FROM JAN 27:
I guess I'll start off by telling you I’m incredibly sad I am to be leaving Szeged. I can't even think about this. I feel like I just barely got here and now I have to leave right as we just experienced the most miraculous, incredible week of my mission. Heavenly Father just dumped a huge pile of miracles and blessings on me, but I don't have the time to pick up all the blessings and experience them. I just have to look at them and cherish them, and rush along to my next area. Szeged was like a literal paradise of amazing, amazing, amazing investigators and people that I will never forget as long as I live, along with two baptisms I will never get to see, and maybe even more, if things work out. It was like the best dream I've ever had, but now I have to wake up quickly and move on with my life. So, obviously, I'm a little bit heartbroken. But I'll get over it... eventually.
I'm going to Székesfehérvár (pronounced: say-kesh-fe-hair-var) with Sister S. from my MTC group. Honestly it's a really good call-- I love Sister S. and wanted to serve with her. I’ve also heard good things about Székes (the name is so long we usually just say Székes ( or Say-kesh for you Americans). So I should be really excited. But I'm just kind of grieving the loss of Szeged, my favorite freaking place on this earth.
Anyway. how to explain this amazingly incredibly wonderful this week? It truly was such a gift. We taught a girl named S. who speaks perfect English. She's 17, is super cute, and wrote a book she’s trying to get sponsored on Kickstarter. It was so cute; she talked about how much crappy "literature" there is in the world, and how everyone just cares about worthless stuff, but her book is all about how to be kind to others and she prays that her book will help and change at least one person. We gave her a book of Mormon and told her how it changed our lives, which she was excited about it, and she said the most adorable closing prayer, asking Heavenly Father to help her get her book published so it could help just one person :)
Another interesting experience: We stopped and talked to this one guy from New Jersey who had lived in Hungary for about 19 years, and the conversation started off fine. He was an atheist, which we were obviously fine with, but he just ended up being so degrading and unkind--one of the most disrespectful, forceful people I've ever met. I won't go into detail about the conversation, but he basically told us what we are doing is wrong, and that we are intruding and interrupting people's existences by stopping them on the street, even just for 2 seconds. After that, I was just praying in my heart that I wouldn't feel as much disdain as I was feeling. But we kept streeting, or "ruining people's existences", whatever you want to call it, and ran into this one guy who was really cool and interested. We explained that "we're here because these things really helped us and brought us happiness and we wanted to share that.” He responded, "wow, that's really nice what you guys are doing.” Walking away, I almost started crying. God put him in our lives after that incident. I KNOW we're doing the right thing here. Also, later that night, after the incident with the atheist, we were leaving the branch house, and saw a man looking in the window. So we talked to him and he was super nice! We started talking about the BOM and he asked, "How can i get one?". The next day he came and we talked about the Book of Mormon and he had brought us candy bars :) SO. After we were told that we were intruding people's lives, we just found several legit people, and hopefully we did nothing but helped their lives.
G., our English student turned investigator is amazing. We taught him the Plan of Salvation and it was a really good lesson. I talked about how we wouldn't know good and happy if we didn't know sad or bad. Then, he came to church on Sunday, and in Sunday School, we talked about free agency and being able to choose between good and bad. The teacher asked why there is bad in the world, and G. responded, "Well, if we didn't know bad, we wouldn't know good.” I gave him a fist bump. But, the best part was that, in our program, G. asked so many good questions about missionary work.. "What does a person have to be taught before they can get baptized?" We told him, and then I asked him "If you feel these things are true for yourself, would you be baptized?" He said, "Not now, but yes. I really like this religion. After that, G. wanted to know what we were doing, and we said talking to people on the street. He asked, "Can I go with you guys?"--So, our investigator that we have taught twice went streeting with us. TWICE! Our other investigator, L. gives us referrals right and left, and 4 of those referrals want to be baptized (2 of them are A. and her daughter M., whom we teach; the other 2, the Elders teach).and then, G. went streeting with us, and he was telling people, "They believe in God, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, and a living Prophet." "They believe that God knows us personally and that he loves us and wants us to be happy.” My investigators are better missionaries than I am and I love it!
J., the theology student, was also a lot less intense when we taught him, and he actually let us explain that the Book of Mormon is scripture, not just philosophy and theory written by a reformer. I gave him N’s email and told him he speaks Hungarian, and I will give him J.'s email so hopefully they can correspond.
I can't even tell you guys how many miracles happened this week, including being able to say my goodbyes to everyone. We saw G. (the cathedral lady) on the street and she was really sad when I said I was leaving. We taught A. today, and L. came to her program (L. basically taught the whole Law of Tithing for us, and she accepted to live it) and L. told me, "Oh, I'm really gonna miss you!" and gave me his pen :) A.'s daughter M. made me a bracelet, and A. asked, "Can't you tell them you want to stay and help me prepare for baptism?" But the best goodbye gift was A.'s prayer, in which she thanked Heavenly Father for me and said that she was really going to miss me. So sweet. G. came and said goodbye to us today, and told me I am a really good missionary and a good teacher.
In our program with M. and Z., they told us they have been having a hard, busy time but they don't want to stop meeting with us because they feel so good and it's helped them so much. M. even said that, in church, she felt like she needs to be baptized. And then, Sister E. just informed me that K. and B. went to church in Ireland (they're meeting with a Hungarian missionary that Sister E. knows)!
After all these miracles, my favorite one is the miracle of L. He introduces himself to all the members and tells them they taught a good lesson or gave a good talk. At the beginning of this transfer, I never would have guessed that L. would be the one ready for baptism. But I have seen him change. I've seen him become attentive and understanding. I've seen him answer questions in church, accept and live God's commandments, bring his friends to our meetings and basically teach them the lessons, and feel the Spirit. One of my favorite experiences of my mission was when, one day last week, we finished our program really fast (about Temple work... when we said "Unfortunately there's no temple in Hungary" L. said, "not YET!") and L. wanted to watch the "finding faith in Christ" video. We'd already watched it with him, but for some reason we just said, "Let's just watch it right now!" So we watched it, with me probably just focused on how cheesy I thought it was, but I looked over at L. and he was just watching SO intently, so engrossed in the miracles Jesus performed. I looked over at him as the man asks Jesus to "Help thou my unbelief" and Jesus heals his son with palsy, and tears welled up in L.'s eyes. It was so sweet. After, he talked about the story of how Jesus said to the crowd surrounding Mary Magdalene and quoted "He of you who is without sin, let him cast the first stone." And tearske again welled up in his eyes. I'm so humbled by L. --He truly wants to follow God, and he loves Jesus Christ. He's willing to move out of his girlfriend's apartment, and make changes in his life to follow him. I love him so much, and even though I don't get to see his baptism, I know that God has prepared him so much for this.
FROM FEB 2:
Greetings from Székesfehérvár. Here, people mostly just call it Fehérvár (white Castle), but us missionaries call it Székes. I have to say... I do like it here! It's actually REALLY pretty, which I wasn't really expecting. Cathedrals pop up all over the place. Everywhere you look you just see these church steeples and it's really pretty. It snowed my first day here, so that was super pretty too!
Sister S. is great and we are co-senior companions. Transfers was fun... My Trainer, Sister K, went home! The poor thing was crying so much. Oh I love her so much. She also served here in Székes, and she said she would come visit.
I called Sister E. and back in Szeged, I guess Gábor downloaded the Book of Mormon on his phone and was super excited about it! He also went streeting with them again, and.... HE WANTS TO GET BAPTIZED ON MARCH 21!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! AHHHHHH!! I started FREAKING out on the phone when I heard that! In a year, he could go on a mission!! Oh wait... he already IS a missionary! Gosh I freaking miss all my investigators in Szeged SO MUCH. Ugh, my heart just breaks when I think about them. But I know they're in God's hands.
So Székes-- I like it here. I love working with SIster S!!! I am really so excited and lucky to be serving with her. She's a good, obedient, hardworking missionary, and we're just so on the same page about everything. We both just really want to go to town here in Székes and just blow up the work here. This place has a ton of potential. I feel like, in the areas I've been in, the work has been a little slower (or in Pápa's case, nonexistent), but we've generally been able to get the work going, and Szeged, we got it to a really great point. So I really hope we can do that with Székes, and, like I said, S. is the perfect companion for that.
My first night here, we went streeting and talked to a guy about our purpose in life. He responded, "ya, I've really been thinking about that and wondering what's out there". We gave him a Book of Mormon and got his number, and he responded, "Cool! I'll call you if I have questions!" so that was cool. Then, like 2 minutes later, this girl comes up from behind us and said, "Hi! My name is R!" And she gave us puszi (the European 2 kiss on the cheek thing)!! She told us,"I saw you guys on the street the other day, and you gave me a free English class flier. I'm Christian too. I saw that you're missionaries, and I just wanted to say thank you for coming here and doing the Lord's work and helping people!" It was so cool! I have never had someone stop me before! Love it. We also met some more cool people and set up with them. One guy told us, "Ya, that's interesting. I've been trying to find happiness but I haven't really found it" after we talked a little bit about the plan of Salvation. So hopefully we can just keep this up.
I haven't met a ton of our investigators yet, but I know we have some. We teach a lady who has MS, so we mainly just try to serve her and visit so the poor thing doesn't have to just sit inside all day watching TV. I really like the branch members here! A ton of them speak English, and they're really nice and funny. There's this one guy who lives here with his Hungarian wife but he's from England and doesn't really speak Hungarian. He's your typical hilarious British guy—very funny--oh I love it. He gave a really good testimony, as did a lot of the other members.
We did have a SUPER good program with one of our investigators! His name is M. from ____ and is living here with his Hungarian wife. He is SO great! We gave him a Book of Mormon, and he loved our program about the Gospel of Jesus Christ. LOVED IT. After talking about faith, I asked him "so what do we do when we have faith in Jesus Christ?" And he said, "We follow him!" He talked about how his parents died in a car crash, but they weren't Christians. He asked what would happen to them. We reminded him about the plan of Salvation and how they have the opportunity after death to accept Christ. He said, "Oh that's very nice, very nice. That's very fair.” It was great-- the whole time he just kept smiling and saying "Oh, this is so great" and "these words are so peaceful.” I asked him if, when he knows these things are true, would he be baptized, to which he said yes! He LOVED the idea of sacrament, and that, even though we make mistakes every day, we can renew our baptismal covenants through the sacrament and start our week over with the sacrament, like a "mini baptism". As we talked about the Gift of the Holy Ghost and how, after baptism, he can constantly have these good feelings and be directed by God's spirit, I could just tell he was really feeling the Spirit. He again said "Wow, that's so nice". It was great, and now we're thinking of a baptism date to give to him. .
Have a csodálatos week!