Sunday, December 27, 2015

December 26, 2015


Real fast e-mail for today, because the coolest stories are told in the pictures from this week.

Basically, Christmas was really good and we had a great opportunity to visit and spend time with a lot of great people here in Buda! Christmas Eve, we visited Klára in Békásmegyer, then had the adventure walking home since the transportation stopped. After we got home, carried the Christmas tree from our apartment to the Szabadkai's house, where we decorated it, ate dinner, played some fun games with President Szabadkai, Sister Szabadkai, their two daughters and one of their sons, and the secretary Elders--one of the highlights of the week! Then, on Christmas Day, the Simkins had us over to their apartment for Christmas breakfast. We drove for a ways into the mountains west of Buda and went carolling with the Klinger family. After carolling and eating Christmas Day lunch at their house, we drove for a while more in the opposite direction to go to the Demeter family's house, where we had a super good Christmas dinner and got to skype home! :)

It was really good seeing everybody on Skype yesterday! I wish it coulda been a little bit longer, but it was fun to get to talk to everyone and see how grown up you're all becoming! Love you all lots and can't wait to talk to you again on Mother's Day! :)

Giant log Christmas tree in Deák Ferenc Square in Pest! 
Went there with the Simkins, the office couple, to go to lunch today.

Christmas shopping with Elder Watson!

Selfie with some Nazarenes we met from Nazareth

Bought my first ever real, live Christmas tree and
decorated it with President Szabadkai and his family on Christmas Eve.

Eating the traditional Hungarian fish soup on Christmas Eve!

Christmas caroling and Christmas Day lunch with the Klinger family!

Foggy weather and construction all over Budapest this week...

Visiting the Christmas village outside the big Basillica in Budapest

Visiting Klára on Christmas Eve

Pictures from walking home on Christmas Eve... the subways 
and all public transportation shut down, so we walked for
a while to get home. This is one of the back streets of downtown Buda.

Climbed lots of stairs!

Stumbled upon Buda castle...

Through a courtyard...

And into Mátyás's Church to take a look at the Christmas Eve mass.

Then left the church to keep walking home.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

December 19, 2015


This week was so crazy busy. Monday through Friday, we've just had non-stop Christmas zone conferences! It was really fun, because we got to see all of the missionaries who are in Hungary, and we had a great time making their Christmas fun with all kinds of good programs.

President and Sister Szabadkai have been preparing for these things for at least a few months now, and they did a lot to make sure that everything worked out great. Each day of conference was a different zone, since there's five in Hungary, and each day of conference started at 10. President Szabadkai gave a few remarks, after which Sister Szabadkai had us present the ornaments that we'd made by hand (she asked us to hand-make some kind of ornament to decorate a mission Christmas tree here in Hajnóczy). I carved a Christmas tree out of a bar of soap, and it actually turned out pretty good, until it slipped out of my hands on the way to conference in the morning, and it broke off some of the branches. Anyways, we gave a training about Christmas planning and how to make the holiday special, and then the zone leaders from each zone had a chance to talk to us. Lunch was made by Sister Szabadkai, and it was a traditional Hungarian dish of shredded pickled cabbage with meat. I think she said that she made about 40 kilograms of that stuff over the course of the week. It was really good, it just kind of became a lot because we had it five days in a row and all. I think by Friday, putting lemon juice on it would have made it sweeter. It was nice of her to cook for us, though.

After lunch, the senior couples told us about some of their favorite Christmas traditions, and we were upstairs in the office in the meantime getting dressed for the next activity. We'd rehearsed a Christmas nativity play in Hungarian that the Szabadkai's had supplied with script, songs, costumes, and everything, and that was up next on the list of things for the day. After that performance was over, the missionaries had a white elephant together while we changed out of our shepherd's clothes and into Santa Clause and elves outfits. We put together a little skit full of funny lines and gifts to give all the missionaries who were there, and they all got a chance to take a picture with Santa. It was pretty fun!

The big surprise of the conference, though, was that President Szabadkai gave permission for all the missionaries to go to the movie theaters and see a new animated film called "A Kis Herceg," "The Little Prince" in English. He loves the book that the movie's based off of, and he's read it to all of his kids lots of times when they were growing up, so he decided to let everyone go and see the movie in theaters since it just came out. It was pretty good! I'm excited to read the book someday.

Now, we're just getting ready for next week! It'll be nice to get to do normal missionary things again next week, since we've pretty much just been busy with zone conference things for the past week, and transfers the week before that. And Christmas is almost here! I'm excited to skype with you guys on the 25th. :)

I think that's all the news for this week! Hope everyone has a merry Christmas and that everything's great back at home. Love you!

Got our Santa and Elf costumes for the Christmas zone
conferences this week! There was a special part in the zone
conference program where we came out and let all the
missionaries get a present from Santa Claus.

The Buda ward put on their Christmas concert last Saturday night...
 Turnout was MASSIVE. In fact, there were so many people that the
 chapel, hallways and entry way of the first floor, stairway, and
 second floor was entirely full, as was the basement and part of the third
floor. Standing room only through the whole thing, and some places had
 less than that. The front door is kind of noisy, and lots of people
 kept coming in after the performance had started, so I ended up
standing by the door making sure that the door opened
and closed quietly as people entered.

Taking random pictures, because everyone was tall
and I couldn't see the concert. It sounded real good, though!

Took a break from door duty to go play "Mária, Tudod-e?"
(Mary, Did You Know?) for Timi, a member here in Buda. It was
 pretty neat because she actually translated the lyrics from English
 to Hungarian herself, so she really put a lot of time and effort
 into the whole thing. Everyone loved the performance,
 and it ended up sounding really good!

Monday, December 14, 2015

December 12, 2015


This week was a really busy one, so let's see if I can get everything fit into one quick email.

Everything started off on Monday with our meeting with President Szabadkai to discuss the transfer board. That day was busy, just because we had to prepare the lists of phone calls to be made by President and by us to all of the missionaries who were being transferred somewhere.

Tuesday morning at 8 o'clock, we started calling everyone and letting them know where their new cities were and who their new companions were going to be. It was nice being on the other side of everything and knowing how everything is going to play out for transfers. President Szabadkai and his wife went to the airport to pick up the new senior couple and bring them back to the mission office. Then, at about 11:30, we headed to the Ferihegy Airport to pick up the new missionaries who were arriving. They had rented two different shuttle buses to bring them and their luggage back to Buda, so all we had to do was meet them at the airport, pay the driver, and meet them back at Hajnóczy. After we all got back, the new missionaries had interviews with President Szabadkai, and some of the other missionaries from Buda and Érd in the meantime helped us out by taking the other missionaries to Déli train station to get their photos taken for their Hungarian residency permits. After interviews and photos were all taken care of, we had a traditional Hungarian dinner in the Szabadkai's house, walked to the Buda Castle with the greenies, showed them the view of the city, and escorted them back to their hotel for the night.

Wednesday morning, we picked up the greenies from the hospital and took them back to Hajnóczy, where we were also preparing a new missionary orientation meeting for them and their trainers, who were also arriving at that same time from all around the country. After the training was over, we had office work for the rest of the day, until late afternoon when all the departing missionaries who left on Thursdayhad their final interviews with President Szabadkai. Then, we had dinner with them in the Szabadkai's house, and drove with them to Gellért Hegy, where they looked one last time at the Budapest city lights before escorting them to their hotel and checking them in for the night.

Thursday morning, we were told that we needed to take Elder Jensen, a senior missionary here in Hungary, to the hospital to have a surgery performed on his hand. Right after that, we came back to the office to pick up Elder Anderson, one of the other missionaries going home, and take him to the airport, where he was meeting his family who had flown to Hungary to take him home after traveling the country for a week. We drove back to the hospital to check on Elder Jensen, who hadn't started his surgery yet. Then, we drove back to the office to take care of a lot of business there. We then drove back to the hospital (post-surgery) to see Elder Jensen, and were told to come back in a few hours. We went for lunch because we were starving, and then Elder Jensen called and told us that they'd already decided to release him. We rushed back to the hospital and then took him to the Keleti train station, where his train was waiting for him after a half-hour drive through rush-hour traffic. We then came home to prepare for MLC the next day.

Friday morning, we were also in the office preparing for everything, but it turned out that MLC was postponed because of lots of different reasons, so we stopped planning for that and took care of other planning sessions, got ready for zone conferences (every day next week) and lots of other stuff.

Then today was Mátyás's baptism! Everything went really well, and we were really excited that he decided to be baptized. The whole Szabadkai family and half the ward was there, which was super cool. Now, we're sitting here emailing and getting ready for the ward's Christmas concert that it's putting on tonight... we've passed out tons of invitations for it on the street, so we'll see how the turnout looks. Hopefully it's not too big, because I'm accompanying some of the performances and I don't want to be too nervous. ;P

I think that's all the major news! Gotta go soon, no time today! Love you all and hope you have a good week! :)

Mátyás' baptism

At Mátyás' baptism! With the Szabadkai family.

Picking up the new missionaries at the airport, looking at flight information.

New missionaries at the airport!


And post!

Saturday, December 5, 2015

December 5, 2015


Short email for today, because it's a crazy busy day and we have lots to get done. Alexandra, one of the awesome people here in Buda, is getting baptised today! The secretaries have been helping to get her ready for baptism for a long time, and she's super excited to make that big step. Next week's also the transfer, and we've got a lot of preparations to finish with President Szabadkai before everything's ready to go. This week, he had interviews with all the missionaries throughout the country, so he's been really busy with traveling to and from all corners of Magyarország.

The major items of news for this week is that we went on splits with the Buda elders to a place called Solymár, a little village about a half-hour drive from downtown Budapest. President Szabadkai really wants us to go to new places that people haven't seen the missionaries before, so we've been spending a lot of time and effort to go outside the places that are close to home and to travel a bit farther to new areas that haven't ever been touched. We figured Solymár would be a good place, and it turned out to be interesting. Not a lot of people really wanted to talk to us, but there were a few people who told us what they knew about our church. The noteworthy comments that they made:

"Yeah, so you guys don't use electricity, do you?"

"How many wives do you have at home?"

"Your church is the one that doesn't celebrate Christmas, right?"

"You're not allowed to drive cars."

"Salt Lake City, Utah."

"You can't eat pork or meat from pigs, can you?"

"Salt Lake City, Utah."

"Joseph Smith discovered the internet."

"Joseph Smith was an alien."

"Salt Lake City, Utah."

"Why don't you wear comfortable clothes?"

"I already have a bible."

Plain old, "Utah."

Another "Utah."

And one more "Salt Lake City, Utah."

So the moral of the story is that people don't know a lot about us. They were pretty shocked when we told them that we're just 19 year old boys who aren't always from Utah, love Christmas, like to drive cars, aren't married, thinks pork is delicious, doesn't actually like to wear white shirts and ties at all hours of the day, read more than just the Bible, and are pretty much normal people. Hungarians are funny.

The rest of our week's been busy with planning for the transfer and getting ready for Mátyás' baptism next week. The Buda ward is putting on a Christmas concert, and they've asked me to accompany some people for their performances, so I've been practicing for that this week. There's also a few musical numbers for the baptisms today and next week that we've been preparing, so we've been kept on or toes with lots to do.

We're almost ready for Christmas! The zone Christmas conferences are going to be way cool.

Gotta run because we've got stuff to do, but I hope everyone has a good week! Love you all!

Spreading the word about the
#szabadítószületett initiative! Fedezd fel, hogy miért!

Elder Watson and I out tracting in a little village 
called Hűvösvölgy, just outside of Budapest

Out tracting in Hűvösvölgy! Not a lot of people wanted
to talk to us, but there were a few really nice people in the mix!

Solymár tracting! ...ended up losing my
 nametag somewhere out on top of that hill

Sunday, November 29, 2015

November 28, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving!

It's a little bit hard to believe that Thanksgiving in the MTC was already more than a year ago. I can say for sure, though, that it's much, much better in the real world. ;)

Stake Conference was last week on Sunday, and it was really good! Got to see a lot of my friends from Érd and Kispest who also came into the city for the conference, and all the talks were great. Two seventies came, which was pretty unusual, I guess, but it was a good day!

The senior couples here in Budapest, the Simkins and the Petersons, were super nice and put on a Thanksgiving dinner for all the missionaries who live in Buda, including the Szabadkai family. It turned out pretty well, but I wasn't able to eat nearly as much as I probably used to be able to at home, just because our appetites aren't nearly as big as the American-sized plates sometimes! It was good to be able to spend a little bit of time with the senior couples and share a kind of family Thanksgiving with the other missionaries here in the district.

Right after the Thanksgiving dinner, we taught our English class that we hold here on Hájnoczy Utca 14, and then we headed out to drive to Veszprém that night to go on splits with the elders there. It turned out to be a great splits, and I know I learned a lot from being with Elder Heaps for a day! He's still relatively new here in the country, but he's doing a great job with everything and it was great to have him show me the ropes around Veszprém as we went streeting around the castle and had a few programs afterwords.

On the way back from splits in Veszprém, we stopped for gas in a scenic little town on the shore of the Lake Balaton, the biggest lake in Hungary by far and one of the biggest lakes in all of southeastern Europe. Since it gets pretty busy during the summertime, missionaries aren't supposed to be there from April to October. We were lucky enough to see it in the time right before winter! A big puddle, basically, with lots of castles and churches and villages all around its sides. Really cool place.

We also got in all of our cards for the Christmas initiative that's coming out tomorrow! We ordered 50,000 fliers from a print shop here in town, and the sisters here in Buda picked them up yesterday and now we're getting ready to distribute them to everyone around the country. Take a look at the website if you have a second, it's awesome!

Then, today for p-day, Elder Watson and I decided to go take a field trip just outside of the busy part of Budapest to visit a place called the Pálvölgyi Barlang, a super long and complicated system of caves that runs throughout the hills in Buda. It was a fun activity to help us relax a little bit before starting our next week, and the weather inside the cave was much warmer than the chilly air outside. (It started to snow today--ahhh!!)

We're heading to a baptism in just a little bit here--remember Kati who I taught when I was in Kispest with Elder Dalton? Her son's flying in from England to baptize her tonight, so we're going to cross the river and be there for her special day!

Mátyás's baptism is also coming up soon on December 12! We're getting ready his program and making sure that everything's in order for that Saturday. We're all excited about that. :)

I think that's all the major news for today! Have a great week and we'll talk some more next time. :) Love you!

Went on an adventure for p-day today... Took a bus to just
outside of Budapest and went to a cool cave called "Pálvölgy Barlang."
Super pretty place and a good chance to see something
besides tall buildings and concrete.

Splits with the elders in a little town called Vesprém this week.
We were walking around talking with people in the city's
 castle on the hill in the center of the village. Beautiful place.

Splits with Elder Heaps went really well! He's been in Hungary
for almost six months now, and he already speaks
 like a champ. Had a fun time with him!

On the way back to Budapest, stopped for gas next to
 the Lake Balaton, one of the biggest lakes in southeastern
 Europe and home to some of the most scenic places in Hungary!
It was a little bit more gray because it was a cloudy, foggy
day, but you still get the idea of how impressive it is.

Took a few pictures next to the beach before we left back
 for Budapest. Castles and churches all around the shore of the lake.

Tried to take some jumping pictures, with varied success...

Your friendly neighborhood Spiderman Elder

Had to have a running picture. ;)

Selfie on the beach!

More thin hallways through the caves

Had to climb a 7 meter long ladder at one point
 to get up to the next part of the walk

Little underground river running through a room in the cave

Selfie from the barlang!