The weather here has been quite crazy... Last week it was spring, and beautiful! March 15. In the world, it is the Ides of March. In Hungary, it is one of their independence days. Pretty cool. Google did some pretty art work for the day, if anyone saw that. Anyway. Friday we had an extended P-Day, and we decided to go to Esztergom, the biggest cathedral in Hungary, maybe even Eastern Europe. So... We went!! But, it snowed. All day. It was crazy, but no one was there, so we had a really nice time. The adventure was full of transportation problems and a lot of waiting, but inside was absolutely gorgeous and we got to go on a tour of the treasury. They had some really neat stuff there, a lot of famous stuff in the Catholic church, and it was incredible. My favorite part was looking at the fine details in all of the sewing. They had some absolutely stunning robes for the priests. I made a friend with Árpád. He checked our tickets when we walked in, and he kept telling me what to look at. I got a personal tour from him through the gallery, all in Hungarian. Wow!! Sometimes I understand!! It was beautiful and really cool though. But, in a missionary related note, everyone loves hearing about missionary work, I gave out a Book of Mormon on the trip!! Yep. Inside of a Catholic church. WHAT?! I was kind of terrified, but I really felt like I should. I was talking to Tony, the ticket guy, trying to ask him what was in the exhibit and how much it would cost. He asked me if I was a student, I said no, he said why are you here? We aren't encouraged to talk about our church when we are in other churches, so I just told him that I was a missionary, and then the questions started going and then all four of us missionaries were involved with this discussion about our church and one of the Elders mentioned the difference between our churches is the Book of Mormon and modern revelation, and then we kind of ended the conversation, and I decided to give him the copy of the Book of Mormon I had brought. So cool. It was a really incredible day. I am so grateful to be a part of this work.
This is me and a pretty view of the Duna, inside Esztergom.
Mom. Just so you know. I am serving in Buda. My area technically covers the 12th district, but that mostly just pertains to tracting. There are a bunch of missionaries in this area, because I am in the same area as the mission office, so we have secretary Elders as well as the Assistants to the President, and two other companionships of Elders. Biggest district I have ever served in, as well as the most compact. It is neat!
As far as St. Patrick's Day is concerned, no one celebrates it. I did get a text from an American member that said, If you don't wear green I will find you, and I will pinch you. I had figured that this year was the year to wear no green, but I did anyway. Old habits die hard. I was actually on a train a couple of months ago with some Irish girls, and I asked them if they pinch people for not wearing green on St. Patrick's Day, and they thought that was like... the most awful idea ever. They were so sad--Everyone will think that Irish are mean! Ha. Funny, but yeah, no real celebrations here.
Sister Jeppson goes home next week. That is weird. One of my companions is finally dying. I have realized I probably will never kill a companion. I will probably be a senior companion until the day I go home. Szegény. We are getting eleven new sisters next week, so we are all basically training... I bet all of the sisters in Hungary are in a tri-panionship... (Keep those prayers coming!!!) Zone Conference is tomorrow, and that is exciting. It is going to be a long one, but it should be pretty good! After church I was high fiving an Elder, when President Smith walked by and said I couldn't hit the Elders and that I was going to need to talk to him about that in interviews on Tuesday. I love interviews!! So, I really hope that happens.
I am actually really kind of struggling right now. Nothing big, but it is really hard to keep working and to keep going when our investigators don't show up to anything we plan. I continue to be super positive, and I smile all of the time, but it is really, really hard sometimes to just keep going. But, I eat some chocolate, take a big breath, and keep going. God doesn't expect us to be awesome, or to do everything right. But he wants us to keep going! Of course we have to work in order to return to our Heavenly Father. He is just. He doesn't require EVERYTHING from us, He just requires what is required. I don't know if that makes sense, but I liked it. We have certain things we need to be doing continuosly so we can grow and become more like His son. The commandments were given to us, not so we would be limited in our actions, but so we could become liberated and become more like He truly is. It is incredible. I am so honored and blessed to be a servant of God. I am grateful for the opportunity I have, everyday, to put on the name of Christ. I won't be able to do that forever--but I can take Christ's name upon me in my words and my actions, and I will be able to be an example of the believers as I apply His atonement in my life, everyday. I know that God loves us all, and that we are His children. Because we are His children we have aquired some of His attributes. We just need to refine them, and use them until we can fully appreciate the goodness of God. Wow. It will take some time. But, we will never be perfect in this life. That is why eternity is so awesome!!
To answer questions. Yes, they have daylight savings time in Hungary... But it hasn't happened yet. I am not exactly sure when it will happen either. Mom. My P-Day is on Mondays. When it is transfer week we will email on Tuesdays, and a couple of weeks ago I got locked out of my account on Monday, and so I had to send my email on Tuesday. Keep the letters coming :) I loved both little notes I got this week.
Andrew and Chelsea. Thanks for the nice emails! Andrew, I'm sad to hear that Justin Bieber had such an awful birthday, and I will admit getting focused on the work is going to be hard, but I will pray for him, just as you suggested. Chelsea. The food here is good. Most of the time I just eat sandwiches and soup, but today was special and I had a whopper from Burger King. Weird, right? Thanks for the pictures and the updates from your lives though. That was nice. I liked your Halloween costumes.
Matthew. School sounds hard. I will admit when I read that you want to be a lawyer for the Marines, I read Marlins, like the baseball team, and it was only when I read it out loud that it all started to make sense. WOW! That sounds soooo cool! Good luck with that and keep me posted on everything that is coming your way. What an exciting time.
Mom and Dad. Wow!! The house looks great. I like how clean the yellow is and everything. Good job. I can't wait to see it all put back together :) Yeah!!
Sorry, this email might be lacking pictures, but it sure will make up for that with awesome stories!! This week... We will have the stories go in order of excitement. I hope you like the climax.
Oh. This is me and Sister Peterson. We walked the Duna last week.
Women's day happened this week. It was really nice!! There have been street vendors selling flowers and all of this stuff, and I asked an Elder what they were selling the flowers for. He said Easter. He was wrong. Women's day! So, we got a text from our Bishop thanking us for our service and all of the wonderful things we do, and so then Sister Peterson and I started wishing every woman we saw a happy Women's day. I say woman, because we only saw Sister Carpenter after that. But, the YSA had an activity and they brought Sister Peterson and I flowers!! So nice. They are simple, but smell very lovely.
People keep cancelling on us, which isn't a surprise, and it isn't all that interesting. It is just really frustrating.
Wednesday morning. What a day. About a week or so ago, I met a man on the street. His name is Mohammed, he is from Yemen, really nice. I had talked to him first, he asked us out for drinks. I said we don't drink, and he said we should get coffee sometime and I could share my message with him. Perfect. Where there is coffee there is hot chocolate. So, we planned to meet with him Wednesday afternoon. So, Wednesday morning, I get out of the shower, literally barely step out when I hear Sister Peterson yell, "There is an unknown number calling. You have to answer it." Awesome. So, I start talking to this guy, Mohammed. He wants to meet up like right now. I told him that we could meet up at nine, and then we planned everything and then I went back into the bathroom. Thirty seconds later I hear another yell, "It's another unknown number!" This time it was a less active lady cancelling on us. Awesome. So awesome. Anyway. So, we went out to meet this guy in Pest. He walks up and I shake his hand and then he just kisses us both on both cheeks and takes us into a low end coffee establishment. It was the most awkward and bizarre thing ever. He kept like grabbing my hands and kissing them, and he wanted us to stay together all day and Sister Peterson could cook food and I could talk more about the Book of Mormon, and we could married... it was so bizarre!! So, I told him that Sister Peterson and I both had boyfriends, and that we had pictures of them, and I was trying to really play that card, and he just wouldn't have it. I never felt threatened, and he was really nice, it was just really weird. But, we told him about our really awesome friends, the Elders, that live in Pest so it would be way easier for them to meet, and he actually seemed okay with it. I shook his hand goodbye. He somehow hugged me. I didn't know what to do, where to put my head or my hands, so I just awkwardly stood there, my head like... went into his shoulder. Weird. Anyway... He accepted a Book of Mormon and said that he would read it because we asked him to. He loves Americans. The Elders said they would call him. Who knows what will happen.
So, I already mentioned that we try to go tabling with the Elders around because we are scared of people. Two stories I would like to share about that. We had our little display out, ooh! Maybe I will take a picture and send it to you! Anyway, one of the Elders likes to set up really simply. A couple of Book of Mormons and a sign up sheet. So, I was just standing there, when this lady comes up to me. She was so excited we were there! She started telling me how she had gotten a Book of Mormon a couple of years ago, and how she really liked it, and then she signed her name down on the paper and told me she wants to meet. What?! So, I called her! She is SO excited to meet! So cool. So awesome. The Lord literally blessed us to be able to find her. So awesome. She wants to meet this Friday, which is a big holiday, and so we are really surprised and excited that is when she set up, but she, yeah, she's just great.
Next story. Sister Peterson loves singing. So, the Elders were standing at the table and Sister Peterson and I were singing from the Hymn book, English style. So, I am kind of gazing around, singing whatever has been memorized into my brain over the years, just taking in the scene. There was an old man that came up and started talking to the senior companion in the Elders. He seemed kind of upset, but it happens. We've got this other guy come up to the junior Elder and he's asking for some pictures of Jesus to give to his two kids, so that was really nice. Sister Peterson and I are still just singing. Guy with the pictures leaves. It is really hard to sing English and understand Hungarian, but I definitely heard the word, I will kill you, from the upset man talking to Senior Elder man. So... awesome! I am trying to sing and I am listening with all of my might, because things are getting WAY interesting over there, when I see him walk away. Nope! Joke's on you! He then turned around and totally kicked our table!! AHHH! It was startling, but we weren't really scared. The guy just walked away. Everyone that was standing around us FREAKED OUT. Call the cops! What is wrong with that guy?! Everyone is coming up to us and talking as we are trying to gather up fliers, books, pamphlets. The whole nine yards. So, Senior Elder was really cool and just told them that he was just a mean guy. And then we got everyone calmed down, or at least they left, and then we set the table back up and stayed there for another half hour. So. Yep. That is the life.
Weird things happen here in Budapest. I love it though. I couldn't be happier! In other news, we are meeting with tons of new people and they are all pretty much young single adult age, so that is pretty exciting. I love, love my mission. I love, love speaking Hungarian. I love, love learning new things. And I love, love that I can go tabling with Elders so we get some sort of protection. Or maybe they just bring out the crazies. Who knows?!
First let's start with the good stuff. Is the front room getting redone?! That is like... news of the century!! I want pictures. I want them soooo bad! Really, this is the craziest thing I have heard in a long while. Are you replacing the carpet? Are you prepping the house to resell? Have you bought a new house? What is going on at home?! Don't forget me!!! I want to be filled in, as you can tell.
Oh. I brought this up in my email last time, but because I got locked out and couldn't send anything really, I forgot to mention that I can count down my mission on my fingers. What a terrible thing. I love it here. Got to make my time count!!!
Grandma asked a little bit about our schedule here, and if we have any time to check out the big city! On P-Day we do shopping, emailing, laundry (or at least we try... our washer takes 3 hours per load), and then from 6-9 we are working. Oh. And we study. So, basically we try to email fast, shop faster, and then get out and see everything. I love it. We are planning to go check out the sights today, Sister Peterson hasn't really seen a lot, so it's kind of funny because I am just doing things I have already done. Anywho. We went to a music store this morning (Sister Peterson got permission to get a ukulele), but it didn't open for a little while, and we found a little park really close that we just walked around. It was really nice, and really calm. There is an exhibit there called the láthatatlan kiállítás. Umm... Yeah. So like, an invisible exhibit. I think it seems pretty cool, and maybe we can go over there. Don't know if it is worth it to pay to get in if everything we look at is just invisible. Oh well. This is a cool apple core picture from the park. Neat. In this picture I am eating it. Nom, nom, nom. Finomság benne.
Just got a phone call! This week we met with a couple of new age religious thinkers. Into the whole, God thing, but they are more into universal peace, and being united with the earth and stuff. Interesting. I feel like I eep running into people like that. Anywy. Guy who called. His name is Peter, but there are too many Peters, so he goes by Don Pedro. Really cool guy. He used to live in a Spanish speaking country, hence the name. But he prayed in Spanish at the end of the lesson. Wow. I didn't understand anything! I understood when he said my name... and when he said amen. That was it. Before my mission I talked to one of your students in Spanish... There is not a chance in the world that I would be able to do that now. Not at all. Sometimes teaching in English is hard for me now. I would just much rather say it in Hungarian, my comfortable language. But. The phone call. It was from Don Pedro. I was really interested to meet with him, and as we got talking, I didn't really know where it was going or what we were doing. Sometimes the planned programs just don't turn out how we want them to. But, Sister Peterson last week was supposed to focus on the importance of the Book of Mormon and so she has been inviting everyone to really develop a testimony of it. He just called to tell me how much he loved the discussion and how he has started reading the book and he loves it! He thinks Lehi was pretty cool, and he can't wait until we meet again. Such cool stuff!
Being a missionary calls for some hard times. I had a lady ask for money and after I explained to her that I couldn't give her any and that kind of stuff, she wished me that I would have an awful life and that kharma would come back and get me, basically. That is kind of hard to hear. And it is really hard when people set up to meet with you four times and never show up, and it is really hard when bums never leave you alone (this is why we try to do stuff with the Elders when bum encounters could happen. genious!). So yeah. Sometimes life is hard. But, I love my mission. I love messing up with the language, because then I learn better. I love sharing my testimony, even when people laugh at me because of it. I love meeting so many different people from all walks of life. I don't like being hung up on. I like talking to people at the gospel in the street. The other day a really nice man was telling me how wrong I was, and as he left he wished that I would be able to find Christ, because He is the true path. I thanked him and I said, how wonderful it is that Christ is the path, and how he will help us. So interesting. So many people believe in truth, but sometimes we miss the entirety of it. We can find that in this church, ps.
Welp! I love you all, and I am grateful for all of the love and support you give me. You being the general you all form. I love my mission. I am so happy I am here!! 11 new sisters in 4 weeks! big changes coming up in the mission... but it is so worth it :) WEEEEE!! Rachel... This will be your life in a few months. Hold on tight!