Monday, July 30, 2012

Lightning, Haircuts, and Playing the Bongos

July 30, 2012

Funny thing you should ask about thunder and lightning storms, because yesterday, according to Elder Abram, we had the biggest storm in Hungary! Lately we have been getting a lot of thunder storms with some awesome lightning, but yesterday was the coolest one yet! The day started out with us waking up to some thunder. One of the strikes was so close that it sounded like cannon had gone off right by our apartment. Elder Abram said he had never heard one so close his entire time in Hungary. But that wasn't the storm though. Later, during church, the clouds passed away and it was blazing hot, especially with our suit coats on (We are required to wear our suits on Sundays to church). After church we went down south to Kispest to meet with Elder Abrams older brother’s adopted "Hungarian mom". Long story short, Elder Abrams older brother served in Hungary in 1994 on his mission and the lady we met was his "Hungarian mother". Church ended at 12, we arrived in Kispest at 1, went to her place, ate, looked at pictures of Elder Abrams brother and came back home around 5pm. I was so pooped and immediately took a nap for an hour. When I fell asleep it was still super-hot outside, but when I woke up around 6pm it was super dark and cloudy and there was some thunder crackin' away. I thought nothing of it because it happens quite a bit in the summer here. Little under 10 minutes later, the wind picks up and it's pouring rain outside, basically dumping buckets of water a second. To make it even better, thunder was going off every few seconds and the sky was lit up. It was like the 4th of July we never had! Ha ha, it was absolutely amazing! We even recorded it on our cameras for a few minutes. We didn't want to turn down this opportunity to experience an amazing storm and to not catch it. 

So today was the last day of my first transfer! Can you believe it?! Already 6 weeks have come and gone. It's hard to believe sometimes in my opinion. We have been super excited for transfers this week because we knew something was going to happen to Elder Abram and me. It's interesting, because usually trainers are with their greenies for 2 transfers (most of the time), but my MTC group and I are only getting our trainers for 1 because of how big the next batch of elders are coming and going. We are losing 13 and gaining 13, and because there are only 80 or so missionaries here, it's quite a big thing, especially for our new mission president who had to deal with this big group on his first transfer day. Yikes! I'm glad I'm just the missionary when I think of that. This morning at 7 in the morning (11 pm your time), we got a call from our mission president and Elder Abram is moving to Miskolc and is going to be a Zone Leader there and I am staying and getting Elder Headrick (I hope I spelled it right) from Szombathely. Ahh!! It's like opening up your mission call again! Wednesday is when all of us make the switch, so we still have a couple days left together and we are going to definitely make the best out of them. It's kind of a sad moment to have Elder Abram leave because I've had such a fine time serving with him as his greenie, but I'm definitely excited for this next companionship. It's going to be way fun!

You sent in your last letter a bunch of comic strips that you gathered together. One of them was a Zits comic strip and was about him having a canker sore. Interestingly enough, the next day after I read that I got a canker sore. Funny how things work right? It's been a week since I've had it and I thought today would be the day that it would start to go away. Exactly the opposite happened, I woke up and another one popped up right next to the existing one. Ahh!! It's so annoying! There both on my bottom lip on the left side and I can barely talk to anyone because it hurts. Another funny thing that happened this week was I cut my own hair. Yup, you read right, I cut my own hair. We are on our last week and we don't have very much money left and I didn't want to spend the last bit on a haircut, so I used my companion’s hair trimmers that he has instead. He did it a few days before and I was like "You know, if he can do it, so can I, right?" Definitely wrong.....actually it wasn't too bad. My hair was pretty long but I just wanted to trim it. But, I realized soon enough that I'm no hair stylist and a few minutes in I just decided to cut it short. It's actually not that bad, except a ward member came up to me and said that I looked like I had a military haircut. Military haircuts aren't bad, but that's just a sign that I definitely cut it way short. Ha ha, it was definitely a funny experience. 

Another thing that happened this week was that I sang in a concert that Sister McKay and Sister Szkiba put together this weekend. I've been meaning to tell you this, but I have forgotten every time I email. But at least I'm not completely forgetting to tell you. The sisters have been planning it for the past month. They had 9 numbers put together and I got to be in two of them. One of them was 6 elders and sisters singing "I Need Thee Every Hour" in Hungarian. The other song was a duet with Sister Suranyi and we sang "Be Still My Soul" in Hungarian. Cool thing about that one was we got to be the last number of the nights (the concert was on Friday and Saturday)! The whole night was beautiful and several of our investigators showed up also. Do you remember the last email I sent you about my relationship with "Be Still My Soul"? Well I definitely had the same feeling when I sang it here, even if it was in Hungarian. All of my memories flooded back with my injury and the feelings I had when I thought of this song and the promise Heavenly Father made with me that whenever I was down or afraid that I can think of this song and I would feel the Spirit. All of these things rushed back and I when I sang, I wasn't just singing with my talent alone, but I was singing with the power of the Holy Ghost. It was such a wonderful feeling! And I could also feel it from Sister Suranyi. She has a beautiful voice and I am so grateful that I was able to sing with her. She definitely completed the piece and had the Holy Ghost with her also. This is my first transfer area and I already have been sharing my love of singing. I can't wait for more opportunities! I definitely hope there are more. Oh! We also sang and played the guitar with a bongo drum that we had in our apartment (Me, Elder Abram and the Pest sisters) down by the Duna for an hour. We set up some Book of Mormons and a sign that said "Free Books" while we played to see if anyone would be interested, but we only gave out one book. It was so fun though! We just had a blast singing songs and playing with the bongo and guitars. Ha ha, another opportunity to share my musical talents, right? 

Unfortunately we haven’t been doing much this week. Elder Abram was sick for most of the week and we've just stayed back and studied and only went to appointments that we had made for the week because we didn't want him to get any sicker. He only had a cold but while you’re on your mission any sickness can hold you back. Wednesday was the longest day for us. We had one program in the morning and another in the afternoon but the afternoon program canceled so we had to stay inside ALL DAY until we had a rehearsal for the concert at 5 in the evening. The seconds felt like minutes, sometimes hours, going by. We were going crazy. Our minds were about to explode because of how much studying we were doing and we finally just decided "Alright let’s just go out and street for an hour or something. Being inside all day is destroying us." So we did, but no one was on the streets!! So basically we just walked around for an hour to get a good exercise. Woo hoo! When we came to rehearsal, we felt so out of it that we were laughing at the smallest things that people would say. We have no idea why besides that we were just in a state of craziness. We came back to the apartment laughing about who knows what and got ready for bed and basically just conked out. It was so funny; I just had to share that with you guys. 

Why does everyone decide to get married, or engaged, when I'm on my mission?? Can't they wait for another 1 ½ years till I come home so that I can be there?! Everyone just has perfect timing, don't they?  Ha ha! Suti is just a kind of dessert or pastry here. There are so many different kinds, I don't even know if I can explain them all. We'll just say that they are mostly always good, so we didn't want the lady who was about to burn her suti in the oven to lose such a precious dessert. Dad went to the fair?!?! Whaaaaat?? That's crazy!! What made him decide to go?? And that is so cool that he helped out with Pioneer Day. That ride thingy sounded way awesome the way you described it. I remember going last year and helping with the ticket stand, but that's all I can remember. Oh, and I remember the missionaries having their own area too. That was cool. We remembered Pioneer Day while we were walking. Elder Abram just looked at me and said "Hey, it’s Pioneer Day today." I replied, “Cool Elder" and we continued our day. Sam's farewell was this week?!? I remember when I was home and he told me "I have to wait 5 months?!?! This is crazy!!" 5 months have flown by. Tell him that I wish I could have been there but that I will definitely be there for his homecoming wearing his tie.

With tabling we are just going to go to another city or area to table in. It's too much of a hassle to deal with permits so we are just going to find another place to do it in. With the flash drive thing, 8 GB would be perfect. I'll see if I can send you the flash drive with pictures on it. I'm doing terribly with the whole "taking pictures" thing. I always forget to bring it with me and when I do remember I forget that I have it and that I should use it. Ha ha, but I'll definitely make it one of my goals for the next transfer to take pictures every week. I promise! They do have peanut butter here, but it is nasty! Not even close to the peanut butter back at home. They have Skippy at the American store here but it is way expensive. Peanut Butter would be an awesome treat! I don't know of any other foods that they don't have here, but peanut butter would definitely be an awesome gift.

Thank you so much for all of your prayers and support! I absolutely love it here and I will continue to wave the Banner of Liberty here in Hungary. D&C 98:8

-Magda Elder

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Monday, July 23, 2012

Tracting in Hungary

Dear Family and Friends,

Ashleigh went to the ER?!?! That's crazy! I'm so sorry that she isn't feeling very well and I hope and pray with all my heart that she gets better. I chuckled a little bit when I heard that she was singing the "Jigglypuff Song" while she was on medications. Funny thing, actually, Abram Elder and I were talking about our families and some of the things that we miss while on our missions. Abram Elder has 11 siblings, so he started naming off things about each that he missed, ha ha. But I threw in there the things I missed about both Ashleigh and Alisha. I told him (which surprisingly shocked me) was that I missed overhearing the music she would be listening to while she was on her iPod because of how loud she'd have it. And I told him how I missed all the fashion comments she would give me when I'd go on a date or some kind of outing. "Why in the world would you be wearing that Blake??" I think was one of my favorite comments of hers ha ha! And don't worry Alisha, there are things that I miss about you too. I told Abram Elder that I missed having the blame be put on me when you would get in trouble. You would be doing something like playing video games when you were not supposed to and I would come in and grab a controller to join you, not knowing that you weren't supposed to be playing, and mom or dad would come in and ask why you were playing video games and you would say "Blake asked me to." Ha ha, I just laugh when I think about it. Being the oldest of the siblings always has its pros and cons, but in my case I would definitely say that there are way more pros. :) I hope this cheers Ash up a bit. 

So, about my week. Do you remember how I told you that she was kind of slow with the whole getting baptized thing? Well, she has committed to be baptized on August 11th!! Can you believe it?! It was such an awesome lesson! On Sunday, last week, Abram Elder felt prompted to share the conference talk from President Uchtdorf last year called "The Road to Damascus" in Aniko's program this week. If you aren't familiar with the talk, I will give a little description about it, but I would definitely suggest finding the talk because it is awesome! President Uchtdorf gives a brief rundown of the story of Paul on his way to Damascus when Christ appeared to him and told him to stop persecuting His church. After the appearing, Paul joined the church and became one of the main disciples of the church. President Uchtdorf explains that, though this did happen to Paul, not everyone is going to receive such a witness like he did with their answers to their prayers. Most of the time we already know what the answer is, but we just refuse to listen because we want a bigger answer. We read this talk with Aniko and after we finished it she immediately said "I know why you are sharing this with me." She told us that she knows that this is the true church and that the Book of Mormon is a true book and she has just been hesitant because she wanted to be exactly sure. Abram Elder explained that we are only trying to help her to come closer to Christ and we aren't forcing her to do anything that she doesn't want to do. She then committed for a baptismal date and I felt this excitement just rush through me. Aniko has come so far! We shared a scripture from D&C that says "Draw near unto me and I will draw near unto you" and explained that you have been drawing near unto him with these small steps and he the same towards you, and when you are baptized the step towards Heavenly Father will not be small, but a great step. This is the highlight of the week! 

I also went tracting for the first time this week! Tracting is so much different here than it is in the states. Like South Africa, the homes here are gated and you have to ring the bell from the gate. So, most of the time they won't even come to us and just stay at their door and motion us away. Yesterday we went tracting and a rang the bell and a woman from her window said "Just keep on walking, you don't need to ring my door bell." Quite funny I must say, ha ha. We went tracting twice this week--once on Thursday and the other yesterday. Friday wasn't very successful and I was still a little nervous with my language abilities (which, by the way, have been increasing :)). We went down 2 streets with no success and decided to head over to the program that we had scheduled. It was a bummer, but I didn't expect to have a miracle on my first tracting attempt. After church yesterday, Abram Elder felt prompted to go tracting again (he is really in-tune with the Spirit). So we dropped off our suit jackets and other stuff at the apartment, grabbed a couple Books of Mormon and went out tracting. We tracted only 6-7 houses when Abram Elder said "Alright, I think this house will be good one for you." I smiled when he said that and rang the bell. A lady come out, probably around her 40's, and I told her that we were from America and sharing with people a short message about Christ and how he has helped us in our lives with people. She nodded, which meant to me that I was saying it well enough for her to understand. It threw me off a little bit because I had been used to people, after I would say that, telling us that they’re not interested and we'd go to the next house. I was like "Yes! what do I say?" So I mentioned that we know that God loves all of us because of the Book of Mormon which is another witness of Jesus Christ. She responded, "I believe in Jesus Christ too. I'm a practicing Catholic." I've heard many missionaries who have told me "When you hear that, it's going to be a hard one." But I didn't even think of it that way. I told her that's great! We believe in Jesus Christ too and that he is our Savior. I asked if she would like to accept the Book of Mormon and she smiled and said yes I would like to read it. That's right, she said yes! We gave her our number and names and told her that if she had any questions from her reading that she could call us at any time and we would be happy to explain. It was so awesome!! Abram Elder smiled and said "I think that's what we came out here to do, do you want to head back home?" I told him "I think we should do three more houses before we finish." The first two were no success, but the third one was a small one. An older lady came out and we told her why we were here and she said "I would love to chat with you boys, it sounds wonderful, but my Suti is in the oven and it's about to burn." So we gave her a pass along card and told her that if she would like to talk to us she could call us. "That sounds great" she said, which was a perfect way to end our tracting.

 I know that tracting isn't always successful and I know that there will be days, or even weeks, in a row where you won't find anyone, but I found a quote that helps with that. "Every door you knock and every person you find, always say to yourself 'This person is prepared by the Lord.' Even if they do not accept your message, continue to think that way and you will find that person that God has prepared for you." I found that quote a few weeks ago and it has helped me tremendously with streeting and tracting. I have found people who are actually interested while streeting and tracting with that attitude. I know it's true and I know that the Lord has prepared people for me to find if I continually have faith in Him and strive to be the best missionary a can be. 

Oh yeah, one last thing that kind this week. The place that we have been tabling for the past 3 weeks and found leprechaun man at, we were kicked out of this last Friday by the police. The guy who did it was really kind though. He asked if we had permission and we said we didn't know that we needed it. He told us kindly to not do table there until we have a pass and then he left. It was way better than I expected. I thought he was going to be like "What are you doing here you little punks?!?!" But that's just me and being over dramatic with my thoughts, ha ha! 

That's all I have to share on this week’s special of "Gettin' Hungary with Elder Magda". Tune in next time with Magda Elder and his crazy adventures. :) 

Sok Szretettel, 
-Magda Elder

P.S. Tell Brad that I wish him a happy birthday! 

Monday, July 16, 2012

There are Leprechauns in Hungary!

July 16, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,

Wow, has it already been a week? It felt like last week’s P-Day was just yesterday and I was on the computer typing about my experiences. It's way weird, I must say. The phrase missionaries say a lot "Days feel like weeks and weeks feel like days" is definitely true, because the days this week have been really long but this week went by super-fast.

So some things that have happened to me this week....We have 4 progressing investigators and have met with each one once this week. One of them, Aniko, who is 21, is really close to being baptized. We've asked her what her concerns may be and if she would like to discuss them with us, but she has said that it's something that she just has to get over and we keep praying for her and continue going over the chapters she is reading in the Book of Mormon, which she loves. She has really taken a liking for the Book of Mormon and she has found that Heavenly Father has helped her a lot through reading the Book of Mormon. It's another reason why we are kind of stumped with why she isn't progressing as fast as she could be, because she loves the Book of Mormon and believes that it is true, but she still isn't sure about the baptism thing. She also comes to church and loves being with the people there. Abram Elder and I were talking about her situation last night for Weekly Planning and we think that as she continues to meet with us, read and discuss the Book of Mormon and goes to church and feels the power of the Holy Ghost around the members that those problems or concerns will start to disappear. We are going to try and set up a baptismal date this next program and we pray that the Holy Ghost will guide us with what to say.

Another investigator, Justin, is originally from China and has been meeting with the missionaries for a while. He was first meeting with the Sisters in Buda for a few weeks, but they had to give him to us because where he lives is technically in the Pest area. At first, he didn't believe that there was a God at all, and that's because China taught that there wasn't a God and that religion is bad. But now he believes in Christ and has faith in him and has really felt a change in his life since he has been meeting with us! It's been so amazing to see his progression and his love for Christ grow. It reminds me of the Sons of Mosiah going to teach the Lamanites, a people who believed in other God's, or didn't believe in a God at all, and converted thousands. THOUSANDS! How is this possible? How could these people be converted to the gospel when they had no familiarity with God or the gospel at all? It's because the power of the Holy Ghost is stronger than anything in this world, including the grasps of Satan, and we have seen that with Justin, a man who had no belief in God, but now has a strong faith in Christ and the gospel. This week we are also going to invite him to be baptized. We were going to last week, but some concerns came up about some other things and we felt not to give the invitation until next time. 

Our other investigators are progressively moving forward, but very slowly. Because we only have 2 strong investigators and 2 slower ones, we've been trying to find more investigators to teach and it's been going so-so with the finding part. We called the people we found last week while tabling, but all of them either didn't pick up the phone or wanted us to call back in a couple of weeks (which is probably a sly way of saying no, ha ha). The miracle guy I found didn't answer the phone when we called, so we are going to call him either today or tomorrow and I hope that he picks up and wants to learn more because he seemed to like what we were talking about when I found him. Also, this was the highlight of the week, we went tabling again this last Wednesday. People have said "Hungarians are generally kind people." Well, we found one who did not fit in that category. We called him "Leprechaun-Man-Who-Has-The-Face-of-Elder-D.-Todd-Christoferson". Literally, that's the best way we could name him. We was like 4 and a half feet tall, had white hair, the face of the Apostle Christoferson, and looked like he was in his 60's. He walked up to our table, stared straight at me and started yelling at us in English about how Mormons were little devils and that we didn't know who God was and he did because he was a Born Again Christian. We all just looked at him and didn't say anything because we knew whatever we would say would just make it worse. So he continued to yell at us for a few minutes, then left, but realized that he didn't get a reaction out of us, so he came back and started yelling at us again. He did this 3-4 times, trying to get us to take our table and go home to America where we belong. Of course, we just continued to stare at him with our straight faces and didn't give him a reaction. I think he was shocked that he wasn't scaring us or something because he wouldn't stop coming back and yelling at us. He came up to one of the sisters, because she made a laugh slip, and said "I'm not talking to you Satan, I’m talking to Elder Satan!" and looked straight back at me. I'm pretty sure is eyes were on me 80 percent of the time. After about 10 minutes or so, he picked up a Book of Mormon and threw it on the ground telling us that it was crap (in swear form). I picked it up, looked up and he was already walking across the cross-walk. He was afraid, and we all saw that he was, because he was shaking while he was yelling at us and he booked it out of there when he threw the Book of Mormon. What he tried to do was to scare us away and inform everyone not to come to the table because we were all little devils, but he actually did the opposite. We were there for another hour and the people who were watching the little Leprechaun man yell and scream came up to us and asked us more about what was going on and we taught them about the gospel and how it has blessed our lives. They couldn't understand why he got mad with us because we weren't doing anything wrong and they said that we were too kind of people to be yelled at. I felt bad for the Leprechaun man because he just didn't understand and wouldn't allow himself to understand because his heart was hardened. I prayed for him that night, asking Heavenly Father if he could help that man in softening his heart. Some people might ask, "Why would you do that for such a person who yelled at you like he did?" My answer is that God has asked us to love our enemies with all of our heart and pray for those who offend us. My love for the Hungarian people increases every day and I can't help myself from praying for them. So why wouldn't I pray for him? One it's a commandment from the Lord to do so, and two, I love this people and want God to bless them.

Another person that we found while tabling was looking at the sign that we had that said "Free Books" (In Hungarian of course) and was looking at it for a while. I came up to him and asked if he would like to have a Book of Mormon. Right after I said that, he made a farting noise with his tongue and just continued walking down the street. I started to bust up laughing! I told my companion and now, during the week, if we would find people while streeting that didn't want to hear about us, we would just make a farting noise in memory of the man who also didn't want to hear more about us. It was so funny! It's hard to explain over email, but I hope you can understand at least a little bit. :P

We have found a few people that wanted to hear more about the Book of Mormon and our church and we hope that they answer their phone when we call them this week. We are also going to try tracting this week also. We'll see how that goes with my language skills, ha ha! :P

That's basically what has been happening with me here in Hungary. Weather has actually been getting colder and we have had some storms come through a few times, including today actually. I like this weather preferably to ridiculously hot weather, ha ha! But I had to let you know about the little Leprechaun man and how funny of an experience that was.

I hope everyone's doing well back at home! Continue pressing forward having faith and a perfect brightness of hope. (2 Nephi 31:20) :)

-Magda Elder

Oh, I forgot to mention some things I wanted to ask about.

First, I found a woman here in Pest, Edit is her name, who works in the family history department at the church building. I gave her some of my family history information but she says that she will need more if she wants to help me with any of it. So I was wondering if you could ask Granddad if he has any more information about our family that he has or that he can find so that I can pursue the search here in Hungary. It's so cool to see find family history here! There are some areas here that are near some of the sites that Granddad pointed out on his maps that he gave me and I hope that I am called to serve in those areas to find them. Also, where in Budapest is the grave site for Granddad's mom/dad/whoever it is that was buried here? I'd like to try and see it if I can on one of my P-Days before I I’m transferred somewhere else.

Second, so I was wondering if there would be any possible way to get a flash drive with music on it from home sent to me here. I'm thinking of getting an iPod out here because we can get them for super cheap (below 60 US dollars for a nice Nano or iPod touch) and I was thinking maybe, possibly, perhaps you and the rest of the family could find some songs to put on a flash drive and send here. The music that is allowed is anything that invites the Spirit. So Mormon Tab, movie soundtracks, Josh Groban and other songs that you would see has uplifting or inviting the Spirit. If this is too much to ask for I completely understand. No worries at all. :) 

Tell Chris and his fiancée that I'm happy to hear that they are ok and that Heavenly Father is watching over them. I hope to hear how the wedding goes this Saturday. :) 

Love you all!
Magda Elder

Monday, July 9, 2012

Open Your Mouth!

July 9, 2012
Hello to you all! 

Well the heat wave here is starting to pass and the weather is becoming more bearable as the days go by. Because for a while, the weather was above the hundreds and with our "Pross" on (Short for Proselyting clothes) it feels like we are baking. But we are seeing that the weather may be cooling down and we actually may get some rain, which will probably be warm rain because it's in the summer. In fact, on Thursday and Friday we had thunder and lightning storms in the night, which were so cool to see!!!! They happen all the time here and I feel like a little kid when it comes to this kind of weather. I cooked my dinner and pulled up a chair in front of our apartment window, opened it, sat down and ate my food while I watched the lightning strikes and listened to the thunder. It's the part of dad in me when it comes to lightning storms I think, because I just love listening to the sound of thunder and watching the lightning forever. It's captivating, and it's even more captivating knowing that this earth is God's creation and that everything we see, hear, smell, feel and taste is all a part of the glorious creation of this earth, and weather is a part of that. While watching this amazing scene of wonder, I pondered to myself, "How could someone have thought of this? How could someone have created such beauty and thought of the figure and look of lighting, of clouds, of light and electricity? How could they have created the sound of thunder? Or even what it would sound like?" It came to me while I was pondering, that only a God could have created this. Only an all knowing and powerful being could have imagined such beauty and wonder. For whoever reads this, I ask that the next time you see something beautiful that is a natural part of the earth, or hear something, just think of how wonderful a creation that is and how blessed we are as children of a loving Heavenly Father to be on this earth and witness such spectacular scenes and sounds. Your perspective on the world, I think, will change when you see the world this way.

Today, my MTC district and I had our "Greenie training" with the Mission President and it was SOO awesome to see all of my MTC friends again!! Especially my companion!! I have no idea why, but I got so excited when I saw Beaucannon Elder again! I wanted to know how he was doing and how the work was in Kaposvar (because that's where he is stationed). He is doing so well and he loves the work as much as I am. I found so much joy from listening to his experiences and growth as much as I have seen with myself. I truly found in that moment that I really had brotherly love for him. Even through the difficult times that we had and disagreements that would come up in our companionship, we had so much fun and so much learning in our 12 weeks at the MTC and I found that he was one of my greatest friends in the MTC, even if I didn't realize it when I was there. I realize it now. We spent 8 hours together today with our old district and it was a great reuniting moment being with all of my old friends. It was almost kind of sad going back to our separate cities after our meeting was finished, but I know that we will all see each other again during our missions.

I have had some really wonderful blessings this week with finding people, at least one day in particular. My companion and I have been trying to find new investigators because some of the investigators that we have are not progressing as fast as we would like and we have felt the call to find more recently. Between programs we have been streeting here and there because we don't have so much open space to just street for 4-5 hours, so we have to just fit it in the middle of our day. I have no clue why, but I have been really afraid with streeting people. Things will just cross my mind like "I don't know if I will be able to speak to them well in Hungarian!" or "I probably will say something wrong and offend them in some way!" and it really annoys me because I know that I shouldn't have those things in my mind. I'm speaking the language really well and it's better to use what I know so that I can learn later. But still, my fears come back up and I give in to my fear when someone walks by me. It's frustrating and I don't want to be like that!

Friday we set up with our district (which consists of us two and another companionship of sisters, Sister Roney and Suranyi) 4-5 hours of tabling, which is where we set up a table with Books of Mormon, pamphlets and magazines and give them to people who are interested and take down their names and numbers so that we can contact them later. I wanted to do well at tabling and I didn't want to choke like I have been in the past. That morning, before my hour of personal study, I asked the Lord for forgiveness for my lack of being a good missionary and asked that he would help prepare me for tabling and for the future streeting. I felt terrible for not working to the best of my abilities and I wanted to use them in my proselyting. After I prayed, I continued in my studies in the New Testament and I was in Chapter 25 in Matthew where he gives several parables, one of them being the parable of the talents. I knew the story and I compared it to myself being the 3rd servant and not using my talent like the Lord wants me to. There wasn't anything in the story that said how I can use my talent better, but I found a footnote by the word "afraid" and it lead me to Section 60 in D&C, where it says that the Lord is disappointed with his servants because they are not "opening their mouths" and "being more faithful" with him and he asks that we be not idle with our talents. I those verses hit me with such force, because it caused me to remember that the Lord has promised me that if I open my mouth that he will fill it. I found my answer to my question, and that was to be more faithful and not to be afraid because the Lord has made a promise with me.

So tabling came and for the 2/3rds of the tabling the others spoke to people and went out finding people to come to the table. My companion and I went also, but fears still were in me and I wasn't speaking up. I kept telling myself "do not lose faith Blake. Just have faith." Towards the end of our tabling, the others told me "You know, you should go out on your own. We want to see you in action by yourself." Initially, I thought "That's way hard!" but then that feeling was crushed by a wave of immense courage with "I am totally going to do this, whether I find someone or not." I started walking towards a crowd of people, with a small voice telling me "what are you doing?!?! This is crazy?!" But it was drowned with a prayer in my heart, saying "Please bless me with the right words to say." I saw a guy in the crowd and felt that he was the guy I was meant to talk to. I stopped him while he was walking and told him that I was new in the country and I am learning his language to speak with people about a message about Jesus Christ and how it blesses the lives of many and that we know it through the Book of Mormon. I pointed him to the table that we had and told him that I was with friends who are also doing the same thing and we wanted him to know that we care about him and everyone in Hungary. What came next almost brought me to tears. He responded with "I would love to hear about this." My face immediately brightened and I said "Wonderful!" and walked with him to the table. He told me that he was amazed with my Hungarian and that he is glad to hear that people learn his language and for a great reason. I stumbled a little bit, but everything I said was grammatically correct and completely understood. We gave him a Book of Mormon, a pamphlet about the restoration and plan of salvation and got his name and number also. He said he was looking forward to our next visit. After he left, I looked back to my companion and he said "That was absolutely amazing! The first person you find and it's someone who is really interested." My prayer had been answered; my spirit had been strengthened; I had received a testimony, and that is that God listens to prayers and blesses us with strength through the power and promptings of the Holy Ghost. I could not believe what had just happened. It was a miracle in my eyes. I know that that man I spoke with was prepared for me to speak with. For the last 1/3rd of the time I continued to find and found one other person who was interested and we got his information down. In total, we gave out 12 Books of Mormon and almost every magazine and pamphlet that we had. It was an absolute wonderful moment, filled with little blessings and miracles. I cannot thank Heavenly Father enough for the experience that I had. I cannot thank him enough for answering my prayer, my cry for help. I testify to all of you that God does listen to our prayers and God does answer them. Sometimes our prayers are not answered right away; sometimes they take a while to be answered. I know, because I prayed for days for this moment to happen, for my courage and faith to be increased. It is through patience and diligence in following what the Lord asks that He will answer our prayers in his due time. He is all knowing and knows when our prayers are to be answered. Do not stop praying! Even when it seems like your prayers will never be answered. Do not stop! I promise you that He hears your every prayer and he will bless you according to your faith and patience. I know this to be true, I have seen it with my own eyes, and I cannot deny it.

I have had some other revelations besides this experience; most of them were from yesterday while studying from the Liahona for this month after church. I had been told to treat the words of the latter-day prophets and apostles in the church magazines like they were your own personal set of scriptures: to mark them, highlight them, write in them and pray about what you are learning. I felt that prompting when I saw the Liahona on our desk. I was thinking about taking a nap, but I felt this feeling like I should read from the Liahona. I figured "Why not? I've been meaning to put what I've learned about using these to the test. Why not do it now?" I realized, after reading from some of the articles that what I felt was a prompting from the Holy Ghost, because I learned so much from the Liahona! There are such amazing things to be learned from these writings!! There was an article called "The Lesson is Inside the Learner" and it's from the General President of Sunday School. He applied it to how Sunday school teachers should teach their classmates, but I applied it to how missionaries should teach their investigators and I learned SOOO much! I don't have as much time as I would like to explain everything that I learned, but I want to encourage everyone to read this specific article and apply it to missionary work and everyone you speak with. And if not this article, read the Liahona in general, or the Ensign, or the New Era, or The Friend, or any of the church materials! Read them! Study them! Write in them! And, most importantly, write down what you have learned in a study journal so that you do not forget! I have found that it is not only a suggestion from the prophets, but a commandment. There is a scripture somewhere in the last sections of the Doctrine and Covenants that says that after Joseph Smith and one of the 3 witnesses (I can't remember who) had seen one of the angels and were ministered by him they were commanded to write down what they had learned so that they would never forget it. To me, that it is not only to the prophets, but it is also to us. Write down what you learn; write down what revelations you receive from your studies and what you learn through the Holy Ghost. I have come to the realization that it is crucial to write them down so that we can look back and remember what amazing things we have learned and that are in store for us.

I cannot tell you all how much of a blessing this mission is to me. I have only been in the field for 3 weeks, and I have seen so many blessings in this short amount of time. This can only mean that there are more in store in the next 20 1/2 months I have in my mission. This gospel is true! I cannot say it with more conviction. I feel the Spirit every single day and it testifies to me that this work is true, that this gospel is true, that the Book of Mormon is true, that this church is true, and most importantly that Christ lives and that He gave His life for us, that we may have eternal life. Live righteously; live worthily so that the Spirit may dwell with you always. It is the greatest gift that the Lord can give is in this life of mortality, where temptations of the evil one are at every turn. We cannot afford to not have it. It is vital to our enduring to the end. I plead that all may be blessed with the presence of the Holy Ghost and that they may feel his comforting presence and promptings in our lives. We are in the fullness of times, and there has never been a greater time to tell people about the gospel. Do not be afraid to tell people. The Lord has promised, not just missionaries, but everyone that if you will open your mouth that it shall be filled.

Continue to follow Christ and to always stay on the right path. This I testify, in the name of our Savior, even Jesus Christ, amen.

-Magda Elder

Monday, July 2, 2012

Holy Cow it's HOT!!!!

July 2, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,

Holy cow it is blistering hot here in Hungary!! I thought I could take the heat since I've lived in California my whole life where it can get up to the 100's here and there. But this is different, mainly because of the humidity. Here, it will get up to 40 degrees Celsius, which is like a 100 or so in Fahrenheit, plus a thick amount of humidity in the air, which is like a bucket of water to the face 24/7. It's ridiculous! Plus, Abram Elder told me today that "This is how hot it got last year in the end of July/beginning of August. I'm afraid to see what the temperature is like this year around that time if it's like this already." My hopes for a cool summer were obliterated with that comment. We woke up this morning in sweat and basically put our faces in the fans in our apartment to possibly dry off the constant sweat that doesn't seem to stop from off of our faces. I think this is how I’m going to lose weight this summer, even though that's not really a goal that I’m trying to achieve, but a little extra weight off of the 20-year old stomach of mine doesn't hurt, ha ha! 

So yesterday, my companion and I had our first baptism! Way awesome, right? She had been meeting with the missionaries for a really long time. Let's see if I can give a brief description of her story: She first met with the sister missionaries a while ago and took the discussions really well. Then somehow she disappeared for a while and came back months later to a church service and Abram Elder and his companion before me (Cox Elder) spoke with her and she wanted to take the discussions again. They helped her to quit smoking and teaching the gospel for 3 months, when I came and was companioned with Abram Elder. My first lesson with her, she said that she was leaving for England because her job helps with the Olympics (I don't know how) and she would be leaving in two weeks and she wanted to know if she could be baptized before she left. We called the mission president and he approved her to have an interview, which she passed with flying colors, and we set her baptism date up for last Saturday, and it was absolutely amazing! Abram Elder was asked to baptize her and we set up the program with her and we found a musical number that she wanted us to sing for the baptism, which was "Nearer My God to Thee" (in Hungarian, of course).  The day finally came and we went to the church building 2 hours early to set up stuff and fill up the baptismal font. There were 30 or so people who came, one of them being one of my English students, which was pretty cool, and our new mission president and his wife who had just arrived that morning. What a better way to say "Welcome to Hungary" than having him come to a baptism on his first day?!?! He was thrilled and the next day after church, he asked us if he can come to one of our programs, Hungarian or English. We have him set up to come to one on Tuesday in English. So super cool! 

Ok, for some questions about my living quarters and how I get from place to place. My apartment is actually quite decent. I don't have pictures of it because I'm lazy with my camera, but I will have them for you all next week. But I will try to describe it in words for you all, just so you can get a feel for the awesomeness of my living arrangements. We have one bedroom that has 2 beds in it (which are queen sizes). We have an office that nobody uses but place stuff in because we just study on our beds and do everything in there because it's much cooler. We have a dinky kitchen, but it's perfect for two elders. I am becoming an expert at boiling noodles and making instant spaghetti sauce. Yesterday, actually, we cooked a Hungarian dish called Rokot Krümpy (I think that's how it's spelled or called), which is just a sort of casserole of potatoes, Hungarian sausage, boiled eggs, cheese and sour cream. All this is layered, cooked in the oven for a while, and you have a delicious meal! It was soooo good! Especially after a long fast Sunday. Now I know my mom is thinking, "Blake, eating sour cream?!?! That's unbelievable!" Apparently, sour cream is made differently here, or they do something different, and it actually tastes really good. I'm starting to be more lenient with my eating habits, or at least I’m trying to be because I know I'm going to have to eat something that does not look or taste good and I just got to eat it anyway. So I'm finding more foods to cook here that are well known Hungarian dishes to help me with that eating problem. It's actually one of our transfer goals to eat one Hungarian dish a week. We are planning on cooking Pulkult sometime during our transfer. Totally stoked for it! Ok, back to my humble abode (It's a requirement for the place where we live to be humble since we are missionaries). The last room is our living room, which isn't really used either. The only time we use it is to get something out of the fridge because it's in the living room. The last two rooms are the most interesting, because usually they are one room put together. But in Hungary, or in most parts of Europe, they are separate. Yes, I'm talking about the bathroom. Here, the toilet has it's own room that is pretty small and the sink and shower are in another room, which also includes our washer. There is no dryer, so we hang dry everything next to our big window in the living room. For my mom’s sake, and this will be funny to put on the blog, we can fit in the toilet room (not bathroom, because, as I have stated before, that's its own separate room). It is small, but not super small. And I don't have to worry about gaining weight or getting bigger because whatever I eat or drink I’ll just walk it off or sweat it off. What an easy way to exercise! 

In Pest, we don't need to use bicycles. We actually used the metro to get around everywhere. We usually use the metro 2-4 times a day. It makes getting from place to place a lot easier. My first few times on the metro were fun because I have never used them before and I definitely felt like I looked like a beginner because when there would be no seats and we would have to stand I would have a hand on a rail or handle to keep me steady while everybody else would just stand there and not use anything for balance. And people always stare at us here. I don't know if it's the same for missionaries in the states, but people just stare at our tags all the time, and my name especially gets attention here. I had one old lady this week come up to me while we were walking and she asked me "What does your tag say?" and I replied "It has my name on it and my church." "And your name is?" "Magda Elder." "Magda?" "Yup, it's Magda." She giggled and then walked away. I didn't even get a chance to talk to her about the church before she just wobbled away (I say wobbled because she was old and using a cane). Apparently my name just fascinates people here, ha ha! We also use the bus sometimes--mostly when we go to the church building. We live 3 bus stops away from our apartment, which is probably a little less than a mile away. It's actually the stake center of the entire country. It's a decent sized church, probably the size of the Oak Avenue building. It's usually our safe haven from the blazing sun and we have most of our programs either there or at the mission home, which is in Buda. So that's basically my life here in Pest. Travel from place to place on the metro or on bus, have programs at the stake center or mission home and go to church on Sundays where I can barely understand what people are saying. Oh! And the Stake Center is an international church building, which means that all of the English speaking members who are in the country come to the stake building and they have a translator there for them and they use earphones to hear the translator. It's really cool, but I don't want to use them because I want to train my ear in understanding what they are saying. 

So they have a Facebook page for Hungary, Budapest missionary moms?? And you posted my story up there AND McKay Nover's mom posted up pictures of us?? Ha ha!! I told my companion about that and that there's a picture of us with me in the Burger King crown and he started laughing. Moms are so hilariously amazing. :) Unfortunately there is no Carl’s Jrs. around here so that whole Spiderman thing won't work here. But there are Burger Kings and McDonalds here and we actually had McDonalds today and they don't even allow you to have refills here!! What a joke! Some places allow you to have 3 on a rare occasion, what a rip off. Ha ha, but they do make their buildings nicely. Burger King doesn't look like a run-down fast food restaurant here, they actually make their buildings look really decent, in some cases classy. I really felt like a King when I walked into Burger King, not like a squire or third removed prince. It was kind of nice. I'm stoked to hear about your trip to Santa Cruz and about your 4th of July celebration. I don't know what we are going to do here, but I hope we do something small at least. I know we are in a foreign country and we still need to work, but I, as a true American patriot, desire one thing to do that is for my country in a far off land in Europe. Even if it's just screaming "FREEDOM!!!!" in English on the metro, I wouldn't mind. I want to keep Independence day remembered somehow. But, whatever happens happens. I have no idea what is going on with the Olympics here. I see some pictures here and there about it, but not a lot. We just heard that Spain beat Italy 4-0 in the Euro Cup for soccer, but that was just from listening in on other people’s conversations. I hope that Ashleigh gets the job at DI, I will definitely be praying for her and tell Alisha that I appreciate her wearing the yellow sweater in remembrance of me and our last trip to Santa Cruz. I have those pictures in my photo album; I will definitely be looking at them when I get back to my apartment. 

Well, that is all I can write for today. I will have more stories for you next week and more answers to anyone’s questions if they have any. See you next time on, "Getting Hungary with Elder Magda" :D

Sok Szeretettel,
Magda Elder