Sunday, 24 September 2017

Week 3 in Békéscsaba

Hi!

We went to Postelek with the sisters on Monday. It was a 6 km bike ride. Postelek has a castle or mansion that was bombed during World War II and we also saw a bomb crater in the woods.

We tracked a lot this week and came out with a new search method. I like to solve the Rubik's cube so we decided to use it while teaching people. We knocked on a door, introduced ourselves us missionaries and said we would like to share a message using the Rubik's cube. I showed the cube (neatly solved) and I said that when Jesus Christ was on the earth, he had his whole gospel and his true church. But after leaving the earth, it was lost (then I start mixing the cube). Then I said that in the next two minutes my friends were going to explain how the gospel has been restored while I solve the cube. By the time when Elder Neumiller or Elder Szuch speoke about the Book of Mormon, Joseph Smith, and the restoration, the Rubik’s cube was solved. It proved to be a very effective method. Many listened to our entire message at the door, and a father gave us his phone number to meet him and his family and we gave him a copy of the Book of Mormon.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Week 2 in Békéscsaba

Hi!

This was a very busy week and so much happened.

On our p-day we ate “lángos", walked on the downtown area, and saw many interesting shops as well as the big Catholic church building. It was all quite nice.

This week we visited many members and talked to them about family prayer and family home evening. We also met with inactive members who face different challenges (financial, alcohol-related, depression, etc.). Their situations are quite difficult and we can only do our best to help them be independent.

We helped one of our investigators with gardening. He wants to cut a tree, so we softened the ground around the tree and cut the roots. We used a lot of tools like spade, shovel, pike, and ax. Each tool does a different thing and it's a bit like with us. Everyone has different talents or strengths, and if everyone works with their own expertise, then we can do a good job together.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Week 1 in Békéscsaba

Hi!

This week was very busy and it looked like a long day. On Wednesday we arrived in Békéscsaba, emptied out our suitcases and started to get to know the area. On Thursday, at the district meeting, we talked about goals for this transfer and got to know each other. There is an elderly couple, the Howells, and two sisters: Christiansen and Eddy. In the afternoon, Elder Howell spoke to me about church members and the responsibilities of the branch president while Elder Neumiller and Elder Szuch went tracting.

Sunday, 3 September 2017

Week 19 in Kecskemét

Hi!

First of all, we got the transfer calls this morning. I will serve as branch president in Békéscsaba. My two companions are Elder Neumiller from Virginia and Elder Szuch from Idaho. Elder Neumiller has been in the mission for a year and came in Elders Harris's and Allred's group. Elder Szuch and I came together in the same group. I have only four transfers left in the eight months remaining in the mission, so I'm probably going to finish in Békéscsaba. Elder Allred will stay in Kecskemét, Elder Martin will be his companion.

Well, this new call was a big surprise for me. President Szabadkai called at around 8:20 a.m. when he normally starts his calls at around 7:00 a.m. for assistants, zone leaders, etc. and it's almost done by 8:00. Then the assistants call everyone else. So I was surprised to receive his call and I was even more surprised when he said that I was going to serve as a branch president. I did not get any hint before this transfer that something big like this would happen.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Week 18 in Kecskemét

Hi!

This past week I was in Szeged on a day split with Elder Hughes. We set up a white board with pictures and a question: What makes you happy? It went really well, since many responded to the question on the board and we had good conversations. In addition to finding people, the teaching of the Book of Mormon was one of my goals for the split and we had two lessons where we introduced the Book of Mormon to people. It always feels special when I talk about this book to someone who has never heard of it.

On Thursday we had interviews and they went well. Transfers will be on August 30th, so the next p-day will be on Tuesday, August 29. I'm pretty sure that I'm going to a new city.

After the interviews we had our district meeting and the theme was the Word of Wisdom. We focused on the concerns of our investigators who are struggling with this law. Studying the lessons as a district helped us all to see how we can improve the teachings and how to properly explain a difficult topic. Elder Allred and Sister Manwaring had their one-year anniversary in the mission, so after the meeting we went to a restaurant and ate gyros.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Weeks 16 and 17 in Kecskemét

(Week 16)

Hi!

This week we tried out a new finding method. Elder Allred can make origami birds and we wrote small messages on them like "you are wonderful," "prayer helps," or "God loves you." Then we went to the downtown area where we gave these paper birds to people. Many were glad to receive them and loved the messages. It was good to see people smile. We still have to work a bit on this finding method to start longer conversations (like writing questions on the birds), but it's a good start.

We had a sports day and young people came from the branch. We played basketball, soccer, badminton, and tossing an American football around. There was also a sprinkler and it was very good to run over it.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Week 15 in Kecskemét

Hi everyone!

This week was full of many interesting things. During tracting we met a Greek couple and then a Belgian lady. Who would have thought that there are Belgians and Greeks here in Kecskemét? We also visited an inactive member who lives in an elderly home. The old ladies there love us very much. They call us “little priests,” haha.

We also went tracting in a weird neighborhood called Felsôcsalános. There were many nice houses but everything looked very disorganized as there were no marked streets, so it was a bit like a maze. Most houses did not have a bell, so we mostly walked around.

Sunday, 30 July 2017

Week 14 in Kecsmekét

Hi!

This week went quickly, but there was not much really happening. On our p-day we went up to the big hill in the park and had a good view. It was quite sunny up there.

During tracking, we met an inactive member family who let us in and was very kind to us. We will probably visit them several times. With a new convert we talked about family home evening. Apart from that, this week was full of tracking.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Week 13 in Kecskemét

Hi!

We were involved in a great adventure this week. We went back to our apartment on Friday night, but the new neighbour had closed the door to the staircase. The door always stays open and we do not have a key for it. The neighbour wasn't at home and the owner did not have a key. (He doesn't even live in Kecskemét.) So we were locked up. We called President Szabadkai and he told us to go to Szeged to spend the evening there. The train was leaving in 20 minutes, so we ran to the train station and took the train that left at 9:20 p.m.. We arrived in Szeged at 10:20 p.m. The zone leaders were in Békéscsaba in splits, so we had to take a bus to go to the apartment of the other elders there. It was almost 11:00 p.m. when we finally arrived. There was nothing prepared for such an unexpected "split", but luckily they had a large, relatively comfortable apartment. The next day we went back to Kecskemét but we were still locked out, so we went to the chapel. Then the owner called saying that the neighbour would be home at around 1 p.m.  When we finally met him, we made a copy of the key, and were able to get back to our apartment. It was quite a good story.

Friday, 14 July 2017

Week 12 in Kecskemét

Hi!

On Monday we visited the workplace of Viktor, our ward mission leader. He works with 3D printing and showed us his workshop. He has printed many cool things like a little Eiffel Tower, little birds, chess pieces, figurines, and parts for machines. Take a look at the photos below!

On Tuesday we made hamburgers to celebrate the 4th of July. On Wednesday and Thursday we were in Szeged on splits with the zone leaders. We did a lot of tracting, knocking, and teaching, and we were there for their district meeting. It's a bit strange to have a district meeting that I'm not organizing. (This is the third transfer in a row that I'm a district leader, and even before that I was the district leader in Buda for a month until they kicked me out…just kidding.) After the splits, we missed the train, but that was not a problem as we had a chance to take a look at the downtown and we saw the great Szeged Cathedral and the Tisza river.

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Week 11 in Kecskemét

Happy Canada Day everyone!

Our country is 150 years old! Almost as old as Hungary. Just kidding.

This transfer started well and the week went by very fast. First of all, I would like to share a story about the train trip when we travelled to Budapest. We started talking to the lady who was sitting in the booth with us. It turned out that her faith was strong and that she used to meet missionaries in Szeged before. She said that when she sees missionaries on the street, she feels calm and sees a clear light in our eyes. Before she got off the train she gave us her phone number so we gave it to the elders in Szeged. From this experience I learned that there are often unexpectedly good missionary opportunities, and when they come we need to be ready and act!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Week 10 in Kecskemét

Hi,

There are transfers this week and I am staying here in Kecskemét. My new companion will be Elder Allred. He came two groups after me and he is from Colorado. I went streeting with him on his first day in the country. He is a good guy and will be a good companion to work with. Elder Knight is going to Székesfehérvár and will serve there with Elder Dixon.

We met many church members this week and shared the first presidency message from the Liahona. One of them has a good samurai sword. Another one is an indexing pro and has indexed more than 10,000 records. He showed us how to do it and Elder Knight and I indexed a little bit. He said that not long ago he indexed a list of people who had been executed. Who said that indexing is boring?

We had a very good "four pillars" lesson with an investigator. They are prayer, scripture reading, going to church, and keeping the commandments. These four things uphold our testimonies and if one of the columns is missing or is not strong enough, then all may be over.

Week 9 in Kecskemét

Hi!

We had a very good week with many good programs, and of course I celebrated my birthday. So here I congratulate myself for turning 20!

On Wednesday the zone leaders came for a split. I was with Elder Hughes. First we had our district meeting and we made many role-playing games where missionaries had to find the concern of the investigator and solve it in two minutes. After that we baked cookies in the apartment and took them to our investigators and less-active members. In the evening, the four of us elders went to have ice cream in downtown because it was my first year anniversary in the country that day and Elder Knight and Elder Hughes had completed a year and a half in the mission.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Week 8 in Kecskemét

Hi,

First, this a 10-week transfer, so changes will be taking place in two weeks, on June 28. For that week our p-day will be on Tuesday instead of Monday.

There were not so many interesting things happening to us this week, but I’ll list some.

We baked a lot. I have a chocolate chip cookie recipe, and we brought some cookies to some of our investigators, less-active, and active members.

There is a néni (older lady) in the ward whom we are trying to activate. She has already come to church twice and it is good to see her returning to the path. The talks were very good on Sunday.

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Halfway Through My Mission: A Letter to Family and Friends

May 25, 2017 (letter originally sent by regular mail)

Dear Family and Friends,

One year.  It's been a year since I've been serving as a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It's been a year of unforgettable experiences, little miracles, adventures, and learning.

I'm not much of a letter writer, but in this letter I'll attempt to tell you about some of the things I've learned and experienced on the mission. Hopefully this doesn't get too boring for you, but if it does, take a nap. I won't mind. And remember: this is just a hundredth part!

It seems like a long time ago that I left my family behind and boarded a plane to get to the MTC and the beautiful mountains of Utah. Time in the MTC just sped up and in three weeks I was done with the classroom study blocks and lessons, and was flying with my group to Hungary. There we were greeted by our mission president and his wife, and the Budapest missionaries—all of whom, by the way, knew that I was the elder Elder Gonzalez's brother (see the joke I made there!), but I of course was a greenie, didn't know who most of them were. Anyways, after a night in a hotel, I got my trainer and we headed up to my first city: Pécs.

Week 7 in Kecskemét

Hi all,

I had a wonderful week!

Among other things, on Thursday we went to visit an investigator and helped him pick cherries from his tree. It was a good program, I ate many fine cherries and we filled many buckets. I also bought BBQ Honey and Chili chicken seasoning and baked chicken wings, and it was quite good.

The other service opportunity this week was that we helped a member in a translation from Hungarian to English.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Week 6 in Kecskemét

Hi!

My mission is halfway done!!! It's unbelievable that one year has passed already. But time moves fast! This last year was very good. I feel that I have learned and developed a lot. My relationship with Heavenly Father has strengthened and my testimony has increased. I made many good friends and had great experiences. I have seen many little miracles and I know the second year will be even better! Actually, I wrote a letter that I just sent by regular mail today that is about these things, but the letter is longer, of course.

Friday, 26 May 2017

Week 5 in Kecskemét

Hi!

On Tuesday and Wednesday I was in Szeged on missionary splits. I was with Elder McKim with whom I served in Kaposvár. (We were not companions, but we were in the same district). It was a great experience. We taught an investigator a lesson about tithing and temples. We also knocked on a ten-story building and two Jehovah Witness ladies let us shared a small message with them about prayer. They were very good and we gave them a copy of The Book of Mormon and they gave us a small book about their religion. I did not see much of Szeged, just a two-tower church, the great synagogue that was just being renovated, and the cathedral (Dóm) from afar. But there was a grocery store near to the chapel where we could buy root beer.

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Week 4 in Kecskemét

Hi all,

It was so good to Skype on Mother's Day! It was a great boost for me and seeing you and talking to you was very nice. We will meet again in less than a year.

On the weekend we helped pack up for Donna, as she is going to move to Alaska on Monday, and it was a good service opportunity.

Elder Kearon came on Wednesday for a mission tour and talked to us a lot about our missionary goals and teachings. He thanked us for our service. His entire talk was very uplifting. Elder Kearon is a very smart man.

Friday, 12 May 2017

Week 3 in Kecskemét

Hi!

The most interesting thing that happened to us this week was that we went to a Hungarian high-school graduation. One young man from the ward, Krisztián, invited us to attend. Most men were wearing suits, so we were just like everyone else! There were many songs, music, and verse reciting. We also listened to two or three speakers and then some awards were given to the students with excellent marks. The ceremony lasted less than an hour and a half, so it's much shorter than the ones we have back home. There are many differences. For example, there is no graduation gown and nobody gets a diploma. In the middle of the ceremony, the students' parents were called to give flowers to their children. It didn't take place in a special banquet hall but on the school yard. Many ward members came to support Krisztián. At the end we were invited to a lunch in a nice hotel where we ate a lot of delicious and fancy meals. It was a very good program.

Saturday, 6 May 2017

Week 2 in Kecskemét

Hi!

First of all, happy birthday Pablo!

We are teaching an investigator who owns a big property and even a horse! He gave us a little tour after our lesson and showed us his horse.

On Wednesday we had zone conference in Budapest. The theme was the Holy Spirit and spiritual gifts. I learned a lot there and we had a very good training. After that, Elder Knight and I went to Magic Burger to eat real American burgers, French fries, and root beer!

Monday, 24 April 2017

Week 1 in Kecskemét

Hello everyone!

Well, I have successfully arrived in Kecskemét! We left Kaposvár on Wednesday morning. As we were travelling to Budapest, it began to snow. Fortunately, I had my winter coat in my suitcase so I put it on. The next day it snowed again. Who would have thought that there would be snow in Hungary on April 20? Poor greenies! They certainly thought that this country is just like Norway.

Kecskemét is bigger than Kaposvár and quite beautiful. Our apartment is very modern and it even has air conditioning, so it will be good in the summer when it gets hot. The chapel is very big and beautiful. The ward here is large and strong with many returned missionaries, families, and youth. Elder Knight is a great guy. He loves to exercise, so we work out hard every morning.

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Week 18 in Kaposvár

Hi!

I'm going to Kecskemét! My companion will be Elder Knight from Arizona. He is two transfers ahead of me. There are also two sisters in our district (STLs) and I will be the district leader.

First of all, I am very glad that I had the opportunity to serve here in Kaposvár with Elder Harris and then with Elder Phillips. While I have been here, I have seen changes in people's lives. There was a church member who used to have problems with the Word of Wisdom and tithing, but now he is preparing to go to the Temple. Many investigators were touched by the message of the restored gospel and read the Book of Mormon regularly. I learned a lot here and have good memories of Kaposvár. I am also happy that I have an opportunity to serve in a new city with a new companion. I think it will be a very good transfer in Kecskemét with Elder Knight, and I will learn a lot there.

Monday, 10 April 2017

Week 17 in Kaposvár

Hi!

First of all, there will be transfers next week. Tuesday will be our p-day.

During most of our teaching this past week we watched "Prince of Peace", the Easter video that the church put out through the mormon.org/hun website. If you haven't watched it yet, do it because it is great.

In our English class with the advanced group we held job interviews and they were good. We laughed a lot when people chose funny occupations like being a pirate.

Sunday, 9 April 2017

Week 16 in Kaposvár

Hi!

The highlight of this week was General Conference. The talks were very good with uplifting messages. All of the sessions were filled with gold nuggets! My favourites were: Elder Rasband (Let the Holy Spirit Guide), Elder Bragg (Brighter and Brighter Until the Perfect Day), President Eyring (Walk with Me), Sister Jones (A Sin-Resistant Generation), Elder Hales (Becoming a Disciple of the Lord Jesus Christ), President Nelson (Drawing the Power of Jesus Christ into Our Lives), and Elder Choi (Don't Look Around, Look Up!). If you didn't watch all the talks but a couple of sessions, then I urge you to watch the rest of them! The World Report was also very cool.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Week 15 in Kaposvár

Hi!

Monday was a very special day for me. We went to Kalaznó and Hőgyész to look for the graves of my ancestors in cemeteries. We went by train from Kaposvár to Dombóvár. Then a bus took us to Hőgyész and another bus to Kalaznó for a total of 70 km. First we visited the Kalaznó cemetery and then the Hőgyész cemetery. I managed to find most names on the list that I had plus a lot of new ones! I was able to photograph great-grandma's house on Béke street.

There were many tombstones but I was successful in finding many names. I found about forty graves that probably belong to my ancestors! Some were missing the date of birth or death, but I also found many ancestors of whom I had not even heard before. There were also a few with photos on the tombstone. I am excited that my family will take these names to the Holy Temple to do the saving ordinances for them. This experience strengthened my testimony of temples and eternal families. These ancestors were people like us who also had successes and challenges. Unfortunately they were not able to learn about the restored gospel, but God loves us and gives everyone a second chance. So, now, as their offspring, we can perform the temple work for them so they can gain salvation. I am grateful for the plan of salvation and also for serving as a missionary in Hungary, the land of my ancestors.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Week 14 in Kaposvár

Hi all!

Today we’re going to Hőgyész and Kalaznó so I will be brief with this email.

On Monday we went to Krisna-völgy (Krishna Valley is a 260-acre estate in Hungary dedicated to the Hindu God Krishna where around 200 devotees and monks live), which  is a small village not too far from Kaposvár. Few people were there. Somebody took us around the church and we saw their statues, their paintings, and colourful walls. It was nice to be there and learn more about their religion. The tour guide called us “Mormon brothers” at the beginning.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Week 13 in Kaposvár

Hi!

First of all, I got President Szabadkai’s permission to go next Monday to Hőgyész and Kalaznó to work on my family files, so I am very excited!

On Monday, we had a family home evening with one of the member families and it was very good. My first family home evening in Hungary!

The zone leaders from Dunaújváros came down for splits with us this week and they were also there for our district meeting.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Week 12 in Kaposvár

Hi!

This week we said goodbye to the Petersons. They took us to a nice restaurant and gave us a lot of things that they couldn’t take home with them. Everybody here was sad that they were leaving. They were a great help to the branch and to the missionaries.

We taught the advanced English class this week. Not too many people came, so we played Uno with them to practice colours and numbers. It was great fun!

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Week 11 in Kaposvár

Hi everyone,

Last Wednesday we went to Budapest for transfers. Elder Phillips is now my new companion. He is from Florida and a great guy.
Elder Thomsen has also a new companion: Elder Murphy. I love my new district.

The big news this week was Dávid's baptism on Saturday. We went to the
Hotel Kardosfa which is about 20 km from the city.  It is a very nice place in the middle of a scenic nature reserve. David's brother, Gábor, baptized him and it was very nice to see when Gábor baptized his younger brother. The next day Dávid received the gift of the Holy Ghost. I performed the confirmation and it was a very special feeling. The Holy Ghost was so strong then, and I felt so grateful for the priesthood which gives us, weak and imperfect people, the opportunity to use the power of God here on Earth. I am also grateful that the Holy Ghost help us feel Heavenly Father's presence. After the confirmation, we sang the song "I Stand All Amazed" and as the title says, I did stand all amazed. Then later that morning it was so good to see Dávid when he received the sacrament for the first time as a member of the Church. It was a wonderful day.

Friday, 24 February 2017

Week 10 in Kaposvár

Hi all,

First of all, transfer calls came today! I'm staying in Kaposvár and Elder Phillips will be my new companion. He is from Elder Harris' group. Elder Harris is going to Kispest. I am glad that I can stay here and I think that it is going to be a very good transfer!

We visited Brigi twice this week (she is Évi's mom and Magdus' daughter, I Skyped from their home on Christmas). We helped in their garden. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, and it was pleasant to work on this service project. It was a good change from the typical missionary work.

Monday, 13 February 2017

Week 9 in Kaposvár

Hello!

This week we had interviews with President Szabadkai, so we went to Pécs. It was awesome to return to the city where I was ”born" and see all the cool places there.

During our English class we played a game called “Werewolf” (Loup Garou in French) and the people really enjoyed it.

On Saturday the branch had a musical night at church. There were a lot of songs, poems, funny tales, and members and visitors alike enjoyed it very much.

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Week 8 in Kaposvár

Hi!

First of all, there won’t be transfers next week but on February 22nd. This transfer is 10 weeks long because the previous one was only eight weeks long due to Christmas.

Last Sunday the brother of one of the less active members told us that he wants to be baptized. We met with and taught him several times this week. His baptismal date is set for February 25th. He is 13-years old and started to come to church on his own. This is going to be very good also for his mother, his older brother, as well as for the branch.

Monday, 30 January 2017

Week 7 in Kaposvár

Hello!

Well, the big news this week was the missionary broadcast. The time schedule was changed, so we now have more time on P-days, a more flexible daily schedule, and fewer key indicators to report. I am sure that the missionaries in Toronto have talked a lot about it.

Elder Bednar spoke about how we should try to to share our message with more young people because we are of the same age and are looking for goals in life. I followed Elder Bednar's guidance and I talked on on the street with a high school student about faith and the purpose of life. We exchanged phone numbers and he said that he wanted to meet with us at another time. It was a very special experience because when I followed the advice of an apostle, right away it worked!

Friday, 27 January 2017

Week 6 in Kaposvár

Hello!

On Monday, during our P-Day, we visited an "escape room" called ParaCity. We were locked in a room for an hour and had to solve all kinds of codes, locks, and mysteries to free ourselves (which we succeeded at with plenty of time to spare!).

Elder Harris bought a board game called "Settlers of Catan" and we had a lot of fun playing with the other elders. I won the first two games. It's great that everything is in Hungarian!

Friday, 20 January 2017

Week 5 in Kaposvár

Hi,

This week was quite exciting! It finally snowed all day Friday and it did not stop. Fortunately, it was planning day, so we spent much of the time indoors. One day we rode our bikes to a program, so we were like Dad, riding his bike in the winter. Another day we shoveled the sidewalk of a church member. It was the first time that Elder Harris shoveled snow. (He comes from sunny California).

In English class we played Taboo and the advanced class really enjoyed the game. While knocking, Elder Harris and I once followed a friendly cat, and if it went in to a house we knocked there. We called it “cat finding.”

Monday, 9 January 2017

Week 4 in Kaposvár

Hi all,

This week was not as exciting as last week, but it was very very cold. With the wind at times it felt like –20°C. It is funny because everyone in the church thinks that this is nothing to me because I came from Canada. I think that some people really believe me when I make the joke that I live in an igloo.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Week 3 in Kaposvár

Happy New Year everyone!

New Year's Eve was very good in Kaposvár. A family invited us to have dinner with them. We played a game similar to Pictionary and I was able to come up with a few words in Hungarian that our hosts where surprised I knew. I learned that in Hungary people eat lentils at New Year's Eve to make a lot of money, pork to be lucky, and also they eat many wieners. (Tesco, the local grocery chain, had great discounts on wieners this week). At midnight, there were fireworks in the city.