Monday, September 24, 2012

Patience in Trials and Trying to Remember How Far I've Come

September 24, 2012
Sziasztok mindenki,

Wow, this week has been another tough one for me all around. But before I go into the rough parts of the week, I'll share some of the really cool stuff that has happened. So one of our goals this past transfer was to pick up our English class that we have here in Pest. This is the basics of how English class works: Once a week we have a free English class that we hold, for Pest it's every Thursday, and it's for all people where ever they are in the English class. We hold a beginner, intermediate and proficient or “profi” class and, for the past 2 months or so, I have been teaching the “profi” class on my own, the Sisters teach intermediate and Elder Headrick teaches beginner. We get people to come by flyering and hoping that people come. English class is one of our ways of finding people. After every English class we share a spiritual thought and tell them that we would love to talk with people about our church and beliefs if they would like to talk with us afterwards.

Before Elder Headrick came to Pest, Elder Abram and I were only having a total of 35 people average at English class and half or more of them were what we call 'eternals', meaning that they have been coming to English class for such a long time and they have either taken the discussions with the missionaries and they didn't accept it or they just don't want to talk with the missionaries at all. Basically, we would only get a few new people every Thursday and they would either not come back the next week or become an eternal instantly. So when Elder Headrick arrived this last transfer, we made a district goal with the Sisters that we would pick up English class by the end of the transfer. It was kind of an interesting goal because we all were not sure how to do it except by passing out fliers or “fliering” a lot. Well, that's one of the things we did a lot last transfer. We searched for a good place where there would be a lot of people and where we can be able to describe how to get to the branch house of they had any questions. We also have been streeting with our fliers. We'd talk with people about the gospel and most of them would just pass by, but we always tried to at least give them a flier if they would like to learn English, which most people do. So we have been doing that a lot AND we have been finding some good teaching material to keep all of those who are new interested for at least a few weeks longer than just one week and then they're gone.

With all of our hard work and efforts, we achieved our goal. We averaged around 35 people at the end of my first transfer and, at the end of this last transfer, we average almost around 65. But, that's not just the cool part. Not only have we increased how many people come, but we at least give out 4-7 Book of Mormons each class AND the Sisters and we set up with at least one new person each week. We have told them that we can also meet privately and teach them 30 minutes of English and 30 minutes about our reason for being here in Hungary and most of them agree with it. Awesome, right?! This last week was incredible though. We set up with 4 people! And out of the 4, 1 set up with us again and the other 3 want to talk about it on Thursday because they don't know their schedules. We don't know if those 3 would like to meet again, but we pray they do. English class has been our most successful way of finding now. We have had two new investigators each week for the past 3 weeks and this week we possibly will have 5—all because of English class. Of course we still street and tract, but for us right now, English class has really been strengthening our area in Pest.

I gotta tell you about one of our new investigators that we met with this week. To keep peoples identities secret I am going to give a code name or letter so that you can still keep track of their progression with my emails. I saw this on Matthew’s letters home and I just thought 'Well that's smart, I should probably do the same.' So the name I will give her is D. We found D in my “profi”  English class 2 weeks ago and she came up to me afterwards and asked if we could make an appointment for the next week. We set it up to be half English-half Gospel, but the day we met, she told us that her main reason for coming to English class, but after hearing that we help people strengthen families she only wanted to meet for that. We taught her in English because she could basically speak perfectly, but we wanted to speak in Hungarian. Next time we will. But, back to our program with her. She told us that she was having a little bit of family trouble and bringing it closer together and she wanted our help. She heard that we set up family evenings and she asked if we could do that with their family this Friday. She and her husband have two young boys and she believes that this will really help. Elder Headrick and I were ecstatic! He has wanted to do this for a really long time and I am just so happy that I get to do it so early on in my mission! And, she is an amazing investigator. D explained how she only wants what is best for her family and she isn't sure what she has been doing has been good or not and she wanted to know from us how our families stay so strong and happy. We told her simply that it was because of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and the knowledge that we have because of it. We told her that we know that our families can be together forever through the Gospel and that families that are going through tough times can be strengthened through the Gospel. Of course, even with the Gospel in our lives, we have gone through tough times. But, because of the Gospel, we know that we can get through them and still have a strong love and bond. I felt prompted to tell her that what she has been doing thus far has not been wrong in any way and that her Heavenly Father is mindful over her and her prayers and that what she is doing now is exactly the answer to her prayers. After saying that it felt like the room was clouded with the Spirit and she began to get teary eyed and she pulled out some tissues and said that our help is exactly what she and her family needs. So this Friday we are going to hold a family home evening at her house and we are going to do our best to make it awesomely amazing!

Recently I've been having a hard time with the language and with having faith in myself and my abilities. I've been getting really frustrated with how little I know and how little I can speak and understand. I have said in my past emails that I have been getting better at understanding what people say, but this week has really humbled me. We have had many programs this week and in each one of them I want to be able to say what I want, but I stumble so much and I have to hold myself back from saying everything that I want because of my lack of speaking. I feel like a broken or bent wheel on a bicycle with Elder Headrick being one of the wheels and I the other and I just keep hitting all of the rocks and hurting the companionship because I don't do as much as I could. I feel inadequate at times. I even get nervous when I try to street someone because of my lack of speaking and understanding skills.

This past Friday I was really thrown outside of my comfort zone. We went on splits with our Zone Leader and the Zone Leader went with my companion and I went with his, who is Elder Foster, who is in his 2nd transfer and I'm in my 3rd. To make it even harder, I had to go to his area, which I am not familiar with, and be the senior in the companionship for the day. I was so nervous!! We had 4 programs set up for the day and I didn't know how we were going to teach them with our Hungarian abilities. 3 of the programs canceled, both unfortunately and fortunately. Fortunately because I wouldn't scare them away with my bad Hungarian and unfortunately because that's an investigator and we don't want them canceling on us. Because 3 of them canceled, we had a lot of streeting, fliering and tracting to do. Streeting didn't really work so we went tracting. Tracting was ok and we gave out a Book of Mormon, but we realized that we weren't doing so well so we went fliering.

 After doing all that stuff for 4 hours or so, we came back for or program that we still had planned. He hadn't come yet and he still hadn't come 15 minutes passed the time we scheduled, so I called his number and his mom answered saying that he was not home but that she would tell him to meet us when he does. We weren't sure if the program would still go through, but I had a feeling that we should say a prayer together. So Elder Foster said a prayer asking Heavenly Father that our program would happen and that if we couldn't say everything that we would like to say that we would say enough. After he said the prayer I still felt kind of nervous, but I felt the Lord would provide a way. Shortly after the prayer, a member came to the church. I started talking to him and he said that he had a meeting that he had to be at an hour later, but he felt as though he should come an hour early. Right then, I heard the door open and close in the church building and I knew that it was our program investigator, and, right then, I also knew that this was the miracle that we had prayed for.  I asked if he would like to teach with us and he said sure. The person that we were teaching was 17 years old and we planned on teaching him the entire first lesson, but after saying the opening prayer, I felt prompted that we should only teach about the Book of Mormon and prayer. So we did and we used the member a lot because he knew how to explain things way better than I or Elder Foster could. I felt bad for doing so, but what he said was exactly what we needed and when we finished we bore our testimonies and explained that when he reads the Book of Mormon he can create a greater relationship with Heavenly Father. We committed him to pray and read from the Book of Mormon and we also set up with him again. After the program I thanked the member and we headed on our way to make the switch back with our companions. But before that, Elder Foster grabbed me and shook me a little bit and said 'Elder Magda, you spoke like a Hungarian!! You spoke like you were fluent in the language. I hope that I can be as good of a speaker as you are in my next transfer.'  I almost wanted to collapse and start weeping. I just couldn't believe it. I felt like I was so inadequate in that program and that it was the member who saved us.  I just lead the lesson and directed it where it needed to go then asked the member a question. But Elder Foster kept telling me that I was a pro and that our prayers were answered. Friday was a miracle and I didn't really recognize it till today that my Heavenly Father has been watching over me and helping me with the language that day. And Elder Foster is such a wonderful missionary. What he told me strengthened my faith and helped me see that I was being an example to him.  And that was because that was what I prayed for that day—to  be an example for him.

Just writing this brings tears to my eyes, because even though I still feel inadequate with the language, I have had people around me, especially my companion, keep telling me that I am a lot farther than what I tell myself I am. As long as I have the desire to speak this language, I will speak it. As long as I try as hard as I can to speak this language, I will speak it. This week has really taught me patience and that my petitions to Heavenly Father, asking for help and strength in the language, are only answered in His time, not my time. It is according to His will, not mine. This language will still be a huge mountain for me to climb, but because of the Savior's Atonement and my diligence to climb over it, I can do it, and so can all of you with your obstacles and trials. Don't think that because of how hard something is right now that you won't be able to get over the mountain. Don't continue to think of how far the end is, but how far you have come. Because you are a child of God, Heavenly Father will provide a way for you to succeed, just like it says in 1 Nephi 3:7. Let us not be discouraged, let us see the strength that we already have and the things at we have already done and can do.

'Forward, pressing forward,
as a triumph song we sing,
God our strength will be,
press forward ever
called to serve our King'

Sok Szeretettel,
Magda Elder

P.S. I did get your package and I am so grateful for it. Thank you SO much! And thank you dad for putting both MP3 and MP4 tracks copies on there, because the MP4 doesn't work through the thing I am using, but the MP3 does. You are a genius! And thank you for the Jelly Bellies and comic strips! My companion and I love them. I am so glad that everyone has had a good week and I hope that you all will have another one this week. Tell Alisha that I do the same thing here in Hungary, 'WWAD' What Would Alisha:Ashleigh Do. :) I love you all and I will write you soon, promise!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I've still got Greenie Fire!

September 17, 2012

Dear Family and Friends,

Alright, here we go again. Another week has passed, another Monday has come, and it's now time for an email from Magda Elder, serving in the beautiful country of Magyarország (Hungary), and doing his best as a follower, servant and emissary of Jesus Christ. I hope you're all ready for this issue!

This week has been quite fun and has had some ups and downs, with the downs only lasting for a brief second. So, after we got our transfer information that we were staying, we also found out that the sister companionship in our district was getting a greenie! We were super excited and we all want to start this greenie off with a great district. Her name is Sister P and she arrived on Tuesday with her group and she got her trainer, Sister R, on Wednesday. Already this new sister has impressed us. We got her luggage and stuff, had lunch and then headed over to the sisters apartment to take up her luggage up 5 flights of stairs (with no elevator.) But before we even got to her apartment, we were on the bus on our way there and she was already asking people on the bus if any of them spoke English or wanted to speak English and began advertising our Free English class that we have on Thursdays.

One of the people she found was golden! We didn't know this till the day of English class though. She gave this guy a flyer and then he came to English class the next day. Elder Headrick and I were talking to him afterwards and he said that this was a miracle for him and that there was no coincidence that we ran into each other on the bus. He said that he had prayed earlier that week asking for something to help him with passing an engineering exam for the military that he has to take. One of the requirements is that he must be able to speak English pretty well in order to pass the test. He was worried about it because he said that he knows his English was kind of poor and he asked God if there was a way that he can help him. Little did he know that he would be asked by a greenie sister missionary if he wanted to come to a free English class. Even better, he said that his family was religious but he wasn't so much, or at least that he didn't agree with the Catholic Church, and we gave him basically a first lesson outside of English class while in the hallway of the church. He said that it sounds right and is really interesting to him. Unfortunately, he is not our investigator but the sisters, so we can't teach him. But the good thing is that we are all on the same team, so if they are able to bring him closer to Christ then all the missionaries rejoice. He is such an awesome guy! This greenie is already on fire! I know I'm only in my 3rd transfer and my greenie transfer was only 2 transfers ago, but that fire of mine was built even greater just by the first few days she's been here.

Another thing that happened that same day, the day we got the greenie, we had 4 programs set up for the day starting at 3 in the afternoon, an hour each (Which is really good here in Hungary) and we were super excited. What happened next is what no missionary wants to happen: 3 of the programs, in less than 5 minutes, one after the other, canceled. We got 3 texts saying that they wouldn't be able to make it and we'd have to plan for another day. We were so bummed! We had planned for this since the beginning of the week and it just looked like an awesome day. Luckily he still had our last program say that he would still be able to make it, but we still couldn't believe that 3 programs, so fast, just cancel on us. So we had 4 hours open to go finding, so we looked at each other and said 'Alright, let’s start'. We tracted and streeted and passed out fliers a little bit too. We could have just stayed back for a little bit and done 2 hours of finding, but we knew that we had to use all of the time we had, even if it would make us tired. We didn't find anyone who was interested, but even so, nothing comes easily, so we need to work.

Some other stuff, it rained nonstop on Thursday, so we stayed inside and did some area book work until we had English class. Friday we tabled and gave out a total of 10 Book of Mormons with the Sisters. Sunday I think was really big for me, seeing how far I have come in the past 3 months or so in the country. This is nothing against Sister P at all, because I was in her exact same spot when I was a greenie. But having her be in the same district has helped me to see how much I have grown in this language. I've been seeing everyone who is way older than me in the mission and I just think 'Dang, I'm never going to get to their level of speaking with where I am at right now.' But with Sister P being here, it has really helped me with my confidence. We asked her at the end of Church on Sunday how her first Sunday was and she said that she could not understand a thing and that she tried and tried but all she could do was pull out some words. We all encouraged her and said that that is how we all felt on our first Sunday as well and that the language will come in due time as long as she keeps trying every day.

And it's true! I didn't get anything my first day, in fact the first few weeks. But now I can finally understand what people are saying! Or at least 1/2, which is a HUGE improvement! For example, at the end of church I had a full 15 minute conversation with a woman who could not speak a word of English. Of course there were some parts where I was puzzled because I didn't know what some of the words she said were, which that is an improvement also! That is because before, I couldn't even tell what was only a word and what was a sentence because of how fast they spoke. Now I can pick out what a word is and, in the long run, I can understand things!! Even today, when I was getting my new Metro ticket, I spoke to the lady at the counter and she looked at me and said 'Where are you from?' 'California.' 'How long have you been studying this language?' '5 months.' She was so surprised! She told me that I am one clever boy, ha ha! I wanted to say 'If you think I'm clever, you have to hear my companion talk because he's WAY better.' The language is coming and the Holy Ghost is definitely helping.

Well, that's all I've got for you this week. Now it is time for some replies to questions and stuff. I heard that the Niners beat the Lions from one of the Elders here. Woo hoo! Another win!! They need to keep it up if they want to win the Super Bowl this year. That's so cool that Brother Forman got to talk at the Constitutional Fireside! That must have been so cool to have been there. I've been slowly teaching all of the missionaries around me about TJed , mostly my companions since I'm with them 24/7, but they love it and enjoy hearing more about it. Tell the Forman’s I say hi from Hungary! Tell Alisha that she needs to go to the Fireside with Jimmer there. That would be so awesome!

Have you heard about the Lindelof family? Because they are from Granite Bay and their son is serving here and goes home this October. He said that he knows the Florences, Fergusons, and all of them over there. He even has a sister that just started TNT! How wild is that!? Way small world.

That's all the time I have, but stay tuned for next week and don't stop with the emails! Keep'em comin'!

Sok Szeretettel,
Magda Elder

Monday, September 10, 2012

I'm a 3 Transfer Man!

September 10, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,

Guess what? I'm a 3 transfer man! It's already been six weeks since I got Elder Headrick as my companion. Because it's another transfer, things have been shifted around, elders going to different places and all that jazz. Ready to hear what's happening to me? I am.........staying right where I am again in Pest with Elder Headrick! I'm so excited and I just can't hide it! Elder Headrick and I have been really wanting to stay together again for another transfer. We've picked up the work, love serving with each other and LOVE the city and we wanted to have one more transfer to really get the work going in Pest and keep it steady. We have been super nervous for the past few days, thinking that we possibly may be transferred. We had a strong feeling that we would probably stay together, but sometimes the President can get a prompting from the Spirit the day before and switch things up, but I guess he really likes us together and wanted us to stay for one more together. Other things have been happening to missionaries around us and we are the only ones in the city who aren't being changed. We're glad though, because we love what's going on here with us.

So this email may be short as well, unfortunately, because I'm using a keyboard that's being kind of dumb, so I'll try to put in some good stuff before it poops out on me or something (heh heh, I used the word poop in a sentence :P). So our goal for this week was to get standard as the last week of the transfer. I don't know how standard is in other missions, but here is pretty hard to get. A description of what standard means: Standard is a set of numbers in certain categories, for example the standard here in Hungary for members present in a lesson is 3 and for other lessons is 7. They are numbers set by the mission president that are achievable for missionaries to get. They are goals that help us to achieve our purpose and to keep the area that we are in going. My explanation is probably hard to understand, but you can go to one of the missionaries at home and ask them what standard is also and they'll tell you and probably use their planner as visual aid which is what I would like to do but I'm in another country far away and I can't do that for you. Anyways, we made that our goal for the week and we got it!! We looked at the beginning of our week and said to each other we can get it easily, but as the week went through, we began getting calls canceling appointments and setting up for another day or another week and other things started to fall through also, but we continued to push through and work hard and in the end we were able to get it.

Now getting standard is really good, and getting super standard is even better, but this is my belief about numbers and how it determines how good of a missionary you are: if an elder is all about getting the numbers and getting standard and stuff  then that's great, but that's not our purpose. Our purpose is not to 'get the best numbers in the mission' but to 'bring others unto Christ' or in Hungarian 'Masokat Krisztushoz hivunk azáltal'. One missionary can have a bunch of baptisms and another have maybe 1 or 0. Does that mean that the missionary with 1 is a bad missionary? Of course not! That missionary was probably working everyday with all of his heart and trying to help others come to Christ, just the same as someone who has many baptisms. That's like saying that Abinidai was a bad missionary, which is obviously wrong. The numbers are to help us be better missionaries, but it does not necessarily mean that whoever has the highest numbers is the best missionary in the mission. The best missionary is one who is working with all of his heart, might, mind and strength. So if there are any missionaries who think 'Oh, I have no baptisms and I'm almost finished with my mission, I don't know if I was a good missionary', just remember the story of the stone cutter, you worked as hard as you could and put all your effort in bringing someone towards the straight and narrow and they did not accept it, just like the stone cutter who hit the stone over a 100 times and it did not budge. But, someone else finds this same person months or years later and brings them to the water of baptism, who represents as the man who switches with the stone cutter and strikes the stone once and the stone budges. Does that mean that the man who hit the stone 100 times did his work all in vain? Of course not! He prepared the stone for the other man.

Unfortunately my letter comes to end, but this is my testimony to all of you, there is no other place that I would rather be than here in Hungary. I love this people and I love this language so much. I am finally beginning to understand people when they speak and I've only been here for almost 3 months in Hungary. That is already a miracle to me and is a testimony that the Lord is helping me to speak this language. Someone came up to me the other day and asked me how long I've been in the country and I said almost 3 months and he said that he can't believe that I am learning this language so fast. There is no other explanation than that it is the power of the Holy Ghost helping me. This gospel is true and it stands as a witness that God loves all of His children. This has been on my mind this week and I will just quote it for all those TJYCers out there. "We are awakening our sense of personal mission, igniting our passion to pay the price and increasing our moral power to affect forms, through pure knowledge and without hypocrisy, carrying forth the banner of liberty!" May this ring true to all of our hearts our whole lives. Let us know what our mission is and stand for what is true and carry that banner of liberty, the banner of the Atonement, to everyone.

Sok Szeretettel,
Magda Elder

P.S. The Niners defeated the Packers?! Awesoooommmeeee!! Hopefully they keep on moving forward! They got rid of the Tri Nations? That's kind of sad, but I hope this new tournament is still cool. GO SPRINGBOKS!!! I know that Shawn will be an amazing missionary, no doubt in my mind. Thank you for the pictures!!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Highlights of the Week

September 3, 2012
Dear Family and Friends,

So unfortunately this one will probably be short because I have a bunch of stuff to do on the computer, I'll explain why. So we have been told, by our new mission president that we shouldn't have iPods on us because of certain reasons. It really got me bummed because I wanted to get one and I have you sending a flash drive with music on it. But, I found a way that I can listen to music without even having an MP3 player AND store all my pictures without having to buy separate memory cards for my camera. It's called using a portable hard drive. Dad will probably understand this, but I will try to explain it as simply as I can with how it works and why it is so amazing while here on a mission. So, missionaries have been telling me that buying a portable hardrive while you are here is probably the smartest things, because you can store all of your pictures that you have taken on your camera on it and basically start fresh with the existing memory card that you have for your camera. And, even better, you can put your music on it and hook it up to the portable DVD players that we have here with a USB and listen to music that you put on the hardrive through the DVD player! It's ingenious!!! So, with the money I pulled out, I actually bought a portable hardrive and it can hold 500 GB of memory. If it's hard to understand my excitement you can ask dad, because he will probably explain to you the fullness of my happiness. So that's why this letter won't be as long as the other weeks. I will possibly be able to send some pictures though! But I'm sorry! I promise next week will be much longer. :)

But for some updates so that you all aren't bummed out. We have a new investigator that we found on the streets this past week. We actually found her by streeting into somebody else. While we were talking to one person, she came up and asked us if we can teach her about our church and what we believe in. We were super stunned! We scheduled an appointment with her for this week and then she left with a smile on her face. Elder Headrick and I both looked at each other and we both knew that this wasn't just some ordinary person. This woman was prepared to meet us and we happened to street the right person at the right time for her to see us. We told each other "If she takes the first lesson really well, then this person is even more prepared than we thought." What happened, she took it better than we expected. She had a few questions but she said is willing to pray and read from the Book of Mormon. After the program, we looked at each other and smiled and both admitted that the Spirit was in that program and we could both feel it. We are so excited for her and we are looking forward to our next program with her about the Plan of Salvation. How amazing is that?!?! This is our first new investigator that we believe will go really far.

Our investigator from China is progressing still and he said that he is finding his willingness to keep the Word of Wisdom. We gave him an entire program of all the commandments because he asked to know all of them. After we told them all, he said that he wants to keep all of them and he wants his faith to be strengthened. We had to move his baptismal date to October 13, but we know that it's for the best. We have been praying and fasting for him and all of our investigators and we know that they are all being answered. I've been beginning to understand almost everything that someone says to me in Hungarian! It's starting to come!! It's so awesome!! This language is so amazing and I love speaking it. This week has been a very uplifting week and I can definitely see the fruits from our labors.

These are really the highlights of the week. Thank you for forwarding grandma's email. That is so awesome that she got autographed stuff! I know that I am still a Jim Gaffigan fan and love his bowling jokes, but it's cool to see that my grandma is rubbing elbows with professional bowlers. You’re now friends with Skiba?!?! What?!?! That's crazy cool!! Tell her that I said hi and that she shouldn't share too many "Magda Elder" stories, ha ha.  Hiro got a Halloween shirt?!?! Wow, ha ha, I started busting up when I saw that. He looks mad in one of the pictures. Tell him that I say it looks good on him. 

I'm sorry this is short, but like I said before, I will email more next week.

I love you all and let the Holy Spirit guide!