Monday, June 25, 2012

Hello from Hungary!

June 25, 2012
Hello everyone!!

I'm finally here in Hungary!! Can you believe that it's already been 12 weeks? I sure can't. Time sure has flown by. So I was able to talk to my family in Chicago and in London, but I'll give a brief description for everyone else.

   At 8 in the morning (Utah time) we departed for the airport and arrived there around 10 and began our first flight around 11:30. It was a 3 hour flight and was great for the first 2 and a half hours. But when we arrived to Chicago, we had to circle around the airport for a little while because there was a lot of wind, making it difficult for the pilot to land the plane. Because of this delay in the air, we ran into a lot of turbulence. Jones Elder and Hardy Nover unfortunately got sick from the turbulence and had to ask the flight assistance for a barf bag. Let's just say that they felt better after the flight. I called my family for a little bit while my district and I were waiting for our shuttle to take us to our flight at the international terminal. It was so amazing to talk to everyone and hear everybody's voices again! It was like a really, really early birthday gift. :) After I got off the phone, we hopped on our tram to the terminal and got on our 7 hour plane flight to London. That was way fun, except I sat in the middle row in the middle seat. But the two people who I sat between were really kind. The one on my left actually reminded me a lot of Grandma Sue because she was all perky and really friendly, except she had bleached her hair white. The woman on my right was from Bolivia but had been living in Chicago for a while. She said she was really afraid of flying. I cheered her up by telling her that everything was going to be ok and that God would be watching over us. I don't know if she believed in God or not, but a smile came on her face when I said it and she was a lot happier the rest of the flight. We couldn't watch movies on the flight because we were asked not to back at the MTC, so I kept the little TV in front of me on our flight statistics and read my scriptures. It was definitely the best flight because we got food, drinks, blankets and a pillow. I was like "Sweet!! Bonuses!!" 

After 7 hours, we arrived in London and we had a 2 hour layover before we left for Hungary. Mom gave me an international calling card, but after trying to figure it out for 5 or so minutes and having asked the lady at the kiosk center how it worked and her giving me all these complex numbers and stuff, I decided to get a new one there for 30 minutes. Again, it was so great to talk with everyone! Especially when dad answered the phone and I could hear everyone screaming in the background. :) I was so glad that Jordan was able to make it. After having received all of her letters, it was really nice change to hear her voice over the phone. By the way, I will be able to Skype home for Christmas. That is the only information I have so far, but I will let you know more in the coming months. Lastly, we began our flight to Hungary, which was only a 3 hour flight. It was way cool, because Beaucannon Elder sat next to a Hungarian who reminded me so much of Granddad! I don't know how to describe it; you would have to have seen it for yourself. The people I sat next to, however, were English and I got the feeling that they didn't like Mormons so much.
   We finally began to descend from the clouds and I was able to be sitting in the window seat to see everything. Hungary is so beautiful to look at from the sky! My heart was pounding with excitement and just hearing the call of "Christian soldiers marching as to war." I felt the call to fight for Christ and the call to fight for my home country of Hungary, even though I had never stepped foot on Hungarian soil before. It was so exciting and so refreshing to finally be in the field. I had been working for 12 weeks at the MTC and I knew that it was time to begin my journey; my adventure; my mission in Hungary. We arrived in Hungary and met with President Baughman and his wife outside of the airport around 1:30pm Hungarian time. It was a blazing hot day and it was even worse wearing a black suit that just absorbed all of the heat. I got in the presidents car with the two sisters while the other elders got in the blue van with the presidents assistants. He asked us to introduce ourselves while we were on our way to the Mission Home. So we did and we talked for a bit and he said "You know, you are our last group of missionaries before we leave next Saturday and we are excited to have such a good group of missionaries to be our last group." I don't know why, but I just got excited after hearing him say that. We got to the mission home which is a 5 story building and is also where the Buda ward goes for their church service. They fed us and interviewed us and then took us to our apartment where we would be staying for the first night in Budapest. There, we rested for a few hours, and then they took us to dinner at a Hungarian restaurant. I can't remember what my dish was called, but it had potatoes and chicken with cheese and it was delicious!! We then took a tour of Heroes Square and went to this hill that had the Hungarian "Liberty Statue". What was written on the statue I was so surprised to be able to read. Not only because I actually translated for myself, but because its statement reminded me so much of America and its statement of liberty. It reads: "To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary." If you wanted, you could replace Hungary with America and it would be the same for all who remember those who fought for freedom and liberty and prosperity for America. I felt so much closer to the country after reading that. Dad and Granddad were right; I do feel right at home.
   The next day, we were taught about our finances and how things worked. Luckily they gave us a blue binder that we could take home that describes it all, because I barely remembered most of what the missionary couple said. After that, we spent, probably, 2 hours streeting people in a square outside of the mission home. I don't know why, but during the first few minutes, I was scared. I don't know why exactly. I was taught in the MTC not to be scared when I'm streeting. We were told that "the worst that could possibly happen is that they say 'no', which a lot of people will do." I knew that going out, but when I was handed pass along cards and a Book of Mormon to pass out, it's as though all of that went out the window! But after a while, I just said to myself "I'm doing this for 2 years and I need to get over my fears now." Most of the time I could barely understand anyone because they speak so wickedly fast! There were a few groups of people that I actually could understand and was able to give pass along cards to and maybe wanted to know more about the gospel. In fact, I would later find out that there was actually a guy who called the mission home and said that he wanted to come to church and maybe get a Book of Mormon because he got the pass along card with the number on it from two boys with green ties on. That was me and Beaucannon Elder!! We were wearing green ties! He even said "It was a good thing they were wearing green." I don't know what that means, but I'm glad I wore a green tie that day. Ha ha!
   After streeting, we were finally given our trainers. My trainer's name is Abram Elder. He is from Orem, Utah; he has 11 siblings (one served in Hungary), is blonde, has blue eyes and has been here for 9 transfers (this being his 10th). So basically he has a little under a year left on his mission. He is an awesome missionary! I'm so glad I was paired up with him. We have been assigned to the city of Pest! My first city is in the capital! It's so way awesome!! Abram Elder has already been in Pest for 2-3 transfers and already has 8-9 investigators. Half of the investigators speak Hungarian, the other half speak English. Because we are in the capital where a lot of people from around the world live, we will also find people who can only speak English. My first couple of days has been really fun and interesting. One of our investigators, Erika, is being baptized this Saturday. She is so sweet! She is 30 and lives with her two kids. She is so excited for her baptism this Saturday and we can't wait for it either. My feelings aren't as high as Abram Elders because I wasn't here for any of the lessons with her and the great change she has made to follow Christ. I mean, of course I feel happy and excited for her, but it's not the same since I really wasn't a part of it. But I'm still excited. Out of the investigators we have, most of them are prominent and tomorrow we are going to push for a baptismal date with one of them. The other 1-2 investigators are only investigating because it's either just an interesting religion or for improving their English. Oh! One of the things we do here in Hungary is teach English class! It's one of our ways of finding. We hand out flyers and let people know that we are teaching English for free at the church building. Classes are an hour long and we include 10 minutes to be about a spiritual thought that we share with the class. We let the class know that they can leave if they would like, but a lot of them (at least in Pest) actually stay. I've taught 2 classes already and they have already asked me to "be their teacher forever". I it was so cute to hear that from them! Even if the person that said that was probably in their 50's, ha ha!
   My status on my Hungarian...let's just say that it's coming along. Ha ha, I'm actually not too bad of a speaker. My trainer says that I can speak the language pretty well, what I really need to improve on is my vocabulary and some other few grammar principles. But what is really difficult is listening and understanding what Hungarians are saying when they're speaking. Jaj (wow)! They speak so fast and there are so many people who slur their words. I'm just staring at their lips, trying to see if a word comes out of their mouths because I'm so sure that it's just one long word that they are saying. What's even crazier is that my companion understands it completely! (Or basically completely, that's what he says). But to me it is just so impressive to see how much he has learned and how well he speaks and understands the language. Another funny thing here is the people's reactions when they see my last name. Several times I have had people say to me in Hungarian, "Do you know that your last name is a woman's name?" or "Do you know that your name is Hungarian?" It's way cool, however it's hard because I want to explain more about the history of my family, but all I can conjure up to say is "My grandfather is from Hungary from a little city south east from Budapest and he was born here in 1950." Sometimes I can get out that he fled to South Africa, but I just stop there because it would take to long for me to find the words to say and explain. It's still really cool though. People are really happy that I have a Hungarian name and that Granddad is from here. I hope that I may serve in a city or area that is close to the farm where he said he was born. I can't remember the name of the place right off the top of my head, but I know it's on a map that he gave me. Ask them if they could tell me where the grave site is for Granddad’s father is (I believe it's my great-grandfather. I'm probably wrong though). Maybe I can go visit it on one of my p-days.

   I had my first p-day here today! Ha, ha, I have definitely enjoyed our decision for p-day. We went shopping first thing in the morning and had our studies afterwards. Then we went and met with Erika and talked about the specifics about what she wants in the program for her baptism. After that, we got dressed in our regular clothes and went to the Mission Home where we had pizza and watched The Spongebob Squarepants Movie with the Buda sisters, McKay Nover and Szkiba Nover (her name is also Hungarian). We can watch one approved movie a transfer here, so we did that today. It was so much fun! We played games, ate this gigantic pizza that was 55 cm long and watch the movie. Next week we are planning on going to some actually spots in Hungary to visit, but I really liked just relaxing and taking a break from walking. It's been a long week.

  For my birthday, my trainer made me cupcakes and we played basketball at Sportsnap (which is an activity that we have on Saturdays where the elders bring the investigators and we play different sports together). After our last program (which is what they call lessons here) with an investigator, the Buda sisters took me and my companion to dinner and dessert and ate across from Parliament. It was so pretty and it was so nice that they took me out for my birthday. I had almost forgotten about my birthday until they started singing happy birthday to me. This country is absolutely amazing and I'm so happy to have been called here. I'm excited for this week and the things to come from it. :) I will try to send you pictures next week. I forgot to bring my camera with me to the computer cafe that we are at, but I will remember to bring it with me next week. Oh, letters take a week to get here and packages take two weeks. And because I am super close to the mission home, I can get letters and packages in those 1 to 2 weeks. If I was in an outer city it would take longer for those letters to get to me. So if anyone wants to write letters, don't be shy to write, especially while I'm here in Pest, which I will probably be here for 2, or maybe 3, transfers (which is 12-18 weeks).

I love you all and I am so, so happy to finally be here in Hungary! God lives and I know this because I have already seen small miracles here and there already in Hungary.