Another crazy week! The time is FLYING!!! I can't believe how little time I have left and how much I have to do! I can say, though, I am going to "die" still kicking :) Aka we are working HARD!!! :D
Anyways, this week has had a lot of interesting activities! Like I said in my last email, we did a service project with the YSA of tying blankets for children, then we had an activity on Tuesday with the Young Women carving pumpkins (I was the carving expert, seeing as I was American and had done it before :P It was totally fun and the pumpkins turned out great!) and decorating for the ward Halloween party, on Wednesday we had the ward Halloween party (total success! We had bobbing for apples, cutting-jack'o'lanterns-out-of-orange-paper contest (instead of a messy carving contest), decorating "monster" cupcakes, mummy wrapping (done with toilet paper), a small lesson on the tradition of Halloween (since they don't celebrate it here), trick-or-treating, and topped it off with popcorn and a film (Casper the Friendly Ghost... and Monsters and Aliens (not strictly Halloween, but we couldn't find Monsters, Inc. haha)). It was a great success! We had quite a few church members and a lot of friends! I think everyone had a great time :), Thursday was a holiday (more on that later), Friday we had district meeting (we've had a few changes to our district, including Elder Greaves coming here and Elder Hatfield (my "nephew" (aka Elder Velasquez's greenie) from Szeged) to Nyírigehaza. It is so fun having old friends and "family" come here!), Saturday we had a big soccer tournament (I am pretty sure I won, seeing as (due to numbers) I ended up playing on every single team at some point haha. It was great, with members coming from Debrecen and surrounding branches and towns.), and Sunday we had Fast and Testimony meeting, followed by a giant lunch at the Cummings (I told you about their tradition of inviting members over... we had a record-breaking SIXTEEN people there in their tiny apartment) and a program with the Chinese boy I told you all about (we were able to bring Sister Wieberg, who actually speaks Mandarin, since she lived in Taiwan for 6 years. It was really interesting teaching someone with almost no Christian or religious background.). All in all, quite an eventful week, filled out with programs and finding :)
But, Thursday deserves its own paragraph, for sure. It was another holiday here in Hungary (All Saints Day, to be followed by Day of the Dead... they remember those who have passed on and show respect by placing flowers and candles at the graves). We had planned to explore the city. Unfortunately it was raining, but we braved the water and wandered around Debrecen taking pictures. After a few hours (and a lot of pictures), we came back (rather damp) to the branch house and played games. I had the most random phone call from one of my old investigators from Kispest while there. I don't know if you all remember Béla and Ilona? (Béla was the one who read the Book of Mormon in just a few weeks.) They had a date to be baptized about a year ago, but due to Ilona's health problems and other events, they didn't end up getting baptized. However, recently, they really felt like they should start meeting with the misisonaries again and called the Kispest sisters up to start meeting. Anyways, I got a call from Béla because he happened to be in Debrecen (his son lives here); he wanted to know if we could meet. We were able to meet at the branch house for about 20 minutes and it was so neat to talk to him and reminisce! (It was also cool because I understood everything he was saying! Haha, how much has changed since I was a greenie :P) I still have so much love for all of the investigators I have ever met with! So that was so sweet to talk to him again. After, we had to run to dinner at the Cummings, and then we went to the cemetary to look at the candles and flowers. It was beautiful! We stayed for awhile, walking up and down the rows, admiring the piles and piles of flowers and the flickering lives, and talking about life. About 8 o'clock, we decided to leave and went to the gate... but (here comes the adventure) it was LOCKED! We were a little perturbed (it was NOT that late) and worried (we had the senior sisters with us), so we tried another gate. That, too, was locked!!! After a failed search for security guards and agreeing that we had zero desire to spend the night with the dead, we came to the conclusion that the only thing to do.... was climb the gate. So that's what we did!! (see picture) Let me tell you-- it was an adventure! (Most of all for the senior sisters, I think!) It was a team effort getting everyone over safely, but I am pleased to announce that we all arrived on the other side none the worse for wear (although Sister Hanson did admit to shaky legs). We all just basically bust up laughing about it whenever we think of it. I seriously have the most random adventures! Who gets locked in a graveyard and has to climb the fence?!?! (Answer: me.)
Other funny moments from this week: our investigator chided us for not wearing more sturdy shoes while it was raining and told us that if we didn't come in boots next week, he wouldn't let us in :) We had a random Hungarian from Iceland stop us on the street and later show up at the branch house to talk. He wanted to be Facebook friends. We gave him a Book of Mormon instead. I had an awesome conversation with the guy who cut my hair (FINALLY got my hair trimmed after more than a year of not cutting it) about religion and why we were there. It was kind of ironic because I looked to find somewher that spoke English (I figured hair was something better understood by all parties), but we ended up talking in Hungarian the whole time anyways. At the end, I gave him a Book of Mormon, too! I love random finding moments :)
Also, as I am sure you have noticed in my emails, we have been working a lot with less-active members recently. My old companion, Sister Papritz, put the importance of this really well in an email she sent me and I want to share it with you (hope you don't mind Autumn!):
"also I don't know if I expanded on something I wanted to say a couple of weeks ago...but just major props to you for doing such amazing work with less actives. I gained such a huge HUGE HUUUUUGE testimony of that in Duna and really feel like that can move the work forward just as effectively as streeting and tracting. We won't have a temple there without our inactives coming back into the fold. They need to be focused on too, they need to be brought closer to christ. it is a hard balance because all of that work isn't reflected in the numbers, but eternally it is so significant. I think it's great that your last transfers you're able to have a bit of a shift in approach and focus. It's not about numbers there, just in the same sense those other harder areas aren't..duna, bekescsaba...etc. but really your'e focusing on what's important, the missionary purpose, bringing others unto christ and preparing the country for a temple and strengthening the ward. You've been doing the traditional missionary work you're entire mission, this is the stuff that is applicable after the mission. You will ALWAYS be searching for inactives, you will always have others to lift up and a ward to strengthen. I just think these experiences in Debrecen are priceless, albeit unrecognized and perhaps a little less "fruitful" but in the end...the numbers never mattered and you know you're helping people feel closer to God and come closer to their eternal potential. It's almost more rewarding I felt like to remind people of their covenants, to remind people of the spirit they used to feel. I think it is just as valuable as any other traditional work we can do. So keep it up. I love it."
She's so right. It is SO important to help members! Sister Watts and I have been going crazy with it! This last week we had 9 programs with less-active members. We walked one of them to church on Sunday (after she told us she hates going by herself and was afraid she would be alone at church). We have been looking a lot of them up, alone and with the senior sisters, and delivering Liahonas and messages. I think a lot of them just need love and support! Our mission purpose is "to bring others unto Christ" and I think before my mission I thought that just meant that I would help others to make baptismal covenents. However, throughout my mission, that definition has been expanded. I have realized that I, too, am included in the purpose (how can I effectively help others lean about Christ if I haven't studied or built my own testimony?), my companion (one of my most important investigators!), the other missionaries, the ward members, the less-actives, and, of course, investigators and other people are, too. It is ALL the Lord's work. We are ALL important in his eyes. He loves us all :) The gospel is for everyone!
Tonight, I shared the spiritual thought at Family Home Evening (FHE) that kind of ties in with this. I shared one of my favorite videos called "The Touch of the Master's Hand", based on the poem of the same name.
It is about the worth of a soul in the sight of God. In the scriptures we read that the worth of the soul is GREAT in the sight of God. And it is so true. There is another scripture I love in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:20-21) that talks about how there are vessels made of different materials (some gold, some wood) in the Lord's house. It talks about how each can become a useful tool in the Lord's hand. We all have different talents and abilities, but we all have great worth in the Lord's eyes. That is so important to remember, both about ourselves and others! God loves you!
I love you all, too! I'm going to end this essay of an email now, but know that I appreciate your love and support! I hope you have a great week!
Kramer Nővér aka McKenna