Hi! I am currently living the dream, loving life, in my little Kecskemét town. I am loving it here. The work is good. I am so familiar with everything that I can walk around and catch buses without even thinking about it. It is really nice, and I am grateful for that. The people are awesome and the ward is great. The bishop actually called us yesterday and let us know that he has a new video for missionaries!! He speaks english... so he might have been previewing it to make sure it was all understandable. It is about the temples and we are really excited to go over there and watch it with him, the elders, and Vágó Éva--the awesome lady that let us use her computer to skype on Christmas. So, we will see how we can better help the members in the ward get ready to enter the temple. Little something about the Hungary Budapest mission--our mission purpose is two parts. We invite people to come unto Christ and we also strengthen the ward or branch we serve in by helping them go to the temple. Cool purpose. I recite it almost everyday.
We had an awesome program planned with our great friend Anna, all about the word of wisdom. She is a teenager, so we drew up all of these different options and she could erase the bad things. I was so stoked, and it was really fun drawing everthing up there... and then... she didn't come!! I was so sad. We figured we would leave the drawing up on the board, no big deal. But, the next day we had a program with an old man that was not understanding different dispensations, so I erased the whole thing... it was so sad. But, totally worth it! We were teaching Sándor, a very Catholic man, and he is very set in his Catholic ideas. But, as we slowly taught him and worked with him, it was amazing how the spirit started working and how he started understanding things. So awesome. Sister Behunin and I were a little bit worried that we would get into an argument about the things that we were teaching, but it all worked out. Tons of prayers were said, and it all worked out. So amazing. Who knows what next lesson will be like... but we have a newly baptized member coming to our program so that should bring some good new member fire!!
Sister Behunin and I
Since Sister Behunin and I are new companions, and so we just talk allllll of the time. I love it! We are getting along really great. But, i keep telling her stories that are funny--because I am a funny person--and she asked if I send a particular one home. The answer was no... so know I will tell you all the awkward cake story:
Sister Kimball and I were serving together, it was probably November time. There is this super nice Elder, Elder Hunnicutt. He loves baking! So, he baked Sister Kimball and I our own cakes. We had travelled by train to Szeged for a zone meeting, and it was about 10 in the morning and I was super hungry! And then Elder Hunnicutt gave me my cake. Yummy! Unfortunately I am not always the most lady like... so... I just kinda started eating it with my fingers while we were waiting at the train station for a ride to the meeting. A couple other missionaries had some. And then we went to the meeting. Meeting finished. Rode the train home. Our cakes weren't wrapped with saran wrap or anything, so they were just exposed to the world, and people kept asking Sister Kimball and I if they could help us. It was kind of funny/weird. We got to our bus stop when some lady came up to me, and very nicely asked what I had. I told her it was American cake and she just kept staring. Then, still very nicely, she said she would like some. I was super confused and then just got on the bus, because our bus showed up. I thought she was just being funny like everyone else that had been "so funny". We get on the bus, and sit down, and then she came up and sat down next to us. Asked again if she could have some. I realized she was super serious and she super wanted some. So, I told her I could only give her a piece with my fingers and she said that wasn't a problem at all... so I awkwardly ripped her off a piece of cake and gave it to her. She grabbed the little piece and just hobbled away. I am sure it was really a nice thing, but I was so confused by it all. I couldn't help but just laugh and laugh when I got home. Ha!! So that is my awkward cake story.
And for story sake, let me tell another one. This time about the language:
Our new branch house!!!
Sister Behunin and I are teaching the cutest girl, early twenties. She had specific questions about the law of chastity, so we taught it to her. My favorite lesson ever! So, I was trying to encourage her and support her to live it (buzdítani=to encourage or exhort). So, I tried to say buzdítalak (I support you.) But, I couldn't remember that it was a straight up z, I thought it was an sz (that means it makes a regular "s" noice in english), so it sounded a little bit more like pusztítalak. Now, that is a completely different word (pusztítani=to destroy). So, I kept saying that I destroy you. Over. And over. Even when Sister Behunin and our investigator tried to help me get it right, I just kept destroying her, over and over. But, she was laughing, so that is a good thing :)
The work is good. I am happy and healthy and getting better at missionary work everyday. I speak Hungarian. I have a relationship with my Heavenly Father. I understand that true happiness comes through keeping the commandments (please see Mosiah 2:41 for the full reference), and I just want to be obedient.
So, I am still in Kecskemét. I love it here. The weather is relatively warm, it has been raining and right around 4 degrees celcius the past couple of days, so that is really nice. Sister Behunin and I are getting along quite well. This is a picture of us getting along, we had the weirdest transfer day... but now we are together and settled down. This is us on the train. I know what you are thinking... Woah. Sister Kennedy has gained a lot of weight in her left hand--it's huge!! Don't be afraid, that is just the angle the picture was taken from.
Because the time in the MTC has been shortened, the next two transfers are going to be short. So, that means Sister Behunin and I might only have five weeks together to get everything going and working. I feel like she will be training here and I will leave... but that is exactly what I thought would happen with Sister Kimball, so I keep joking about staying here. Ha. It is funny to joke about, I love the ward here, I love the poeple, and I love the city, but I think I need to get out of my first (and only) area.
Dad specifically asked me about the language. It is going! I have never learned a language by complete immersion before... So, who knows how it is going comparitively?! No idea. But, I do understand context. Sometimes I don't get the entire sentence and the wording all figured out, but for the most part, I know what is happening. I have spoken a bit of Hungarian on the streets, and I love practicing with the members. They will listen to me as I ramble along, and they will help and correct me. I don't really ramble as much as I used to, and I am figuring out a lot more of the rules. Understanding is easier than speaking, but people almost always understand what I say, and if they don't they are patient enough with me to let me get it out. A lot of missionaries say that I am doing good with the language, which is nice, but I don't know what I think about that! I am now in my fourth transfer, so I am getting to be an old missionary... weird.
Oh! Great news!! I am no longer the youngest missionary in the South East Zone!! Since I have been in Hungary, I have been the youngest missionary in the zone... so that always made me feel little, but now there are three younger than me in the district, and Sister Perkins is in Szeged!! Another city in our zone. Sometimes we talk about how cool it would be if we went co-senior next transfer and then we could train the time after that. It would be fun! But, who knows?!
Rachel!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cool. Missions are awesome. I hope that you have a good time getting everything ready and submitted for your mission. I remember the moment when I realized that I could go anywhere in the world. That is why I wanted everyone to sing I'll Go Where You Want Me To Go with me, because I literally know, I could go anywhere in the world, but it was up to the Lord to call me where He needed me. Good luck with everything!!! It will be soooo long waiting to find out where you are going, but it will be worth it.
I am so grateful for the gospel in my family. We are teaching a part member family--the mom is super active, her husband is interested, but only wants to be baptized if he knows he is really going to come (an admirable trait says I), a completely in active daughter, and two daughters investigating. What an interesting group! We spend a lot of time thinking about them, planning for them, going out to the middle of nowhere to visit them, and I am so happy about it all. The gospel blesses families. It is one of the biggest points in the first lesson. I am so grateful for my family and the love and support you have given me! Sister Behunin and I were talking about it--sometimes our families are weird, but the gospel grounds us, and we receive so much strength and blessings from our families. We will keep working with this family, and hopefully we can unite them and get them working towards the temple--because the temple is sacred place where we are sealed together... a family is forever!
The church is true. God doesn't just give us stuff... We have to work for it!! That is why I know this church is true!! Because we work so hard and don't get any physical monies... but it is the reward of the Atonement and coming closer to our Savior. The blessings we receive from enduring to the end is unreal. We don't deserve it, but God loves us and so He blesses us. I just want to help people find the truth... so incredible.
Well!! We got transfer calls today!! The big news is this: my companion is going to open Pécs with a new missionary and I am staying and getting Sister Behunin. Wow! I will be in Kecskemét for another couple of weeks! Because they are shortening the MTC time I think this transfer will be shorter... but I will be honest in saying I really don't have any idea. I am excited though. I love it here, and I know that there is a reason that I am still here. Gotta work hard and keep it up!! Sister Kimball and I got super standard this week, and it was one of the hardest things I have ever done. We had all of the numbers except for less active members. We spent around six hours walking and streeting and trying to find anyone that might be interested in meeting with us, come to find out they had moved, weren't home, or weren't interested (the worst kind!!) But, we were so close!! So, on Sunday night we just kept working... and working... and working... We might have only eaten some chips that a member gave us that day. But at 8:30 we showed up at this guys house, and his wife was freaking out and getting really upset that we were there, talking to him, so late, and he just seemed so sad, like something was seriously missing. We were at this gate in front of his house, and when his wife was around he kind of signed for us to write down our phone number and drop it in the mailbox. Wow. Our number had been blocked, we dropped by, he really is interested, just his family isn't. We really hope to hear from him soon. Things like that make me excited to stay in Kecskemét.
We went to a dinner program with the sweetest member, Éva. Oh! I skyped you all at her house. While we were there she told me that I speak beautiful Hungarian and that she wishes I spoke more because she really likes the way I sound when I speak it. I thought it was the nicest thing. Anyway. The language is coming. Don't fear! The people here love helping me and they are really great at it... Because they are Hungarian.
Sister Kimball and I actually just got back from dancing!! Someone from her English class invited us to come watch a class, and then when the teacher said we could dance together and we didn't have to dance with guys, we got so excited, so we did it, and now I am super sweaty, and so happy. It was really great.
Yeah. I don't know what else to say!! I am super happy, and things are going. Can't wait to get a new companion and to keep the work going. I love Kecskemét, and I am so grateful for the ward here. We were talking about it at Éva's tonight, how people are so willing to help and work together. We just got to help reactivate people and invite more people to come into the fold of Christ. Did I tell you we met this guy from California that is a pastor? He said he was interested in our message. It didn't turn out that way. He was super worried about our souls though... and that was nice. But, it was not a pleasant place to be. Anyway. That was random.
I know that Christ is my Savior. He restored his true church though Joseph Smith, and we have a living prophet on the earth today because God loves us enough to allow us to receive revelation.
Thanks for the great pictures. I loved the pictures Grandma sent of the actors from the Nativity scene. Who knew Katie's hair is super dark now?! I honestly had no idea. So fun to see everyone. Also. I had no idea Rachel got into her program!! Congratulations!! What does that mean now? So exciting. I am also glad you all got to go to a USU game. That is my Alma Mater you know :) I am super bummed about the tea set, but I will go check with them today and see what is up. Hopefully it gets through. Makenzie! I am so stoked you wrote me. Give Sheridan a big ol' shout out. I know some sisters serving in Milan, because we were on the same floor in the MTC, but I don't remember any of their names... I just remember they were absolutely adorable and so nice. She will love it there. And she will be so fashionable!! Sisters get to wear the cutest clothes :)
Dad. For clarification on the Book of Mormon challenge. I have been studying Atonement. I have a red pencil and I mark everytime I feel Atonement is talked about. I am learning so much. Sometimes when I feel I haven't marked anything in awhile I start searching harder and I then have to apply things to the Atonement. Maybe if someone has a question about how to be a better missionary or how to really repent or how we can be better friends. I don't know! Maybe even just something as simple as baptism or patience. Write it up, study it up. So many options!
So... last time I plugged in my camera all of the pictures were erased... cool... I hadn't backed anything up, so that was a super bummer, but we were able to find a computer place right next to our church and they restored everything. Ahh... Sweet success. I am going to buy a card reader because I am a little nervous about having any more problems, and so hopefully that won't happen anymore.
OH! How could I forget?! I totally got my Christmas package from you mom! Thank you so much. The scarf is absolutely beautiful, and it does something real nice for my eyes :) I love it, and Sister Kimball loves the calendar. I opened everything before I read the note and I was trying to think of what I could use the second calendar for, and then when I found out I could give it to her we were both excited! Sister Kimball sends you her best and she is really grateful for the calendar. Between me and her I think we have done work at every temple in it but three or four. Not bad for 22 year olds!
We have had a ton of success here, and I realized I haven't told you about it at all. Our mission is needing to build up and get more baptisms and more work going--so our mission goal is 200 baptisms. Really exciting, and that means that every companionship needs to get 5 baptisms this year. Some people have had negative attitudes about it, but I am pretty excited. Baptism is just a step on the ladder to eternal life, and so we need to find those people that are ready to go up it! It has really focused our work. Last week we had made the goal of having two bap dates. The week before we had three, but we really wanted to talk to one of our investigators about how serious he is about baptism, or if he just likes meeting with us and so he agreed to be baptized, and so that is why our number went down. Anywho. We totalled all of our numbers for last week and guess how many bap dates we have planned? Five!! So exciting. One in February, three in April, and one in May. So now, we just help them continue to progress and help them reach their goal. We just keep inviting people to be baptized and they keep accepting. I am so grateful that the Lord is letting me work with these people!! We found six people that used to be investigating the church that we will be meeting with this week and we will see what they think about baptism and joining the church. I wrote down the most people in my planner for this week than I ever have. I know the Lord blesses us when we are obedient! Alma told his sons all of the time that as long as we keep the commandments we will prosper in the land--obedience brings physical blessings, and I am seeing it here in Hungary. I love it. I am a missionary!!
I know that Jesus Christ is my Savior, my Reedemer, and my friend. Me and Him go way back, and He is so happy when I rely on Him and when we work together. I am so grateful for His Atonement, and I know that without Him I am nothing. Every blessing we receive in this life from our obedience and faith in the Atonement. I know this is true, and if we are ever missing peace and happiness in our lives that we can totally find it as we ponder, pray, and study the scriptures. God wants us to be so happy!! Everything on this earth is for us. God created mountains and snow because He knew I would love skiing. Also. I miss that... ilyen az élet.
I love you! Best of luck starting school and everything! If you ever feel like you can't do it and that things are hard, just remember I am taking to strangers about angels, gold plates, and miracles in some random foreign language. Lucky for all of us we can use the Holy Sprit everyday!!
P.S. It snowed really for the first time here. It is really pretty, and comparitively speaking it hasn't gotten too cold... I think the coldest I have seen it is -6 celsius. It is going to get colder... but at least now it is super pretty :)
P.P.S. Transfers next week. Just a heads up. I think I will probably leave Kecskemét. But, who knows?! Not me! Pray for President Smith to be lead by the Spirit.
Everything is still going great in the middle of Hungary. Ha... I honestly don't know what to say... Didn't I just talk to you? Anywho. Everyday of the year there is a "name day", so, on calendars they have a variety of names written down, and it is another reason to party and celebrate. Today is Szilveszter's name day, and that is just what everyone calls New Years Eve, Szilveszter. People wear wigs and masks and such, and people have already started drinking and yelling happy new year at us, so it is a good day. We are doing our work hours in the morning so tonight we can just hide in our apartment and not get into sticky situations. There will be a big concert out on the main square and fireworks tonight... and I only live about two or three blocks from there... so I hope that we can sleep!
Once upon a time, I was in the MTC, and I watched a really cool fireside from Elder Bednar. He recommended to get a cheap copy of the Book of Mormon, the ones with the flimsy covers, and to pick a topic, and then use that copy of the Book of Mormon study it. I have been doing it with the Atonement. I am learning tons. He said if we have a specific question that we can study it and use that copy just to mark up, write notes in, and really study it out. He said we could make up a whole library of copies of the Book of Mormon that have specific topics studied in them. I combine this challenge with the challenge from President Hinckley to read the Book of Mormon in a year, and I encourage everyone to prayerfully ponder and think about a theme or question that is important to them. Maybe Rachel can study missionaries, and maybe Andrew can finally figure out charity. These are all options. I thought it would be cool if everyone in the family did it, and then when I get home in a year (being the end of the challenge) we could all talk about what we learned. Plus the flimsy copies of the Book of Mormon are super light, so we can take them wherever we want!
Merry Christmas!! In this picture you can see the awkward moment where I didn't know I was supposed to open this on Christmas Eve... and you can totally see my cool indie style ironing board book shelf! It is super ghetto and has big brown spots on it so I decided I didn't every want to transfer those onto my shirts on accident, so now it is a book shelf. Christmas was really great. Grandma, I am so sorry your package got lost :( I hope one day it will turn up and then I can count down the days until something else that is cool too! It just want be Christmas.
This is the main square with all of the lights. This was on Christmas Eve, or as they call it here, the Holy Night.
It was so pretty to walk around. We walk this way almost everytime to go to the church house, and so I now know what hot wine smells like. Also I found out they put rum in a lot of things, so I know what rum tastes like. I am learning so much here! Oh. And we survived the 9 meal appointments. I didn't gain any weight from it... so that is good.
I saw someone wearing a Nordic Valley shirt the other day, it said it was established in 1932. Is that when our Nordic Valley was established?
The work here is going really great. We are working with a family, a real FAMILY! The dad is interested in English and we met with him at the couple times and taught him English and the gospel, and he told us, my wife would be soooo interested in this. We just got back from teaching her and it was really incredible. She asked us how she can change her feelings of enviousness. Who asks that after the first lesson? She also asked us while we were talking about dispensations and apostacies and she asked if we were in an apostacy right now. Good question!! We had the answer. We hope to keep meeting with them for a while. Cutest family. We feel so blessed to be able to work with them.
I love you all so much. Andrew and Chelsea, enjoy your cool game. Matthew said it was fun. I can play it with you one day, maybe, if you are into us all having fun together. István said you emailed him back. Ha... so he doesn't speak English at all! We had helped him write the little note to send to you all, and at church he told me you wrote, but then he told me that he used google translate and figured it all out. I thought it was funny and sweet.
I will be keeping this super short because we have so much to do today!! Who knew holidays were so crazy? Probably every mom ever. Anywho.
This week was super great. I am super happy and everything is going really well. We were fed like four times last week and Sister Kimball and I actually didn't love it that much... We always end up overeating and feeling kind of gross... We really just love eating soup and open faced sandwiches. We were really excited for this week because we only had three meal appointments planned and everything seemed like we could just eat what we want. But, by the time we got home from church we had nine meal appointments scheduled. WOAH!! I hope I can make it.
President Smith was in Szeged and on his way back to Budapest he stopped by and played Santa, so I have something to open up for Christmas now! Yay! Everything is good here. The internet place has tons of American Christmas pop music stuff. It is weird, but nice. Who knew Britney Spears had a Christmas song? I didn't.
I look forward to tomorrow tons! I don't know who all will be home, but President Smith did give me permission to skype anyone in the family for a total time of one hour, so if Daniel and Leah aren't home I can Skype them, and I know Andrew and Chelsea aren't going to be home until Saturday, so yeah. Maybe you can just let them know I might be calling them later, and you can totally call or text them while we are all together.