Saturday, June 15, 2013

15 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Monday, 10 June (10 Days Left)
Well, in ten days I’ll be home.  I can’t remember too much about today.  Because the Carpenter’s were gone for a while in the afternoon, we wound up stuck in the office.  We had a Staff Meeting this morning.  In the evening once we made it out, we finished calling everyone in our Area Book.  Despite our companionship being open five times longer than Szolnok, we had less than half as many numbers.  I am now half-way done re-reading my journals.  My miracle is that today Heather left for Africa, to spend the next two and a half weeks in Kenya.  I’ll beat her home now.  It will be interesting to hear what experiences she has. 

Tuesday, 11 June
Each day now brings me closer and closer to the end of my mission.  Our monthly Book of Mormon shipment of 610 copies arrived this morning, so we got to haul them all downstairs.  It was my last Zone Conference today.  President Smith gave a training on obedience, followed by Sister Smith on enduring to the end.  The Assistants talked about desire, and Sister Hardy focused on companionship exchanges.  The Zone Leaders had the last training on commitments.  At the end of the conference, Elder Swett and I gave our departing testimonies.  It was surprising intimidating!  Well, so much for my mission transforming me into a fearlessly confident lion.  We learned today that a sister from Kecskemet recently opened her mission call and has been called to serve…Magyarországon!  Looks like we’ll soon have a Hungarian Elder and Sister.  Today I translated a page long legal document President Smith received.  Legal talk is hard enough to understand in English.  In Hungarian it’s near impossible.  We didn’t have any time to teach or proselyte today.  Elder Loveday finished making cinnamon rolls in the evening.  My miracle today is that I have very little left that I need to do before the end of my mission.
Wednesday, 12 June
Two dogs today.  Today was also Zone Conference for two of the other four zones.  It was my last chance to see many of the missionaries from the southern areas.  We met with S today.  A came with us to help, which he definitely did.  We focused the discussion on the Restoration and the Holy Ghost.  A appeared to be able to get through to him in parts where we couldn’t seem to connect.  We spent the rest of our day translating and helping around the office.  Unfortunately, we didn’t have any time to proselyte today.  My miracle is the progress I’ve made with the language, even in the office, despite not being able to use it as much as when I was in the field.
Thursday, 13 June
One cancellation today due to E becoming sick again.  In the morning we had apartment inspections.  Due to the Carpenter’s and Smith’s being gone, we were stuck in the office all day.  We met with I and M.  R came to our program.  We mostly talked about temples and the Holy Ghost.  After their program was my last Angolora class.  The class was once again smaller, with only eleven attending compared to the twenty-seven at the start of the transfer.  In the late evening, we received a call from President Smith.  He let us know that Elder Magda has been called to take my place as the new secretary.  The miracle of the day is that I have one week left and each day will be different with significant steps in each:  Friday – Elder Magda arrives;  Saturday – last preparation day;  Sunday – final time attending church in Hungary;  Monday – main training day;  Tuesday – Transfer call day;  Wednesday – last day!

Friday, 14 June
With the third and final Zone Conference being today, with everyone else from the office attending it, Elder Loveday and I were left to hold down the fort.  We met with another S today (the one from several weeks ago who said God had “washed his hands” with us).  Our meeting with him today went significantly better than last time, concluding, after a lesson on obedience and commandments, with S saying he would join the Church if it were not for one thing: the temples.  He insisted that he cannot accept how secretive the temples are or how we perform ordinances for the dead; claiming it is undoctrinal and that Christ always taught openly and not in secret.  I don’t agree with either of those statements, but currently S is convinced about them.        

Well, this is my last preparation day, my two year mark, and my mission concludes on Thursday.  I hope that all you readers have enjoyed the entries and have been somehow enlightened or uplifted from them.  I’ve loved my mission and am so glad that I have had this chance to serve the people of Hungary as well as the Lord.  I’m sad to bring an end to my service as a full-time missionary, but am excited to come home and see many of you again!  Thanks for reading!
                                                                                                                          -Shipp Elder

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15 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

8 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 1 June
Preparation day today.  Elder Loveday and I went to the tourist traps of Váci útca and Fűvámtér.  After stopping to get lunch at IKEA (probably the only hotdogs I’ve had on my mission, and definitely the best ones if there actually were any others), we went over 45 minutes early for E’s baptism.  While waiting for the program to start we had a fair amount of time to talk with E as well as her three relatives who came to see her baptism.  There were actually two baptisms.  M, an investigator the Pest Elders have been teaching, was baptized as well.  My miracle is that we never did encounter any real problems or set-backs in our experiences with E and preparing her for baptism.  The fact that we never really got much of a phone number or address for her made quite a potential problem, but thankfully nothing ever became of it.

Sunday, 2 June
We attended the Pest Ward today.  It was smaller than I remember it or thought it would be.  There were also more English speakers there than Hungarian speakers.  It made the hymns harder to sing and not as pretty as half were singing in Hungarian and half in English and didn’t mix or match well.  We saw and took part in E’s confirmation.  Elder Loveday, the Bishop, and I all stood in as Elder Bebel confirmed her.  After, we stayed for the rest of church as well.  We made it back to Buda in time for the end of priesthood.  Later we went tabling and had studies.  My miracle is that I got to see and be there for E, start to finish.  We were the ones she found and talked to; we taught her all the lessons, baptized her, and were there for her confirmation.  However, now that she’s a member, I told the Pest Sisters they should try to meet with her once a week.  Our experiences with E have drawn to a close.

Monday, 3 June
I’m happy I have so many mission memories.  I’m thankful that I’ve been able to keep a daily journal throughout my whole mission.  One program dogged us today.  During the morning and afternoon I spent my time completing 100 pages for the next set of Hivatal Packets, however, we still need 70 more pages.  I want to leave enough for the new secretary to practice and learn, but not overload him.  During the early afternoon we also had a Staff Meeting and I had one of my last interviews with President Smith.  In the evening we went streeting.  However, I’ve gotten lazy in my approach and it’s not working too well.  I need to start putting more energy and active, conscious testimony into it.  My miracle today is that while “men are that they might have joy,” “missionaries are that they might share joy.”

Tuesday, 4 June
Well, it looks like we’re still going to fall short this week work-wise.  Over half of our current investigators aren’t able to meet this week because they’re off celebrating the first week of summer.  Summer and its start really are causing our work to drop.  While in the office today I completely re-read and revised the “Secretary Handbook.”  In the evening we met with the M family.  They are a family of a mom, a dad, and their two teenage sons.  They are all strong, practicing Catholics and met with the missionaries in the past.  They are hard to teach since they feel like they are already familiar with everything in Christ’s gospel.  In addition, because they both have jobs (meaning the parents, as well as one son, I guess), because their family is healthy and strong with them all getting along with each other, and with them all already being active, practicing Christians; they don’t feel like we really have much if anything to offer.  They are all really friendly and nice though.  Earlier tonight I received a call from Elder Miller in Szolnok.  A and G are both getting baptized in a week and a half on June 16th, and I’ve been asked to return to perform a baptism or two!  Also, tonight I reviewed some goals I set for myself on my mission, and while there are many of them that I have accomplished, there is one in particular I am not going to make.  Reflection on these goals has helped me become more honest with myself though.  My miracle for today is that my family has written me every week of my mission.  While they may have forgotten once or twice and been a little late, they’ve still managed to continue emailing me every week during these two years.  And I’m grateful for it!

Wednesday, 5 June
So, currently in this section of Europe there’s a lot of flooding.  Some neighboring countries are facing much worse situations, but here in Hungary the Danube (or Duna) River is flooding.  It’s supposed to continue rising until Monday and already the streets closest to the river are completely submerged, with the second road soon to be as well.  It’s also letting off a bit of a stench.  We met with a man named S from the Area Book for the first time today.  He met with the elders a couple times some five years ago until they dropped him.  S wants to prove everything with science until there are no doubts left and claims to find it impossible to believe in anything that he still has questions about.  He’s going to take a miracle to convert; but if it takes a miracle, then why not?  We also made it out to the H family for the second time.  They fed us dinner again.  We met their children and learned that they’ll soon be moving.  We ended our evening sharing a message with them about eternal families.  My miracle today is that more religions are beginning to cooperate to combat secularism and defend many people’s freedom of religion and its role in society.

Thursday, 6 June
Today was a slower day, mostly because I had a hard time and did a terrible job of focusing on the work.  Dah!  This morning we made a Hivatal Run with Elder Bennett and Sister Rupard so they could get their pictures and fingerprints re-taken for their Residency Permits.  We later met with E.  R was there.  We reviewed the first half of the Plan of Salvation, some of which E had forgotten.  After, we met with I and L.  We also talked with them about the Plan of Salvation.  They kept their reading commitment and committed to come to church this weekend.  Lastly was Angolora.  It was my last time teaching it, as Elder Loveday will be teaching it next week.  E came, so I got to see and talk to her.  My miracle is that since E re-appeared and began meeting with us, she has only missed attending church on one Sunday, when she was sick.

Friday, 7 June
More Hivatal work today.  We had a District Meeting today, with a training on questions.  It was the last district meeting of my mission.  I found out today that I will not be able to go to Szolnok for the baptisms, as I need to be here training the new secretary.  We had one program with a referral from a member.  However, we learned two other Elders are teaching him already, and after we got started they walked in (that’s how we learned).  Oops, that was a little awkward.  In the evening Elder Loveday shared a message on hope and faith at the YSA Gofri Est.  The miracle of the day is that I love my mission.

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8 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)

Saturday, June 1, 2013

1 June 2013 Letter (Budapest)

Saturday, 25 May
We spent this Preparation Day with the Assistants.  After the four of us emailed we all left for Esztergom.  Esztergom is a cathedral-castle (it’s positioned up on a hill and surrounded by a wall, and used to be an enormous castle a couple centuries ago).  It’s currently the largest Cathedral in Hungary.  Afterwards we took further advantage of the AP’s car and went shopping with them at Auchin.  In the evening the four of us joined the crowd attending the Walker family concert.  There were a lot of people there.  With the Walkers, today was probably the day I’ve seen the most blonds in one place since leaving the MTC. 

Sunday, 26 May
At Church today, only E attended out of our investigators.  I’m still praying that L’s wife will recover so she can come to church, be taught the lessons, and be baptized.  The would-have-been Sunday School teacher didn’t show up, so the Assistants winged an impromptu Sunday School lesson.  After church, Elder Loveday and I went tabling for several hours.  However, very few people were outside and even fewer were receptive.  We haven’t had a very successful week missionary-work-wise.  My miracle reflection is that while our missionary work isn’t increasing currently, I’m gratefully glad that my piano and cooking skills have improved over my mission.

Monday, 27 May
Today was a Hivatal Day.  This morning we took Sister Grigg and Sister Maxfield to submit the applications for their residency cards.  It was my second to last trip, my last being next Thursday to retake some pictures and fingerprinting.  In addition to the Hivatal, we’ve had a bunch of workers in the Mission Office and YSA level cleaning everything and we got kicked out of the office for a couple hours.  We met with E today.  R was there.  We talked about Christ-like Attributes and service.  The program went great and E’s bringing all her relatives to her baptism as well as set-up a program between us and one of her friends who she has already given a Book of Mormon to, and will be coming with her friend to meet with us on Thursday.  Awesome!  Our second program was with M.  He asked if we could watch the Restoration Film, then practically had his face glued to the screen the whole time.  In addition to watching the movie, we talked about faith and enduring to the end.  M is still reading and praying, and he asked us if it was still okay for him to be baptized in August.  Of course!  Things are going well with him. In the evening we devoted our time to calls and Area Book work.  My miracle today is that as I have continued reviewing my journals I am thankful for the memories.

Tuesday, 28 May
One dog today.  The cleaning of the Mission Home continued, moving down to the main floor and basement.  E had her baptismal interview today and finally decided who she would like to perform the ordinances.  She passed the interview of course, and asked that I be the one to baptize her, and for Elder Bebel to confirm her with the Bishop standing in.  In the late afternoon Elder Loveday and I went streeting and tracting for several hours.  While we were tracting, we got a call from Z who dropped us over the phone. 

Wednesday, 29 May
One cancellation today.  Our investigator became sick.  The workers finished cleaning the building today.  However, they moved stuff to clean and didn’t move any of it back, leaving behind a mess.  We got the camera to the front door fixed today.  We worked more on our Area Book today and made home-made pizzas in the evening with the Assistants using a 3-Kilo loaf of bread.  My miracle is excitement to meet with E and her friend tomorrow.

Thursday, 30 May
Two cancellations today.  It was pouring rain until the afternoon.  This morning we received a call and ran to the Mission Home early so I could stand as a witness to someone getting re-baptized.  We later met with E.  R was there.  We filled out her baptismal form with her.  Unfortunately, her friend was not able to come with her to meet today.  The next time we meet with E she will be a member.  Several missionaries were here for interviews today.  We also met with E and watched the Restoration Film.  She’s currently been having many family problems, especially with her husband.  Angolora was really small tonight.  I don’t know if it’s due to summer or the rain.  Today’s miracle is that in three weeks I’ll be home.

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1 June 2013 Pictures (Budapest)