Monday, December 30, 2013

Waffles, Wine Cellars, and Serving Your Fellow Men

December 30, 2013
Sok szeretettel, köszöntelek benneteket ezen a blogomon, 
(Lots of love, and welcome to my blog)
The Eger Christmas Tree

This quote may be a tricky one for you, but let's see if any of you can get where it's from. Hint: it's not from a movie. 

'Sir, do you know that your drinking the new decaffinated coffee crystals?'
'You know, the decaffinated coffe crystals.'
'......Why you no good son of a butt *word replaced*. You tried to trick me!!!'
'Sir, tell us how you feel'
'.....aaaannnggrrryyyyy.' (His Mom thinks it’s from a SNL skit with Chris Farley.)

I know it sounds weird this quote, but if you know where it's from, I will be thoroughly impressed. :)

Blast! I can't believe it's already the end of the year! It feels like this year just started for me, no joke. Last year at this time I was serving with Elder Becker and I was only in my 5th transfer, meaning I only had 8 months done with my mission. A year later, I'm in my 15th transfer, have been out for almost 21 months and am on the last leg of my mission, having just had my last Skype session with my family. Holy cow! I never thought that it was going to come about this fast! There are so many crazy feelings and thoughts about all this. Let's not think about it for a while and just move on to other stuff.

It was so nice to see all of you for Christmas! It's weird almost every time to see how things have changed at home. I feel like this weird foreign kid that has a long lost family in the states. Ha ha, President Smith actually said in our weekly email this week 'I hope that your families remembered who you were!' Kind of chuckled seeing that. I cannot thank our investigators enough for having us over at their place to use their computer.
The awesome family that let us Skype for Christmas!
They are so kind! They loved meeting all of you and said that I have a really nice family (Isn't that cute!). Funny thing is, I didn't even tell you what I did that day for Christmas before I Skyped you all. So that means everyone else can enjoy it as well! Yip-skipidee-doo-da-hip-jippity-hooraaayyy!!! Right? Vágod? 

Ok, first off, we went over to the other elders and made waffles. Yes, waffles! They were so good! By the way, in Hungary they don't have maple syrup (sad, right?). So we had to make our own with cinnamon to replace the maple extract. It was still super good! We got super full off of the batch that we had. We then played some card games and Catan (hopefully all of you know what board game this is), in which I owned all, showing my more humble side, ha ha. Afterwards we went to the giant Catholic basillica that's in Eger which had some awesome artwork and paintings on the ceiling and walls.
On top of the castle
We also went to another Catholic church and toured around in it for a bit and went up to the castle and took some pictures around it.
View of the Basilica from the top of the castle
It was a super nice day as well! For the second time in a row it didn't snow on Christmas, neither was it cold. It was actually between 10-13 degrees celsius outside. We've heard from the Hungarians that it's going to be an abnormal winter here, warmer than usual, which means the more wintery part with snow will come later, resulting in a longer winter. They're not looking forward to it. I'm not to bummed, cause I'll be in the Californian spring around that time. :) *slaps himself* Enough of that, back to what I was talking about. The kewlest thing we got to go to on Christmas was this underground wine-cellar right beneath the basillica. It was pretty kewl.
Wine cellar below the Catholic Basilica
We learned a lot about wine and how it's made underneath the ground and stuff. It may not be the most fascinating thing in the world for being LDS, but it was still neat to see how people made it back in the day.
Wine cellar
Some extra knowledge for the brain. Plus it was all in Hungarian, so it added some words to our vocabulary. The day after Christmas we actually had a huge lunch! A member in the ward last Sunday gave us a huge bag of quality meat and we were like 'How are we going to use all this?' We came up with having a huge taco lunch for the 26th and it was AMAZING!!!!
The huge taco lunch.
Elder Gaytán, being the expert with tacos, taught us how to make some quality ones and they were some of the most delicious tacos I have ever tasted. Not saying that your tacos are bad mom, yours are still amazing. The only difference was that we havn't had any quality ones like we have back at home for a LOOONNNGG time. So it was a nice change for our taste buds, after having noodles and pasta every day for the last few weeks, ha ha. Needless to say, we were full afterwards.
Preview to stomach expansion....
I was about to explode by my last taco. Didn't even eat dinner that night. That's when you know it was a good meal. :)

On a more spiritual note, on Christmas Eve we held our weekly District meeting together. Since transfers 2 weeks ago I've been the new District Leader for our District, so I decided to do my training on Charity. But before I even got into my training, I had asked one of the other Elders to give a spiritual thought before I went into my training a few days before the meeting. He had no idea what I was going to be giving my training on and he gave a short thought about Charity! It gave me tingles! Before he shared the verses and thought that he had he said 'You know, I didn't know what I should share with you guys today, but I said a small prayer before I looked in the scriptures for what I wanted and as I read these verses, I felt like these were what I was supposed to talk about', and these verses were some of the ones that I was going to be using for my training. His spiritual message was just an assurance that Charity was what I was meant to talk about, because I didn't know what I should talk about either. I thought about it and said a little prayer to myself the days before and looked through my study journal a little bit and the stuff that I studied about Charity really stuck out to me and I felt that that was what I was meant to teach. I felt incredibly enlightened as well from all the info and thoughts that we included from the other missionaries in the District during the training. I felt like everyone was supposed to be there at that exact time and was each prepared from their own personal studies that they had had in the previous weeks for that meeting. I want to share some of the things that I included in my training because I feel like it is something that has been helping me to develop Charity in my life. Mainly, we talked about the blessings that come from Charity, which are a lot, and why Charity is important (for these parts I hope that you all will study the topic of Charity and find for yourselves what the blessings are and the importance of it in each of our lives). But the main topic I talked about was how to acquire Charity. So I came up with some tips for myself that I decided to share with the rest of the District. These are the steps I came up with. 

1. Pray for it
    'Charity is a gift from God' as quoted in Preach My Gospel. It made me think, how do we obtain gifts? Normally, at least most of the time, we ask for them. Of course there are circumstances where people, out of the kindness of their hearts, give us gifts without us even asking for it. But on most occasions we usually ask. After just having the Christmas season, I'm sure all parents have had their kids come up to them and ask 'Mommy, I really want a new race car!' or 'Daddy, can I get a pony?' I don't know about the pony one, that's a pretty big gift to give, but the example is what I'm going for. The point is, gifts are asked for. Moroni 7:48 explains why and how tremendously! If you break it down sentence by sentence, we see that in order to acquire Charity in our lives, we have to pray for it. And, if we ask, we shall receive. But, action needs to take place in order for anything to happen. That's when the next few steps come in to play.

2. Choose to Love
   It is up to us whether or not we want to be men and women who are trying to be like the Savior. We have to choose now to be like Him. Just with that, we need to start loving others. We can't get off our knees after praying for Charity and just say 'Well, that was a good prayer, hopefully God will give me Charity.' It doesn't work that way. Just like receiving a Christmas gift, we have to be doing the right things if we want to receive it. No wonder Santa tells us 'You better watch out, you better not cry, you better not pout....he knows if you've been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake', because he's not going to give us what we ask for if we aren't doing the right things! So, if we want to have Charity, we have to start loving others, start being kind and doing good will towards our fellowman. Also, if we read in the scriptures, we find that we are commanded, not just asked, to love one another as Christ did. Why would he make this a commandment? Because it brings blessings! It is a higher and better way of living! So start now! Don't procrastinate! That is the next step before we even start acting. We need to know that we want to change and want to love.

3. Service
    What greater way to express one's love than by serving is fellowman? We learn from King Benjamin many things about service. One of them being that even though he was a king, he labored with his people and not for worldly means. He says 'I say unto you that as I have been suffered to spend my days in your service, even up to this time, and have not sought gold nor silver nor any manner of riches of you... And even I, myself, have labored with mine own hands that I might serve you...I have not done these things that I might boast, neither do I tell these things that thereby I might accuse you; but I tell you these things that ye may know that I can answer a clear conscience before God this day.' Incredible, right? He did it out of the kindness and love of his heart. He wanted to serve his fellowman because he loved them—not because he wanted recognition nor because he wanted to receive wealth, but because he wanted to say at the end of his life, not boastingly, that he has a clear conscience. We also learn from the Savior that this way of living is what brings the most happiness. Even He, the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, who could have come to the Earth and have sought glory, came down to serve us, mere people! We read in Matthew 20 ' But whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister ; And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant: Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.' 'Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.' Why? Why would a King, the God of us all do this? Simply because He loved us. He served us, and is still serving us, because He loves each and every one of us. 

Some tips that I gave for service were actually some TNT principles that I learned while I was a part of the theater troupe. I want to thank TNT and how it has impacted my life with the principles and attributes I learned. Thank you LaRee, I don't know if you know it, but you have been teaching each of us how to be charitable people. Because the rules 'Making your partner look good' and 'Looking Outward and Upward' have always been the biggest things for me and have helped me greater understand what love really us. Make your partner look good! Those who you live with, those who you work around, make it your goal to make them look good, especially during the times when they may be making the biggest mistakes. Show your love for them as their spiritual brother or sister. They need you, even if they don't think it. And what will make this principle easier is if you are looking outward and upward. We have the two greatest commandments given to us 'Love God' and 'Love thy neighbor as thyself' or, in short, looking outwards and upwards. These small, simple principles are ways that can increase our desire to serve. There is no better feeling than giving. I love it! I'm going to miss that feeling so much when I come home. Knowing that every day is dedicated to the Lord as a devout servant will probably be my greatest sorrow when I return. But that doesn't mean that I'll stop when I'm home, and I hope that you all know that you don't need to be missionaries with a name tag to have each day dedicated towards serving your fellow siblings in this probationary period. Love them! Serve them! There is no greater thing than this.

And thus comes the last tip:

4. Understanding.
    'Seek to understand, then to be understood'. Many people will interpret this as first knowing a subject then teaching it after you understand it. True, that is one way we can look at it. But, why not think of it as with those whom you’re are always listening too or talking with. Understanding is crucial! Even though we can serve others and love all people without having to know all of them, it is when we do get to know someone that we need to listen and understand. It is then that we can act accordingly and serve them. 

I would like to talk more about the last tip, but I'm running short on time. No one needs to apply these things or follow these steps; these are only things that I have found that have helped me. But, that is why I am sharing them, because I know that they are things that have blessed my life and can also bless others. Charity is the most powerful thing in the world, more so than being the most wealthy man alive or greatest spokesman on the planet, 'if he hath not charity, he is nothing'. This is the goal, and it is worth everything. 

I love you all; I hope you have a wonderful New Years and 'Hold to the rod, the iron rod'. Don't forget to pray! 

Sincerely, az egész szívével (With my whole heart)
Magda Elder

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