Saturday, April 27, 2013

27 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 20 April (600th Day in Hungary; Two Months Left)
Another P-Day. We met with a man named V from English Class, but during the lesson he repeatedly expressed his lack of interest in religion, so we won’t be setting up with him again. Later, Elder Loveday and I explored the entire mall. In the evening, the two of us went up to Buda Castle. It was really cool and my first time to go up to Buda Castle at night time. I enjoyed seeing everything lit up. My miracles today are three good things that happened to three other people. Elder Headrick doesn’t need surgery after all. He’ll be in a cast for the next five weeks and then be coming out here on June 18. C from Szolnok is back and active again. Lastly, M from Nyiregyhaza was baptized today. Hurray!

Sunday, 21 April
Church today. A is not doing well at all health-wise and was unable to come. Later in the day we tabled for several hours. My miracle today is that I did a lot of thinking about the future today, and am trying to seek the Lords guidance in what I will need to do.

Monday, 22 April
One cancellation. Today we made our third trip to the Hivatal. This time we took Elders Haws, Judd, and Nelson to pick up their Residency Cards as well as check on and finish the process of four others. After returning, we met with G. We focused the discussion on prophets and obedience to the commandments. He said that because of finals, he won’t be able to meet again this week, but he plans on coming on Sunday. Later I merged the inactive, the ward, the home teaching, and the visiting teaching lists together. It’s finally time to look up the inactives. Today’s miracle is that I don’t have any Hivatal stuff for two weeks.

Tuesday, 23 April
This morning upon arriving at the office we found that my computer had shut off over the night. We tried turning it on, but were unsuccessful because the OS Files were not found. So, currently my computer is completely out-of-commission. How marvelous.  We had two programs get cancelled today. Due to the cancellation and my computer, I had plenty of time to study. We also made it out tracting for the first time this transfer. It is about as successful as last year. In the evening we met with a man named S. S met with the Missionaries over 8 years ago. Unfortunately he has very strong feelings about the fallen state of man and a truly depressing view of God. After the lesson we had a short choir practice. The miracle of this day is that Gods personality is not as S claimed. God has not washed His hands of this world like Pilate and left us to Satan. We know that God is our loving Father. And as Joseph Smith taught, this understanding of the persona of God is a necessary pillar to the foundation of faith.

Wednesday, 24 April
My computer is still not fixed and we have no idea when it will be. I can’t get a hold of the tech guy. We had one person dog us today. So, between no computer and no programs I got a lot of time to study and go finding today. Yay! The miracle for today is for tomorrow. Tomorrow we are booked. We have choir practice followed by the concert, English Class, and four programs. Hopefully they all go through.

Thursday, 25 April
Today was indeed a busy day. We had no time to be secretaries today. This morning we had choir practice for one hour. After a short break it was followed by the concert in which we performed for a class of sixteen students from a nearby college who are studying music and its effects. The singing lasted nearly two hours and was followed by an hour and a half question and answer discussion that was almost entirely about our Church and beliefs. We managed to get a quick lunch in before meeting with E and R. We talked about the Saviors ministry, the organization of the Church, E family members, and how to help them, especially using the temple as a goal. After E program, we went on splits with two members so that we could make it to two programs at the same time. Elder Loveday went to meet with P to talk about the gospel of Jesus Christ. I met with two new investigators from Angolora, and we spoke about some basic beliefs of the Church. Following the two programs we split back for English Class. Unfortunately, my lesson plan was saved on my computer which is still not usable, so I had to wing-it. There is still no sign of when I might be able to get it fixed. After the class we traveled to the south part of Budapest to meet with a man. He met with the missionaries a few times a little over five years ago, until he got incredibly sick for over a month and hadn’t met since. He’s been a policeman for over 16 years, and is interested in religions, not being affiliated with a particular one at this time. While it seems he’s meeting out of curiosity and not thirsting for the word it was an enjoyable discussion and I hope he will progress in the future. My miracle today is our Heavenly Father and that out of all the titles we give to God, he asks that we call Him Father.

Friday, 26 April
We spent a long time in the office today. It’s hard for me to do my job as secretary without a computer. Germany is sending me some stuff to fix it, which should arrive around Wednesday. In the evening we met with L, an older gentleman from the Area Book. My miracle today is that our English Class is beginning to open up. Five more people this week said they’d be interested in meeting to learn about the gospel.

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27 April 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, April 20, 2013

20 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 13 April
One cancellation today.  We practiced the song this morning with T.  Our Ward Correlation Meeting was cancelled.  We stayed and sang at the baptism.  Elder Miller came up from Szolnok for it, so I got to see Elder McCurdy as well.  After the baptism, we went on to our regular P-Day activities.  In the evening around sunset, Elder Loveday and I spent two hours walking around Buda Castle, the Lion Bridge, and Parliament as it grew dark.

Sunday, 14 April
First in today’s entry, I saw Sister Barker, one of my MTC teachers at church today.  She’s temporarily here in Hungary, and shared her testimony in Sacrament Meeting today.  It was fun to get to see her again.  It was also strange to have Fast Sunday half-way through the month.  E came to church today.  After the meetings we went with her and R to have a program at her home. Later we got studies.  In the evening Elder Alldredge and Bennett arrived for the Hivatal tomorrow.  I get to spend this evening and tomorrow morning around my mission son and grandson.  That’s pretty rare out here.  In fact, currently only Elder Swett and I have that possibility.

Monday, 15 April
I’m 21 now.  That feels old.  I didn’t really feel or notice the jump last year from 19 to 20, but for whatever reason I noticed this one.  This morning I made my second trip to the Hivatal.  I should only have two trips left.  Later I got to take care of customs and insurance forms.  Wheee.  Elder Loveday and I made it out streeting and organized the entire in-active list we received from the bishop and will probably begin looking them all up soon.  My miracle today was the kindness of many who remembered my birthday.  Many people, missionaries and members, called to wish me a Happy Birthday.

Tuesday, 16 April
Well, it seems that A has vanished.  I haven’t been able to get a hold of her for several days now.  We met with G though.  We talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and G committed to come to church, although probably not this weekend as this week and next week are finals week.  Later we just went streeting around parts of Buda, becoming more familiar with the city as we looked for people to teach.  My miracle today is Elder Shawn Michael Loveday.  He is from Boulder, Colorado.  He is also the seventh of eight children; loves sports, particularly baseball; did not attend a college or university before beginning his mission, but does plan on attending BYU-Idaho afterwards.  He would like to be a physical therapist, preferably in the military.  He is in his eleventh transfer.

Wednesday, 17 April
We had a busy morning today.  There were several missionaries entering and leaving the Mission Home for interviews.  Elder Loveday and I went to look up a man named F who said he’d be interested in meeting.  (He looked us up and called us).  Unfortunately, F was very short on time, but we set up a return appointment.  We had some time to go tabling later.  I learned today that the Szolnok Elders have been meeting with the older siblings who Elder McCurdy and I talked with.  Lastly, today’s miracle is that while going to F’s we had to travel quite a bit to get there, and one of the times we turned the wrong way.  However we streeted a very kind woman and her son, and they said they’d love to meet in the future.  If we hadn’t turned the wrong way, we would’ve completely missed them.

Thursday, 18 April
We had District Meeting this morning.  Afterwards we went and got Chinese food with R.  We finally met with P again and reviewed the second half of the Plan of Salvation.  His program was followed immediately by one with E.  We’ve begun re-teaching her the missionary lessons.  Today we reviewed the first part of the Restoration.  The size of our Angolora class in the evening increased from 17 last week to 26 today.  Five new students said they’d be willing to meet.  My miracle today is that I got a call from Elder McCurdy informing me that E would like for me to perform her baptism next Saturday.  I received permission to go and this will be the first time I’ll get to see anyone I’ve taught get baptized.  And I’ll not only get to watch, but perform the ordinance as well.

Friday, 19 April
Two cancellations today and no successful lessons.  It was another busy morning in the office.  I learned today from President Smith that I will indeed be concluding my Mission in the office, and will be returning home June 20th.  Because Elder Loveday and I had no programs, we were able to go streeting for several hours.  While out streeting we met two members from Kispest.  G called and said he needs to study for finals and cannot come to church this week, but will come the week after.  My miracle today is a new small obsession I’ve been developing concerning the Armor of God.

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Saturday, April 13, 2013

13 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 6 April
We taught the English Classes today for the other elders.  It sure has grown since Elder Reese and I started the Saturday class, going from around two a week to forty.  With it being Saturday, today was also our P-Day.  In the evening was the first session of General Conference.  This will be my last Conference in the country.  That’s my miracle today.  I got the fireman picture today.  We found out the Assistants are currently out-of-commission; Elder Headrick broke a bone in his foot and Elder Orban has become really sick.  Lastly, I finished preparing the Hivatal packets today.

Sunday, 7 April
Today was General Conference.  We watched three of the five sessions today.  A came to the final session.  A newcomer, R, showed up looking for the English Class.  I talked to him for a while; he stayed for the Priesthood Session, and at the end said he’d be willing to meet and gave me his name and number.  There were more missionaries there to watch the session than investigators and members combined.  In the third session, President Monson spoke and shared a story about a Hungarian and German.  The pronunciation of “Debrecen” was a wee-bit off, but everyone here loved the story.  The Sunday Morning Session was by far my favorite and stood out to me the most.  I found it interesting that 80% (or so it seemed) of the stories in Conference had been shared before, President Monson’s included.  I actually used that story in one of the talks I gave in Szombathely (which I found in an Ensign for a past conference).  Elder Pendleton and Elder Larson came down tonight for our Hivatal trip tomorrow.  Tomorrow’s one of my big days as secretary.  My miracle today was R.  It’s terrific that he just walked in and was willing to stay.

Monday, 8 April
This morning was the big Hivatal run.  Elder Bowen and I took off early to get to Tibor’s in order to receive the last of the forms.  After we got them, we tried to catch up to everyone else, but “took the scenic route” showing up nearly an hour late.  However, they were waiting in line the entire time.  Overall, it was really easy, went smoothly, and very well.  A lot of the new missionaries asked how old I am in the mission and how long ago I got here.  It caused me to remember my first day here.  It’s been nearly two years, but also hardly any time at all.  Later we went out tabling.  I want to find a better place to table.  In the evening, Elder Bowen and I had dinner with W and T.  I finished watching the Bible Videos in the afternoon.

Tuesday, 9 April
Guess what, my dear reader?  My mission world has been turned upside-down once again.  To start, Elder Headrick will be going home to have surgery on his foot.  It is currently expected to be six weeks of recovery, and he hopes to return to the mission on June 18, the same week I return home.  All my senior companions have been home for awhile now, and now my junior companions are beating me home.  I hope he gets better and can come back out here quickly.  As a result of Elder Headrick’s departure, Elder Swett will be coming in as the new AP.  I’ll get to be around my MTC companion for the rest of my mission.  To replace him as Zone Leader, Elder Bowen will be leaving the office.  Surprise!  Again!  So, I will be getting a new companion, who will be… Elder Loveday.  Elder Loveday will be coming up from Bekescsaba to be my new companion and secretary.  All of these changes will be happening tomorrow morning.  That not only means it’ll be quick, but Elder Loveday will not be receiving any training on how to do his job as secretary.  So I’ll get to help him wing-it.  Well, no one saw any of this coming.  At this rate, I will probably leave the office too in 3 ½ weeks to white-wash train a third time.  Elder Bowen and I met with A.  A member who was with her at conference was going to come but forgot.  We taught A the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  We invited her to be baptized, but she wants to think about it for a while.  She did, however, receive an invitation to come to church.  G cancelled his program because of finals.  In the evening we took time to give Elder Bowen the opportunity to pack and prepare for tomorrow.  The office is really about to change, mid-transfer.  My miracle today is gratefulness that I’ve been blessed with good health during my mission.  Just as I wasn’t very actively thankful for my sight until the fireball incident in Szolnok, I haven’t been terribly thankful for my feet until today.  We’ll see which other body parts I become grateful for in the future.

Wednesday, 10 April
Well, I have a new companion now, Elder Shawn Loveday.  This morning Elder Headrick headed home, the AP’s, Zone Leaders, and Elder Bowen switched, and later, in the afternoon, Elder Loveday arrived.  President Smith was interviewing missionaries today, and one of those who came in was Elder Channell.  So he was able to help me train Loveday for nearly an hour as he waited for his interview and train-ride back.  Later, we met with M, a man we’d been emailing back-and-forth with for a week now.  This was the first time he’d ever met with the missionaries.  He’s an interesting person, and wants us to also teach him English.  We talked about the first half of the first lesson today.  In the evening was a Stake YSA Coordination Meeting that I got to help translate for slightly over two hours.  My miracle is that I’ve pretty much got the hang of being secretary.

Thursday, 11 April
One cancellation today.  I actually got a fair amount of studies in today while Elder Loveday was reviewing the secretary handbooks.  We also went out streeting for a couple hours.  In the evening was Angolora.  The Szuperinfo Ad actually began to be released and distributed tonight.  Hopefully our class will explode during these next 2-3 weeks.  After English Class, R introduced us to E.  We had half a program with her and learned that she, as well as her four children, are all baptized members, but have been inactive for 8-9 years.  E expressed that she has recently felt a desire to come back, and we got her number, address, and arranged another time to meet.  This encounter is my miracle of the day for many reasons.  First, because it’s a family.  Secondly, because it was arranged and accomplished through the member missionary work of R.  And thirdly, it is my miracle that they were found because they have been inactive for so long that they are not on the ward list, the in-active look-up list, or in any of our area books.  Up until tonight we had no way of contacting them, or even knowing they existed.

Friday, 12 April
Busy day today, although it failed to live up to its potential.  We had one dog and two cancellations today.  In addition, we had to unload a shipment of nearly 1,250 lbs of Book of Mormon’s that came in, followed by a 3 hour 15 minute Zone Training.  Later I practiced a special musical number with T and Elder Quinton for the baptism tomorrow.  Elder Loveday and I had our second program with M.  We watched the Restoration film and talked about the First Vision.  He already prays daily and has read around 15 pages in the last two days from the Book of Mormon, and accepted a challenge to pray about Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon.  M is still too focused on the English part, although today’s lesson was 40/20 (minutes gospel/English).  At “Youth Night” we gave the spiritual message on Faith.  I’m a bit disappointed that we did not get a single call today about English Class.  I’m not sure what’s going on with the newspaper.  It’s starting to bug me.  Lastly, my miracle today is that next transfer at Zone Conference I will have to be one of those giving a departing testimony.

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13 April 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

With my companion, Elder Bowen.

Posing with the statue LAST year.

Posing with the statue THIS year.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

6 April 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 30 March
I’ve been in Budapest for a week now.  It’s going by so fast.  Today was our Preparation Day.  We got taken out to lunch by the Carpenter’s for helping the Buda Sisters change apartments.  In the evening we had dinner with the Smith’s and L along with his wife.  Although she’s never met with the Missionaries before, I could see her getting baptized soon.  Tomorrow is daylight savings.  It’s going to be early.  We haven’t had many programs this past week, but we’ve been busy.  Hopefully M and G come to church tomorrow.  That would be nice.  My miracle is that although only L is a member, and only for three months, both he and his wife have being sealed in the Temple as a goal for the future.

Sunday, 31 March: Easter!
We attended Church today.  I still haven’t seen a lot of people there that I would’ve liked to.  While I didn’t see her today, I learned that T (whom Elder Reese and I found and taught last year) was baptized last November.  After church I did more work on the Hivatal packets; not just adding to them, but also finding more mistakes, which I have now found on 7 of the 16 Missionaries’ forms.  My miracle today is Easter and our Lord’s resurrection.  While the Resurrection guarantees resurrections and immortality to all who have dwelt, who dwell, and who will dwell on Earth, it should never be taken for granted.

Monday, 1 April: April Fools’
Everything was still closed today, with the day being a national holiday.  Hungarians celebrate “Easter Monday” every bit as much as they celebrate “Easter Sunday.”  With today being April Fools’, one Missionary surprised us all by pulling a prank on President Smith.  I thought that was a pretty bold move.  Most of my time today went into calls and actually scheduling our trips to the Hivatals.  Only one week until the first group comes in.  My miracle today is that I’ve begun reading “Our Heritage.”  My time to study is finally returning.

Tuesday, 2 April
This morning we got pulled into translating for the Carpenters as they met with one of the local landlords.  Afterwards, I was interviewed by President Smith.  During the interview, he announced that I would not be dying in the office, but returning out to the field for the end of my mission.  I told him I was surprised.  He asked why and I told him how much time I had left.  He expressed that he thought I was younger than my 15th transfer, and thought I had twice as much time left.  Surprise!  It looks like I’m not the only one the end of my mission snuck up on.  Later, Elder Bowen and I went to the Foldhivatal Office to pick up a Tulajdoni Lap (some kind of immigration property form).  We also designed and made new English class flyers and a new tabling display.  In the evening we met with A.  It was a half-half lesson.  During the gospel half we talked about prophets and authority.  At the end, A said the closing prayer and committed to read all the prefaces in the Book of Mormon during the next two days.

Wednesday, 3 April
This morning the tech guru came and worked on my computer for a couple hours.  I can use the internet now!  I finally watched a few of the Bible Videos throughout the day (the first three).  I’d only seen two before.  Elder Bowen and I helped Elder Carpenter shuttle cars back and forth to get summer tires on all of them.  Later we met with G.  We talked about the Plan of Salvation.  He’d read from the Book of Mormon since our last meeting, but forgot to pray.  We’re meeting again on Friday, and are trying to get him to General Conference.  It was good to hear him say that he always has a good feeling when he meets with us.  I worked today on preparing everything for finding out about different options for a newspaper ad.  In the end, we will be using Szuperinfo.  We will also be expanding it from just Buda to all of Budapest.  I made a couple calls to various companionships, and everyone is on board for it.  This should be huge.  There are about 3 million people within the city limits, and as long as everything goes well tomorrow we will get a sizeable ad in the newspaper for two weeks, and with 700,000 copies being published and distributed a week, we should have nearly 1 ½ million newspapers circulating around Budapest with our name on it.  We’re all hoping for quite the turn-out!  Later in the day Elder Bowen and I started pounding the Area Book.  In the evening we got a call from Bishop Southwick saying they had some left-over pizza from a priesthood meeting.  While there, we went over the Ward List and talked about all the inactive and less-active members, organizing them.  The Assistants have a lot of people to go look up, and the Sisters have a couple as well.  I found out tonight why I still haven’t seen S.  He moved onto the other side of the river and now lives in Kispest boundaries.  Hopefully I’ll see him sometime.

Thursday, 4 April
So, first off and most importantly, my miracle today is my Mom, as it is her birthday.  She has truly done so much for me.  I think that I too can quote presidents of both the Church and country by saying “everything I am and hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”  Elder Hunnicutt’s package finally made it out of customs today, only to now have President Smith’s and Elder Ekstrom’s packages replace it.  Great…  We had our District Meeting.  I took the time to share all the information I got from the Bishop last night.  Immediately following District Meeting we left for Ujpest to go place the advertisement in Szuperinfo.  It ended up using only half of the money Missionaries in Budapest are given for finding each transfer.  Not bad.  We met with P today.  It was his third time meeting with the Missionaries, and the first time since I got here.  Like with G, we discussed the Plan of Salvation and invited him to Institute tomorrow.  We had Angolora in the evening.  About 17 came to our class.  I was hoping to talk with and try to set-up with over half of them, but only managed to speak with five.  I had to leave mid-way through the class to get President Klinger to sign some papers for the Hivatal.  I finally found out about the last three members I hadn’t seen, and learned that the former Branch President from Nyiregyhaza has moved to Budapest and is now the Ward Mission Leader in Kispest.  In the evening we spent over half an hour discussing with Sister Felsted things we can do to help get the youth more involved.  It’s finally time for me to write about my current companion, Elder Colby Bowen.  He was born and has lived in American Fork his whole life.  He enjoys sports and is the sixth of eight children.  We are also second cousins.

Friday, 5 April
This morning Elder Bowen and I ran over to one of the government buildings near Parliament so that we could get the last of the forms for the Hivatal.  We met with T, the man in charge, but learned that we won’t be able to pick up the forms until Monday around 8:15.  We have planned to leave the Mission Home with the new missionaries by 7:50.  So we’ll have to break into two groups, and now Monday morning will get to be even crazier.  When we got back, we met with A.  We talked about the First Vision and watched the film.  She’s already begun a habit of regularly reading and praying.  She also committed to come to General Conference.  Following her program, the two of us met with President Smith for an hour to talk about expectations and planning.  He wants us getting out of the office to street and tract for a couple hours each day.  In the evening was our program with G.  We talked about faith and repentance and forgiveness.  He has begun reading straight from the start of the Book of Mormon.  He also stayed for Institute and Youth Night, and now wants to come to Institute every week.  He also committed to attend General Conference.  My miracle today is music.  It has power to encourage, enlighten, and motivate.  Also, two other memories about tonight: the Youth Nights are tiny now.  Last year we were averaging around thirty people at every activity.  Tonight only seven members were there.  I don’t know what happened.  The second thing is that some maple syrup accidentally got burned, setting off the alarm, and we later had a fire truck pull up and a bunch of fire fighters come into the Mission Home.  Someone took pictures.  (I may need to get them from him later).

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6 April 2013 Pictures (Budapest)