FROM SEPT 29:
Highlights of the last two weeks include going on splits with Sister J, who went to East High, so that was pretty fun, meeting some New Yorkers (it was so great being loud, laughing a ton, just being Americans!), and going to a program with a less active with Sister S., since my companions were sick. So, I taught the whole thing by myself, which was a tad bit scary, but was good! I just feel like I’m getting so much more confident in talking to people and just speaking a lot, even if I don’t speak correctly all the time. Also, B.,
my favorite person, gave all us sisters these cute little angels she had made from a plastic egg, foam head, fake hair, and sparkly wings. I LOVE HER.
-TRANSFERS: Super fun. We went to Budapest, and it was just SOO much fun to see everyone and talk to them about their first transfers! I think everyone had good first transfers. SO…I’m staying in Pápa, and I’ve got my new companion. Sister S.! I LOVE HER. Seriously, we are the same person—or at least really similar--sarcastic, talk a lot, and have already had a great time together! Like the other day, we were doing nightly planning and making fun of "The District" and we were like "Okay, so what's our back up plan for our 5 hours of tracting? How about... hmm... 5 hours of tracting?" Haha! We have a lot of similar thoughts on the Gospel, missionary work, and people, and I love her taste in classic literature (also LIKES CLASSICAL MUSIC, THANK HEAVENS. I may KILL my next companion that only likes listening to EFY music hahaha), art, and culture! She's super smart, speaks well, is from Bear Lake and worked at Ideal Beach Resort, and her siblings all read a ton and are just interesting and well rounded. She goes to BYU Idaho and is doing web design and development, and her parents met when they were both serving their missions in Hungary! How cool is that?! She said they speak Hungarian to each other all the time, but it’s not like she knew any of it before.
Anyway, ya, so we've already been working really well! So our first day we did a ten story (Hungary is FULL of these huge, ugly, crappy apartment buildings that they built in the communist era, and they’re just super dumb and old). So I had never tracted an apartment building on my mission, and the first one we did we got 2 let ins and met some super cool people, including this lady that lived in Canada and speaks perfect English, so that was cool! We’ve also been doing more tabling with the Elders, who are now a trio.
Thanks for sending the excerpt on faith by C.S. Lewis--I am OBSESSED with it! He is amazing--I love how he explains that having faith, in the truest sense, would lead to action, because if you truly have faith in Jesus Christ, you follow what he says…but you also realize that you can never do enough. Every means that God has given you to follow him, are, essentially, his to begin with, so even if we perfectly followed him, again it just wouldn't be enough. Ya, love me some C.S. Lewis
But ya, this transfer is gonna be loooots of finding because we need investigators, and I will probably run into 5000 more Jehovah's witnesses who tell us we're of the devil, but I think it’s funny though! A lot of people think that I’m from England, and I guess that’s a good thing, because if they assumed American, that would mean they think my language is poor. Sorry this email was so weird and all over the place but this has been such a crazy week. Just know I’m lovin my life!!!! I can’t imagine not being here and not being a missionary, no matter how hard it is sometimes. I’m really excited for this transfer! It’s gonna be hard, really hard. But good! I’m praying for all of you, and I know you’re all praying for me, and for that, I am grateful!
FROM OCT 6
okay, oh man I have SO much to write! First of all, I don't know why, but this week General Conference made me miss all you guys a lot. I love you all so much! I want you to know that, every one of you!
This week we taught S. about prophets and General Conference, and HE SAID HE WOULD COME ON SATURDAY! That’s a big step for us. We also taught B.and our lesson plan wasn't super concrete. T. and J. were both there, we just kind of had a lesson about Prophets and General Conference, and it went pretty well. T was interested in looking at all the pictures of the Prophets of the Church, so that was cool. And J. is a really good cook, so that's always a plus :)
Thursday was Zone Conference! It was really good, with President talked about how we are somewhat "close" to a 2nd stake. I would die of happiness if we could get a temple here of course, but ya, we do NOT have enough leadership. I do like all the zone conferences and meetings though--they always really make me want to be a better missionary! I'll be honest… sometimes I really don't feel like I’m a good enough missionary. Like I don't work hard enough, study the language enough, stop enough people, talk to enough people, whatever. It's hard for me, especially with my language being so small, to feel confident in streeting people, and even tracting, and I know it's something that takes time to improve. Sometimes I am pretty jealous of American missionaries though, just being able to say whatever they want, but I know I’m here for a reason. I have had some good experiences tracting and streeting, too, for sure! I wouldn't say that I necessarily have any "miraculous" occurrences, but I guess just with me really trying to think of the people I’m talking to as children of God, and really just feeling so much love for them. I think that's the coolest thing. Like, the other day, we were getting fagyi, and behind us in line was this man and his son and they both had hearing aids in. The little boy was signing to his dad, and they were both speaking in broken Hungarian, laughing and joking with each other. It was really such a beautiful thing to see, this father and son relationship that was just like emanating joy. I felt this overwhelming sense of love, and just thought of how much God must absolutely love them -- love all his children really.
Okay General Conference time!! Woohoo! I’ve been so excited to write about this! I LOOOOOOVED IT!! So we picked up S. at his house, and then took him to the branch house. When we were all singing the opening hymn, the Spirit was so strong! It felt so right to be sitting in a little branch house in Hungary with like 8 other people, watching General Conference, even if it was in Hungarian. When President Monson got up and started talking about the missionaries, S. just pointed at both of us with this smile on his face, it was so cute. I actually understood Cheryl Esplin’s talk about the sacrament pretty well! I thought that was good! And then Chi Hong Wong spoke, and Sister Sellers and I realized he was speaking in CHINESE!! That was SOO cool! I LOVE that they did that!!! S. had to leave, but that meant that we got to watch Uchtdorf's talk in English!! IT WAS AMAZING. As usual. I love how he talked about receiving personal revelation and gaining our own testimonies (I wish S. could have stayed for that) and how a testimony is the most important thing we can gain on this earth. I loved how he said the church is a place for ALL testimonies. "We nourish and encourage ALL LIGHT", and "This spiritual light is within reach of EVERY child of God" were some quotes I loved. I even LOVED the prayer of the Sat. morning session! I thought it was just so unplanned, and so sincere, just asking to bless the families of the missionaries, and asking us to really apply the specific things that we had just learned about.
Also, yesterday, L. was just being WAY friendly to S., like putting his arm around him, and he invited him to all the sessions on Sunday! So S. called us and told us he would be coming at 6 (which would be the Sunday morning session for us)! Good work L.!! So we get to the branch house and S. was there and HE BROUGHT HIS DAUGHTER IN LAW!!!!!!! Don't you love it when your investigator does missionary work??!! And the Sunday afternoon session was PERFECT. First of all, the choir started singing "Praise to the Man" and then, my cute little Hungarians pulled out their hymnbooks and started singing along. It wasn't the perfect mix of Hungarian singers and the special arrangement the MoTab had done, but I felt the Spirit so strongly.
I could understand the talks fairly well in Hungarian, or at least I could understand that they were all so great! So, overall, that was just such a GREAT session!! And the fact that S. could be there for all those talks with his daughter in law was such a blessing. I think they both really liked it, and we will be meeting with them both this week :)
So ya, this week was super great and just full of little miracles from God. I've started writing down a "miracle" that happened every day in my planner. I know that's super cheesy, but it has helped me see that miracles truly do happen every day, that God looks out for us and cares about us, and that he knows exactly what we individually need. I love this Gospel! I am so grateful for the Prophet and the Apostles that guide our Church, and I KNOW they receive revelation about what we truly need to hear. I really hope that S. was able to feel the Spirit, and was able to understand that this church is the TRUTH, it is the Gospel Restored by the Prophet Joseph Smith. I know that to be true.
I love you all so much and I thank you for your examples to me. Keep on being the great people you are!
FROM OCT 13
Fall is actually occurring here and I'm loving it! It's still pretty warm and the leaves are just falling lightly in the sun and crunching under our feet. This is my favorite time of year I have decided! But Pápa also decided to have an epidemic of spider webs. Seriously, there was this one day that there were just huge, long spider webs EVERYWHERE just connecting from telephone pole to telephone pole and we kept walking into them. Kinda creepy. My companion just came from Buda, and she feels like Pápa is just this fake little town, like they just built this movie set and then it was abandoned (there are like a total of 5 people walking around any street that's not the walking street), haha.
So basically this week was all finding (actually, that's how my whole mission has been, so it hasn't made any much of a difference to me). There's this place called Öreghegy (pronounced ur-egg-hedge) and it’s a slab of old commie apartments about 45 minutes away in the middle of nowhere. Anyway, one of our first days in the transfer we tracted there, and got two let ins: one from this lady who lived in Canada (her name is Zsene) and has these two adorable little kids. So we set up with her, and we literally went down to Öreghegy like 3 different times to try and meet with her, but every time she had some excuse for why she couldn't meet, and then the 3rd time she just wasn't home. That was sad because we really thought she was legit, but we left her a Mormon Könyve so hopefully something good could come out of that?
We also got let in by K., who is friends with one of our members, and had said she promised our member that she'd come to church one time. Anyway, we set up with her for what we thought was on Thursday, and then we get a call on Wednesday and she was like "Hey, can we meet tomorrow? Today’s not good for me". So it was a miracle because we wouldn't have gone on Wednesday and confusion would have ensued. Anyway, so we went over there on Thursday and had the BEST lesson of my mission. So first of all, she has two sons, but I thought they wouldn't be coming because she said they weren't really religious! Anyway, she had actually rescheduled for Thursday just so her sons could be there for our lesson! We taught about the restoration, and when we were teaching about Joseph Smith I felt the Spirit really strongly, especially when we were telling the first vision. Not only in my mind was I thinking "Of course! This is so true, don't they realize that this is TRUE???" I was also thinking "What the heck, I'm actually teaching a first lesson, the Restoration, to interested people, to a FAMILY no less! This has never happened to me before!" So it was good-- I really hope they felt the Spirit. K. wants to keep meeting with us, and her sons like to read, so hopefully they read the Mormon Könyve!! So that was a success in Öreghegy. Also we found the best pékség in all of Hungary over there, better than the pékség in Buda, I am not kidding you. THE best nutella croissant in the world probably. This would be the only reason I would bring you all to Pápa haha.
Anyway, ya that was basically our week, although Sunday was also a good day, Fast and Testimony meeting baby!! Gosh I am obsessed with this branch--you all know that. Á. and L. got up and bore their rock testimonies after being members for exactly a year, the best teenagers this Church has ever seen. One of our bácsis got up and bore this short, simple testimony about how he knows the Church is true. But my favorite was P. My tiny little P., just a little néni who lives by herself in Pápa, Hungary, has been a member for less than a year, and has the strongest testimony I have ever heard. She just gets up there and testifying of what she knows to be true - The Church, The Book of Mormon. And she's just crying saying how incredibly happy she is and how grateful she is to God for this Gospel. And I'm just sitting there crying too. Honestly, I don't know if there are going to be people in my life that I love more than these branch members in Pápa, Hungary.
Also S.... who knows. He still thinks Church doesn't matter, or at least having one true Church isn't important, just as long as someone has faith and does good things. Obviously I think having faith and doing good works is ESSENTIAL to being a follower of Christ, or even to being a good person. But, like Christ, we are baptized (into his true Church) to follow his example, to make a covenant with God that we are willing to follow him and obey his commandments, and that God will in turn bless us with the greatest blessing we can have - the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and obviously, the qualifications of Eternal Life. But I can't make someone believe that, accept it, or act on it. Only they themselves can do so.
Love you all a ton--you guys are almost up there with my Pápa branch :) (kidding, I love you guys more, but still)
FROM OCT 20
I don't even know where to begin with this email.... Honestly this was a pretty miraculous week, but also kind of the worst week ever.
So, last week after emailing, we decided to go tracting to get our p-day working hours in. So we go to this building and we are ringing outside of it, and this girl just comes out crying a little bit, and we start talking to her, but she just starts crying more. She said (obviously) that right then wasn't a good time to talk, so we basically just bore testimony to her that we know God loves her, and got her number with heavy intentions to find her again and talk to her.
As we were doing the same building, this néni came up to us and was like "What are you doing?" blah blah blah, and she took us in the building and was like "no one's here, see?" And she took us around the first floor, ringing the doorbells with us. One lady answered, and the néni was just like "These girls are doing some sort of survey, but I don't know what they want, they don't speak Hungarian very well." (very big annoyed face). So finally, the néni went in her apartment, and we just went up to the next floor.
One lady answered the door and looked really tired and had all these crazy kids running around. But she let us in, and we started talking to her. Her kids were super cute and crazy and funny, and the little girl was holding this tiny, 2 week old puppy, and she just gave it to me, so that was fun, haha. Anyway, we start talking to the lady, and the following happened: She said she had been feeling really down lately. She wasn't sure if God really loved her, and she had a TON of questions. She wanted answers to the questions, and she said she had pulled out the Bible to find answers. She said that RIGHT as she opened the Bible, we came to her door. She asked us if we were messengers from God, using the very words "Called to preach the word unto the nations". When we said yes, she basically just started asking us all the questions she has ever had, like whether or not her husband is right for her, and just all this stuff! It was INSANE. We were there for about 2 hours just trying to answer all her questions. I couldn't really believe it was real!
This was NOT the kind of thing that happens to missionaries in Hungary! This couldn't be happening to us! I mean, this kind of thing is only for American missionaries, right?! Basically, we gave her a Book of Mormon and the Plan of Salvation Pamphlet I happened to have in my bag, and had planned to meet with her on Wednesday when her kids were in school and she wasn't working. I have never had someone that eager to meet with us again! As we left the building, those were the 2 happiest Sister missionaries the world has ever seen. Seriously, we were just like jumping around, freaking out. We could NOT believe that had just happened!
The rest of the week ended up being really hard though. We only had ONE program planned, so the rest of the week we literally just went tracting and streeting like ALL day. We tried several times to call M. (the miracle lady) and we even went over to her house twice, but we couldn't get a hold of her. That was SUPER disappointing. I'm praying so hard that we don't lose her, or that she didn't look us up on the internet and now thinks we're a cult or something. We tried calling R. (the crying girl) and she wouldn't answer, and we think we saw her on the street too, but was trying to avoid us. We also tried calling all of our other potential investigators, all of which either didn't answer, or don't want to meet with us. So that was pretty hard, feeling like we are finding some pretty legit people, and then we never see them or get a hold of them again.
So looks like this week is gonna be even more finding, haha. I know we can really find and get a hold of the right people, the people who are prepared for this Gospel. Sometimes I just wish we didn't have to go through a million obstacles to get to them though! I'm still crazily grateful for that miracle experience though; that's the kind of thing I heard about in missions, but was just so sure would never happen to me! I guess that means all the door slams and mean nénis really are worth it haha!
On Friday, we went on splits with the senior sisters, so I went tracting with Sister S. for a few hours. I was a little nervous to have to do everything myself, but I actually really liked it a lot and it ended up being good! We weren't really getting anywhere and not a lot of people were home (or not slamming doors on us). But this one old couple let us in and they were super arányos. Haha, basically all we had to say was that we were from America and the husband just like went off rambling about Hungarian politics and economics. He was basically just complaining about how, when Hungary was communist, everyone had jobs and work, and now, no one has work, and there's a huge class difference and how the political system is super corrupt and only the rich people are in office-- blah blah blah. Haha, so I finally got two words in about our Church and stuff, and then he was like "Oh, ya, you're the religion where the man has like 3 wives, right?" (I'm pretty sure he had been watching "Sister Wives" on TV), so I had to explain that, we do not, in fact, practice polygamy. It was a good opportunity to talk about Joseph Smith though!
The wife was actually super sweet and totally backing me up and agreeing with me! I also explained that we also do not participate in infant baptism, but that people are baptized at 8 years of age or older. So it was a little bit of deep doctrine for my first let-in by myself, but I feel good about the way I handled it (with the only language skills I have), so THANK YOU for the Spirit!! They weren't really interested in hearing what we had to say at all though. But we left a Book of Mormon with them.
Also, we streeted two different people this week who were both like "you guys look really happy! Why are you so happy?" So we told them EXACTLY why :) And they were both sounding really excited about coming to church, and said they would come. I guess I shouldn't have been expecting them to come, but it was still disappointing when they weren't there, especially because one of them didn't have a phone :(
Oh well, megyunk tovabb!! (we press forward)
So ya, this week was the best and the worst. I'm really hoping that we can meet with the family we did 2 weeks ago (the Restoration lesson family-- they couldn't meet last week) and especially M.!!! We'll see what happens, but I trust God, and if we can't ever find her again, maybe now's just not her time.
Anyway, I love you guys all so much! Have a csodálatos (miraculous or wonderful) week!!