Monday, August 26, 2013

The Week After Szent Istvan Nap

Hello everyone! I hope you are all having a good time going back to school and what not. Ah, good times...
The work is picking up a bit out here in Szolnok! We have hit a dry spell due to us having to drop several non-progressing investigators, combined with losing contact with a few others, and then there was a holiday. Yeah, our numbers were not so great last week! But we really worked hard and we are starting to see more success! As we try to get more investigators, we chose to spend a good chunk of our finding time with tracting some monster 10-stories out in the Szechany district of Szolnok, where about half of the population of the city lives.
Lots of fun! We tracted into a Jehovah witness, and Elder Loveday bible-bashed with him for a good hour! Heck, I don't have that kind of vocabulary left, so I bore my testimony of the Book of Mormon and told him he can know for himself about it's truthfulness. Fun time! We also ran into an old "bácsi", or just really old man, and I talked to him about the church and what not and then I asked him if he would like to meet with us sometime. His response? He leaned in really close to me, put his hand on my shoulder, and whispered in some really nasty cigarette-breath "My friend, we will meet. But, it will be in heaven." My surprised look on my face must have prompted him to say "No, not in hell, but in HEAVEN."
Okaaay, buddy. So, we left! I can't wait to talk to him in the spirit world!

We also tracted into a really, really old "néni" or a really old woman, and she absolutely loved us being there. We gave her a Book of Mormon and her contact info, and as we were preparing to leave she did the traditional Hungarian "puszi" kiss on both cheeks with us! That was my first time ever! Kind of awkward, but we can't really say no to it without offending them sometimes, so we just go with it! LOVE the people here!
My Hungarian is doing really, really well. I can listen pretty well to people now and figure out what they are talking about, just the replying part needs some more work! I did carry a conversation (by myself, with a little help from Elder Loveday) for 45 minutes with a lady in the park about the Book of Mormon. Hey, I must have done something right cause she gave me her number and we are probably meeting this week sometime!
Our investigators are all having rough times right now. "B"'s mother passed away suddenly last week, and she called me crying about it and saying that she wanted to meet with ME sometime before I leave Szolnok so she can talk to me about it. That was so tough, and I admit when I got off the phone I was really emotionally upset. How grateful I am for the Plan of Salvation, and that's what I plan on talking about with her next time we meet. "E", my golden bapdate for October 12th, has gone two weeks now without smoking or drinking coffee!!! She's in in to win it, my friends! We even call her daily to remind her to be strong! But the fight against her addictions are really, really exhausting her. She has deep lines in her face and her eyes are sunken hard to watch sometimes. But then she tells us that she is going to do it, and when we leave she grabs one of my hands with both of hers and says "Thank you, 'drágam'." Or, Thank you, my "precious" one.
Yeah, this is what it's ALL about here. I LOVE it.
So transfers are next week. Yikes. The chances that Elder Loveday could train a new missionary are very high, which would mean I would leave and go somewhere else. Little bit nervous, but not overly scared. Anyway, aboslutley loving the work out here. Right now we are finding alot, and it seems with the strange random loss of most of our investigators things are getting into perspective for me: I see each investigator as a person now, not just a programme to go to. It's very sad to think about leaving them, but I know that the Lord has other peeps for me to bring closer to Him. So exciting to think about!
Love you all. Have a safe and fun first week of school! Pray for the Hungarians, because PRAYER works!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

beautiful Szolnok, we had a break in the weather!

One of our awesome members

Eating cow liver

Tracting a 10 story building

Another awesome member

Our family received this email and pics from the couple serving in Joseph's area!!!  

  Your son has been such  a joy to work with here in Szolnok.  He is so excited about the missionary work, and has such a strong testimony.  Yesterday Marvin attended a program with him and he bore such a strong testimony about the need for baptism and confirmation.  We have included three pictures of your son that we thought you might enjoy.  You should be so proud of him!  May God bless!  Love, Sister Ruth Smith and Elder Marvin Smith
P.S.  We will miss him so when he transfers out of our area. 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Budapest, Szeged, and Szent Istvan Nap!

Hello everyone! 

As indicated by the title, I really went several places this past week. We headed on up to Budapest for interviews with President Smith so he could make sure that we were doing good. While up there I talked to some missionaries whom I really had never talked to before and got to know some more of them! It was way fun. I really love Budapest, the city is just full of excitement and energy.

Last week, we went on down to Szeged for zone training. Elders Nelson and Miller did a wonderful training and afterward we went and got lunch at the mall. Super fun time. Then, since Elder Loveday is a District Leader, the Zone Leaders went on splits with him, which ended up with me staying in Szeged with my old trainer, Elder Miller! We had fun driving around in their car (just the zone leaders and senior couples have cars in our zone) and went to a few appointments and what not. I got to eat pig's feet (yes, you read that right) at an investigating family's house, it was actually really chewy and soft! Super funky, but hey it tasted like chicken! 

Also, Elder Loveday and me had to make some tough decisions on some of our investigators which ended up with us dropping about four of them, just because they weren't progressing and keeping their commitments. It was really, really hard saying goodbye to people you invested so much patience and love in, just to say "Maybe things will work out in the future". That resulted in our numbers not looking so good on paper, and we had LOTS of finding hours. So a rough week in terms of the work, but we still tried our absolute hardest in finding peeps! Regarding our progressing investigators, "E" is doing great and told me in church on Sunday that she didn't drink coffee that morning! And she brought her whole family with her to the branch party on the 20th. 

The fun part of the week was definitely the party on August 20th, or Szent Istvan nap! It is the day that they celebrate the time in like 998 AD when the Magyar tribes conquered this part of Europe and established the Magyar nation! So they didn't "declare independence" or anything, they totally went and conquered this place! Woo. They have cultural parties the whole day and end the day with an epic fireworks display in the main square. We got to watch it from the Smith's balcony because they have a perfect view! During the day, we did a bit of working in the morning, but then it turned into our PDay for the week, and we Totally went fishing! I didn't catch anything, but Elder Smith, one of the Senior missionaries, totally caught a fish! Super crazy! We then went to the branch party at the branch house and then headed off to the Smith's and ate brownies, popcorn, and played Phase 10 all night until the fireworks! It felt like I was back at home! Super weird but so much fun!

My favorite part of the night was right before the fireworks and a hush fell over the big crowd assembled on the main square and they began to sing their national anthem. Absolutely beautiful. Compared to our national anthem in America, which we sing to kind of get pumped up and to be like...well, Americans, the Magyar Himnos is actually more of a prayer to God. In it, they say "God bless the Hungarian, who have been struggling with so much". It is a very, very reverent occasion. Hungary's history is fraught with death and tragedy, and it is all reflected in their anthem. It is absolutely gorgeous, and I recommend you look it up on YouTube if you get a chance. But the whole crowd sang it, and they were absolutley quiet at the end, thousands of people just waiting quietly. How did they do it? I have NO idea! Cameras were flashing and what not, but the anthem just has this way of quieting them all. It's almost a sacred event. Absolutley touching thing to witness. I loved it! 

Well, that's about it from my side of the world. I still miss going to temples all the time...kind of bummed. But, I know that what I am doing here right now in Hungary is helping them all prepare for their own someday in their country! How awesome that will be! The weather is actually starting to cool down a bit, they say that September is a pretty cool month here...maybe I'll go buy a jacket soon! I hope you all have a great week, and have fun at Back to School everyone! :)

Lots of love,
Elder Giacalone 

Good ole' Elder Miller and I driving in the car

Fishing on P-day, pole cost 1$

checking out the booths in the main square

Party in the main square followed by fireworks

Branch party, so fun!

It was a coke/diet coke kind of day! Sister Griggs

Branch party activities

Monday, August 12, 2013


Eating yummy Kelacs

Elder Flake and Sister Grigg hanging out on a bridge

Playing hearts with the District on P-day
Hello everybody!

I hope you all had a great week full of goodness and happiness. Yes, I am aware of the release of One Direction's newest music, and though it pains my soul that I can't listen to it, the truth is I really don't have time for it anyway. Ilyen az élet. Such is life. And besides, there is work to be done! :)
Anyway, this week has been full of craziness and fun adventures. It hit 111 degrees last week, and literally the city of Szolnok starting implementing measures to protect people from the heat. They had people all over the city handing out free water and they had trucks driving by "watering the streets", or just spraying water on the streets. I'm not sure what they were trying to accomplish with that, but they're Hungarians. Gotta love them. 

So fun moment of the week: as stated in my previous letter, I got to be Senior companion for 24 hours this past week. Elder Flake came up from Kecskemet and he had only been in the country for about a week. Because of that fact, I ended up doing a lot of the talking! I did all our programmes, all the finding leading, and all the phone calls. Quite the turn around from the normal life I had led as a greenie for the past two months or so. But with the sudden flood of missionaries coming in, the chances that I could go senior soon or train soon are much higher than in the, I'm mentally preparing myself for that day. Elder Flake was super fun to have around while he was up here, and he is already doing great with the language!

My FAVORITE moment of the week was actually last Saturday. From those who are avid followers of my blog, you may recall me talking about tracting into this awesome lady who I could see being Relief Society President one day. Anway, we went over to her apartment with a member and did a lesson three with her about the Gospel. Throughout the day I had been thinking about her and thinking about how we could help her. Over and over I thought "Bap challenge her!" I dismissed it over and over, until when we were talking to her and the end of the programme arrived and I couldn't dismiss it any longer. So, what did I do? Yep. Totally bap challenged her for October 12th. Her response? "Persze" Of course. My whole body was on FIRE I was so happy for her! They talk about as missionaries you will feel the happiest you have ever felt in your life on your mission, and that night in a really hot apartment building with one of the coolest ladies I know in Hungary, that love was REAL. When she showed up to church on Sunday, she brought one of her friends with her-and he wanted to know more about the church as well! She also went up to every member and missionary there and said "Szervusz" to all of them-I love her! I really, really, really want to be in Szolnok for her baptism...I hope that works out somehow. Love the work!

We also had a programme with another investigator. She fed us some "palacsintas", or crepes, and then she asked if we wanted soup. So we had soup. Then she asked if we wanted this chicken thing. So we had a chicken thing. Then she brought our this cabbage stuff. So we had cabbage stuff. As we were leaving, she gave us fresh plums and some sort of drink from Arabia. I'm pretty sure I surpassed my calorie limit that day. Woops!

We also went on down to Kecskemet for district meeting last Friday and we got that yummy Cafe Rio type food again that we good. So all in all, this week can be described as "HAPPY". It was just that: happy. It's easy to get discouraged as a missionary sometimes, and you have moments where you think "Did I really sign up for this?", but it's moments like the programme we had with "E" that make up for every.dark.moment we have. And, when we really think about it, our lives are never too dark enough for the Savior's light to break through. Because of Him and his condescension, we will never have someone that "doesn't understand" what we go through. One of my favorite places in Szolnok is the side of my bed, because it's one of the closest places I've felt to my Savior in all of Hungary. He's here in Hungary. He's also right by your side, every step of the way. Sometimes it's painful and sometimes it's a step in the dark, but there's always a light! 

I LOVE this work. I LOVE the people in Szolnok, I truely love them and I hope I can spend the big 10 week transfer here with them. I LOVE my companion, he makes me yummy food and can speak Hungarian...seriously he's the coolest! Have a great week everybody!

Lots of Love,
Giacalone elder

Monday, August 5, 2013

Suddenly Speaking Hungarian...

Elder Giacalone and Elder Loveday

A new way of Tabling...serenading with the Ukelele

Our pass-along cards

Lunch with the Sisters and Elders before transfer day
Hello everybody! 

Still here in my grand city of Szolnok. Yes, for those of you who have your KSL Weather Apps on your iPhones and were watching the weather everyday for me last week (or maybe that's just my mom?) it was very, very hot! But, it has cooled down to a mild 88 degrees. Fun stuff. Gotta love being out here in the heat!

So yeah, we are offically in Transfer Two! Yay! The Szolnok crew has changed a bit, but the drive is still here! Elder Loveday is my new companion. He has like three transfers left, and he is from Colorado. He likes to fish and to cook and to play baseball. He made me last night a really yummy chicken paprika dish with rice! SO good! He's a great elder and I cannot wait to get to know him more!

So, because Elder Loveday is brand new to Szolnok, I found myself kind of leading...everything! I made all the phone calls (that I could), I took the lead in all of our programmes, and I planned for our next meets with our investigators! Literally, this sudden "taking the lead thing" has totally changed my use of the language. My confidence has SURGED. I literally have no problem talking to Hungarians anymore, and if I don't understand, I can get them to simplify their sentence down and understand it then. Literally, this was the biggest miracle I have seen on my mission. Because of this though, I planned a spiritual thought at one of our meetings with some less actives, and I wanted to share the story of Alma and his people praying in their hearts instead of outloud, but I ended up sharing the one about Ammon boasting of his God. So after I had one of them read it, I talked about (seeminly random to them) about prayer. Good times. Gotta love Hungarian right?!
Also.....get this: So Loveday is DL now, so he HAS to go on splits with EVERY ELDER in the district...and we just got in our district one of my "kicsi", or little ones, from the MTC. So guess who will be going Senior for 24 hours on Thursday? Yep. THIS KID. Yikes! Me and Elder Flake will be ruling Szolnok on Thursday to Friday morming. It will be very interesting! I scheduled three programmes that day, and it will be me and Flake with Hungarians! Oh goodie....pray for me! We will see how it goes! I think I'll be fine, just over thinking it.
Cool moments: 
Elder Loveday and I were tabling in the main square and some random lady came up to us and asked us "What makes you all so happy?" Literally I wanted to hug her and tell her everything, but she wasn't interested in meeting. Like seriously, come on lady. But it was just a little reminder that people are indeed watching us and seeing something different in the way that we live our lives. It was interesting to think about.

That same day tabling, we had three people approach our table at the same time! Ok so usually we are the ones trying to grab people and this time it was people coming to us! Like WOW. It was absolutely insane! We got a few numbers out of it and we might meet with one soon! Tender mercies...

Also, when Elder Loveday and I were coming back from a programme, we were sitting on the bus really, really tired. And then suddenly "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" by Taylor Swift came on, I looked over at Elder Loveday, and we just started jamming out to it together on the bus! I considered it a bonding moment between the two of us. Love me some T-Swizzle. 

We also got a new bapdate with P! In the middle of the lesson he asked me if I remembered our last programme with him where I had asked him about thinking about a bapdate. He got one...March 16th! Woww...a little ways off, but I was so proud of him! We are working on shortening it down, but I was WAY pumped for him :) And "E", the lady I said I could see a Relief Society president in the future, came to church and loved it! However, she did have to get a "smoke break" in between sunday school and relief society...we'll work on that! 

I've been reading "The Infinite Atonement" in personal study recently and besides the fact that it is totally blowing my mind right now, I am really learning more about my Savior and about His sacrifice for me. I encourage y'all to go read about it! 

Well, that's about it for this week. Hope everyone has fun getting ready for school and stuff, sounds like everyone is hating it! Haha. Have fun :) 

Lots of Love,
Giacalone elder

Friday, August 2, 2013

Transfer Two

Hey everybody! I have survived my first transfer in Hungary! It went by super fast, and we got a lot of work done! First of all, I'm very grateful for my trainer Elder Miller, who taught me to work hard and to be obedient. We had a good time together. Unfortunately, he will be leaving me and going to Szeged to become my Zone Leader! My new companion is Elder Loveday! He just finished being a secretary up in Buda for the mission, and he only has like a couple transfers left. Sister Oberhansley will be going to Nyiregyhaza in the east, and Sister Petersen will be Sister Grigg's new companion here in Szolnok. The party continues!
So in Seminary we learn about the book of Revelations from this hilarious neni named Ershika. She is like 70 and just goes all out about the Bible as she teaches us. Literally though I have no idea what is going on: they use really weird vocab when talking about Revelations and it is absolutely crazy. But, it's always a good time :)
Last P Day,  we all ate PBandJ sandwiches and watched "17 Miracles" as a district, we had a great time! Sure we were all bawling, but it was super fun and we got to hangout one last time before we all split sort of, fun times. I also got a haircut from Sister Smith! Basically she just buzzed off my hair, it feels so nice now considering it was 99 degrees yesterday with 100% much death.
I also hear music, like normal music, a lot more than I thought I would I hear that Pink song "True Love" like all the time...good stuff! Also, we got to go visit a member's family about an hour and we heard normal music on the bus and we all jammed out to "Lights" by Ellie Goulding. We are so cool. Also, I got to eat a real FIG. A member had a fig tree in her backyard and she gave us fresh figs! Super yummy fruit! They had brought them from Israel they said, woop! I also found out this past week that Szolnok was founded in the year 975...freak out. My city is ANCIENT. Other fun things: in Hungarian, the phrase for "The Fall" (as in Adam and Eve) is "Nagy Bukas", which when translated directly means "The Great FAIL". How great is that: one of the biggest moments in human history is referred to in Hungary as a "fail". Gotta love Hungary.
So my language is coming along a bit more! I've been taking the lead in our RCLA programmes and I have been calling people on the phone a lot more (which is terrifying but I find that I can understand them more when I can't see them and they can't see me...), so it's been fun! I can understand a lot more now, but speaking is still difficult. It's like I'm getting the gift of tongues backwards or something! Haha, I'm grateful for it either way though!
Also, I had cow stomach the other day-super yummy stuff! I found out what it was when I was leaving the investigators apartment, then I felt a little sick. But it's alll good!
I sure am loving the work! Szolnok is just great, and it's weird to think that my first transfer is dead. I love being able to pray every day to my Heavenly Father and telling Him how my day went and knowing that He is listening. I know that He is in every aspect of our lives, and He wants to the best for all of us. The work is picking up in Hungary, those who are ready for the gospel are literally being placed in our paths! I love it!
Have a great week everybody! Légy erős!
Lots of love,
Giacalone Elder

Joe's happy when eating ice cream!!!

Having lunch with a member family

This surrounds Szolnok pretty much. So pretty

Road Kill !!!

Member in Szolnok that wants to serve a mission

The District

Elder Miller and Elder Giacalone tabling

Went to go streeting and this happened!!! Come on people, where are you???