Week #41

First things first: YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS!!!! WAAAAAAAAHOOOOOOOO!!!! AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHH MAAAAAN!!!!!

I GET TO STAY WITH RONEY NŐVÉR FOR ANOTHER TRANSFER!!!!!!!!

This morning was transfer calls, and we got the call to stay together :D :D I could not be happier. Seriously. Not possible.

And if that was not enough, I found out that my brother just got called to be Assistant to the President in his mission in France. THAT’S MY BROTHER! I could not be prouder of him. Did I already share that Roney nővér’s uncle is my brother’s mission president? So I also get to hear little tidbits through emails that get sent to her, and it sounds like my brother is doing an incredible job as a missionary. That boy is one of my heroes.

This week we had the concert that we have been preparing for for the last month. It went over really well. I was really nervous about singing my duet and Roney nővér was nervous about her speaking part. We both said prayers – together and personally – that everything would go well. In the end everything went wonderfully. After I sang I really knew that the Lord was blessing me to succeed in my performance. It felt so wonderful. I was so scared and my hands were shaking, yet my voice came out strong and the Spirit filled the room. People told us (Magda elder and I) how much they could feel the Spirit when we sang and a few people even cried. I hope to one day no longer be nervous to sing, but I was grateful that the Lord could bless me to succeed even through my weakness and nerves.

Sister Roney and I have been taking films lately to help keep memories. We have filmed some of our investigators (with their permission of course) and also some of our daily activities. It has been a lot of fun!

I think it is due to the heat, but many nights bring extreme storms. There is heavy rainfall, strong wind, and crashing thunder and lightning. The other night we opened our windows during the storm and we ended up having a storm in our apartment! It was so fun! It rained inside and papers flew across the rooms. It was funny because less than an hour previous we were sitting before the fan during our weekly planning trying to cool off from the hot muggy weather.

We met one man earlier this week whose name is Gyula. He is hilarious and eccentric and in his 50s. Later in the week we ran into him again. We were drinking chocolate milk from a bag (they sell it that way here). For some reason he couldn’t handle that we were drinking chocolate milk. He was happily talking to us but kept commenting on the milk and pretending he had to look away. At the end he couldn’t take it anymore and he pulled the bag out of my mouth before I was finished. HAHA it was hilarious! Sister Roney and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at it. He took her bag too and said he would throw them out for us. It was so funny. He laughed too. Ah this mission brings such strange experiences. I love it.

We are continuing to work hard. We meet with people and then go out and try to find more when we have no programs. It is hard to go out in the heat for hours but we bring water and pray for strength. Dogs are crazy. A few people this week were extra rude to us, but somehow it never hurts my feelings when they are strangers. People yell at us sometimes. People tell us to go back to where we came from. People tell us we are stupid. But somehow it is not hurtful. I know we did not do anything to merit that treatment, which is one thing that helps. And another is that I know people just misunderstand us. They judge us without taking the time to hear what we would like to share with them. I feel blessed to not feel hurt by them. And I know it is worth being rejected hundreds of times to see the smile on someone’s face as they feel the joy that we do, for the reason that we do.

I hope things are well back home. I look forward to making the things I learn here part of my life back home.

I send my love!

– Surányi nővér

Week #40

Sziasztok!

What a week! Sister Roney and I spoke Hungarian all week this past week – at home too – and we calculated that we spoke over 100 hours of Hungarian! I really hope that some progress comes from it!

On Friday the mission leader asked if I would give a “missionary minute” (misszionáriusi perc) in church this Sunday. The most stressful part was to keep it to 3 minutes like I was asked. I prepared and practiced, and it is amazing how fast 3 minutes goes by! (Especially when you cannot speak the language very quickly). But I did my best, and many people thanked me for my testimony.

There is an IKEA at the big bus loop near our home and we decided to grab a meal there once. Roney novér had never been in an IKEA before so we decided to go up the stairs to have a quick peek at what it was like. Well… IKEA is a trap! Once you start you cannot go back! You have to go through the whole windy display and see all the rooms and levels. Periodically were placed little maps showing where you were. And we laughed as we speed-walked as fast as we could to try to get out. It was hilarious.

The new mission president has given us a few updates on the rules. There were certain rules in the missionary handbook that we were not required to keep with the former president. President Smith has lovingly asked us to begin keeping certain rules. Of course there is a bit of a wish that we could keep the more lax old ways, but it feels good to have a bit of a change and an opportunity to show the new mission president that we support him and sustain him as a servant of the Lord. I know that when I keep the rules that the mission president sets, that I am being obedient to the Lord. I know I will receive blessings for my obedience.

I was going to move on but I imagine you might be curious about what kind of rules I am talking about. For example we used to be allowed to wear regular street clothes on preparation day, but the white handbook says to wear our proselyting clothes. We also used to only have to do one hour of studies on Pday but now we are asked to do full studies like the handbook suggests. I am looking forward to see whether there will ever be another Super Pday. Super pdays do not exist in the white handbook so we will have to see what the new president says!

We have a hilarious investigator right now. He is in his 50s. He speaks French and Hungarian natively and he also speaks English fluently. He likes to complain about how “poor” his English is. (His English is fantastic.) He generally speaks in English but likes to throw in the other languages whenever he feels like it. He is aware, and does it for fun and play. Luckily I always understand what he is saying. :) This week we taught him a “cups lesson” in which we build Jesus Christ’s church out of cups with pictures on them. Half way through the lesson he started building his own churches with the cups. My companion and I nearly peed ourselves laughing. Seriously, it is like he is 6. We love him. When I get home from my mission he is going to help me practice French over Skype.

Ive said it before, but there are so many experiences I am having – and very personal and intimate ones too – that I would never have the opportunity to have if I had not come here. I get to peek into people’s lives. Strangers become friends and loved ones, and trust is built. Many people do not appreciate us, and I understand their point of view. Then there are others that truly feel God’s love through us. It is so worth the nearly consistant rejection, to find the people who need us. We find people who need to know and feel that they matter and that they are loved. My heart us so much more “on my sleeve” than it has ever been in my life. I really find it an interesting experience full of growth and learning and feeling. I wonder how the Elders react to all the feeling – it must be even more interesting for many of them.

This week we went to Sport nap (sport day) again and played basketball. I did a little better this week than before! I kindof wish I had been more interested in organized sports when I was younger so that I could be more “ügyes” now and be able to play. But its not too late for me to learn. Roney nővér and I have still been playing basketball and volleyball in the mornings which is both good and fun.

This week in church I just felt so happy. I had a completely sincere and real smile on my face for almost the entire 3 hours. I loved being there. I feel so happy so often here. There are disappointing moments and frustrating times and tiring times, but the overall feeling is that of real happiness. Sometimes I imagine looking at myself from the outside and I wonder if I look anything like some of the missionaries I looked up to when I was home. I remember the Sisters always looked so happy and shining. Then when people say the same of me it seems surprising. I hope people see in me the same happiness I saw in the Sisters back home.

I am in such a strange position with the language. I understand so much more now, and speak so much more, but there are times when my language skills are still completely insufficient. I kind of have to go into each conversation hoping that this time my skills will be enough. And sometimes they are, and sometimes they aren’t. I am half way through my mission and still struggle so much. I am starting to prepare myself to accept that I may never speak flawless or even “very good” Hungarian. I think that I can attain understandable Hungarian. That is my current goal. If they can understand me and I can understand them, I am happy.

Many Hungarians are not used to people learning Hungarian. People don’t generally learn Hungarian. So they often have a hard time understanding our accent, because they do not usually hear accents. Also they do not know to slow down and use simpler words, because they have never had to do that before. If I am patient with myself and others, even the communication failures can be fun and a learning experience.

I leave you with my love!!

-Surányi nővér

Week #39

Hi everyone!

I am feeling so great! I feel truly happy and I feel blessed in so many ways. This past week was Zone Conference which included interviews by the new mission president President Smith. I always love Zone Conference and this one was no exception. It was wonderful. One thing that every missionary wonders about when the new president comes is what the rules are going to be. President Smith is in favour of using the White Missionary Handbook as a standard for our missionaries. There will be a few things specific to our country that I am sure he will guide us on, but it is nice to have a clear definition of what the rules are. One of my favourite things is that I am no longer required to wear a suit coat on Sundays and to Baptisms or to Zone Conference!! YAYY! (Every missionary around the world has the same white missionary handbook, and to my joy there is nothing that requires sister missionaries to wear suit coats in the book, so the new president said we don’t need to! I found them very uncomfortable.) The mission rules are going to be a little bit stricter now, but also a lot more standardized and I know I will see blessings from obeying the counsel of my mission president.

As part of our missionary work we are asked to try to have members of the church be present often when we teach investigators. There are times when this is a good experience, and times when it is not. Some members misunderstand their role in a lesson and try to take over the teaching. I do not feel upset at them because I know it is part of my role to help them understand their role, and also that they are doing their best and what they think is right. However, it can be a frustrating experience. For example they can confuse the investigator with too much unrelated information in a non-logical sequence. But this week we had an example of an outstanding “member present” lesson. The member was incredible. His testimony was strong and so helpful. He generally only spoke when my companion or I asked him things (which we did throughout the lesson) and he kept his answers clear and powerful and brief. I wish I could photocopy that man. He had personality and was personable, but also respected us and the investigator and allowed us to teach and lead the lesson even if he may have had his own ideas of what could be said. I am so impressed with his patience and wonderful help. I hope that when I return home from my mission I can be an equally good “member present”.

This week none of our investigators came to church. It was sad for us, but we got a wonderful blessing. Sister Roney and I got to attend English Sunday School. It was wonderful! I know I have already said that a lot of things are wonderful in this email, but it really was! I am mostly saving the wonderful things to tell in my email :) A. I could understand everything! B. The teacher was fantastic. He prepared well. He was passionate about the lesson. He asked questions and promoted conversation. He was great. C. I had recently read the chapters we were studying and thus I was also prepared for the lesson. D. The chapters were interesting. (Alma 30-31) E. The Spirit was so strong. I wish I could go to English Sunday School every week! But I know that is one sacrifice I need to make. It is my role to accompany investigators to their class and help them understand and feel comfortable. It might sound strange, but it feels good to make this sacrifice. I know how wonderful the class is, yet I am willing to fore-go the experience so that I can help someone else feel the Spirit. I can delay gratification! (I think that it a huge part of self-control, and I am glad to be able to learn a little bit more about it. Now if only I could do the same with chocolate …)

This week starting today is Consecration Week. Every fifth week of the transfer is consecration week. (I literally just figured out that pattern as I typed that past sentence). For consecration week we are being asked to speak a total of 48 hours of Hungarian in the week, as well as get in 5 full language studies. My companion and I generally always speak Hungarian to each other whenever we are outside of the apartment except on Pdays, so, for consecration week we’ve decided to take it one step further. We are going to speak only Hungarian at all times (unless we are teaching English class or speaking to and English speaking person). It has only been half a day, and so far so good… but I will have to let you know next week how it goes! Both of us are excited to do this and we hope it will help us improve.

Random exciting news that will make sense to some of you: There is bubble tea in the Árkád – one of the malls near our home! Bubble tea in Hungary!!! It reminds me of home and going to late night bubble tea. Also it seems like no other missionary has ever heard of bubble tea. How sad. I noticed it last week, so I think I am going to get some today!

Immature Hungarian word of the week: Púp. Pronounced “poop”. It means a hump that a person can have on their back. Such an important word to know. Love it.

And on that spiritual note I bit you farewell for another week.

With so much love,

Surányi nővér

Week #38

Hi everyone!

Here are a few things that we did this week here in Pest.

Roney nővér and I cooked Rakott Krumpli (stacked potatoes). SO DELICIOUS. It lasted us 5 meals. I really want to make it when I get home, but many of the ingredients will not be quite the same. We decided that it is so delicious that it is worth a try using American ingredients. It is layers of potatoes and cheese and kolbász and tejfől and eggs. YUM. This week we are making lecsó, which is like a pepper-tomato stew.

This week we went to Sport Nap at the church and played basketball. It was fun. I am not very good at basketball but I did my best.

We went “tabling” with the Pest Elders this week. We set up a table and talked to people and gave away copies of the Book of Mormon and pamphlets and things. The greenie, Magda elder, was really brave and talked to people all on his own. It was great to see his example of fearlessly serving. (I never talked to strangers on the street without my trainer when I was a greenie!).

Magda elder and I have been asked to sing a duet for a musical concert that will be in a couple weeks. We had our first practice this weekend and the song is really pretty. We are doing a version of Be Still My Soul written for a male and female voice. Our pianist is one of the sister missionaries in Buda and she plays incredibly. I really hope I do not get nervous as the concert. I will pray for confidence!

I translated in Young Women’s this week. There was one English speaking girl there and so I was asked to sit by her and translate for her in real time for the hour. It was neat. It was very low pressure (and she wasn’t really paying attention to me anyway) so it felt like a really good practice. I look forward to really understanding Hungarian a lot more and to be able to say what I want to say and to makes less mistakes saying it. At this point I can communicate alright. But I have to ask for a lot of clarification and I make innumerable mistakes when I speak. I know I have come a long way from when I started though. Some people think our accents are cute, and I am glad. It makes me feel less worried about talking to them.

Last PDay Roney nővér and I went to a lot of sights in Buda. We went to Buda Castle, Fisherman’s Bastian, Matyás Templom, Vaci street, and Szent István Baszilika. We did a lot of walking. It was great and felt so European!

The weather here is still excruciating. It has been hovering around 40 degrees. Sleeping is hard too. But somehow we grin and bear it and it all works out okay. We have one little fan at home that we hover around whenever we can. I am grateful for Vancouver weather so much more now :) Ill try to remember that the next time I am home and it rains for 2 weeks straight :)

Roney nővér and I feel the same way about a lot of things and have a lot the the same opinions and are often thinking the same things. We have developed a game where we try to point out things that we think the other person will not have the same opinion about. But usually we end up in laughter because the other actually feels the same way and for the same reasons too. It is hilarious. I love Sister Roney.

Today we are going to a restaurant with a couple other missionary companionships. Neither Roney nővér nor I have been there but we have heard so many good things from all the other missionaries who have gone in the past. It is called Trofea Grill. It is a buffet and apparently super “rendes” and delicious and fantastic. I look forward to it.

I look forward to this upcoming week. We planned to go tabling with the elders again and we are also going to have our Budapest Zone Conference. It is also going to be our first Zone Conference with the new mission President so he is going to interview each of us individually. I look forward to it.

I send you my love and well wishes!

Love, Surányi nővér

Oh p.s. I thought of a funny thing. When Hungarians hang up the phone, many of them feel they need to say goodbye multiple times. Sometimes they will repeat it 5 times in a row and you just sort of have to trail off and hang up the phone. It is so funny.

Week #37

Hello beloved friends and family!

I am literally dripping with sweat as I write this email, but I am also dripping with high spirits! Even in the sweltering heat comes joy from hard work.

I have attended two baptisms since I last wrote! Last weekend we traveled to Szeged to attend a baptism there. There were about 14 missionaries there! This is very uncommon. Many of us missionaries had the opportunity to teach and come to love Nick and thus we were happy and willing to change our pday and travel to Szeged for her baptism. It was wonderful to see her and to feel the Spirit there and feel the love of members I knew when I first began my mission in Szeged. I am so glad we went.

This weekend we had a baptism in Pest. A lady the Elders had been teaching was baptized. This was the most powerful baptism I have attended in my life. The feeling in the room as we met was an indescribable warm and happy and safe feeling. I couldn’t stop tears from falling as I saw on her face how prepared she was for that day and as I heard the words spoken by the speakers she chose. The next day in church she received the Gift of the Holy Ghost and again that same wonderful powerful feeling came over me. A couple of investigators who were present for the baptism told me that they feel a desire to be baptized. I have such a strong testimony of baptism and that it truly is a new birth. Every past sin remains behind us and we step into newness of life. I hope to soon attend other such powerful baptisms and feel the joy of seeing another children of God come closer to Him.

This week my companion and I worked very hard. We had quite a few people who did not show up for programs yet the Lord blessed us with some miracles and we were able to be the only companionship who reached Mission Super Standard this week.

This week we learned to do Kézi Munka. I wish I knew the English translation. Needle work maybe? Hungary has a lot of very beautiful “needle work” and I look forward to making some of my own to bring home and remember. There are very traditional styles and patterns and I hope to find time to make some ( I don’t know when… but I can hope). I have been practicing on a beginner pattern and I am really enjoying it!

One funny story from the week: We were going from door to door to search for people who are interested to hear our message. It was hot out. We ring one bell at a gate and a teenaged boy comes out and closes the gate behind him. He asks as what we want and we explained why we were there and asked if he wanted to hear our message. He the yells over the fence into the yard (we cannot see in) “DO WE WANT TO HEAR A MESSAGE??”. Apparently the answer was yes because he opened the gate and let us in. There were several other semi-dressed teenage boys sitting in a circle on some chairs and workout equipment in the yard. A couple of them stood and motioned for us to sit down. Then their mother came out too and sat with us. I wish I could describe the picture. Roney nővér and I knew that only on a mission would we end up in such a situation. Two girls in skirts past the knee with name tags sitting with a group of rebellious looking boys in a yard. We actually got to share part of the message of the Restoration of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the mother accepted a copy of the Book of Mormon. We will be going back there tomorrow to meet with them again. It was in the end a positive experience.

On a mission you really learn to love people. We are asked to talk to anyone and everyone. We learn not to judge people by the way they look but really try to connect with them and see who they are on the inside. Each person is a child of God and it is important for us to treat them as such – especially when we are wearing the name of Jesus Christ on our lapels.

I often think of home and have very good memories and look forward to my return, yet I know that I cannot forgo the learning I am experiencing here. I know I am able to help the Lord do good if I work hard, and I know I can become more than I am now and return home a better person than I was when I left. I am so grateful for these experiences.

I send my love and happiness and hope we can all remember to treat each person with love and kindness.

Sok szeretettel, Surányi nővér