I don't even know where to start with on this CRAZY crazy week. Well, okay, I guess at the beginning.
Tuesday was insane. Sister Papritz and I had 7 or 8 goodbye programs. And then she still had to pack. So, it was super super busy, to say the least. But we survived (barely).
Wednesday, we had to wake up at 5AM to catch the train up to Budapest. It was a miracle we made it, to be perfectly honest. We thankfully didn't have to drag her luggage along (the elders were driving it for us), but we had to grab all her remaining stuff and get ready. It took a little bit more time than we expected, so we missed our vilamos and had to wait for the next one. We thought for sure that we had missed the train because of that and that we would have to wait an hour for the next one. However, we got to the train station and saw that the train left three minutes later than we thought, so we sprinted upstairs, bought tickets, and ran to the train (half expecting to have to jump onto the moving platform). However, we got there with a full 60 seconds to spare! Small blessing from upstairs :)
I had my trainer meeting at 11am, so we waited around the mission home, talking to other missionaries and taking occasional turns by ourselves. Finally, the hour came, and with butterflies in my stomach, I went into the meeting. The APs talked to the seven trainers about how to be good trainers, President Baughman talked a little bit, and then the greenies came in. We sang a song, then (as trainers) had to introduce ourselves, talk about our families, what areas we had served in, and bear our testimonies. I felt so young next to everyone. Everyone else was older (except for Sister Johnson) and everyone had had more areas than me. I kind of had the thought-- am I supposed to be in this meeting? But I knew that I was. I bore my testimony about the transforming power of the gospel and then sat down to assess which of the two sisters would be my greenie! They both seemed very cute. Sister Papritz had been convinced I would get the one named Sister Fox, as she knew her. But I wasn't so sure. And after the two of them bore their testimonies, that feeling was even stronger. But, I didn't know for sure which one I would train until President announced Sister Fox's companion as... Sister Johnson! And, using my powerful deductive skills, I realized that meant that I would be paired with.... Sister Hardy! (see attached picture) We hugged, sat down, and that was that! I finally had received my long-awaited greenie!
Before Sister Hardy and I left Budapest that day, I had to say goodbye to Sister Papritz. And I would be doing her an injustice if I didn't include in this email a little bit how much I love her! And how much I appreciated our time together! She was an amazing missionary! And a best friend :) I was really lucky to serve with her! I know it is her time to go home, and I know that she will do amazing things there, much like she did here!
Anyways, after lunch and goodbyes, Sister Hardy and I headed back to Szeged on the train (thankfully, with elders taking our luggage again). She was so tired, poor little greenie (traveled from Monday-Tuesday and had a busy Wednesday already). We talked a lot, then she took a little nap as I made phone calls. Actually, most of the people in the car were sleeping, which was unfortunate because I really wanted to talk to some of them with her about the gospel and introduce her to missionary work from the start. I considered poking someone and asking them if they had heard about our church, but figured that wouldn't go over so well. (Just kidding, of course.) Finally, though, at the end of our train ride we were able to talk to a man sitting next to me. I asked him (he had finally woken up haha) how close we were to Szeged and he answered me in English! Apparently he was coming back after 14 years of living in America. We were able to talk to him about our church (he knew about us, having visited one our temples in Hawaii and having played basketball with some missionaries in America) and he said he would love to come to church in a couple of weeks! We will see if he comes, but it was still a neat experience :) The elders picked us up and we took the long way home through Szeged so that Elder Nealy and I could show our new companions this beautiful city that we love! We are all very excited to be here :)
Sister Hardy and I have had an amazing week since then.
First of all, NIK WAS BAPTIZED!!!!! (see picture) It was so special to see the culmination of her two years of investigating this past weekend. Her baptism was very special. She had a lot of missionaries there who had been part of teaching her. (Since Sister Papritz couldn't be there, I drew a little Sister Papritz on a piece of paper (see picture) so she could be included in the pictures with Nik... she had a big part in Nik's growth and decision). There were ward members there supporting her. Even her mom came! (Her mom is not very supportive of her involvement in the church, so this was a big step.) The baptism was beautiful. It was full of music (Nik wanted lots of hymns to be sung!). The talks were great! Nik couldn't stop smiling :) Which is how it should be! We receive a lot of joy when we are obedient to God's commandments! Nik received the gift of the Holy Ghost this past Sunday and it was again very special. She absolutely beamed afterwards. She told me she has been feeling happier and calmer :) I am SO HAPPY for her!
Second of all, God has REALLY been helping me be a trainer! One example in particular: We had a program with an investigator named Dr. Ágnes this past week. Sister Papritz and I had met with her a few times and she was always super difficult to understand. She is super educated (she is a professor here at the university and is a voice therapist) and just really enjoys speaking beautifully and poetically. Anyways, so that was worry number one that I wouldn't understand. Also, in the past, whenever I spoke, she insisted on not understanding me. I don't know why-- I wasn't even saying anything out of the ordinary. But she would always look confused and say, "I don't understand." Which was always really frustrating and my worry number two-- that she wouldn't even understand me if I said anything! I had debated inviting a church member, but in the end decided this was one of my tests as trainer. We went to her house to teach her the Plan of Salvation. And-- here's the miracle-- it went great! We had a really great lesson, addressing some of her concerns and questions about where we go after we die. And we were both able to understand and talk to each other! Miracle.
I have seen a lot of miracles like that this past week! I am so grateful that God is helping me with this responsibility!! Because it is a big responsibility to train a new missionary. I think I am more stressed about it than my greenie is :P But I have also been blessed with an amazing "daughter". To let you all know a little bit about her: Her name is Sister Hardy. She is from Portland, Oregon. She was studying English at BYU and wants to go to grad school to be a marriage and family therapist. She has cool hipster glasses and great fashion sense. She loves being a missionary! She is a hard worker, not afraid to talk to anyone, picks up Hungarian very fast, is super fun to be around, has awesome insights into the gospel, and has a very developed understanding of the fact we are here to become better everyday. I think we are going to have an amazing transfer together!!! I am excited :) And I can definitely see, in just the few days we have been together (although it seems way longer) that we were totally meant to be mother-daughter (trainer-greenie). I am so grateful that God knows best and is willing to send inspiration so that we can be happy :)
Also, in other big news, the Baughmans (my mission president and his wife) are going home this Saturday! I can't believe their time is over. I have really appreciated President Baughman's leadership and his encouragement to enjoy and to learn from this mission experience. I think his leadership has allowed me to learn so many important lessons and to have so many amazing, once-in-a-lifetime experiences. I am very grateful for the love he and his wife always showed us :) I don't know how well any of you know him, so I included his last email to us missionaries so you could get a taste of what kind of man he is. I don't really know very much about the new President Smith, but I know his leadership will also be inspired (although almost guaranteed different from President Baughman). I will let you all know more about him and his wife when I do!!
I love you all! Sorry this is the longest email EVER! Have a great week! Notice the everyday miracles in your lives!!!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna
President Baughman's Email:
It is hard to believe that this is my last e-mail to you as your mission president. Words cannot describe how Sister Baughman and I feel at this time other than to say that we have an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the people we have come to know and for the amazing experiences we have had in this land of Hungary. When we were called to serve, we had no idea what was in store for us. We just had faith that if we tried to do our best, the Lord would make sure everything worked out OK. And He has! Our cup truly runneth over in every way. When we accepted the call we thought that we were making a sacrifice, but now we realize that when it comes to serving the Lord there is no such thing as a sacrifice. He has given us far more than we could ever give Him.
I want to thank you for your obedience and hard work, and for the love you have shown Sister Baughman and me, each other, and the Hungarian people. You are becoming true disciples of Christ. We will continue to pray for you, your families, and for the Hungarians - members and investigators. We hope that some of what we have taught will remain with you and help guide you, not only as missionaries, but as future leaders in the church, in your families, your communities, and in your chosen professions. You are building the foundation of great and consequential lives. Never underestimate your potential, and never fail to recognize the power you possess to change the world for the better, especially as you continue to be worthy of the guidance of the Spirit.
I am so grateful for the knowledge I have that God lives, that He loves us and has a plan for us. I am also grateful for prophets throughout the ages who have kept the flame of eternal truth alive and who have sealed their testimonies with their lives. I am especially grateful for Joseph Smith and all that he did to help bring about the miracle of the Restoration. I have come to cherish the Book of Mormon as a powerful second witness of Christ and as irrefutable evidence that Joseph Smith was, indeed, a true prophet of God. It is amazing to me that many good people accept the reality of ancient prophets but do not see the need for modern prophets. To me, nothing could be more obvious. And, I am so thankful for the Church itself and the opportunities it gives us to live more Christlike lives by loving and serving each other.
Many of you have asked if I have any parting advice about what you should do after your missions. I do. Strive to obey the two great commandments - love the Lord and His children with all of your heart, and remain totally active in the Church and fully engaged in His work. I am convinced that if you do those things, He will guide you to a world of opportunity that you can only achieve with the guidance of the Spirit. Focus on finding the right spouse, and on pursuing educational and career opportunities that will not only provide a suitable living, but allow you to become a person of influence. The Lord expects the saints to become "the salt of the earth".
Sister Baughman and I pray that someday we will all be able to stand before your Father in heaven and hear Him say, "Well done thou good and faithful servant - enter into the joy of the Lord."
With much love,
God bless you, dear Elders and Sisters. We love you and will miss you! xox Sister Baughman