Thursday, April 19, 2012

"Life isn't about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself." -George Bernard Shaw - Monday, April 16, 2012

Hello Family!

This week has been great!!!  We have worked SO HARD!

We also had Zone Conference this week.  It was so great!  It was President's last Zone Conference (next transfer is Interviews, then he and Sister Baughman are going home), and we talked a lot about what type of missionaries we are and what we can be.  President used another mission president's training, called "The Fourth Missionary" for his remarks.  It was really cool.  We talked about how it is so important that we put our heart in this work as missionaries.  It is not enough to simply follow the rules.  We need to love this work.  We ourselves need to change as we serve these people and God.  I really liked this quote from it, "The United States Army says, "Be all that you can be."  But neither the Army nor you know all that you can be.  The Lord says, "Let me make of you all that you can be." "  With God's help (if we are humble enough to turn to Him and accept His guidance), we can be way more than without his help.  I have actually been thinking about this a lot recently, coming to this thought: Faith doesn't change your circumstances (despite what so many people think).  Instead, faith changes you.  And then YOU can go and change your circumstances.  And find joy in that journey.

At Zone Conference, I was also able to hear De Leon's departing testimony.  (That's right.  My trainer is going home at the end of this transfer!!!  CRAZY!  I can't believe it!)  I love this tradition of hearing the missionaries going home sharing their love of this work and this country.  It is always inspiring and makes me think about what I will say (in a little less than a year... so still a ways away haha :P).  But, truly, time is flying here!  I have passed my 6 months in the country mark!  (Which I cannot believe!)  I have been through a fall and a winter and now flowers are blooming and the sun is shining.  It is really a very small time I get to do this.  I want to make every second count!  I love being a missionary!!!).  Anyways, I want to be able to confidantly stand up there and share my love and testimony of this work, this gospel, and my sincerity and dedication to it every single day.

Anyways, like I said, we have been busy this week!  We had the zone goal of talking to 300 people.  And we did it!  We talked to people all the time.  And I have some really cool stories from this:
-We passed out surveys asking what themes people were interested.  One boy about my age said he was interested in scripture study (a little less common choice for someone my age).  I asked him if he was religious and he told me that he was and read out of the Bible!  He hadn't heard of the Book of Mormon, so I ended up giving him a copy.
-We met people who used to meet with missionaries and would like to meet again!
-My favorite story: we were tabling one day, talking to people walking by.  These two high-school aged girls walked by, one of them commenting on our free English class.  I walked over to them and gave them a flyer about English class and we started talking.  One of the girls told me she didn't need to practice, she already spoke English.  I asked where she had learned and she told me she had done a study abroad in America for a year.  I asked her where (and you are never going to believe this), she said CONNECTICUT!!  She lived in Mystic, CT for a year!  Neither of us could believe it!  Hungary and Connecticut are both such random, little places, it was CRAZY that I met someone from there!  We talked some more and I ended up giving her a Book of Mormon and we exchanged information.  So, we'll see if it goes anywhere :)  But it was so neat (and random)!

All-in-all, Sister Papritz and I talked to 301 people this past week about the gospel!  Some conversations went better than others, but it was such a great goal to push us to talk to way more people than we normally would.  And that is so great because we really never know who might be interested :)  We want to continue to push our finding in the next couple of weeks by talking to people whenever we can!

Anyways, unrelated to missionary work, some people have been asking if there is anything I would like from America.  Well, we don't really have American food or products here.  Suggestions include mac'n'cheese (Kraft... or my favorite is Annie's white cheddar shells!), Oreos, Burt's Bees chapstick, various candies (the jolly ranchers were a big hit, Mom!), or whatever (not just food haha) you think I would like :)  I don't really need anything super practical (I still live in a developed country and can buy essentials myself) but if anyone would like to send anything fun, feel free :)  Thanks for all of the love and support!  I really appreciate all of you :)

Have an amazing week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

"Easter says you can put truth in a grave, but it won't stay there." -Clarence W. Hall - Tuesday, April 10, 2012


Hello!!  This week has been so great!!!!

I was finally able to watch General Conference!!!  YAY!!!  We had to schedule time in to do it during the week, but we were able to watch all of the sessions throughout the week (although this included a conference marathon on Sunday... 4 1/2 hours straight!) and it was SO worth it!  I hope all of you were able to listen to the guidance from our living prophets and apostles!  I know that I came away from conference spiritually rejuvenated and rededicated to be a better person!  I enjoyed the entire thing (it was seriously SO GOOD), but some favorite moments included:
-M. Russell Ballard's talk on families (I loved that families were such a theme in this conference.)
-"Our missionary experiences have to be current." -David F. Evans
-Jeffrey R. Holland's amazing talk about mercy
-Dieter F. Uchtdorf's amazing talk (also about mercy): "Be not overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good." "The Savior can forgive who he pleases; of us, it is required that we forgive all men.  Including ourselves!"

I didn't have time last week to really give you all a great overview of Szeged or the missionaries here (also, I actually didn't know all that much still... I hadn't even been here for a week when I last wrote).  So, here are some quick summaries:

-Beautiful little city in southern Hungary.  Actually, my last week's description (comparing it to Disneyland) is not half bad :P  I invite you to refer to that :D  And maybe Google or Wikipedia it if you're really curious :P

-Sister Papritz.  Seriously super super cool.  She is 24, going home in two transfers.  She is from Oregon.  Graduated from nursing school when she was 21 and has been working as a trauma nurse ever since.  She never wanted to serve a mission, but when she was praying about whether or not to go to grad school, she thought she might as well throw "mission" in as an option (fully expecting a "no" from Heavenly Father).  However, she recieved the answer that she should serve a mission (she was horrified at first), but arranged everything in her life to come.  She and three of her siblings ended up serving missions at the same time.  She says now that the mission is the best thing she has ever done in her entire life :D  We were basically insta-friends and we have been having so much fun while working here together!
-The elders.  Beaumont Elder and Moffett Elder.  They are the Zone Leaders for South-Eastern Hungary.  They are way cool.  From Canada and Idaho Falls respectively.  We have had a lot of fun with them on our P-Days together.  P-Day adventures from the past couple of weeks include shopping (our whole district loves fashion :D), hamburgers, playing at a park (with a crowd of Hungarian boys who spun us around on this satellite shaped toy), roller-skating (we rented roller skates and went zooming around Szeged and then around this cool speed-skating track), whipping on the Tisza (where this random Hungarian guy popped out of the woods and proceeded to put on a crazy awesome whipping show, including whipping behind his back and jumping over the whip), a giant sajt night (a Hungarian mission tradition that basically entails making homemade mozzarella sticks and then dipping them in various sauces (example, bbq sauce, thousand island dressing, pesto, etc.) and eating them.  Even though it is "tradition", I had never actually participated in before (my trainer was lactose intolerant, so it makes sense), so I have been going my whole mission with the misconception that sajt night (which rhymes- shite night, and means cheese night) was just plain slices of cheese grilled or something.  Thankfully I was wrong :P), and many more to come.  We also had an amazing district meeting with them and the Adamses, where we had some training and talked about goals for the transfer.  We talked about the transforming power of faith and I had a thought that I would like to share: Faith doesn't change your circumstances, it changes YOU!  And then you can go and change your circumstances!  (And find immense joy in that journey of change!)
-The Adamses.  They are a senior couple, sent here in August to open a young adult center for members and investigators.  I actually met their youngest son in the MTC, as he was preparing for a mission to Texas (small world!).  Sister Adams asked me to make sure that I told my mom that I had a proper Easter dinner (hosted by them this past Sunday... ham, potatoes, the whole shebang :D).

Ward (well, actually it is a still a branch.  ALMOST a ward, though!):
There are about 55 active members.  We have a super strong young population, due to this being a college town.  It is so cool to see young Hungarians standing for what they believe.

Sister Papritz and I are actually building up the investigator pool again, after she dropped a lot of investigators the week before I came.  It is a switch from Kispest, where I had just finished building up a super strong investigator pool (meaning we met with a lot of people every week), but I don't mind!  We actually have a zone consecration week this week, which basically just means that, as a zone, we have a goal of each companionship trying to initiate a gospel conversation with three hundred people this week!  It is the perfect goal to push our companionship to really talk to a lot of people about our message and hopefully find some that are interested!  The investigators that carried over from before, though, are way cool.  We have quite a few college-aged investigators (probably about half of our investigators), which is so sweet!

Anyways, I hope that all gives you a slightly better picture of my life here in Szeged!  There are probably about a million other things I could write about, but I'll leave it at that for this week :)  I will try to send pictures next week (out of time for now, sorry!)

Love you all!
McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." -Walt Disney - Monday, April 2, 2012

Hello dear family and friends!

Wow, this week has been crazy!!!  First of all, I am in SZEGED now!  And I am IN LOVE with this city!!!  But, I will backtrack and tell you how this love story all began:

First of all, I was still in Kispest at the beginning of this week (transfers are on Wednesdays in my mission).  So, I had to say a lot more goodbyes this past week.  It was so hard to say goodbye to people who have become family to me (I maybe cried again).  But, I know that this won't be the end of our friendship.  I will probably be back every now and then, we have the means to communicate, and, most importantly, I will always love them :)

Anyways, so I had tons of goodbyes to do and I had to pack and get everything organized before I left, so, to make a long story short, the first part of my week was VERY busy and VERY tiring (physically and emotionally).  To skip over all of that, though, we can just go straight to me and Sister Johnson lugging my GIANT suitcases on a vilamos to the metro (where, neat moment, btw: boy sitting across from us totally had a bag with "Hartford, Conn" written on it.  TOTALLY random, but fun!) up a ton of stairs to the mission home (THAT was quite the adventure!  Thankfully, I had lightened one of the suitcases!  Otherwise, I am not sure we would have made it :P) for transfers!  We headed over to the train station in a group to meet with our new companions and switch and to say hello and goodbye to other missionaries.  (Which, btw, Christensen Elder, who I served around for the last two transfers, went home!  It is SO WEIRD that missions end!  I mean, missionaries have been going home my whole mission, but it is weirder when someone I know leaves.  It makes it more real, I guess.)  Anyways, after about a billion pictures and hellos (it is fun- I know more and more missionaries every transfer!), and goodbyes (gave Sister Johnson a GIANT hug!  It has been a fun and growth-filled couple of transfers with her!), Sister Papritz and I teamed up and left.  Well, actually, we left to lunch with some of the other sisters.  And THEN we left Budapest.  I took my first train ride in the country!  It was looong (Szeged is just about as far away from Budapest as you can get... about a 2 1/2 hour train ride).  But it so fun!  Sister Papritz and I talked the ENTIRE time (which, actually, is a pretty good description of our entire week together haha!).  We arrived, dropped my stuff off at the apartment, then went to some meeting.  Then came home and talked some more as I unpacked :P

Basically, this week has been so great!  Everyone told Sister Papritz and I that we would never be companions, but we are and it is so fun!  (We learned a fun story about our being put together by President, by the way: Apparently the APs told President a few weeks before transfers that we wanted to serve together, just to let him know, not thinking he would actually do it.  President put our pictures together on his "transfer wall", looked at it, and said, "Oh, that's good...  Really good...  Tooo good." and then left us up together the entire time he was figuring out transfers!  And, then obviously, put us together!  But that does kind of describe our companionship-- "tooo good" haha)  We are already great friends (to illustrate our compatibility, we have only "disagreed" on one thing: love of sushi haha), we are able to teach together so well (there is such a difference being with someone who understands, who can speak, and who is a great teacher), we both love to laugh, and we both love to work :D  A lot of people have been asking if I am bothered by going junior, but really, we have decided we are "co-juniors" haha (Papritz's terminology).  Actually, we are in a super cool position as the most senior sister companionship in the mission.  (We decided that we are basically like the sister APs of the mission haha.)  In addition to our area, we have the responsibility be a good example for the rest of the mission and to help out the other sister companionships where we can.

This week has been filled with lots of work and fun all mixed together-- we have had tons of programs, fliering for English class, we went to an investigator's ice dancing show, church (where two new members were confirmed!), and ONE session of General Conference (the ward here has about 50 members and they are just going to wait for the translated DVD of conference to watch next Sunday.  So, last night, we and the Szeged elders (Beaumont Elder and Moffat Elder) went over to the senior couple's apartment to watch it online while eating waffles.)

It is different here in Szeged than in Budapest.  The city itself is very pretty.  We live right in the Belváros (aka the nice downtown) which is right on the river (the Tisza) and we are surrounded by colorful buildings (I kind of feel like I am living in Disneyland haha).  Our apartment is in a beautiful building that we call the "palace".  It is FULL of young people, due to the universities here.  I love it!  A lot of our investigators are young!  I am excited for this chance to connect with my own generation!

Anyways, I will send more stories and pictures of this place and my new companion next week!  (Out of time today, sorry!)  Just know that I love this work!  I love this gospel!  (And check out conference!  You all are so lucky that you can easily access the words of the prophet!  Take advantage of that blessing!)

Love you all!
McKenna aka Kramer Nővér