Saturday, December 27, 2014

December 24, 2014

Sziastok! (Hello to you all)

Well this week was definitely something. There was definitely something about it. Hahaha.

This week was kind of like the dark middle ages in Europe. We're right in the middle of the MTC stay, so it seems kind of intense and overwhelming at times, and at other times it's just slow and boring. Also, there was a great plague this week as EVERYONE got sick. And I mean everyone. Remember how I'm usually one of the first ones to get sick at home? Yeah, I have no idea how I'm still safe from this raging beast of a disease.

Basically, it's just the flu, but our District has convinced themselves it's a minor case of typhus. Elder Dietrich, the German elder, had to get his typhus shot at the doctor this week since I guess they don't require them in Europe. The missionary administration requires it for us, but Dietrich Elder really was upset that the MTC made him pay for a shot for a disease that he says they don't even have in Europe, since Hungary is only a couple hundred kilometers away from his home in Germany. His body didn't react very well to the immunization, and it most likely probably just lowered his immune system a little bit. Either way, he became pretty sick and stayed in bed for a couple days since he was too sick to be in class. (A little scary since he sleeps on the bunk right above my head.) But he got checked out at the medical clinic here at the MTC and, sure enough, he had the flu!

It pretty much spread like a fire after that, and at one point four of the elders in our six-elder district were sick and staying in the dorms during class time. We went on splits a lot in the past week haha. No idea how I haven't gotten sick yet, but I'm just doing my best to keep washing my hands whenever I get the chance to and trying to be as healthy as possible. It's a fist-fight for sure.

When my companion got sick this week, it hit him pretty hard. The doctor here at the MTC wanted him to go pick up some medicine at the pharmacy down the street from the MTC, just a couple of blocks away, so we went on a little adventure in the cold weather to track down some prescriptions for him. In the process, we met some cool BYU students also getting their meds there and even met someone who served in France with Elder Carson Frost from Mesa! Kind of cool. We even picked up a free Deseret News newspaper at the pharmacy so that we could try to catch up on some of the outside world's news. We didn't learn much, just that Ebola's getting a little bit under control in Africa? Not quite sure, it was a vague article. Anyways... Elder Winegar's still recovering, but hopefully he'll be better for Christmas tomorrow.

So we learned about Hungarian Christmases this week! I guess they go HARD with their holidays, especially Christmas. In every city, they commandeer different town centers and squares and turn them into Christmas Villages--little cities of happiness with awesome mini Christmas-looking houses and shops and nativity sets, and the Christmas celebrations are endless in number and variety. I'm actually STOKED for that, since Christmas is by far my favorite holiday. They also have great food and everyone gives everyone gifts. Even complete strangers and homeless gypsies give to other people in any way that they can! How awesome is that?!!

Hungarian Christmases are also a little bit different. Instead of opening Santa's presents and tearing into gifts of family and friends on Christmas morning, they have a day of gifts on Christmas Eve Day. This is a day when they share presents with each other and have all the fun toys and traditions of Christmas that a lot of us think about here in the US. Then, on Christmas Eve, everyone spends time with their families and the people they care about most and share their favorite stories about each other and how much they love each other. Christmas Day, the 25, is solely and strictly dedicated to the Savior (if you're a Christian in Hungary). There's no presents on this day, but everyone goes to church and thinks about the valuable gift that is the Savior Jesus Christ. I find that to be one of the most exciting things of all.

So in honor of that, we decided to hold our Hungarian district's Christmas this morning, on Christmas Eve. We woke up at 4:45 in the morning to open letters and presents from our families together, and then we all got dressed and went down to do our laundry. (Thursdays are usually P-days, but Christmas has a special schedule here and there's no time for emails and laundry tomorrow.) Pretty fun stuff. 

We're also singing in a special Christmas devotional tonight for all of the MTC's around the world! Sister Nally, the MTC president's wife, asked our district and zone if we would sing "Angels We Have Heard on High" together on stage for the broadcast. Should be interesting since I usually never sing outside the shower at home, but I guess a mission's good to make you try new things.

It's a little bit hard at times to be away from friends and family at such an important time of year, but we all know that we're doing the right thing here and that we're receiving tremendous blessings for being here! It's actually a miracle how fast we're learning the Hungarian language. There's no way we could learn it this fast in any other setting--we are all certain that it's only because we're helping to do the Lord's work.

Know that I love you all and think about you often! I hope you have a very boldog karacsonyt (happy Christmas) and that you remember that "szeretlek titeket!" (I love you all). Looking forward to next week! Have fun!

Provo, Utah mountains 

Kinnon and Elder Dietrich

Kinnon and Elder Nordberg

Snowy streets of Provo

Elder Priest and his companion, Elder Winegar 

Elder Priest and his MTC class

Kinnon doing laundry with his district 

Christmas lights in the Elders' room

Elder Priest and Elder Dietrich sporting their new ties

Decorated MTC classroom

Rain outside the MTC room, featuring Hungarian flags

Friday, December 19, 2014

December 18, 2014


So this week in the MTC was an experience. It was definitely somethin'. Haha everyone told me at home that my time on a mission would humble me, and I still don't know that I'm all the way there yet, but MAN this stuff is hard at times. I think I've learned this week that patience, balance, and faith are all so important. That's why the Savior is the ultimate understander--he knows exactly the thoughts and intentions of our hearts, even when everyone else around us doesn't. It's super helpful to think about that, since we can know that someday, everything will be okay. Somehow, somewhere, someday, everything will be okay.

I was super stoked this week to see that Grandma and Grandpa Garrett had mailed me a postcard from Wenatchee! Just seeing the stamp that said "Washington" on it made me so excited. So that was really cool! By the way, thanks for the tie bars Dad!

I sent a letter envelope home last week with some stuff in it for Nathan, Zach, and Dad and with a letter for everyone at home, but I guess it hasn't gotten there yet? Not sure why... Hope it gets there because I actually sent a pretty cool surprise hahaha. So let me know if you get it sometime soon!

The cafeteria here is about the worst thing in the world lol. It's a good thing the church is true, because otherwise I don't think any of us would stick around. Sometimes the bagels have mold on them, the hard-boiled eggs are raw, and the meals that are prepared for us are just flat-out gross. Even the salads aren't safe--the chicken is half-raw and cold and wet and gross. We kind of survive of cereal and milk from the BYU creamery hahaha. But it's okay because on P-days and Tuesdays we get vacuum packed foods that are actually way better than the "fresh" stuff! So that's some good news.

Christmas is just around the corner, and we're all so excited here. The rumor is that Elder Nelson is coming to visit us on Christmas Day, and we're all pretty excited about that. The devotionals here are some of the best things ever for us, since it's so great to hear English spoken to us, and it's nice to take a break from the Hungarian ice-bucket of death. (A good story for another time). We're planning a zone volleyball game for Christmas day though, and we're gonna open any Christmas presents that we have all together! Even for the elders and sisters that don't have any, we write nice little notes and put them in these fancy little paper stockings that Sister Layton made for us with our names on them and cool designs that represent our homes. Mine has cactuses and suns on it, which is about the closest I'll get to a nice Arizona day here in Provo lol.

We had the awesome opportunity as a district to host the new arrivals to the MTC this week! That was by far my favorite experience of being a missionary so far. We got to take a four or five hour break from studies to welcome in 700 new arrivals to the MTC! It was really kind of cool since that meant that the population of the MTC tripled in one day. Basically, we went and stood out on the front drive of the MTC and helped the new missionaries unload their suitcases and say goodbye to their crying family members. You'd think that sounds really hard for someone to do who's really missing their family, but it actually helped a lot because you get to help them realize that everything's going to be okay and we'll do our best to take care of them! There were lots of sobbing moms and sisters, but generally the dads and brothers were pretty tough. I hosted a dozen or so missionaries and took them around to get their supplies and then led them to their dorm and classrooms, and not one of them was going to the same mission as another! Mozambik, Georgia, South Dakota, Mexico, Los Angeles, GILBERT, Washington state, and MESA were just a few of the ones that I remember! Pretty cool to be able to make friends with some of the brand new kids. It's weird that I've already been here longer than most of them will stay in the MTC, but it was still a fun experience to get to know them and answer any questions that they had. We felt like grown-ups since we could tell all the scared newbies that we've already been here for four weeks now. That was probably the most Christlike I've felt on my mission so far, so I was so glad that we got that chance to help others.

The weather here is bipolar and cold and snowy and warm and sunny all at the same time, so that's different, but it's beginning to look more like the Christmas that you hear about from relatives who live in freezing snowy places.

I've gotta go, since there's not much time left, but remember that I love you all and hope you have a great week! Kelemes Karacsonyt!

Friday, December 12, 2014

December 11, 2014

Sup, everyone!

So another week's gone by in the MTC already! It feels like I was just barely sitting here and writing an email home, and that was seven whole days ago! The time is sooo weird here--every day feels like ten lifetimes, and the weeks are blinks of an eye. Hope everything's going well down in 'Zona!

We've actually been really lucky to have nice-ish weather here this week. I still think it's pretty cold, but everyone tells me I should be super grateful because it's so warm. We haven't had any snow yet, so that's good news! But it's still freezing every morning haha.

We're doing lots of learning every day here! It feels kind of discouraging at times to think about how much we know with the language, but then we remember that we're actually learning a super hard language and that it's okay! It's kind of fun to be able to say the few phrases and words that we know in Hungarian. We practice all the time--at the soccer field during gym, during lunch, in the hallways... In fact, we've even adopted some wacky Hungarian phrases into our English (and Spanish) vocabulary! "Nem" in Hungarian means "no," so we've started saying things like "awh, nem!" anytime something goes wrong. ...People must think we're dyslexic with mental issues and saying "awh, man!" incorrectly hahaha. And "igen!" That means "yes" in Hungarian, so I'll be saying hi to the Spanish elders in the hallways and then I'll throw in an "igen" instead of "si" and it makes me kind of sad/happy/excited because it means that I'm learning Hungarian! Pretty cool stuff. :)

So I totally drop-kicked the ladder in our dorm last night after showering. I'm pretty sure I hurt it, but I didn't come out of the fight totally unharmed, either. My pinky toe started bleeding all over the place, and I think they might have to amputate. It's rough here. ;) No but it really did start bleeding all over the dorm lol.

My companion's been an awesome help this week! He knows a TON about everything and anything that you could possibly think of. We'll be talking about something, and he'll just totally stop the conversation and explain why what we're saying is technically incorrect somehow. Might seem kind of annoying, but it's actually kind of cool because he teaches us random stuff, like: "Well, actually, Elder Priest, a narwhal's horn is a tooth..." and weird stuff like that hahaha. Actually, we were at the bookstore yesterday and he really needed to buy something I guess, but he had forgotten his wallet all the way across campus. At first, I was like, "awh, nem!" because it was getting late and we were supposed to be back to the dorms soon, but then I remembered that Grandma Likes had mailed me a letter and some money to use here! I pulled out her letter and the money that she had sent and gave it to Elder Winegar to use for his supplies. It's nice that the Lord has ways of helping you, even if we don't realize that until we're in the moment! Grandma's letter and gift was just a little thing, but it ended up making a big difference for my friend when he needed help!

Elder Martineau is such an awesome guy. He's like our big brother, and he kind of picks on us from time to time because he's bigger and stronger than we are. But we really love him because, even though he's a big tough guy, he's still super nice and he'd do anything to help us! And he's hilarious. One of his girlfriends (plural) from home mailed him a breakfast burrito today hahaha. He just opened his package, calmly took out the burrito, and went downstairs to the microwave like it's a normal thing and everyone should be used to getting breakfast wraps in their mailboxes lol.

Elder Winkel is a softie. He's got his girlfriend, Lizzie, at home that he talks about all the time, and the sisters in our district love to hear about it. He's honestly kind of worried about her at times, but we just tell him that everything will work out in some way or another, and that he's probably fine. His family sent him some Krispy Kreme donuts the other day, and we thought it'd be nice to share it with some new elders who just flew in from Japan. They were so scared and slammed the door on us! I guess they don't trust us American folk yet. After some coaxing, we got them to take the donuts and they went NUTSO. I guess Japan doesn't have sugary foods like that, I dunno haha...

Elder Deitrich is getting so good at his English! He learns new words every day, and the best thing that he does is ask when he doesn't understand something. He wrote his girlfriend back in Germany and asked for some of the lyrics to Imagine Dragons songs, and now I'm teaching him how to sing all of their best tunes. I taught him how to beatbox, and we just jam out all the time hahaha. He says he wants to come visit Mesa someday after the mission's over! In return, he's also invited me to visit all the cool places in Germany. Good trade, right?

We had an awesome Christmas devotional on Sunday night this week! We watched some really cool video clips about how we can be more Christlike during the Christmas season, and we got a huge surprise when they had Vocal Point come to visit! Then, on Tuesday, we had another devotional focused on feeling the season even in a place as different as this, and the MTC presidency invited some little girl to come sing (I don't remember her name, but I think she was twelve.) She had one of the best voices I've ever heard! All 2100 of us missionaries were pretty much crying by the time she was done singing her songs for us, because she was so sincere and humble yet so talented at sharing music with us. It was one of the best Christmas presents so far.

If you haven't seen it yet, look up the video clip on YouTube called "#ShareTheGift." It's an incredibly done short movie that's not more than 5 minutes long, but it definitely teaches how to share the true meaning of Christmas more! It's a great time to give and get gifts, but it's also important that Heavenly Father gave us the best gift of all: the Savior. The best part is that he knows exactly what we're going through! Even in the hard times and sad times, he's right there beside us for every step of the journey.

Time is short here to email, so I'll have to bring this email to a close! Just remember that I love you all and wish you a very merry Christmas! It's really the best time of the year! Hope to hear from you all soon, send pictures and letters! Sok szeret! Keremes karacsonyt!

Priest Elder

Kinnon's district on P-Day

Elder Priest and his companion, Elder Winegar

"Merry Christmas" in Hungarian 

The Elders' Christmas decorations from family

Thursday, December 4, 2014

December 4, 2014

Hey, everyone!

Hope everything's going okay back in 'Zona. This week has been another busy and interesting one here in the MTC in Provo.

We've been learning like crazy here! Even though we all feel super inadequate with the language, we keep getting reminded that just 2 weeks ago, we didn't know a single word of Hungarian. Isn't that insane?! It's already been 2 weeks in the mission! Only 102 left to go!

The days are very long here, but the weeks go by fast. P-day is a good way to gauge time, because it comes once a week on Thursdays and is kind of like the checkpoint for us. It's been really cool this week to get to experience Thanksgiving as they can only do it here in the MTC! Instead of decorating the Christmas tree or watching the Macy's Day parade like we probably would at home, we spent the day doing service projects and helping other people. (After the email I sent last week on Thursday, we went and made soup mixes for 400,000 meals. Pretty cool stuff haha.)

The elders and sisters are actually starting to go kind of insane lol. I guess that kind of happens when we're in the MTC for 10 weeks. We smile and laugh at some of the dumbest, most random things, and I'm not even ashamed to say that.

Elder Deitrich is the funniest guy ever. He doesn't try to be, but he just says English words kind of amusingly in his German accent and it makes it really hilarious when he says things wrong. Earlier this week, we were telling him how good his English was getting, and he said, "No! Don't tell me my English is good. It hasn't yet! I die you and I eat you." Yeah, we really didn't know what that meant, but we just kinda thought it was probably supposed to be a nice thing to say haha. He and I sing "Mirrors" by Justin Timberlake in the morning, because apparently they listen to American music in Europe and that's the only song he knows the words to haha. He's teaching me how to model, and how to pose well for pictures. He and I pump iron together in the weight room during gym time.

Elder Winegar and I are doing pretty good, too! I learn more about him, and I realize more and more how different we are. But I figure that's probably a good thing! Our differences end up helping us in lessons because we can back each other up in ways that neither one of us could do on our own. He's incredibly smart and he loves to do tae-kwon-do during gym time. We've been learning lots of Hungarian words together and we play little trivia games all throughout the day to try and remember our new phrases better.

The food gets worse and worse here, not gonna lie. That's something to not look forward to sometimes hahaha. On p-day, we have sack-breakfasts and lunches, and today it was a vacuum-packed hoagie sandwich made a few days ago... Weird stuff. Guess they're trying to get our stomachs used to some crazy foods. 

I bought a couple new ties and a belt in the bookstore/MTC credit store today! I'm already getting tired of the same 6 ties over and over, so I think my new ones will help the days feel not so repetetive haha. I just sent my brown suit and grey suit off to be dry cleaned, too! Excited to have clean suits again. (Weird how I was so stoked to have clean suits and do my laundry today hahaha, the little stuff really counts. In fact, I always volunteer to vacuum our dorm and stuff because I miss helping mom do that stuff at home.)

Time is short, and I don't have very long to keep emailing for today! Just remember that everything will be okay in the end, even if we really don't know how that's going to happen in the moment. It's hard to see everyone around us like God sees them, but that's why we're here! It's important to remember that Heavenly Father loves all of us and wants us to be happy. That's why I'm out here learning Hungarian! Just to help other people. Love you lots and hope to hear from you soon! Remember to write! Isten szeret titeket es szeretem titeket!

Priest Elder

Thursday, November 27, 2014

November 27, 2014

Hi, everyone!

I guess I made it to Provo! This place is soo cold that it's unbelievable. I'm really sorry that I always teased Mom about her being cold in Arizona, because now everyone's doing it to me haha. I wear my suit jacket and outer coat everywhere I go, and sometimes I even wear a beanie and some gloves because of how cold it is. I'm DEFINITELY missing Arizona's nice sunny weather.

But it's kind of cool that it's already snowed a couple of times since I've been here! Nothing crazy so far, just enough to stick around for a day or so. I'm told that Hungary will be equally as cold but two or three times as humid, so that should be an adventure to get through.

The other elders in my district are really something! Elder Martineau is from St. George, Utah, and he's a really funny guy. He always makes us laugh, and he has lots of insane stories about his hometown. His companion, Elder Nordberg, is from Montana, and he's so awesome! He's only been a member of the church for a year now, but he's already brave enough to serve a mission and help other people. He's a really good example to us all. Elder Winkle is from Manti, Utah. He's always smiling and laughing at some joke or another, though, so it's kind of nice to have someone to make us feel comfortable whenever we get stressed out about learning. His companion, Elder Deitrich, is one of my favorite people that I've met so far since I've left home. He's from a town in Germany near Frankfurt, but I can't remember for the life of me how you say or spell its name. He's so sincere, though, because he doesn't speak English very well, and he's nice enough to put up with our crazy American slang all day long. We've taught him words like "cool beans," "do you even lift, bro," and "sup, homeslice." He always takes a banana from the cafeteria and sticks it in his coat pocket for later hahaha. Then he pretends to shoot us with the banana and says it's his "charity gun" and that he's giving us all lots of "charity." That's his favorite English word lol. 

And then there's my companion, Elder Winegar! I've gotta say, we really couldn't be more different. But in a way, that's a very good thing because we balance each other out I suppose! I say what's on my mind to people and he's much more reserved. We're learning to get along with each other as the days go by. He's from California, and he's really loving the cold weather here in Provo. 

The MTC is pretty incredible. Even from a non-missionary perspective, it's kind of impressive how many other elders and sisters are here getting ready for their assignments. When we arrived on Wednesday, they told us that there were 700 missionaries to enter the MTC with us! Crazy!

So far this week, we've been to a couple of different devotionals and heard the guy who wrote "Preach My Gospel" speak, and Elder Oaks came on Tuesday night! We sat really close to the stage, and he actually waved and winked over at our class a couple of times, which was pretty neat. Someone leading the music of the fireside that night was directing the hymn "Onward, Christian Soldiers" kind of slow-ish, and he got up to the microphone and basically said, "Our army's in bad shape if we can't sing this song with a little bit more energy and spirit!" It was really funny hahaha.

From day one, they've tried to teach us as much Hungarian as they could! I can count on one hand the number of English words I've heard from our teachers so far, but they're really doing their best to help us learn. It is definitely the most frustrating thing I've ever experienced to try to speak Hungarian. English and Spanish were both really easy languages, but Hungarian is nothing but crazy rules and conjugations for every sentence you can think of! It sounds kind of cool to say the few words we know to each other, though. We're practicing eight or nine hours out of the day, so it's only a matter of time before the Lord helps us learn the language. The Hungarian group that was here learning before us had an unusual overlap with our arrival date, so they were able to teach us a lot about their experience in the MTC and what they've learned about the language! They're all very nice and extremely helpful. They just shipped out to Europe this past Monday, and we really miss their advice and guidance.

We had a branch meeting on Thursday night last week and the branch president asked me if I'd serve as our District Leader! That was certainly unexpected and a bit surprising since I really don't quite know how this place works just yet. But, I'm just relying on the good examples of everyone else here who knows what they're doing. It's a humbling learning process, for sure.

It might sound kind of selfish, but gym time is probably my favorite time of day! We get to go to the nice, warm gym and play basketball, volleyball, or a couple of other indoor sports. There's also weight machines and a small (160 m) track upstairs. Everyone else in my district has been gaining weight so far, but I'm still the same as when I came in because I eat healthy foods and work out hard! In fact, my mile PR from home was like a 5:13 or something, and I ran a 4:51 on the track yesterday. The record for the mile here at the MTC is 4:31, and that's wayyy fast, but it would be the coolest thing in the world to put "Elder Priest" up on the record board hahaha. Tell Coach Selby I've been training!

It's kind of hard being in the MTC, because everyone here does the best they can to make you feel at home, but it's just not the same as being in your own house with your own family. It's really easy to miss people when you start to think about them, but we've been so busy with learning and practicing that the Lord's helped to comfort us!

Today's my first p-day in the MTC, and it's kind of cool because it's also Thanksgiving! There's lots to be grateful for here on a mission, but it's definitely different from how the holiday is at home. Instead of watching the Macy's Day Parade and sleeping in a little bit or running the Turkey Trot, we woke up at 5:00 a.m. to shower and get dressed in casual P-day clothes and do our laundry. (Today's kind of an unusual day since we have our schedule planned out ahead of us... not like a normal P-day.) When we went to the MTC laundromat, I washed all my white clothes together and that was fine. Me and one of the other elders from our district washed some darks together since he only had four or five items. Turns out, we totally picked a broken machine! It was kind of surprising when, after waiting for an hour, we went back to check on our laundry and it was sitting in a pool of black, murky water. Gross! We re-washed our clothes in another machine and waited for that to finish, then put those clothes into one of the double-decker dryers. Wouldn't ya know it--we pressed the wrong button and started the top dryer, not the bottom one! Basically, laundry took from 5:00 in the morning until almost9:00 because we were waiting for machines and re-washing/redrying our clothes. We ended up missing Thanksgiving breakfast because we were the only ones sitting in the laundromat cleaning our clothes haha. In fact, we were almost late to an apostle's devotional because we had to run our damp-clothes back to the dorms! But all was well in the end when we made it back to the assembly to hear David A. Bednar speak to us. That was WAY cool. He passed out little cell phones all over the audience and had us text in questions for him to answer as he spoke to us. Kind of weird since my texting skills are already a bit rusty! The choir sang an amazing rendition of "Come Thou Fount" and it was incredible. We went back to lunch afterwords and had our little Thanksgiving "dinner" at noon or so. Mom--I never told you how good of a cook you were. Haha the food here's okay, but I've got to be very selective in choosing something to eat here. Some stuff is ehh and some stuff is N A S T Y. But that's okay, because it's the thought that counts! Now I'm just sitting here emailing you before we get ready to go to a humanitarian service project.

I'll keep you all posted in the coming weeks as we continue to learn from our teachers and trainers here at the MTC! I know the Lord blesses us for our efforts and that, like it says in Matthew, we can truly be a light to the world when we serve! Tell everyone back at home that I love and miss them! I really do think about everyone in Arizona a lot. Szeretem titeket!

Minden jo,
Elder Kinnon M. Priest

Friday, November 21, 2014

Here is map of Europe and the placement of Hungary.

Leaving for the MTC!

Elder Priest left for the MTC on November 19, 2014. It was a bittersweet morning for all of us. He will spend the next few months in Provo learning to teach in Hungarian. Here are some pictures from our goodbyes at the airport. Elder Priest is going to make an amazing missionary!