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