Tuesday, February 24, 2015

February 23, 2015

Another fast week! I feel like I keep saying that, but it really is true. These weeks are just flyin' by. I can't believe this past week was already 3 months out! At the same time, it feels like forever and a day has gone by since I've seen everyone or been at home. Kind of a weird thing to think about the time in that way.

Nyiregyhaza's had the nicest weather the past week! Everyone gets mad when I just wear a suit coat and white shirt, because they think I'm going to catch a cold and die of hypothermia, but in reality the weather is super nice. It's been kind of cloudy, and it's rained a little bit the past couple of days, but we've already had some nice spring weather and it's warmer than usual here.

This week, we had the awesome chance to get to meet with one of our branch members who lives on a little farm in Nyiregyhaza! He showed us his chickens and some of the other animals that he has. My personal favorite was definitely the German boxer, though. He was so excited to have a new friend, and he just didn't want us to leave afterwards!

English class here is really picking up--we had about 35 or so people in class this week! That's more than even come to church!! Really cool opportunity to serve, since it's one of the best ways to communicate with the people and help them learn a useful skill.

Hope everyone is doing well at home! I think about everyone in Arizona often, but even though I miss people and certain things about home, it's hard to get down on yourself when you're living in such a pretty place with an adventure every day! Look forward to hearing how yáll are doing again next week! Szeretlek, mindekit!

Member's dog in Nyiregygaza, made fast
friends! Super nice German boxer

We got to hold the chickens


"Run, today."

At a Hungarian "American" wings
place for lunch on P-day

Thursday, February 19, 2015

February 17, 2015

So hey!

Another week's gone by now.... this is insane how fast the time is here. One month in Hungary is coming up super soon!!

Unfortunately, there never seems to be time here to write letters or emails, so this will probably be another short one. But that's okay! Bottom line is, everything's still pretty great here and we're loving life, and we're hoping all of ya'll are doing the same. :)

So we met a Nazi this week. Yep, he was great. He approached us in English and said that Hitler was his father, he loved him very much, and he would always love his home in West Germany more than he would love Hungary (which he called a "little _______[insert word] country". Then he heiled at us and walked away. Yuppppp Europe.

Last night, there were rallies in our city of the socialist party members in Hungary. Because we are so close to the Ukrainian border (only 20km or so), there's a lot of support for bringing Soviets back. The rallies were peaceful, but we still were told to keep our distance from them so that nothing would happen. Europe.

A drunk man from Israel was running around the square in Nyiregyhaza and asked us where he could find Jesus, so we told him that he was always there with him and invited him to church. He didn't end up coming, but we just assumed it was because he couldn't remember to.

Ambulances at night here do laps of the city picking up overly-intoxicated people at all the city's bars and pubs. There's a lot of ambulances. That's kind of sad, but very European.

Went to use the bathroom on the train to Miskolc this week, and the train was an older Soviet-era train that was definitely a little bit scarier than some of the nicer trains closer to Budapest. The bathroom was a hole in the floor of the train in a closet. Very eastern-European.

Anyways, lots of great stories to tell here, but there's one in particular that would be good to share!

The language is pretty hard to learn here, and if you're not careful, it can be very easy to get down on yourself and think that you're not smart enough to do it. Every day is an experience of striving to understand a few words and phrases, and it can get discouraging at times.On the way to the train station in Budapest yesterday, we noticed a little boy and his mom practicing riding a two-wheeler in the middle of a square in Pest. The boy looked to be about four or five, and his mom looked very tired--like maybe she had had enough of practicing for one day and wanted to go home. The boy, however, was having the best time of his life, but he couldn't seem to stop crashing on his bike. He'd coast a few feet and just teeter over, faceplanting in the bricks of the sidewalk. What was so surprising to me, though, was how happy he was to fall off the bike! He was laughing more genuinely and smiling more intensely than anyone else I'd seen yet in Hungary, moments after face-planting to the ground. Then, he'd get back up, still laughing, and try again.

Sometimes, we feel like we fall down and can't get back on the bike because we're just not adequate or skilled enough for the task at hand. We might feel that our strengths are insufficient for the learning we have ahead. It gave me such courage yesterday, however, to see this little boy falling over and getting back up again (this must have happened six or seven times while we were watching). If he can have a good day and fall down on his bike, and not be afraid of getting back up, then we really can't complain or be sad when someone slams a door in our face or lets us know how terrible we are at speaking Hungarian. We should be happy! Just the fact that we have a "bike" to fall off of (the opportunity to learn Hungarian, the struggle that it is to work, balancing home, friends, and responsibilities, etc.) is a tremendous blessing. We just need to be more like this little kid that was so excited to fall off his bike and try again. If it hurts when the concrete hits you, smile back at the concrete and then stand back up again. It's like that quote from Rocky... something about "standing back up" or something like that? I dunno, I never saw the movie haha. Anywayssss, that's my little inspirational moment for the day!:)

Have another great week, look forward to writing more next week! Nagyon szeretlek titeket!

The Hungarians really want to have the Olympics here.

Beautiful Roman Catholic church in Nyiregyhaza where we
found a new investigator... the Catholic priest there.
He was way nice and gave us a tour around their church.

In front of the parliament building

This is a picture of that little kid in the story.

In front of the church!

Beautiful interior... the priest invited us back to come 
see mass if he would also come to one of our 
church meetings. He agreed! We saw a Catholic
wedding here on Valentine's Day evening.

In front of Heroes Square in Pest

The train station at Miskolc was way cool

This is the big Greek Catholic church in Nyiregyhaza

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

February 9, 2015

Hey, everyone!

Sorry I didn't end up being able to send an email last week! The email system locked me out of the library here in Nyiregyhaza because I guess I sent too many pictures and they thought someone was playing with my account hahaha. So lots to talk about and not much time to do it!

First of all, this place is way beautiful. I don't think the people here really even realize it, because they just live around it and they're used to it, but it's very rare to see a building newer than, like, 100 years old if you're anywhere close to the center part of town here. The city square is INCREDIBLE. It's a lot like you would imagine Europe to be... lots of brick and stone, lots of really old buildings from all different architectural eras, etc. It's way cool though because everything is different, and no two buildings are really the same.

Except for the buildings built by the Soviets. There's a lot of huge apartment buildings scattered around the city that are between 7 and 15 stories tall, all built by the Soviets when they were in charge here because that's what they did to try to gain the trust of the people, I guess. There's a lot of squareness to them, and they're really nothing super fancy. In fact, when you're inside, a lot of times it's very dark and there's very few windows except for when you get to the actual apartment. Until then, it's usually very dimly lit, with greenish paint on the walls and narrow corridors leading to the different homes within the buildings. The elevators creak and shake when you ride in them, and it's kind of scary but also an adventure. So far, we've only met nice people there, so that's good.

The people here are interesting. I've never loved anyone so quickly who's so openly rude to us before this. Not sure if it's a Hungarian thing, a European thing, or maybe just a ÿou're different from us" thing, but either way it happens. People don't really talk on the streets or in the square here unless you're their friend, which is weird because it means that there are a LOT of silent people. I didn't know this until I'd had a few awkward experiences with this, then my comp let me know why no one was responding to me. First off, to say "good morning," you say "jo regelt kivanok" but I was saying "kivanlak" which means I desire you apparently. So I had no idea, but I guess I was scaring all the old ladies away by telling them I desired them all day long, so there is that. This is a dangerous language.

One day, we were riding in an elevator in on of those big Soviet buildings and a mom and her little kid were there with us in a small, cramped space. It was an eight-floor ride, so I didn't want it to be awkward, so I asked how her day was going. She straight up looked at me in the eyes for the whole ride with this awkward expression and didn't say a word. Then she got out of the elevator and walked away. So that was way more awkward than the original awkward situation would be.

To compliment people here, you say they have a "good head". I accidentally told one eighty year old lady instead that she had a good head, meaning I thought she was beautiful I guess. Also dangerous.

We were waiting at the bus stop for our bus, and I said the words in english, "bus stop." Bus sounds a whole lot like the Hungarian "F" word, so people laughed pretty hard. Dangerous.

Walking through the square, I was reading signs of shops to learn words. Some dad and his young toddler in a stroller were walking next to us. I read one sign out loud to my companion to see if I said it right. I did. Read the sign first, saw what the store was next. Basically, equivalent of Hungarian Victoria's Secret and the guy immediately accelerated with his stroller and ran away. Dangerous.

Said "hello" in church last week when I introduced myself in front of the branch. Saying "hello in large public gatherings is a no-no, so I was told that as well. Oops. Dangerous.

I could go on an on an on. Basically, we're not in Kansas anymore and this language is crazy. Humility is a huge thing for me because I literally have no choice but to entirely trust my companion when it comes to everything. Otherwise, I wouldn't be able to buy groceries in the store or marketplace, wouldn't know which street was which, or even what the branch president just asked me to do for him. I've said more prayers in the pasts few weeks to just understand people than I probably have the last few years or so. The trouble is that here, everyone talks so dang FAST. It's not like the MTC where you can slow down when you need to understand someone, they just rattle off like a jet plane to you. They also don't enunciate--when they talk (and they often don't.) It's not like you can even watch their mouth to read their lips, because they just use their teeth to make the noises instead... Super intense. Church these past two weeks has just been 3 straight hours of prayer time for me, asking to understand even a few sentences because people talk so fast and for so long that it's very difficult to catch a few phrases to even guess at the main idea of what they're trying to say.

It has been great though, that the branch has asked me to be their pianist. I may not speak their language very well yet, but they love listening to me play even if I'm no Mozart or Bach. They have a beautiful piano here, but none of them know how to play it. It's a great way for me to be able to communicate with them, even when I have no other words to say.

All of the people we've had appointments with so far are very caring and loving. They all feed us EXCESSIVE amounts of food.... but unfortunately they get offended easily if you don't eat it all. Basically, that means that it's man vs food and there's no allowance for losing. I've never wanted to stop eating before, but it's just a ton. No weight gained so far, but we'll see...

Earlier this week, we went to the Russian marketplace with a lady who wanted to show us around the stands there. Lots of really cool crafts and goods, and lots of JUNK. It's a lot like the opening scene of Aladdin when he's getting offered all those jewelry and treasures and stuff. No idea how all of it gets there to the market, there is just endless corridors of tents set up with people selling their wares from all over Europe. Lots of scary looking Ukranians and Russians, and lots of impoverished looking Gypsies. Lots of fun. The food marketplace is also interesting. Everything is very fresh, either picked or killed that morning. Some of the meats especially are very scary, but there's lots of interesting-looking jams, jellies, honeys, vegetables, and fruits all prepared for that day.

There's a senior couple here in Nyiregyhaza, too, and they're way cool. Elder Viernes actually served on the Navajo rez! You'll have to tell Bishop Enos in the Falcon Hill ward that he says hi, they served together and he thinks it's crazy that we're in the same stake at home.

Lots going on here, but lots more to do! More to come next week, but until then I've gotta go because we're just super busy! Love you all and hope to hear from you soon! Szeretlek titeket!

Branch bullitin board... farsang is like a mix between 
halloween and groundhog's day, but everyone here 
throws big parties and has lots of fun!

Farsang costumes!

Made some goullash in our apartment this week! Super good stuff.

So one day we went exploring and found this bomb shelter
 from the revolution in the basement of our apartment...
Yeah, we saw the jacket and thought that maybe someone might be down there.
Then we heard someone start walking towards the door from the middle
 of that dark, huge, endless room and we ran out of there, man.

Found some cacti today on pday! Little piece of home!

Friday, February 6, 2015

February 2, 2015

Here are some pictures Elder Priest sent home from his first week in
 Hungary. No emails yet, but he did provide the commentary for these photos:

Sweet Bmwi in the airport at Munich!

Back side of the church... way cool. Check out that ceiling!

The subway, like 6 stories underneath the city of Budapest

First picture with new companion! Elder Gonzalez is from Toronto, but his mom is Hungarian and his dad is Cuban, who fled the island and sought asylum while trying to study in Hungary. He met his mom, they got married, and moved to Canada. He speaks English, fluent Hungarian and has spoken that since he was born, some Spanish, and some French.

The Hogwarts-looking staircases at the fisherman's bastion!

This is what the streets of Buda looked like at
night when we were walking around. Way pretty.

No but really, its like Hogwarts.

Elder Gaytan, one of the AP's, went to Mesa High!

Our chapel! It's about half full on Sundays.

View from the nice hotel that we stayed in on the first night. 
Way nice hotel, way cool view! Morning fog, but you can see the 
parliament building in the distance and old churches too.

Budapest parliament building from across the Duna River!

Cool courtyard at the Buda castle

This is the very pretty mission home! he mission 
presidents have this huge wayyy pretty home on the top floor.

Roman Catholic church in Nyiregyhaza city square

All of the missionaries in Nyiregyhaza taking a 
picture together by the frozen lake

The Hogwarts-looking staircases at the fisherman's bastion!