However, when we csengo-ed (rang the bell) her, she picked up and started talking to us, but once she learned who we were, she hung up, as well as block our phone when we tried calling.  Family night was in the evening.  My miracle today is the relationship between God and life after death.  Plenty of people I have met have said God exists, but that there is no life after death.  I've found that a good question to think about accompanying this is "If there is no life after this one, if death is the end, why is God important?"

Saturday, 8 September
We did a bunch of old area book look-ups today, and scheduled an appointment with one of them for tomorrow.  At another looked-up apartment we met with J and S.  Since the Missionaries last met with them, they'd forgotten everything, even about the Book of Mormon.  They did remember one of the two Sisters had black hair, was named Angelica, and made brownies with them.  (They met with the Sisters eleven times in the past).  We completely reviewed the First Lesson, and gave them another Book of Mormon.  We focused and committed them to pray, read, and come to church.  They both said prayers during the lesson.  We also arranged for us to go there at 8:15 tomorrow morning to walk them to church.  Next, we met with A.  Elder Alldredge led a lesson on Prophets.  A really didn't know anything about Thomas S Monson.  She has her talk prepared for tomorrow.  At Fiatal Est we played soccer and basketball.  My miracle is that all the look-ups we've been doing met with the Sisters in 2006/07.  Almost none of them have been contacted at all in five years!

Sunday, 9 September
Well, to start things off, we went to J's and S's at 8:15, but she said her brother was admitted to the hospital this morning and they were going to go spend the day visiting him instead.  In church, both A and K gave talks on repentance and a foundation on the gospel, respectively.  Both were good.  This was the last day I'll see T for a while.  She left tonight to attend college in Szekesfehervar.  We went to our program that we had set up yesterday.  However she wasn't home and the husband made it very clear that he has no desire to meet, but said we can come back later this week when she's home.  We even got her phone number from him.  I went through a long list of members from a couple years ago with two members, and learned about some 20 less actives in the branch.  Transfer calls come tomorrow.  I think Elder Bullock's leaving.  My hair is still super short.  It's been nearly a month and a half, but it's still shorter than I would like.  Today's miracle is that during lunch some tomato sauce exploded, splattering all over.  Yet, while some didn't splatter far enough and other drops shot past me, not a single speck stained my clothing.  One part had a trail leading right up to me, and then stopped.

Monday, 10 September (Part 1)
Transfer calls came this morning.  I'm staying here, although the rest of my District is leaving.  Elder Alldredge is going to Sopron (so I'll still see him every week, as he's in my district), Elder Bullock is going to Gyor, and Elder Haws is going to Buda.  My new companion is going to be Elder Nabrowsky (Elder Reese's greenie, who took my spot when I left Buda.  This will be his second area).  Elder Masters and Elder Jones are coming here.  I've never been around either of them before.  However, Elder Masters only has two transfers left, so he's pretty old and I've heard a fair amount about him.  Also, I took his place when I went to Szekesfehervar.  Elder Jones is Elder Swett's greenie, and is known purely for his very bubbly, bouncy personality.  (He's probably one of the three, if not the most enthusiastic missionary currently here).  Elder Carlsen went AP to replace Elder Beaumont, and Elder Swett and Elder Beaumont are both training for their second time.  This is the first time I've been in an area for more than two transfers.  I've been able to see the numbers of this companionship increase two transfers ago from the transfer before I got here, as well as see them continue to slightly increase this last transfer as well.  Hopefully we can keep that trend going (and preferably speed it up a bit).  I'm excited to receive Elder Nabrowsky and to get to serve around him.  Lastly, I hit double digits: Transfer #10!  I'm getting old.... well, on to next transfer!

Other than that, things are moving along.  I'm happy that I don't have to pack today and tomorrow.  I'm also happy that I'll get to know Elder Nabrowsky better, and still be around Elder Alldredge.

Well, my companion needs to begin packing.  Remember to make each day be a little better than the last!


Shipp Elder

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10 September 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

Zalaegerszeg in time for the Egerszeg Festival.

Making our own hamburgers.

Monday, September 3, 2012

3 September 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

This week I don’t have any pictures to attach.  Sorry!

Tuesday, 28 August
We met with A today.  We helped her a little with a talk she has to give in two weeks; read part of D&C 20 together; and talked about the many priesthood offices and duties.  A has been in the hospital a lot recently.  Things are going well between her and B.  We hope to be able to meet with her in the future.

Wednesday, 29 August
Today we had three to four hours to street.  We finally made it on and around the island.  While streeting I had a tragedy.  Because we were out so long in the heat of the day, we stopped to get ice cream.  I got a nice chocolate covered one on a stick.  Three minutes later, tragedy struck.  Within two to three minutes, both the chocolate layer and the ice cream melted enough that the stick slid right up through it.  What a tragedy.  I lost half my 45 cent ice cream bar to the pavement.  Oh, what a terrible tragedy!  While streeting we had both a lot, and not too much success.  We successfully obtained eight different names and numbers.  However, only three actually live in Szombathely, so we had to pass off the information of the other five to other missionaries.  During Angolora tonight two new people came.  Lastly, a miracle: I have three new cousins.

Thursday, 30 August (One Year Mark in Hungary)
It’s been exactly one year since I first arrived in the country.  That is the miracle of today.  Today I was on splits with Elder Haws.  We met with K again.  Once again we were fed lunch.  The lesson completely fell through with her saying none of this is new or unfamiliar, and with her not wanting to talk about or watch the Restoration Film.  She, her parents, and her daughter are all practicing Catholics.  She believes that the main cores of our churches are the same.  She fails to see any importance in proper authority, but instead feels that Christ overcame everything and that faith and commitment in following Him is all we need. I’m afraid and fearful that we’re going to lose her.  I’m really hoping that a knowledge of the nature of the Godhead and importance of a living Prophet can reach her.  That’s my hardest struggle with the Catholic Church: some people only claim connection to it because of tradition, and then use that excuse to try to get out of everything; but also, on the other end, there are those who are Catholic, who truly desire to follow Christ and have His presence in their life, so they do what they can, and, to a degree, they receive some of the light of Christ in their life.  However, when you are already in the light it becomes harder to see additional brighter light than if you were just in darkness.  We also had one dog and two cancellations which gave me and Elder Haws plenty of time to street and tract.

Friday, 31 August
Today started out with District Meeting.  I lead a training on “The Warrior Part 2: The Armor of God.”  The Zone Leaders were also here and went on splits with the other companionship.  It rained all of today.  We had one cancellation, and spent the rest of our day working on and out of our Area Book.  A half-miracle today is I learned that between streeting, tracting, and tabling, I’ve gotten 41 names and numbers.  Only one have I met with twice (and then, they too stopped).  K, Z, and Z are the only ones I’ve met more than twice; all three were found by past missionaries.  I was just the one to look them back up and follow-up with them.  I hope and pray that out of the 41 and counting I’ve found and collected while here, some will be sought out by, and meet with, missionaries in the future.

Saturday, 1 September
It’s still raining.  We went to Zalaegerszeg today.  When we arrived, we found many stands along the main road for the “Egerszeg Festival.”  However, it wasn’t even a fraction of the size of the Savaria Carnival.  We met with Z for almost two hours.  The first part was around English, but the bulk of the time was on the Plan of Salvation and following up.  She had read out of the Book of Mormon a little bit each week, read the Restoration Pamphlet, prays daily, and prayed about Joseph Smith as well as the Book of Mormon.  She gets a good feeling and feels the Holy Ghost each time she prays, reads, and meets with us.  She feels she may have gotten her answer.  We talked about everything from the Pre-Mortal to Spirit World, and she committed to baptism, acknowledging that it’s necessary.  We can’t set a date yet due to how infrequent our visits have been.  I’m excited though.  In the evening we went tracting for a couple hours.  My miracle today is the Young Women’s’ program.  It has some really uplifting parts in it.

Sunday, 2 September
Fast Sunday today.  We had a good fast and testimony meeting.  The S’s daughter returned from her mission.  My miracle was a good fast and prayer.

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