Saturday, August 24, 2013

Fireworks and Fantastic Reunions

Elder Magda and the former Sister Skiba (Stephanie Skiba)
August 24, 2013
Nos, ez lett egy csodálatos hét, hallod? (Well, it’s been a wonderful week, you hear?)

It sounds like you guys have already heard about my találkozás (encounter) with Great-Uncle Steve and Great-Aunt Mary. But before I tell you how that went, there was actually another person that was, and still is, visiting Budapest that I was able to run into. This person actually was one of the missionaries from my first transfer and who Elder Abram (my first companion) titled as my 'adopted mother' in the mission, since this person helped raise me in getting used to mission life. This person is none other thaaaaannnnnnn.........Sister Skiba!!!! Or, since she's not a missionary any more, Stephanie!!!! She and her mom are visiting for the week and have been able to drop by the branch house a few times to say hello to some people. They also came to church on Sunday and will be there tomorrow also. It was way kewl catching up with her and reminiscing in old memories that we had from last year. Kewl thing also, she still hangs out with Elder Abram back at home and they keep in contact and stuff. He actually still emails me and he gave me the heads up that she was coming to Hungary for a little bit and told me to keep my eyes open for her. I'll attach a picture that I got of us at church last week. (This is a little mom side-note.  Blake does know how to spell the word “cool” but prefers his unique way of spelling it as “kewl.”  There.  We are all on the same page.)

This Wednesday, I met with Great-Uncle Steve and Great-Aunt Mary! It was such an amazing reunion, even though it was our first time meeting each other. The really remarkable part was actually how we ran into them. My companion and I planned on meeting them outside of one of the metro stops near where they are staying. Just so that you can get a little picture of the metro stop; when you get off of the metro you have to take a corner and then go up an escalator to get to the ground floor. I assumed that they would be waiting at the ground floor watching for us to come up the escalator. I kind of knew what they looked like, since you sent me pictures of them, but the pictures were kind of blurry. So Elder Corbishley and I got off of the metro and took the corner towards the escalator. Next to one of the pillars by the escalator I noticed a woman that looked very much like Aunt Mary, but I didn't think it was her because I assumed they would be on the ground floor. Then she said 'Oh! There's Blake! Right there!' Startled, I kind of looked around thinking 'Who, what, huuhh??' It was her after all and she and Uncle Steve were waiting at the bottom of the escalator instead. Ha ha, it was a great surprise to say the least. 
Great-Uncle Steve and Great-Aunt Mary

It was so much fun being able to chat with them! We talked about their trip, how they've been doing, what family they've visited thus far, how they enjoyed being in California and just all kinds of stuff since we had never before talked to each other. (Blake’s Great Uncle Steve was born in Hungary and fled with his mother and brothers to Austria during the Communist rule.  They emigrated to South Africa.  Blake’s Grandfather ended up emigrating to the US and his Great-Uncle Steve to New Zealand. His Great-Uncle is visiting family all over the world in one amazing fun-filled trip.  This is how he was able to see Blake.) They also got to know Elder Corbishley, and it made it more interesting with him being from England and them just coming back from Scotland and England. They started talking about things that I hadn't even a clue about, ha ha. Also, Uncle Steve had invited somebody over, Roboz Sándor and his wife, who was related to us in some way. For all of us it was the first time meeting one another.
Roboz Sándor, his wife, Aunt Mary, Uncle Steve and I
Up until the time Sándor came over we were speaking English, sometimes referring to words in Hungarian. But when Sándor came over, we talked almost completely in Hungarian. Throughout my whole mission speaking the language just felt like a normal thing that one does every day. But when I started speaking with Uncle Steve and the others, every word I said felt different when it came off my tongue. I don't even know how to put it into words! I felt like the words had physical meaning to them. Not saying that when I speak with investigators or with other people about the Gospel that I feel that there is no meaning behind the words I say, because there is, but rather it felt natural speaking it this time. I think I mentioned to Uncle Steve that it was as though there was a different connection as we spoke. He was surprised at first when he was speaking with Sándor and I just listened to them. He asked me 'Do you understand what we're saying?' to which I replied 'sure can!' It was incredible! I am so grateful to have met with them. It was difficult saying good bye, because I would have loved to have stayed and chatted more with them because there were still plenty more questions that I had that I wanted to ask. But I am blessed to have had the time that I did have with them. 

Last thing that happened this week was August 20th, which is the biggest holiday here in Hungary. It's basically like our 4th of July in the states.
Fireworks on the Szabadság Bridge
And, kewl thing about it is that I was able to be here in Budapest for it again! We actually planned on going to Visegrád, which is a castle north of Budapest, like we did last year, but many of the missionaries were kind of low on their budgets and we decided to meet at the park and play sports and then go back to the mission home and play games and watch the fireworks after.  It turned out to be an awesome day, weather wise and fun wise, and also exhausting. Ha ha, we played soccer, two-hand touch football, and even some touch rugby (Mom! Don't forget I said 'touch' rugby). Afterwards we were all practically dead, ha ha, and we knew it would make the next few days a little more painful. But it was worth it.
Elder Magda and Corbishley on Aug 20th
When it got dark, we headed to the Duna and watched the fireworks from the Buda side near the Szabadság Bridge. It was kewl seeing them from that side since I saw the fireworks last year from the Pest side. 

That was my week overall. Just to make dad jealous, my companion just got a package from home and gave me a bag of Jelly Tots since I told him those were my favorites. The perks of being companioned with an Englishman ;) Today we are actually going to get a comp item, which is where we both get the same thing for us to always remember our companionship together. We are going to get real nice, legit Hungary soccer jersey. I've wanted one forever and have been stoked the whole week for it! I'll take a picture of us wearing it so that you can enjoy it too. I'm so glad to hear that things are working out for Ashleigh going to BYU I! That's way awesome!! I'm so excited for her! She is going to have a blast for sure. And people are still getting married and getting ready to leave for missions. Seems like the world just doesn't wanna stop while I'm here does it? Tell all those who just got married and are getting married that I say congratulations! And tell dad I said congratulations on his new calling! That sounds like it will be sooo fun!! I can't wait to hear how it's going to be :) 

I love you all and enjoy this week with all the blessings it holds. And, to see them even better, you can heighten your vision by saying a prayer that morning. Try it out! 

Magda Elder

Saturday, August 17, 2013

TV interviews, chalk drawings and hedgehogs!

August 17, 2013
Amit felteszek az email-emen magyarul nem jelent semmit ami fontos. Csak fel akartam irni valamit magyarul ami nem volt 'szia családom'. :)  (I'm putting this in my e-mail in Hungarian. It does not mean anything that is important. I just wanted to write something in Hungarian which was not 'hi my family'

Hey, guess what? I'm sending you guys pictures this week! Wooo hooo! Be excited! Even more so because I have some kewl stories behind them. 

This week has actually been pretty fun. For most of every day we have been stuck in the office and taking greenies to the bureau and having them apply for residency cards, which only meant that I got to drive! Wooo! Trying to find every opportunity of mine to drive because I miss it. Plus it gives me better practice since, in this city, everyone drives like the own the road. I know back at home people can be like that, but here it's in a different light. It's like they think that there is no one else on the road but them. Komolyan (seriously)! It's rijfkdléskjfdélajdiculous! But worth it at the same time. 

When we did get out of the office we were able to have some fun AND I was able to take some pictures so that all of you can enjoy it! 
"Super Heroes" of Buda!
Last p-day I said that we were going to hang out with the AP's and play some sports and stuff. Way fun! But we all soon found out, and when I say soon I mean like 5 minutes, that we were all super out of shape. So after an hour or so of playing soccer, Frisbee, football, 3-flys up, we just about collapsed. But it was so worth it. I did get to wear my new Superman shirt that you sent me and Superman socks. I'm pretty sure they are what sustained me throughout our activities by giving me super powers. Plus, Elder Christensen wore his Superman shirt so we just were superheroing it up out on the field!
Elder Christensen and Elder Magda "Super-Heroing" it up on P-day
When I get home, I'm going to try and find some sort of soccer team to play on or something so that I can get some good regular exercise in AND have some awesome fun playing soccer. I miss playing that sport soo much! Being with Elder Corbishley has brought back memories of playing it since he is super soccer kid. Hopefully there will be something like that at home. We'll see.
The "Smoulder" from "Tangled."
Monday we were invited to a family home evening to one of the members here.  They actually lived in America for a really long time. They've lived in New York, Texas and then they lived in Florida for a really long time and now there back in Hungary for a while. She has her grandson, who is 19, here in Hungary and she wanted us to get to know him. He speaks fluent English, since he was raised in the states for most of his life, and also fluent Hungarian. What a lucky guy! To be fluent in two languages, one of them being English. I would love to be able to do that. So we went over to their house and they prepared Pörkölt for us, which was to die for delicious! But the other awesome part was that their house smelled almost exactly like Granny and Granddad's house. I don't know if I've talked about this before, probably have, but I'll repeat it again anyways, I've found that the scent of Granny and Granddad's house has kind of unique smell, which is a good smell by the way, and I have figured out that it is a Hungarian kitchen scent and I love it! I actually called Heather up after the family home evening and told her this and she told me that she didn't even know her house had a smell. Returning to the family home evening part, we had dinner with them and we talked, switching back and forth from English to Hungarian, which was way fun because they speak English perfectly, so if we didn't know a word they would just switch to English. After dinner we shared with them a spiritual message and asked if we could help with anything and the grandson, Roland, said that he was planning on cleaning up the backyard so that they could make a fire pit so that the other youth from the ward could come over and have BBQ's and stuff. So we scheduled a few days to come over and help him out. 

The last part of FHE, which mom will love, was finding a little friend outside of the family's house. As we were leaving we heard a rustle in the grass next to the house and we went looking through it to see what it was. Can you guess what it could be?........a Hedgehog!!!
Isn't it CUTE???
IT was the cutest thing ever! I immediately thought of mom since she adores hedgehogs. So we took some pictures with it and loved it to death, literally though, it's heart was pounding pretty hard.
Elder Corbishley and the hedgehog
Elder Magda and the hedgehog
To make sure that it wasn't going to have a heart attack or anything, we put it back into the woods and it scurried away. So kewl! Probably one of the kewlest highlights of the week.

On Tuesday we went back to the family's house to do some of the yard work in the backyard to get it ready for digging and tearing up the ground for the fire pit that we are planning to make. Roland is such an awesome guy! We were able to really get to know him and he said that he was planning on serving a mission and was going to have an interview with the bishop the next day to see what he needs to do to prepare. Hanging out with him kind of reminded me of the times when I hung out with the missionaries back at home before I left for my mission and how much of an example they were to me and I felt like this was my chance of doing the same thing back. I'm excited to see the journey that Roland has ahead of him. We told him that he had to tell us, since we'll probably be home when he gets his call or at least in a different area, where he was going when he got his call. 
Budapest street leading up to the Buda Castle

Buda Castle
After helping him with his backyard, we were walking back to our apartment and we saw that we had a few minutes to spare before we needed to return home. It was such a nice day outside, and we haven’t had many of them for the past few weeks since it's been dreadfully hot, so we decided to go to Buda Castle, which is on a little hill next to where we live that overlooks the Duna, and see the city lit up. It was so pretty!
Buda Castle
Budapest is such a beautiful city at night when the street lights are lit up and are reflecting on the river. Such a blessing to serve in this city again. And, August 20th, which is the main Hungarian holiday, is next week, so we'll have some fun exploring the city then also. 

Another really kewl thing that happened this week, at English class we actually had a TV news station record our class! Annnndddd I got to be interviewed afterwards! Do you know how ideg-tépő (nerve-wracking) that was to do in Hungarian?!?! I was so nervous! Even with all of my theater and performance background that I have being on stage and everything, it did not prepare me to be recorded speaking in a foreign language. I had to put all of my focus on the questions, even though they were basic, so that I could understand the questions exactly so that I wouldn't be like 'Uhhhh......could you repeat that again?' But it was still way kewl! They asked me why we held English class and also asked me about my family being part Hungarian and things that I knew about it before I came here and if I knew the language. It was way fun! Maybe we'll be able to see it if we're at one of our investigators houses :P 
Chalking "The Earth" and "Plan of Salvation"
The Earth
The last kewl thing of the week that we did was that we went chalking yesterday. Yup, we went back to grade school and played with chalk!! Ok, maybe we didn't 'play' with chalk, but it did feel like it when we we're doing it. We basically just went tabling by the Duna and brought a bunch of chalk with us and drew out the Plan of Salvation with quotes and scriptures on the side representing the drawing.
"Adam fell that man may be.  Men are that they might have joy."
IT was way fun! And there were also some people who stopped and asked us what we were doing and were interested. Finding people is so much more enjoyable when you make it fun and unique.  We had a blast doing it and definitely made for a good first memory of chalking. 
"And thus the world was created." Elders Lynch, Corbishley and Magda

Well, that was my week! I haven’t had a week this super duperly fun filled for a while. Not saying that I haven’t had fun for a while, just that I haven’t had one that really was memorable AND got me to take pictures. That's when you know that I had a good week when I send pictures back. ;) Today we have our first concert of two, the second one will be next Saturday. It's going to be great! We have some kewl numbers that we will be doing and I have one solo, 'My Soul Hungered', and two duets, 'Firm in the Faith' and 'The Prayer', and the woman that I'm singing with is Hungarian, but we are singing these songs in English since there's no real Hungarian translation for them. I'm stoked to sing these songs, just because I haven’t done anything like this since last year when I sang my duet with Sister Surányi. I've been so out of practice. And now Valley Choral just had the Call to Unity concert! Man I miss that so much! You guys sang O Danny Boy?!?! AHHHHH!! I've wanted to sing that song for soooo long! Blast! I wish I could have been there. Maybe next year if Paul has the choir sing it again or something. I miss that choir oh so much. I don't know if everyone in that choir knows how they have a special spot in my heart. The wonderful atmosphere and community of it all and the music that we were able to sing has shaped me to be the man that I am today. Please give Paul special thanks for me the next time you see him. He is one of the big reasons why I can and love to sing. 

Sounds like life is about to pick up with school coming around the corner back at home. Though I do miss school a lot, the stress part of it I am glad to be away from, ha ha. Hopefully I'll see Great Uncle Steve. I sent him an email last week, but he never wrote back. Maybe we'll run into each other somehow. And, also, I heard that Sister Skiba, one of the sisters who was here in Budapest last year when I was, is coming back to visit tomorrow. That'll be kewl! 

I hope everyone has a funtastic filled week! Stay sharp and prepare the day with quick Morning Prayer before you go out the door. 

Sok szeretettel, 
Magda Elder

Sunday, August 11, 2013

My current shoes make me feel like I've done WORK!

August 10, 2013

(Blake’s Mom and sister stayed up super late Fri night/Sat morning and got to email chat with him.  The following is a synopsis of his side of the conversation.  We hope you enjoy.)
Hello family and friends!

I'm doing pretty well, just chilling in the branch house emailing. I honestly don't know what to email this week. There wasn't so much that happened this week unfortunately. We had only 2 programs this week and were stuck in the office mostly every day. We went out finding too, but didn't have very much time doing it. I had choir practice I practice my solo. OH, I am also doing a duet and I'm singing the Prayer with one of the members. Kewl, huh?

My companion and I continue to quote movies all the time. Ha ha, he makes me laugh SOOO much! I love it! We quote Star Wars and Lord of the Rings like 24/7. Along with that, the AP's quote movies and we just have a blast hanging out when we are stuck in the office. Today we are actually going to go shopping with them and we found a place here that sells A&W root beer and Mountain Dew Code Red!!!! That's a miracle place!!! So we are going to hit that up, and then go get some lunch at this soup place that is WAY amazing, and then go out and play sports all day. All of us are soccer players and we have been dying to play. We are going to have a blast!

 Last week for P-day we played some board games and cards. It was way fun and we laughed a lot, but I can't remember all the jokes that were said that made it so funny :P  The week before Elder Corbishley took me to this amazing Pakistani restaurant here in Buda. No joke, I have never tasted better curry in my entire life till that day. SOO GOOOD! If we ever come to Hungary as a family together in the future, I'm taking us all there, since I know that most of us like curry.  

My shoes are starting to fall apart actually, ha ha. But only one of the two pairs I came with. I'm going through one of them until it's basically dead and then going to the other. My feet are broken into the other ones already because I've worn them a few times just so that my feet are used to them. But it's so funny to see my current shoes because it makes me feel like I've done work. They look worn and torn, the bottoms have cracks in them and I'm going to say they have a good month or so till they break. That'll be a fun day. I'll take a picture and send it to you later on today :)

Oh! One other cool thing I have to tell is that I drove two senior couples on Monday! I finally got to drive! And I am glad to say that I am an American driver, because Hungarian drivers are crazy!! (I love Hungarians, though…really I do)  Plus the roads are ridiculous! Each lane can take you to a different place. For example, I was in one of the middle lanes, thinking that I could take it straight to somewhere, but it lead me to the left taking me in a complete different direction than I wanted to go. We were lost for like a good 15 minutes. Ridiculous!  It was still fun at the same time. Ha ha, the senior couples in the back made a few gasps while I drove. I get to do it again on Monday and Friday taking the new missionaries to get their residency cards. I'll get a picture of me driving to show you how fun it is. :) 

Isn't it so awesome to actually drive on your own?! It's like being a bird having the wings to fly anywhere you want. They only difference is that the birds around you can be total jerks. Ha ha

Oh, and please keep Maximus! (Little German Shepherd puppy still living at our house) That dog looks absolutely adorable!!! He has the cutest smile!

Elder Magda