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