Monday, October 29, 2012

(I forgot to write a subject line this week...)

Hello All!

This week was pretty great :)  Looking back, though, I can't even believe that all of things that happened were in the same week!  It has been great, but looooong.

Tuesday, we had a billion "goodbye" programs, as we had thought that Sister Watts would be leaving.  She didn't leave, but we were still able to tag along with the elders and be fed by half our ward.  We had one adventure where we were coming from an investigator's house, trying to go straight to a lunch program with the elders.  Tuesday was a holiday here, though, so the buses were running less often than usual.  Our bus arrived at the big bus stop right when the other bus we needed to did.  We were on the phone with the elders and told them to hold the bus and started flat-out sprinting to the other side of the station.  The elders fumbled and struggled as much as they could and told the bus driver that we were coming.  We were totally within sight of the bus and running when it shut its door and drove away.  GAH.  The elders waved at us as they went off to the program.  We ultimately caught a later bus and got there in the end.  Turns out the elders had taken the wrong road anyways, so we showed up only a few minutes after them!  We had more public transportation adventures after lunch when we all sprinted for our return bus, holding bags, a guitar, and Beaumont, his companion.  Haha.  Missionary life.  So exciting :P  We rounded out the night at our branch president's house.  His family is so nice :)  They were all bummed that Elder Beaumont was leaving, but told me that they are so glad I am staying!  It has been weird this week adjusting.  We all relied a lot on Beaumont Elder, but I think Greaves Elder and I have balanced out the translating now :)  I know it will be okay!  It is so weird, though.  For the first time on my entire mission, I am the senior (along with Greaves Elder) missionary in my area.  I think it is going to be a stressful transfer.  But a good one!

We had an awesome program with a less-active with the senior sisters.  I was playing double-translator (sisters into Hungarian, the less-active into English), but it was great!  We talked about how to keep the Spirit with us.  Sometimes it feels like the Sunday School answers of "Read your scriptures.  Pray.  Go to church." are too simple and we want something deeper or more.  In a cool coincidence, there was actually a talk about that in this month's Liahona (the church's magazine) about how really those are the best answers.  And I was thinking, I have been able to read a lot of books by the apostles and prophets and other general authorities, and they have been super interesting, but really, all of those books are based on the scriptures.  The member said it best, when she said, "Well, Christ really said everything.  I don't know that anyone could say it better than him!"

I have been given a calling of sorts here!  I have been helping Sister Watts teach Primary, but I have been given my own calling-- secretary in the Young Women presidency!!

In our ward mission meeting yesterday, after reviewing the giant list of people Sister Watts and I had looked up, our mission president announced (jokingly) that it would be my responsibility to reactivate everyone.  Haha.  He told me one a month wasn't enough!  Haha :)  Sister Watts and I HAVE been working really hard to strengthen the ward!  I hope it pays off!

Had a cool program with an investigator with a returned sister missionary.  I have to say-- I am looking forward to the day I can express myself that effortlessly!  Obviously, I can speak this language about a billion times better than I could when I first came here, but it would still be easier in English.  One thing I have learned, though, from speaking and teaching in another language-- it is always best to simplify the gospel when teaching it.  For a long time, I was forced to, and actually that was really good.  Sometimes, I have a tendency to throw a ton of information at people at once.  Not the most effective way to learn!  So, I am grateful for that!  Also, I have learned that, really, my ability to speak aside, God is the one teaching.  Yes, obviously it is important how well we explain it, but, in the end, the person is going to have to make the decision themselves with God whether or not these things are true.  I think we are really more inviters or introducters to the gospel.  And then, people take off!

Our mission president was here this weekend!  We were able to have dinner with him, his wife, the other Debrecen missionaries, a member, and an investigator.  We had a lot of fun eating delicious paprikás csirke on ironed bedsheets (sometimes you have to get creative here :P) and it was so good!  The investigator said at the end that he just felt so GOOD in the circle of smiling faces!  We told him that the gospel makes you happy :)  And it is so true!

Had some fun tracting adventures-- we actually tracted into an exchange student studying here at the university.  He is from China and we had a cool discussion about the scriptures.  At the end, he gave us Chinese cut-outs!  Seriously, the most random things happen on my mission!  I love it :)

This next week is going to be even better!  Service projects, Young Women activities, a ward Halloween party, possible SNOW (it will be Sister Watt's FIRST)!  I will keep you all updated!  We are currently making blankets with the YSA, though, as a service project, so I have to run!

Love you all!  Jók legyetek!
McKenna aka Kramer Nővér

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Lost time is never found again." -Benjamin Franklin

Hello all!

'kay, because of a super busy P-Day (Elder Beaumont's last ever -- included malls, pictures, food, Family night, attempts at bowling, and the game ninja), I don't have a lot of time to write!  I apologize for that, as someone told me recently that is becoming a common intro to my emails!  I think there is never enough time!  I will try to be better next week, though!  And maybe even send some pictures :)

The first part of this week was pretty special.  Sister Papritz was in Debrecen, so we were able to spend P-Day together, whipping in the Great Forest, attempting to find Debrecen University t-shirts, and going up the tower of the big church here in Debrecen.  We also did a bit of fliering and streeting together!  Felt like we were companions again :P  It was fun to see her for a bit.  It was a weird reminder that missions end.  But that reminder was helpful, too, as it also totally made me want to work as hard as possible in the time remaining to me!

The rest of the week, we have been spending a lot of time looking up people on our branch list and verifying their information.  We even went to another town with the senior sisters to look some up.  We have such a big area (the city of Debrecen and surrounding towns) and such a big list, that it sometimes is kind of an intimidating task, but person by person, we are getting it done.  We've actually done so much that when we brought the list to our branch meeting, the leader could hardly believe how long it was and told us the branch president would cry with joy if he saw it!  haha :)  It is a lot of just plain, hard fact-checking, but it is so worth it, as we are getting the list up-to-date and meeting with a lot of great people, as well!  And our efforts are paying off!  This past Sunday in church, we had a TON of people and families that haven't been coming for awhile!  Yay!  There was such an awesome feeling in church of togetherness and family, which is how it should be.  (Also, somehow we ended up singing two musical numbers.  It was kind of awesome, actually.)  I have a lot of hope for this branch to be healed and strengthened by the time I leave!

Also, on a totally random note-- I and my hand have been kissed and patted by a lot of old men this week.  I don't know what it is, but the bácsi's love me!  One told me I am an absolute joy to talk to, I am that adorable.  haha.  Kind of weird, but whatever.  Also, there was a totally funny moment in my English class, when one of the students (not a bácsi this time, more like a 30 year old man), told me it was his birthday on Sunday and tried to get birthday púszi.  I kind of just gave him a look and he was like, "Oh, yeah that's not allowed."  Super funny because it was a church member... who the elders meet with.  We all laughed about it later together.

We also had a great dinner at the senior sisters' on Sunday.  They and the Cummings have decided to start hosting seperate weekly Sunday dinners with the two sets of missionaries.  And then we or they invite investigators and ward members.  It is such an awesome, easy, and totally delicious way to make great friendships!  We ate with Anánda, her brother, and Dóri this past Sunday.  It was fun!  Ananda and her brother told us all sorts of stuff about Nigeria and Dóri showed us bits from her prom/talent show/presentation ceremony (it is a Hungarian tradition for seniors in high school... they perform dances and get a ribbon to welcome in their final year).  We laughed a lot and had a lot of fun!  Anyways, I mention it because I thought it was a totally great idea for anyone wanting to do misisonary work!  It just provides an opportunity to have conversation with new people!  So doable :)

Anyways, overall this week has been great!  We had a lot of people "dog" us (not show up to our programs), but we used that time to go finding and do look ups and managed to give away a lot of copies of the Book of Mormon and talk to a lot of people!  There is always more good to do as a missionary!

Oh, and I guess i should've mentioned in the beginning, transfer calls were this morning.  Sister Watts and I are actually staying together!  We both thought she would be leaving, so it was such a happy surprise when the AP told us that we'd get to continue for another transfer!  Elder Beaumont is getting transferred to Canada (haha dorky mission humor... he is going home this week.  Which is so weird... I have known him my entire mission and served in the same district as him twice... he is such a good missionary, I am very grateful for the opportunity I have had to learn from him and become friends with him!), and Elder Greaves, one of my elders from the MTC, is taking his place!  I have a LOT of work to do this next transfer!  It is going to be awesome!

Have amazing weeks!  Do all you can!  and if you mess up, be better tomorrow!  I believe in change :)

Love you all!

Monday, October 15, 2012

2 Nephi 31:17-21 "This is the way"

Hello all!

This has been the best week EVER!!!!  Evelin was baptized!!!!  And I was able to go :D :D :D  It was so amazing!  Let me tell you how the whole day went down:

We went with Sister Hanson (one of the senior sisters in our city) by car, which was super convenient (since the train would have taken longer and would have been way more expensive).  We had planned to leave at 7am, but, as travel often goes, we didn't fully leave Debrecen until closer to 8am.  It is about a 3 and a half hour drive by car, through which Sister Hanson's GPS took us on the prettiest route EVER through Hungary.  We went through little towns, farms, and forests.  We shared the road with bicycles, tractors, and horses/wagons.  It was awesome!  And so so pretty, seeing as autumn is starting to show here.  The absolutely funniest thing happened on that trip, though.  We were driving along one of these little country roads when Sister Hanson asked me, "What does "ferry" mean?"  I looked at the GPS and sure enough, it said "Ferry" at the top where it normally had the Hungarian street name.  I told her that didn't make a lot of sense as a Hungarian name (the spelling was all wrong) and we looked at the screen for a second, until the GPS announced that we should board the ferry in 80 meters.  We looked at the GPS and then each other in disbelief.  And thought, "Is it serious?"  But, sure enough, we topped a hill and saw a little river with a small ferry fording back towards us.  Sufficeth to say, we all just busted up laughing.  We couldn't believe that the GPS was taking us across a ferry!  We waited for our turn (the ferry only took 2 cars at a time), then carefully drove the car on.  While on the ferry, we took lots of pictures (see attached).
I tried to tell the other driver why we were all laughing and taking pictures, but I don't think he found it as funny as we did :P  We crossed the river easily, though, and then just continued on our journey.  (It is kind of epic that I can say we drove across the country and even had to take a ferry to get to the baptism!  Nothing was going to stop us, though!)  We had a few other driving adventures throughout the trip, including the bumpiest roads you have ever been on, the GPS trying to take us down a walking street, being stuck and surrounded by one-way streets, etc., but I am pleased to announce that we arrived safe and sound in Szeged :)  It was so cool slash slightly weird being back, since driving in, it kind of felt like I had never left.  I really do love Debrecen, but Szeged will always be a home to me.  Anyways, it was made even weirder when we showed up to the Adamses and I opened the door and found TWO of my old companions there.  Sister Hardy and Sister Papritz (now Autumn) were sitting in the Adamses' dining room.   (I actually knew she was coming back to Hungary, btw.  So it wasn't a surprise or anything.  But it was still crazy to see her!)  It was so fun being with my mission family and friends (we, Sister Hanson, the Adamses, the Szeged sisters, the Szeged elders, and Sister Papritz were all there).  We practiced a song for Evelin's baptism together and then headed over!  Evelin was getting baptized in a water park, actually, on the other side of the river, since the Szeged branch house is rented and does not have a baptismal font.  We walked over there, seeing half of our ward on bikes as we were on the bridge.  We got to the water park and walked in the front lobby, where I was then greeted and kissed and hugged by tons of my old ward members!  It was so nice to be back :)  Evelin came barreling at me and gave me the biggest hug and told me she was so glad I was there!  (I was so glad too!)  In the lobby, we had to get little foot booties to protect our shoes, seeing as it was a water park and all, then walked through to a small mirrored room for the service.  We said the prayer, sang songs, listened to a talk, and then it was time for the baptism.  We went to the big open room (which I can't properly describe-- I will try and get some pictures of it later) where there were multiple swimming pools connecting to the outside.  There was a perfectly circular, raised hot tob in the middle of all of these pools, which was where Evelin was to be baptized.  There were some people standing on the ground level, right around the small hot pool, but most of us were on a second level balcony right above it, as it was easier to see.  It was kind of weird at first because there were still people in the various swimming pools around us and it was kind of noisy.  As Evelin walked into the water, though, the whole room hushed and watched.  She stood in white in the water, looking absolutely beautiful and happy.  Our ward mission leader said the baptismal prayer and then baptized her.  It was so special!  The spirit was very strong.  It was so amazing to be there and see her take this step.  When I streeted her about 6 months ago, she didn't even believe in God!  How far she has come :)  After the baptismal ordinance, we went back to the small room, where we continued to sing and write notes for Evelin while we waited for her to change.  Something kind of interesting happened then.  While we were singing a song, Evelin's grandmother, who is not a member, starting crying.  Later, when I asked Evelin about it, she said that her grandma was just so so happy about the whole thing, and that at the baptismal she just felt something that she couldn't even explain (the spirit!) and so she started crying from all the happiness and feelings.)  Anyways, when Evelin came back after getting changed, we missionaries sang our special musical number, (I personally was beaming at her the whole time, I was just so dang happy!).  There was another talk, another song, closing prayer (which she had asked me to give!  She had the two sisters who were there when she decided to be baptized say the prayers.)  After the service, we went back to the branch house for the "party".  Aka we ate a lot of food and talked to everyone there.  It was so fun to catch up with my old companions and my old ward.  While there, Evelin came up to me and told me that I was glowing!  I literally was just so happy :)  I was surrounded by those I loved!  She had just been baptized!  It was all just so GREAT!  And it was so cool to see her growth-- I found Evelin, taught her all of the lessons basically, was there when she decided to get baptized, and now was able to be there at her baptism.  It was so so special.  I asked her how she was feeling, since she was glowing, too.  She told me she felt so much and it was all so special that she didn't even want to talk about it because she would start crying.  She told me she was so so happy though :D  She also told me how grateful she was that I was able to come.  I told her it was kind of a miracle (our President had changed the policy on going back for baptisms, and so, under that new policy, I really probably shouldn't have been able to go.  But he gave permission!  Totally a miracle).  She told me, "No, it wasn't a miracle!"  Kind of taken aback, knowing how lucky I was to be there, I asked her what she meant.  She told me, "Because I prayed that you would be able to come!"  Her faith is so awesome :)  She is such an example to me.

Everything else during the week kind of pales in comparison to that.  We had an awesome palacsinta night with the senior missionaries, have been looking up a lot of less active memebers (one actually lived at the address listed!  Miracle.  And then let us in!  More miracles.  We had a really awesome program with her about all of her concerns.  I think her biggest one is that she was afraid people would judge her for not being perfect.  This church is not the place for perfect people!  Yeah, God says in the Bible, "Be ye perfect." but there is no "Now" included in that.  Seriously.  That is our goal, but we are imperfect people.  We all make mistakes.  We are all here to help each other get better.  To love each other.  To grow and to learn from our mistakes!), a few great programs with investigators, and had a generally really good week :)  But, Saturday, like I said, was probably one of the greatest days of my mission!  So I think I will leave this week's email at that :9

Make the world a better place!  Smile!  Make good decisions!

Love you all!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, October 8, 2012

"I'm a Mormon. I know it. I live it. I love it."

Hello all!

This past week has been busy.  (What week isn't?  Hahaha)

Tuesday was an adventure with a lot of unexpected food!  We had two programs feed us meals (without telling us beforehand), but I, of course, didn't mind :D  (Sister Watts had eaten a big lunch, though, so I think she was a little less excited than me haha)  We had delicious Hungarian bean soup, but the coolest-slash-most unique meal by far was a Cameroonian meal from our Nigerian member, Ananda's, roommate.  It was different than anything I've had before.  (Ananda told us if we couldn't finish it, it would be okay.)  I liked it though!  It was a meat with some sort of spicy spinach mixed with some other vegetable or herb sauce and thick grits.  (Can I just say I love the wide variety of cultural experiences I have had on my mission??  Pretty awesome :D)  And then, to top off our food day, we met up with the random lady who "streeted" (came up and started to talking to) me last week in the internet cafe and I typed a letter for her while she dictated.  We were able to talk for a little bit, too.  Turns out she's lived in America for the past 30 years and has come in contact with our church before.  She actually already has a Book of Mormon.  She is going back to America in a week, though, so we won't meet with her again.  Sad.  But we recommended some things to read, gave her the website, and encouraged her to look up the missionaries when she goes home.  Anyways, to tie this back in with the food thing, she surprised Sister Watts and I with Milka bars.  Which we both loved.  And have already eaten.  The chocolate in Europe totally rocks :D

As for the rest of our week?  We have had a lot of meetings this past week, actually.  A district meeting, a YSA meeting, a primary meeting, the missionary meeting, and branch council.  Out here, where the branches are smaller, we as missionaries do a lot more running of the world than the ones back home do, I think.  The branch here is moving in good directions, though!  We are really working with the leaders and members to unite everyone and get everyone involved!  I think God has big plans for this branch, seeing as there are now 8 of us missionaries working here.  I'm kind of bummed I will just be here for the beginning of the growth and strengthening, but I figure I can help set up this area so the next missionaries can just go, go, go!

Anyways, by far the highlight of my week was general conference, though.  Total love. You should ALL check it out at  I totally recommend Elder Nelson's talk (sorry, still not in print format.  You'll just have to watch it.) for those of you wondering who the heck missionaries are and what our church is about.  A couple of talks that totally hit home for me, though, were President Holland's (he always delivers the most awesome, inspiring messages), where he talked about our personal responsibility as believers of Christ to be true to our faith and love and go and do what Christ would have us do.  In other words, be true disciples of Christ in deed as well as in word.  I really enjoyed Elder Christofferson's talk in Priesthood, too.  And President Uchtdorf's talks.  And, oh yeah, basically all of them.  I remember sitting there, just thinking how conference has got to be one of the coolest parts of our church.  Seriously, we have the chance to get direct revelation from God's living prophet and apostles for our day and age.  Pertinent revelation for our problems and growth.  SO AWESOME.  Perfect example of this direct revelation that continues to shape the church was President Monson's AWESOME AWESOME announcement that boys and girls can serve missions earlier!!!  I was watching it with a ton of other missionaries and we all totally freaked out!  This is totally going to change who goes on missions.  I know way more girls will go, which is so so awesome.  I can't help but be happily biased about my belief that missions are amazing.  I strongly believe that they are something that every girl should seriously consider and pray about.  The interesting thing is that even though it has blessed my life so much, I know not everyone gets the answer to come.  I remember that my mom actually told me she got the answer "no" about a mission.  But, we know that God knows best.  And so, like I said, everyone should ask God to figure out what is best for them and their life.  I think that this announcement will totally open up the possibility for way more girls to ask and to serve.  I know I would've served in a heartbeat at 19 years old.  It would have been way more convenient school-wise and I felt ready to go then, too.  With that, though, I want you all to know that I wouldn't change where I am right now at this stage in my life for anything.  I really think that now, at age 22, this is where I need to be.  I am grateful for all the additional experiences I had before I was able to come.  And I just feel so blessed and lucky to be here :)  Really, whatever sacrifice it took doesn't even matter when I compare it to all of the amazing experiences I have been able to have.

Anyways.  I am going to stop gushing about all of this.  I'm sure you can all tell I am super excited about it :P  No need to keep going on!

Know that I STILL love my mission!

I love all of you!

Take the prophets' council to heart!  We CAN be better!  We can make the world better together, one day, one person, one act of love and service at a time!

Have an amazing week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, October 1, 2012

"For disappearing acts, it's hard to beat what happens to the eight hours supposedly left after eight of sleep and eight of work." -Doug Larson

Hello All!

This will be another quick email, sorry!  We have had quite the adventurous PDays these past two weeks.  Last week, we went to a place called Hortobágy, which is a very popular whip-purchasing spot among missionaries.  I bought my very own Hungarian whip there.  Don't worry, I learned a long time ago on my mission how to use it :)  I actually impressed the seller.  He handed me the whip to try out and wanted to show me how to crack it.  I told him I thought I would be fine and then went on to do my most impressive whip (haha I know approximately 3 different ones... aka I really don't know all that much), using both my hands and putting it behind my back.  He called me "ügyes" (clever) the rest of the day haha.  And then today, we took the train to a place called Tokaj with the Nyírigeháza elders and hiked up the hill there.  We joked that it might be the only hill in Hungary.  If not the only one, at least the tallest :P  It was fun :)  But all of these adventures are not leaving me with enough time to properly tell you about my week!  I will try and include one or two good things from this past week :)

Actually, most of our week fell through, so we ended up doing a lot of tracting.  And we took the time to look up some of the less-active members of our ward and give them a Liahona.  We actually had a neat experience where we tracted into a less-active woman.  We started to talk to her and she was like, "I am a church member!"  So we set up to come back and visit with her :)

We were able to bring Sister Cummings to a program with one of our investigators who actually lived in Maine for almost 10 years!  It was fun to talk about our shared love of New England.  Sister Cummings was able to share a lot of awesome life experiences about God's unconditional love for us :)  It was a great program :)

We had district meeting in Nyíregyháza this past week.  It was good!  Our district is made up of all of us here in Debrecen plus the four elders in Nyírigeháza.  We talked about district goals.  We would really like to do some presentations in the universities in our towns, so we are currently looking into that (already got clearance from our PR rep).  So, I will keep you updated on that!

We are slowly but surely getting our feet under us.  I have finally met all of the investigators, I feel like I better understand their needs, I know how to get around Debrecen (at least to the places I've been), I know quite a few names :)  So, it is going great!  It is feeling more and more like MY area, not just a random place.  We even found an Indian restaurant here!  (I loved the one back in Szeged!)  Sister Watts and I are getting along great (had a fun night last night after finishing weekly planning, of facial masks, Legacy, and an entire Milka bar haha).  I cannot believe how fast this transfer is flying, though!  We still have so much to do!  This is the missionary life :P

Remember GENERAL CONFERENCE IS THIS WEEKEND!  The prophet and apostles will speak to us!  This will be my third general conference on my mission and it is SUCH an awesome experience!  You should all check it out.  It will be online, I know!  And it is such a great opportunity for us to get revelation for our day and age!

I love you all!  SMILE :D

Sister Kramer

P.S. Sister Watts has been teaching me Australian English.  Which is pretty much its own language, I've decided.  Listen to what I have learned to say: "We have some hard yakka this arvo.  .... Fair dinkum."  Well, I kind of just threw the "fair dinkum" in there for fun (one of my favorite Aussie (or Oz, as they also say) words), but that is a real sentence.  Look it up :P
P.P.S. Totally just had a random woman come up to me and ask if I could type a letter for her, after seeing how fast I type hahaha.  We are going to try to meet with her :)  Yay for finding at all times and in the most random places!