Monday, November 26, 2012

26 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 19 November
This evening we spent 3 1/2 hours cutting and tying blankets to give to a hospital and orphanage.  My miracle today is my Dad.  Last night I bragged about my Heavenly Father, but my Father here on Earth has also given me so much.  He gave me life.  He's always been a great provider and an even better example.  He's loved my Mother as she deserves and has taught me many things in life.  He's always been a worthy priesthood holder, a covenant keeper, and the head of our home.  Isn't he a great Dad too?

Tuesday, 20 November
One dog and one cancellation today.  This morning we met with I.  We talked about Repentance for most of the lesson, but finished by talking about Abortion and Marriage.  We recommitted him to come to Church and learned that this week's Sunday School lesson will be on Marriage.  Perfect.  After the program we went with the Sisters to meet with the principal of the school where we teach.  It looks like we are going to continue teaching there.  In addition to the principal coming to the classes for the next week or two to make sure the students behave, we received permission to post anything we'd like on the bulletin board as well as bring up religious subjects within the classes.  (It sounds like this is a private school, not a public school).  Later we had a program with Z.  We talked about Faith and Repentance.  We found out his date went well and he got a job as a basketball referee (in addition to being a waiter).  He too recommitted to come to Church.  In the evening was Angolora, during which I taught the fourth and fifth Articles of Faith.  My miracle today is how the Gospel and Church have blessed my family.  I've grown up in the Church, being a member all my life, but it hasn't prevented me from seeing the differences it makes in family life.

Wednesday, 21 November
Someone dogged us for the third time today.  We had a cancellation as well.  We taught two classes at the school today.  It was a huge help having the principal there.  The students paid much more attention.  During the two classes our main topics were Families, Thanksgiving, and Love.  In the evening we had Seminary.  In other news, Elder Hunnicutt still cooks for the two of us on occasion.  (However, he and his cooking still haven't even begun to gain a glimpse of catching up to Mom).  Today's miracle is that missionary work and the Gospel are not at all new.  This is the restored Church of Jesus Christ, not the new Church of Christ.

Thursday, 22 November (Thanksgiving!)
One dog today.  We met with J today.  (E was away babysitting two of their grandchildren).  With J we discussed the Restoration.  He doesn't currently care to attend any kind of organized church meetings, however, he did teach us how to make nokedli (Hungarian noodles.  Not half as important, but kind of cool).  He has already read the first eight chapters of the Book of Mormon too.  After, we went directly to meet with B and Z.  Z is continuing to make commitments about praying, reading, and coming to church.  We also taught him the Word of Wisdom.  In the evening we went tabling with the Sisters.  Unfortunately, we didn't find anyone interested tonight.  My miracle today is Thanksgiving and gratitude.  I wish Thanksgiving, a holiday of gratitude "one of the noblest of virtues," was more widespread.  I'm thankful I'm able to be here.  While I'm sure I would've had a much fancier dinner if I were back home, it is worth being out here.  Yes, my Mission is worth more than pumpkin pie and I am grateful for it!

Friday, 23 November
This morning we caught an early train to Szeged.  At today's Zone Training I gave the Language Tip.  I'm almost the oldest in our Zone (only Elder Velasquez is older).  There were absolutely no announcements about transfers.  However, there were several announcements about new rules, such as wearing our suits every single day until next summer.  After the training, we began splits with the Zone Leaders.  Elder Hunnicutt remained in Szeged, while Elder Velasquez and I returned to Szolnok.  We had three cancellations today.  We still managed to meet with P.  We spoke of faith and the role of the Church.  It was nice to have Elder Velasquez there, and to teach with someone older than me.

Saturday, 24 November
One cancellation today.  We split back late morning and had a program with Zeno.  We talked about Baptism and the Church.  We challenged him to baptism, but he said he needs a little time and will give us an answer next week.  We tried our best to explain that we'd like to set a date out in the future to work towards, and that we'd be with him all along the way.  After, we went straight to meet with Z.  We found her off a finding sheet, streeted once 3 years ago.  We managed to have a program.  She has an apartment full of cats, and thinks the world will end on December 21.  Yet, since she last encountered the missionaries she has completely read through the Book of Mormon, cover-to-cover.  She also accepted nearly every commitment and challenge we offered.  (Not baptism, unfortunately).  The program and new investigator ended up being quite the surprise.  At the end of our evening we had a music night at the Branch House.  Hardly anyone came.  Z called to tell us he's been called in to work tomorrow morning and can't come to Church.  Elder Hunnicutt has been exhausted and crawled into bed to fall asleep before 8:00.  I found out my third suitcase has finally made it to Papa.  Now I just need to get it here!  My miracle today is our living prophets and apostles.  When meeting with Z, one of my main points in saying that the world is not going to end next month was that our Church leaders would've warned us.  There's no way the world could change too much or be destroyed without us being forewarned by the prophet.  It simply will not happen.

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Monday, November 19, 2012

19 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 12 November
Today I learned that B, back in Szombathely, has referred ten other people to the Missionaries since I left, and Elder Nabrotzky's already begun to meet with eight of them. Also, my miracle today is that two women approached me today in the Spar. At first they thought I was a worker, but realized I wasn't when they saw my nametag. However, upon beginning a conversation with them, I learned that neither of them was familiar with the Church at all. While neither of us had a Book of Mormon to give them, we did receive both of their information and a way to contact one of their husbands as well. This miracle only happened because we were obedient and dressed in our proselyting clothes on P-Day. Otherwise they wouldn't have approached us.

Tuesday, 13 November
Today we had one dog, one reschedule, but several programs. We met with a young man. We spent most of the time getting to know him, and then began the Restoration. He says he is busy this Sunday, but promised to come to church the following Sunday. Second was with I. E was also there and we spent an hour and a half just discussing faith. He too said he'll be coming to church next week.  In the afternoon we met with J and E for the second time. Once again they were very kind; but, more importantly, they kept the commitment to pray every night, as well as promised to continue praying nightly in addition to a reading assignment. Last was Angolora. I actually spent 30 minutes going over and teaching the first three Articles of Faith in both English and Hungarian, and the entire class said they wish to continue next time.  My miracle of the day is the closeness of J and his family. They are all on really good terms, and they spent time together every weekend.

Wednesday, 14 November
Today was a great day. We caught a bus, and then a train at 6:00 this morning. On the two rides, I was carrying a wooden katana to give to Elder Jones. I got some strange looks. Once we arrived at the Mission Home, I went to the Leadership Meeting. There we mostly talked about the two main jobs of a leader: to teach truth, and to invite. Following the meeting (which was led by our Area President, President Richards), we had a 4-hour Zone Conference with President Richards. Three main topics in the teachings were the Spirit, Covenants, and our Purpose.  It was a very uplifting and inspiring conference. President Richards is very scriptural. Afterwards I had quite the “To Do” List to do. I was able to try to do all 17 things, but was not very successful. There were 8 things I was hoping to be able to receive and only 1 was I able to get. Dah!  After the meeting and tasks were over, we came back to Szolnok and planned and made calls. My miracle today is that a General Authority asked me to extend, go home July 4 rather than May 23 as planned, and help with President Monson's announcement in “hastening on the work.”

Thursday, 15 November
Two cancellations and a dog today. Only one program went through which was with B and Z. We taught them a two-part lesson on the prophet, and the Sabbath day. At the end, they both committed to come to church, pray, and read the scriptures on Sunday. My miracle today is that I've begun memorizing several quotes. While doing so I've found several thoughts of various sizes related to the particular word choice in them. Two examples are: “When God speaks and we obey, we will always be right,” and, “When we want God to speak with us, we search the scriptures.” Both of these I began memorizing incorrectly at first. In the first, I started saying, “When God commands.” However, by using “speak” rather than “command” we can learn that all of God's words are eternal and important, and it doesn't need to be a “Thus saith the LORD!” commandment for us to follow it. In the second quote we see that “reading” alone is not enough, but we must “search” the scriptures. There are several others, but I lack the time to write them.

Friday, 16 November
Just like yesterday we had two cancellations and one dog. So, we spent two hours streeting and three hours making calls. (The calls were much more successful). That's most of what our day was.

Saturday, 17 November
So, good news to you, Reader! Well, maybe... I have a fair number of things to write about today. First off, on Wednesday I wrote that I wanted to extend and take the late transfer, changing when I would be going home.  Well, it has been announced that there will be changes made to transfers, so currently I have no idea when I will be going home or finishing my time as a full-time missionary anymore. Between all our teaching records and finding sheets, we have nearly 800 different names and phone numbers. Out of these, Elder Hunnicutt and I have called over 300 of them, with nearly 80 of them us having called multiple times. Today we had two programs. First was with A. He prayed daily and read the Book of Mormon since we last met. We taught him about the Restoration and committed him to continue reading and praying daily. Also, we've asked him and Z to begin having Family Prayers each morning. It is hard to meet with A mostly because he has school, followed by 4-5 hours of swimming, and then studies each day.  Our second program was with Z. He read Ether 12 and had 3 verses which really stuck out to him. We had a good program and discussion focused entirely around the Atonement. He said he'll come to church next week. I must admit that I am impressed he met with us today as within an hour after the end of our lesson, he said he had a date and school dance to go to. (If he was a woman, he'd never make it in time).  In the afternoon and evening we made calls for 3-4 hours (out of the 800 #'s). Today during studies I resumed marking all the scriptures that stood out from back when I read the Standard Works in 40 days. Now that I'm done with the Ensign's and Liahona's I can focus on going through the Bible again. Lastly, my miracle today is since I know I don't record my testimony as much as I ought to, I want to write down a piece of it: Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the Savior of the world, Redeemer of Mankind. He is the Living Son of the Living God who came down to earth to show us the way, atone for our sins and our weaknesses, to die for us, and save us from physical and spiritual death. He appeared to a 14 year-old Joseph Smith. He showed us how to live, and through His atoning grace He lifts us to follow that example, and lifts me personally that I might be here. And boy, am I ever glad and thankful of that. Anyone that searches for Christ can find Him. And anyone that searches to find His love and blessings in their lives will find many. I hope you will look for the happiness He has brought you and your loved ones. His love is sure.

Sunday, 18 November
I don't think today's entry will be as long as yesterday's. Today at church, we taught the priesthood lesson, and I was asked to play the piano and conduct (however, I only did one. I am not nearly talented enough to conduct music while playing). Out of our five investigators who had said they would come today, none showed up. Elder Hunnicutt and I planned for several hours. It looks like I'll have a lot to email tomorrow. My miracle today is that God is our loving Heavenly Father. I think that's a fairly good description: He's loving, and we can see and feel His perfect love for us in our daily lives; He's heavenly, divine, holy, and righteous; and He is our Father, literally being the father of our spirits and the creator of our bodies. Isn't He a great Dad?

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Monday, November 12, 2012

12 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Tuesday, 6 November
Today could’ve potentially been the busiest day of my mission, but it wasn’t.  To start, we got dogged three times and had four cancellations (one of which was because she lives in Debrecen).  However, we still met with I at 8:00 this morning.  It went well.  He gave us a referral, and we talked about temples and baptisms for the dead.  He said it is completely new and amazing and would like to learn whatever he is allowed to about Temples.  We also reviewed the Plan of Salvation, which he had almost entirely forgotten.  In the evening we had Angolora.  Halado class is still going strong.  Today was really cold and rainy.  The Sisters returned from Budapest this evening.  My miracle is that despite seven programs falling through today, the work here is still growing.

Wednesday, 7 November
The first thing I learned today was that Obama won the election.  Other than that, we had yet another dog.  We went to the school and taught two classes.  Fortunately it went better than last time.  In the evening we had Seminary.  Today I finished calling every single teaching record we have.  All that’s left in our entire Area Book are some finding sheets.  Today has an important miracle.  I found out that Elder Harvey from my MTC group is happily married!  Having not seen, talked to, or heard from him since he left, it was great to hear that he is doing well.

Thursday, 8 November
Today I was on splits with Elder Loveday.  The two of us met with J and E.  Both of them are super kind.  We got in a good discussion, and they actually fed us lunch as well.  I found them in the Area Book (just like all but one of our investigators here).  On their teaching record it describes J as one of the happiest men in the country.  I look forward to meeting next week.  Later I made calls for three hours, setting up another six programs.  It also gave me more time to talk with Elder Loveday.  My miracle, and my gratitude, is that all of my companions have been amazing and fun while still being obedient.

Friday, 9 November
Today was a crazy day.  It started with District Meeting… well, the journey to District Meeting.  This week we were holding it in Kecskemet.   We missed one of the two stops. Dah!  Once we finally made it and started District Meeting, we found ourselves short on time and we had to shrink our 1 ½ hour meeting to 45 minutes.  Afterwards, we split back and returned to Szolnok.  Elder Hunnicutt and I then had 3 programs.  First was I (different than Tuesday).  He is very, very talkative and very theoretical.  We are going to need a member’s help with him.  Second was I.  (Another new I.)  He spent 15 years in school studying Judaism and Ancient Scripture.  He’s interested in studying the Book of Mormon and actually seemed really promising.  It’ll be an adventure meeting with him.  He has a great knowledge of the Bible.  Last was P.  We talked about the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  He’s really big in comparing Hinduism to Christianity.  I took some more time learning about his personal religion and beliefs.  My main concern is how I can best help him develop faith in Christ, since he already has his own beliefs, with Christ not being one of them.  Luckily, he is still accepting commitments to read, pray, and to continue meeting.  My miracle is that at the end of our program, P said his first prayer to Heavenly Father (and he even made it slightly personal and closed in the name of our Savior).  While the outcome of our programs is uncertain, I do have hopes for it.

Saturday, 10 November
This morning we spent studying and cleaning.  In the afternoon a new senior couple, the Wiggins, came to inspect our apartment.  We passed and got Oreos.  We then attempted to go to Sport Nap for an hour, but it fell through.  We took a bus with the Sisters out to Ciblakhaza where we met with the S Family.  My miracle today is that Elder Hunnicutt and I have been breaking out the Christmas music.

Sunday, 11 November
Today in Church one of the speakers forgot to prepare his talk.  So, their solution was to have me give an impromptu one instead, which I did on the influence and example of our actions and words.  Later, we sang the funniest Hungarian hymn: “The First Noel.”  I say it’s the funniest because in the translation they change the chorus from “Noel” to the equivalent of “Christmas time, Christmas time, Christ-mas, Christmas time.”  I had a hard time not laughing as we sang.  It reminded me of District Meeting last year in Szekes when we sang it with the Zone Leaders, and Elder Braman blurted out, “This is sooo retarded!” which resulted with all of us laughing so hard that none of us could sing.  Anyhow, in addition to me having to give a 10-minute impromptu today, Elder Hunnicutt and I have also been put in charge of the lesson in Priesthood Meeting next week.  My miracle today is the generosity of my companion.  Today he volunteered to make five different cakes for five different missionaries in our Zone.  Also, this week we and both Kecskemet companionships all had the same number of programs.

There’s all that.  Now it’s time for the scattered ending.  Here are a couple quotes I found this past week: “The most important of all the commandments of God is that one that you are having the most difficulty keeping today.”  “No matter how briefly we interact with someone, we can leave a positive impression of the gospel and ourselves.”

This week Elder Hunnicutt and I saw 4 dogs and 9 cancellations, yet our work is still improving, and I’ve started having some of the best work this area has seen for a while (if I have heard and read correctly).  So, both of us are feeling pretty good about the work here.  On Wednesday we have a Zone Conference which our Area President will be coming to.  I look forward to getting to hear from him.  It’s nice and early though.  We need to leave our apartment around 5:45 in the morning.

That’s about all the time I have.  I love you all and will email you again next week.


Shipp Elder

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Monday, November 5, 2012

5 November 2012 Letter (Szolnok)

Monday, 29 October
First off, the coolest part of today: when we woke up, it was snowing; first snow of the season. That's today's miracle. During studies, I prepared tomorrow's training. I based it off of one of my earliest trainings of Promising Blessings. Later, I made a couple calls from the Area Book as Elder Hunnicutt and Csaba worked on designing a new flyer. Our night ended with Family Home Evening at the Branch House. I shared a spiritual thought focused around the story and symbolism of Lehonti.

Tuesday, 30 October
Early this morning we had an encounter with an investigator. We had a program scheduled, but he showed up and said he only had ten minutes, so we rescheduled after talking for five minutes. Two hours later we had district meeting. During our district meeting we decided on three district goals, and I gave my training. It was weird being the oldest there. It was also different to have half the Missionaries be Sisters, and to not have a Senior Couple almost acting as chaperones.  Later in our apartment we continued calling past investigators out of the Area Book. In the evening we had three programs. First was A. He already reads and prays daily which is wonderful. He's already half-way through Alma! We taught him the first half of the Plan of Salvation focusing on Adam and Eve. We challenged him to be baptized. He said the Elders had challenged him in the past, but he is from Yemen and would never be able to go home and his life could be in danger. I started touching on some of the baptismal interview questions, and he has a good knowledge of the lessons. More importantly he says he believes them to be true. He asked if it's possible to baptize him in secret. I'm still working on ideas for what we should do.  Next was Angolora. I taught the Halado class of six people. Usually I've liked Halado the least, but I have a good group here. Lastly we met with H. The program was short, but she committed to read and pray, as well as said she'll bring her daughter next time. Liking my Halado class is today's miracle.

Wednesday, 31 October
Today we were on splits with the Zone Leaders. My miracle is that I was with Elder Snyder, who I haven't really been around since the MTC. Our first program was with A. He had read the first 30 pages of the Book of Mormon. He actually didn't understand much, and had a lot of questions. We answered them the best we could. Csaba was also there to try to help. In the end we committed him to continue reading and begin praying daily. We didn't challenge him to be baptized (despite that challenging everyone on the first lesson was one of our district goals).  Elder Snyder and I made several Area Book calls as we had two phones, not just one like usual. We later went to Seminary, followed by being dogged by a member. So, we went and got pizza with the Sisters and Csaba. Happy Halloween!

Thursday, 1 November
Today was the Day of the Deads and an Extended P-Day. This morning I spent organizing my notes and folders. Around 10:00 we met Csaba at the train station and then headed to Kecskemet. Once we arrived, we wandered the city with the Sisters. Sister Kennedy gave us a tour explaining several facts about many of the buildings and monuments. She is probably the most knowledgeable Missionary I've met concerning their familiarity with their city. Later, the Szolnok Sisters, MacKay and Christensen arrived. All seven of us went to the Sisters' apartment to celebrate Sister Christensen's birthday (today). Elder Hunnicutt, Csaba, and I had to remain in the hall, but we pulled chairs and a table into the hallway and played card games. Later we had lunch, cake, and more games in the hallway with the Sisters.  In the evening we went to the cemetery for the holiday. It was fun to see all the candles and flowers on the tombstones again. The miracle I found today is the quality of friends I had back home.

Friday, 2 November
We had two cancellations, so we made several phone calls and cleaned instead. In the evening we met with P. He met with the Missionaries once in the past. We reviewed the Restoration with him. However, he has his own religion, believing that every church is true. He said he will read the Book of Mormon, but will NEVER-ever come to Sacrament Meeting. Strangely, when I told him that we hope he will choose to be baptized in the future, he was completely silent.

Saturday, 3 November
Our one program today actually canceled then called back, rescheduling for a couple hours later. In the afternoon we met with them. We helped one of them move, cut, and stack several logs of wood. We got back just in time for the Halloween Party. When we walked in, Elder Hunnicutt and I were the only ones in costumes. Lame! We played games for a couple hours, and at the end, the two of us and three members were the only ones that stuck around to clean. My miracle today is that two people that I called out of the Area Book came to the Halloween Party. They also committed to coming to church tomorrow.

Sunday, 4 November
This morning we had a correlation meeting. With us having had nine programs this last week, compared to the one program the week before; we had a lot more to talk about. The two new investigators from last night came to Fast and Testimony Meeting. They also said they'll be coming back next week. After church we did studies, planning, and I'm starting to catch something, so I ended up taking a nap. We're already at the end of the second week of this transfer. Things are zooming by.

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