Sunday, January 8, 2012

Does this mean I get Senior Citizen discounts? - Monday, January 2, 2012

Hello All!

I don't know how many of you have heard the news, but we had transfers this past week and some pretty interesting things happened.  I'll let you all get the news like I did.  We received transfer calls on Tuesday and this is kind of how the conversation went:

AP Smith: Good morning sisters!  We have some pretty exciting news for you both.  Do you want to hear where Sister De Leon or Sister Kramer is going first?
De Leon Nővér: Sister Kramer! (Me (silently): Yes!  Let's get this suspense over with!)
AP Smith: Actually, we are going to save her news for last :P  (Me (silently): Dang it!)  Sister De Leon... you are going to Dunaújváros!
De Leon: Yay!!
AP Smith: Sister Kramer... you ready for this?
Me:  Ummm.... yes?
AP Smith: You are staying in Kispest.  (Me (silently): Yay!)  Sister Tiffany Johnson will be your companion.  Congratulations on going senior.
Me: Wait, WHAT?  (consequent state of shock... aka I organized my closet and ate chocolate truffles)

So, yeah, my new companion is one of my sisters from the MTC!!!  For those of you who don't know, this means that we are co-seniors!!!  (By the way, I am NOT training!  Our office elder accidentally sent out an email to all the missionaries' parents saying that their son or daughter was training.  THANKFULLY, not true haha!)  However, being a senior this early in my mission is not easy either!  This is basically unheard of for missionaries in their third transfer!!!  (Actually, I am not really sure if it has happened before).

It was super funny because EVERYBODY asked me how I was doing!  (Taylor Elder took De Leon Nővér aside and asked her how I was "taking it" haha).  I think they all expected me to go into a real state of shock (which, after the truffle eating, didn't really happen).  Honestly, I don't know that this is something I would have chosen for myself.  And I feel pretty inadequate for the job.  (Since it is in my area (and I am the better speaker), I am the more senior of the two, which puts the main responsibility on my shoulders.)  BUT.  As Sister Smith, one of the senior sisters here told me, it is pretty neat to realize that President Baughman and God have a lot of trust in me.  I know that if I work hard and trust in the Lord, it will all work out :)  It will pretty much guaranteed be really hard... but it will be okay :)

We actually switched companions this last Thursday.  On Transfer Day, all of the missionaries transferring meet up at this train station to meet up with their new companions.  De Leon Nővér and I drove there with our zone leaders (which we were very grateful for because her luggage weighed a TON!) and were able to visit with about half our mission.  I saw most of my group and ősi's and that was really fun.  Finally, though, it was time to go.  De Leon Nővér and I gave each other the biggest hug and then we left.  It was really hard saying good bye to her!  She was an amazing trainer and an amazing friend.  And, let's be honest, I was pretty nervous about figuring it all out without her.  She exhibited a lot of trust in me, though, which I really appreciated!  And Sister Johnson is going to be perfect for Kispest, I know!  She has such a sincere, sweet love for people and a great testimony!  I have loved her insights.  (AND.  We both love clothes and are totally okay with closet sharing!)  We are going to be good togther.  Heck, I hope that we become a powerhouse!

After being brought home by the Zone Leaders (again, very grateful for their car.  I am not really sure how we would have brought Sister Johnson's stuff (two giant suitcases, two guitars, 4 Christmas boxes) home on public transportation by ourself), I decided to take us to visit one of our investigators in the hospital to introduce Sister Johnson to the area and some of our investigators.  Using Sister De Leon's instructions, I tried to find this area.  However, after taking the vilamos to the stop she told me, I could NOT find the bus we wanted to switch to!  I called her for clarification (I know, I know, I didn't even make it one day without calling my trainer!  Haha.) and after more confusing directions, I finally just called Béla, our investigator.  He told me that we were actually at the wrong vilamos stop!!!  (Which explained a LOT).  He said that we needed to go two more, so we did... and STILL couldn't find the bus!!!  We were actually in a super sketchy part of town, and Sister Johnson was pretty nervous, having just come from a tiny tiny town to the biggest city in Hungary.  I called Béla back and it turns out he meant two stops in the other direction.  So, we went that way, found our bus, and then took about a half hour bus ride to the hospital!  We made it, though!  And we were able to share the Christmas story and sing hymns to our investigators, which I think they really appreciated.  So, it all worked out in the end :)  It was pretty funny at the time, though.  

Since then, I have been keeping us running!  We have been finding, I have been setting up appointments, we've taught a lessons, and I have led us all over Budapest.  We had a funny moment at the weekly "Gofri Est" at the mission home on Saturday, though.  President Baughman kept coming over and asking me if I was okay (probably about 3 times haha).  He told me that he worried about us (since we are so "young").  I told him we were fine and told him about some of things we had been doing.  He, relieved, said, "Oh, so you CAN use the phone!  Oh good!"  I couldn't help but laugh.  He didn't know if I could use the phone or not?!  What would he have done if I couldn't?  However, I think that exhibits a lot of faith on his part in us and in the Lord.  He trusted in the inspiration he felt and knew that we would make it happen with the Lord's help.  And I personally am really grateful that my trainer made me talk on the phone since my first day in the country.  l also led us around the city, led in lessons, filled out all the paperwork, and basically learned to do all the things with her that I am now doing every day and teaching Sister Johnson to do.  I am most grateful for the Lord's help, though.  I know that He has a lot of trust in me and is helping this happen.  If nothing else, He is also blessing me with a lot of peace in a time that could be really stressful.  I know that it will all be great :D

However, this past week was pretty easy, since we had Christmas and New Year's.  We spent a lot of other time with missionaries (who are all very willing to help us out).  It has been fun!
Stay tuned!  I have a pretty good feeling that this transfer will be FULL of funny moments and adventures!

Love you all!  Happy New Year's!!!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

A Quick Christmas Greeting - Monday, December 26, 2011

Hello All!

I just wanted to send a quick note wishing you all Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!  Happy Holidays!

This week has been fun!  We have done zone "blitzes" a bunch, meaning all the missionaries who could in our zone collected in one gathering place.  Then, about half of us sung Christmas carols and the other half streeted (talked to people walking by, people looking at the Book of Mormons, people who were listening to us and just wondering why the heck a bunch of 20 year olds were singing out in the cold, etc.)  It was a lot of fun!  It was really interesting because one day we were in a very touristy area and II ended up talking to more people who spoke non-Hungarian languages than actual languages!  Really-- I talked to people from Israel, Syria, France, Germany, America, etc.  It was a fun experience!  It was interesting doing this with the zone because a lot of people I talked to expressed their suprise at our commitment to share what we believe (we were quite the oddity as a large group of young adults singing Christmas carols in the middle of Budapest).  One man, in fact, told me that I should be partying instead!  I don't agree :P  I chose to serve a mission and I am grateful every day that Í did.  Yes, it is hard.  Yes, most kids my age are NOT doing something like this.  BUT (and this a big but!) it is WORTH IT.  I am sharing something I believe can change any life for the better!  I get to tell people that they are loved!  I get to be an instrument in helping people know God!  These last 5 months have been amazing!!

For Christmas, our investigator Zsuzsa received the gift of the Holy Ghost in sacrament meeting (a pretty great gift!).  We only had one hour of sacrament meeting (which I played Christmas songs for), but it was still special :)  It was great as missionaries to spend time with our ward "family" since we are all so far from home.  We have also spent a lot of time with our mission family-- we have had meals here at the Mission Home, with Christmas story tellings, carol singing, and game playing :)  De Leon Nővér and I tried to make this Christmas season special-- we bought a Christmas tree (decorated it with homemade bows and cookie cutters haha), did Secret Santa with our district, and of course, got each other gifts.  It has been interesting, though-- it has still felt like Christmas even without the excess of gifts!  And my favorite moments have been serving others (and making their holiday season special), teaching about Christ, and talking to my family (which I was able to do, with much joy, yesterday over Skype!!).  I encourage all of you to remember the truly important things this holiday season and beyond!

I love you all!  Merry Christmas!  Love each other!  Be happy!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

Boldog Karácsonyt! - Monday, December 19, 2011

Hello All!  Family, Friends, Random people reading my blog :P

I didn't have time last week to talk about this cool event we went to last Saturday, but Lila, a rocking member here in Kispest (seriously, the youth here are amazing!  Lila is only 18 years old, but she is the Young Women's president in our ward.  Another teenager, Gergő, is our mission leader.  I am so impressed with their willingness to take on such big responsibilities to serve others at a time when most of their peers are just worried about themselves.... anyways, got off track :P), invited De Leon Nővér and I to her high school performance.  There is not really an equivalent in America, but basically, it is a mixture of prom, graduation, and a talent show.  The students practice dances and perform those group dances, along with some individual talents, in front of their family and friends.  It is apparently a big deal to be invited, so we felt honored :)  After getting permission, we went, and it was so fun!  Most random moments?  A trio of accordion players performing a song.  A drinking dance (Europe is different than America).  Cute moments?  Whenever we saw Lila- she was so poised and elegant.  Also, after the last group dance, the parents were invited up to dance with their children.  So, Lila's dad went up on the stage and danced with her and it was super cute.  Yay for parents!  See pictures for some of the fun :)  One of the best moments was after the performances, when De Leon Nővér, Luca, and I went up on the empty stage and danced around while singing songs and laughing really hard.  We had a little audience that took pictures and cheered for us after haha :)

Anyways, onto THIS past week haha :P

Our themed day this past week was "We Speak American" day, in honor of our last English class of the year.  We ate McDonald's for lunch (yup, McDonald's definitely exists here.  Actually, it is kind of nicer here than in America, as far as the interiors go.  They have special sandwich that rotate every month or so, and last month they had the "New York Klaszik" and the Chicago BBQ, which made me laugh.  Eating American food in Hungary = weird but delicious) and made chocolate chip cookies.  I read from the Book of Mormon (takes place on American continent) and Standing for Something by President Hinckley (in the introduction, he talks about how much he loves America and the potential we have, and then goes on to write about 10 neglected virtures in our society... SUPERB book!).  De Leon Nővér and I dressed in the good old red, white, and blue :P  And we spoke a lot of English that day, which was weird (we spoke English because we taught English class and helped Lila practice English).  It was fun!

That day was interesting because our mission leader, Gergő, went on emergency splits with some elders in our zone.  We made a zone goal this past week to all get standard in this week, the last full week of the year.  But, then, one of the Pest elders got really really sick.  Rather than cancel all their programs, President Baughman encouraged Taylor Elder (one of the Zone Leaders) to split with the Pest elder's healthy companion (Greaves Elder, from my group in the MTC), and Gergő was temporarily called back as a mini-missionary to split with Schweiger Elder.  So, De Leon Nővér and I went tabling with Schweiger Elder and Gergő (or, I should say, Medvecky Elder) and it was a lot of fun!  Gergő was able to help a lot (because he speaks Hungarian perfectly) and I felt like I improved a lot in that short little bit of time.  It was raining that day, but we tabled underneath a big roofed shopping area near a bus stop and were able to talk to a lot of people!

On Friday, some youth from another city came to the mission home for Waffle Night and put on a little play about Christmas spirit.  We were all super impressed because they put a lot of work and preparation into it all!  They had a projected backdrop that would change when the scenes would change.  They told a cute story about charity, family, and love.  I saw a few people wipe tears away in the audience :)  What impressed me the most, though, is how many youth they found to come and put the play on!  There were probably about 7 or 8 youth (that is a giant group for one ward here in Hungary.  There are not a whole lot of 12-18 year olds in the church, as the mission work has only been open for the last 20 years.  There are way more little kids and more YSA aged people in the church here).  It is so inspiring to see other people's dedication and testimony and service!

Saturday was our ward Christmas party/concert.  That turned out to be kind of interesting because De Leon Nővér and I had misunderstood a few key things.  For instance, when it actually started!!!  We had told all of our investigators the concert started at 6pm, but it actually started at 4pm!  We didn't figure that out ourselves until we showed up at 4:15pm or so and our entire ward was watching a family put on the Christmas story.  De Leon Nővér and I were performing in the concert ourselves (but we had no idea as to when exactly we would be called upon to perform), so we hurriedly called as many people as we could remember, then went on to perform.  Everything worked out just fine in the end.  Our 5pm program sat through the concert with us.  Some of our investigators were able to come right then.  And the concert ended beautifully with a missionary group and ward singing of Silent Night (accompanied by me on the piano).  I sure felt flustered that night, though!

Any flustered feelings were made up for yesterday, though!  Yesterday was amazing!  (I saved the best for last!)  Zsuzsa, our investigator, was baptized!!!  This has been a long road for her to travel.  But I have loved her attitude of asking questions and looking for answers the whole way.  She has faithfully prayed and studied from the scriptures and books.  Through her diligent seeking, she has come from someone who didn't believe in God to a woman who shares her testimony with EVERYONE!!  She and another man named Béla were baptized yesterday, and I think it was an especially beautiful service and ceremony.  Zsuzsa had asked for a few of the missionaries who taught her to bear their testimonies, so I, along with some other missionaries, were able to bear our testimonies.  I told everyone that I know I speak simply, but I feel strongly about these things-- God lives.  He loves us.  He wants us to be happy.  All the sister missionaries there sang a pretty duet ("A Child's Prayer).  There were amazing speakers that made everyone, including themselves, tear up.  My favorite moment, though, was watching Zsuzsa and Béla walk back into the chapel after having been baptized.  They both just GLOWED!!!!  They were so clean and pure and happy!  And that type of joy is what God wants for us, I think :)  I felt very grateful and humbled to have been a part of this experience for someone!  I also loved that, after the program, everyone there (and the chapel was PACKED) lined up to individually congratulate the two individuals and welcome them to the ward :)

Anyways, this week is a special zone conference.  De Leon Nővér and I will be giving a training on happiness :P

And after that, as you all know, Christmas is on Sunday.  Here in Hungary, they actually have two "Christmases".  One, earlier in the month, is actually Santa Claus's day.  That is when Saint Mikolás brings candies and gifts.  December 25th here is the day Christ comes.  I think it is neat they distinguish his birth day from that of Santa Claus.  I wish you all the greatest holiday season!  This Christmas, I get to Skype with my family!!   I am so excited to talk to them "face-to-face" for an hour!  I encourage you all to really value and appreciate the time you spend with your loved ones this holiday season!

I think we have transfers the week after Christmas (it is a short transfer this time).  I have heard rumors that I might go senior (probably co-senior with someone from my MTC group).  Please remember me in your prayers!  That will be a BIG responsibility for someone as young as I am in the mission if it actually happens!

I am not sure when I will be emailing next week, but just know that I love you!  Happy Holidays!  Tell your family you love them!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér