Friday, September 26, 2014

So this week was a good week! We taught S the Plan of Salvation, and and I think it went well. Oh, I love him. We also went to B’s and T and J were both there, and so we were able to teach them them, too, so that was great! Teaching P.O.S. so much has made me just think of my family and how incredibly grateful I am! Seriously, I’m not just saying that, you are all so wonderful and I love you all so much! Thanks for being the best family ever--and now to have the kind, sweet, smart, lovely K join our family soon when she and J get married! How did we get so lucky??

We also went to P's in our ward and she made us this egg-onion-pepper soup thing that was suuuuper yummy! I know some of the food sounds really weird, but don’t doubt me when I say it's actually HEAVEN. On Wednesday we tracted this old guy who had lived in Australia for like 40 years and so he had this cool Hungarian-Australian accent and he was suuuper proud of having lived in Australia. He was like "come look at my lawn and my house, this is how the Australians do it!" --both of which were super neat and clean. Then we saw a different P from our ward and talked to her for a bit.  She is seriously the CUTEST, tiniest little thing with the tiniest little voice you’ve ever heard. AHHHH –she’s sooooo adorable. And she does the most BEAUTIFUL Hungarian embroidery! I’ll send a pic of her work.

Sunday, yesterday, was SOOO GOOD! So, I think I told you about G from last week, S's friend that we taught tithing to on the first lesson. I called her on Sat. and invited her to church and she CAME!! Ah she was sooo cute, just holding her Book of Mormon the whole time! She could only stay for sacrament meeting, but that was fine! And T was there! So that was awesome, too. Sacrament meeting was so good! It was testimony meeting, and everyone was just bearing these awesome testimonies about how they know the Gospel is true, the Book of Mormon is true, and the Prophet is called of God and stuff like that. The Spirit was really there. And I was SO glad G could have her first meeting be testimony meeting!!! So that was awesome. Also, C came for Sunday School, and so did one of our less active members, so we had 4 of our teaching people at church!!! WOOHOO!!! Now if we could only get that darn S to come!! 

After church we went to L's and Elder E was just like "We're going to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ... and Sister VanDenBerghe is going to teach about faith!"--out of nowhere, so i just whipped out this thing on faith! But it went well! We practice teaching SOOO much! I am sooooo grateful to K, my trainer, for that, because now I feel like, if I really had to, I could pretty much handle the basics of the first 3 lessons by myself, which is a good feeling. 

I love Hungary, I love missionary work, and I love you ALL! It’s almost transfers!!!  I CANNOT believe that. I honestly am kind of hoping to stay in Pápa, but we will see what happens! Also, zone training in Győr this week! woohoo! 
Remélem hogy ezen a héten a legjobb hét lesz nektek! Szeretlek beneteket! 
sok szeretettel,

Sziasztok! I cannot BELIEVE I am almost done with my first transfer! This has been going be so scary fast!  This coming Sunday, the 21st, i will have been on my mission for 4 months! That is not even real. AND MY BROTHER IS GETTING MARRIED TO K. Oh my goodness, I AM SO HAPPY FOR YOU BOTH-- you're more of a power couple than Jay Z and Beyonce, I'll say that for sure! 
So this week!  We taught S about prayer, obedience, scripture reading and Church attendence. We again asked him to come to Church, and W. Nővér even offered that we walk together! But again he just said he had to take the néni to church. I really do love S, but I feel like more and more I’m realizing that he kind of just likes to talk to us. He likes to learn about the Bible and The Book of Mormon, but he doesn't really have a desire to know it is true. He likes learning, but he doesn’t think he needs to make commitments, baptismal covenants, or necessarily do the things necessary to change and really come to Christ. 
Zone training in Győr was good! President and Sister S came and President just talked about how we need to be doing missionary work the LORD'S way, not our own. If we do it our way, we'll get our results, but if we do it the Lords way, we will get the Lord's results. I totally agree. The zone training was good, too-- we talked about giving and following up on commitments. Commitments are SO important! Probably the most important part of missionary work even. If you aren't committing people to pray, read the Book of Mormon, and keep the commandments, then you aren't giving them the opportunity to gain their own testimony, to really feel the Spirit on their own outside of our lessons, and really know the truth for themselves! I know that is still something I need to work on, and our goal is to pray for our investigators and what commitments to give them. If they don't keep commitments, we try to do it with them, like read the chapter of the Book of Mormon that they didn't read. This is probably old news to you missionaries and RMs, but something that future ones could pay attention to. 

On Thursday, we had pizza night, and enjoyed our tap water from giant Heinekin mugs! So there ya go. Friday was Institute, which was really good! I know I always say this, but I LOOOOVE this branch! There were about 10 of us, and we talked about Joseph Smith, the first vision, and the appearance of angel Moroni. They know so much!! Even the 16 year old who has barely been a member for a year! I know these people love the Gospel so much, and they just have this beautiful desire to learn as much as they can whenever they can. It amazes and inspires me. Sunday was good too, even though none of our teaching people came; A gave a really good talk on courage and I understood quite a bit of it! But honestly, just when I think my speaking and understanding is skyrocketing, I’ll just hit these days where I’m like, "Okay, I can’t speak or understand anything!" But I take it day by day.  

SZERETLEK TITEKET! Good luck with the wedding-- it will be fabulous, I know it! Make sure to take a lot of pictures with my cardboard cutout-- haha!

So the WEDDING!!! AHHHHHH I am literally dying, all the pictures are SO great, seriously. Thank you for taking so many with "me" haha! Sorry, I really don’t have a ton of time this week to email, because TRANSFERS are taking place-- okay, so the big news..... I’m staying in Pápa! I’m getting Sister S, who I have heard really good things about! She is only one transfer ahead of me, so this should be an adventure for sure!! But I’m really excited, and of course I’m gonna miss my lil trio! I love this branch more than anything though, so I am glad to stay. The work in Pápa isn't great, I'll be totally honest. But hopefully we can continue on and see a bit more success.  I will write more next week….Love you all SO MUCH and I am so happy the wedding turned out so perfectly. I FREAKING LOVE  being a VanDenBerghe!!!!

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Update: September 3, 2014

From Monday, Aug. 4, 2014: Last p-day we just emailed, went to the big grocery store they had here, and had family night, during which we played soccer, so that was fun! Also, the Elders looooooooooooove whips. I hate them. Whips are apparently a huge thing here--these huge whips, and they sound like gunshots, so loud. So ya, I’m not a fan, but I'll try to send you pics.
-On Tuesday we taught S. about the importance of the Book of Mormon. We also went to the S. family’s house (our branch president and his wife and son). So their son is sooo cute, and he just kept giving us all his toys. Little kids speaking Hungarian is about the cutest thing in the world actually. After that, we went to B’s house, a member, really sweet, but her husband and son are not members, so we are teaching them. This time we went over to help her unpack stuff because she had just painted her house and there was hoards of stuff, not messy or anything, but just a lot of things: cardboard flowers, little tea cups, stuffed animals, doilies, decorations. Her husband J. made us this cherry desert so that was good.
On Wednesday, you are going to be SOOOOO jealous. Why? Because we made lunch with the Bs! They are a family in our ward and the mom is a really good cook. We made Pörkölt, which is basically pork gulas, Nokedli, which is like German spetzle pasta. You eat the pörkölt and nokedli together and it is HEAVEN-- sooooo oooooooo amazingly good. We also made Turós gombóc, which is kind of hard to explain, these cheese balls that you eat with sour cream and powdered sugar. Sounds weird, but they’re actually wayyyyyyyy good. And we made Almás pita, which is this suuuuper yummy apple cobbler-cake type thing. So basically we stuffed ourselves. It was SOOOO DELICIOUS. 

We then made a 40 minute trek to the end of the world to visit a less active member whose house made us bake, it was so hot.  Hungarians don’t seem to believe in air conditioning.  After, we returned to help B unpack and, on the way home we got SOAKED!  But It was actually so much fun just walking home in the dark and the rain! Sister K would just try and scare us-- haha it was so funny. She is awesome! I really love both my companions. Sister W is from South Dakota and went to BYU last year too. She's great at sports and just schools everyone. Sister  K is just adorable and funny. She always says these English phrases that the elders teach her in her little Hungarian accent, like "that's sooo sick!”  Hahaha-- it's so great. 

From Monday, Aug 11, 2014:  Mom said something in her email that I thought was really cool: we all need to fail!! It’s so true. I have already failed so much! Said so many things wrong and just made so many mistakes! But that’s okay, that’s GOOD. I’m so grateful for all the times that I’ve failed in my life because now, I am able to just kind of shrug these little failures off more easily. For example, this week, we were streeting, and I went up to a lady and introduced us as missionaries. She was like "you speak English--can I speak in English?" And when I said yes, she just went off. Her English wasn’t that good, but she just said something along the lines of "Who are you to tell me about God, and how do you know I haven’t already God in my heart? So you don’t need to say a WORD to me!" Or something like that. So I just gave her a big smile, and told her she could practice her English at our free class. Obviously I was a little shaken up by that, but I know she’s a lot milder than what I will probably experience in the future! Also, we were teaching S on Tuesday about the gospel of Jesus Christ. We had a ward member present, and he was helping out, so basically it was a perfect lesson! I taught about faith, and bore my testimony, and REALLY felt the Spirit. But after what I thought was this awesome testimony that I had just really felt the Spirit in, S corrected this word I said wrong,  haha. I’m not mad about that or anything, and I’m really glad that I could really feel the Spirit in a lesson, but it just goes to show that things aren’t always going to be perfect! Your lessons aren’t going to be like "The District" and just go perfectly! haha, but that’s what makes them meaningful.I think. The Spirit is so personal, and that’s something I really love. Just because someone else is feeling the Spirit, doesn’t mean you have to, too. I love the way God just works with us so INDIVIDUALLY; he does not compare our experiences or progression to ANYONE else. 
Later in the day, we went to the branch president’s house again, and they made us this fried vegetable that was delicious. So another hooray for amazing Hungarian food!   But earlier that morning, I woke up with this huge red bump on my leg and kind of ignored it. But by this point in the day, I realized that I needed to do something about my leg. To make a long story short, we went to the nurse who is the Senior Sister, and then to the doctor. So low and behold, they think I  had a tick bite and needed to take medicine to prevent Lyme Disease (DONT freak out). Thankfully, I caught it super early on, so hopefully everything will be fine.  I’m taking all the appropriate anti-biotics; it doesn’t hurt, and I’m not in pain, and I will be going to the doctor again in a few days. 

Saturday was sport nap and we played soccer. M. (elder’s investigator) brought his friend N., who has been really struggling lately. N. came to sport nap and had a really good time, especially because we were all just way nice to him and stuff. But we invited these little boys that were there to play with us-- they were sooo good! But after, as we were leaving, I saw them pull out cigarettes and start smoking with their friends. I don’t know why it shocked me so much-- knew that everyone in Europe smoked, including little kids, but it just made me SO sad. I almost wanted to cry thinking of how little these kids were. It just made me so grateful that in the US, our schools really stress drug awareness, and especially it made me grateful for the Word of Wisdom. God knows exactly what we need.  

I’m actually writing this email later than usual because we went to a castle for Pday today!! Don’t get too excited-- it was just ruins of a castle, but still really cool, built around a hill with the castle atop the mountain (It was actually quite a hike up to it) and grape vineyards everywhere! I don’t think I’m ever going to get sick of looking around this beautiful country. 

From Monday, Aug 18, 2014:  FIRST OF ALL I AM DOING GREAT! I’m not feeling sick at all from the tick bite or the antibiotic treatment! In fact, i guess a bunch of missionaries in Buda went to some Mexican restaurant and they all got food poisoning! So I AM FINE! I’ve been taking my medicine, and I go to the doctor again tomorrow.
Last Tuesday, we went to S.’s, and he made us this amazzzzzing soup. Sorry, you all are just going to have to deal with me talking about food. I’m obsessed. It had white string beans, potatoes, sausage, and peppers and was so incredible. But he didn’t have any bread, so he just gets on his socks and sandals (a HUGE fashion statement in Hungary) and LEFT US IN HIS HOUSE to go get bread.  That was pretty funny.
On Wednesday, we went tracting.  I think I’m getting a pretty dang good tan from tracting ... you should see my watch tan, pretty impressive! And guess what, C. CAME to the program!! So proud. He has a hard time understanding, but that’s a good thing. I need to learn how to teach simply, so if Hungarian doesn’t force me to do that, C. will!   On Thursday,  we had zone training in Győr!! We were all pretty excited for that! Győr is such a cute city! I think I’d like to serve there at some point, not too big or too small.  But anyway,they just have a lot more fountains and colorful buildings in the main square.  Zone conference was good, though! My zone consists of the Northwest of Hungary (so like, Sopron, Győr, Tatabánya, and areas that are more near Austria kind of). I like everyone, even though I don’t know them super well. We just talked about like asking good questions and Spirit inspired questions, so that was good don’t know if you know who Elder D. is? I guess he played basketball for San Diego State or something? Or like the Suns or something?  Anyway, he just told this story of how this boy was totally selfish, a partier and a drinker, and how the elders who taught him never gave up on him. The boy turned out to be himself, and he just talked about the person he's become-- it was really cool. After, half of the zone went to this restaurant on a ship, but it’s pretty expensive, so the rest of us got döner. Haha, it’s a good thing I like döner! 

We then made our way to Budapest for Greenie training. We got off and I was just like "what the... there are SOOO many people here!”  We stayed in the mission home while my companions went on splits with the Buda sisters. It was way fun to be able to talk to them about the work in their areas, Buda, Pest, and Pécs, and everyone sounds like they’re doing great! The next day we went to the Hivatal to get our living visas or whatever, and then we went to lunch at KFC. The fast food here, including Mcdonalds, is actually pretty expensive! I’d rather get a huge, authentic döner for 800 forint than a tiny KFC sandwich for 900 forint! It was nice to have fast food, though, haha. Greenie training was very good, and we made our way home. I was actually SOOO glad to be back in Pápa! Even just being in Buda for a day, it was really nice to be in my little town again. And ya, still haven’t seen like even a fourth of Buda. I  kind of saw parliament building from the car--that was cool! 

On Saturday, President and Sis. S. actually came to Pápa to do interviews! They took us to this really nice restaurant and fagyi so that was super nice of them! And my interview with president was GREAT!! Ahh I love him!! He is SO loving! He just made me feel really good about being here! Most people tell you not to even think about your family, but he was just like " I loved thinking about my family on my mission (in Finland) because it really made me want to be a better missionary" and I agree! I love you guys! Thanks for praying for me, because I really HAVE felt your love and comfort! So thank you for that! He just made me really want to be obedient, not like a scare-you-into obedience type of way. There was just a lot more love behind it, a lot more "you will be able to have the Spirit with you" kind of way. So I really am SO grateful he is my mission president!

Yesterday was also K. Nővér's Szuletésnapot! Her Birthday! We went over to her relative’s house and had creamy zucchini soup, spinach stuffed chicken, potatoes, fried zucchini, and cucumbers in vinegar. And chocolate cake. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. I’m sure you all feel so bad for me-- thanks for your sympathy! 

From Monday, Aug 26:  Health update: I am doing GREAT! I feel awesome, and I’m following doctor’s orders.  First off, I want to say that I LOVE personal study! I always get so many insights from it. Quick tip for future missionaries: I color code my scriptures according to the 5 lessons outlined in Preach My Gospel: blue for the restoration, orange for plan of salvation, green for Jesus Christ's Gospel, purple for commandments, yellow for ordinances and covenants, and then red for other things that I like but aren’t specific. its soooo helpful!  I have been reading in Alma, and love Alma the Younger so much and always have. There’s a scripture, I think in Helaman, that talks about, no matter how often we need to repent, the Lord will always forgive us. Alma Jr. went about DESTROYING the Church, and then repented, and later became responsible for thousands of people coming unto the Church. 
Earlier in the week, we taught one of our church members the Plan of Salvation, which we have been practicing a tooon. Anyway, it went great, and W.  Nővér and I taught pretty much the whole thing! I feel like my language and teaching skills are really going so uphill! Then we had family night, and our investigator C. was like "my whole week was a catastrophe. I prayed and read the Bible and didn’t get the job I wanted.” And then L. just said basically "just keep reading and praying!" and bore his testimony! It was awesome! L. got a new job, so he’s been able to come to Church and more activities like family night, so it’s awesome to have him there! 

On Tuesday, the doctor said I’m doing great-- taking my antibiotics, probiotics, and lovin’ life. So we taught S. about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and I taught receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost. He was agreeing with everything and seemed to be understanding. W. Nővér, at the end of the lesson, asked him to be baptized, and I felt the spirit SO STRONG. But then he just kind of went on about how he’s already been baptized and doesn’t really think it’s that important and stuff. So that was really sad. I love S. so much, but we don’t really know what to do.

Friday we had district meeting, and went to some Chinese place. I'll just say that Hungarian Chinese food is nothing you need to try....ever....and then we went tabling with the Elders. I actually really like tabling a lot—it’s probably my favorite finding method. You just set up a table with Book of Mormons and pamphlets, and fliers, and posters that say "Mormon Vagyok" (Im Mormon) and "Ingyenes Angolora" (free English class) and go up and talk to people. I feel like I’m sooo much more confident in going up and talking to people! And I feel like I can somewhat carry a conversation. AND I GOT MY FIRST PHONE NUMBER!!!!!!! BY MYSELF! Ah-- I was SO excited!! You are all probably like " took you a whole month?" But hey, I am just over here in little old Pápa, Hungary, jumping for joy over my first phone number. 

My thoughts on Sunday are that I still love this Branch--so much faith, so many incredibly strong testimonies. I’ve been here for a month (which is craziness in and of itself) but I already just love this branch with all my heart, more than I can say through an email. 

So my favorite event of the week was yesterday, in another program with S. We brought L. with us, prepared to kind of ask Sándor questions like, "do you want to keep meeting with us, what do you want from our meetings, do you feel like we have helped" and stuff like that. He said he does want to keep meeting with us, and that we help him understand the Bible and the Book of Mormon, that he wants to learn more about the Book of Mormon, and just all these good things. So ya, we will see what happens this week, because we asked him to read the Book of Mormon. I have to say, L. ROCKED! Ah I love him! He is so incredibly humble. He’s willing to admit to us that he has a hard time keeping the Word of Wisdom, but I have just seen that he is trying so hard to come to Church and everything. And he just kept bearing these awesome testimonies, saying that S. can always ask for help from the missionaries. He invited him to Church on Sunday, and to the Stake meeting in a couple of weeks! At one point, S. got up and left the room, and came back with a copy of this huge Karl Marx book and L. commented,  “I remember that from school--I don’t need it" or something.  At the end, he bore his testimony of the Book of Mormon, and was like "The Book of Mormon is not like Marx; it's not philosophy, It's scripture."  BOOM. That was probably one of my favorite things ever. Oh I love that guy. I love S., too, and I hope we can help him, or at least know if we need to drop him or not. Pray for us! And him! I know you all do and I thank you for that.

From Monday, September 1, 2014:  Early in the week, we had a program with these people we found from our area book, an old couple, and they were SUUUUPER sweet and nice and just orányos (adorable). We taught them 1st part of Plan of Salvation and that went well! And you'll never guess what they gave us......tomatoes! Haha! I love Hungarians. On Tuesday, Sz.invited us over to have lunch and teach his friend. So he made us this really good roko krumpli, which is like potatoes with eggs and sausage cooked in the typical Hungarian mixture of sour cream and paprikas. It was SO. GOOD. but ya'll shouldnt be surprised about that. haha. So after lunch, Sz’s friend G. had heard you had to "pay to be part of your church" --- so our first lesson with her was tithing! Haha! K. just basically taught her about tithing, and it was really good! Then she asked us if we had a book about our church ;) so hopefully she reads the Book of Mormon we gave her! But it was really just cool to see Sz. get so excited about missionary work, and to see him be so open and confident about sharing the Gospel and sharing his testimony with his friend! This branch makes me want to be a better missionary. For example, B. asked us for a BoM to give to her friend, and has given a BoM to someone else too! And she wants to put a scripture from the BoM on a rock to put on her mom’s grave so people will see it and be curious! AHHH, I love her. Also, there are slugs everywhere, so for about 15 minutes while we were tracting, we just got on the ground and examined them—haha—OH, missionary life. 
On Saturday, P. from our branch invited us to this festival thing and told us we were going to have our own booth. So, I was expecting it to be this festival where we would just talk to people about our church. But no-- it was a cooking competition!! There was traditional Hungarian music playing and about 12 different tables of groups all making pörkölt over a fire to compete over whose was the best! There was one little néni at our table who wouldn’t let us do anything and just did everything herself haha! It was actually really fun though, and eating pörkölt? Ya, i don’t have a problem with that ;) Even though they all put a WHOLE PACKAGE OF LARD in in-- oh dear. 

**One more fun thing: We got our weekly fagyi in the town square with the elders, and two people were playing soccer the elders knew, so we joined them in our missionary clothes!  Then, a bunch of teenagers came and wanted to join in. So we played soccer, the elders in their dress clothes, W. Nover and I in our skirts (K. Nover sat out, haha) with the locals in the town square of Papa.  If that’s not one of the funnest things I’ve ever done, I don’t know what is.

Email from Grace’s Hungarian companion: I, I’m Sister K!  I’m Sister VanDenBerghe’s companion.  J  I thought I would write to you, but don’t speak English very well.  I only learned it on my mission, so please excuse anything I say wrong.  I would like to say I’m sooo grateful for your daughter, because she is a very good missionary!!!!!!!  She has a lot of diligence and is always willing to try everything.  I was surprised when she spoke Hungarian because I thought she would not have learned a lot in the MTC, haha, but she did!  She speakd in Hungarian very well!!  And she always is doing the missionary work and doing everything.  That’s a big help for me.  And I love her!!  I’m so grateful I can serve with her, and can be her trainer.  I hope I do it well.  And I think she has improved a lot in five weeks!  J  Have a good day.  Sister K.