Monday, June 11, 2012

"Everyday holds the possibility of a miracle." -Elizabeth David - Monday, June 11, 2012

Hello All!

Well, this week was pretty interesting, to say the least.

We had Zone Interviews this past week.  It was President and Sister Baughman's last.  They gave some really good trainings.  I really appreciated Sister Baughman's training about perfection.  She talked about how perfectionism can sometimes be a tool of Statan.  He knows that most of us won't be willfully disobedient, but he can get the lots of the same results (examples including guilt, unhappiness, selfishness, etc.) from perfectionism, so he'll use that.  I found that so interesting-- I had never thought about perfectionism that way before but it really can be a destructive attitude.  Not to say that we shouldn't try our best and that we shouldn't always be trying to be better, but it is important that we accept our limitations and work with God towards His goals.  This zone meeting was also Sister Papritz's last Zone Conference/Interview thing, so she gave her departing testimony.  It was really great :)  She talked about how a mission was never originally part of her life plans, but how she is so grateful she has done it.  She talked about how the mission has really helped her realize her potential and to better align her with eternal goals.  She held up a whole LONG list of blessings and reasons she is on a mission.  I can honestly say I already have a long list of reasons for myself and it is constantly growing.  I, too, am so grateful I chose to serve a mission!

After zone conference, Sister Papritz and I actually drove back to Budapest with the Baughmans and APs.  President Baughman gave us permission to switch our P-Days and go into Budapest for a couple of big events.  First, we went and saw an opera (Madame Butterfly) starring one of Sister Papritz's old investigators, who was baptized about a year ago :)  The opera was absolutely amazing!  (I am developing a slight obsession, I think, haha)  Afterwards, we were able to talk to her investigator in front of the historic opera house.  He is super sweet (and has the world's most AMAZING voice-- singing and speaking.  Imagine a bear.... with a honey-fied voice... or something like that haha.)  We slept over at the mission home and the next day we went to the wedding of one of my old Kispest family.  Westsik Lila married her sweetheart last Thursday and Friday (first here in Hungary by the state law, and then the next day in the London temple.).  I met with the Westsik family about once a week for 6 months-- they were always so supportive of our missionary work, welcoming us and our investigators into their home.  Lila and I became really good friends and so it was really special for me to go to her wedding.  Like I said, their family is very supportive of missionaries and we were actually able to take a photo of missionaries surrounding the bride and her husband (who is French and actually served a mission here about a year ago).  So it was a really neat experience!  I am so happy for her and her husband!  Other than that, Sister Papritz and I ate at our favorite Budapesti restaurant (Trofea's-- it is a Hungarian buffet) and did some souvenir shopping, as she is going home in A WEEK AND A HALF.  Craziness.

This past week was also the end of our 6x6 goal.  And, to be honest, it ended a little differently than we anticipated.  We had started this week with four new investigators planned, knowing that our week was crazy busy, but thinking we would easily achieve our goals.  However, one by one, each new investigator fell through.  We had a much shortened work week, but we still went went to work looking for new investigators.  We tracted our little hearts (and tired feet) out.  But we didn't find the two new investigators we needed to achieve standard!  We still found a lot of success-- we ended up with one let in, giving away a lot of "Book of Mormon"s, and meeting a lot of cool people.  But no standard.  However, sometimes God has bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves.  God decided to bless us with a different miracle this week-- a baptismal date instead of a new investigator!  And THAT is a pretty big miracle :)  After church yesterday, this really cool girl (her name is Nik-- I have been to her ice gala and graduation here) who has been an investigator for over a year and a half came into the room Sister Papritz and I were planning in, shut the door, and stood before us with her hands clasped nervously.  She told us that she had something to say... and then announced to Sister Papritz and I that she had decided she wants to be baptized!  We honestly were SHOCKED!  Lots of missionaries have worked with her- Sister Papritz has been working with her for 6 months, I have for my whole time in Szeged, and we love this girl to death and have been trying and trying to help her take this step.  However, after everything we tried to do, finally, the decision came out of the blue from her!!  We think it all pretty great :)  It IS totally crazy, though, because she decided she wants to be baptized in TWO weeks!!  So, needless to say, we have a lot to do to get everything ready :)  But I am so grateful!  She is an amazing girl and I am so glad she finally feels it is time for her to take this step that will bless her life forever.  Little did Sister Papritz and I know when we started this goal that we weren't working to get standard for six weeks; rather, we were working to see the different miracle of someone who wants to get baptized!!!

I just want you all to know that miracles do happen, wherever and whoever you are!!!  (I am including another miracle story, which I had a small part in, for your reading pleasure after my email.  It is from one of my best friends (Sarah Kemp, also a sister missionary right now, but in Alabama) that I just recieved today that really was just more testament about how much God cares about each and every single one of us.)  Look for the miracles in your life!  I know they are there, if you just take the time to look :)  2 Nephi 27:23

I love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Hermana Kemp's email:
There are many good things happening in the work. A few months ago while we were tracting in an apartment complex that is completely 99.9% filled with Spanish speaking people, we found the 0.1% that wasn't. He is actually Hungarian. He told us a little about his life and we talked to him about the Plan of Salvation. He had a bit of a hard time understanding us, but he seemed interested in having missionaries come back so we gave the referral to the English elders. They passed by and he wasn't as interested as we had originally thought, so they didn't start teaching him as an investigator, but they shared a message with him.

This last transfer, we gave this area to the other sisters to work in. They decided to retract all of the apartments because you can always find someone new. And so they ran into the same person and shared with him and invited him to church. And he came! While at church he told the sisters that he felt like crying and he didn't know why and they explained to him about the spirit. He was always full of questions and always called up the sisters to ask them what certain words meant in the pamphlets because he only had them in English. He didn't understand everything, but he loved all of it.

Last Tuesday, we happened to be in Birmingham, which never ever happens because we live 2 hours away in Huntsville. We only go down for transfers meetings if we are being transferred. But whenever we go down there, we are always excited to check our mail. So we did and I didn't have any letters :( But as we were leaving the mail just arrived and in it was a package from Kramer Nover (Sister Kramer) filled with Hungarian materials for this investigator! It was so exciting. He already had a Book of Mormon in Hungarian, but Sister Kramer and her companion and other members sent a Book of Mormon with their testimonies in it. He has never heard someone's testimony in his own language so I would imagine that it was pretty powerful. So we got back and we gave it to the elders who are teaching him. They gave it to him and he read all of it and loved it. On Sunday, yesterday, they went back and taught him again and set a baptismal date for the 23rd of this month! It's so exciting to see him happy and coming to church. His family still lives in Hungary and he is going to give them as a referral for the missionaries to go visit.

I'm so grateful that Sister Kramer sent that package and that Heavenly Father put us in Birmingham that day to get it!

This week, I learned something really cool from the Book of Mormon-we study and learn from the scriptures everyday, but this one really stuck with me. In Nephi 18 is the story about Nephi building a boat to go to the promised land. In verse 2, he says that he didn't build the boat according to the knowledge of man, but by the knowledge of God. That reminded me of missionary work. If the world saw the things that missionaries do, the schedule they keep, the miles they ride on bikes, and all the things they do all to invite others to come unto Christ, they would probably think they are crazy. Because what missionaries do is not "after the manner which is learned by man." We do missionary work "after the manner which the Lord [has] shown unto [us]."

Thursday, June 7, 2012

“You have not failed until you quit trying.” -Gordon B. Hinckley - Monday, June 4, 2012

Hello all!

This last week was crazy, yet again!  God once again blessed us with miracles to help us achieve our transfer goals!  I really have such a testimony that God pays attention to each and every single one of us.  He cares about this missionary work.  He is definitely working with Sister Papritz and I :)  The key is that we keep working and doing our hardest-- and it all works out, with His help!

Despite scheduling new appointments with new people (most of them cancelled), we found ourselves in the same boat this week as last week.  We needed one new investigator to make standard!!  We had a very busy week, full of programs and ward activities, so we didn't have a lot of time to go tracting.  Yesterday, though, after church and in-between programs, we went knock knock knocking and met the cutest old man!  He was super curious about the Book of Mormon, but doubted that we, as the young people we are, would be able to teach him anything new.  He actually asked us if we really thought we could teach him something.  We confidently told him yes.  He kind of looked at us doubtfully for awhile haha, but, as we continued to affirm our belief, he grew curious.  He challenged us to come back next week and teach him something new.  He is excited and so are we!  He told us how a lot of people in his life- his wife, his son, his grandchild- have died in the past few years and how he is all alone now.  It is so sad, but we know that the knowledge we have can help him!  How much peace and comfort will the Plan of Salvation bring him!  We believe that this life is not the end and that there is opportunity for us to live with those we love forever.

We also had the opportunity to go to Kecskemét this week and help the sisters there.  It was very interesting because it was a little different type of help than in Békéscsaba.  In Békéscsaba, we handed out tons of Book of Mormons and really helped the sisters with their work.  In Kecskemét, we were able to help the sisters themselves a little bit more, I think.  We still helped them out in the work, of course, going to programs and finding with them, but both Sister Papritz and I were able to talk to and give some good advice to the sisters there.  Missions are interesting and kind of hard sometimes.  They are definitely growing experiences!  In my mission, we are all spread across the country, pretty far from each other, which can be really hard for younger companionships, who don't really know the language very well or haven't been missionaries very long.  It is such a growing experience, though.  We all really have to rely on God's help out here.  And, it was actually really neat because we got to meet some really cool investigators of the Kecskeméti sisters and we both had our testimonies reaffirmed that there are prepared people everywhere for the gospel.  It doesn't really matter how well we speak (although it definitely helps), it doesn't matter how young in the mission we are, there are so many people that need and are searching for our message.  It is really just so important that we do our best-- God really will take care of the rest.

I decided to include lots of Gordon B. Hinckley quotes in my emails this week (Gordon B. Hinckley was the prophet for a lot of my life.  He died a couple of years ago, but he was an amazing man!) and I decided to share this one with all of you: “In all of living, have much fun and laughter. Life is to be enjoyed, not just endured.” I hope you are all finding the joy in life!  It is okay if your life isn't perfect.  Whose is?  We are here to be happy :)  I definitely believe that!

I love you all!  Thank you for your support!  Have a wonderful week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

"Miracles Happen Once In Awhile!" -You know, that song from Princess Diaries - Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Dear family and friends,

This past week has been awesome!

We had the greatest miracle.  Sister Papritz and I, like I have shared, have this goal of getting standard and speaking Hungarian for every one of the six weeks this transfer together (we are calling it the six by six goal).  Anyways, this past week was looking to be a doozy.  We didn't have any new investigators scheduled, and we need two new investigators to make at least standard.  But, believing, we wrote down our goal of getting two new investigators and got to work.  We remembered that we had taught one of our cute little néni neighbors a lesson, but had never set up with her again (which is required for it to count as a new investigator).  So, we went over to her apartment, set up with her again, and check!  One new investigator.  After that, though, we were out of clever little ideas like that, so all that was left was the ol' grind.  We got to work.  We tracted a LOT this past week (as that was the only other way we could find a new investigator, if someone let us in, let us teach a lesson, and set up again), with mixed success.  We were able to hand out quite a few Book of Mormons and got some promising numbers.  We also had some pretty discouraging doors.  Saturday, for example, we faithfully went out to tract (despite the GIANT bridge festival set up right outside our apartment (torture... we could literally smell festival food while studying haha)) and encountered some of the worst reception I have ever seen on my mission.  The first twenty or so doors just slammed in our faces, with things like, "Why on earth would you think I would be interested in that?"  "I do NOT like the Book of Mormon!!!", eye-rolling and shutting of doors without any words, etc. etc.  We honestly felt like God was testing our faith and diligence.  But we kept at it and tracted for a few hours straight, giving out some "Book of Mormon"s and getting numbers, but no new investigators.  We weren't worried, though-- we had planned for a couple of hours to tract on Sunday, hoping that we would meet someone then.  As our Sunday worked out, though, a program got moved, a different one ran long, and we ended up with literally only THIRTY MINUTES to tract and find, teach, and set up with somebody before we had a scheduled program.  We got to work on the top floor of our program's ten story, knocking and introducing the Book of Mormon.  We handed out one, but basically, most people weren't interested.  We moved down to the next floor and started knocking.  Nothing!  We had five minutes before our program, so we decided to try ONE LAST DOOR.  We knocked on the door, and a cute little néni answered.  It was my turn to go (we switch every other door introducing ourselves and why we are there), so I smiled nice and big and told her who we were and that we were giving this book away today.  She was interested.  We talked about the Book of Mormon, how it is scripture, like the Bible (which we love and read), teaching the same principles, but from different prophets in America.  Still interested!  We kept talking, explaining more about the Book of Mormon, and then asked if we might be able to say a prayer with her.  She was excited and said," You want to pray with me?  Come in!  Come in!"  So, she invited us in, we were able to talk a little more about the Book of Mormon and how the gospel blesses families, prayed, set up to meet and again, and then left, absolutely GRINNING.  She shut the door behind us and we just looked at each other disbelieving.  We had just gotten the new investigator we had been working and working towards!  It was so awesome!  God really has such a hand in missionary work!  I can't tell you how many miracles I see like that!  We work and work and work, and then God hands us miracles.  So, we are going strong with our goals!

The rest of the week was really great, too.  We were able to go to Békéscsaba, a cute, small town about two hours away, and "blitz" the area with our elders.  Basically, that means that all four of the Szeged missionaries stayed there and worked with the missionaries there to really give their work a boost.  I was able to go with one of the Békéscsaba sisters to a program with a less-active member, who was very cute.  We were able to talk to her about some of her concerns and just simply visit with this lonely lady, too.  When we left, she gave me two big kisses on my cheeks and told me she hopes that I serve there someday.  The people in that city are so kind and friendly!  After that, Sister Barnhart and I went tabling.  We were able to hand out 13 "Book of Mormon"s in under two hours and get 13 numbers to go with those.  It was such a big help to the sisters, who have really been struggling to find new people.  Now, they have a whole bunch of new people to meet with!  Sister Papritz and I are really in such a good position to help these other sister companionships.  We will be actually be doing the same thing in a different city (Kecskemét) tomorrow.  It takes a big chunk out of our own week, but it is so worth it!  We just work harder on the other days :)

We also had branch conference here this past Sunday.  President and Sister Baughman came down to Szeged and spoke to the branch.  I really appreciated their comments.  They are going home in a month and shared some of the things they have learned in the past 3 years serving here in Hungary.  President Baughman gave "Five Humble Suggestions for Strengthening the Church in Hungary" that I think are applicable for all of us.  They were 1) Continue to love and study the doctrines of the church ("We all need to be nourished by the good word of God. -Hinckley)  2) Live worthy to recieve personal revelation (Revelation is not just for prophets and apostles!) 3) Be united, not judgmental! (We are ALL works in progress.) 4) Always look for opportunities to share the gospel with others (If we pray for opportunities, miracles will happen) and 5) Point your lives towards the temple.

We had a lot of amazing programs, small moments, laughter (we had quite the adventure rearranging our apartment haha), growth, and happiness this week :)  This upcoming week is looking to be very very busy, but just as good!

I love you all!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

SMILE!!!! - Monday, May 21, 2012

Hello Family and Friends!

Another week has gone by!  What happened, you ask?  Good question :)

We had some really awesome programs this week.  The one I wanted to write about today was with a girl named Reni.  She is about 20 years old and a university student here in Szeged.  We've been meeting with her for awhile and we asked her to pray about the Book of Mormon last week.  (We really are here to introduce people to the gospel material and principles, then we encourage them to study it themselves, and take the time to ask God themselves if it is true or not.)  Anyways, she came to us this past week and told us that she wasn't really searching for a change.  She liked her church and her life and didn't see what was so different about ours.  I prayed for some great inspiration and started talking to her.  I explained that we really respected her strong relationship to God and really truly respected her church and religion.  I explained that we are here to introduce these things that we believe are true and that have brought us a lot of happiness with others and to invite them to learn about them.  I drew a picture on the board that an MTC instructor had shown us of all the blessings we receive after being baptized into this church-- listing things like the gift of the Holy Ghost, priesthood, temples, etc. etc.  As I wrote the list up there, I stepped back and looked at it all and something in particular popped out.  I told her that really the biggest blessing I think we get is the opportunity to go the the temple and make promises to God.  That felt like the right thing to be talking about, actually, so Sister Papritz and I started explaining what temples were.  The program ended with us giving her some more information about temples (feel free to follow the link and check out this issue of a church magazine all about temples) and with her going away a lot more contemplative.  Even if she decides she doesn't want to meet with us anymore, I know we needed to better explain the significance of the temple to her so she would truly be able to make the choice.  I'm so glad I was able to follow the Spirit's guidance in that lesson!  It is so cool how much God cares about each and every single person we teach :)

We had some funny tracting stories this past week.  We talked to this one old bácsi for ages and ages.  He told us how he read from the Bible and then shuffled over to his bookcase to try and find it for us.  He couldn't find it, though, so we finished our conversation and moved on to the next door.  While we were talking to the people there, we heard a call from down the hall.  "Hey girls!  I found my bible!"  The bácsi had come out into the hallway waving his Bible to show us haha :)  We gave him a big thumbs up and thanked him for sharing :P

Other fun news, the young adults in our branch participated in a dragon boat race this past week!  Yup, you read that right.  Basically, they crew-teamed in these long canoes with dragon heads on the side down the Tisza rivers against other dragon boat racing teams.  They recruited the young adults from other cities around Szeged (and even some from Romania!).  Sister Papritz and I had three investigators on the team, so we went and cheered them on :)  And it was definitely a lot of fun!.... buut... they weren't very good haha.  (They had only practiced once before the races.)  But they got to race three times, getting better and better every time (they really synced up after getting a durmmer).  They never won an individual race, but they ended up winning third overall, taking home a TROPHY!  We were shocked, but totally happy for them!  It was very random, but a lot of fun :D

What else has happened?  Hmm.... on kind of a random note, there is currently a GIANT wine festival going on in Szeged.  There will actually be various festivals (one on the bridge here this upcoming weekend!) and concerts and plays all summer long, and right now it happens to be the wine festival.  We have to walk by it every night on the way home, and, while obviously we don't participate in the wine tasting, we get serenaded by Hungarian musicians all night long :P

Oh and I gave a talk in church yesterday!  Yup, missionaries give a short talk every Sunday in this ward.  Actually, most missionaries in Hungary have given talks their entire missions, but since I started my mission in the biggest ward in Hungary, I've never had to before!  This was the first chance I ever had to give a talk in Hungarian!  I was pretty nervous (mostly because I never had done it before) but it went pretty well.  To summarize, I based my talk on this talk from last conference about how we need a church.  It is a question I think most of us run into a lot-- WHY do we need an organized church if we are basically good people anyways?  Basically, the church helps us become better people, giving us the opportunity to take the sacrament, serve others, and to reinforce and strengthen our testimony.  Anyways, I think it went pretty well-- a lot of people came up and thanked me for it, saying that I had helped them think about it in a different way than before.  And the Romanian girl told me my Hungarian was really good haha :P

So, anyways, this week has been fun :)  Sister Papritz and I again got standard AND spoke Hungarian for 6 plus days this week (we have a goal to do that every week this transfer and so far, we are three for three!).  We are having fun, but still working really hard :)  Life is great!!

Love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

"A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie." -Tenneva Jordan - Monday, May 14, 2012

Hello all!

Well, I just got to Skype with my family yesterday, so this feels a little redundant :P  I think I might just focus this emailing session on sending pictures (since I am sorely behind in that).  The fam and I had an amazing talk yesterday, though!  I was able to Skype with literally everyone, which was so awesome (we had a four-way video chat going on, to connect to family in Tennessee, Texas, and Connecticut).  (Yay for technology!)  The occasion for said conversation?  Mother's Day :)  I am so so so so so lucky to have the mother I do.  She is the hardest working, most giving, loving, awesome woman I know :)  Her example and teaching have really shaped a lot of who I am (pretty much the good part haha).  I am so grateful to have been raised by GOOD parents.  I see everyday here the effects of broken homes and I am so grateful and lucky to have always had home be a safe haven with loving and encouraging parents.  Our families and relationships truly are the most important part of our lives.  So, take the time this week to tell the people you love that you love them!  And then go and do something nice for them!  (I personally recommend hugs and cookie-baking togetherness :D)

Anyways, before I go off and send my photos, I just want you all to know that I STILL am SO happy to be here serving a mission :)  I can't say it is easy (as I was reminded yesterday, I am thousands of miles away from my family, and in addition to that, this language is hard, lots of people could care less, and there is always room to personally improve) but I am still loving this opportunity to work hard everyday and to share my beliefs!  I want you to know that I believe that God knows each of us.  I know that He wants us to be happy.  I know that we can be the happiEST when we follow His guidance in our lives, found in the scriptures, from prophets, and through prayer.  I am so grateful for this opportunity to personally grow closer to God, and to help others learn more about Him.

I love you all!  Have an amazing week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Arise and Shine Forth!! - Monday, May 7, 2012

Hello all!

This week has been so great!

We had the whole zone over for the Hungarian's version of Labor Day (they call it Work Day... and, basically, no one does work).  We went and saw a beautiful synagogue here in Szeged, had a photo scavenger hunt, ate palicsintas, and played game.  Pretty good day :)

Sister Papritz and I have been working crazy hard outside of that :)  And our work paid off!  We learned that we led the whole zone in numbers this past week!  We've been able to meet with a lot of new people, which is always great!

And, awesome story-- one of our newer investigators, named Evelin, is so cool!  She was one of the last people I spoke with during the 300 week, and I met with her a couple weeks ago with Sister Hudspeth while I was on splits.  Sister Papritz and I hadn't been able to meet with her, however, until this past Thursday.  Her program went so well.  We taught about the Restoration and she thought it all so interesting.  At the end, she said she was excited to go home and think because her head was just full of new ideas!  The next day, she came to Institute (a scripture study class) and a barbeque, on Saturday to a YSA activity, and to church on Sunday!  We met with her after church to talk about how she felt during all of that, and she told us that she has already been thinking about baptism!!!  We were shocked (we haven't really talked about it).  We were able to talk to her about a lot of her concerns (she is worried that she can't follow all of the commandments).  We talked about all of it and told her that she can slow down and take the time to learn more about all of this stuff (we have literally only met with her twice).  We promised her that the more she learned, the more she would want to follow the commandments.  It is so neat, though, because just through the activities, she saw the difference and happiness in the members and wants part of it.  I have high hopes for her :)

We also had district meeting this past week and it was so good.  I was able to share a success story and I chose to share a thought about my great-great-grandpa, who served a mission in Hungary in 1908.  I read some parts from his journal and letters about how the beginning of his mission.  He didn't know the language, didn't have materials, and didn't have a companion, but had such faith in the Lord.  He wrote about how he knew this was God's work and how if he worked hard, it would all work out.  By the end of his mission, he had learned the language, baptized people, translated the materials, started translating the Book of Mormon, and just worked miracles.  I know if we are humble, trust in God, and do our best, we will all see similar success in our lives.  (We also discussed Doctrine and Covenants section 4 and how we need to be focused on the Lord to qualify for his help and blessings.  Feel free to check it out!)

Other exciting news-- we had transfer calls this morning.  I have no idea how six weeks just FLEW by, but somehow it did and we were up for another call!  Sister Papritz and I are staying together, which is so so great :)  We were actually one of only two sister companionships that stayed together in the entire mission.  As for the rest of our district, Beaumont Elder is leaving Szeged to go to Budapest.  Our district was way tight this past transfer, so it's kind of sad to see him go, but we're all super excited for him to go and work his magic there (he is a very hard-working and good missionary.  He will be there to help transition in the new mission president at the beginning of July).  I am very excited for this upcoming month and a half.  Sister Papritz is now in her last transfer and we are determined to work super hard to make it the best one yet!

Also, Sister Papritz gave me a study journal this past week (I am obsessed with it!) and I wanted to share some of my thoughts that I wrote down.  I read this quote from C.S. Lewis that says, "The trouble is that relying on God has to begin all over again every day as if nothing had yet been done."  I loved that because it is so true.  I think I see that so clearly on a mission, where every day we have to wake up and work all day long even though we just did that the day before.  However, that hard work every day is the key because little by little we get better and better.  But we always have to work at it.  There will never be a point when we don't have to pray or study the scriptures.  Rather, we always should try our best and God will always help us.  And, working with God, our nature changes for the better.

Anyways, sorry if this email is kind of boring this week... I'm kind of tired today (I think the anticipation of transfers always tires me out).  I hope you all have way more energy in this upcoming week and treat each day as a gift!

I love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

P.S. A member here ordered the new For Strength of Youth pamphlet and lent us a copy in English.  I have been studying from it this past week and it is SO GOOD!  SO INSPIRED!  I encourage you all to read through it!  I love the section on agency-- direct quote: "Next to the bestowal of life itself, the right to direct your life is one of God's greatest gifts to you."  After reading that, I thought about how I am using and honoring this gift?  Do I respect my right to choose as much as God does?  Anyways, I know that the principles in it are good for everyone, not just for those ages 12-18 :P

Come What May and Love It!!! - Monday, April 30, 2012

Hello All!

This week was really great!  Sister Papritz and I worked really really hard and it paid off!  We had so many great programs!  We also talked in Hungarian all week!  It is so fun to speak Hungarian with Sister Papritz because we are both able to speak and understand.  I had such a funny moment while we were talking and realized that we were having the exact same conversation we would have had in English, but with totally different words and a different way of saying it.  It was pretty cool :)

We had a lot of really cool new investigators.  One is named Zsuzsa.  I streeted her while she was waiting for a friend and got her phone number.  Later, I called and set up.  She is a single mom of an 11 year old daughter, she sang for the Opera and now works as a voice therapist, and she is obsessed with keeping the earth green.  She rides her bike everywhere (including in the Critical Mass bike ride (apparently that is a worldwide thing) they had here for Earth Day and told us all about the recycling here in Szeged :)  Even cooler than all of that, she is really interested in our message.  She had read part of the Book of Mormon that I gave her and had lots of questions about it!  She also wanted to know why there are so many religions on the earth, so we talked about how Christ's church and power was lost from the world after the death of His apostles.  We explained how the Bible is such a wonderful book, but without inspired guidance, it is easy to interpret it differently according to the wisdom of men.  That's why we need the Book of Mormon!  To help clarify those doctrines!  We also talked about how we believe that Christ's church and power are once again on the earth today.  She was really intrigued!  We set up again after the program to meet again :)  We also decided to have a little concert together for our next meeting, with Sister Papritz playing the piano and her singing.

Yesterday, there was a conference in Dunaújváros (interesting fact: used to be called Stalin's City because it was thought the perfect communist city.  It is full of factories and 10 story apartments.) for the mission district here in Hungary (there is only one stake in the country... all of the other wards and branches are run under the mission president).  Our whole ward (and TWO investigators of ours!) took an almost three hour bus-ride over to Duna for the conference.  The conference was so good!  The members (including a recent convert and a recently returned sister missionary (who served in England)) talked about the importance of missionary work.  One man was so cool and talked about the importance of members in missionary work.  He asked the congregation: "What do you think missionaries ask church members to come to programs?  Is it because they can't teach or are lazy?  No!  It is because the investigators can see your example and testimony and draw strength from that!"  He also challenged the members to give referrals to the missionaries.  I wrote in my notes next to that: "I like this guy!"  Haha.  But, really, members are so important in our work. I can't even emphasize the difference members can make in the quality of the lessons.  Especially here in Hungary, where the members can relate to our investigators so much better (and so much more fluently) than we can!  But, it is so good for investigators to see that the live and active testimonies in the lives of members.

While I was in Duna, I said goodbye to De Leon Nővér (my trainer, who now serves in that city).  She leaves in 10 days, which is crazy.  She had such an influence on my mission (well, obviously, she was my first companion in the country) and set such a good example and standard for me.  I hope that I can still become a missionary like she is.  She has always loved loved loved the people and worked so hard.  I am going to miss her a lot, but I know that it is time for her to get back to normal life :)

Something really cool I read in my personal studies the other day was from Jeffrey R. Holland (one of the 12 apostles): "Please realize that the Church is not a monastery for perfect people, though all of us ought to be striving on the road to godliness.  No, at least one aspect of the Church is more like a hospital or an aid station, provided for those who are ill and want to get well, where one can get an infusion of spiritual nutrition and a supply of sustaining water in order to keep on climbing."  We have so many people who are worried that they are not good enough.  Well, God doesn't ask that we be perfect.  There was only ever one perfect person that lived (Jesus Christ).  Instead, God asks that we try and promises to help us every time that we fall short.  And we should be helping each other like that, too!  This life is all about trying every day, no matter how many times we fall.  And bit by bit, we get better and better :)

Oh, yeah, I also hit my half-way mark on the mission!  I have officially been a missionary for (now, more than) nine months!  That is so crazy to me.  It made me think a lot about the mission I have served and where I have fallen short and where I can grow.  I thought about the time I have left and all I still want to accomplish.  I am so grateful that I chose to serve a mission.  I feel that I have grown and learned at an accelerated rate during the course of my mission.  I think I am learning more than I am teaching! But, that is how the gospel works, I think.  We all have a personal relationship with God.  I can help people learn of Him and His church, but it is up to them to build and strengthen their relationship with Him.  I am grateful for the strengthening of my relationship with God and for the opportunities I have had to help some of His children grow closer to Him.  Missions are the best!

I hope you all are enjoying life as much as I am :P  Have an amazing week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

"If you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday." -Pearl Buck - Monday, April 23, 2012

Hello Family!

We have had an awesome week over here in good ol' Hungary!

Sister Papritz and I were able to go on splits with the sisters (Sister Hudspeth (my ősi from the MTC) and Sister Suranyi (Sister Papritz's greenie (and last companion))) in another city over (Kecskemét) this past week.  It was so great to be able to help them out!  Sister Papritz and I are really in such an awesome position to help out these young companionships!  We were able to help them with their work and the language.  As sisters here in Hungary, we really have an interesting position.  There are only 16 sisters total, so often young missionaries get put together.

We were able to meet with two of the people I streeted in last week's crazy push to talk to 300 people.  Both of these ladies are SO cool!  One, Evelin, is 20 years old.  She is studying American culture at a university here in Szeged and knew a little bit about our church (even that we are called Latter-Day Saints!).  She is super interested in the gospel teachings, too, and is excited to read her Book of Mormon!  The other woman is named Zsuzsa and is really curious about our religion.  It has been neat this past week to see additional growth and contact with some of the people we talked to.  It is added testimony to me that it is so important that we are always looking for prepared people (for example, Evelin was one of the LAST people we talked to that week!).  We don't know where they all are necessarily, but if we work our hardest, God will put them in our path!

One of the coolest moments this week involved a girl named Zsofi who was baptized the week before I came to Szeged (Papritz Nővér found this super prepared woman a couple of months ago and since then Zsofi accepted all of the lessons, married her boyfriend, and was baptized.  She is sooo AWESOME!).  We had her pick any topic she wanted out of the Gospel Principles manual (the book we use to teach one of the Sunday School classes) to teach us for the next lesson.  She picked the "Restoration of Jesus Christ's Church" (good topic!) and taught it to us yesterday.  I was awed.  She had read through the book, looked up things online and in scriptures, and taught us an AMAZING lesson.  (It was seriously better than many of the actual teachers here!)  My mind was blown to think that she hadn't even heard of any of this a couple months ago and now she was teaching the missionaries :)  The greatest part came at the end when she said, "Szeretném bizonyságomat tenni..."  (or "I would like to share my testimony..."  She then bore the sweetest testimony of the truthfulness of this gospel and the happiness it brings into lives.  I haven't even known this woman for her whole conversion, but I can see the light that the gospel has brought to her and her life.  We are bringers of light!  Obviously, though, she and God did most of the work on this!  I just feel humbled to be part of the process of helping amazing people like Zsofi!

Today, for P-Day, the elders and we dressed up in preppy clothes and took pictures around scenic Szeged (our district has a lot of fun together, can't you tell?).  Last week, our district went to this really cool place called Ópusztaszer.  It is this super cool park about Hungarian history.  We saw this horse show with Hungarians riding around on horses shooting arrows at things dressed in traditional Hun costume.  We saw an awesome panorama mural painting of the Hungarian conquering entrance into the Carpathian Basin (Hungarian history = pretty bloody and violent actually).  But it was super cool to learn more of the culture of these people we serve everyday!  I loved it!!

We have a district goal this week to SYL (speak your language) all week together.  Feel free to pray for us :P  (It is like I tell my English class every week-- God can help us with anything and everything, including learning another language!)  It is going to be great!

Anyways, I'm going to run :)  Sister Papritz and I found Tikka Masala in the grocery store today and are going to have an Indian FEAST tonight for dinner (complete with naan bread!).

Szeretlek benneteket!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

P.S. Sister Papritz and I discussed ideal care packages and came up with some items that should not have been neglected in my package-suggestion list last week (which consisted of mac'n'cheese, Burt's Bee's chapstick (the cooling-refreshing one!), Oreos, whatever).  (And, basically, that means we just had a drool-worthy conversation about all of the American food we sometimes miss.)   But for all you eager package-senders out there (:P), some additional items that you can feel free to include: Girl Scout Cookies, chocolate chips, peanut butter, Twizzlers, salsa, tortillas, Ranch dressing mix packets, CAKE MIXES (especially brownie ones).  (And obviously, we like to eat, but we like to have fun and dress well too!  Oh, and stationary would be great!  They don't have that here weirdly enough.)