Saturday, May 25, 2013

25 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 18 May
Another adventurous P-Day!  Today was the first time the Assistants joined us for a Preparation Day.  The four of us went to the Pest side of the city to visit a castle in a giant park.  After walking through, we walked over to Hero Square.  It was my first time there since my first night in the country.  After a couple pictures and a break at Hero Square the AP’s returned home; however, Elder Loveday and I went and spent over four hours at the Zoo instead.  It was great.  There were so many animals.  I really enjoyed seeing all the lizards and the large mammals.  I wish they had a bigger aquarium, but I guess it’s supposed to be a zoo, not an aquarium anyways.  Elder Loveday and I enjoyed our time there and returned exhausted.  If we weren’t Missionaries we could’ve gone to the nearby amusement park and the giant thermal baths that were there.  Oh well. My miracle is that I have every P-Day I have left all planned out.

Sunday, 19 May
One dog today.  We had two investigators at church, E and Z.  I finished reading the Book of Mormon and am now to Doctrine and Covenants 23.  I tried making fruit soup again tonight.  I still need to learn how to do it properly.  This week we had our highest numbers yet.  We’re going for the record.  My miracle today is all the baptisms.  In Szolnok they have nine baptismal dates.  Z, A, G, and now I are all on baptismal date as well as two other investigators I found.  In addition to that, E’s been baptized; and here in Buda we have E and M on a baptismal date.  The work really does seem to be going very well.

Monday, 20 May (One Month Left)
Only one month left.  Wow!  This morning we had a Staff Meeting.  We also met with E.  Today we taught about the Law of Chastity and the Word of Wisdom.  She already knew everything about both and accepted to live according to the commandments.  We had several hours to go tabling in the evening.  My miracle is that with having been reviewing and reading all my journal entries since the start of my mission, one thing that stood out to me today is how much easier it has become for me to teach.  For example, today it took hardly any planning to teach E two of the most feared missionary lessons.  However, during the first year of my mission it would’ve been ridiculously harder, and not have flowed as well.  Hurray for learning and progress.

Tuesday, 21 May
Our only program with an investigator today cancelled.  Elder Loveday and I made more trips for the Hivatal forms.  The packets are all put together and finished now.  We have more packages stuck in customs again.  Fun, fun, fun…  Elder Channell and Elder Magda are here right now.  They’re spending the night with us so they can make it to an appointment early tomorrow morning.  My miracle today is my brother, Jonathan. 

Wednesday, 22 May
Today was the first half of the Senior Conference.  All the couples and Senior Missionaries are here.  Because President and the Carpenters are attending that, Elder Loveday and I had to stay in the office to hold down the fort.  We had one dog and one cancellation today.  Our only program was with E.  R was there too.  We talked about testimony, enduring, and temples.  We also talked to E about her baptism.  She has no idea who she wants to perform the ordinances, but feels very excited about it all.  We’ve had a lot of dogs and cancellations this week.  It’s already Wednesday night and we’ve only met with E.  Today my miracle is that I finished reading “Preach My Gospel.”

Thursday, 23 May
Two more dogs today.  Today was the second half of the Senior Conference, so we were in the office all day again.  We met with I and L and talked about temples, as well as taught about infant baptism.  In Angolora I gave the best lesson I’ve ever given about Past Participles.  My miracle is that while our work is crashing, it’s leaving time to study.
Friday, 24 May
Another program fell through today.  This morning we had Zone Training.  It went well and was focused around teaching skills.  Elder Walker gave his departing testimony.  Later in the day we met with P.  We taught him about the Law of Chastity.  He said he’s never really thought about any kind of sexual commandments before.  The Pest Sisters had their second program with E today.  A couple other notes about today are that we went with the Assistants to lunch, which turned out to be a huge disappointment as the daily special of Vegetable Lasagna we all got turned out not to be lasagna, but rice, cheese, peas, and mushrooms.  Worst lasagna ever.  Today was their national garbage day.  Like when I was with Elder Reese, they have a day once a year when everyone throws anything and everything they don’t want onto the sidewalks and streets.  Elder Walker’s family arrived in the evening to pick him up and President Smith released him.  We had a chance to meet all of them.  With him released, I am now the oldest missionary in the mission (in terms of being here in the country).  My miracle today is that my time is wrapping up as well.  I’m almost out of time and things I determined to do before the end of my mission.

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25 May 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

18 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 11 May
Today was a relaxed preparation day.  We didn’t go anywhere today.  While emailing I learned that more friends, both from my ward and from high school, have gotten married and more are engaged.  I think it might be one of the biggest contributors to culture shock when I return home.
Sunday, 12 May (Mother’s Day!)
Today was our Fast Sunday.  We had four investigators at church today.  E, Z, Z and her husband, all came.  It was great!  After church was a short choir practice.  In the evening, because today is Mother’s Day, I had the grand opportunity to talk to my family.  I’m happy and very grateful to write that they are all doing well.  My miracle on this Mother’s Day is of course my beloved mother.  Mom is awesome, kind, and loving.  Everything I have and am I owe to her.  What more can I say?  God be blessed for creating Mothers!

Monday, 13 May
Today was a crazy day.  One investigator called and cancelled his program.  In the morning I spent my time working on the Hivatal Residency Permits.  We met with E today.  R came again.  E had more questions today, her main one being a question as to why we drink water rather than the wine in the Sacrament, when the Book of Mormon and Bible clearly specify wine.  She’s still progressing towards her baptism, which will be two weeks from Saturday.  After her program, R took us out to lunch.  Upon returning to the Mission Office, we streeted a man who said he needed help and was going to kill himself.  We met with him at the Mission Home, and learned that he’d lost all relationships with his family and friends, lost all of his possessions, his faith in God, and had cut his forearms to shreds.  We tried to talk him out of taking his own life.  About 45 minutes in, while Elder Loveday was reading parts of D&C 121 to him, he actually fell asleep.  We finally got a hold of the Bishop and President Smith.  After finding out the hotline was out-of-service, we ended up calling the police who, after showing up a half-hour after we called, talked to him and loaded him into an ambulance to take to a psychiatric hospital.  I just hope we really did the best we could.  Next we met with M.  He has read the entire Book of Mormon and Index since we last met.  He said he knows it’s true and this is Christ’s Church.  When I asked if he would like to join the Church he asked if he could be baptized on August 31?  So, we have a new baptismal date!  The only foreseeable problem is that he only works on Saturdays and Sundays since he lost his job as a Geography teacher and had to get a job performing physical labor, and doesn’t have any savings to fall back on.  He doesn’t know when he will be able to come to church, as it is hard to support yourself off of working only two days a week.  By the time we got back and started to catch up on our office work it was already evening.  We keep winding up in late nights.  My miracle is that I’m now teaching two people who have entirely read and gained a testimony of the marvelous work and wonder that we know as “The Book of Mormon.”  It really does have a main role in missionary work.

Tuesday, 14 May (700th Day on Mission)
I’ve been a missionary for seven hundred days now.  We had one program dog us today.  We first met with I.  We finished teaching her the Plan of Salvation.  She’s read through the Stop-Smoking Program and is beginning to apply some of the steps, but still needs to start doing the rest.  I has continued reading the Book of Mormon and praying daily.  She’s doing much better health-wise and tomorrow is returning home to her family in Kecskemet.  So, this is the end of our time meeting with her.  However she has agreed and promised to continue meeting with the elders in Kecskemet, so Elder Hunnicutt will be in charge of teaching her now.  Our second program was with P.  B came to our program to help.  We taught P about the Word of Wisdom.  The only problem he has and doesn’t already keep is drinking wine and tea.  He had a hard time understanding why he shouldn’t drink a little wine from time to time.  However, I’d still have to say the programs are going well.  After P we met with Z.  R came to the program.  Z committed to come to church again and said she’ll try to bring her husband again.  With her we talked about prophets and the Sabbath.

Wednesday, 15 May
Mission Leadership Council was today.  We met with E again, and once again guess who was there?... If you guessed R you were right.  We talked about the Ten Commandments, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and prophets.  The discussion went great.  In the evening we met with the H family.  A and A are a young married couple.  They have a five year-old son and a two year-old daughter.  They are all very endearing and kind.  We had dinner with them and mostly got to know them.  They met with the missionaries in the past.  They are practicing, active Catholics, but open to our message.  Hopefully we’ll be able to meet with them more in the future.  My miracle is that with all the Zone Leaders here I got some news about some of my past cities.

Thursday, May 16
This morning we ran to two different government buildings to get the Hivatal forms (well, some of the forms we still needed).  We had a fair amount of office work today.  I wasn’t feeling very well through all of it.  Elder Loveday and I met with E and R.  We finished reviewing the Restoration.  I’d say E’s pretty much active again.  Now we just need to get the rest of her family active as well.  We then met with I and L and talked about Christ’s life.  They failed to read or pray at all this past week.  During Angolora tonight Elder Loveday taught the English part and I gave the Spiritual Message.  My miracle is that I’ve started making a “Time Chart,” helping me decide better between what is important and what is not.  It is also supposed to function to help me better prioritize and see how much time I truly wish to give to various activities.
Friday, 17 May
One dog today and a member cancelled.  We had District Meeting this morning.  There were brownies and ice cream which automatically made the meeting the best.  The Pest Sisters finally met with E today.  We’re trying to help make sure they meet with her at least once a week so they can help her better fit into the Pest ward and build a stronger support system.  Our second program was with Z.  She still likes to talk and literally I had to interrupt her every single time I said something.  We watched the Restoration Film with her.  At the end we invited her to be baptized, but she said she wasn’t sure.  She did accept a commitment to pray specifically asking to know.  It’s pouring rain in a massive thunderstorm right now.  That’s why my miracle is modern shelter.  Shelter has never been as strong or great as it is in the world today.  I’m thankful for strong, concrete walls and a roof that doesn’t leak.  Lastly, I don’t think I’ve written this before, or at least not lately, but I have tried every single flavor of “Boci” and “Milka” chocolate that I’ve ever found on my mission, in both big and small bars, regular and limited editions.  It’s just been a fun little hobby I’ve had.  Oh, also, something else, I finished reviewing the brown Hungarian grammar book we received in the MTC.  That’s one more thing to check off my mission bucket-list before I kick-the-can.

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18 May 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

St Istvan's Basilica 

Inside climbing all the way to the top

View from the top (well, part of the view)

At the top with Parliament in the background

At the front of the St Istvan's Basilica

I found a fencing sign for an event happening in August....but I'll be home by then!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

11 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 4 May
P-Day today.  Mother’s Day is next week so I’ll get to talk to them (meaning my family).  We spent some time today walking around Pest and WestEnd.  We also went up to the top of St. Istvan’s Basilica.  We did not get any kind of transfer call today which confirmed that we will be staying together.  My miracle today is that my computer is rolling along in the restoring process.

Sunday, 5 May
We had early morning choir practice today.  It was followed by Stake Conference which we sing in.  E and Z both came to the conference.  After the main session was a special session for investigators and recent converts which ended with a Q&A session with the Stake Presidency and President Smith.  Unfortunately, E is still sick and couldn’t come.  My miracle today is that E met several members.  Sister Fox and I did our best to introduce E to many of the leaders in the Pest Ward to better help the fellowshipping process begin.
Monday, 6 May
Busy day today.  I’m still significantly behind on my office work.  Most of today was taken up by trying to fix my computer.  I’ve finally begun to find all the problems from moving everything.  One program dogged today.  We met with E.  R came to the lesson.  We talked about the First Vision and gave her a copy of the Doctrine and Covenants.  Later we had our first program with S.  She’s from English Class and the program was half English.  During the other half we talked about the Book of Mormon.  In the evening I finished the Mission Newsletter and sent it out.  Then I spent the rest of the evening sorting and reconnecting programs.  I have a lot of work to do still.  Today the miracle is that I learned that Elder Headrick’s foot is continuing to do well, and I also learned that one missionary who returned early from his mission will be coming back tomorrow night with the two new missionaries.

Tuesday, 7 May
Today was a long day.  Throughout the day I discovered more tech problems.  Some I was able to fix.  Others, I wasn’t.  Transfer calls were made today.  While ours wasn’t a surprise, some of the others were.  The Nyíregyházá and Szombathely companionships I served in have both been converted to sister companionships.  Elder Anderson is the new Assistant, and Elder Alldredge has become our youngest Zone Leader by quite a margin.  Over half the Sisters in the mission changed cities, and many of the Elders did as well.  Soon I will be the oldest (or longest serving) missionary in the country.  Because of transfers, we have a much bigger workload this week.  Not having my computer for nearly two weeks has only increased it.  Our only program today was with I.  We taught the first half of the Plan of Salvation.  She has read into the ‘R’’s in “True to the Faith.”  We made several calls in the evening.  My miracle today is the Title of Liberty that my Mom sent me my last week in the MTC.  I’ve managed to get every missionary who served in the same cities as me to sign it.  It has become a very nice keep-sake.

Wednesday, 8 May
Transfers were today.  Another long and busy day.  It was weird to see everyone in the group ahead of me getting ready to head home.  It’s weird to think I’m in my last transfer.  The miracle of today is that I’ve noticed that my journal has been improving my grammar and handwriting.  It’s easier to read the most recent entries than the ones at the start of my first journal.  And I know it’s my journal helping because my journal is about the only writing I really do. 

Thursday, 9 May
Busy day today.  One program, and one member dogged.  We had six successful programs.  The first was with E.  R came to the program.  As always, E’s doing amazingly.  For the actual lesson, we discussed the Plan of Salvation.  We also learned that she read the entire Doctrine and Covenants and the Pearl of Great Price within two days!  She not only read it all, but filled up a large portion of a notebook with notes, questions, and impressions.  Awesome!  Moving on to the other five programs: we had our first program with T.  He’s from English Class, but the entire meeting was on the gospel.  From this first encounter, it would seem he’s mostly just curious about different religions.  Lesson #3 was with I.  We introduced her to the Stop Smoking Program and congratulated her on finishing “True to the Faith.”  After I was Z.  R came to help in her program as well.  Z had another rant in the program again.  We found out what stood out to her at Stake Conference.  She showed up a little late, so she got stuck further back and we didn’t get to talk with her there, but she was there!  She’s been reading from the Book of Mormon and committed to come to church this weekend.  After her program we met with I and L.  C came to the program.  We focused the discussion around the Book of Mormon and Agency.  Our last planned program of the day was English Class.  We had fewer students this week, but there were two new attendee’s, and they both agreed to meet with us.  So, my miracle today is three final notes.  The first is I’ve begun re-reading all my journal entries.  From reading my recordings from the MTC, I’ve noticed that my prayers have gotten worse lately, and that I’ve become less enthusiastic about them.  They’ve also gotten gradually shorter.  I’m glad I’ve noticed and can now begin turning it around.  Second, G, the Hungarian who we taught in the MTC while he was attending a football camp at BYU is currently meeting with Elder Rosen in Dunaujvaros.  Thirdly, I learned today that one of S’s aunts and two of his cousins that live in Nyíregyháza have all been baptized as members of the Church.  More of his family members have begun investigating as well.  Since Elder Nabrotzky took my place with Elder Reese here in Buda last year, he knows S and was here for his baptism.  Yesterday, Elder Nabortzky got transferred to Nyiregyhaza.  So, he will very enthusiastically get to help take part in the conversion process of S’s relatives.

Friday, 10 May
Two dogs today.  We had to travel to all of our programs today which took up a bit of time.  We had District Meeting today and set some new goals.  Later, we met with J, a new investigator from Angolora.  He has two eleven year-old twins and is open to the gospel.  My miracle today is that work never stops.

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Saturday, May 4, 2013

4 May 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 27 April
I feel good.  Today was a good day.  First, it was our P-Day today, with everything that comes with it.  During the afternoon we went to Szolnok.  There at the Hozam Klub we attended E’s and E’s baptisms.  I baptized E and Elder Herd performed the ordinance for E.  I felt clean in the font.  I know the ordinance was for E, but that was quite possibly the cleanest and best I’ve felt on my Mission. While there in Szolnok I saw a lot of familiar faces.  Three people I taught were there, and I recognized all the members as well.  G was one of the three and expressed his positive feelings about the baptism and the possibility of him being baptized soon.  Z is also on baptismal date again.  We got back later in the evening.  My miracle today is that I finally got to see the ordinance of one of the people I taught getting baptized. 

Sunday, 28 April
We had church this morning and afternoon.  A came to the first hour.  Afterwards we met with N, a woman from Angolora.  However, because she lives far away she said she can only meet once or twice a month.  Later we met with I.  While we spent the time talking about the index, how to use the footnotes, and answering questions about what she read, we did discover at the end that her marriage and family relationships are struggling.  So, next time will all be about the family. My miracle today is all the help I’ve received to help me better understand the scriptures.  I’ve always had them available to read, I’ve been taught how to use the notes and other resources, attended Sunday School, and been taught in Seminary.

Monday 29 April
This morning we had our first Staff Meeting in a while.  We still haven’t had a Correlation Meeting at all this transfer.  During the day we had some mildly successful streeting and made many phone calls to fill up our week.  We’re going to get quite busy.  Also, with transfers coming up next week my work in the office is going to begin increasing again.  I need my computer! In the evening we went with a few other Missionaries to the V family’s home for dinner.  They are a very fun and kind family.  Their massage chair worked wonders on my back for some fifteen minutes.  I vote that we should get one for the office.  That would very much be loved, used, and appreciated.  My miracle for today is that E from Nyiregyhaza stopped by the office today.  It was great to see and talk to her.  It was fun to be around her in Nyiregyhaza, especially since she spoke English when I didn’t speak Hungarian.  (She and V were the only two members there who could really speak English, so I could always talk to and understand them the most as a new Missionary).

Tuesday, 30 April
One cancellation and two dogs today.  We met with Z, a woman from Angolora.  R came to the program to help.  While Z is from English Class, the entire program was gospel-centered.  We spent our time together talking about families, the importance of them, the ever-increasing need to protect them, and our relationship with God.  We already have another program set-up for Friday.  We them met with I again.  We focused everything on the family.  We read the Proclamation together along with a few verses out of the Book of Mormon.  I committed to read the entire “For Strength of Youth” as well as “True to the Faith” by Monday.  It looks like she’ll be learning about all the commandments twice this weekend as they are all discussed in each book. My miracle today is that a member who’s been in-active for twelve years decided to just swing by the Mission Home today.  I got to talk to him for an hour, give him the latest Liahona, and he said he will try to come to Stake Conference this weekend.  Also, as a sub-miracle: it has been several weeks since we have met with M.  However, I’ve been calling him consistently each week, and he’s always said he’s been reading and praying.  Recently he just said that he has finished reading the entire Book of Mormon and the index, and is starting over so that he can understand it better!

Wednesday, 1 May (Labor Day in Hungary, and 50 Days Left)
This morning as we went to the Mission Home, there was a woman waiting outside the door.  When I asked if I could help with anything, she asked if we could meet.  So, we did.  As soon as we got inside and sat down, E began bearing her testimony about the truthfulness and divine origin of both the Church and the Book of Mormon.  She said she had attended church once and met with the Missionaries back in 2009, but didn’t have a good feeling, which she says she knows now is because she was not following God and was being chastised by the Spirit.  She said she knows every other church is missing something and that this is the only true Church and that she would like to do whatever it takes to be baptized into it, as soon as possible. We met with E for about an hour.  She already lives the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity, and strives to be modest.  She has read through the Book of Mormon several times (straight through, cover-to-cover), and has highlighted and marked almost every page.  Throughout the entire program she was quoting scriptures and referencing stories and verses in the Book of Mormon.  She also said a beautiful opening prayer.  We are meeting her again on Friday and she said she will come to Stake Conference on Sunday.  At the end she asked for a couple copies of the Book of Mormon that she could give to share with her friends.  It was quite a miraculous and amazing experience. Later I received a phone call from Elder Miller in Szolnok.  Last Saturday I wrote that at E’s baptism, G was there.  Jumping back to that, after the baptisms, G actually came into the changing room and asked if we could talk.  For around ten minutes we talked about the baptism and the spirit that was felt.  The conversation concluded with G saying he thought he should and would like to be baptized sometime, which I told him I agreed and that he should take that opportunity as soon as he was ready.  Afterwards I told this to Elder Miller, who was surprised as earlier that very week they had invited Gabor to be baptized and he said he didn’t think he would ever be baptized.  However, Elder Miller and I agreed that they should ask again. Now, jumping back to today’s phone call; they did indeed ask again, and G indeed wants to get baptized.  He has accepted June 15th, the last Saturday before I return home, as his baptismal date.  The Spirit truly did touch him and change his desires. Now it is time for today’s miracle.  While either one of these two events could easily qualify as a miracle, I would like to add a miracle that required additional reflection.  For today’s miracle I have chosen the theme of one of President Eyring’s talks that was included in the First Presidency Message at the front of a Liahona.  In his message, President Eyring talked about how the Lord will put people in our path, or put us in their path, who are prepared to receive the gospel.  However, in large part this depends on our mind and our heart being prepared and willing to share the gospel in the given situation.  That’s what happened today.  I believe one part that led to the encounters was prayer, as both encounters were prayed for, and miraculously they were prayed for by both the investigator and the Missionary.  We prayed this morning for our investigators to prepare themselves for baptism, as well as specifically that we could somehow find a new golden investigator today; E prayed that she’d be able to find us and to make the right choice; and G prayed to know if this Church is true.  All three prayers were heard and answered, and each one of us was given the things that we had prepared our minds and our hearts for.

Thursday, 2 May
One cancellation and one dog.  The intercom to the front door broke, so now it is much less convenient to try to let people in to the Mission Home.  We had our last District Meeting of the transfer.  We then went out and met with F.  We found out that he met with the missionaries and was on a baptismal date in the past, but never was baptized because he refused to attend Church.  He told us that he suffers from depression, paranoia, anxiety, and several phobias, and that he can’t come to Church because of them.  In the evening we went on splits with members again.  Elder Loveday met with P and they talked about the commandments.  I met with I and L again.  We focused our discussion on the Restoration and Book of Mormon.  After their two programs we taught English Class which went well.  When we returned to our apartment, one of the first things that happened was that the handle to the faucet of the kitchen sink snapped off in the “on” position.  So, we had to turn the water to our apartment off until someone comes tomorrow night to fix it.  My miracle of the day is that everything is breaking (the intercom, faucet, my computer), but they are all temporal and can all be fixed.

Friday, 3 May
Another dog and cancellation.  This week members have also been faulty with programs, two calling and cancelling and three never even showing up this week (to programs).  This morning we met with E, which was the highlight of the day.  She had already read both Liahona’s since Wednesday, and she brought questions. We had a very spiritual discussion with her.  The Pest Sisters were there for their district meeting, so I briefly grabbed the three of them and pulled them into the room to introduce them to each other.  E is still firm on coming to Stake Conference.  She’s said that she’d really like to be baptized as soon as possible.  We went over everything that needs to happen before a baptism, and while she wouldn’t mind it being sooner, we have chosen June 1st as a date; four weeks from tomorrow.  Huzzah!  In the early afternoon Tech Support called.  They said that they had never sent the device we’ve been waiting for as they had found another way to fix my computer.  However, they forgot to call and tell me a week ago…  So, I’ve begun fixing it.  Most of the files have been restored and just need to be organized now.  It should be up and going by tomorrow. We had our second program with Z.  R came again.  Today Z just needed someone to listen to her.  So we did.  There was hardly any lesson. But, it worked.  By the end she felt much better and is, like E, coming to Stake Conference. In the evening the Landlady came with a plumber to fix the kitchen sink.  It is now fixed and we have running water again.  We were unable to visit the H family again as their other child has become sick.  Today’s daily miracle is E and the power and role The Book of Mormon has had on her and in her conversion.

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