Monday, December 17, 2012

My Very Last Email as a Missionary (dum dum duuuuum)

Hey all!

Totally weird to be writing my very last email!  I honestly kept forgetting that I was going home this past week.  I would keep telling all of our investigators, "Next time we meet...." and my companions would just look at me haha :P  But it has been an awesome week full of miracles!

I will keep it short, but basically we had a lot of awesome programs with new people!  (Totally got to go whipping during one of them :P)  We had an awesome program with Éva, the girl from the train, who we had met once before and had felt something in our last program.  This time, she explained that we had answered a lot of questions she had had for years.  She started crying as she talked to us about it.  She also told us how she had remembered during a hard time this week what we had said about finding answers through reading the scriptures.  She read a little bit from the Bible and took time to think about her program and totally recieved an answer!  This is awesome, seeing as when we first met, she wasn't even sure she believes in God!  Anyways, it was an awesome program.  We talked to her about baptism, too, and she knows it is the goal!  She told me that I kept making her cry, though (I kept bearing my testimony about the gospel and about how God loves her)!  She told me how much she will miss me because she really feels like we are connected because I am the one that found her on the train (she is sure it was not just coincidence... I agree!).  Anyways, total bummer that I won't be around for her growth, but I know she is in good hands.  I am so glad that Sisters Behunin and Roney are taking care of my much-loved Debrecen!

I was able to go to a baptism this past week, too.  Some investigators from the city over came and used our building.  But it was really nice.  I actually felt like it was a small gift from God on one of the last days I had as a missionary.  Just to even partake in it was so great and I reflected a lot on how special we all are to God.  There are no ordinary people.  We all have the opportunity to make covenants and come closer to God.  We all can do extraordinary things!

We also had the ward Christmas party, where we three performed a LOT of barely practiced (but successful!) musical numbers.  Sister Behunin and I also performed in church: follow this link for a later recording of the song!

Anyways, I think normally people's last emails are usually shorter and mostly about going home?  I don't know, I am just kind of still obsessed with my mission life :P  I love the people here so much!  It was so surreal on Sunday to say goodbye to my branch and my companions.  All the members patted and kissed me and told me how much they would miss me.  They even recited a poem in church for me haha.  I also had to say goodbye to my awesome awesome companions!  (President had me go up with four elders to Budapest last night.)  That was totally lame because we got along so well!  We seriously must have been the most functional and drama-free threesome ever!  I love those girls to death!

Anyways, not much else to share.  I have been in Budapest today at a Christmas zone conference.  I shared my departing testimony... again haha.  But I really just felt so much appreciation for my mission.  I have loved my mission.  I love the people here.  I love this country.  I love the gospel.  I know that my time here is done, though.  I am excited to use this as a springboard for the rest of my life!  I really think I will be able to trace all good things after this to my mission.  This has been the best decision I ever made!

I was told to send kisses and greetings to my family!  Puszillak!

See you family TOMORROW!  "Come what may and LOVE IT!"

Kramer Nővér (soon to be McKenna)

Merry Christmas!

Hello all!

I was going to send you all Christmas postcards with a little message... but I totally ran out of time.... sooo instead I am going to send my Christmas card this year by email (see attached pictures for lots of Christmas cheer).

I was watching the Christmas devotional and loved this line:

ˇWhether we have experienced 9 Christmases or 90, still we are all children- we are all children of our Heavenly Father." -Dieter F. Uchtdorf

Let's all take the time this year to remember the gifts that God has given us!

I am so grateful for all of you and your love and support!

Happy Holidays!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna

Monday, December 10, 2012

Living in a Winter Wonderland :)

Well, it has been quite the week!  (Definitely feels like it has been longer just one week, so much has happened!)  This week has been great!

Sister Behunin and I welcomed a new member to our companionship (haha sounds like we gave birth or something).  Anyways, last Wednesday, Sister Roney joined us.  (And, sidenote: Elder D'Angina left and Elder Greaves got a greenie!  Fun!)  It has been so great, though!  Well, honestly, it was a little weird at first, since we are all super capable, functioning missionaries (we think it might be what it feels like to serve in America?  Minus the third companion maybe :P)  Anyways, we have all served for awhile, can express ourselves well in Hungarian, and know how to be missionaries.  It has been so fun teaching in lessons, since we all are able to contribute a lot!  We had to work a little bit more in the beginning to figure out the balance (and the sleeping situtation-- we weren't actually set up in our apartment to have three people haha), but I think it is coming together quite nicely :)  And we all get along so well, that it has just been a blast!  We tend to laugh a LOT together :)  I am so okay with this!  

We went up to Budapest to pick up Sister Roney.  Before we met up with her, I was able to meet with some members from Kispest (my very first area) for just a little bit.  Do you all remember Orsi?  She was my very first investigator to get baptized and I love her and her family very much (Sister De Leon and I actually spent Christmas Eve at their house last year).  Anyways, her mom and I planned to meet up in Budapest while I was there.  Sister Behunin and I took an incredibly early train to get to Budapest (it was quite beautiful, though, to watch the Hungarian countryside in the early morning... especially as it was snowing the whole time!).  We got off at the train station, where the little family was waiting for us.  The fun catch?  The little girls didn't know we were coming!  We walked towards them and they saw us and kind of did the, "Do I know you?" glance, then started and ran towards me and gave me giant hugs.  I was able to hug all of them and talk with them for quite a bit.  It was such a special experience for me to see and talk to these people I loved so much!

Then I was able to go the train station and see a lot of my mission "family".  That was also really special!  I saw lots of people from my old districts (like Sister Hardy and our elders!).  We grabbed lunch one last time at Trofea's (the Hungarian buffet) and visited while we ate.  It was so weird that I was saying goodbye for who knows how long, but I am so glad I was able to see them!  I am so glad that I have had the privilege of making such amazing friends on my mission :)

Anyways, we brought Sister Roney back to Debrecen and it has been golden since.

We have had a lot of awesome (and slightly untraditional) programs this week-- from playing the game "Ninja" with our branch president's family to singing Christmas carols with the senior couple and ward members to eating dinner with some of our favorite investigators to cutting snowflakes with a neighbor girl, we've had quite the week!  (But do not worry, we've taught the gospel a lot, too!)

We actually have had the opportunity to meet quite a few new people this week, which has been awesome.  We were able to set up with this girl I talked to on the train ride back from Budapest a month ago when I picked up Sister Behunin.  This girl was very friendly, nice, and receptive, but busy, as currently she is getting her PhD in Psychology.  However, we were finally able to meet with her this past week and it went really well!  She had a somewhat religious upbringing, but due to hard things in her life, finds it hard to believe in God.  We talked about how much God loves us and how hard things are part of His plan for us to grow.  She seemed really interested in what we were saying and at the end told us that she had a lot of feelings that she couldn't express just then because she would probably start crying.  We talked to her about how one way God communicates with us is through our feelings.  She told us that she would write down how she felt and share it with us next time!  I will keep you updated :)

Tomi (who we have been meeting with for awhile) told us that if he wasn't Catholic, he would be a Mormon.  Success... of a sort?

We've had this awesome opportunity to meet with our neighbors a couple of times.  There is a cute little family (mom, dad, young teenage boy, and 6 year old girl) that lives right above us.  Last week, they were putting Christmas lights up on the house and we got to talking and they invited us over to breakfast.  We went over there on Saturday and got to know them better (beforehand, we had just said "hi" in passing) and shared a spiritual message about the importance of remembering Christ at Christmastime.  It went great!  The family told us that they hadn't really talked to any of the missionaries since the first sisters moved into that apartment about 3 or 4 years ago.  They told us that they had really appreciated how friendly we were!  (Small lesson on the power of just smiling at someone and saying hi!)  We had a good discussion about religion... but we had to cut it short because we were already late for our sport ward activity (ended up playing soccer... in the snow... quite European :P).  However, it worked out perfectly because we set up to come back the next day (yesterday) and talk more about their questions (and teach their little girl how to cut snowflakes like she had seen in our windows).  The next day was great--- they are a very sweet, friendly family and we had a lot of fun playing with the little girl (who made us necklaces out of paper.... quite fashionable!) and talking to the family about the difference between the Book of Mormon and the Bible.  I hope that they continue to meet with the sisters!

Yesterday, Sunday, I also gave a twenty minute talk in church.  I talked about how special each of us are to God.  I had a couple of members come up to me afterwards and thank me specially for what I said.  They told me it was exactly what they needed to hear!  It was so neat for a few reasons!  One, it is so plain cool that it is not even a big deal to speak in Hungarian in front of a bunch of people anymore.  I really have grown so much in just the language.  Two, it was so awesome that I was able to use that language to be a tool in God's hand and say exactly what someone needed to hear!  Yay for missions :)  We missionaries also sang a special musical number in church.  If I say so myself, it was soo good!  Greaves Elder's greenie has a good bass voice, so we were able to make a four-part harmony with Sister Roney on the piano (advantage to being in a threesome!).  We sang "Angels We Have Heard On High".  Totally made some people tear up :P  But, seriously, it was a great sacrament meeting and a great Sunday!

Bah, so much else happened this week!  The work is really starting to take off (of COURSE this is when I leave haha).  Oh well.  I am excited to do all I can in the upcoming week to prepare Debrecen to switch hands.  You will all hear from me one more time on my mission!  Know for now that I love life! I'm still working hard!

Have a great week!

Kramer Nővér (aka McKenna)

Monday, December 3, 2012

"There are no ordinary people." -C.S. Lewis

Hello All!

Well, it seems far too soon, but transfer calls were today (crazy how an emergency transfer can throw off your timeline!).  Anyways, don't worry, I will be "dying" (finishing my mission) here in Debrecen with Sister Behunin.  However (wait for surprise twist)..... we will be getting a third companion!  Sister Roney, who is one of my kicsi from the MTC, will be joining us!  We figure we will be just about the oldest sister companionship ever (between the three of us, we will have 27 transfers), but I think it will be a lot of fun!  Anyways, so Sister Behunin and Roney will be running the area after I leave.

Anyways, enough of that craziness.  Let's see what happened this past week!

We had a busy week!  We travelled a lot, visited a lot of members.  We had a very sweet program with the Cummings and the mother of the Hungarian elder serving in Hungary.  She fed us dinner and we talked about life.  It was so neat to see, throughout all of our lives, how much God has helped and comforted us.  I especially appreciated it because this woman has had some difficult trials, but has remained so true to her faith.  It is cool to learn from their experiences.  Don't get me wrong, I have a strong testimony of God's love and help and have lots of experiences from my own life.  However, lots of people we talk to ask how we can know anything for sure since we are so young.  However, here at the dinner were people who have raised families and have had hard times, but still cite the gospel as the number one reason for their happiness and success.  How cool is that!  (It reminds me of this little elder who once stood in our zone conference to bear his testimony about the work and excitedly said, "It really works guys!"  I feel that way about the gospel :D)

Saturday, we were able to see the change and growth in someone's life, as there was a baptism of one of the elders' investigators- Tibór.  It was quite nice :)

There was a kind of sad moment this week, too, though-- in Young Women's yesterday, we watched a video about the new YW theme ("Stand in Holy Places").  One of the girls afterwards mentioned how they just showed "pretty" girls in the video.  We told her that she was beautiful, too, but she didn't believe us!  It was so sad.  Really, she is gorgeous.  However, here in Europe especially, people are just bombarded with false ideas of what makes a person worth something.  Sister Cummings bore her testimony about how beauty comes from the inside- it is the light shining within.  She also talked about our divine worth and how we are all special children of our Father in Heaven.  That worth doesn't changed based on how you look, how much money you make, or anything like that.  This is a topic that I feel so strongly about.  We are ALL precious.  It reminds me of a quote from The Little Princess: "I am a princess.  All girls are.  Even if they live in tiny, old attics; even if they dress in rags; even if they aren't pretty, or smart, or young.  They're still princesses.  All of us.  Didn't your father ever tell you that?  Didn't he?"  I want you all reading to know that YOU are precious and special and loved.  You matter to a lot of people.  You matter to God.  I love this talk by President Uchtdorf, (which I am sure I have shared before), but it talks about how even though there are billions of us on the planet, we are each special and important to our Father in Heaven.  And it is so true!  When we understand that, it changes all of our interactions with others.  That reminds me of another quote by C.S. Lewis:

“It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which,if you say it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree helping each other to one or the other of these destinations. It is in the light of these overwhelming possibilites, it is with the awe and the circumspection proper to them, that we should conduct all of our dealings with one another, all friendships, all loves, all play, all politics. There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. nations, cultures, arts, civilizations - These are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit - immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

I love that!  Seriously, we are all so special in God's eyes and we all have so much influence on each other.  Let's use that influence for GOOD!

Anyways, sorry that this email is so soapbox-y, but one last pitch-- I got to watch the Christmas Devotional today.  SO GOOD.  Check it out!  It is so important to remember the Christ in CHRISTmas!!!  Sister Behunin and I are starting a tradition of writing miracles and services that happen daily and putting them in a Christmas box under our Christmas tree.  (We also want to start reading nightly Christmas stories with hot chocolate.  What can we say?  We love the Christmas season!)  But, anyways, it is to remind us of all of the blessings in our lives and the small gifts we give to Christ by serving others.

I love all of you!  Have a wonderful week!

Kramer Nővér aka McKenna