Wednesday, July 29, 2015

July 28, 2015

Hi, everyone!

Literally, not much time at all to sit and write emails today...

New mission president, new mission rules. One of our new rules is that emailing on P-days is now 1 hour maximum, and that one hour is already kind of occupied by writing an email in Hungarian to President Szabadkai, as well. But that's the way that emailing works now, so we'll figure that out soon hopefully! Sounds like a voice recorder might help make things a little bit faster because that doesn't take a computer and I can just talk... looks like maybe you guys will have to do some transcripting and type up some of what I say to y'all. :)

Long story short, we had a great week and I love you all. I hope that you're all happy and doing well. Have a great day and smile lots. :)

Priest Elder

This is the palace where all the Hungarian kings used to live

View of the city from Gellért Hegy

The giant statue on the top of Gellért Hegy


View of Pest from the castle

Pictures of the castle in Buda

Inside a torture chamber in the labyrinth

For Ashley, who likes scary things. There's a labyrinth under the castle 
in Budapest, and we walked around in it. That's the place where the 
real life Dracula was imprisoned and later died. This is his gravestone. Tessék. 

Érd missionaries with our good friends Tamás and Lea,
our mission president's daughter who lives in Budapest as well!

Budapest view from the Fisherman's Bastian!

Budapest is way photogenic

Hogwarts, Mark II

Visiting the Szent Mátyás Templom in Buda... super beautiful place!

Cool old church that's literally hanging on by the bricks

Elder Roberts got really creative this
week and carved a watermelon

Another cool sunset, this time from Százhalombatta

Our good friend Papp Laci! Such a cool guy, always 
trying to do the right thing. Love him!

Cool sunset in Érd, out by the sunflower fields!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

July 20, 2015

Busy week again!

We spent much of our week this week in Érd and Százhalombatta and Budafok and Budatétény handing out fliers for our free English classes that we hold here in town. It's been non-stop warm weather, so we've gotten a fair amount of sun this week. We've also been in a lot of humid weather, which is something that I'm still not quite used to. I drink so much water here, but I'm still so thirsty because the heat just sucks the liquids right out of us. It's bizarre.

We've had some really cool opportunities to visit some of our different friends in their homes this week! Some of our visits go a little bit better than others. Papp Laci, who lives about a 20 minute bike ride out of central Érd, is a super nice man who loves to come to church and is always so nice and feeds us pizza or some kind of Hungarian food when we go to his house. David is a brilliantly intelligent man who is studying theology in school and speaks perfect English as well as Hungarian. Zsofi is a new friend that we met on the streets last week, and she's also a very good English speaker and has been helping us to practice our Hungarian as we help her practice English. Dóra and her family are very kind and usually have us over for lunch after church on Sundays, and we love getting to know them and answer some of their questions about life and religion. Aniko is a very nice, older lady from the church here in Érd who likes to have us visit her everyWednesday afternoon for an authentic, 3-course Hungarian home-cooked meal. And, of course, we have many other friends who make our life in Érd interesting. :)

Unfortunately, Hungarian public transportation is sometimes a little bit less than reliable and makes getting from appointment to appointment a little bit tricky... We usually use trains and buses, and then walk the rest of the way, but sometimes trains and buses don't come when they say they will, and sometimes they don't come at all. Yesterday, we were stuck waiting for a train for about an hour and a half, and ended up hopping on the next train that came, only to learn that the posted train schedule at the train stop was incorrect, and we were taken to a wrong city in the opposite direction from where we wanted to go. We ended up taking so long to make it back to Érd by train that we missed our program... makes being a missionary somewhat of an adventure with a crazy transportation system like that...

Other than that, we're having a fun time here in Érd! We went to different areas of town earlier this week and did some positive grafiti using sidewalk chalk on the ground, and shared some messages of hope with people that way. One day, walking around just before time to go home to our apartment, we were using my ukulele to attract attention and talk to people as well. An old lady heard me playing a little bit, and turned to talk to us. She liked the music and started to dance, proceeding to tell us that she was 89 and that she's missed dancing ever since her husband passed away a while ago. We had a great time getting to know here for a few minutes as we talked to her and she showed us some of the dance moves that she used to know... pretty impressive for someone her age!

Hope you all have a great week! Love you all! :)

Priest Elder

Cool picture of a flower I took in Százhalombatta this week

Old Mercedes Benz in Budafok

Friday, July 17, 2015

July 13, 2015

So this week, we had transfers! Usually, transfers for our mission only happen once every 9 weeks. Some of the older missionaries in the mission, though, came into the country when we still had a 6-week system instead, and they finish their missions at awkward times between transfers as a result. Because of this, we sometimes have "mini transfers" that shift around the missionaries to accomodate those who are leaving the country while no new ones come in yet. Anyways, we ended up being one of the groups that was split up and shifted around in order to help with that. Sad, because Elder Wilcox was so cool and we had such good times. We were hoping for at least a full transfer together, but he's gone to Pest to help train a new missionary who got here about a month ago.

It's exciting though, because Elder Roberts is here with us in Érd now! He's from the group right before mine in the MTC, so we're both relatively young in the mission here. He's a brilliant soccer player and likes to have a fun time, so we've been having lots of fun so far using that as an activity to find new friends here.

On our way back from transfers at the Keleti trainstation in Pest, we were going to leave the city via the Déli trainstation on the south end of the Buda side. A huge, random storm blew into the city from up the Duna river, and we got soaked as we waited for our train to come. The wind and rain got more intense, and before we new it we couldn't see anything more than 10m away from us. All trains from the area close to the station were brought in, but anything farther away was stopped until the storm could pass. I guess the winds were pretty strong in places, because some big old, heavy trees were blown over and knocked down the power lines over the railroad tracks, making travel to and from Budapest impossible. After four hours, the storm died down enough to increase visibility, but the lines were still down. We ended up catching a bus back to Érd, along with about 100 other stressed out travelers heading to Lake Balaton for vacation. By the time we finally got back to Érd, we were tired, wet, slightly claustrophobic, and ready for bed. It was fun. :)

President Szabadkai invited all of the missionaries from around Budapest to come into the city on Saturday to watch a dance concert put on by the BYU contemporary dance team. We invited some of our friends to come up with us, and we ended up having a group of 6--us two, the sister missionaries, and two of our friends friends from Érd. The performance was cool, and it was interesting to hear English for a change. The investigator that we brought with us to see the show, Papp Laci, really liked the show. We took some selfies with him on his phone before we left. :)

We've been super lucky to have so many people invite us over to their homes this week to visit them! We've also done a lot of service recently, including cutting firewood for old ladies, helping in the gardens of families who live on the outskirts of town, picking cherries for a nice néni in the branch here, and lots of other fun stuff. No complaints there--we're having a blast!

Anyways, we've got to get heading out pretty soon for a program, but I hope everyone has a magical Monday and a great week! Love y'all! :)

President Szabadkai let us take a trip to Budapest with a
family to see the Budapest Red Bull Air Race for the 4th of July! Pretty cool! 

They set up huge pilons on the river between Parliament 
and the castles and had the planes fly through
to see who could have the fastest times

American planes for the win!!

Happy 4th of July!

Betya didn't know Scooby Doo and the
Mystery Machine live in Érd!

Helped Aniko pick her cherries from her trees, then
played with her dog, Jackie! Super nice lady who
fed us a super good lunch at her house.

Member's cat was shaved because of knotted fur...
Picked her up to take a picture, couldn't
help but laugh as we saw the cat's response.

Saying goodbye to Wilcox...

And got soaked on the way back with Elder Roberts!

At the BYU dance concert in Budapest

Meeting up with some of the MTC group at transfers!

July 6, 2015

This week, Elder Priest sent us the link to this video as his weekly email.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

June 29, 2015

So many stories!

People are starting to talk to us here! We are SO stoked about that. It's relieving after a lot of hard work that we're starting to make friends here. We've gone "flowering" once a week each week so far this transfer, and it's starting to make people look at us as the nice guys who give people flowers instead of the standoffish people in ties with nametags. There's even been people who've come up to us on the street and said "thank you for the flower" at random points in our week! That's been super fun, to see that we made a difference in someone's life--even if just making someone happy for a day.

We've also been using our ukuleles to attract some small crowds in the square in Érd and smaller villages bordering it. It's a comfortable way for us to breach the gap between stranger and acquaintance. And, with the sister missionaries in our district here, we've taken out some of my whips and practiced being Hungarian cowboys in various locations around the city. It's very hard for that method of finding to not work... they're so loud that, without fail, someone comes to find out what in the world is making that noise. After they see that they're Hungarian whips from their own country and that some young American kids speaking their language can use them, they're super interested in becoming our friends. I've had a couple very good, hour long conversations with people on the street this week as a result of whipping. That's been a lot of fun! :)

We decided to try something new this week as well. Since there's so much grafiti all over this city, we wanted to reverse the trend and grafiti something positive instead. We bought a big box of sidewalk chalk, and found a big slab of concrete somewhere to draw a picture of the plan of happiness. It turned out pretty cool, and in the meantime a lot of kids came up to help us draw all kinds of pictures all over the place.

The coolest thing about all of our cool, fun ideas for finding here is that they're working! Visitors at Church and attendance at all branch programs has been increasing. We're very excited about how many good friends we're making here, and for the chance that we have to share with them the fun and happy lifestyle that our church offers.

President and Sister Smith are leaving for America this week, which means that we have our new mission president on Thursday! We're so excited to have a Hungarian president who will no doubt light this country on fire with missionary work.

We've gotta run soon to host a family night activity! Hope you all have a week full of adventures and lots of great experiences. Make someone's day today and help them be happier! :)

Love you all! Priest Elder

WWII and WWI fallen soldiers from our small town
in Érd. Crazy big amount for such a small village.

People live in these caves in the hills

Elder Wilcox found a road built by the Romans! super legit stuff.

View from top of minaret

Climbing up to top of minaret... pretty cramped,
very dark, spider filled, and a little
bit scary, but the view was worth it.

Tracted into an ancient Turkish minare.

District photo!

Drew the Plan of Happiness with chalk as positive graffiti
here in Érd. Pretty cool finding method! Lots of little kids wanted to join in, too.

Beautiful Jewish synagogue in Budapest

We visited a castle

Back at Heros Square!

Enormous basillica in Budapest

Budapest is beautiful

Flower-shaped icecream! kind of a cool way to eat it

I live in the coolest city in the world

Priest Elder. Teaching more kids to be cool since 1996. ;)

Saying goodbye to President and Sister Smith at zone conference