Monday, July 28, 2014

First week in Hungary

My First Week in Hungary!

After a missed flight in London, finally we got to Budapest! It was POURING rain, and we drove back to the mission home in Buda (just across from Pest, the Danube divides the 2 cities). So, unfortunately we didn't get to see the city :(((( but I saw a teeeeeny bit of it from the car, if that counts! President S and his wife are so nice.  We got to the mission home, and after President did interviews, we had a dinner of chicken paprikas, so obviously that was amazing. At that point, I was so tired! We walked to our hotel (which was one of the nicest hotels I've ever stayed in) and got ready for bed. I just passed out and slept like a rock, I was SO tired!

The next day, we had a really good breakfast at the hotel, and then went to the mission home. Then, we went to this little public area and went streeting! I was a little nervous, but it actually wasn't even bad. I was with an experienced sister, and she did most of the talking, but I would say some things here and there, and we got a number or 2 which was nice! But I was still too scared to try and do it by myself yet. Then we went back and had our "sorting hat" or get-your-trainer meeting. It was pretty funny because my MTC zone had kind of been making predictions about who would go where and get what kind of trainer, and for the most part, we seemed to be kind of right--we were saying that 2 of the sisters from my MTC district who are from small towns, and don't like big cities, would get called to big cities; and they did! My companion got called to Buda, the biggest city in the mission, and she is from like the tiniest town haha! The other small town sister got called to Debrecen, which is like the 2nd biggest area! Then the other sister and I, we "big city" girls, got small areas! Haha!

My area is Pápa (pronounce the first a as you do in "apple" or "cat" and then the second a as in "almost"), and it's actually the smallest area in the mission. I was actually really happy about it though, because I kept thinking before I got to Hungary, and as I was driving through Budapest, "I kind of hope I go to a small town." And here I am! Pápa is a fairly new area, so I think the work is a little slower here, but I really am happy to be here, and I like it a lot already. All the sisters were put into trios, so we all have 2 other companions. I actually am pretty excited  to be in a trio! Sister W has been in Hungary for 9 weeks-- I really like her, and she's nice! Sister K is my trainer, and yes, she is Hungarian! I'm super excited about that, I think she can really help my language in general, especially my pronunciation! We've already been speaking Hungarian a LOT, not even intentionally, just because she speaks Hungarian. She speaks a little English too, though. But I also just really like her--she's super nice! So thus far, i realllllly like my companionship a LOT.  We're also here with 2 other Elders, and 2 senior sisters, and they are great too! Basically just know that I am really excited about this first transfer!! I know Heavenly Father has put me where I'm supposed to be! 

SO. From Budapest, we got on the train to Papa (I'm just going to spell it this way for convenience sake) which is about 2 or 2 1/2 hours outside Budapest. The train ride through the Hungarian countryside was BEAUTIFUL. (That is when i wasn't asleep haha.) So we got to Papa, and carried our heavy luggage through the town, and the whole time I was just thinking "this city is BEAUTIFUL" and it really is! Hungary reminds me a lot of Germany. Papa reminds me of that one place we went in Germany where there was a graveyard and we ate döner and there was like a little kid race in the street? Anyway, just trust me it's gorgeous. SUPER green and just way pretty. There are church steeples popping up amongst the red roofs, and flowers everywhere that line the paint chipping walls of the colorful houses. That's something I thing is way cool about Hungary. It looks just like any other cute little European place, but many people don't know about it so there aren't a billion tourists. Although there is a NATO base nearby, so we have run in to some Americans. 
But anyway, we got there, and went to buy some groceries at the Spar that is right next to our apartment. I was just kind of wandering around not really knowing what I should get, but now i have a better gage of what I should get!  Anyway, We went streeting for a little bit, and i was still to nervous to say much! But we came back and got ready for bed and again I just slept like a ROCK, I was soooo tired. The next day was my first real day of being a missionary. After personal and companion study, we streeted a bit, came back, had lunch and language study, and this thing called "12 week study" where you basically overview what you learned in the MTC. Then we went tracting for a few hours. Thankfully it's not too hot just yet. I think it will get a lot hotter in August though. Also, there are plum trees everywhere so you can eat plums while you tract.

After  tracting, we went and taught K about the Holy Ghost, and he is super sweet. After that, we had English class and I "taught" the proficient class-- basically you just start a conversation in English and just talk for a while, so that wasn't hard. And we only had 1 student haha, but he was really nice. After, we went with the elders to get fagyi - ice cream, or really gelato! So of course that was sooooo good. And of course I got chocolate! Although, I have to be honest and say that the best gelato ever is still reserved for Italy, as of now, but hopefully I can find some that surpasses it here in Hungary. After the district meeting on Friday, we got döner, and it was soooooooooooo good-- I really think it might surpass the German döner i have had! Anyway, so that was a good first day!

The next day was pretty similar, although we had an appointment that dogged so that was kinda dumb! Mostly I don't mind tracting and streeting for now, because I get to see this beautiful little town! On Saturday, the Relief Society had this little pioneer party-meeting thing. They read these stories about pioneers and obviously I couldn't understand most of it ha. But it was good. After, we had this cherry/apple cobbler that was really good, and there was a little wagon and water lilies that the senior sisters had brought to decorate. I just was thinking "even in Hungary, you can't escape Relief Society decorations" haha! It was good, though. Saturday night we had sport nap, or sport day, we just played basketball with some of the members and one of the elder's investigators, so that was fun, even though I’m way bad at basketball. There was this man and his son that came to play on the other court, and we invited them to play with us so that was way fun.

Then Sunday was obviously church. I'm the only one who can play the piano, so you can guess what happened. Although, I'm pretty out of shape on my hymns, and I was using one of those little hymnbooks because they don't have the piano hymnbook in Hungarian, so there was a lot of right hand action goin on, haha. A goal I have is to learn almost all the hymns, so hopefully I get a few chances to practice here and there. But church was so great.  I couldn't really understand most of it, but the Spirit was strong, and I just felt this overwhelming love for the ward members. They are just the sweetest, humblest people, and I don't know, you can just really tell that they love the gospel, and that it means so much to them. They make such an effort to make Church really special and a learning experience. I just got teary eyed looking at all 30 of them, singing, passing the sacrament, giving talks, wearing worn out church clothes or even jeans. It really just made me so happy. They are all so kind and friendly and I just felt the spirit of Christ in all of them. So that was a great experience for me.

Sorry this email was all over the place! Just know that I LOVE IT HERE! The work is hard for sure, but I don't know, I really like it. I love you all! Thanks for all your love, and have a great week! 

Sister VanDenBerghe