Happy New Year from a Hungarian keyboard!
I’M IN HUNGARY!!!
My brain is full of thoughts, but I’ll do my best to make sense :)
Firstly where I am now: I am in a city called Szeged with my new companion Papritz nővér. There haven’t been Sister Missionaries in this area for 4 years we’ve been told, so both of us are new here and are working on finding people to teach. From my experience so far, I am pretty lucky to be where I am. I’ve been told that our apartment is the nicest one in the mission! I really do like it. It has sort of a second floor deck inside where our beds are. I fear I may one day fall down the stairs, but they really are neat! They are shaped in such a way that they dictate which foot you have to start with hahaha. The Elders who were in the apartment before us left the place in a bit of a mess (that is putting it lightly) so we are continuing to try to organize and clean the place. But its great! And its home now! Also, the elders before us must have spent their last day wisely, as they labeled several objects and surfaces around the home with giant orange post-it notes. So there is a note on the wall for example that says (in Hungarian) “Wall. Generally there are four of them in a room”. Szeged has many beautiful buildings! Luckily Papritz nővér is good with directions because I still haven’t a clue how to get around. I’ll surely be doing some map studying! We get around by foot and public transit in Szeged. The church building is close enough to walk to, which is wonderful.
Before I tell you about some more experiences I’ve had so far, I want to explain some of my overall feeling right now. Although it’s my 6th day in Hungary, I feel I haven’t yet had the chance to really get into the work. The first day here was mostly spent in the mission home in Budapest, the second day was mostly meetings and travel, then we had to spend part of a day getting our apartment livable (we were left no toilet paper in the apartment for example hahaha), then – both a sadness and a blessing – we were given two “super preparation days”. I am still unfamiliar with the concept of a super preparation day but it had to do with the new year holidays I believe, so we didn’t do much work on those two days. And now its today and I’m emailing. (We email on Mondays). So. after emailing, I am so so so so so itching to jump in!
I have however already had some wonderful experiences! I spoke with a woman in one of the airports on the way to Hungary and was able to connect with her. She shared a lot of her pain and sadness with me, and I really felt for her. I was then able to share a wonderful message of comfort and happiness with her and offer her a Book of Mormon. I have a testimony of the healing power of the Atonement. I was glad to have shared that with someone. Upon arrival in Budapest we got to go out and talk with some people in a public square. There again I was able to connect with some people (in Hungarian!).
Interestingly, my first day in Hungary was my most successful language day. I had long conversations with people in the street in Hungarian. Since coming to Szeged, I understand maybe 4% of everything that is said to me. Papritz nővér luckily speaks very well! I really want to learn to understand and speak better so I can better fulfill my purpose as a missionary.
Papritz nővér and I got to have a meeting with a recent convert in the area and he is INCREDIBLE! He is such a good example to me of living the gospel and having faith. (He spoke wonderful English which helped me a lot.) I have a feeling there are going to be a lot of amazing people here in Hungary!
There are also two elders serving here in Szeged, so there are four of us total in our district. We all get along and I feel I can learn a lot from my companion. I am doing my best to pull as much weight as I can as a “greenie”. Erickson testvér, one of my teachers from the MTC, suggested we do our best to serve our trainer, so I try to always remember that and act on it.
Ooh here are two fun stories:
First, I went whipping. It is a big thing for missionaries in Hungary to buy whips and learn to crack them. The two elders in my distinct have happen to have bought 2 each, so on one of our Super P-days we went whipping. I need more of the back story on where Hungarian whipping originated.. horse-men? It is embarrassing but I am willing to admit that I have no idea. Grossen testvér, my other teacher from the MTC, showed us his whip that he got on his mission and I found it to be very intimidating-looking, so I didn’t take much interest in learning too much about it. But when the time came, how could I say no to doing something so peculiar (and possibly cultural?) as “going whipping”?? So I went. And straight away whipped myself in the face!! Haha literally on my first attempt! But I ended up actually having a really good time!! Over the course of our whipping expedition I whipped myself several times including my ear. But other than the pain, it was fun. Whips are loud! You probably knew that. haha. And now my “whipping arm” hurts, but who knows maybe I will return from Hungary with an extremely buff whipping arm. Ah good.
Story number two happened at Church on Sunday. First a bit about Church. Although I had a hard time understanding most of everything said by everyone, I really enjoyed church. I introduced myself to everyone I saw and tried to remember some of their names. I could feel the Spirit in that meeting and I felt comfortable even though I didn’t understand much. Ok so the story, the bishop asked the new missionaries to introduce themselves and bear testimony in the meeting. So I did. And it was great! … except for one thing I said. So… I learned before coming that if you tell someone to “go to France” you are telling them to go to a much worse place than that, and it is very rude. What I did not know is that you have to be careful about how you speak about France in general. So, in my introduction on my first Sunday in church, I told everyone about how my younger brother is currently serving his mission in hell. Everyone in the congregation laughed when I said it and I had no idea why. Honestly I was quite confused. I thought I had said a different word wrong or something. It turns out you have to say “France country” so people will know you are actually talking about France. One of the members started calling me “Sister France” after that. Luckily no one was offended and they all knew what I was trying to say… but oh dear.
After church there was a meeting and again I was in the dark with everything being said, but something wonderful happened. I looked around at these people who I had only just met, and I felt love for them, for all of them. I felt it is a gift from Heavenly Father to me that I can love them without knowing them first. I pray to develop this love for all of the people I see. Every soul is important to the Lord and thus they should be important to me.
As I get to dedicate my time fully to my work, I expect I will feel a sense of comfort in knowing that I am doing what I was sent here to do. I have an added measure of desire to get working, so I cannot wait to tell you what comes of it!
I love you all. Happy 2012! I can’t believe it’s 2012!
Love, Suranyi nővér