Monday, November 30, 2009

Thanksgiving in Hungary


This week turned out pretty awesome, although, it didn’t start out so good. I have a pathetically funny story about that. Recently I have been trying to eat healthier and so early in the week I bought some chicken to cook for dinner. I put it in the fridge to thaw for most of the day, but it was still rock solid when I went to cook it. I put it in some really hot water for a few minutes, but then had to go to a meeting. I totally forgot about the chicken even though the meeting was on the floor below our apartment. The meeting ran late as usual and when I went back upstairs I found the water cold and realized that the chicken had been sitting out for over an hour and a half and was now thawed out and probably full of really bad germs. That was really lame of me. Haha. I didn’t trust the chicken since it had been sitting out so long and ended up wasting about a kilo of good food. I had been so excited to make something healthy and tasty and then I totally blew it! Hahaha. I’m going to try again tonight. Wish me luck! I’ll need it...

Last Monday we met with a really cool guy named László. He used to be Christian, but converted to Buddhism when he saw things in his church that didn’t seem right and that didn’t fit with what he felt was right. He’s a way cool guy who loves to rock climb—in fact, he reminds me of the guy who taught me how to rock climb. We talked to him about the Book of Mormon and about how our church differs from other Christian religions. He agreed to read the Book of Mormon. Nothing special happened during our meeting, it was just a good program. Hopefully we’ll get to meet with him again.

Thanksgiving was great! All thanks to the senior couple here, the Haslems! Whole turkeys are available here in Hungary only during Christmas time so the Haslems went to Vienna to get two big turkeys with which they made a great big Thanksgiving dinner! Missionaries from two other cities, Szombathely and Győr, came to Sopron and we had a big party. The party was a ton of fun and the food was very tasty! I felt pretty blessed to have a Thanksgiving dinner halfway across the world.

On Saturday we had a big branch party during which we made Advent wreaths. The making of Advent wreaths is apparently a popular tradition here in Europe. The party was a lot of fun. Almost all of our investigators attended too, which was really neat! This week was full, that’s for sure.

Marika is still doing great and her testimony of the Gospel is growing. She hasn’t been this happy in a long time. She had never been able to quit smoking before we started to meet with her, but she is now relying more on God and is receiving many blessings from Him. She had smoked for 40 years or so but was able to quit pretty quickly. She has a lot of determination which I’m sure has helped as well. It is a privilege to teach her more about God and Christ and what they have given to us through ancient and modern revelation.

Being here on a mission in Hungary is awesome. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ a ton! It is great to be able to teach others and see how living according to the commandments actually brings more happiness and peace and meaning into their lives. Thanks for all of the support from home and everywhere else!

~Anderson elder

Monday, November 23, 2009

Christmas Is Coming!


Hey! Last week was pretty good. First of all, CHRISTMAS IS COMING! The city is putting Christmas lights on street lamps and setting up trees and other stuff—it is really cool. Supposedly, in early December the city is going to set up a big Christmas tree in Fő Tér, which is the main square in the city. Christmas is awesome!

We visited an older member named Marika Néni last week who can’t come to church because she has to take care of her older sister who is 90 years old and has Alzheimer’s disease really bad. She is such a sweet lady and the highlight of her week is visiting with us. One time she called us her little angels! It is always fun to visit her.

Elder and Sister Haslem, the senior missionary couple in Sopron, have started a branch program called Gofri Est, or Waffle Night, which we hold every other Friday evening. Last week we watched The Polar Express at Gofri Est—it was pretty cool to see it in Hungarian. I could understand the point of what movie characters were saying, but not every word they said. It was fun though.

This week the Haslems are making a huge Thanksgiving dinner for the missionaries in Sopron and a few missionaries from other areas. Yesterday they went to Vienna, which is only 45 minutes away, to get a big turkey. They also had their kids send them pumpkin pie stuff in the mail!

Marika, our investigator, is doing awesome now! She was really stressed out about some stuff in her life, but she made through it and now is more committed to being baptized than ever. She is progressing well and the cool thing is that people have noticed that she is much happier nowadays! I love teaching about the Gospel of Christ. It is an awesome feeling to really believe and experience that God does love us and help us!

Well I need to go now, but thanks again for all of your love and support!

~Anderson elder

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Car Crash


Last week was pretty exciting. I’ll start off with the crazy part! On Thursday Elder Hintze—he’s American even though his name looks foreign—and I were on splits, streeting on opposite sides of the Várkerület. I was about to talk to a couple when I heard a crash behind me. I turned around, hearing tires screeching as a big, white van parked at the side of the street jerked back and forth. Obviously there had been a car crash. I asked the couple who I had just approached if they had a cell phone, but they were Austrian and didn’t understand Hungarian and were of no help. They just pointed to a nearby payphone. I didn’t have any money and didn’t want to deal with a payphone anyway so I gave up the idea of calling for help. Running to where the crash had occurred I saw that a car was wedged between the white van and another parked car. I was the first person to reach the car; everyone else just stood where they were and stared. The driver of the crashed car was an older woman. She was conscious so I gave her a thumbs up sign and asked her if she was okay. She couldn’t hear me but nodded her head that she was all right. In hindsight I should have ran around and opened the door for her and helped her out, but I wasn’t much more helpful than the rest of the onlookers. The driver got out of her car looking really dazed and not at all like she was all there—she was probably in shock or something. I asked her again if she was okay and she just gave me this weird look. Then I looked at her car’s license plate and saw a big “A” which stands for Austria. So she was Austrian too and couldn’t speak Hungarian, and I was totally stumped as to what I should do. By then a big crowd of people had gathered behind me and they were all just staring at the lady. A few minutes later someone who spoke German finally arrived and began talking to her. Elder Hintze and I then left, not knowing how we could be of any help. It was pretty crazy. Apparently this lady was slow to accelerate when the cars ahead of her started to go. A bus behind her probably assumed that she would get going along with the other cars and when she didn’t it slammed into her. It rammed her car from behind and skidded it across the other lane of traffic where it got wedged between two parked cars. The bus driver looked pretty distraught, as he should have, because it was probably his fault. If so, he’ll likely lose his job. So that was a pretty intense experience.

Missionary work has been getting more difficult lately. Most of the people we’re trying to teach don’t seem to want to meet with us anymore. They’re just too nice to say no which, I guess, is kind of nice of them in a way. But it’s not much fun having people continuously put off meeting with us either. So we are spending more time trying to find people to teach—one of the more difficult and less enjoyable aspects of missionary work—although finding makes teaching all the more enjoyable! If everything was fun and enjoyable and perfect, then we wouldn’t even be able to enjoy it. We only truly enjoy good times when we have had to go through hard times. The scripture in 2 Nephi chapter 2 explains that concept well I think.

Christmas season is coming! The stores here in Sopron are starting to show their Christmas wares and the city is putting up little Christmas trees on stoplights and other decorations all over the place. I’m way excited!

Well I better get going now. Thanks for everything! I hope all is going well back in America! Watch out for that nasty flu! It’s not that bad over here. Helló!

~Anderson elder

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Blessings of the Church


OK, this blog email will be short, but sweet. Sorry for the disclaimer, but I am running out of time FAST! Whatever emails I write last are always rushed.

This week was really good! Except that my companion and I have been having a hard time getting enough sleep. Because of winter and the reduced amount of daylight it offers, we have changed our schedules. We now wake up at 5:30am and go to bed at 9:30pm. Technically we should be getting the same amount of sleep as before. However, we have a lot of branch activities all of which are later at night and none of which we can reschedule. So we have a lot less time to eat dinner and get ready for bed after these activities and that has meant that we have been staying up later trying to get everything done. We almost got sick from lack of sleep, but now we are finally used to it. We have been able to organize our schedule better to give us enough time to do what we need and still get enough sleep. I never before realized just how important sleep is! It makes a huge impact on how you feel and how motivated you are to work hard. I’m grateful that we have worked things out now.

One cool thing that happened this week was that we found a guy who hasn’t been coming to church in a few years. He was pretty happy to meet with us and we had a great program with him. His life has recently become extremely difficult. His wife left him for a neighbor just two floors below in their apartment building and now she lives down there with this other guy. She totally abandoned her husband and their two super cute daughters, one who is three years old and one who is five. Because of this situation, he has to take care of the girls all by himself and that has made his work even more difficult. He works 11 to 12 hours a day, five to six days a week and usually gets about three to four hours of sleep after coming home from work and trying to be a good father. He has so many good memories of the church when he was active—I could really tell that he misses the church and the stability and blessings it once brought into his life. I am really looking forward to meeting with him again.

I have to go now; my companion and I need to go shopping and then run some more errands. Thanks for everything I love you all!

~Anderson elder

Monday, November 2, 2009

Halloween in Hungary

Hey Everybody!

I have been informed that I am no longer allowed to say in my blog that not a lot happened during the week—great advice because this week was intense. Elder Carlson finished his mission and I got a new companion named Elder Nichols. He is pretty awesome.

We had a sweet Halloween party last week! Hungarians don’t celebrate Halloween so they really liked our party since it was so different. All four of us missionaries dressed up as penguins! Since you can’t buy costumes here we had to make everything from scratch and cheap clothes. We looked pretty funny. When we walked downstairs into the branch house where everyone was (two of us live above the branch house) everyone burst out laughing because we looked so ridiculous! It was a ton of fun. So many English class students came with their families and friends that there were almost too many people for our small building. There were about 54 people who came and nonmembers outnumbered members of the church almost 3 to 1! So it was a great success. We are going to start meeting with a few of the people who came to the party, which is awesome. At the very least a lot of people have a much better impression of us and know that we are normal people who like to have fun too. It was definitely the highlight of the week.

Also, I turned 20 years old and that was a little weird. I feel like I’m in a time warp thingy and that when I get home I’ll still be 19 years old. During the family night we hold in the branch house one of the families brought me a cake and candy! It was really cool.

I love you all and I am way glad to be here serving the Hungarian people and helping them become happier and more optimistic through the gospel of Jesus Christ. I believe with all of my heart because of what I have felt and studied and experienced that this church is the restored church of Jesus Christ. I love seeing how the church makes people become better and happier people. Again, thanks for everything!

~Anderson elder