Sunday, January 8, 2012

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

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