Monday, August 27, 2012

Mi is történt múlt héten? Hmm....

Hello all!

We have had a pretty standard missionary week, insofar that we met with a lot of people, and, when we weren't meeting with people, we were looking for people to meet with :P  I had a request to tell a little bit about some of our programs, though, so here you go:

There was one program with Béla (the man we met with on the train who lived in America for a long time).  We taught him about the Plan of Salvation (if you don't know what I am talking about, check out this link
 He liked it, but also told us that it sounded too good to be true and that he had some doubts about it.  We told him that that is totally understandable... and pretty common haha.  We've all had doubts.  That's kind of where learning and believing comes in.  Whenever I have had questions, I look for answers in the scriptures and from the prophets, think about it, and pray to God about it.  I was able to share with him how I have gained my testimony of the Plan of Salvation.  In a large part, I have never really questioned it.  It has always made a lot of sense to both my heart and mind.  I've studied it my whole life and felt it to be true.  In practical application, though, I guess we could say, when people I have known and loved have died, I have recieved confirmation and comfort that God DOES have a plan for us.  There is existence after death.  We will see those we love again!  I am so grateful for the peace this plan has brought into my life.  Béla really respected what we were saying and told us, that while his doubts still aren't gone, he is willing to learn about it and ask God about it himself. Which is all any of us can do, really.  We never do ask people to believe us as missionaries.  We present the information, answer their questions, and then encourage them to study the heck out of it themselves and go with the big questions of whether this is true or not to the one who knows it all (God).  It is so cool that God is willing to let each and every one know personally that we are loved by Him and that there is a purpose to our life!  We just need to take the time to learn about Him and His will for us :)

Anyways, I will try and include more details about programs in my future emails!  I don't have a lot of time tonight, though, so I will keep it at that one program :)

We did get to do a few more unusual things this past week, now that I think about it.  As missionaries in a country where the church isn't super strong or big, we often have a much more active involvement in the ward.  For instance, this past week we were kind of temporary subsitute members of the Primary Presidency, while they waited for some new callings to be made.  Sister Adams is one of the counselors to the Hungarian president, so we translated in their meeting this week.  On a different day, we went with them to visit a less-active family and their kids.  It was fun!  We also had dinner with President Smith and his wife, as they came down to Szeged for the first time and spoke in church (during which meeting, I was suprised asked to sight-read and play the piano... worked out well enough :P).  I really like the Smiths, though-- they are very nice!

Final note before I run-- in district meeting, Sister Adams shared this quote from Joseph Smith and I really liked it! "The fundamental principles of our religion are the testimony of the Apostles and Prophets, concerning Jesus Christ, that He died, was buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven; and all other things which pertain to our religion are only appendages to it."  It always makes me scratch my head when people try and tell us that we aren't Christian.  Really, Jesus Christ is the base of all we believe :)

Anyways, I love you all!  God loves you, too!  Have a great week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, August 20, 2012

Life is so much better with when we LAUGH!

Hello all!

This week has been SO BUSY!!!  There are NOT enough hours in the day to do everything!  A quick recap of everything that went down:

We had a few days so full of programs and stuff that we started at 8 in the morning and didn't finish till 8 at night!  So tiring!  And it is super hard to keep going without getting studies in!  My testimony of taking the time to study the gospel and the language has been reinforced this week!  It is so much harder to teach others if I haven't taken the time to get my own Spiritual fill in that day.  And so we are making sure that we protect our studies this week!  But I guess having so many people to meet with is a good problem to have :)  (Obviously it is!)  We had some really great programs, too!  Our investigators are asking really great questions and really starting to take steps.  One of my favorite programs was with our investigator Gabriella.  We had planned to talk about Jesus Christ's gospel, but we started talking and it went in a totally different direction.  She had questions about prayer and her worth in God's eyes.  It was so cool because that was the on e day we were able to have studies normally in the morning this week and everything we had studied worked perfectly for her program.  We were able to reference all sorts of scriptures, and she commented, "Really, all of the answers ARE in the Book of Mormon!  Everytime I have a question, you always pull out another verse!  I love this book!"  It was awesome :)  I was also able to bear my testimony on divine worth (one of my favorite topics) to her.  I told her that God loves her unconditionally.  God does not only love perfect people.  NONE of us are perfect.  God loves us, imperfections/mistakes and ALL.  He loves us and just wants to help us be better and happier!  I told Gabriella if she still couldn't believe God loves her, she could believe me.  I KNOW that God loves her.  I know that God loves you, whoever is reading this!  I have felt his love for me.  And I know he feels that big-ly and perfectly about you, too!  It was a very special program :)

We had a zone training this past Saturday.  The new president has decided to do zone conferences and stuff a little differently.  Instead of having one every transfer, we will have a zone training done by our zone leader every month and then every other transfer we will have a zone conference or interview with the President.  So this was a zone training.  Velasquez Elder gave an AWESOME training!  It was full of interaction and we all just talked about how we could be better in a few areas!  I really enjoyed it :)  A new focus of the president is to make our zones more interactive and supportive.  We were actually able to spend this last PDay together as a zone, which was way fun and worked perfectly with that goal!  We went to a local ropes course (super fun!  We were strapped in and basically played on a playground hung in the trees.  Got to zip line, too!), hung out at the Adams' apartment, had a sajt night (fried cheese night), and saw the fireworks for August 20th celebrations (St. Stephen's Day- celebrating the king that brought Christianity to Hungary).  We have a good zone!  It is weird, though!  I am the second oldest sister in the zone!  (and actually tied with my MTC sisters for third oldest in the mission)  I don't feel like I have been on a mission that long still!  I guess time really does fly when you are having fun and doing something so worthwhile!

The rest of our week has been pretty crazy-- we've had funny finding stories, struggles, random German stalkers of Sister Hardy, etc.  NBD.  Basically, missions are the time for some of the most random things ever to happen haha.  But also some of the best!  I am so glad to be here :)  I hope you all are able to laugh lots this upcoming week-- through the good and bad :D

Love you all!

McKenna aka Kramer Nővér


Monday, August 13, 2012

Life is joyous :)

Hello all!

This week has been so awesome!

We were so busy this past week!  Basically, every single day was crazy.  We were packed full of programs or other activities, like English class, teaching Institute to the Young Adults, district meetings, etc.  Seriously, a few days this week, we left at 8am or before and were gone for the next 12 hours.  At least.  Craziness.  But GOOD craziness :D


Our district meetings are now in Békéscsaba, which is pretty crazy!  (That is an hour and a half away by car.  And we have been encouraged to make sure we hold our district meetings weekly.  Which translates into a lot of driving for us!  But that is okay.)  Our district now consists of the four Békéscsaba elders (sisters were not put back into Békéscsaba) who are Rosen Elder (my ősi from the MTC!!!), his greenie Elder Vanderpool, Elder Olsen (I served around him in Budapest for two transfers) and his companion Elder Hansen.  And still us Szegedi's (us, the elders (Velasquez and Hatfield) and the Adamses).  We had our first district meeting last Saturday, where we talked about goals and ate palacsinta's :)

Sister Hardy and I got a new washing machine.... unfortunately, it, too, is broken.  We are pretty sure we are doomed to never have clean clothes haha.  We have had quite the adventures with our washing machine over the last month and a half or so-- we have already done our laundry at other places 4 times (one time we lugged it all the way to Szolnok to do it in the sisters' apartment there).  (Oh yeah, Hungary doesn't have laundromats, btw.)  So, we are really hoping this most recent washing machine gets fixed!  Just another adventure in the life of sister missionaries haha (following the Broken Cellphone Calamity (it kept turning off... even during calls with investigators!  Don't worry!  We got a new one!))

There has been an awesome fair right outside of our house this week, so I was able to introduce Sister Hardy to her very first Hungarian fair and fair food (see pictures)!  It was quite fun and we were able to hear some Hungarian folk music from the live band.

We had some funny experiences tracting.  I think my favorite was one bácsi who talked to us for about 15 minutes about all sorts of things.  He told us that he had seven lives (except they call it having seven birthdays in Hungarian, which I thought was kind of neat) and told us all sorts of crazy stories about times he almost died (like one time he dived into a river after a couple who couldn't swim).  He told us he was 88 years old and attributed that to never smoking.  He was quite pleased when he found out we didn't smoke either and encouraged us to help the youth quit smoking.  He didn't want a Book of Mormon, though (he told us to give it to someone else that was younger and more able to benefit from it), so we eventually moved on.  After we finished that 10 story shortly thereafter, we were walking away outside when we heard an old man call, "Lányok!"  (Or "girls!")  Our old bácsi friend had followed us out of the building.  When he caught up to us, he gave us a newspaper article he had found just for us-- on the dangers of smoking.  And encouraged us to give copies of it to those we meet with haha.  We thanked him kindly, and he hobbled away after wishing us well and wishing us much success.

We had awesome programs with a lot of our investigators this past week!  Livia has been on fire, coming to literally every activity!  We came out of Ward Council yesterday and she was still in the branch house, talking to some members!  It is so great to see her open up to members :)  Our other investigators are doing pretty well.  We have investigators praying about God's existence, the Book of Mormon, baptism, and lots of other stuff.  It is so cool that we teach them all of this stuff, but then, they can each go to God and ask Him if the things they are learning are true or not.  I am so glad that they don't just have to take our word for it!  Prayer is real :)

I gave a talk yesterday (which due to all the craziness, I did NOT have a lot of time to prepare for, but still went great!) on God's love for us.  I used some quotes from President Uchtdorf's talk on the subject and I recommend you check it all out (follow this link).  I was able to share in Family Home Evening tonight one of the greatest life lessons I've learned and I shared that our worth does not change in God's eyes, no matter what we've done.  (Of course, my second lesson was "Come what may and love it!"  I think that might be my personal slogan for life :P)

I saved the BEST news for last!!!  Our much much beloved investigator Evelin decided this past week... that she wants to be baptized!!!!  (Which, btw, please don't post this email on my Facebook or blog for one week, as Evelin has some individuals she wants to be the first to tell the news to.  And I wouldn't want to wreck that!  But forwarding this as an email is fine and updating Facebook/my blog next week would be better.  Thanks!)  Anyways, this is how it went down.  Evelin went to the YSA Conference this past week and she, in her own words, met all the right people at the right time who were able to answer her questions and address her concerns.  We met with her a few days after the conference, during which program, she just GLOWED about all of the amazing activities they had had (they had religious classes every day interspersed with meals, service activities, games, firesides, dances, testimony meetings, etc.).  After sharing details from every single day of the conference and telling us about all of the amazing people she had met from all over Europe (the conference was for Eastern European Young Adults, with additional attendees from countries like the United States, Mexico, England, etc.), she paused and said, "Okay girls.  I have news.  I have decided to get baptized."  To which announcement, we initially just stared at her, and then, grinning, hugged the heck out of her.  She is getting baptized on October 13th!!!  I couldn't be happier for her :)  It was SUCH a special experience to hear her testimony about this gospel and our Heavenly Father this past week in our programs.  I remember finding her four months ago and it has been an absolute privilege to meet with her and see her devour the gospel in the time since then.  She has been such an amazing example to me of truly taking the time to learn and think about the gospel.  (She always says, "There is a hurricane in my head!  I need to think for a moment!")  And I love that she makes sure she understands each principle.  And studies it.  And I have just seen her grow and gain confidence and happiness as she has learned about God's love and plan for her.  I love this girl!  And it is just really special that I have been here for every step she has taken up to this point!  I have been really privileged to meet so many stellar people on my mission.  I have been really humbled by their examples and I am just grateful I have been able to serve in small part the people of this country, members and investigators alike.

Anyways, I am STILL loving my mission.  Imagine that?

Love you all!
McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

P.S. Shout out to my amazing mother!  It was her birthday this past week :) :)  Don't worry, I sent her her own birthday present, but someone give her a hug for me, 'kay?  Thanks :)
P.P.S. Included some other pictures of our P-Day today spent with our district at the ruins of a mansion outside of Békéscsaba.


Monday, August 6, 2012

I can't even think of a clever title. I am TOO HOT!!!!

Hello All!!

This week has been soooo long!  And HOT!!  We are currently in the middle of ANOTHER extreme heat wave here.  I think the temperature today is around 38 or 39 degrees Celsius (which translates to over 100 degrees Fahrenheit).  Sister Hardy claims that we basically are serving in South America at this point.  We sure do sweat a lot!  (Gross, I know!)  We have been doing a lot of tracting in 10-stories to avoid the sun.  And drinking a TON of water.

Other than that, our week has been pretty eventful.  Our washing machine broke.  And we got a new elder in our district!

Nealy Elder went home this past Wednesday.  We spent our last PDay with him taking pictures around our much beloved city of Szeged (see attached), and then getting filled to bursting at one last meal at Géza's.  He truly outdid himself this time, with the dinner consisting of NINE courses (two soups, three main courses, salad, two desserts, and watermelon) and taking over three hours to eat!  I kind of wanted to die at the end, but as usual, it was all absolutely delicious!  (I just request that you all take it a little easier on your own missionaries!)  It was a lot of fun serving around Elder Nealy!  He is one of the nicest and most giving people I have ever been around :)  I am so lucky to have made so many friends on my mission!

Elder Velasquez, despite being a zone leader, was selected to train, so he went up to Budapest on Wednesday to collect his new little "child".  The greenie is named Elder Hatfield.  He is from Provo, Utah, is way taller than the rest of us, is a stellar soccer player (we played soccer for PDay today!!!  It was SO hot!  But SO fun!), and a great missionary :)  Sister Hardy and I have decided we are his cousin and aunt, respectively, and have been trying to make him feel welcome in our little district in the beautiful city of Szeged in the foreign country of Hungary.

We had a lot of awesome programs with investigators this past week!  Too many to write about, so I will just focus on one: We have meeting for a few weeks with a fifteen year old girl named Livia.  Her parents are from China, but she has grown up in Hungary and speaks Hungarian perfectly.  She was a referral from a member, as she was interested in practicing English with us and learning a little more about our church.  Her English turned out to be awesome, so it has been fun to talk to her, and she has just been swallowing up the gospel!  She has been reading tons from the Book of Mormon!  She prayed for the first time in her life in one of her programs!  She has been feeling really good meeting with us :)  We invited her to church this past week, as she has been doing so good, but she wasn't really sure, as she has never been to church before.  We showed up yesterday at church, though, and she was already there!  She stayed for ALL three hours and really liked it! She even stayed afterwards and talked with her new friends she had made that day!  It has been so cool to see her testimony and confidence grow!  I can't say I know how it will all end (we've talked a bit about baptism-- SHE brought it up after reading 2 Nephi 31), but I love the growth we've been a part of!  We see miracles all the time, big and small!

Anyways, I am SO hot in this email place (no air-conditioning), so I am going to end with that this week.  I hope you all have much cooler weeks than I do!  Appreciate what you have!  (Air conditioning!  And other blessings!)

Love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

P.S. A lot of people have been emailing me about the Olympics.  I heard Hungary creamed USA in water polo!  I have to admit, I cheered a bit about that :)  What can I say?  I love this country :)