Monday, October 29, 2012

29 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 22 October
Transfer calls came this morning. Parts of my predictions were right and some were wrong. I am indeed leaving and the other three Elders here are staying. I will be going to Szolnok to serve with Elder Hunnicutt. I will finally be near Hortobagy and have a chance to go there. Other changes are that Elder Nabrotzky is going co-senior with Elder Forsyth (despite being in their 5th and 10th transfers, respectively), Elder Headrick is training, Elders Rosen and Snyder both became Zone Leaders, and Elder Pendleton has been called as Secretary.  This afternoon, nearly everywhere was closed for the holiday tomorrow. I called a couple members and investigators to say “good-bye.” In the evening we had Family Home Evening with the K Family. My miracle is that during the past week the K family went with a couple other Hungarian members to the Freiburg Temple. It was important to the K family because, in preparation for his mission, B was receiving his Endowments. While there, President Monson walked in. They all had the opportunity to shake his hand, talk to him, hug him, or all three. B spoke to him for a while and said he feels like that was a great confirmation about his choice to serve a Mission. Tomorrow's my last day in Szombathely and with Elder Nabrotzky! Crazy!

Tuesday, 23 October
Today is a National Holiday in celebration of the revolution against the Soviet Union. This morning I listened to Elder Holland's talk from this last conference. When he talked about the Apostles returning to fishing after Christ's death, it made me think of the guy who yelled in my face on Saturday. If the apostles weren't quite sure how to react to our Lord's death, I guess it would only make sense that there are some people today who just don't understand either. Anyhow, it was a really powerful talk.  We met with both K's today. K fed us again and we were able to spend 45 minutes just reading the scriptures with her since she didn't read them on her own. We later visited with K and shared a spiritual thought. Lastly, we swung by the Branch House so I could say “good-bye” to five other members. My miracle today is that I'm leaving my first city as Senior, and that the work gradually increased all three transfers that I was here. On to Szolnok…!

Wednesday, 24 October
Transfers were today. I am now in Szolnok with Elder Hunnicutt, but first, back to this morning. When we arrived at the Keleti Train Station - looking around at the other Missionaries - I realized that out of the 18 of us there, I was the oldest! Later, two older Missionaries came, but that was it. I'm getting old in the Mission. While waiting at the train station, I spent quite a while talking to and getting to know Elders Hansen, Mullen, and Hunnicutt, my new companion.  Around 2:00, we all split up. Upon arriving in Szolnok, we dropped of my bags and went straight to the Branch House. At Seminary I had a small chance to meet eight of the members. When we returned I began cleaning, vacuuming, and unpacking. I have everything unpacked, but still some cleaning and organizing to do.  I am already beginning to like this city. We have a good apartment, are close to a fair amount of things, and I have a good companion. I'll write more about Elder Hunnicutt in a day or two (as usual). He's already been more mature, and really nice to me. I look forward to serving with him. On a miracle note, the Sisters here are on fire. They have two baptisms arranged for this Saturday, and tonight they scheduled another for December. Well done Sisters!

Thursday, 25 October
Couple things today. First, something I forgot to write in the past is how well we got patriotic songs stuck into Elder Nabrotzky's head. Every day for almost two weeks he would wake up with, and throughout the day have, “God Bless the USA” stuck in his head. Today we went to a school and joined a couple classes for 3 hours. The second class went really well. It was the youngest group, but the most open and the only one I really look forward to returning to. The last and oldest group was a joke and pretty disrespectful. Afterwards we went streeting and tabling with C for several hours.  My miracle today is my companion, Elder Hunnicutt. He is in his 4th transfer, having served two in Erd with Elder Runnells and Elder Swett, and two in Szolnok, one with Elder Pendleton and now one with me. Elder Hunnicutt is super nice. He has two older brothers, is from Texas (but also lived in California, Washington, and New York), says “y'all,” and likes video games and card games. He also lived with his grandparents for a couple years to help take care of them.

Friday, 26 October
Today I began working on the Ward List and the Area Book. The Ward List is much smaller than Szombathely's, shrinking from 16 ½ pages to 1 ½ pages. Elder Hunnicutt made lunch for both of us today. He really enjoys cooking. We had a program with C this afternoon and challenged him to read the Book of Mormon straight through for his first time. We then went streeting with him.  In the evening we met with G and D. I also planned out the agenda of District Meeting. My miracle today is that I am getting to know many of the members, their faces and names, really quickly here.

Saturday, 27 October (500th Day as a Missionary)
This morning, following studies, I cleaned half of our apartment. Elder Hunnicutt cooked lunch again. The main events of today were two baptisms. A and Z, investigators of the Sisters here, were baptized in a hotel in the city around 4:00 this afternoon. President and Sister Smith were there and I had the opportunity to talk with them and ask President two thoughts on my mind.  After the baptisms and talks, there was a linger longer at the Branch House. There we all talked, ate, and visited, giving me more opportunities to get to meet members. Today's miracle is that at both the baptism and linger longer, A and Z both seemed to be welcomed, accepted, and fit right in alongside everyone. I'm tired. I'm glad the clocks all fall back one hour tomorrow. I'm looking forward to that hour of sleep. It will be heavenly.

Sunday, 28 October
This morning began with an early Ward Council Meeting. Following the meeting, I pulled E aside and asked him to help me go through the lists of active and inactive members I'd collected. That was a huge help. We then had the rest of Church. Elder Pendleton came back from Buda to do A's confirmation.  After Church, we came back to our apartment and did all our studies, followed by scheduling and planning our week. I've already called eight of the fourteen inactive members in the Branch. Two told me to call back later and only one was willing to meet this week. In the evening, I got to spend two hours on the phone fulfilling my District Leader duties. Since I've gotten here to Szolnok, despite our lack of programs, things have been so busy. This week has been one of the busiest weeks of my Mission. Once again I walked into a dead companionship, and I have work to do to build up the work. I'm sure tomorrow will also be a full and busy day. Today, the miracle is that Elder Hunnicutt and I are already getting along well. We seem to be more similar than either of us thought at first.

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29 October 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

My Szombathely Group before we split!

Elder Nebrotzky used a roll of butcher paper to try to make it so I couldn't leave!

Elder Hunnicutt, my new companion in Szolnok.

Monday, October 22, 2012

22 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Tuesday, 16 October
We started our day with studies and a quick cleaning of our apartment.  We had to go shopping today as the stores were closed yesterday.  We met with an inactive family.  They originally met the Missionaries twenty years ago, and one of their daughters is currently serving a Mission in Finland.  After their program, Elder Nabrotzky and I played and sang Hymns (including some patriotic ones) at the Branch House until Angolora started.  My miracle is that while it rained today, we were greatly blessed with our weather yesterday at Sumeg.  Yesterday's sunshine was much brighter and warmer than all of last week or what any other day this week is forecasted to be.

Wednesday, 17 October
Only one program today which was with K.  We're starting to progress finally.  It's taken longer than usual, but we're finally starting to understand one another better and be able to talk about the gospel.  Today we were even able to fit in the entire Plan of Salvation from start to finish.  One thing I've learned on my Mission is that most people of other faiths believe that The Plan ends with the Spirit World.  Their belief is that after this earthlife comes the Resurrection, Judgement, and then Spirit Paradise or Spirit Prison.  With that picture in mind, there would indeed be no way for those who died without knowledge, without faith, without baptism, or without repentance could be saved.  But our God is more loving than that.  Spirit Paradise is not "heaven," and Spirit Prison is not "hell," and the judgement cometh not until after every soul has been given opportunities to receive light and accept Christ.  Anyhow, jumping back to today, we were very happy about the program.  Our other would-have-been program with a member dogged.  So, we made calls instead.  Lastly, today's miracle: as we were riding back after being dogged, Elder Nabrotzky and I were having a slightly pessimistic conversation about the work.  As we were talking, a member zoomed by on his bike shouting, "Remember… the Book is blue, and the Church is true!" then took off.  We don't know if he knew what we were talking about when he shouted that, but we thought it was funny enough to end our conversation.

Thursday, 18 October
This morning I spent planning out District Meeting.  I also tried calling Z again.  We have been calling Z every week trying to set up with her, but she has been in Gyor the past four weeks taking care of her Mother.  I would've loved to have gone to Zalaegerszeg to meet with her every other week if we had had the chance.  We had four programs today.  First, we met with B and D.  We talked about Alma 32 and read part of it together.  B committed to read 3 Ne 11 and to come to church this week.  Our second program was with Z.  It was mostly Gospel with little English.  He read Mosiah 27 but was confused by it, so we talked about it and committed him to read the prefaces.  The third program was a referral arranged by a member.  We met with a man who, for the first 40 minutes, talked about all his problems with the scriptures, with clergy, or any kind of organized religion.  It was impossible to get a word in and very contentious.  However, somehow, miraculously, I was able to gain everyone's attention and read the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses, with it somehow remaining silent the whole time I read.  After, I talked of the millions of other witnesses of the truthfulness of the gospel and added my own.  That was the first time I have ever used the Testimony of the 3 Witnesses in a lesson like that.  It would appear as though there is indeed a good reason why their testimony is right after the Introduction in every single Book of Mormon.  After that, the entire spirit of the lesson changed.  During the last 10 minutes, we were able to give him a Book of Mormon, commit him to come to Church, and say a closing prayer.  After the closing prayer, he was crying.  He asked us why he felt the same as when his wife died.  He described it feeling like his heart was warm, but more than just his heart, but his whole chest, and more than just warm, but he said a strange feeling.  We told him it was the Comforter, and it meant he was closer to God.  What a great ending!  Our last program was with B.  We had another feeding program.  We talked a lot about prayer and her son.  I asked her when the last time he heard her pray was, and then, when the last time was that he heard her pray specifically about him.  We also talked about his twelfth birthday coming up this next week, and what we can do, and what we could ask other branch members to help do, to get her son ready and worthy to receive the priesthood.  I plan on asking our branch leaders at church on Sunday.  In the evening, we finished our day with calls and updating teaching records.

Friday, 19 October
Today we were the victims of a series of unusual events.  On our way over to District Meeting, my bike seat broke off.  Then we received two calls from a private number, but no one was on the other side.  After the second call, for the first time on my mission, someone chased us down on a bike shouting, "Elnezest, elnezest! Mormonok! Mormonok vagytok?" (translated to "Excuse me, excuse me! Mormons!  Are you Mormons?").  He said he was interested in meeting sometime and had two nieces who would be interested in Angolora.  After talking, he crossed back to the other side of the road and took off.  An interesting miracle encounter.  At District Meeting we analyzed D&C 4 together.  Afterwards we went to get my bike seat fixed.  On the way, we saw a Neni lying on the road who had fallen off her bike.  A man helped her up and she started walking home leaning on her bike.  Elder Nabrotzky and I hopped off our bikes and I asked if I could help.  She said "no" and kept walking a few steps then fell forward, faceplanting it onto the asphalt.  I called the ambulance, and then handed the phone to someone nearby so they could better explain.  We remained with her until the ambulance and the police arrived.  After we got my seat fixed and then got dogged.  We met with K, talked about peer pressure, and then headed to Sopron.  There we met with J and B, and I did J's baptismal interview.  Like B, she did great. 

Saturday, 20 October
Back in Szombathely today.  We had Fiatal Est in the evening.  This entry will mostly be scattered notes.  For the first time, today I had someone scream in my face "Christ is dead!  He died!  Get it?  Christ is dead!"  It was quite disturbing and something I never care to have happen again.  My miracle today is that this transfer Elder Nabrotzky and I achieved both our District and Zone goals.  Lastly, some thoughts about transfers.  36 hours until transfer calls.  I have 5 out of 15 left.  I'm pretty sure I'm leaving and the other three elders are staying.  I've really enjoyed serving with Elder Nabrotzky.  I wouldn't mind staying here in Szombathely for a fourth transfer.  We'll see what happens.

Sunday, 21 October
Today at church I talked to a lot of the members.  It could possibly be the last time I see them.  We went to the S's for lunch today.  Afterwards we did some studies, planning, and then had a silly night with the other Elders.  This morning I woke up with, and have had since, an eye infection.  It's annoying, but leads me to a miracle on sight: glasses and contacts.  It's nice to be able to see better most the time rather than walk around blind.

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Monday, October 15, 2012

15 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Tuesday, 9 October
It was cold today.  Today Elder Nabrotzky and I tried something new: “For the Strength of Youth” tabling.  No one was interested and we only got a bunch of strange looks.  We joked about making a “Chastity and Virtue” display to really shock the Hungarians.  Today we cleaned our apartment, and in the evening we made a few silly videos; and I had the stereotypical miracle of not being able to find something, praying, and then finding it.  With my camera, I have two memory cards.  The spare I had kept next to my camera in the case.  This afternoon, it was not there.  Upon finding it in the evening within two minutes of praying for help, I was able to figure out what had happened.  While we were tabling, I wanted to get a picture of the display.  As I pulled my camera out, the card slid out with it onto the ground.  The only reason I still have that card, part of the miracle, is that out of all the places it could have fallen, it fell into the box of Books of Mormon we had on the ground.  Anywhere else it would’ve been left in the Foter.  The fact that it fell into the box and that I found it after praying, were tender mercies in my eyes.

Wednesday, 10 October
It was cold again and rained today.  Luckily, this morning our landlord came and turned on the heater.  We had three programs today.  First was with K.  We read “The Family: A Proclamation to the World” with her and talked about eternal families.  We also gave her “The Living Christ” to read before next time.  Our second program was with Z.  It was half English-half gospel, and we talked about Alma 32 and faith.  Our third program was with A.  All four of us Missionaries were there.  We talked about the afterlife.  My miracle today is my Dad.  In addition to being my Father, he is a great provider, mentor, and example.  He has done a great job in teaching me and my siblings.  We’ve always held him in high respect as the head of our household, and he has met that responsibility well.  He has always been someone I could look up to.  And most importantly, he has loved my mother well.  I love him!

Thursday, 11 October
Elder Nabrotzky and I had three programs today.  The first was with B and D.  At the end we talked about the Book of Mormon and challenged them to come to church.  Our second program actually called and set up with us.  Upon meeting, we realized he was also meeting with the other companionship, which made it a little awkward at first.  However we talked about the love of God, the tender mercies of the Lord, and the blessings in our lives.  At the end, he also committed to come to church as well as to pray every night during the next week.  Our last program was with B.  We talked about her mother for a while and ended with a lesson similar to L’s (our second program), and we talked about our blessings.

Friday, 12 October
Today, we had hardly any downtime.  We left our apartment by 6:30a (having got up around 5:30a), and didn’t return until 10:20p.  Today started with Zone Training in Gyor.  The Assistants gave a training on Unity.  Following the AP’s, the Zone Leaders gave trainings on Commitment and Baptism.  Upon getting back we went over to a member’s house and spent the next 5 ½-6 hours helping him move.  For the most part it was the four of us and Z, with C joining in during the second half.  While travelling, Elder Jones’ bike pedal broke off and Elder Masters found a funny way to continue to ride it.  My miracle is that I had a rather trivial choice between something right and something wrong.  While it likely would’ve had hardly any large consequences despite whatever choice I might’ve made, things happened that caused it to be postponed until it was much easier and I had already decided on what to do.  I wish any temptation could just be postponed until a spiritual high, and then come when it’s not even a challenge.  Also, on a final note, I started toying with an idea today of a spiritual thought: “The Angels in Our Lives.”

Saturday, 13 October
We went streeting, worked on the Area Book and made several calls today.  During Fiatal Est we were able to get Elder Nabrotzky to sing some Patriotic songs.  My miracle today is that, in the past, we found someone who only speaks Chinese and very, very little English, and today we were able to give her a Chinese Book of Mormon.

Sunday, 14 October
Today was Fast Sunday.  I’m still playing the organ every week in Priesthood, and today I played for Sacrament Meeting as well.  After church we had lunch with a member.  My evening was ridiculously stressful.  I spent over an hour and a half in phone calls: calling the Zone Leaders eight separate times, the Assistants, President Smith three times, and the Elders in Sopron over ten times.  I finished with (and still have) a killer headache.  We were trying to fit two splits, a District Meeting, a trip to Zalaegerszeg, one to Papa, and another to Sopron for a baptismal interview, all into less than a 36-hour block.  In the end, and to my relief, we cancelled both splits and the trip to Papa.  My miracles are that we had s’mores today, and both pairs of my shoes are still in good shape.

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15 October 2012 Pictures (Szombathely)

The main entrance to Sumeg Castle, with guard dogs up on the wall.

Sumeg Castle stocks.

Escaping Sumeg Castle prison.

Inside Sumeg Castle.

Monday, October 8, 2012

8 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

This week I decided to write about many of the benefits and changes I have experienced and noticed during my mission.  (I’m sure there are many that I haven’t noticed as well).  While there might be too many to list, and while there will definitely be some I forget, I hope the email from this week will help you see some of the many personal benefits one received by serving a mission (granted, some of these might not apply to everyone, such as a second language).

On my mission, I have learned how to better plan.  I’ve always considered myself a fairly effective planner, but on a mission, one becomes concerned daily about making sure that one remembers everything, and doesn’t miss or postpone anything important.  I have developed many healthy habits, such as learning better cooking and laundry skills.  On a mission one makes and breaks many habits.  I feel that each missionary comes on their mission with some habits they wish to get rid of, and on their mission tries to replace them with better routines.

I have learned how to better deal with stress, and cope while under stress; as well as how to reduce it.  I have become a better budgeter.  On a mission, one deeply studies all of the basic gospel principles and fundamentals.  As you teach them every day they become engrained in your mind, heart, and soul.  You learn how to teach each them simply and clearly, and as you do so, you learn how to embed them into your life with that same clarity.  On my mission, I have better learned how to study.

I have also become more appreciative of friends and family.  (“Absence [does indeed] make the heart grow fonder”).  I have learned how to be stuck to someone 24/7 and have good teamwork with them, communicate better, increase my social skills, and have prepared to one day be a better spouse and parent.

I have learned a second language; had my testimony strengthened; and increased in knowledge.  I have had a shift in values, the many of the earthly, temporary things losing their attraction, and eternal things increasing in status.  I have moved out of my comfort zone time after time again, stretching myself.  I have learned how to appreciate a fully operating Ward and Stake.  I have seen differences between our Gospel and the other churches of the world.  I have learned how to better prioritize and spend more time on those things that matter most.  I have also learned how to better serve others.

I have learned “why every young man should serve a full-time mission.”  As one serves a mission, they come to realize that there is great “worth” in being “worthy”.

Due to the events of these past two days, aka General Conference, I must write that I had already decided to do this and thought about this throughout the week.  It was a great surprise to me, as I’m sure it was to everyone else in the world, to hear about the change of the age-eligibility limits of missionaries.  I guess now this would also apply a lot more to both genders.  The change in missionary age limits has already begun to affect my life in a very personal way.  Already I am hearing of some of my female friends seeking out calls to serve.  For any that do, it will be 3-4 years before I see any of them again…  That missionary communication gap just doubled.

In conclusion, I would re-emphasize that a mission, just like the gospel, isn’t just about doing, it is about becoming.  And my mission really has proven to me that it has been the “best two years for my life.”

That’s it for this week.  If any of you need anything in the meantime, “Ask the missionaries… they can help you.”

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Thursday, October 4, 2012

1 October 2012 Letter (Szombathely)

Monday, 24 September
My miracle today is that yesterday was the dedication of the Brigham City Temple.  In the evening we went to Family Home Evening with the T family.

Tuesday, 25 September
Today we went tabling and were met with a fair amount of success, having five people who were interested approach us.  We dropped off some items at a member’s house, and then went tracting.  In the evening we had Angolora.  We’ve started having more and more moral discussions.  My miracle today is the Atonement, because nothing is more of a miracle than that.

Wednesday, 26 September
All four of us here in Szombathely met with a member today.  We also went Home Teaching with C again, set up a meeting with a new less-active (new in the sense that no one’s met with her in almost a year), and took my suit to the dry cleaners (it’s much needed).  My miracle today is that I have had way more feeding programs here in Szombathely than anywhere else.  (Nyiregyhaza is the only one that even comes close and only because of M.)

Thursday, 27 September
Today I was on splits with Elder Jones.  This morning I prepared my training for tomorrow’s District Meeting.  We met with K, but our program was limited to 45 minutes, so we didn’t get in the lesson we wanted on the Plan of Salvation.  We also met with B and talked about Obedience.  We were fed at both programs.

Friday, 28 September
This morning we had our District Meeting.  I gave a training on Sacrifice.  Elder Nabrotzky and I went tabling after and biked back out to Tesco so I could return some things and pick up my dry cleaning.  In the evening we played ping-pong for Csaladi Est.  My miracle today was a fun musical number in our District Meeting in which Elder Alldredge played his ukulele and sang “A Child’s Prayer.”

Saturday, 29 September (2/3 done with Mission)
Today we would’ve gone to Zalaegerszeg, but both of our programs cancelled and the one other potential didn’t pick up.  So, we did more tabling today.  In the evening we played Ultimate and Soccer for Fiatal Est.  My miracle today is that I finally got a hold of an inactive member who is willing to meet this next week.

Sunday, 30 September
Today, during Sacrament Meeting, all four of us Missionaries sang.  We also received some of the Conference Flyers.  Something I forgot to write is that last Thursday night Elder Nabrotzky and I decided to spend this next week advertising General Conference as much as possible.  My miracle today is that although our numbers for this week were ridiculously low, I know that’s not what matters to the Lord.

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