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!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

November 26, 2015

Happy Thanksgiving! Had dinner with all the senior couples and missionaries here in Buda. Hope you all have a great day. 


Monday, November 23, 2015

November 21, 2015


No pictures for this week, unfortunately... Been pretty busy and haven't had any chances to get any good pictures yet! We're gonna go try to find something fun to do pretty soon here for p-day today, though, so I'm sure there'll be more pictures for next week. :)

Not much news here, and even less time to write! But the main highlights for the week were that we were able to drive down to Dunaújváros this week on Wednesday to visit the missionary zone training for southwest Hungary that happened there. The zone leaders did an awesome job teaching us how to be better leaders, and we even had a sneak-peek of the new Christmas initiative that the church is doing this year. It becomes available for use later this month, and it'll be interesting because we don't any way to use it except for if we find someone who has a computer, because we don't have iPads, smartphones, or computers to share it with, but it looks like it has some great potential for times when we can share it!

One of our favorite investigators here in Buda, Mátyás, told us this week that he feels like he wants to be baptized. We were so excited because we'd been hoping and praying that he'd be ready to make that step, and he surprised us by saying that he would like to! We're stoked for that to happen on December 12. :D

Elder Watson's also been much better this week, and he hasn't had any pains or stress like that for a while, which is super good. We're both healthy and strong, and the mission's getting everyone flu shots in a few weeks, which should hopefully keep us going without getting sick.

President and Sister Szabadkai have been really busy for the past couple of days, since stake conference is this Sunday and four seventies came into Budapest for a meeting with him and the stake presidency... We're all pretty curious why there's four here at once, but I guess we'll just find out later.

I think that's all the new things going on around here... Hope everyone's doing well at home! :) Happy Thanksgiving!!

Saturday, November 14, 2015

November 14, 2015

Lots to write about for this week, not a lot of time to write it all. Here goes:

Earlier this week, Elder Watson and I were in the hospital here in Budapest for a while because Elder Watson had some pretty sharp chest pains, numb left arm, and tingly-ness in his face and neck. Went to go get it checked out, because it would be super lame to have a heart attack and not do anything about it, and it turns out it wasn't a heart attack or any other serious medical problem. Luckily, they say they think it's just stress on Elder Watson and that some rest and relaxation with a less-busy schedule will help him avoid having that come up again.

As a result, we had a few days this week that were quieter, with Elder Watson resting and sleeping and me making phone calls and stuff from our apartment.

Then, on Wednesday, we had our MLC meeting and met with all the zone leaders, sister training leaders, and everyone else in a training. That went super well, but was pretty long and took almost the whole day.

Thursday, we dropped off Heilein to go home to Germany, then jumped in the car to drive to Miskolc for splits with the zone leaders (2 1/2 hours away). Got to Miskolc and had to cancel splits and turn around because of an urgent need to visit a couple of missionaries in a place called Székesfehérvár, 3 hours in the opposite direction and about 1 hour southwest of Budapest. Ended up getting home pretty late on Thursday night after a long, exhausting day of driving through thick fog and dangerous weather, and then we slept super good.

Friday was our first normal missionary day this week, and we had a couple cool programs with some of our favorite investigators and friends from here in Buda.

Which brings us back to Saturday, and now I'm sitting here emailing after a good run in the park earlier this morning and some grocery shopping.

Pretty much, that covers all the bases of everything that's happened so far this week! Hope that was good enough information, because I just don't have time for anything more. Gotta run! Love you lots, have a great week! Stay tuned for more next time! ;)

Budapest at night, from Gellért Hegy. We took Elder
Heilein up here with President and Sister Szabadkai for his
 last night before going home early on Thursday morning.

Chillin' at Szent János hospital in Budapest
on Sunday night with Elder Watson

Pics of the hospital... Kinda like a museum. Lots of really
old equipment, not a lot of modern stuff, and definitely
not the most sanitary or professional establishment. Looks
and feels like a picture from the 1940's.... mostly because it is.

Selfie with Pres. and Sis. Szabadkai

Last picture with Elder Heilein before he went home!

Sunday, November 8, 2015

November 7, 2015

Time is flying by way fast! Hard to believe it's already been another week since I emailed last.

This week was another busy one, and as a result, we've been running around doing lots of stuff and not had much time for stuff at home.Tuesday night, after a more-stressful-than-usual day, Watson and I really just wanted to have a quick snack before bed instead of cooking dinner. We ran to the store and bought some cereal, brought it home, and realized that we had no clean bowls to eat out of, and no clean spoons to eat the cereal with. Elder Watson found a pie tin somewhere in the cupboards, and filled it up with cereal and milk. He also found a giant spoon in one of the drawers of the kitchen... the kind that's used to serve up casseroles or something. I was in the other room making a couple of phone calls to people, and then I came into the kitchen and looked for something--anything--to eat out of because it was just late and we had no desire to wash dishes. I found a 10L mixing bowl and a soup ladle, and ate my cereal that way. One of those things you never imagined would happen when you go on a mission.

But it's good! Other than a few stressful days like that, we've had some awesome stuff happen this week. We decided to just go crazy with streeting on a couple of weeknights this week, and ended up giving out 20-something books to people and making a lot of cool friends. We had a great English class turnout this week, and had a good splits with the zone leaders from Dunaújváros on Wednesday and Thursday. Elder Heilein got transferred to Pest for his last week in the country, and he's getting ready to go home next week on Thursday. He's pretty excited to see all his family and friends again. Played a fun game of soccer this morning with two of our good friends, Huba and Mátyás, after which we went to a store here in town that sells some American groceries and bought some graham crackers, marshmallows, and Hershey's chocolate to make s'mores with some of our friends and the office secretaries tonight. Should be pretty fun.

Other than that, I think stuff is pretty much the same! Wish I had a few more minutes to write more, but gotta run soon. Hope that everything's going good for everyone! Talk to you more next time! :)

Another view of the cemetery

Hungarian Day of the Dead was earlier this week on Sunday night, and we went to the cemetery to check out how it was. Actually pretty similar to the Dia de los Muertos that we learned about in 7th grade Spanish class way back in the day. Lots of candles placed on the gravestones, and everyone goes to the cemetery to visit loved ones. This is a pretty dark picture, but all the lights are candles placed on headstones throughout a pretty scattered cemetery.

Graves without flash

And those same graves with flash

Array of candles against one of the memorial
 statues placed throughout the cemetery

More candles. Gyertya in Hungarian, by the way (Jehr-csa)

View of Budapest from up in the hills next to the city... Kind of low quality, but I guess okay for how far away and how dark it was. Incredible view, pictures don't do justice. The place is called János Hegy (John's Mountain), and there's a short hike through the forest and you come out by a castle tower on the top of a peak that you can climb to a lookout platform on top. Wayyy cool place.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

October 31, 2015

Used up a lot of my email time to upload pictures, but they're worth more than words anyways, right? Let's see, what else happened that I didn't take a picture of...

We were in Győr and Szombathely this week for splits, and they're both a fair ways outside of Budapest. Got a little bit lost driving there because our gps decided that it wanted to stop working, but we ended up making it there just fine. It was pretty scary driving in Hungary at first, but I'm pretty used to the small roads and tight parking spaces now, and it's not that bad. It's for sure made me a better driver though haha. Splits were fun, and it was nice to meet some new missionaries that I didn't know from before.

In Szombathely, we went to a pizza place with the missionaries for lunch, and we ended up having some leftover pizza that we put in a box to take back to Budapest. We walked out to the car, and a homeless man approached us speaking gibberish German and mumbling in Hungarian "Happy New Year." He reaches into his pocket and pulls out a flier for a bakery in the square across the street and hands the paper to me, then grabs the pizza box out of my hands and says "I eat this. I eat this." over and over in Hungarian. We were pretty confused, so we let go of the box and said okay, after which he took back his piece of paper, walked away, and presumably ate his pizza somewhere. It's okay, he probably needed it way more than we did, anyways. Plus, it gave us a good laugh because of just how ridiculously, unbelievable random the whole thing was. Maybe we should try that same technique when streeting...

Other than that, we've just been busy with everything here! The weeks are going by super fast. If I counted right, I've been out here now for 364 days now. Crazy stuff, no?

That's most of the news/funny stories for this week, more to come next time. Hope you have a good week and that everything's going well back home! :)

Driving to Győr and Szombathely with Elder Watson

Got stuck in traffic for over an hour, no cars moving whatsoever. I guess there was some road work just before Budapest, and an accident happened and all the cars were stuck for 45 kilometers. All the cars turned off the engines, and the drivers were all walking around on the highway talking to each other. Met a Romanian, German, and Serbian truck driver when all this happened. Nice people. Took longer than expected to make it back home, but we did it!

Literally got "dogged" by a program. He didn't have 
time to meet, but his retriever did!

One of the villages outside of Budapest that we go to a lot for programs, Budaörs.

Didn't remember if I'd ever shown you what Hungarian money looks like, so here's a picture! Everything's in very large numbers. Really neat looking bills and coins, though. The coolest part is that coins are actually used a lot here. I never really payed with exact change in America, and any coins I just tossed into a coin jar, but you can go to the grocery store here and buy your whole purchase with just coins. There's 5, 10, 20, 50, 100, and 200 Forint coin pieces, and 1000, 2000, 5000, 10000, and 20000 Forint bills.

Same money, just the other side. Missing the 20 Forint coin,
didn't have it in my pocket at the time.

Backstreets of Budapest

The Duna just before nightfall

The Parliament building next to a full moon

Sister Csolity, from Debrecen, is going to Mesa for her mission!
 She's just waiting for her visa right now, and until she gets
it she's going to serve for a while here in Hungary. You guys'll
 have to have her over for dinner when she's there!

On splits in Győr this week, this is out by the city hall there

Old buildings of Győr at night