Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Another Week

Hello All!

Sorry my email last week was so random! I forgot to bring my list of what to write about last week, so I was just writing about whatever popped into my head. But never fear! I have a lovely, LONG, extensive list this week to write about :) So enjoy:

First off, I would like to thank everyone who has been writing me and sending me packages! It is MUCH appreciated :) It's kind of funny, though. I feel like I'm getting so behind on responding-- in fact, I've been writing in letters "Sorry this has taken me so long", etc. However, I realized that some of those letters had only come a week before I was writing back. Which isn't really that long of a response time. However, every week here seems like a month! (In a good way!) I just have so much going on that my sense of time is skewed, I think, haha :P

I gave a talk in church two Sundays ago. They assign talks differently here in the MTC. Actually, they aren't really assigned. Basically, each week, every missionary in the branch writes a talk on one of the points of the missionary purpose (faith, Atonement, baptism, Holy Ghost, enduring to the end) and then, in sacrament meeting, it is announced who will be giving their talk. I was that lucky person! Baha. My talk was on faith in Jesus Christ. I literally had written only two things down-- a page number in Preach My Gospel and a scripture reference (which turned out to be the wrong one haha). But lest you be fooled, I had put a lot of thinking into the topic (one of the branch presidency had told me the week before that my turn was coming "soon." I didn't actually think he was serious, but I thought I should be prepared.) and the talk went really great!

I've been watching a lot of the videos on and A lot of them are so good! I recommend everyone check out the one about the Bible on homepage (or homepage archive). A quote I really really enjoyed from one of these videos ("We Lived with God") is, "The more we look at the universe, the less it looks like a great machine and the more it looks like a great thought." I know this is true. There is an LDS site for the youth (who knew?) and there is a video of the temple dedication in Ukraine. I loved it because it showcased the celebration for the temple and all the youth in surrounding countries that had come to celebrate. I loved it so much because the teenagers in the video are like the teenagers in Hungary-- pioneers of the gospel in their country!

We had our first SYL (Speak Your Language) day this past Friday! It went pretty well :) I was surprised by how much I could say and sobered by how much I couldn't :P It is going to become a weekly thing for our district, so hopefully that will help with speaking Hungarian. One of the hardest parts of Hungarian for me is figuring out the grammar while I speak. It's pretty complicated so, right now, I speak pretty haltingly. I know it will get better as I practice, though!

We said goodbye to the ösi this past Sunday. They flew out to Hungary Monday morning and got there sometime yesterday, I think. Before they left, the elders loudly chanted this famous inspirational Hungarian speech (translated, something like: "Hungarians, on your feet!"), like a Hungarian haka (I don't think that is spelled right). Pretty sweet. And we all took a lot of pictures (which I still haven't sent because the photo machine here is perpetually broken!). It was weird to say goodbye to our mentor group. They've been such a big part of the MTC experience for me. But I know that they are all great missionaries and Hungary is lucky to have them. Plus, I know none of them wanted to stay one more day in the MTC. Twelve weeks is a long time!

If they had stayed one more day, though, they would've had a really cool experience! Guess who was our devotional speaker last night? I'll give you a hint: We all stood when he entered the room. He and one of my brothers share a name. He tells it like it is. That's right! Jeffrey R. Holland, of the Twelve Apostles, was our speaker! And it was SO COOL!!!!!! I literally took 8 pages of notes haha! Most of it was directed at missionaries, but it was so cool. Basically, he said be the best you can be always. I know that he is a true apostle of God. I know President Monson is our prophet. I know this because I have prayed about it and God had let me know it is true. Plus, they give the best advice EVER!

Hungarians are SO cool. We've been learning a little more about their culture and history here and there, and I am in love with the country and its people. I don't know how much of its history you all know, but basically, it's been beat up a lot for a long time. Most recently, they were under Communist rule for a long time. Sometime in the fifties, though, kids about missionary age (19-21) decided to take their country back (there are still people alive in Hungary who fought in the Revolution). Using homemade bombs, they actually took their country back! But none of the UN nations would back them and the Communists came back with tanks a couple of weeks later. About that same time, the Olympics were happening. Hungary was (and is) famous for their water polo team. They had to choose whether to compete or not, and decided to compete for their fallen families, friends, and country. They made it to the finals, where they faced the Soviet Union (!!). That game was later described as a war. The water was apparently red with blood. And, when they finally called the game due to violence, the Hungarians had destroyed the Soviet Union. They didn't even allow them to score one goal. The Hungarians are full of spirit, despite all of the oppression they've suffered. Their national anthem is actually a prayer (written when the Church was getting restored, ironically) that asks God to bless the Hungarian. I am so excited to serve such a strong and enduring people.

We are spreading a love of Hungarian to lots of other missionaries here! Kind of haha. Basically, everyone is really fascinated with us and our name tags (because our names are backwards) so we talk to a lot of other missionaries. We usually teach them how to say "Hi" in Hungarian, and, after that, we hear Hungarian greetings all around MTC campus. It is neat!

We had a fire alarm here on Monday night. Probably one of the crazier parts of my week :P (Yup, we know how to live it up at the MTC haha!) It was after we were in our residence hall for the night, and some girl burned something in the microwave or something. But we all had to evacuate the building (loudest, most piercing alarm noise ever!) and sit outside for forty minutes. Fuuun.

We have some characters in my district. One of them is Cox Elder. My teachers call him "Aranyos" or "baby adorable". Daybell Testver said he wouldn't call many men adorable, but Cox Elder is an exception. For instance, the other day, he went up to fill in a chart at the board and did a little dance. Every time he filled in a part of the chart correctly, he sang "Tokeletes" or perfect! My other teacher, Erickson Testver, who is usually very serious, cracked up and sang "Tokeletes" with him and at the completion of the chart, led the entire district in singing it haha. It's kind of a thing now! My district is so fun and we are like family here at the MTC.

Here is the tongue twister I couldn't remember last time: Jamaika a Jamiakaiaké. Pronounced Ya-ma-ee-ka a Ya-ma-ee-aa-ka-ee-aa--kay. Not that hard, right? We also learned the longest word in Hungarian. Get ready: megszentségtelenithetetlenségkedéseitekért. That is actually one real word. It's some Catholic term (not used very often) that means for all of your alls' unsanctifiableness.

Another fun thing we were able to do recently was recite the First Vision in Hungarian outside on a beautiful morning. It was such a special experience. I think that the First Vision is one of the most powerful scriptures ever, and it was a new experience for me to say it in Hungarian.

Some interesting notes about Hungarian that I learned. When we pray in Hungarian, we ask the Lord to bless us so that we SHOULD do something. I think that is a cool way to pray. The Lord definitely wants to bless us and help us. However, we should help ourselves to by doing the work necessary to recieve those blessings. I thought that was neat.

Another cool devotional that I wouldn't to share really quickly before I run out of time was one about inviting people unto Christ. The woman speaking cited 1 Nephi 10:18. There is a way prepared for ALL men to come unto Christ. Do we really understand that every person we meet is a choice child of God with a way prepared to receive the gospel? She talked about the importance of commitments. And I would just like to challenge you to invite someone to know a little more about your faith. Invite them to read your favorite chapter of the BOM, to come to church, to come to Family Home Evening, to come to dinner. Be bold and confident! You could change someone's life :)

Keep sending letters! Feel free to send me packages :P Or even better, stories and pictures about you and your life!

Love you!

Sister Kramer

Sunday, August 28, 2011


Hello all!

First off, I wanted to say "Congratulations" to Sarah Kemp for getting a mission call to the Alabama Birmingham- Spanish speaking mission! WOOOHOOOO! Missions are the best! I am so excited for her! (Along those lines, ANYONE, feel free to send me your mission call and I will give you a shout out! Missions should be celebrated!!!)

Anyways, so I am in my "fifth" week at the MTC. WHAT?!?! Excuse me?!?! Where is the time going? I need to get a move on in order to learn this language so I can talk to people about the gospel in Hungary! It is kind of interesting how long I am here in the MTC. I think I am not bothered by it because I came expecting to be here this long. Also, I have a LOT to learn and I'm sure that I won't learn it all in the time that I do have. But everyone always looks at us very sympathetically when we tell them we are here for 12 weeks. This is probably because English speakers are only here for 3 weeks. I have already seen the first English group that came in the same day as me leave (fun note, btw: we had a district of elders going to the Boston Massachusetts mission (my home mission) in my zone! I tried to tell all of them to say hi if they ever went to Cromwell Ward... I'm not sure they will actually remember, though, haha :P The district that replaced them is heading to Florida (where I used to live). Coincidence. What a funny thing!)

So, my district is actually having our first SYL day this Friday. (SYL = Speak Your Language) So, basically, this means that on Friday, I will be speaking Hungarian all day. Feel free to pray for me :P I mostly know gospel terms, so it will be interesting (and probably really quiet) on Friday when we discover how much (or little) we actually know. But we need to speak more, so it will be good for us!

Kind of along those same lines, the older Hungarian district is finishing their consecration week today. (Consecration week is an entire SYL week right before you leave the MTC.) They are leaving this Monday. That means we will be the mentors for a new group of Hungarians probably the week after that! Baaah! I don't feel ready yet! But I know that it will be okay :)

Some fun things from this past week:

-We discovered how funny it is to read Spanish like Hungarian. You don't need to know all the pronunciations to know how funny this is. Basically, just understand that the "s" in Hungarian is a "sh" sound. Try reading Spanish. Feel free to laugh.

-One of our teacher taught us Hungarian tongue twisters the other day to try and help us with our pronunciation (one of them had a lot of "r" sounds (which we roll in Hungarian) and the other one had a lot of "s", "sz", "cs", etc. ("sh", "s", "ch", etc.). I don't have them written down write in front of me, so I can't specifically share them this week, but I do remember that he shared one just for fun that apparently Hungarians have a lot of trouble with. It's something super simple for Americans, something like: "Jamicai egy Jamicaian". I don't think that is it exactly, but it is just talking about Jamaicans and apparently they have a really hard time saying it? That was one instance in class where we felt quite masterful :P

-I don't know if I properly explained this in past emails, but Hungarian doesn't have a verb "to be." They have a verb "to exist" which they sometimes use in that same capacity. However, if I said "Thomas S. Monson egy profeta." (sorry for the lack of accents), it would mean "Thomas S. Monson (implied "is") a prophet." Kind of fun.

-I've run into a LOT of people I know here! I have a lot of friends who teach here and more and more friends coming in on missions. It is really nice to see them, but kind of weird, too, because I forget sometimes that I am a mile or so from where I used to live.

-I got to play sand volleyball the other day. SO FUN. The sand burned our feet, but it was so nice not to wear shoes :) I need to practice my dives, though.

-We've had REALLY awesome devotionals this past week! No time to write about them, though! Gotta go :P (Sorry!!)

Anyways, I've really appreciated all of the letters and thoughts and love! Keep it coming :D

<3 McKenna aka Sister Kramer

P.S. I asked around and apparently I can't attach photos to my email while I am in the MTC. Sad. But, I am working on getting photos printed and sent home (and to whoever else wants one). Funny story, though: I actually ordered a whole bunch of photos a week ago. But they didn't come and didn't come and didn't come. The Bookstore finally told me today that they think the machine LOST my photos! I think the MTC is enhancing my talent to lose things. I am apparently affecting inanimate objects now! Haha.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Another week!!!!

Hello everyone!

I think that time goes way faster when you have a little clock counting down every second! I will try and say everything I want to this week anyways and just ignore the ever-decreasing number :D

Also, I actually remembered my camera connector this week but I can't figure out how to access my photos (the computers are locked). So, I will keep trying and ask around, but you might just have to wait for photos until I can mail some home.

Anyways, onto the MTC! My weeks are starting to be quite routine. I'm on the same schedule that I will be for basically the rest of the time here, with every day completely planned out. So, it doesn't leave a lot of room for variety in my days.

Here are some fun new things, though:

-My ability to lose things has hit new heights here in the MTC. So far, I've lost (and FOUND) my wallet, my ID card, my missionary tag, eyeliner, etc. etc. It's a serious problem haha :) But, like I said, I have found everything that I lost. And I figure the MTC is the best place to lose things, as people here are very honest.

-Every Sunday, we get to watch a church movie at night. This past Sunday, we watch Mountain of the Lord. That was my FAVORITE when I was little! I can't even remember the last time I watched it, but it was really fun to revisit it. Also, watching movies with missionaries (mostly elders) is a really funny experience. They tend to be a very vocal audience haha.

-Christensen Nővér and I have been going to early morning exercise classes. So far, we've attended aerobics and pilates. We want to go to kickboxing. The classes are every morning (except Sundays) at 6am, so sometimes it is hard (especially since we have stuff scheduled at 7am) but I really enjoy starting my day with something active.

-One of our elders (Greaves Elder) has created a dinner tradition. He gets three drinks, milk (white), juice (red), and sprite + blue gatorade (green). He calls it a Hungarian flag and drinks it in 12 seconds. Basically, I guess I'm just trying to say I am surrounded by 19 year old boys haha. But they are fun! And so good spirited!

-We got to teach in the TRC this past Thursday. Basically, the TRC is where volunteers come to be taught a lesson. Our volunteers all speak Hungarian, so we can practice teaching people who aren't our teachers. Anyways, Christensen Nővér and I actually got to teach someone from Hungary! The girl we taught was a convert from Hungary who had served a mission in England and was just visiting Utah. We were shocked when we realized she wasn't joking when she said she was from Budapest. She spoke really fast, but the crazy thing is that we understood her! (For the most part at least :P) That gives me hope for Hungary!

-Erickson Testvér gave us a really motivating speech last week about trying our hardest as missionaries. He shared a story of an investigator he had taught in Hungary named Istven. It was a really beautiful story, full of miracles that had put the missionaries in touch with Istven. He had a beautiful testimony of the Book of Mormon, calling it the "book of books." Erickson Testvér told us that Istven had to move before he was baptized. Istven believed and wanted to be baptized, but Erickson Testvér went home before it could happen. With tears streaming down his face, Erickson Testvér told us that he tells every group of missionaries that he teaches about Istven. He asks every group to find Istven and baptize him. Basically, we learned even more that as we serve people, we will grow to love them like our family. We don't want to baptize people just to baptize them and make them members of the church. We are sharing this message is because it makes us happy and we know it is the way to everlasting joy. We love these people that we serve and want them to be as happy as possible. It is possible through a relationship with God, a knowledge of His plan for us, and accessing the Atonement!

I know you all probably don't care about my "investigators" (my teachers playing characters based on real people) like I do, but I will share how they are doing anyways :P

-We are teaching Maté still :) We taught about prayer and how prayer is really a two-way communication between you and God. We taught him how to pray, by saying "Dear Heavenly Father;" then saying your thoughts, questions, feelings, concerns; and closing in the name of Jesus Christ. His character is a 41-year old man with a 20-year old son, so we taught him that much like he wants to hear from his son, God wants to hear from him. It was such a sweet moment when we heard him pray for the first time in front of us.

-We also taught Maté about Joseph Smith. We had him read part of Joseph Smith history and sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer" for him. It was pretty special :)

-Daybell Testvér, who plays Maté, told Christensen Nővér and I after our last lesson that we spoke the best Hungarian out of all 4 of the companionships!!

-We also have a new "investigator" named Levente. He is a 23 year old who plays on a soccer team, has never had much to do with religion, but is interested in the Book of Mormon. He is kind of intimidating because he speaks really fast, but we are doing our best!

Anyways, I am out of time! Too soon, again!

Please write me :) I love hearing from you! Feel free to send pictures, stories, simple greetings, whatever :)

I love you all!

-McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Week 3

Hi everyone!

(To explain the title) I am technically in my THIRD week at the MTC, despite having only been here 14 days. That is because they count weeks starting on Monday or Sunday or something, so my first three day week counted as a whole week. Along those same lines, my estimated departure date from the MTC is on October 10th (which is actually a LOT earlier than I thought it would be?). And our estimated death date (end of the mission) is January 17th, 2013. For those of you who don't know, that is actually my 23rd birthday haha.

Anyways, THANK YOU everyone for the letters and DearElders and packages and emails! I feel loved :) I am trying my very best to write everyone back pretty quickly; if I haven't written you yet, it IS coming! I just have almost no time to write letters. Other than P-Day, I only get one hour of "free" time a day and during that last hour of the day, I have to get back to my room, get ready for bed, write in my journal, and then maybe try and write a letter haha :P So just be patient!

Anyways, I'm going to try to share a few more experiences from the MTC:

-First of all, Hungarian is really cool! Remember how I told you I am actually called Kramer Nover (excuse the lack of accents) here? So we were talking about the word Nover, and it literally means woman blood. So it really emphasizes that we are a sisterhood. Cool, huh? The grammer is intense, though! But I am saying ALL of my prayers in Hungarian now! And my district has made a goal to have a completely SYL day in a couple weeks! It is kind of an intimidating thought right now, but it gives us something to motivate us and work hard towards.

-Speaking of motivation, the other day in class, Daybell Testver had us all think about what movitates us as missionaries to do our best. My list included a lot of things, like love of the Savior, love of the Hungarian people, etc. but that every one of you also made the list! My family and friends are a big reason for me trying as hard as I do!

-Since my last letter, we finished teaching Gabi. We taught him a total of 5 lessons in less than a week. It was a super cool experience. At the end, I just felt so much love for someone who was essentially a character, and thought: If I care about a fake investigator so much, I can only imagine how strongly I will feel for the real people I serve. After our last lesson with Gabi, he thanked us for himself. The day after that, the man "playing" Gabi came in and talked to us about the experience. His name was actually Leindenbach Testver; he served in Hungary awhile ago (there was actually a picture of him on our classroom wall that none of us noticed haha). He taught us that even though our Hungarian was broken, we all were able to touch his heart. He told us that if we can keep our dependence on the Spirit and add to that language skills and experience, we will all be great missionaries! He told us he thought every companionship could have brought Gabi to baptism! He also told us that language is just one form of communication and it is the lesser of those. Love and the Spirit are so powerful and important in communicating and teaching the gospel message! We all wrote letters to our future prideful missionary selves, reminding ourselves of these simple truths.

-We are now teaching an investigator named Mate. We are teaching him the first discussion.

-Daybell Testver said something in class the other day that I really liked: "Heavenly Father shapes the back of the missionary to fit the burden that is placed upon it." I think this is true for everyone. He shapes us into who He needs us to be. It's not necessarily easy or painless, but it will make us better people, able to hand the burdens and trials given to us.

-I don't remember if I told you this last week, but we get to go to the Provo temple every week on P-Day! It is SO COOL to go with a bunch of other missionaries! (Especially since I've barely ever gone with people my own age haha)

-I'm already almost out of time! Ahhhh! I will try and hurry!

-We've had really cool devotionals from a lot of inspired people: a member of the YW presidency, members of 70, director of mission services, 2 BYU presidents (one of which was Cecil O.). I think they are some of my favorite parts of the MTC!

-My district has really bonded this past week! I feel like they are my family away from home, with sisters and little brothers. A lot of this bonding came about by singing excessive amounts of Disney songs haha :P

Keep up the love!! KEEP writing letters! I WILL write you back! And missionaries (especially this one) really love news from the outside world! Whoever you are, I would love to hear from you! Send me your questions, your thoughts, your life stories!!!

I love you all! Szeretem titeked!

-Sister McKenna A. H. Kramer

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

I am a MISSIONARY!!!! Woot woot!

Before I start telling you about all of the awesome things I have done in the past week, I just want to ask that people consider using It's free to sign up. Basically, you type a letter (like email) but the service will print it off and give it to me that same day. It is totally free while I am in the MTC and while I am in the mission field, it is the price of a stamp. So definitely consider using it for the next 11 weeks! I can only check email once a week on Wednesdays and for only 1/2 hour, so this would really help me out. And make me feel special during the week. Also, if you email me instead of writing me through letter or DearElder, please include your address so I can write a letter back to you (if you are not a member of my family.)

Anyways, enough of that. Onto the good stuff:

The first day here was crazy! I was dropped off by my family in front of the MTC, said goodbye, had some pictures taken, and then my new life began! Some elders (male missionaries) brought my luggage and I to a sister missionary who acted as my host for the day. She brought me around to various stations and then my classroom. At one of the stations, I recieved my missionary tag!!! It was a pretty exciting moment :) Something interesting to note-- on my tag, it does not read Sister Kramer. In Hungarian, they put the family name and then the given name or title, so I am actually called Kramer Nővér (pronounced Noovair). In my classroom, my teachers spoke only Hungarian to us, introducing themselves and giving us some basic instruction. My teachers' names are Daybell Testvér and Erickson Testvér. (Some interesting connections with them-- Daybell was in Michael Cheney's MTC district and Erickson was roommates with Devin Bell his freshman year. Weird how small the LDS world is, huh?) I also met my district. EIGHT new Hungarian speakers came that day (4 Elderek and 4 Nővérek, including me) and we more than doubled the Hungarian population. My companion's name is Christensen Nővér. She is from Idaho and was a music major at BYU. We were actually Facebook friends before we came into the MTC because of our mutual friend, Laurie, who let us both know that we were going to the Hungarian mission on the same day. And we are now companions! Thanks universe! Anyways, after class, we had dinner, unpacked, then went to a new missionary devotional, where the MTC presidency and their wives spoke. I got to give the closing prayer, which was pretty neat :)

The other days have been a blur. The first three days were so busy and full, it felt like three weeks. Since then, I've become more accustomed to the schedule and I am loving it here!!! The food is fine (I have not put on a pound yet, thank you very much!), we get to exercise every day (I just run and run because I have so much pent up energy. And then I go play four-square, which is a Hungarian tradition.), and we have LOTS and LOTS of classes. One day, I was literally in my classroom from 7AM to 7PM. But the Spirit is strong. We've had some awesome devotionals that I don't have time this week to share details about. And awesome teaching and learning experiences.

Some other neat connections that I have been able to make are:
-Sister Kara Leigh Grenfell. She left this past Monday, but before that we were able to see each other a bunch, talk, and take pictures together.
-Sister Danielle Roberts. (We worked together.) She doesn't leave for another week.
-Sister Sajatah Boyle!!!!!!! (My best friend when I was <5 years old.) I didn't even know she was serving a mission but we ran into each other on our classroom floor. She is going to Armenia! She leaves this week, I think.

Everyone has been asking about the Hungarian language and my learning of it. It IS hard to learn. I actually found out that, according to some language scale at the MTC, it is the third hardest language here, after Finnish and Mandarin. (However, the differences in difficulty are pretty slight, so call it how you will.) It is really nice and easy in some ways, such as the fact that it is written the way it sounds, so I can "read" Hungarian (out loud, at least). But the grammar is very difficult. Hungarian has more cases than any other language- 24 in total!!! And you kind of speak like Yoda. So that takes some getting used to. I just need to practice!

However, despite the difficulty, we actually taught an "investigator" on Friday, after being here less than two days. I was terrified. I don't actually speak Hungarian, remember? But we prepared some questions and were able to talk to "Gabi" about God. And the crazy thing is we had this conversation and could actually understand a lot of what he was saying. At the end, Christensen Nővér and I were both able to bear our testimonies. Here is my testimony (in Hungarian):

"Tudom, hogy Isten el. Tudom, hogy Isten szeret téged. Tudom, hogy Isten válaszol imákra. A Szentlélek által tudom, hogy ez egaz. Ezt mondom Jézus Krisztus, nevében, ámen."

(I know God lives. I know He loves you. I know this through the Holy Ghost. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

It's short, yes. But sincere. And pretty impressive for two days of Hungarian, I think :P

Anyways, I'm out of time!

Love you!


P.S. There are 400 sisters to 2200 elders!! We are just a little outnumbered haha :P