Sunday, November 20, 2016

November 19, 2016


Elder Priest has completed his mission to Budapest, Hungary and has made it home safely. We are so grateful to all those wonderful people in Hungary who took such good care of our missionary and welcomed him into their country.

We love you, Elder Priest!

Monday, November 14, 2016

November 14, 2016

Well, here it is.

One last email from here in Hungary.

I could say a lot right now about how the week went and who we met with or didn't meet with or how we knocked on lots of doors, but we'll skip all of that for today.

I know that God is real and alive, and He loves us. I've felt this many times over the past two years, both in good times and hard times. I know that He wants us to be happy and help other people to be happy as well. I am indescribably grateful for the chance to have served here in Hungary. The church members here are so humble and kind, and the people has a whole will always have a big piece of my heart.

I look forward anxiously to when I'll be able to visit again and see all of these friends who have become part of my extended family. I hope they know that I love them.

As I sit here at the computer screen typing my last email as a missionary, these are the thoughts that seem the most important to share.

Love you all lots, and I'll see you soon. God bless the Hungarians.

President Szabadkai let us go to visit an ancient Roman temple in town with our favorite American member here in Szombathely who's working here for a little while. Thanks to Bro. Shulte for the great afternoon and helping us teach in a lesson afterwords!

Emailing one last time with these goofy elders... I'm gonna miss them!

Monday, November 7, 2016

November 7, 2016


Another quick one. Here's the rundown, as usual!

Highlights of the week...

No more exploding castles this week, which was definitely a plus! We didn't have to worry about any crazy things like that, although we did have a few people get mad and kick us out of buildings with threats to call the cops. Can't be too upset at that, since I'm sure if they would have given us a few moments to explain why we knocked on their door at 6 p.m., they might not have been quite as worked up about it.

We had a fairly normal Thursday and Friday, and we met with our friends Magdi and Peti on Thursday morning. It was great to see them again, and we shared a message about how it's never too late to return to their faith. Although poor weather prevented them from coming out to church this week, it was very good to see that they are both doing well. We also met with our friend, Zoltán, on Saturday morning. His friend, Mária, also happened to be there with him when we came to visit, so she stayed and tuned in to what we were sharing with him on that day. She liked what she heard, and they both ended up coming out to church yesterday! We were very happy to see that they enjoyed the testimonies shared during sacrament meeting, and that they were glad to have come out!

Yesterday's highlight was getting to go back to the Szombathely hospital, the first time that any of us has been there since the salmonella poisoning incident of July. One of the kind members here, Kati, asked us to visit her mom with her in the hospital. Her mother, also named Kati, has become very old. Now in her later 80's, she always enjoyed the fact that we visited them once a week to sing hymns for her and share a simple message. Since she forgets things very easily, she didn't take too much interest in the topics that we brought to share, but she always loved to have me play the piano as different companions over the months would sing a hymn from the church's songbook to her. She had asked her daughter to have us visit her in the hospital and bring her a blessing (and her piano). We couldn't bring her the instrument that she wanted to have in her hospital room, but we did visit her with the younger Kati and gave her a blessing. That was easily the highlight of the week, since it had been a few weeks since we'd last seen her. Her physical condition isn't promising, and we're not sure how much longer she'll be here, but it was good to visit her at least once more.

Now, we're starting off another busy week! We're having splits with our zone leaders from Győr, heading up to Budapest for a training, and then traveling back to finish our week here in Szombathely. All the best to you back at home. Good luck with the elections. God bless America, our home and haven for the free. May He aid and guide those charged with the direction and governing of the nation.

Visited the Sárvár castle last week on P-day as a district!

Inside the castle was a museum based on the Hungarian
 cavalry and Hussars. Pretty cool stuff! Really old castle.

Apparently, the Hungarian cavalry was even active as late as the 1950's.

This was a cool family tree of the Hungarian counts 
that lived in this castle, painted on the wall of one of the 
rooms. Kind of looks like Serius Black's family tree from Harry Potter.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

November 2, 2016

Hey, there, everyone!

Have to be fast. Time is, yet again, in short supply!

We had a busy week, filled with zone training in Budapest, tracting and looking for new people to meet with, getting dogged a ton, talking to more people, Elder Lowe and Elder Graham getting a little bit sick and then mostly recovering, prepping for an open house at the church with a showing of "Meet the Mormons" in Hungarian, and lots of other things!

It was a great week, and I think it's also one of the weeks that I've walked the most distance-wise. We've been trying to get out to places that we haven't been to before to look for new people, which includes the areas just outside of the city-city part of Szombathely. Lots of miles, which is always fun!

Yesterday was Day of the Dead! It was neat to stop by the cemetary along with almost everyone else in Szombathely. Almost everyone, especially Catholics, get the day off and go to the graveyards to pray and decorate graves with red and white candles. It's quite a sight in contrast to the dark, cold, starry night.

The weather's been starting to get a little bit cooler, and we're putting on coats again and trying to stay warm with gloves and all that jazz. We're working hard and having a great time doing it! More to come next week!

Yesterday was "All Saints' Day," or "Day of the Dead."
 These are the candles and flowers that they decorated all the gravestones with.

A memorial to Jesus had, by far, the most candles and gifts.

Stormy day over Szombathely

Tracting at sunset. Crazy how it gets dark at 4:30 already!

Fall is definitely here in full color...

The lake in Szombathely is my favorite part of the town,
since it's got so many big trees and it's good for running
in the morning. It's also looking pretty fall-y.

"Sör" means "beer"....

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

October 24, 2016


Lowdown for this week is as follows:

Tuesday was a busy day of getting everything ready for the transfers. Elder Fitzgerald got himself all packed up and ready to move to Dunaújváros, and I spent some time cleaning our house. We visited our good friend Zoltán and our landlord, Éva, so that Elder Fitzgerald could say goodbye.

Wednesday morning started at about 4 am, when we showered and got dressed and called a taxi to take us to the train station in Szombathely. We rode the first train we could get on to Budapest, where we journeyed in to the mission home and unloaded suitcases. It was strange to be at one last transfer and to have to say goodbye to most of my friends, since I won't see most of them again until someday back in America. Elder Fitzgerald was probably the hardest one to say goodbye to, since he was such a great companion and friend, and it really was quite enjoyable to serve with him. We'll for sure have to see if we can hang out in a year or so when he finishes his mission.

We had an orientation meeting where we met the new missionaries who came into the country, and they told us all who would be our new companions. I currently have two, since they're both going to stay here in Szombathely after I leave to go home in November. Elder Graham has now been in Hungary for four months, and Elder Lowe just came here to the country. Also of note is that another elder arrived to Szombathely (also fresh from the homeland) named Elder Garrett--we're going to see if there's any cross-overs in our family trees sometime. He's from Oklahoma. Elder Graham and Elder Lowe are both great missionaries and it's been good to be with them so far! It's quite a change, and they're by far the youngest companions I've ever had, and living and working in three's is always a whole new ballgame, but it's working out well so far!

We've had a few busy days so far, including such activities as trying to get Elder Graham legally registered to Szombathely with the government, doing a service project out on a farm to dig up and transplant rose bushes to another property, meeting with our friend Zoltán and teaching him, and studying lots and lots of Hungarian. Especially because these two are both so young in their missions, we're trying to speak as much Hungarian as possible so that they'll be comfortable and stable when it's just them in a few more weeks. It's been fun so far to teach them everything that I can and try to help them better understand what's going on.

That's mostly all the news! Keep you updated on more next week. Love y'all, have a good week!

We went out to the forest outside of Szombathely by a
little village called Dozmat to help someone on their farm on
Saturday. The drive out to the farm with member
Takács Gábor was quite a refreshing sight!

I think the sign that I can see daylight through the bottoms
is a pretty good indication that they're ready to be retired.

Finally had to splurge and buy some new dress shoes... 
The old ones are pretty wrecked at this point.

Some big 'ole Hungarian longhorns out on the farm

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

October 17, 2016


So this week was fast. Again. It's unbelievable how quickly the time is passing now. The week was filled with activity, as the Sopron elders, Römer and Gabel, came here to Szombathely for splits. We had a fun little three-way split where Elder Gabel and his trainer, Elder Rodgers, also got back together for a little bit of time, so it really was a good opportunity to get to see all kinds of people here in our city!

That was Tuesday and Wednesday, and Thursday was a pretty fast day because we had a few people to meet with, and we also had our English class in the evening time. 12 people ended up coming out, which was huge!

Friday and Saturday also passed quicly, because we were on splits in Tatabánya with the elders there. I had a chance to work with Elder Szuch who actually has Hungarian family and is from Idaho. He was awesome to work with, and it was a great split there!

We came back and had church yesterday in Szombathely. It was an awesome day at church, and we and the other missionaries from Szombathely had gotten together and planned to teach the class to the young men in the branch here. We talked about missionary work and what it means to be a missionary, and even shared some special experiences and stories from our own missions to the three young men who were in attendance--Barni, Marci, and Levi. At the end of the class, we all took off the ties we were wearing and gave them to each of the boys as a special gift from the missionaries. All three of the boys, who are 16, 10, and 15, respectively, were excited about serving missions, and they seemed to like the lesson that we shared. It was a neat experience!

Yesterday, we had family night with the Takács family from the branch here in Szombathely. They had also invited the family's grandparents, Magdi Mama and Peti Tata to come as well, and we had a good lesson about how sharing the gospel is one great way to be happy!

And today is our p-day. We're getting ready for the transfer tomorrow, since we just received our transfer calls this morning. We were surprised to hear that Elder Fitzgerald would leave Szombathely, since he's only been here for two months, and he's going to serve in a city called Dunaújváros. I'm really sad to see him go, because he's been such a great friend and companion, and it's been great to work hard with him and have many good times along the way. I'm also excited for these next four weeks, though, because I'm getting two new companions here in Szombathely! One's name is Elder Graham, who I've actually never met before. I think he's been here in Hungary for about 4 months now, and then a new missionary is also coming here from America this week, which should also be fun! It's always interesting learning how to work with three people on one leash, but it's going to be an adventure!

Talk to you all soon again next week! Stay tuned!

Elder Fitzgerald and I with our good
friends, Magdi Mama "Grandma Magdi" and Mariann!

We came across this little gem this week.

Our lovely English class here in Szombathely!

We made waffles this week with banana bread batter, and let
 me just tell ya that they were the best thing since Kraft Mac n' Cheese!

Monday, October 10, 2016

October 10, 2016


Another week's lowdown's coming right up.

Monday was a good p-day last week. Kinda quiet, but we ended up going to the branch house with the other elders from here in Szombathely and our mission correlator here in the city, Zoli, and we threw a football and frisbee and played some basketball in the afternoon. We had a fun time, and somehow we managed to get the frisbee stuck on the branch house roof in the process. The good news is that Elder Shepherd is exceptionally tall, and with the help of his height and our throwing skills, we used the other balls to get down the frisbee to a point where he could grab it from off the shingles. It was a good day!

Tuesday was a fairly normal day, and we just did our normal work of looking for people to meet with. We did actually end up getting let in by a lady in her 80's named Zsuzsanna, who told us that she would talk to us for about ten minutes, and that then she would be done. In the end, we spent almost a full hour in her apartment, sharing a message about the Restoration of the original gospel with her. We then asked if she would be interested in learning more, and she replied that maybe she would call us back when she decided.

Wednesday was busy mostly with going to the "hivatal," the Hungarian governmental offices that take care of all kinds of official things. We were given a packet of paperwork by President Szabadkai to fill out, and were told to update our residency information with the Hungarian government. It took about 5 hours of waiting in lines, talking to immigrations officers, asking for validation of our documents, and making photo copies of everything on the other side of town, but we are now officially legal residents of Szombathely.

We left early on Thursday morning to go to Győr, where President Szabadkai held interviews with our zone. We were there to check up with the missionaries while they were arriving and make sure that they were also doing alright. After interviews were finished up, we started splits with the elders who were there, Ure and Gentry. They're both awesome missionaries who are working as hard as they can and doing great things there in the city, so it was a good experience to be there with them! I got to serve with Elder Gentry, who happens to be a young 18 year-old who's signed to play football for BYU when he goes home. He's HUGE. It was quite a fun time to be around such a big guy and serve with him for a day.

Friday and Saturday were spent back in Szombathely, and we also had splits on these days. This time, it was with the assistants, Elders Evans and Heaps. I had a chance to be with Elder Heaps again, which was really fun because he was my companion right before Elder Fitzgerald came here to Szombathely at the beginning of August. He's doing really well and loving life in Buda, so that was good, too!

And then Sunday was spent at church, where we finished watching the Sunday afternoon session of conference. (We get the conference a little bit later here because of the time difference.)

The weather's been REALLY cold for the past week. I think it dropped about 25 degrees Celcius, and we're all freezing and breaking out our coats already. No snow yet, but it's definitely cold outside.

Hope you all have a good day! Love ya!

Splits in Győr with Elders Gentry and
Ure--they're awesome missionaries!

Elder Heaps and Elder Evans came to visit us in
 Szombathely for splits, and we met up with our
landlord, Éva, who took a picture with us all!