Monday, November 26, 2012

A Hungarian Thanksgiving!

November 26, 2012
A Thanksgiving Email! 

It's so weird to think that Thanksgiving has already come and gone. Even weirder is that I have already heard Christmas music played while I was shopping today. 'Have Yourself, a Merry Little Christmas...' is going to be played over and over again for quite some time, ha ha. Oh well, it'll be interesting having that played while being in a different country AND as a missionary. Oh, and just for a heads up, the day after Thanksgiving marks my year mark of getting my mission call!! Elhiszetek?! (Can you believe it?) I still remember that day like it was yesterday. I am pretty sure that was one of the most exciting nights of my life, especially finding out that I was going to Hungary to serve for 2 years and speak Hungarian. Now look where I'm at! I'm in Hungary, serving as a full-time missionary, speaking Hungarian.....well, trying to speak Hungarian at least, ha ha.

Speaking of missionary calls, Heather turned in her mission papers last week?!?! How ironic it is that she turns in her papers almost around the exact same time as I did!!! I am so excited to hear where she will be sent, you have no idea!! I guess most of the excitement comes from maybe a possibility that she could be sent here. I'm basically crossing all my fingers, toes and eyes that she will be sent here. How cool would that be if she came and served here AND we got to serve in the same city for a time?! For me that would probably one of the greatest gifts in the world. If either of us served in Budapest or Kecskemét, we could visit the graves of our grandparents in Budapest and possibly granddad’s farm that he was born in south of Kecskemét! Or, just in general, just serving in Hungary together!! (As you can tell I will be quite thrilled if she comes to serve here. :)) 

Oh, and another by the way thing, I visited granddad’s house that he has here in Pécs. He sent me directions to get to a house that he has here in Pécs and, I'm pretty sure, according to the directions that he gave me, I found the house and I got some great pictures of me in front of it and around it. It was so awesome to just be there, knowing that I could actually visit and know that someone in my family actually has it. Today we are actually hoping to go to another computer place that is here in Pécs and send some pictures to our families (this other place is really expensive, so we are doing our emails at our main email place first then going there afterwards to send the pictures for a short time). If it all works out, you will be able to see some of the stuff that we have done so far while I have been here in Pécs. I bet mom is thrilled to hear that. :)

So for some missionary news, this week Elder Christensen and I planned to have a baptism date this Saturday for the two little girls that we have been teaching, but unfortunately they have school on Saturday (uhhh, what?) and so we have to move it for next week Saturday. The sad news about that is that next Monday we get transfer calls (can you believe it's already been six weeks since I've been here?!) and it is most likely that Elder Christensen will be transferred somewhere else because he has been here for 4 (which is almost a half year) and will miss the baptisms. When we heard the news, of course we said 'Why yes of course that's fine'. But inside, I knew Elder Christensen was thinking, because he told me after the program, 'WWWWHHHHHYYY MEEE?!?!' I feel so bad for him. This same thing happened to him before he came to Pécs and he was hoping that it wouldn't happen again. The only possibility that he has is he stays for another, which is unlikely, or is transferred to somewhere that is not to far and can still be able to come. We are crossing our fingers for both possibilities, because we would also like to stay another transfer together. 

Another bit of news about transfers, I might be going senior companion this next transfer! Some of you may be thinking 'Well that's great, right?' Ha! Let me explain. In this mission, normally people go senior in their 7th or 8th or, in rare occasions, their 6th transfer. I'm going in my 5th right now, but our mission president has let us know that because of how many missionaries that are young in the mission and how many are coming in at the same time, younger missionaries are going to be going senior much younger than they think. And, from the looks of things, I might be going senior. In a condensed sentence about my feelings right now, I'm kind of nervous. Of course I know that I can do it, especially when I am dependent on the Lord, but at the same time, it's going to be hard. I'm still working on my language skills and am not that great at the language and to be companioned with someone that is younger than me is just a scary thought. But, this is still a theory of mine and it doesn't mean that I for sure will be next transfer, but it has been hinted and noted to me that this may be so for me next transfer. We'll see what happens next week with transfers, right? :D 

Now, I’ll tell you about our Thanksgiving dinner. First off, I am really glad that all of you had a good Thanksgiving and that the food was plentiful and delicious. Oh, and just a little side note, with my new taste in food and vegetables, I'm pretty sure I would have enjoyed all of the food that was there than in the past thanksgivings. :) Anyways, back to my Thanksgiving. Both companionships were invited to this family’s house of parents and 1 boy. We told them that they didn't need to do this for us, because we know that some of the families here are kind of struggling, but they insisted to have us over. We came to their apartment, which was very small, and they sat us down at their table. We had a 5 course meal. The first course was a turkey soup, which wasn't bad, except that the bones from the turkey were still in there and other innards of the turkey. Fortunately, I didn't have to eat any of the innards. The second course was this casserole which they called Mexicoi. In it was basically rice, carrots, corn, peas with sour cream and cheese on the top. It was actually really good! I loved it so much that they gave me the other helping, ha ha! Our third course was straight up pumpkin. Since they didn't know how to make pumpkin pie, they just cooked a pumpkin and served it to us. Probably one of the weirdest things I have tasted on my mission, but I ate all of my serving. :) Then we had a sort of chocolate pie, which was absolutely delicious! And our last serving was the brownies that Elder Christensen and I had made. That's right, we made brownies! Ha ha, we used the recipe that is on the October stake newsletter for Citrus Heights that I got from President Telford and they turned out really good, except it took a knife to get them out of the pan. We put oil on the bottom of the pan thinking that it would help with getting them out later, but I guess it didn't work. But they still tasted delicious. That was my first Thanksgiving here in Hungary. I wonder what next years will hold :) 

This past Saturday we had a Zone Training with our Zone Leaders and they basically told us what they talked about with Elder Richards from the 70 in their Zone Council. We talked about things that Elder Richards saw that needed to be re adjusted in the mission and that we need to always be looking to the White Handbook with all the things that we do. We pointed out some changes that we needed to make and have made it our goal that we are going to make this mission an 'Exactly Obedient' mission. After the meeting I just felt this wave of excitement run all through me. Of course being exactly obedient is hard, but I just thought to myself 'Well if we have the Savior on our side and are doing everything with all our heart, might, mind and strength, then of course this is achievable! We are his missionaries! We can do this!' I really hope that all of the missionaries in the mission feel the same way as I do. Of course it will be hard, but if we do it with an open heart than it won't be. 

Alrighty then all you boys and girls out there that is all I have for ya'll this week. But stay tuned for next week and you'll find out what's happen to this guy *makes pointing gesture to self* next week. 

Remélem, hogy mindkinek lesz egy csodálatos hete. :)  (I hope that everyone will have an Awesome Week)

Sok szeretettel, (Lots of love)
Magda Elder

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Work just keeps getting better and better!!

November 19, 2012
The Work just keeps getting better and better!!

Let me tell you, this week has been one jam-packed filled week. Last week I think I let you all know that we were having Elder Richards, one of the members of the 70, visiting us this week in Hungary for Zone Conference. Our Zone Conference was being held in Budapest on Wednesday at 9:30, but we had to leave the Tuesday before because it takes a 3 and a half hour train ride to get from Pécs to Budapest. So President Smith allowed us to come in the day before and spend the night at the AP's (short for Assistants to the President AKA missionaries who help the President) apartment in Budapest so that we wouldn't have to get up super early, take a train ride and feel dead during the conference. So we went up Tuesday with the other elders in Pécs, Elder Cox and Elder Smith, and enjoyed a nice train ride to Budapest. Elder Smith had just recently gotten the flu or something that morning and wasn't feeling to good. The next morning his sickness sky rocketed and he could barely move or do anything, so he and his companion had to stay at another elders apartment until our train left around 4, which also meant that they had to miss the conference, which was such a bummer because it was amazing! He is doing much better now, but it took a few days of long rest and recovery.

The Zone Conference was so awesome!! Elder Richards is so well versed in the scriptures and struck some really thought provoking questions and points that just blew my mind in some ways. One question he asked was 'Have any of you heard the Masters voice before?' I kind of thought it was a trick question or something and thought 'Well if you consider the voice of the Spirit and its promptings, then yeah, I have heard it.' Little did I know, that would be exactly what he said. I can't remember the scripture he quoted to support his point, but he said that every person who has received an answer in the form of a thought or prompting in the mind has heard the voice of the Savior. It is through the Holy Ghost that He can communicate to us and give us those thoughts and promptings and feelings, which still means that it is still Him when we receive them. I got goose-bumps when he said that. During the meeting I kind of thought to myself about this and how it relates to people getting answers when they read the Book of Mormon. This is just my theory, but according to Elder Richards answer I believe that this is true, that every person who has read the Book of Mormon and has prayed to know if it is true has heard the voice of the Master. Isn't that incredible that we can hear the voice of Christ?!?! All we need is to pray with a 'sincere heart' 'with real intent' and 'having faith in Christ' and we will be able to hear Him. There were other things that he told us that were great and inspirational, but this was the one big thing that struck me at the core and enlightened my paradigm of the matter.

One more thing that happened this week, well actually that happened yesterday, that I would like to share. A few weeks ago a family in the branch gave us a referral to the wife’s sister who isn't a member but really wants to investigate. Referrals are just one of those things as missionaries that we jump and down when we get because it's like a beautiful gift that we didn't have to get through a week's worth of tracting our streeting. Last week we met her with the family for the first time and taught her the Restoration. When we asked her to begin reading from the Book of Mormon and to pray about it, she said that she had already began reading it and prays on a occasion, but she will pray more about the Book of Mormon. So yesterday was or 2nd meeting and we felt prompted to challenge her to be baptized on the 15th of December. Before our program, we asked to see if she read from the Book of Mormon. She replied with 'Of course I do. I read from it every day.' She showed us that she was almost finished with the Book of Mosiah. Astounded, we asked 'Well, do you have any questions that you would like to ask us?' 'Oh, my sister and brother-in-law answer all my questions for me.' We thought our astonishment was over, until we asked her the next follow up question 'Did you pray about the Book of Mormon and did you receive an answer?' 'I sure did. I got this really great feeling that I am in the right place and that this is the right church.' Needless to say we were the happiest missionaries in the world. We then taught her the Plan of Salvation and afterwards invited her to be baptized. She smiled and saids 'I would really like that.' She also said that she will pray to know if that it is the right day for her. AHHHHH!!!! It's the most incredible feeling when you hear those words!! I just wanted to jump out of my seat and say 'Oh how the Lord will bless you!!!' Which I basically did, but I didn't jump out of my seat and say it with a booming voice, ha ha. But in all actuality, being in that room when someone accepts to be baptized is such a blessing, because I know that just by making that commitment, the Lord will bless her in ways she cannot comprehend. The work is moving forward here in Hungary and I am so blessed and honored to be a part of it here!

Before I end my letter I will answer some questions that some of ya'll have.  (He then tells the family some stuff…..) So, just a little update, this will mostly be a shock for my family than it will to others, but I have begun to LOVE sour cream!! Hungarians include it in a lot of their food and so I have acquired a good taste for it since I have been on my mission. Ha ha, I thought mom would really like that one. Alisha is in LA with the Shears?!?! That is so awesome!! That must be SOO much fun. For Thanksgiving one of the families in the branch here invited us over for dinner at their place. They are so kind! We don't expect it to be like an American Thanksgiving with a Turkey or Pumpkin Pie, we are just grateful and blessed to even have one. And for Ashleigh I will now begin my search for you. :)

Thank you for the emails and I hope that this week will be a great and blessing filled week for all of you!!

Magda Elder

Monday, November 12, 2012

Well Hello All You Schnazzy People Out There,

November 12, 2012
Well Hello All You Schnazzy People Out There,

So, unfortunately this week's letter will be a little short because I don't have too much time to write, but at the same time there wasn't that much that all happened this week. But, to let you know what we are all, by saying all I mean the missionaries, looking forward to is having a member of the 70 visit us this week Wednesday!! We are all super excited to hear from him. Unfortunately I am really lame and I can't even remember his name, but I know that he is from the Quorum of the 70. So we get to go up to Budapest (long time no see for me) and have a Zone Conference with him leading the Conference. It's going to be a way awesome conference!

Another thing for someone's special day out there..........HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASHLEIGH!!! You're now 19!! One more year and you are in the 20's!! Weird, isn't it?? I remember when I was 19, it was quite some time ago when I was that age :P Ha ha, I'm just messing with ya. What did you do for your birthday?! I know it was on a Sunday, but are you planning anything special to do?? Let your elder brother (get it? Your ''brother'' who is serving as an ''elder''??? Well, at least I tried to crack a funny) know the scoop on your birthday!! Is there something in particular that you would like for me to get here? I have unfortunately had limited time to shop freely to find something for you, so if you have a specific thing you would like I will try and get it for you. :)

So I heard that Obama won the elections. I know for us who were supporting Romney that this is kind of a disappointing thing and more disappointing for other reasons as well. But, I have been studying the topic of Hope this week and I have really felt that this Christ like attribute is going to be much needed for the next upcoming years. There will be times that where life will be hard, but we cannot lose our 'hope of a better world' as stated in Ether. It is through our hope, that consistent optimism and positivity, that we will see greater things happen to us and see those blessings that we sometimes can't see. I also found that the scriptures have said that we should pray for all of our leaders to receive inspiration for the betterment of its people that includes leaders that we may not even agree with entirely. But, the Lord has said that even if our ideologies may be different that we should continue to pray for them so that that leader may become blessed in helping us as our leader. I hope that all of the Latter-Day Saints continue to do this and pray and hope for a better world.

Unfortunately, as I have stated before, this letter will be a little shorter than others. But just know that things are going very well here in Pécs and the work is continuing to flow.

I love all of you and hope that the Lord blesses all of your lives.

Magda Elder

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good Day to Everyone!

November 5, 2012
Jo napot mindenkinek!  (Good day to everyone!)

Well isn't the weather just an interesting thing, ugye (right)? Funny thing that happened today with the weather here, Elder Christensen and I were getting ready to walk out the door to go emailing and we opened the door and it was pouring rain! So we went back inside and got on our jackets, buttoning up and zipping up, and walked back to the door. We opened it and the rain had stopped. We looked at each other for a little bit, threw our hands in the air and went back inside and took off our jackets and just put on a sweater because it isn't super cold outside. So we started walking outside and, all of a sudden, the sky begins to just dump water on us. Ha ha, we just look up at the sky and say 'Make up your mind, will ya?!?!' 

I have been hearing from investigators and branch members little tidbits about the hurricane that hit (or has been hitting) the east coast. Luckily, none of us elders here in Pécs live on the east coast. There are maybe one or two elders that I know of that are from the east coast in this mission, but I haven’t heard from any of them and how they're families are doing. Those pictures that you sent are CRAZY!!!! I told all of the elders here in the computer place to come check them out and they were all astonished. We hope and pray that everyone there are doing well. It definitely sounds like a great opportunity for the missionaries to get out there and do some service. Let me know if Matthew is in on it at all. I would love to hear that! 
Hurricane Sandy: New York, New York South Mission

Hurricane Sandy: Managing downed trees in Pennsylvania

I got a letter from Matthew in my first transfer and sent him one back in my second transfer but I haven’t gotten anything back since. I have been hoping that he got it because I haven’t used the envelopes that the use here in Hungary if you are sending a letter outside of Europe. But the girls got my letter to them that I sent, so now I have more hope that he did get it. I'll have to send him another one to check and see how he's doing. He's certainly my best friend and I always refer to him and where he is serving to all of the other elders and sisters here. I hope everything over there in DC is going well. Tell Keri I said hi to her and her family! I love 'em all!

The elections are here?!?! AHHHHH!!!! Another huge thing that I am missing! That's crazy that it is already here! I have been praying for America for a while and all I have to depend on is faith, especially when I don't hear anything about it over here. There are some people who ask me who I would vote for on the streets but I don't give a preference because we are not really allowed to. For being an American History nut that I am, I wasn't the one who remembered that they were coming up in a few days. Elder Christensen told me when we got into November 'Hey, doesn't the elections happen on the first Tuesday or something?' My eyes got huge and just said 'That's right!!!' This is another reason why I want to stay in contact with Matthew, because he is in the heart of it all kind of. I remember talking with him before we left on our missions about where we were being sent and how awesome it was that I am being sent to the land of my fathers in a way and he was being sent to the land, or city/area, of our founding fathers. We both felt like little kids who had just gotten a bunch of candy when we were talking about it! I hope all goes well in the election. No matter what happens in the end, the Lord's hand 'is stretched out still'. 

Last week’s p-day we didn't do to much because it was a half p-day instead of a full one. Reason being is because November 1st is nation holiday here in Hungary called 'Day of the Dead' or 'All Saints Day' and our mission president gave us the entire day off or Extended P-Day in mission language, since everyone would probably be doing something that day and there would be no work for us to do. So all we did last p-day was shop, email our families and then go out and work. Halloween then came, which isn't a very big holiday here as it is in the states. They don't do trick or treating or anything and they don't carve pumpkins either! They just recognize it as a kind of holiday for some reason. But, we were able to go to a member’s house who loves having missionaries over and carved pumpkins. It was way fun! Unfortunately, when we went to the store to get the pumpkins, all of the regular sized ones were gone so we got the squash shaped ones instead. It was still fun though, I made just kind of a regular faced pumpkin along with Elder Christensen, but the member carved several things in her pumpkin and they looked WAY good. I wish I could send you pictures of the adventure! I will when I get the opportunity. Finally came Thursday, our extended P-Day. We played some games with the other elders and had pizza along with it. We had a meeting in the middle of the day that we had to go to for an hour and a half and then we came back home, got dressed into regular clothes and then headed out with the other elders to a cemetery when it got dark.
All Soul's Day in Hungary

 Apparently, a tradition here for Hungarians on this day is that they go the local cemetery or something and they bring candles and flowers and give respect to those who have passed away. This is a holiday that I kind of wish that I was in Pest for, because I have yet to go the grave sites of my great-grandfather and grandmother there in Budapest and this would have been a great opportunity to do that. But I was here and so we made the best out of it. We walked all around the graveyard looking at all of the graves and we came across one section that was dedicated to the communists who fought and died against the nazis. In the middle was this HUGE statue of a communist comrade holding the communist flag up high in the air and all of the graves were around it. We looked through the section and found that most of the names were Russians and really wasn't dedicated to the Hungarians. Quite an interesting thing to find for someone of my background :P 
All Soul's Day

Also, throughout the entire time I was there I was searching for a grave that was for a person or family named Magda. I did not find a single grave until the very end, found by Elder Cox yelling 'Hey elder!! I Found a Magda!!!' I know there is probably no relation at all, but it is still awesome to see my last name there. 

So a really cool thing that we had happen this week was that we had a woman in the branch that has been kind of less active but she is a really strong member. She is married to a non-member and has 3 kids, 2 girls and 1 boy. The girls are 10 and 7 (turning 8 in 3 weeks) and the boy is 2. She gave us a call one day and asked if we could teach her daughters. They said to her one day that they would really like to be baptized. Her husband wasn't interested but he said that it would be a really good thing for his daughters to get baptized. Of course we accepted the offer and we then taught her daughters, who are the cutest things in the world, about the Gospel of Christ and we extended a baptismal date for the 1st of December and they accepted it with open arms. It was such a wonderful program! And their mom was such a wonderful support! She actually served a mission in Russia before she was married and she shared some of her experiences with us and it was so awesome! We even made the lesson with a lot of examples and stuff and the girls were super excited to participate. I already love everything about this city and the branch also. There aren't that many people in the branch, but it is SO strong and filled with faith. I have only been to church here twice and both times I have walked into that building and felt a wave of the Spirit hit me. It is such a powerful feeling and I love it so much!

Well, that's all I have for this week. I hope everyone has another good week and keep America in your prayers! 

Magda Elder