Monday, May 27, 2013

Funny Things Happen on the Train to Budapest

May 27, 2013
Dear Family and Friends,

I'm not going to lie, being sick really is a pain in the neck, or stomach, or back, or wherever the pain is when you're sick. For the first few days of the week Elder Ch. was sick with stomach flu and then a few days later I got it and I'm still trying to get over it. Not very fun I must say, but there were a few things that happened this week that made the week somewhat fun outside of our illnesses. 

This week we were able to go up to Budapest because Elder Ch. had to go up for some medical checkups, which going to Budapest is always fun because it's the city where which I was born. We had to spend the night at the secretaries apartment Tuesday night because his appointment was on Wednesday morning and it takes 3 hours for us to reach Budapest from Békéscsaba so we would have had to have taken a train around 4 in the morning if we wanted to leave from Békéscsaba, but we got permission instead to come up the night before so that was a lot nicer. The next day Elder Ch. went to his appointment (which all is good by the way) and then we had lunch at Arribas (the Mexican place here that's similar to Chipotle) then headed back home. 
Budapest Train Station
This is the cool part of the story. On our train ride home, before the train took off we had already found our seats on the train (the train we took was kind of like the Harry Potter train where it has the cabins that you open the door to) and a young woman and her mom opened the door to our cabin and asked if the extra seats were available. We said yes and they took their seats. As the train started it's heading towards Békéscsaba the younger woman, who is probably around 22 or 23, asked 'You guys are American aren't you'. 'Yup, how could you tell?'
Riding the Train in Budapest (You've seen this one before.)
 'I've seen you on the streets in Békéscsaba talking to people and giving out your free books at your table that you guys stand at in the square.' We weren't sure how that meant that she could tell that we were American, but we went with it. For most of the train ride we talked to her about the gospel and mostly about the Plan of Salvation because she had questions concerning God and his existence and she even asked 'Well, if you guys believe that he is our Heavenly Father, what is his purpose for us?' 'That's a great question!' with which we recited Moses 1:39 to her explaining that God wants us to return to live with him again and for us to receive eternal life and happiness beyond anything this world has to offer. I felt so filled with the Spirit and I know my companion was also because when I didn't know the answer to one of her questions or I didn't know how to explain it my companion did. How awesome are companions! I love every single one that I have served with. I know that the Lord uses me as one of His tools, but it's also wonderful to see how he uses my companions and their talents and I can be a witness to that. 

Anyways, back to the story, the last hour her mom pulled her away to talk to her for a little bit, which ended up being the rest of the train ride. I had planned in my mind that I would give her a Book of Mormon before we went our separate ways. But, on the last stretch of the train ride I fell asleep and my companion had to wake me up by kicking my foot and when I woke they had already left. I felt so bummed because I totally wanted to get their information so that we could meet again and give them a Book of Mormon. Why did I have to fall asleep?!?! I felt like such a doofus. Hopefully our paths cross again. I've been praying that we will and I hope that the Lord will bless us with another opportunity to meet. 

Another short experience that happened while we were in Budapest, I have had on my mission people who have told me that we are wrong, or that we are wasting our time here and that we should go home. This week I have a new one to add to the list.
Budapest Metro Ticket Booth
 While my companion and I was in line for getting tickets to get on the metro in Budapest, a man came up to us, while we were in the middle of the line amongst plenty of people around us, and said 'Cult!' My companion and I kind of chuckled to ourselves because the man came out of his way to tell us this. We thought we may have seen the last of him, but as we were about to get on the metro, we saw the man once again and he came up to us and spat at the ground in front of us. My companion couldn't hold it in and burst out laughing! I don't know why we thought it was so funny, but it definitely was one of the more funny things that happened to us this week.

On Thursday we also had Zone Training in Szeged and the zone leaders gave their training on teaching people not lessons. They focused their training on a small acronym that they came up with called PAUL, which stands for Planning, Adjusting, Unity, and Listening. We discussed about each individual thing and how all 4 are crucial in teaching people. Yes we are teaching the Restoration, the Plan of Salvation and all of these other 'lessons' to our investigators, but our focus is not on recitation or regurgitating a lecture, but rather that we present these things according to their needs and plan according to their concerns and questions. I know that my family probably knows this because it's who I am, but I would say my favorite part of the acronym is listening. I have always been a person who focuses on understanding the person and where they are coming from. In the MTC we discussed about how we are the spiritual physicians in the world and we cannot give a 'diagnosis' if we don't know what the person is going through in their lives. That is where listening comes into play, and not just listening with our physical ears but with our spiritual ones also. The Spirit will tell us all things that we need to do and say and if we are in tune and listening closely it will give us the prompting we need to help that person come closer to Christ. Not only is this a cool concept, but it's a true one too! We even were provided the opportunity to put 'PAUL' into action at Zone Training.

The Zone Leaders had brought two of their investigators and we were to teach them according to their questions and concerns. We were split into two groups and then we were given time to teach them what we felt was right. My companion and I were the first ones up. We were teaching a guy who was 20 or 21 and was getting baptized soon. We asked him if he had any questions about what the Elders had taught him thus far and he said 'Could you talk to me about baptism.' I asked him what he knew and he replied by saying that it was a covenant that we make with God and that we receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost when we are baptized. I felt prompted to ask him what the Gift of the Holy Ghost meant to him and why it was important to him to receive it. He said that he knew that he know that the Elders said that it's something that helps us in our lives. We then shared him a scripture from 2 Nephi that explained that as we enter the way of the Lord that we receive the Holy Ghost that tells us of all things that we need to do. We explained to him that it is only through baptism that we receive this gift from God; this constant companion that will be there forever if we continue to live the commandments. Are time was then up and he thanked us and the next set of missionaries taught him. I, again, felt that what my companion and I taught was what we were meant to teach him. We were also able to listen to the other missionaries and what they taught and I was so impressed by how well the other Elders and Sisters were teaching this investigator and I was filled with the Spirit and I only hoped that everyone else could feel this same feeling, especially the investigator. This was for sure one of my favorite Zone Trainings. I don't know why, but I felt so strengthened from it. Not to say that the previous trainings that I have been to I have not come out strengthened, but this one had a specific impact on me that I can't even explain how or why, it just did. I loved it! 

I certainly had a wonderful week even though we've been kind of sick this week. Please pray that we both stay well so that we continue to work. I know that staying in and resting is good so that we can gain our energy and recover, but I always feel bad that we aren't outside working. That would be wonderful. :) 

It sounds like you all had an interesting week also. For Stake Conference, when you say missionaries do you just mean the ones in our ward or all of the missionaries that are in the Stake? Hopefully you have a few weeks till Stake Conference and maybe I can give you a music suggestion next week. And don't worry, I'm always singing even if it's not out loud. I'll usually sing while I'm getting ready in the morning and hopefully my companion doesn't mind :P Tell Alisha that though I am far away I love her with all my heart. You may not believe it, but I do think about all of you and pray for all of you individually. I have come to appreciate family relations more and more as the days go by on my mission as we discuss about families and see families grow in the gospel. You guys are more precious than gold and that goes for you Alisha. Just remember all the fun times that we would have when we played Halo and Call of Duty or when we would wrestle or I would take you and me out to get Taco Bell or something. I know they may have been a long time ago, but don't forget about them. Just look forward to that big hug that I will give you when I come home. Though it may be a long time from now, that hug will be so worth it. And if you ever feel down or that the world is against you, just sing to yourself 'You Are Loved' and I can promise you that it will brighten your day. And, don't forget to pray. I love you 'Lish, and I am always proud and honored to be your older brother. And this goes to my whole family. I am so blessed to be a Magda. I thank God that He blessed me with this family and that I could partake of life through it. Life is hard, but a family is their even after death. 

I love you all and keep on 'Looking forward and outward' and when times are tough, don't forget to look up and remember that you have someone looking after you. 

Sincerely, Your Son and Soldier of God
Magda Elder

Monday, May 20, 2013

I just ate....WHAT????

May 20, 2013
Well Howdy-do der! 

My good golly gracious you guys seem to have had a very interesting week this past week! Puppies?!?! I would have never guessed in a MILLION YEARS that under our roof we would be having puppies. Ha ha, I bet mom absolutely loves taking care of them. And I can also imagine dad being just ecstatic to have little German Shepard puppies—along with all of the Elders who were there and helped out. Ha ha, The Magda Family is where it’s at ya'll! You'll find nothing but excitement there. 

Ok, this week will definitely be a short email because my companion has fallen ill and we can only email for a little bit so that he can rest so that he can feel better. But I will give you one interesting that happened this week so that my email doesn't seem so blank. 

Coming to Hungary, I didn't think that I would eat any weird foods or something to the extent of pushing it away and throwing up my hands saying 'I can't eat it. No way!' Well, that experience happened this week, except I didn't know what I ate till afterwards. Friday we had our District Meeting here in Békéscsaba and after every District Meeting we go to this place called the Halcentrum where they have two 'Meals of the Day' that are super cheap.  Sometimes it is a gamble though because we don't always understand what exactly in the meal because the vocabulary that they use is kind of confusing. We all felt like the first decision on the board was the best because it had tomato soup with a side dish with some kind of meat, and you can't go wrong with that right? So we get our meals and sit down. My companion and I find that our tomato soup was cold. Oh well, right? We had some kind of chicken thing to eat. We finish our soup and start eating our meat thingy. We come to find that they stuffed the meat with another kind of meat, and the meat that was on the inside was probably one of the worst meats I have ever eaten. But I didn't want to go back home afterwards and eat something because I wanted to stay out and work. So, I just forced myself to eat it as much as I could. We then finish lunch and keep going with our day. We were helping one of the members with some stuff that she had to do and I felt prompted to ask her what exactly we ate. I told her the name of the dish that we had and she said 'Oh, what was stuffed in the chicken was brains' '...............Ummm........come again?' 'Brains.' Whhhhhhaaaaaatttttt?!?! Brains?!?!?! Are you serious!! I just ate brains?!?! I'm pretty sure my face got pail when I heard those words uttered. You know, I never saw the picture or look of brain and thought to myself 'You know, that looks really appetizing!' That was definitely one of the more interesting things that I have eaten in my life. 

That's basically one of the more exciting things that happened this week. There was plenty more, but out of all the things that happened, I thought I should tell you all about this. I'm sorry for making this short, but I promise that next week will be longer. 

I hope you all have a wonderful week and that it will be just as or even more eventful than this week. :D 

Magda Elder

Monday, May 13, 2013

Prayers and Bike Pedals

May 13, 2013
Sziasztok megint! (Hello again!)

It was so awesome to Skype all of you yesterday!! I can't tell you how happy I was to come away from it afterwards. Seeing all of your faces, talking to all of you about my mission and what's going on back at home, I felt rejuvenated and alive and ready to go after that. Thank you for everything you guys do for me. I love you all and it was such a privilege to see you guys once again. Just 7 more months until we get to do that again. :)

I'm not going to write too much today since I already Skyped you guys, but I know that there are some people who follow my blog so I will give them something to read besides my first paragraph. 
 For those who don't know, the current branch that I am in here in Békéscsaba is all run by the elders. There are other people that have callings in the branch, but there aren't very many priesthood holders so the elders are in charge of, well, everything basically. So yesterday I had the privilege to give a talk in Sacrament Meeting. I thought to myself the entire week that I had plenty of time to study for it since I was a missionary and I do these kinds of things all the time. Urrrrrggghhhhh, wrong! I was kept busy this entire week and I didn't have time to really study for my talk until the morning of. Luckily our church service doesn't start until 3 in the afternoon, so I had a little bit of time to collect my thoughts and put together a small talk. But before I even started searching or writing down anything I began with a prayer, asking for guidance from the Spirit of what topic would be best for the branch or what is something that I need to give instruction for someone who would be in the congregation who needed to hear this.

So, I closed by prayer and I began to flip through 'True to the Faith', looking at some of the topics and seeing if anything would catch my eye. For a while, I didn't feel anything. Being me, I was expecting a topic towards the beginning of the book because I can be a little impatient at times. Thankfully my mission has been helping me with that misconception and I continued to flip through the book until I came across the section 'Prayer'. I didn't feel anything immediately from reading the title of the topic, but I felt like I should read the sections that were underneath the title. It wasn't until read the last section 'Receiving Answers to Prayers' that I received a distinct feeling that this was what I was meant to talk about. It was the coolest feeling! I just had a small conformation within my mind 'This is what you need to talk about' and I began writing my talk. It came so easy and simple! Sacrament Meeting finally came and I stood in front of the small congregation that we had and gave my small talk about 'Receiving Answers to Prayers'. After partaking the Sacrament and praying earnestly for the Spirit, I felt like I could have been on top of the world giving that talk. I had so much confidence, knowing that someone in the audience needed to hear this because the Spirit helped me find this topic. No one came up to me afterwards telling me that it was them that needed to hear it, but I felt comfort that what I said, even if there may have been a few grammatical errors in the wording, was exactly what was needed to say. I can honestly say that the Lord work through us, and when He does, it is a remarkable experience. 

Now, almost every week there is something funny that happens to me while I am on my mission. This week it is another 'Bike' experience. Ha ha, just thinking about it right now makes me laugh. First, I have to lead you all up to the point when it happens because none of you will understand why it was so funny to me. So, my companion and I are riding our bikes to church yesterday, him in front and me in the back. We were maybe 2 minutes away from the branch house when I had a thought came to my mind, 'You know, this day is going to be an absolutely wonderful day' thinking about how I was going to give a talk, be with the all of the branch members, Skype with my family, have tacos for dinner (because that's what I was going to eat and I LOVE tacos........just a side note). At the same time, my companion was thinking of an email we had gotten last week that addressed us that if we had any problems with our bikes that we needed to email the Mission Office to let them know what they could do to help. So he was thinking 'Good thing there is no problems with our bikes'.......can you see where this is going? Immediately, after my companion and I had thought these things, I stood up on the pedals of my bike and the right peddle snapped off completely! With the amazing reaction skills that I have (which aren't very good I think) I caught myself from the fall and ran with the bike with the momentum that I was riding at and stopped the bike. Aaaannnnnddd what was I doing when this happened? That's right, I was laughing. Ha ha ha, I could not believe that another bike problem had happened AGAIN! But, this time, something did break from off the bike. In fact, the pedal didn't just fall off, the metal that it was attached to snapped completely off of the bike. Can you believe that?!?! I sure couldn't when I went back to get the piece that fell off and saw that the metal had come off with the pedal. My companion and I just looked at it with amazement. From my companion’s perspective, he said that he heard me kind of yell 'Uuuuuuauaahahhhh!' Kind of like that and he immediately thought, 'Did he run into a bush or something?' Oh man, that was an experience. Now we have to walk everywhere......yyyyaaaaayyyyyy. Látszik milyen izgatott vagyok, hogy most sétálunk mindenhóva. (Seems I’m gonna be excited just to walk!)

Anyways, I hope you like the stories! I sure did, especially when I was the one that all these things happened to. I love my mission, I love my life, I love where I am and I love the Lord. 

Magda Elder

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


May 7, 2013
Well Hello There,

So, first off, I'm sorry that you are getting this a day late. I forgot to let you all know that this week was going to be transfer week and that our P-day was being moved from Monday to Tuesday. So if any of you were worrying where my email was, don't worry, HERE IT IS! 

So, for news with transfers, Elder Ch. and I will be staying together for another transfer here in Békéscsaba!!! Wooohoo! We are both really excited to be serving together for another transfer. Both of us have been having a lot of fun together and get along really well. And, he will be my second companion who I have served for two transfers!........Well, almost two transfers. He and I will at least have served together for a transfer and a half by the end of this one since we both started our companionship in the middle of last transfer. But, we'll count it has two transfers. :) Oh, and since we are staying together, I actually won't be the Branch Leader for Békéscsaba. Instead, Elder Burch from Debrecen (who is one of the elders who went caving with me and Elder Headrick) will be taking that position. He is such an awesome guy and I am sure he will make a great branch leader. 

In another news with transfers, Elder Johnson is going home after his two years of service. It's so sad!!! He is an excellent missionary and has done so much for the branch here in Békéscsaba. With fast Sunday being this past Sunday, many of the members came up and bore their testimonies and included Johnson in their testimonies and that they felt so blessed to have had him in their branch. They are for sure going to miss him and I'm going to miss him. 

And another random fact about transfers the end of this transfer, guess who's going to be in the mission.............That's right, you got it, the one and only Magda Nővér!! Holy cow the time has just been cruising by. I don't know what I'm going to do when that day finally comes. I've been waiting for just about half a year for this day and all I have to do is wait for another six weeks. And next month is June! Do you know what that means?!?! I turn 21!!! Egad!! I have yet to find a grey hair, but I wouldn't be surprised if I find one on my birthday. :P 

Oh, so you wanted some information about Elder Ch. First off, he is from Riverton, Utah and has been in the mission 2 transfers longer than I have. He is actually in the same group as Sister MacKay (who is in her last transfer by the way). He has 6 siblings and is basically the middle child of his family. He is an absolute goofball! I love him to death! Ha ha, I think every day he has gotten me to the point where I can hardly breathe when I'm laughing. I don't know how he does it! We'll just be talking randomly about something and then he will turn it into a joke and I will be laughing uncontrollably. Definitely a great thing to have in a companion when you are having a really hard day and he is able to make you laugh and it makes the day a whole lot easier. 

For a highlight of the week, if you would call this a highlight, allergy season has come to Hungary and it is striking with a vengeance! Oh my word it is SOO bad for both my companion and I, both of us have really bad allergies, and right now everything is blooming and pollen is everywhere. We basically cannot stop sneezing or rubbing our eyes because of how terrible it gets. We had to take a break in the middle of our finding this week because we ran out of tissues and had to go back and get more and recuperate. We didn't want people to open the door and see two boys with red eyes and runny noses ask if they could share with them a short message of the gospel. We thought that people may not have accepted our message as well with our faces looking that bad. I think the worst day though was on Friday we were coming back from Szeged from a district meeting that we had there and I think I was sneezing consistently for maybe 10-15 minutes straight and rubbing my eyes because they itched so bad. Elder Rae, the elder from Kansas City, looked at me and saw how bad my face looked and asked 'Oh hey Elder Magda, I almost couldn't recognize you.' Yeah, it was not a pretty sight. 

The Valley Choral Concert has already come and gone?? Whaaaattt?!?! Dang, I miss singing for that choir so much. Tell them all that I miss them and that I am glad that everything worked out for the concert. Brianna Blair's family is in our ward now?? Whhhaaaaaatttt x2! My goodness things are changing back at home. Tell them that I welcome them into our ward all the way from Hungary for me. Oh man, listening to your story about all of you going to McDonalds and getting 'swiggies' is so awesome! That totally reminds me of home and all those times when I would join all of you and it was just funny to be there because I was the only guy. But every time I would go I was never disappointed. :) 

So, for Mother's Day, Elder Ch. actually has a webcam that we are going to put on the computer at the branch house, so we won't have to go to someone’s house. And we will probably do it right after church, so I can possibly Skype you around 8:30 or 9 AM your time. So, expect an incoming Skype call around that time.

Well, once again I am off to, well, save the world! Oh, and if any of you didn't know, prayer is the most spectacular gift God has given us. I cannot tell you how much it has changed my life dramatically and this week I have really come to find that the verse in the Doctrine and Covenants that says 'Pray always that you may come off conquer...' is absolutely true. I have found the truth within this scripture and I know that any and all of us can overcome any trial or hardship in our lives, whatever it may be, by always praying and leaning on the Lord that he will be there for us and all we need to do is trust in Him. Don't take prayer for granted! 

I love you all and I pray for the best for all of you. See you next week!
Magda Elder