Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hello All! - Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Hello family and friends!

How are you all?  Wonderful, I hope!

First things first, my Dad had a birthday this week!  I don't really know if he is sensitive about his age (which he shouldn't be, if he is!) but I will refrain from mentioning a specific number and instead congratulate him on another fabulous year!  I would like to "publicly" thank him for his example and love!  I am grateful that he is my Dad :D

We had interviews this past week with President Baughman.  Basically, it is just like the zone conference I had last transfer (with trainings and the such by the mission president, his wife, the assistants to the president, and the zone leaders), but during some of the trainings, the president pulls us out one by one to interview us (ask us how life is going, etc.).  Don't worry-- my interview with him went find :)  I truly am loving life, which makes me really easy to talk to in these types of interviews :P  He did tell me that De Leon Nővér and I will almost certainly be seperated after this transfer.  We knew it was coming and now I know for sure, and have time to prepare accordingly!  We also had great trainings!  This time, our president and we discussed Christlike attributes.  I really appreciated the discussion.  I have been really enjoying the Christmas season as a time to focus on Christ. Love each other!  Sister Baughman made each companionship stand up and say two things they loved about their companion.  It was so cute to see 19-21 year old boy saying very sincere and sweet things about their teaching partners!  Yay for missions!  We are all about love and humility here in Hungary :P  We had a lot of funny moments with that, too.  For instance, the senior couples were in our training and stood and shared the things they loved about each other, too.  One of our senior sisters said some beautiful heartfelt thanks for her husband's testimony, hard work, and then, wiping her tears away, said that she loved that her husband rides a Harley Motorcycle.  Hahaha.  It was really funny (her and her husband love to joke around).

Our themed day this week was Superhero Day!!!!  We didn't QUITE dress up as superheroes, but we both wore the colors from some of our favorites.  Picture this: blue skirt, red shirt, black cardigan, black tights.  Who am I?  ..... Spiderman!!!  De Leon Nővér wore black and yellow as Batman.  (I have a really great picture of us standing next to a member wearing a green shirt (we told him he could be the Hulk dressed like that :P) but I will have to send it next week because we are emailing in the mission home today and we can't upload photos onto these computers.)  I studied spiritual gifts that day.  We performed service!  It was fun :D

De Leon Nővér and I have begun singing Christmas carols when we go tabling.  It is actually a great finding tool!  People hear us singing and want to talk to us!!  We actually had one man who asked if we had a CD and tried to give us money.  Instead, we talked about Christ and gave HIM a pass-along card :P  My favorite experience was with this little néni who stopped to listen to us sing then came and talked to me.  She told me she had never met a Mormon before, but heard they were great people.  I was able to give her a Book of Mormon and she walked away hugging it, telling me that she was super excited to learn more!  We ended up running into her the next day while we were tabling in a different spot.  She hustled over to us and excitedly told me she had read from the book!   She also told me she had something for me.  She dug through her purse and pulled out a cute little Christmas bell.  I wore it on my missionary tag for the rest of tabling :D

We were able to go to the Christmas devotional this last Sunday.  It was so good!  I highly recommend you check it out (my favorite was President Uchtdorf's talk-- check it out!!)

I am out of time!  Sorry this is short!  Will write more next week :)

Love you all!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

HELLO!!! (I never know what to put in this title haha) - Monday, December 5, 2011

Hello friends and family!!!

What happened this past week?

Remember the member I told you about who always makes us food and calls us her daughters?  Well, we visited her this past week and she wasn't able to move her entire left side.  I thought it seemed like a stroke, but she assured us that she was fine and that this happened every now and again.  She actually even made us food, even though she couldn't move properly!  Well, we got a call the next day that she had, in fact had a stroke, and was admitted to the hospital :(  I am so grateful for the organization of the church because we were able to call the Relief Society president and Kati Néni's visiting teachers (other members who are assigned to visit once a month and share a message and help with needs), and they have the ward mobilized to take care of this sweet older women.  She has had a priesthood blessing, visitors, and food.  I love how your ward becomes like a family to you, loving you and taking care of you!

We teach a group of women that we call the "3 Musketeers" half English/half gospel lessons.  They are super funny :)  The other day we were teaching them how to talk about things we like to do.  Example, "What do you like to do for fun?  I like to read books."  Etc.  However, one of the women was struggling to think of something she liked to do when her friend cut in and sang, "I like to move it move it."  (That song from the movie Madagascar.)  It was super funny and we all started laughing.  Then, the rest of the English lesson, we would break into song when we said a word from a song (example: "September" by Earth, Wind, and Fire when we were teaching the months of the year), culminating in a group singing session of "Last Christmas."

De Leon Nővér and I have decided to have a themed day every week of this transfer to help us keep this transfer fun and exciting, despite the cold.  This past week, we celebrated "Princess Day".  We did fun things like paint our nails, wear pink and purple clothes, wear sparkly headbands, and eat chocolate.  However, we also studied divine identity, read the talk "Your Happily Ever After" by President Uchtdorf, watched the Mormon Message "Women in Our Lives" by President Gordon B. Hinckley.  It was super fun to focus on how special people are and to share the belief that we are all God's children and therefore special.  What a neat message!  YOU (you reading this) are loved and special.  While sometimes I think of how small I am compared to the universe or maybe others who are more talented or successful than I am, in reality, I am a "princess" to God!  And that makes me important.  That makes you important!  We matter!  What we do matters!

Other good news: We have another investigator who committed to be baptized!  We teach this adorable 22 year old girl named Kinga.  She has been so busy with school and work (she is a scout leader or something) that we haven't been able to meet with her very often.  However, she has felt that this church is the right place for her for awhile.  So, this last lesson, we challenged her to take action based on that feeling and asked her to be baptized in March.  She agreed!  And is super excited!!  So yay!  (Picture attached of her and us)

We've been out in the cold a LOT this past week, though!!!  I am really grateful that I grew up in Connecticut!  At least I've experienced this type of humid cold before (although I've never stood outside for hours in a skirt in the middle of winter before this!).  We went tabling in the cold the other day and De Leon Nővér and I came up with a new way to catch people's interest (and forget that we are cold!).  We started singing songs from the Hungarian hymnbook and, if I can say this about myself, it was really pretty!  We sang Silent Night a bunch of times, though, because there are only about 3 Christmas songs in the hymnbook.  (HOWEVER, we just barely got NEW HYMNBOOKS!!!  They are bound in hardcover green, with the biggest collection of translated hymns Hungary has ever seen.  So next time we will bring one of those hymnbooks because there are more Christmas songs.)  People stopped to listen and our elders would go and talk to them about the Book of Mormon and what we believe.  It was great!  So, in addition to being a missionary, I am now a "street performer" haha!

Speaking of music, I am officially the new ward pianist.  I think I said last time that the normal pianist broke his wrist and our investigator, Zsuzsa, played in church last week.  However, I was told 10 minutes before church started yesterday that I would be accompanying.  AND that our mission president and his wife had chosen that day to visit our ward!  (No pressure!)  But I was able to choose the hymns this time, so I picked the ones I knew and it went really well!!  It is very funny to me, though, that somehow I am the best pick for ward pianist!  I am not that good!  But people told me afterwards that they really appreciated and enjoyed my piano playing.  With compliments like that, I know the Lord is helping me!

Something funny I have been thinking about this week is about logic and knowledge.  We have a lot of investigators who think our theology is very interesting and like to ask very random, specific questions about our beliefs, but won't take the challenge to read the Book of Mormon or pray about it.  I've been reading a couple of books that addressed this problem.  The books had answers to random questions like those asked by our investigators, but at the end basically said, "Yeah, we can answer all this stuff (see preceding chapters) but in the end, it is not really important.  If we could answer all of your questions perfectly, would that make this gospel and church God's true church on the earth?  No.  But if God Himself told you that it was true, but we weren't able to answer all of your questions perfectly, would that make this gospel true?  Yes."  That is what is so neat about this gospel!  Every person can find out for themselves if it is true by reading the book and asking God.  Every person who is a member of our church has done that and has felt God answering their prayer that this is true and right for them.  And, honestly, I love that the more I learn about this gospel, the more it makes sense in my heart AND mind.  The scriptures say there should be two witnesses to the truth, and I think we get a witness of the truth of this gospel to our hearts and minds.  Isn't that neat?

A little more about my studies (I hope this is at least a little interesting to you!  I just study and think about this stuff every day!): One of our elders let me borrow a book called Men of Valor that I have been reading the past couple of days.  I liked this quote, "In short, the Lord seeks to transform our nature, not just to modify our behavior."  When we truly try to follow Christ's example, it will be more than just acting kind or just doing a good deed because we should.  The true goal is to become sincerely kind and love everyone, and then our actions will reflect that.  That is my goal on a mission and life!  Heck, it is not always easy.  But, I am grateful for this opportunity to serve others because it is teaching me to think about others more than myself and to see them as God sees them.  Step by step, I am getting there.

Anyways, I know this email was super long, but just know that I love you!  I appreciate every note and prayer you send my way!!

Brighten someone else's day this week!  Christmas season is in full force!  Let's all have that goodwill and charity for all this week!  Loving others is SO much better than being annoyed or sad with them!  Be happy!


Monday, November 28, 2011

Thanksgiving - Monday, November 28, 2011

Hello family!

So I just had one of those unfortunate computer vs. human struggles, where I tried and tried to convince different computers that they wanted to upload my various photos.  However, after crashes, firewalls, and just plain machine stubbornness, I declared defeat and have decided you will have to wait for pictures next week.  Sorry :(

Anyways, Happy Thanksgiving!  (Okay, so I know that it was last Thursday, but we are celebrating it today here in the Hungarian mission!  I can literally smell the turkey right now (I am emailing from inside of the mission home today) and I am so excited!!!!  I love Thanksgiving!)  I hope you all had excellent Thanksgivings last Thursday and enjoyed that time with family and friends!

Anyways, this last week was great, despite the lack of American holidays!

We had our first snow here in Hungary!  ... yay!?!  I was tabling with Sister De Leon and the elders when we saw the flakes fall from the sky.  I did a little first snow dance.  And then remembered that snow is cold and wet... and I much prefer looking at it to being IN it haha :)  But that is okay!  We only received a light sprinkling and it has been very pretty!  And, honestly, most of it melted after a day.  Since we are in the city, I don't think we are ever going to get super heavy snow.  Interesting fact, though:  They don't shovel or plow the streets and sidewalks here in Budapest!  So I really don't want heavy snow!  Winter is a different experience in a skirt :P

I also went to a Catholic mass here.  Some of our investigators invited us, and, as they have come to pretty much everything that we have invited them to, we called our mission president and asked for permission.  He said we could go, so we went with our investigators one night to their mass.  I have been to mass before, but it was a different experience in Hungarian!  Well, basically, I didn't understand it haha :P  But it was fun to sing the songs (our investigators were very impressed with Sister De Leon's and my ability to pick up on the songs quickly).  Another fun note about these investigators (you have probably heard me mention them before-- Bela and Illona?) is that..... they have agreed to be baptized!!!  They both love everything they have read (Bela is the one who read the entire Book of Mormon; Illona loves the Liahonas) and feel that this is the right choice for them!  They are such a good example to me because they really listen to everything we teach them attentively and respectfully and truly take it to heart.

Some not so great news from this past week-- I totally got food poisoning!  We went to this little gyros restaurant, which had this little wall you could write messages.  I wrote this funny little note about coming all the way from Connecticut to try the gyros... and then it made me throw up that night!  Yuck.  And now it is false advertising on their wall!  Haha.  But after an uncomfortable night and day (where basically I just went wherever Sister De Leon told me to (we had meetings, programs, and tracting to do) but was very out of it), I was fine again.  So all is well :)

Some funny incidents from this past week:  I was asked out on dates!  TWICE!  (For those of you who don't know, as missionaries, we have a more strict set of rules that we follow on our missions than normal members.  One rule is that we don't date or do anything like that for the entirety of our missions.)  One man was super funny, actually.  He spoke English and told us that he wanted to become like the character Hitch from the movie (a consultant who teaches men how to talk to girls) haha.  When I told him that I couldn't go out with him, he incredulously said, "But Hungarian men are attractive!  Exhibit A: me! (referring to himself)"  It was actually kind of neat, though, because both times we were able to give the men Books of Mormons and talk about our beliefs and have some good conversations.  I really believe that when we focus on God and serving each other, our relationships will be better.  I believe that knowing God's love for us will help us love each other.  I'm so grateful for the example of my parents in loving and honoring each other.

Anyways, I am going to go play in our mission Turkey Bowl right now (wish me luck!) so I have to cut this email short.  This week was great, though, full of programs, love, and LOTS of Christmas music!!!

I wish you all a fantastic week!!  Love you all!!!

McKenna aka Sister Kramer

P.S. An American family came to church on Sunday and the mom was roommates with Robin Nielson in college!  The world really is so small sometimes haha :)

Monday, November 21, 2011

BIG EMAIL - Monday, November 21, 2011

Hello family and friends!!!

How are you?  How was your day?  I hope all is well with you :)

I want you to know that all is well with me too :)  Just so you all know, neither De Leon Nővér or I are leaving this transfer!  We got a phone call about 8 AM this morning telling us that we are both staying in Kispest!!!  In fact, our entire district is staying!!  Yay!!!!  We were so happy when we heard this that we literally jumped and danced around our apartment haha.  I feel very lucky to stay with De Leon Nővér for another transfer.  She is a great missionary and a great friend!

Now, what did I do this past week?  Hmmm... good question!

Last Monday, De Leon Nővér and I "played" with some of the elders in our district.  Together, we went to the Kinai Piac (the Chinese market).  It is similar to the shopping part of China Town in New York City, but instead of being housed in little stores along the street, it was held in a sort of shanty town.  The little shops were all held in little storage units.  We went and bought district scarves haha (see pictures of us dorkily matching each other).  I have been very lucky to be working with the group of missionaries (my district) that I have been.  We are all hard workers who also like to have fun :)

After that, we went to Orsi's house for family home evening.  We read this book called "You are Special" by Max Lucado.  Through a cute story, it teaches how special we are to our Creator and how really, His opinion is the one that counts!  It was great!

We had an interesting program this week... in English!!!  We taught an Australian who has been living in Hungary for the last 15 years.  That was a fun experience for De Leon and I both because we could explain ourselves just like we wanted to :)  Although, it was interesting, that even though we had the ability to say whatever we wanted, most of it was just as simple as we would say it in Hungarian.

Fun story: Some of you know that, around the time of my mission call, two Hungarian girls friended me on Facebook.  One of them was a member, the other her best friend, and they found me through a mutual friend.  We sent a few messages to each other (they were very sweet; one of them informed me that I would be entering the MTC on her birthday and she thought that was a great birthday present!)  Anyways, I didn't really hear anything else from them... until last week!!!  We were talking to a less-active girl on the phone and De Leon Nővér asked about some penpal she had had that was supposed to come to Hungary.  THAT caught my attention and I asked to talk to the girl.  Turns out she was one of the girls I had become friends with on Facebook MONTHS ago!  I had never met her, though, since she hasn't been coming to church or meeting with us!  However, we were finally able to set up an appointment with her for this past week during that phone call.  When we met, we were both excited.  She gave me a hug and puszi right when she met me :)  Our program with her was great!  She told us that she has been feeling like something has been missing in her life and wants to bring the church back into her life.  Yay!!!  She told me she thought it was so strange that out of all the cities and areas in Hungary, I had been assigned to HER area for my greenie area.  I really believe that I was supposed to come to Kispest.  I know that De Leon Nővér and I both have experiences and personalities that are really helping our investigators come unto Christ.  I am so grateful for the Lord's love for us personally.  I know if we will let Him into our lives, He will bless and help us :)

We also had stake conference this past weekend.  That was SO NEAT!!!  I couldn't believe how many members were there!  We filled the stake house :)  I know it was an amazing experience to see the hundreds of members, especially when a lot of branches here in Hungary are very small.

We had amazing speakers at the conference, including an area authority from Portugal.  He told a great story: When he was little, bikes were a rarity in his neighborhood.  In fact, there was only ONE bike in the entire neighborhood and it was from a junkyard.  But, the boy who owned it ran a successful business renting it out for candy and toys.  The speaker rode the bike as often as he could and begged his parents for a bike.  After three years of asking and disappointments, he received a bike for Christmas!  The speaker told us that he had no idea what his parents did to afford that bike, but that he loved his bike.  He thought it was so great and brought it everywhere (he ate with it, slept with it, etc. haha).  However, the other boy in the neighborhood who owned a bike had a birthday in January.  What do you think he received? A NEW BIKE!  And it was a racing bicycle!  All of a sudden, the speaker's bike didn't seem special anymore and he resented that his parents couldn't buy him a better bike.  He told us that we need to be careful about comparing our lives to others.  We should be thankful for what we do have.  Do we appreciate the beautiful things in our lives?  Do we appreciate our own families and those we love?

Anyways, I am out of time for this week :)  I hope you all have a WONDERFUL Thanksgiving!!!!!  I will not have a normal Thanksgiving this week; next Monday, however, we will have a Super P-Day, with Thanksgiving dinner at the Baughman's.  So, remember the story, and be thankful for the gifts you have-- your family, your home, your health, etc.  Take the time to tell those you love thank you!

I love you all!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

Monday, November 14, 2011

Almost done with my first transfer!! - Monday, November 14, 2011

Hello everyone!!

I have been in Hungary for more than a month now!!!  (Okay, so I've been here for a month and 3 days... but STILL!)  I cannot believe how fast time is flying!  I am almost at the end of my first transfer in the country!!!  I have been on my mission for 3 1/2 months.  I have passed my 100 day mark!  That means I am more than 1/6 done with my mission :(  De Leon Nővér told me that it just goes faster and faster!  I believe it!  There is always so much to do every day, new places to go, new people to talk to, improvements to be made!  That is okay, though!  I plan on making every second count :D

My companion and I don't know if we will be staying together next transfer (I will let you know as soon as I do on Monday) because, starting next transfer, exactly half of the sister missionaries in Hungary (there are 16 sister missionaries total) will have been here only 2 transfers or under.  It will be super interesting to see what happens!  I hope that I stay with De Leon Nővér-- I love her!  She has been such a great trainer, giving me opportunities to grow!  And we are such good friends!  We are always laughing at something or the other.  Last night, after planning, I was literally crying on the floor because of laughing so hard at something funny that had happened.  I love our attitude of working hard and having fun while doing it!  BUT.  I know that whatever happens will be for the best :)  (If she does actually get transferred, though, someone might want to email me my own words, though, haha)

This past Monday, De Leon Nővér and I walked across quite a few of the bridges in Budapest (for those of you who don't know, Budapest is split into two sides, Buda and Pest, by the Danube River).  It was super pretty, with the city lights all around us, reflecting off the water.  We both just loved the fact that we LIVE here in this beautiful city!  I am so grateful to be here :)

We were able to go to a missionary concert this past week, put on by a couple of musically talented missionaries (including my MTC companion, Sister Christensen) and members.  It was SO GOOD.  They played a fun jazzy classical, with spiritual hymns and thoughts interspersed.  There was a clarinet player who was SO GOOD (I played clarinet for 8 years, so I was super impressed by his skills) and De Leon Nővér took a picture with him afterwards haha.  (That is my explanation for this random picture of us with a Hungarian man.)  Music is so great though!  And Hungary has a super rich history of classical composers (example: Franz Liszt (or Liszt Ferenc, as he is called here in Hungary)-- you should check them out!  Or do something this week to add a little "culture"!

This past week was actually kind of weird, though.  De Leon had some version of the stomach flu and the mission nurse ordered her to sleep it off.  So, we only did the basics necessary, in regards to teaching programs, and De Leon slept and slept and slept.  And I studied and studied and studied haha.  I started and finished multiple BOOKS.  I cleaned.  I cooked.  At one point, I found myself doing lunges around my apartment in circles.  (For those who don't want to work on their missions, they are crazy!  It is boring to be home all day!)  BUT.  I learned a lot!

I read the new Relief Society book, Daughters of Our Kingdom.  It was a really interesting read about the history of this women's society and I really enjoyed the design of the book.

women reading in a garden

I found a favorite quote in there by Julie B. Beck, "When we have done our very best, we may still experience disappointments, but we will not be disappointed in ourselves."  This is SO TRUE, of missionary work and of life in general.  I do not think success is measured by how big of a house we have, what type of car we drive, or how many baptisms we have.  I think it is determined by our motivations, how hard we try, and, ultimately, our relationships with our families, friends, and God.  What do you think?

This quote was followed later in the chapter by a reminder from President Gordon B. Hinckley (a past prophet of the church): "I have been quoted as saying, 'Do the best you can.'  But I want to emphasize that it be the very best.  We are too prone to be satisfied with mediocre performance.  We are capable of doing so much better."  This was a good reminder for me.  I want to give my ALL-- my very best-- to this mission!  Why would I want to live with regrets?  So I challenge all of you to choose one of your goals this week and just GO FOR IT!!  Life is so much more fulfilling when we try :)

This reminds me of a poem I read with my English class this last week:

Two frogs fell into a deep cream bowl, 
One was an optimistic soul; 
But the other took the gloomy view, 
"I shall drown," he cried, "and so will you." 

So with a last despairing cry, 
He closed his eyes and said, "Good-bye." 
But the other frog, with a merry grin 
Said, "I can't get out, but I won't give in! 

I'll swim around till my strength is spent. 
For having tried, I'll die content." 
Bravely he swam until it would seem 
His struggles began to churn the cream. 

On the top of the butter at last he stopped 
And out of the bowl he happily hopped. 
What is the moral?  It's easily found. 
If you can't get out -- keep swimming around!

I think attitude is so important in all we do.  My mom always told us, "Fun is an attitude, not an activity."  I did not really like that quote when I was younger because I was convinced that it was the other way around.  As I've grown, though, I have realized attitude really IS everything.  Through our attitudes of love and optimism, we can have success, peace, and happiness.  And it is OUR choice how we react, how we love, what we love.  So go and make some positive attitude choices this week!  Your week will be better, I know it :)

Anyways, sorry to just talk about a lot of random stuff in this email, but, like I said, not a lot happened this week, due to illnesses!  So I had a lot of time to think :P

I hope you are all well and healthy!

I love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hello! - Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Hello All!

Sorry I am writing a day later than usual!!  I had what is affectionately known as Greenie Training yesterday (new missionary training) and, unbeknownst to me, it was an all day event where we did official paperwork, did a little sightseeing, and had training from our leaders.  So, we got permission to email home today instead!

Before I write about Hungary, I want to give a couple of shout outs to some people:
First, happy birthday to my little sister, N'Krysta!!!!  She turned 17 years old yesterday :D  Woot woot!!!!!  She is kind of a rock star in terms of how cool she is :D  I hope this year is the best of her life so far!
Also, congratulations to my friend, Nicole Grosso!  I heard she got called to the London England mission!!  That is so exciting :D  I am so happy for her!!

'Kay, now back to me :P  Jkjkjk.  But I am going to focus on a just a few main things this email:

Super P-Day:
I know you all have been waiting and waiting for these stories!  Well, here they are!  On super P-day last week, our zone leaders and us drove in a car (which in and of itself was an adventure, since I have been travelling on public transportation every day since I got here) in an awesome "road trip" to an old castle named Visegrád and then to the third biggest cathedral in Europe (and biggest in Hungary), named Esztergom.  It was so cool!  It is at times like these that I really realize that I am living in EUROPE!!!  There is SO MUCH history here!  If you are a history buff, I highly encourage you to look up Hungarian history and these places online-- you will get a much better comprehensive history.  But, here a couple of cool things that I learned.  Visegrád used to be the capital or something of Hungary when it was in its military peak.  During the medieval ages, Hungary ruled Europe and at one point, had 40,000 mounted troops and 10,000 foot soldiers under some crazy cool military leader located out of this castle.  (BTW, that army is bigger than my entire hometown!!!)  Esztergom is GIANT (see pictures) and has been rebuilt a couple of times.  There is one super old part of the cathedral, though, where, when the Turks were invading, a priest wanted to save part of the building and broke it into thousands of pieces and then buried them.  Years later, after he died, another priest who he told the story to, dug up the pieces and rebuilt the room.
Basically, on Super P-Day, we just got to see a lot of really cool places in Hungary!  It was a lot of fun!

I know I talked up the ballet last time!  It was really good!  We had one investigator who wanted to come with us.  It turned out to be him and SIX sister missionaries haha!  It was funny!  But we all really enjoyed the ballet (although maybe it was a little different telling of the Nutcracker than usual?  I am not sure!  If someone wants to send a synopsis, that would probably be helpful!  I haven't seen the Nutcracker since I was under 10 years old!)

We had Zone Conference this last week!!  It was so great!  Our mission president trained about the Great Apostasy using a really interesting book called The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration by Tad R. Callister.  We talked about the evidences of a Great Apostasy.  And then we had training by our APs and Zone Leaders.  I really enjoyed our Zone Leaders' training, as they talked about the importance of us as missionaries serving with our whole heart to help our investigators build their relationship with God.  I really think it is so important to put your whole heart into believing and then working on that belief, whether as an investigator, missionary, or member.  Go big or go home!  (That is my companion's and mine motto.)

Finally, (and best of all!) Orsi was baptized on Sunday!!!!  Woot woot!!!!!  It was great!  The entire Sunday was an interesting experience for me, though!  Guess what happened?! .........  I ended up playing the piano in church!!!  (I thought I dodged a bullet with the children's meeting, but little did I know.... :P)  I will usually plunk out prelude music before church starts until the pianist comes, but this past Sunday, he DIDN'T SHOW UP!  So, I ended up playing!  I was SO NERVOUS.  I have never played for people before!  And it was especially hard for me because I hadn't practiced any of the songs and I had to find them in the English hymn book from the Hungarian names (basically, I just sight read them, figured out what song it was, remembered the English title, then looked it up).  I was shaking pretty badly the first song!  It went pretty well, though.... until the last song :P  But everyone was just grateful to have someone play and so it worked out fine!  I also had some very philosophical thoughts while sitting up there about the importance of preparation!  If we do not prepare and put in the work ourselves, no matter how hard we pray, God can't really help us if there is no foundation for Him to work from.  But, like I said, my ward all thought I was super brave and clever for doing that last minute, and they all thanked me :)  It was funny, though, because I ALSO had to bear my testimony on Sunday as a new missionary.  And THEN they asked me last minute to play for the baptism too!  (Which I said the opening prayer for AND sang in a musical number)  My companion joked that they should find something else for me to do haha :P  The important thing, though, is that Orsi was baptized!  Funny moment:  She accidentally inhaled some water when she was immersed and came up and started to cough.  We were all a little concerned, but then one little girl, who had been very quiet, asked, "Orsi, jó volt?"  (Orsi, was it good?)  Orsi nodded and smiled :)  So that was cute!  And she skipped around the rest of the day, so happy!!  And that is why this gospel is so great.  The scriptures say that by His fruits, ye may know God.  This gospel brings JOY to people's lives!  It brought joy to Orsi and her family.  It has brought joy to my family and me!  This is one way that I know the gospel is true :)

I have felt very humbled by love this past week.  I have felt overwhelming love for the members.  I really feel like they are like family to me (one woman we visit calls us her daughters and makes us food every time we go over!)  And I have felt humbled by their love for me.  For instance, on Sunday, when everyone in the ward gave me encouraging smiles, words, and hugs after I botched the piano.  Or, last night, we went to a family night with two of our investigators to a member's house.  While there, I played with a 10 year old girl named Luca (who gave me stickers!).  De Leon told me after that she saw the family members and each of our investigators just plain old look at me with love in their eyes at some point during that night.  This was really touching for both of us.  I know that I was called to Hungary for specific reasons.  I think one of them is to help our specific investigators right now.  I often struggle to say things in this language to them.  They often struggle to express themselves in the gospel.  But, together, through the love of God and His help, we are all learning and growing.

Anyways, sorry this email was less detailed than others in the past (although, I am sure some of you were thankful for the shorter length haha).  I didn't have as much time as usual to write.

Just know that I love you!  I love this work!

Kramer Nővér

A group of missionaries at that delicious buffet I wrote about last week
At the Buda Halloween party put on by senior sisters
Same party.  A senior couple (Bagazzis) dancing on the dance floor.  It was super funny haha.
Our Fiatal Est Halloween party.  Mummy game!

Examples of monster cupcakes
The best monster we drew, I think!
The old castle we went to on Super Pday
Super P-day on way to old castle.

Pictures of the castle.
Skipping rocks on the Duna

 Esztergom.  We are against the pillars!  Look and you will see tiny us!

The really old part of Esztergom

Slovakia is the country across the river.  This is me pretending to leave mission boundaries (but really, not even being close, don't worry!)

Zone conference!  (I accidentally matched with one of the other sister missionaries haha)

Our group at the ballet!  (Now Gallion Nővér and I accidentally matched)

 Orsi's family, sisters who taught her.
Back with my MTC sisters!!!  (from Greenie training day, with Budapest in the background)

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Adventures in Kispest - Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Hello all!

Sorry that it has been so long since I last emailed!!!  There was a national holiday yesterday (November 1) and so we had a super P-Day, which means we had the whole day off, yesterday instead of our normal P-day on Monday!  But all of the stores were closed due to it being a national holiday, so we have our emailing time today!  This week is kind of strange because our P-day activites are spread out like that.  De Leon Nővér and I had a dinner appointment last night so we didn't use our whole P-day, but it ended up working out perfectly because we got special permission to split our P-Day.  So, this Saturday night, we are going to.... (duh duh dum)..... The Nutcracker, put on by the Russian Ballet (!!).  It is going to be AWESOME!!!  (And for those of you worrying, our mission president encourages us to take part in cultural events and gave us permission to see this!)  I am so excited!  It is going to be great!

Anyways, to tell you about this past week:  (let me apologize in advance-- probably because I am not used to emailing on Wednesday nights, I forgot my journal, my planner, and my camera at home.  So this email might be a little jumbled and without pictures :(  But do not fear!  I will be emailing again on Monday (my normal Pday) and will make up for the lack of pictures and whatever amusing stories I forget today :D )

So, let's go back to TWO Pdays ago and the adventures we went on then: It rained, so our options were limited.  But that is okay!  We went with a bunch of missionaries to a nice big Hungarian buffet.  It was sooo good!  They had lots of options, which were fun to try.  And they grilled meat right in front of us... mmmmm.  De Leon Nővér and I tried literally every single dessert there (we shared, so don't judge... too much :P).  Pictures to follow!  The rest of the day was pretty chill, as we wandered around a Hungarian mall.  It was not that different from America (although they had WAY more fabulous shoe stores!).  We decided to make sure every Pday after that involved a cultural activity or something, though (I do not want to spend my time in Hungary wandering around malls!)

This last week was a little interesting because both De Leon Nővér and I were sick.  But the work still moves forward!  We taught a lot of programs this last week :)

We taught Orsi about the Law of Tithing and some other commandments this last week.  I have the most fun planning for her lessons because I try and make them super fun and creative, as she is a nine year old with a short attention span!  For tithing, I drew her a little worksheet where we could practice making tenths of groups of smiley faces, hearts, and flowers.  We then filled out a real tithing slip with her that she gave to the Bishop this last Sunday!  She was so proud :)  We also taught about obeying the laws of the country.  You wouldn't think it was all that exciting, right?  Wrong.  Totally played Red Light-Green Light with her and her little sister for a good 10 or 15 minutes.  It was great haha :)  This week, we went to her apartment with Gérgö (the teenage member who is going to baptize her) and ran through her whole baptism program (which is happening this weekend).  It was so fun because we all got to pretend to be different people and talk like Charlie Brown's teacher (wah-wah-wah).  Afterwards, we put together a puzzle about baptism.  Seriously, I think I am about 5 years old in reality because these lessons are the greatest!  I always have so much fun :D

A really really interesting thing happened last Friday.... I went on my very first companion exchange!  This is where missionaries switch companions for a program or a day.  De Leon Nővér switched with my ősi, Hudspeth Nővér (who has only been here 6 weeks longer than I), which means there were two of us little greenies running around Kispest for a day!  Bah!  It was really fun, though!  The crazy thing is that I was the stronger speaker and knew the area better, so I led us around!  I have just barely been here for three weeks today!  But my companion trusted me!  So, we went through our normal schedule and taught a program.  And it went really really well!  We taught a cute little old néni from our ward about the importance of goals and having a good attitude when we work towards those goals.  I know that I had some help from God in understanding and talking, but I have also put in a lot of work studying!  We also went tabling and were able to hand out Books of Mormons and talk to people about our message.  Hudspeth Nővér accidentally gave one to a homeless person and tried set up an appointment with her haha.  It didn't really work because the lady said she didn't have an address or an apartment.  And then asked us for money :P  After that, though, we travelled back to Buda to meet up with our comps.  So we survived!  Stronger for it, I think!

De Leon Nővér and I are also teaching this cute little couple named Béla and Illona, who are super Catholic, but were given Books of Mormon and were intrigued by the subtitle "Another Testament of Jesus Christ."  Béla has read more than 300 pages in the last couple of weeks!  Hooha!  They are just really cute, too, and, when they heard I loved to cook, brought in an old worn Hungarian cookbook for me and De Leon Nővér and insisted that we use it!  We still haven't made anything, though, because we don't know very much cooking vocabulary!  haha.  But I will let you all know how our experimentation goes!

Speaking of food, though, I have had a lot of delicious Hungarian meals since I got here!  I just barely tried stuffed cabbage last night (cabbage stuffed with rice and meat-- really good actually!), a squash soup, lots of pastries filled with this cottage cheese type thing, and lots of crepes filled with that same cheese stuff and jam at members' homes.  YUM.  I need to watch out, though-- as much as I would appreciate the extra warmth a little extra "padding" would bring during the cold winter months, I want to stay healthy!  It has been an adventure cooking here, as they do not have all of the same options I am used to working with!  I am learning to adjust though and am still able to make healthy and delicious food on my own :D

We had some fun Halloween parties last week (again, pictures to come on Monday!).  It is kind of funny, actually, that we went to two Halloween parties here because 1) I am a missionary, so what the heck am I doing partying?  (Don't worry- I am just kidding!  We bring investigators to these events and it is great for them to hear spiritual thoughts and meet members their own age.) and 2) They don't even celebrate Halloween here!  So, both the parties were put on by missionaries haha (irony?).  The senior sisters at the mission home threw a GIANT Halloween party for the youth (they went all out).  It went from 7pm-4am (!!!) because the last metro left at 10pm or something and they wanted the party to go later than at.  De Leon Nővér and I, obviously, did not stay that late.  But we went with an investigator for a little bit and it was a lot of fun!  It is so important for the youth here to have somewhere to go because a lot of them are the only members in their families!  It is really neat to see how they are all friends with each other, though, and build each other up!  Then, for our Fiatal Est this past week, we threw our own Halloween party!  It turned out great!  We used a lot of the decorations from the other Halloween party (we are all about being thrifty :P) (and, actually, sidenote story: we went to pick the decorations up from the mission home and the mission president ended up driving us back to Kispest (he and his wife didn't think it as good of an idea as we did to lug decorations around on public transportation :P) and it was really neat to chat with him.  Turns out he grew up on the east coast, in Massachussetts, and then his family lived in the area for a long time.  AND it turns out he was a stake president in the Buffalo New York Stake during the 90s.  So, I asked him if he knew Cheryl and Matt (my aunt and uncle who lived there at the same time) and he said the name sounds familiar.  Just a coincidence story, but I thought I would share!)  Anyways, our party was great!  We played a mummy game (wrapped each other up in toilet paper), played ping pong, took funny pictures, had a "pumpkin carving contest" (aka we drew pumpkins on the whiteboard), played the monster drawing game (three people draw three different sections of a monster without knowing what the other sections look like- turns out really funny) and decorated monster cupcakes.  Everyone was OBSESSED with the frosting I made-- I found out that they don't really have frosting here?  They all called it the creme stuff haha and thought it was so delicious!

A funny story about Fiatal Est- we had two teams for an activity and invited everyone to make up names.  Gérgö wrote his name on the board and none of the missionaries knew what it meant.... except for ME!  Bahaha.  It was called the Flying Squirrels or something, but I was the only one to know the word for squirrel, as it was the very FIRST phrase I learned in Hungarian hahahaha :)  (A boy I knew taught it to me the DAY I opened my mission call!)  So now everyone thinks I am a lot more clever than I actually am, but it was so funny when I, the greenie, was the only one who understood :P

With the language, I have a lot more sympathy for people learning English!  Our grammar rules make no sense!  At least Hungarian is pretty logical!  My favorite word finds of this week (I have developed a new and strange love of just reading the dictionary haha) are ezermester (directly translated, it means thousand master.  Or, in other words, handyman! (master of a thousand little things)) and sárkányrepülő (directly translated- dragon-flier.  Any guesses to the English word we use?  Hang-glider!).  So, I am still enjoying the language, even though sometimes it is frustrating!  For the most part, though, I just stay excited about what I can say instead of getting down about what I cannot say!

I think I will save my stories and pictures about Super PDay for the next email (that way, you will get a whole weeks worth of stories in that email... also, we took about a kabillion pictures!), so look forward to that!

I have really been loving reading through old conference talks.  If you have a favorite, feel free to recommend it to me!  I really loved Uchtdorf's talk on patience from April 2010.  Go check it out!

I really appreciate everyone who has emailed and written me!!  Please continue doing so :)  Feel free to send pictures!  I would LOVE to see what you all dressed up as for Halloween!!!

I love you all!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, October 31, 2011

Hungary Week 2 - Monday, October 24, 2011

Hello all!

Well, I have officially had a full week in this country now!  Woohoo!  (Although, let's be honest-- it feels like I have been here for SO LONG (in a good way) because we do so much every day!)  My companion and Í laughed and laughed when we realized it would only be my second time in church yesterday.  We were both convinced I had been here a month or so!

Anyways, let me tell you a little about this past week's adventures:

First of all, I did not end up playing in the Primary Program at church.  A ward member who is super good at the piano turned out to be in town so he ended up accompanying.  It's funny- I was super relieved not to have to showcase my limited piano skills in front of my new ward, but I was also a little disappointed (haha) because I had been practicing every day to get ready.  Ok, I was probably more relieved than disappointed, though!!  And I was still able to use what I had practiced to help the primary kids practice before the program.  And THEN somehow I was assigned to play prelude music before church (my companion is a big believer in using our talents... and volunteering me for stuff haha) so I was still able to play before everyone:P  The program was super cute, though!  They all gave little talks and one girl played a song on the piano and another played a song on the guitar.  They were so cute!  And a lot of them were way too short for the microphone stand, which was funny :)  One girl who was in this intermediate height category tried to stand on the box thing by the podium, but she ended up towering over the microphone :P  I'm sending a picture of our cute little primary!!
There were two investigators baptized in our ward.  They were investigators of the elders in our ward (Taylor Elder and Schweiger Elder) and both of them are men in their thirties, I think.  The baptism on Saturday was neat because the ENTIRE ward showed up, it seemed!  And all the Nénis (Grandma type ladies) made TONS of food!  Seriously, there was a buffet table full of sandwiches and cookies and deliciousness!  I really liked that there was so much support for these new members.  The ward really welcomed them into the "ward family".  And the two men were both so excited to get baptized, and, then, on Sunday, be confirmed.  One of them after his confirmation, literally skipped down the aisle with a big grin on his face :)

We taught a fun lesson to Orsi (little 9 year old girl who is getting baptized in a couple of weeks) this past week about every member being a missionary (pictures included).  I drew some sister missionary coloring pages for her and her little sister and we all colored them and talked about what missionaries need to be missionaries.  The girls drew those things around their little missionaries- scriptures, a bag, a smile, a testimony, love, etc.  We told Orsi that she already had all of those things and we gave her a little tag (the one thing she didn't have from their list) and invited her to invite her friends to her baptism.  She was so excited that she started filling out names on the invitations we gave her right there!
So, I didn't tell you last time that I teach an English class here!  I taught it for the first time my second day here, which was kind of crazy to me.  But I teach the Profi class (the Pro class) and so we basically just have conversations and play games.  It is pretty funny sometimes.  For instance, this last time, we played "Two Truths and a Lie."  One boy said that he really loved computers for his first thing.  However, he said it something like this, "I am really cubed about computers."  I was super confused, especially since all the Hungarians in the class were like, "Yeah, he's cubed about computers!"  Turns out it is a Hungarian phrase or something referring to how you are hunched in front of the computer all the time?  IDK.  But it did NOT make sense in English!  (He ended up changing it to he is crazy about computers haha)  But I could totally relate because that happens to me a lot when I try to translate my English to Hungarian.  It doesn't always work because the different languages really just have different ways of expressing things.  And there are other different rules, too.  For instance, we have these two cute investigators named Béla and Illona.  (They are Roman Catholics in their sixties probably who were given the Book of Mormon last week and have already read a hundred pages of it!)  One time after meeting with them, I didn't shake their hands or give them puszi.  Béla called my companion later and asked if they had done something wrong.  It turns out they thought I was mad at them because I didn't say goodbye in the right way!  :(  De Leon Nővér explained I was REALLY new haha.  And I made them banana bread and apologized and we are all good again :)  But I am sure it will not be the last of accidental misunderstandings here!

I also practice English with a girl named Lilla in our ward who is a senior in High School.  Her English is SO good!  It is fun to practice with her because I can actually understand the conversation for once haha :P  Her family is so nice and gives us little treats whenever we go over to their flat.  Their family is all super tall-- I think her and her mom are probably about 6 ft tall.  Her little sister is so cute, too.  She greets us at the door whenever we go over and gives us kisses and hugs.  Then we all put on slippers (they don't go around houses without something covering their feet) and have conversations about the gospel and school and family and books and nature and whatever.  Their family is so rendes (a Hungarian term that we don't really have in English.  It means cool and sophisticated... kind of.).  And they are really strong in the gospel!

At our Fiatal Est this past week, we played Minute to Win It.  I remembered Noah going to a birthday party with that theme and suggested it for our Young People's night.  It was lots of fun!  I highly recommend it for a fun activity!  We added a game of our own-- Blindfolded Pictionary.  It was super funny!

Last PDay, we went to St. Istvan (St. Stephen's) cathedral.  I've included some pictures of that because it is gorgeous and very elaborate!  We also got to go and see his hand!  Yup, you read that right!  You could probably google it and get a better explanation than I am about to give you, but basically, St. Stephen was the first Christian king in Hungarian.  For whatever reason, they have his mummified hand and they bring it out during parades and stuff.  So that was interesting!  De Leon Nővér was such a good example to me on that PDay because she still talked to people about the gospel.  We are really missionaries all the time, not just when we schedule it :)

De Leon Nővér and I have worked so hard this past week!  Our goal was to make super standard in the mission (the highest goals we have) so we worked really hard!  We had about a kabillion appointments to teach and we handed out a whole box of Book of Mormons!  And she is so good at pushing me!  She had me call a bunch of people on the phone to make sure about appointments, I had to talk to people on the bus while we were travelling, etc.  But, as scary as it is, it is really good for me because sometimes I am too comfortable to let her do all the talking!  But, for instance, I talked to one lady on the bus all by myself (sometimes I feel about 5 years old when I talk about my accomplishments haha... "I'm a big girl now" :P) and gave her a pass-along card.  And we were able to have a conversation!  So that was really neat :)

We want to be able to get the youth of Hungary more interested in our message.  When Hungary was dedicated for missionary work, it was promised that the youth would be major forces in the gospel.  I have already seen that- so many of the youth are so strong, serving mini missions, talking to their friends, being the only members in their families, etc. etc.  But if any of you have great ideas about connecting with the youth and getting them to open up (so far we use a Sports Day where we play soccer), please send them my way!

I want you all to know that I laugh a LOT here!  It is hard (and sometimes disappointing) work (sometimes I have felt like crying, too) but this gospel brings JOY.  Like that investigator who skipped down the church aisle, it is something to be celebrated and enjoyed.  God wants us to be happy, but a lot of it is our choice!

So smile this week!  Reflect on all that God has given you!

I love you all!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, October 17, 2011

Szia Magyarországból!!! (Hello from Hungary!!!)

Hello all!

I am currently IN HUNGARY!!! Woohoo! It has been awesome! Let me tell you about my life since we last "talked." :)

(Just FYI, though-- it is an experience typing on an Hungarian keyboard!! The y and z are switched, there are additional letters, the symbols are in different places, and the computer tells me every word I type is spelled wrong because it is in English!! So if there are some funky mistakes in this email, sorry! I tried my best!)

(Wow, I'm just looking at my journal now-- so much has happened!! This is going to be a loong email!)

Anyways, let's take a quick trip back to the MTC before I talk about Hungary:

Our last TRC was on the Thursday before we left. Daybell Testvér's wife, Daybell Nővér, requested Christensen Nővér and I to teach her. We talked about charity and the importance of choosing to love in all aspects of life. She had not seen us in a couple of weeks and told us that we had improved SO MUCH! I think sometimes it is hard to see our own progress when we only move a little bit forward every day. But really, we have grown so much in so many ways since we started our missions a couple months ago! So that was nice to hear :) Afterwards, we all gathered around the Daybells and they gave us advice about Hungary. Daybell Testvér challenged us not to sit by our companions the first Sunday and to introduce ourself to the Bishop and ask to bear our testimony in sacrament meeting (stories about that later).

The Friday before I left, we had a new thing called in-field orientation, where the entire day was filled with workshops about in-field life. Much of our life in the MTC focused on teaching and learning the language (both very important) so this helped us learn about the practicalities and miracles of life in the field (missionary life away from the MTC), like working with the Spirit, goal setting, and working with members. Some of the workshops were taught by returned missionaries from this mini-documentary called "The District 2" that is used to help teach us (it just follows the missionaries around in the field while they are planning, teaching, etc.). So basically, they are "celebrities" in the MTC haha. One of the Hungarian sisters joked that she would get one of them to sign her Preach My Gospel (missionary study manual). She didn't actually do it. But it was funny!

The other days were basically full of goodbyes, pictures, and packing.

We did have a cool presentation about image that I really liked- the lady presenting said something I really liked: "Beauty is defined by action. Image (makeup, clothes) is a form of etiquette." Basically, those things are not beauty, but rather a courtesy to those we are with. It shows we care. And she told us to always ask ourselves if our image reflect that we care. Does our image reflect that of the Savior?

Anyways I'm going to skip ahead to traveling. We left on Monday afternoon from the MTC and we were all so excited. It was a weird experience getting on the bus and leaving the MTC grounds, where we had exclusively been for the last two and a half months. It was my district, some missionaries headed to Paris, France, and another missionary who had to go home because he had cancer (sad). We got to the airport and that was where the beginning of our adventures begin.

For those of you who do not know, I have a travel curse. It has previously struck by cancelling flights, forcing me to ride subways with tons of luggage, and sending me to Utah and my luggage to Scotland. (just a few examples) It came on in full force this past flight:

At the airport, I realized I couldn't find my little ticket thing they had printed for me at the MTC. It was ok, though, because we still had to check in and it was electronic. However, the bus driver insisted on calling just to make sure. We got in the airport to check in and the kiosk read my passport but refused to let me check in. (Travel curse.) I had to go to the little desk, where they checked my luggage, and tried to print my boarding pass off but they couldn't (travel curse). They finally realized that they had checked my luggage under the name of another missionary and that was why they couldn't. They finally got it all fixed and we went through security, where we were finally able to talk to our families a little bit. (Not for very long since it had taken awhile). We got on the plane, where I was actually graced with a window seat for the 9 hour flight. Which was awesome. The flight was great. We talked to a bunch of people, played games, saw the sun set and rise, slept, etc. I was so excited when we flew down into France. It was a lifelong dream come true to go there. I may or may not have seen the Eiffel tower in the distance (probablz not) but I like to think that I did! We got to France, got off the plane, walked through the airport and through a little check point. After that, we went to get our passports to go through customs. Guess what? Travel curse had struck again! I, absolutely horrified, realized that I did not have my passport with me! I knew I must have left in on the plane (and prayed really hard that it hadn't somehow been left in the SLC airport). We said a prayer, then begin the task of finding someone who could speak English that could help us (yeah, some advice: DON'T lose your passport. Especially don't lose it in a country where they don't speak your language!!!) We finally got to the right desk and they called to have someone check the plane. And then we waited. And waited. What was supposed to take 15 minutes ended up being an hour wait. But that was the cool part of the story: I prayed again and read 2 Nephi 4 about the Lord being our support and removing obstacles. And I felt the BIGGEST, BEST feeling of calm and peace. I KNEW that it would all be okay. I am not so sure that my companion was as confident as I was :P But we went up and asked again after an hour and a nice lady tracked down my passport for me! They had someone run it to us and all was well :D Although, the airport people were like, "Losing your passport is not a good idea, silly American girl." I know! (In my defense, I had checked my backpack before we got off and it was there. It just fell out while I was stuffing stuff into my backpack.) But I know the Lord really does watch us for us. I knew he wanted me to go to Hungary and would help the person looking find my passport. I know He blessed me with peace. And it all worked out okay, just like I knew it would. We got through customs super fast (there was NO LINE) and got to our gate with 2 hours to spare. And then I just wandered around the airport trying to understand French, eating French croissants. It was fun! Our flight to Hungary went without incident (we all had window flights, which was neat) and we arrived in Hungary Tuesday night :)

My first view of Hungary was of fields and houses with red roofs. We saw some cities the lower we descended. And in the airport, we talked to Hungarians (this language is REAL)! They told me I was adorable. (This has happened a lot since. They think it is really cute that I am trying to speak their language :P)

We were picked up by the APs. One of them turned out to be my old roommate and friend, Annie Anderson's, friend who I had met once and heard lots about, which was neat! It made a strange country a lot more familiar. The mission president and his wife were also there. We piled into cars and drove to the mission home. Budapest was all around us and I just stared out the window. To be perfectly honest, it is a city. It didn't feel all that different than other cities I have been in. It has beautiful architecture though! At the home, we had dinner, then went on a mini tour of some tourist spots.

The next day, we had breakfast, interviews, and went onto the streets with some missionaries. They gave us some Book of Mormons and some cards with info about our church on it and told us to talk to be people. My comp and I were lucky because we got to go with one of the experienced missionaries first and see an example. He actually talked to someone who was interested and he was able to give her a Book of Mormon and get her phone number so they could set up an appointment. That boosted our confidence! When it was our turn to talk to people, I just marched up to people and started talking. No one was interested haha :) That is okay though! I loved the experience anyways! I didn't come here expecting a lot of people to talk to me (heck, in real life, I don't like talking to random people on the street so I totally understand how they feel). I am here to offer the chance and do my best to show them the blessings this gospel brings and why it is so important in my life and how it should be that important to them too.

After lunch, we went into a room where our new trainers (missionaries who have been here longer that would be our new companions) were waiting. We sang songs, introduced ourselves, and then were assigned. My new companion's name is De Leon Nővér and we are serving in Kispest (part of of Budapest)! I love her! I KNEW we were going to be companions when she introduced herself and said that before her mission she loved Indie Rock. It was meant to be haha :) But really, we are a perfect fit and we keep finding funny connections between the two of us (we know a lot of the same people from BYU. We actually lived in the same apartment building there!) She has only been here for 7 transfers, but she has served as a trainer for mini-missionaries (who are Hungarians who serve a mission for 6 weeks or so) so her Hungarian is really good from SYL-ing for the last few transfers. We were assigned, took pictures with the mission president, grabbed my luggage, and then went. We bought a public transportation pass for me, and lugged my stuff across the subways to our new apartment. I didn't even have time to unpack because we had a program scheduled! I loved it :) They put me straight to work!

So, basically, I am a true missionary now! I have been working hard for the last few days! We have taught a lot of appointments and talked to a lot of people. We have set up a table in a park a few times with information on it and Books of Mormon. When people get off the bus, we talk to them about the book and if they are interested, give them a free copy and set up a time to meet with them again. I have talked to a few people all by myself and gotten their numbers and given them books! It was super exciting!

I definitely do not understand everything people say. They speak REALLY fast here. But I have found that I understand a lot through the words I do know and through context. And people were constantly surprised that I only got here on Tuesday. We went to a concert put on by missionaries and members on Friday with some of our investigators. At the refreshments afterwards, my companion told me to go introduce myself to church members and people. So off I went! I started talking to one member, by telling him I enjoyed his song. He started talking to me and eventually asked me when I had gotten to Hungary. I told him Tuesday and he could not believe it. He pulled someone else over and told them about that and said he thought I had been here for at least six months! I know I have a long ways to go with speaking but everyone is very complimentary of what I can say! This type of experience has happened often! And everyone always tells me I am adorable haha. De Leon Nővér jokes that the plan is to get me ready to be a trainer by my third transfer (which is 18 weeks here). I don't know about that! But I am working hard at improving! And De Leon Nővér is always giving me opportunities to grow. She will just ask me to explain stuff and share my testimony in lessons or talk to people. And so I am forced to talk! And it is great for me :)

I do not have time to tell you all the lessons we have taught but I will tell you a little bit about some of the people and what we do.

We have three investigators with baptismal dates!!! And bunches of other people that we have taught! We did the second best in the mission this past week, according to numbers (counting lessons taught, Book of Mormons given, etc.)

One of our investigators getting baptized is a little girl of 9 years old (Orsi) who is so excited and reads her children's version of the BOM every day! (It is fun to talk with the children because they just go and go and go. It is good practice for me to hear them speak and they are so friendly. They don't mind helping me with Hungarian!) Anyways, this last lesson with her, we brought the 17 year old that will be baptizing her with us and we practiced what the baptism will be like. It was so cute! I sat with her at church this last Sunday (not near my companion!) and she drew me a picture of a Hungarian house in my journal and gave me a bracelet.

Another story about church that will make you all laugh-- somehow I was signed up to accompany the children's primary program in sacrament meeting next week! I don't really play the piano? Haha :) But I one-hand accompanied them yesterday as they practiced (and all the little kids gave me encouraging thumbs up during and came and gave me hugs afterwards and told me I was really clever), and I have been practicing so I can actually do it. That's kind of been my welcome to the country-- we're glad you are here, let's put you to work! And I love it! That is why I am here! But maybe you could all pray for me for next Sunday!!! I will need the extra help!

Another investigator is named Zsuzsa. I didn't even realize she was our investigator at first because we met her at the concert and she just took me under her wing, pushing me to the dessert table and introducing me to everyone. And then she bore her testimony to another investigator there about the church!!! So I didn't even know she was investigating till afterwards!

Everyone here gives puszi (spelled wrong, I think, sorry) which are two kisses, one on each cheek, when you greet and say goodbye to someone you know. My first morning working, the Hungarian version of an Italian from Long Island (I swear he somehow even had the accent in Hungarian! It was funny) gave them to me and my companion. She apologized afterwards (because we are sister missionaries so we don't usually do it with men. although I wasn't that weirded out-- it just reminded me of home) but said apparently that happens quite often haha. They are very friendly and protective here once you get past the shell.

I've had some Hungarian food here, but not much yet. I've had a LOT of chocolate :D :D We actually had gyros one day, which was kind of random, but I mention this because, Dad, they actually pronounce the g and stuff here. You would appreciate it :P But my companion and I cook for ourselves a lot and are experimenting! Feel free to send recipes :D

I love it here! The city is perfect for me! The ward here is the strongest in Hungary and the members are so nice! And I love how many people are here for us to talk to and how there is always something happening!

This email is ridiculously long (I'll try to edit myself in the future) so I will end now. But if you all have any questions, send them my way!! I would love to hear about your lives (and see pictures TOO!). You are all allowed to email me, and that might be easier for most now, I don't know. But just so you know, my address here is:

1191 Budapest, Templom Tér 5

The address on my blog is the mission president's home. That works too!!!

For those at BYU, I know there is a super cheap option to send letters internationally in the mail place in the bookstore.

Anyways, keep the love coming! I will try to write to you all promptly. I am BUSY here though!! We work all day long! It is the best though :) And I know it will just get better and better as I grow!

Find someone to serve today! And do it with a smile :D


Kramer Nővér aka McKenna