Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FROM NOV 11, 2014

I wasn't able to write yesterday because we had interviews with President S. in Buda. Oh, I love him. He seriously is so sweet and caring and really helped me feel like I am being a good missionary and doing the right things.

I am sure this will come as a shock to all of you.... we found another cute old couple! Haha! And, I know I say this every time, but these people are actually my favorite. They had an old translation of the Book of Mormon, so we brought them a new copy. They were SO sweet and

just the nicest people ever. Not super interested in the Church, but I think we might try and keep meeting with them because they are honestly some of the most Christlike, caring people I’ve met. They made this apple desert for us after only meeting us once in a let in, and they were just so incredibly nice. We showed them Temple Square on Google earth, and the wife thought it was so beautiful that it was all white. I happened to be wearing my Young Women's temple necklace too, so that was cool. They were like "come use our computer any time to write your families" haha-- it was adorable. The husband is super smart, and has written several of his own books about Catholicism in Pápa, and about the airforce in Pápa! So that was cool too! 

We have had actually some more really cool tabling things happen lately:
-One guy came up to us and took our cards but said he didn't believe in God and wasn't interested in talking to us. He started walking away, but then he came back and was like, "Sorry, don't be mad, I just wanted to come back and say that I felt something really strong in my heart just then.”
-At least 4 different women, as we stopped them and talked to them, got really emotional and almost started crying. Two women said they had a husband or mother in the hospital, and they were on the verge of tears telling about how they pray for them every night. Two other women got really emotional talking about how they believe in God and how they really know he's there. How, when other people aren't there for them, God is always there. And then one lady said she received a lot of spiritual strength
from us. It has been so cool to me to see that, even a 2 minute interaction with someone, they can really feel the Spirit, and I can just feel so much love for them as human beings, even if I don't even know them. 

 During the Christmas season, we are doing, as a mission, this "Character of Christ" activity. Every week, we are to work on and study the attributes of Christ (last week's was faith, and I talked a little bit about that in last week's letter). I thought I'd just share what I wrote to President this week about hope:
Thinking about and studying about hope has really helped me this week! I like to look at hope almost in this way: faith is BELIEVING that God knows what he's doing and will make everything work out as it should, and then doing the actions that you know are necessary to carry out your faith. And then hope is being HAPPY about that belief. It's about literally being happy and hopeful in your circumstances, BECAUSE of the faith that you put before you. It's not just about doing things because you know you're supposed to, but then being disappointed that maybe God's blessings aren't what we want-- it's about being pleased with the blessings the Lord HAS given and WILL give, and looking forward with (as the Scriptures call it), that "perfect brightness". I think hope, in that sense, really IS brightness, looking towards and carrying the literal light of the Gospel in our lives, and trying to give that light to those around us, despite whether or not they accept that light. I never really know what the difference between faith and hope was, honestly, but now I think I have a better understanding of the two. 

Also, There was a little festival thing going on by the Pápa castle with a bunch of different groups of folk dancers doing traditional Hungarian dances, so that was fun to see (if only from afar for like 3 minutes haha)

FROM NOV 17, 2014

Oh my goodness. Nov 21st... my 6th month mark of being a missionary!!  I never want this to end. I NEVER want to leave being a missionary in Hungary... the best thing that has ever happened to me in my life--The place and the people that I am literally obsessed with and can't imagine my life without. Next week, I will probably be transferred from Pápa. I have such mixed feelings about that… I have to say, it would be kind of nice to actually have investigators haha! But this branch is literally my favorite thing on this earth. The other day, A. just came up to us, and, in English said, "I love you Sisters!" and we gave her hugs. AHHH I can't think about leaving them; it kills me. I will NEVER forget this place!

This week was a good week! On P-day we went bowling-- it was super fun! Sister B., one of the senior sisters,  is somehow a really good bowler and she would get strikes and just go CRAZY, jumping up and down waving her fists in the air. hahahahaha ohhh!!   I’m gonna miss her. She really wants to serve people so much, and she bought glasses for a girl in our branch. On Thursday, the Elders were on splits, so I had to teach medium English class by myself. I liked it though! I want to get good at teaching English, and help people learn English, not just do it because I have to. Friday, we had Zone training in Győr (aka the cutest city everrrr-- it was all decorated for Christmas and just looks so European and pretty). It was good,  about getting investigators to church! T. (B.’s son) and our less active K. came to church on Sunday.  After the training, we ate lunch on this really good boat restaurant! I don't care if I never serve in Győr.... I am coming back to that city! 

Sunday in Church, A., the branch president's little 3 year old that always goes up and gives him hugs during sacrament meeting, was being so funny! During Sacrament meeting, he had gotten all these pass along cards, and went up and down the rows, giving everyone a pass along card, haha! Then he went around again and took them all back! Oh it was so cute. 

More cool finding tapasztalatok (experiences):
-I tabled this lady who looked worn out and sad, and said that she had met with the missionaries before. She said she didn't feel like God had ever really helped her in her life, and just seemed like she was going to break down crying. She said she wants to meet with us, so hopefully I can meet with her before I leave and help her if I can. 
- I tabled a man who wasn't from Pápa but from Békéscsaba. He had also met with the missionaries. He told me about how he had seen the Joseph Smith movie and thought that it must have been really hard for Joseph Smith. We talked about how, even if God and Jesus Christ don't appear to us, as they did to Joseph Smith, we can still get answers to our prayers, and we can still know the truth from God. He said that he had seen us setting up our table, and wanted us to still be there when he came back so we could talk to him. He asked me "why don't you think people are talking to you? It's because they are afraid to act!" So that was really cool to kind of get some encouragement from a man on the street! Hopefully he decides to keep meeting with the missionaries in Békéscsaba. 
-We tracted a lady who was really lonely, and started crying, because her kids all lived outside of Hungary. She told us to come back without us even asking ;)
-I streeted a DUTCH girl!! She was super nice and I talked about Grandpa VDB :) that was kind of a cool little blessing, especially after it was his birthday recently.
- We met this SUPER cool, really religious girl (also tabling - she saw our poster and thought it was cool what we were doing) from the U.S.!! She's the sweetest thing, and  came bowling with us. She's really into her religious beliefs, and used to pass out Bibles that the company would get (her dad works for them here in Pápa). So we want to just really be friends with her right now, and not force anything on her--but seriously, she rocks!!

It's kind of a bummer that I found some cool people and will probably leave and not be able to teach them, but the fact that God let me find them before I left is a blessing in and of itself.  I have to say, to comment on Mom and Dad's emails about being resilient, My companion is really great when it comes to that! Because we weren't having success, she really tried to think of different things we could do, differently--more effective ways we could find, and they have been good! She thought of the "Book of Mormon and the Bible" tabling, and obviously that has been working out pretty well! So props to her on that among other things!

So as you guys already know, I am OBSESSED with being a missionary, I'm obsessed with Hungary, I'm obsessed with my branch, and I'm obsessed with this amazing Gospel, that makes people like you and me HAPPY and the best we can be, despite our setbacks and despite the stupid people or things that come into our lives. I'm also obsessed with every single one of you, I love you more than I could possibly try to describe. Annyira hálás vagyok értetek, és nagyon szeretlek beneteket. Jó hétet kivánok!

FROM NOV 25, 2014

OKAY. So transfers. I am going to SZEGED!!! (pronounced Seged) Apparently Szeged is the prettiest city in the whole mission!! Woohoo! My companions (yes, you read that right, companionS -- I'm in another trio) are Sister E. and Sister C. Sister Carle is the group below me, and we were in the same Book of Mormon class at BYU so I actually know her! She's super nice. Sister E. is older in the mission.  Honestly, I am SO stoked about this call!! I totally was not expecting it-- I thought I'd be going to Debrecen, but I am actually SO happy about it! I know everyone hates trios, but actually, I’ve had a good experience in a trio for my first transfer. There will be a mini transfer probably in January, in which we could all get split up, but ya. Seriously, I really think this transfer call could be an answer to my prayers! Obviously, I love Pápa a ton a ton a ton, and am going to be super sad to leave, but I am ready for this!! Thank you for your prayers--- Szeged here I come! Also, Elder K., my old Pápa Elder and super good friend is also going to Szeged! So I'm happy about that. Also, there's a new branch house in Szeged too! Okay, I'll stop, ha! 
This week though.... It was a good last week here in lil ol Pápa-land. Let me start off by telling you of all the goodbye food extravaganzas of the week. Last Wed,  P. made us roko krumpli, the potatoe-egg-sausage dish that is killer good. Sunday,  we ate dinner in the Branch house with the Elders... they made tiltott paprikás... stuffed peppers (SO amazing.... I cannot WAIT to cook you guys Hungarian food when I get home). Monday, P. (my favorite little tiny old woman ever) made us these like rolled bacon fat things haha! They actually tasted really good, but it was basically like a cinnamon roll of fat... Oh Hungarians and their LOVE of pure FAT. And really good Sauerkraut. Monday night, the Bs made paprikás krumpli.... paprika potatoe stew stuff.... yum. And really good sauerkraut... Hungarians just do sauerkruat well. Church was good, and it was nice to say goodbye to everyone and get pictures and stuff! It was less sad than I thought because I fully intend on coming back here. The Elder's new investigator came to church and a bunch of people went up to him and were super nice to him-- it was awesome to see how involved they were in the work! Ahhh love em  to death. 
Other events of the week:
-L. had us over for suti, and he invited over his 2 neighbors who were super open to hearing about the Gospel and the Book of Mormon! It was really cool.
-Found a suuuuper nice young mom tracting 
-Streeted this way arányos néni who like instantly became our best friend and then we saw her again on the street and she was like "my aquantances! So good to see you, when are you coming to visit me?" :)
-Streeted another anányos néni who also became obsessed with us and gave us each a clementine :)
-I handed this guy a flier on his bike, and he just stopped and was like "what is this?" so we talked with him a bunch and got his info, he was super cool!
-We met with P., and she, through tears, talked about how she really believes that her Husband is accepting the Gospel in Heaven :) SO CUTE. Gosh I love her to death. 

-I.!! So, I guess this is something they say... and I believe it's true... your last programs in your cities are always the best. So, remember the lady who we gave the Book of Mormon to and she thanked us and was super nice? The lady I tabled and said she could see the goodness in my eyes? Well we met with her yesterday, and it was SUCH a good lesson! She was pretty much just asking the perfect questions! We talked a little about prophets, and she was like "do you feel the prophet has guided you in your life?" um... yes! And then we talked about the Book of Mormon and how we can receive answers from God... how we can receive the truth from God. She was like "Right, we have the holy spirit through our feelings. But we don't always get answers right when we pray, and we have to constantly ask for and live worthily of the Spirit". Then we showed her the picture of Moroni putting the plates in the earth, and she was like "Oh, ya he's Mormon's son, right? I read the Book of Moroni". She said that she thought the Book of Mormon was a gift from God, and that we were a gift from God for bringing it to her. So sweet. I told her I was probably leaving Pápa, and she said she would always remember me :) So that was a super great last lesson in Pápa. 
Honestly, it is kind of frustrating to feel like, my last 2-ish or so weeks here, I have found all these cool people, and meeting with I. and stuff RIGHT as I'm leaving. But I'm just grateful I got to find these people. Part of me does feel a little sad that I couldn't seem to bring Pápa any sort of success despite my 4 months being here. But I know I've done my work as a missionary, and I've done what I needed to do. I know God has helped me find these people, and whether or not they meet with us is up to their own free agency. But I've learned so much and grown so much as a person here in Pápa. I have become less selfish, and less concerned about what I want. I have been able to see people more as Christ would see them, and I have come to want this Gospel for each and every one of them. Overall, about 94 percent of the people I ever talked to rejected me. 3 percent of the people we maybe met once or tried to set up with, and that fell through, and then the other 3 percent of people is still up in the air. And these statistics may even be too optimistic. But, I know my work is not in vain, and everything that I have done here in Pápa has been what was supposed to happen. I really believe that. 
Love you guys more than I can say... and I am THANKFUL for each of you and thankful for this Gospel, and the fact that I can be a missionary... the BEST THING I'VE EVER DONE IN MY LIFE!!! I'm thankful for Hungary, for Pápa, and for all my experiences thus far. Here's to everything the future holds!!
Sok, Sok, SOK Szeretettel,

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

FROM OCT 27, 2014
This week was good—or maybe just not that bad! I don't want you all to think I'm just like dying out here tracting 24/7 haha! Honestly, Heavenly Father has just been blessing me to not get down on things easily; it has been such a blessing to me. I'm just grateful for the little things and get really excited about little things. Like our favorite pékség opened up again this week!! Nutella croissants here we come.... and it's COLD AND GREY AND STORMY NOW!!! My absolute FAVORITE weather!! It has made it feel like a new Pápa, so I guess that's why I'm excited about it :)
So this week was interesting because Sister S was sick, so I did more splits with the senior sisters. When I go with them, I always seem to find the sweetest old couples, and we got let in by another couple that was actually probably my favorite this time (although they wouldn't turn off the T.V. :(  ).  The husband was taking a lot of shots at us, with the wife trying to be nice.  Finally, the husband was like, "Okay, teach us something!" Haha! So I went into prophets and Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. The husband was looking at the pictures in it, and the wife was like "It's cold out so it's perfect reading weather - I will read it!" So they were sweet about that, and it felt good to be able to just really testify about what we believe in, even in a short amount of time. Again, they weren't interested in having us come back :( But they were so sweet, and the women just kept saying "I respect you guys a lot. You are doing a great thing and being so respectful and nice and happy". So it actually did feel really good to kind of get some uplift-ment from a Hungarian. So she is now my new favorite Hungarian :)
Wednesday we did a little Halloween party for kids at the Disabled School. It was SOOOO great. My camera died though :(((  It was super fun--we played the donut-on-the-string game with them, did face painting, and played some other games with them. They did a little "fashion show" while they showed off their costumes while dancing to Michael Jackson, so that was super great! One of my favorite things I have done thus far. 
Saddest part of the week: we told S. that we could still be friends, but that we’d stop giving him the discussions. That was actually a LOT harder for me than I thought it was going to be. We had a lesson with him at the branch house, and just kind of told him that he hasn't been progressing or trying to know these things for himself. He thinks that Christ did not establish his "church" on the earth, but rather just Christianity. We told him that, as missionaries, we aren't just here to have a cultural experience, or to get to know people and try and just have insightful discussions. We're here because we KNOW this Church is the true Church on this earth, and we are here to share that with the people of Hungary. It felt good to really be able to testify of that, and I truly know that's why I am here. But it was still hard to say "we can't meet for progams anymore".  I will forever have engrained in my mind the image of him walking away from the branch house, walking away from the Gospel in his little hat and backpack.

Later that night, for the first time on my mission, I cried. I cried and cried thinking about how much I love S. and wanted this so badly for him. But he didn't want it for himself. In some ways, and I know this isn't true, but I was feeling like I had kind of failed a little bit as a missionary. I know it's not my responsibility if he didn't want to accept the Gospel, but I still felt so bad. In a lot of ways, it didn't feel like anything would be really wrong with just meeting with him and talking to him, especially because we don't have any other investigators and he's just this lonely old man. But pretending that he wanted the missionary lessons wasn’t the right thing to do. Still-- that didn't make it any less sad. Not even necessarily disappointing, because I knew we were going to have to do it eventually, but sad none the less. So I was just feeling pretty sad about the whole Sándor thing, and just decided to read the account of the First Vision in Joseph Smith History. As I read that, I felt the Spirit so strongly. I know that Joseph Smith really did see God the Father and his son Jesus Christ. I know we can all know this for ourselves, but we can only know if we have a DESIRE to know, and if we put in the EFFORT to know. S, unfortunately, didn't do these things, but it doesn't make the Gospel any less true. 

So basically that was my week! I can't explain to you guys how much I really do love being a missionary, and I really do love this country and this language even if it is crazy. And I love this Gospel, and my Savior, Jesus Christ. I know I am here to testify of him and his TRUE, Restored Gospel, restored the the TRUE prophet Joseph Smith. And I LOVE you all SOOOO much :)

FROM NOV 3, 2014
Boldog Halloween kivánok nektek! 
I hope you all had a great Halloween (from the looks of it, you did!) In Hungary, on November 1st they celebrate "Hallotok Napja" or Day of the Dead, where they decorate the graves of the deceased with lamps and flowers. It's quite pretty; I ‘ll send you some from my huge mass of pictures.

I actually DID have a Halloween :) We had a party for our branch and it turned out really great! We did the donut-without-hands game, toilet paper mummy game, face painting, fishing for prizes! So it was really fun and I think everyone had a good time! 

Other than that, I have to say, not too much happened! The senior sister and I went tracting together again, but unfortunately, no cute old couples. Just this lady that told us we had to leave the building immediately or she would call the rendörség (police) if we didn't get out of her building right that second. Okayyyy then. 

Also, this morning we met with a women we streeted, and she was really nice and really interested in the Book of Mormon! She was like "Oh, I get it, Mormon was a prophet, right?" and she just seemed really understanding and open, it was really cool! She thanked us for bringing her the Book of Mormon, and, if my understanding is correct, said that she was grateful for God's Spirit that led us to her on the street and talking to her! I hope things can work out with her! I don't want to get my hopes too up; after all, we finally saw our miracle lady on the street after trying to contact her for weeks, and she just kind of said a low "sziasztok" and quickly crossed the street :(  But megyünk tovább!!

We also got a lesson with a nice old couple that had an old translation of the Book of Mormon, and we met a lady on the street who was super excited about us bringing a Book of Mormon to her, so I agree with Christian, the Book of Mormon is SUCH a powerful tool! This morning I was reading Ether 12 (one of my favorite chapters of the Book of Mormon) and Moroni talks about how he is worried for the Gentiles and he doesn't want them to reject the words because of the "awkwardness of hands" or because of the imperfections of man in the Book of Mormon. But he says that FAITH is the only thing that matters, that he has faith that the Gentiles will accept the word and will accept Jesus Christ. I related to that so much!! I’m just a little 19 year old girl. I haven't had too much life experience and here I am trying to extend the Gospel in Hungarian to Hungarians. I don't know why God trusts me to do that, especially in my "awkwardness" of speaking, but he does. I need to have faith that his children that need his Gospel WILL get it that need to get it (in some way or another) through me (or rather, through the Spirit through me). I may not make sense all the time, but that doesn't matter-- the Spirit speaks to everyone in their own way. And maybe my source of bringing people unto Christ doesn't mean that I see many baptisms, or even any, but I trust that God loves his children enough that he isn't going to let my mistakes fail them. 

Oh! also... some funny tabling stories:
So we've been doing a lot of Book of Mormon tabling lately
-one lady wanted to buy our Bible, and we said we just give free Book of Mormons, so she wanted like 4 to send to her grandkids as Christmas gifts--haha
-several people came up to us and just asked us really weird questions about the ages of people and things in the Bible, like "If you know about the Bible, why don't you know how old Moses was when this happened?" 

I love you all so much and am thankful for your examples to me! I am thankful for this Gospel, and for the big role that Faith plays in it - knowing that we don't need to have a "perfect knowledge" of everything to partake of Christ's goodness and mercy.