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 ├┐ou'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!

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