Monday, September 30, 2013

Pics week 5 in Sopron

This is a story from English's about Bread!!!

Classy Neely!!!

Elder De Vries and I on a bus

It was Elder Becker's birthday last week so we went to McDonald's

Sopron Week 5

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week!
Well, Sopron has been picking up! We have had a fantastic week and we have been really blessed with some great results! Also, it's getting really cold out here! BRR. It's been overcast and cloudy out here pretty much all week. 

Well, we continued to "find" our butts off this past week and we continued to use our method of tabling, which has been providing some success to us. During this one day, a girl walked by with her dog. We had seen her before, she seems to take the same route every day and always walks by us. We had stopped her several times before, and she said that she would come to English class, but she never showed up. So this time, I decided to stop her and try something else: I went up to her and said "Do you like One Direction?" She looked right at me, and said "I WORSHIP THEM". I asked her if she liked the new song, and she said "I WORSHIP IT". So I said we can talk about them at English class if she came. She enthusiastically said yes! 

Still didn't show up to English class. Ha ha but it was so AWESOME!

We also tracted out a street up in the hills of Sopron, what I like to refer to as the "Beverly Hills"of Sopron. Literally every house is a mansion, and I think that most of them are Austrians that live in Hungary because it is cheaper here. But hey, we're all God's children, right? Everyone needs to hear the Gospel! So yeah, nobody was interested, but it was interesting to see all the wealthy people's responses. One lady said: "I don't even want to hear it, thank you!" I was so sad for them, they don't know what they are missing! It was sad to say the least.

We also headed over to an RCLA's house about ten minutes outside of Sopron. Her family speaks German, so sometimes she had to translate for us. She's only like 19, and the only member in her family, I have big respect for her. We had a yummy dinner there, and then we watched a TV show that was pretty much Germany's "America's Got Talent". So yeah, pretty fun! We got to see some funny things!

My hands are freezing as I type this! It is so cold in this stinking internet cafe! Also, we hit standard this week in the mission! Elder Becker and I worked our butts off and we have been seeing success! It's very humbling and I am so grateful for all the Lord has done for me and my companion. We are meeting with some new people this week that I am so excited for.

Well, I think that this week will be a little bit shorter than usual, not a whole ton going on. I will be in Budapest next week for interviews (cannot believe it's been a month already) and then again at the end of October for zone conference, so lots of traveling coming up soon! 

Neely and I continue to have fun! We have fun bashing the typical American teenage white girl as we talk ;), he's a funny kid! 

I hope you all have a great week! 
Lots of love,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, September 23, 2013

Pics of Week 4

Elder DeVries with a model of the Parliament

The Fire Tower in Sopron lit up like the Hungarian Flag

Old church in Sopron

Statues everywhere

Beautiful Sopron

Elder Becker and the pigeons

Sopron- Week 4

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a good week. Time is really just cruising by out here, and this past week really went by super fast!

Last week we did lots and lots of finding and teaching new investigators. We met with one man who is originally from Peru, and he speaks both Hungarian and Spanish. He is super humble, and he has a family here in Sopron. We met with him last week and got to know him. When he asked him if he was religious or anything, suddenly he just exploded! He knew everything about Joseph Smith, he knew everything about the Book of Mormon. Literally, we just sat there stunned as he said that it made sense that the Book of Mormon was from God, and that Joseph Smith had to be a prophet. Super crazy! So, Elder Becker went ahead and asked him if he had heard about the ordinance of baptism. He said he hadn't. He told him about it, and then he asked if he would be baptized on October 26th. He said of course. It was such a great program and we were so grateful for the Lord blessing us with finding him!

We also keep finding success with tabling. Last week, I tabled a nice looking lady walking by and started to talk about the Book of Mormon with her. I realized, too late, that she was a Jehovah Witness as she smirked and slowly withdrew her "little blue Bible" from her purse. We proceeded to "lightly" Bible bash. When I realized we weren't really going anywhere, I asked her about her family and what she thought about them. She said that she actually had a health condition with her heart, but because of it she was able to spend more time with her family. We talked about that, and it was great how the Spirit came back. Her countenance changed as I talked about familys and about Heavenly Father. She gave me her number and said she'd like to talk about "the Bible and the family, nothing else". Sooooo, I guess we'll see how it goes. :)

The weather has been continually cooling down and the fall foliage is beginning to come into the city and the "mountains" surrounding it (I say "mountains", because they are really just large hills). We also had the opportunity to go to the city of Szombathely on Sunday for district conference, which was about 45 minutes to the south of Sopron by train. The city is gorgeous and we were able to hear from the District presidency and from President and Sister Smith. The talks were great! They brought a great spiritual boost to me. 

Spiritual moment of the week: Missionaries aren't perfect. 
We had a day where literally we had six hours straight of finding. We decided to just do some streeting and tabling to balance it out. I let thoughts that maybe weren't the happiest come into my mind, amid a continuous string of rejections on the street and by the table. With all of this (for lack of better words) crap building up on my heart, I felt very discouraged. My mother had instilled in my heart a love of prayer since I was young, and I sent a small, simple prayer towards heaven asking for help. There was no angel that appeared to me buoying me up or anything like that. But as we kept walking, I saw a kid walking home from school. His body shape, his stride, the way he held his head and stuck out his chest, the way he was making explosions to himself as he imagined some war scene going on in his head, the way he had a little jump in his stride. I saw all of this. In that instant that I saw him, he reminded me of my brother Vincent, whom I haven't seen for several months. I didn't feel homesick though, I felt happy. I was so proud to be setting an example for my brothers, and the day got a little bit lighter as I thought that. Literally just around the corner, a lady ran across the street towards us and asked for a pamphlet to read. These things don't just happen. God is in every aspect of our lives, I can so testify of that. Because He is in every aspect, He knows what we love, what we cherish, what we fear. He won't overwhelm us, and sometimes we just need that boy, who doesn't even know his impact he left on me, to walk past on the street. 

"Hope on. Journey on....because all things are possible to those that believe."
-Jeffrey R. Holland

Have a fanastic week everyone! Pray for the Hungarians! 
Sok Szeretettel,
Giacalone elder

Monday, September 16, 2013

Pics of 3rd week in Sopron

My residence card for Hungary

My comp, Elder Becker, secretly dropping a Chastity pamphlet at our neighbors door

Staircase built in 1750

Roman living room, built 400 AD

There are old church's everywhere

Neely and I at the Brown's

Creepy doll in store window...:/

Sopron Week Three

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great week, as for me we have been busy. As a whitewashed companionship, we had no work to go off of when we arrived, and we have seen miracles this week in terms of people we have been teaching. We now have a solid three investigators, and we might even add to that this week, to maybe five or six! Absolutely insane. The blessings are crazy. The Lord sure does love His missionaries!
We also got to go up to the city of Győr for zone training this past week. The city is absolutely beautiful and I would love to serve there in the future. We were able to drive home with the Brown's for the return trip from the city back to Sopron. I absolutely love the Browns! Sister Brown makes a mean apple pie-I mean, this thing is fantastic! So it seems whenever we are talking to her she brings up that she will make us a pie or something for us, or have us over for lunch or dinner. But besides the fact that they make food for us, they are very engaged in the work. They always want to assist in our programs and what not. Really grateful for them. 

One of our investigators is rapidly becoming my favorite (is that allowed?). His name is Imre and when we meet with him we always hangout on his front porch with him. He always has interesting and deep comments to what we teach him. He is truly sincere with his learning and his faith. One thing though, is that he smokes at least one cigarette while we meet with him. It's only like 45 minutes when we meet, but he can't go without one even for that amount of time. I really hope his faith will carry him through the Word of Wisdom lesson we have planned for him...

Other than that, we have been running around the city trying to figure everything out. For example, we were at the train station the other day and we decided to grab the first bus and see where it took us. Well, we ended up somewhere up in the wilderness of the forests above Sopron. So we took the same bus back down to Sopron, just to end up back at the train station. We killed a good 45 minutes getting lost on the bus, and we were a bit down. So we went to the Brown's for apple pie. 

Anyway, I sat in with young men's yesterday and my one YM taught the lesson to me on the Sabbath Day. He did a really good job, and he will be set apart a teacher next week at church. It's gonna be great! :) 

Also, speaking of church we had a couple from California come visit the branch yesterday. They were both here doing genealogy work in Austria, Germany, and Hungary. It was so cool getting to talk to them and...well, speaking English at church! Woo. Fun moment of the week: so our neighbors are college girls, and sometimes they do things that aren't necessarily "sympatico"with the Law of Chastity, so we "accidentally"dropped a Law of Chastity pamphlet outside their door. We are so sneaky...not really, but that adjective seemed to fit best right there. 

Well, Hungarian keeps coming along. I learn new phrases and words every day, and when we table I find myself usually alone with a Hungarian on the street for several minutes at a time, and I am not nervous and I can comprehend what is actually being said. It's funny how long I have been here, but it still feels like I got here like last week. Time is really weird here. 

Love the Lord. Love the work. Love Sopron. Love my companion. Grateful to be here.

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

P.S. We busted out the sweater vests this week, no big deal.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Beautiful Sopron

Cute street in Sopron

Finished the 12 Week Program

No longer a "Greenie"

Sopron from on top of a hill, so beautiful

Monday, September 9, 2013

Getting To Know Sopron

Hello everyone! I hope everyone had a splendid week.

Well, I'm here! Out now on the farthest most Western part of Hungary- the city of Sopron! It is about 25 minutes from the Austrian capital city of Vienna, which is a little weird being so close to another country. In fact, a lot of Austrians cross the border to go shopping in Sopron because the stuff here is a lot cheaper than in Austria. Because of that, German is EVERYWHERE here. Who would have thought that my three years of high school German would be coming to help me now as I talk to people in Hungary? God works in mysterious ways, people...

I am serving with Elder Becker! He is in his 11th transfer out here in Hugnary and he loves it! He is from Connecticut and he is a great Elder! Super good with the language, which is what I really need help with right now! 

So Sopron is a really old city and super pretty. I have gone from the flat plains of Szolnok in the east to the green hills of Sopron in the west. The city is really famous for it's beer and it's situation: I guess after World War I, Sopron voted to stay with Hungary rather than go to Austria, so because of that it has a reputation of being "reliable". Woop. Go Sopron. Our apartment is a funky really modern little thing with a flat screen tv on the wall (don't worry, we don't have cable and we can't watch anything), and a super nice kitchen and what not! Also, Elder Becker found MOUNTAIN DEW. My life was perfect for about thirty minutes that day. 

So yeah, the branch out here is one of the oldest in Hungary. We also have a Senior couple out here: the Browns. They are from North Carolina and they are really fun to be around! They just got in Hungary in August but they know exactly what is going on! 

Also, our companionship had been whitewashed before we arrived to whitewash it, so it has been whitewashed two times in a row! Super bizarre and it has left us with absolutely NOTHING to get started with. It was a little hard those first few days with just finding and what not, but now we have surpassed our old expectations and we have two new investigators and we possibly could pick up a third this week! Fingers crossed! I am super excited to see how things work out, the Lord has truely blessed us. 

And yes, I did receive my package finally. But stupid customs had cut open my Skittles bag and one of my taco seasoning packets, so it was all messy :( but I saved most of the Skittles and the pictures were a great treat: thanks a ton! I love getting pictures and candy! 

I also get to teach Young Men's on Sundays in church. There is only one young man, the Branch president's son, but I am so excited! 

Well, I think that about closes it off for this week. To end, I saw a mom in her front yard with her kid playing Star Wars one day when we were tracting an area out. Totally with lightsabers and everything. We asked if she could talk to us, and she said that she was "busy". She then proceeded to go clash lightsabers with her son, who was maybe six or seven. Sometimes people are just awesome, you know? :)

Have a fantastic week everybody. I love you, but God loves you more :)

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Transfer Three!

Fun week out here in Hungary! Szolnok was pounded with a big rain storm last week that really lowered the temperatures down to where it was really, really cold in the mornings! It is still like that, and it will probably just get colder! So yeah, we did lots of finding this past week, and I apologize to everyone right now in advance because my dumb computer won't let me send pictures home. Again. #thestruggle. És, sziasztok a magyaroknak akik most olvasnak ezt a blógot. Tudod, ki vagy! ;)
Anyway, we went tracting out by some family houses in a suburb of Szolnok and we stopped at this one that looked like a castle! Like it had a turret(?) and everything! So sick. I rang the bell and this guy came out in a jumpsuit. I told him who we were and he totally invited us inside! We didn't really know what to talk about, so I kind of just started teaching the Restoration to him! He said that because of the past regimes in Hungary, he doesn't believe in God or in Jesus Christ (*whilst shaking my fist*) DARN YOU COMMUNISM! Anyway, it went really, really well. As I bore testimony about Joseph Smith, the coolest Spirit came into the room. The man's expression changed a bit, he became more thoughtful and open to the message.

He ended up taking a BOM and he wants to meet in the future. :) He even asked me to "dedicate" a Book of Mormon for him! I was a little confused so I just wrote my testimony in it and signed at the bottom. Better watch out J.K. Rowling, you've got competition from a mormon missionary.

Well, as evident by the title, it is TRANSFER TIME. Last night, as I sat in bed, I thought for sure that I would be going somewhere relatively close to Szolnok. Oh boy, was I wrong! I will be serving in the city of Sopron out by the Austrian border! Clear on the other side of Hungary! ...and guess who just got transferred to Vienna? yep. Dane :)
Make sure you tell Diane that! Gonna be good! :D Maybe we will see each other by the border.
So yeah!  I will be serving with Elder Becker. I hear he is a hard worker, which is good because we are going to be WHITEWASHING. Yep! 10 week transfer too! Looks like I'm in for a long hard time in Sopron! 
BUT also, guess who else is in Sopron? You guessed it: ELDER NEELY :D I'll get to serve around my MTC comp one more time! I am WAY pumped!
I am a little excited to see more of the country: in Hungary, the eastern half (where I have been serving) is generally more poor and less industrialized than the western half. I will be going from super far out in the east to as far west as you can go! I hope the culture shock isn't too crazy.

Also, I am officially done with my training! According to the "12 Week Program", I should be ready to train another missionary by now!  That is scary to think.  I would say that I definitely feel like I know what to do and what not, like with the mission rules and what goes down, but it's just the language that could prove to be a little interesting! I am happy though to be a normal Junior companion! Am I sad that my Greenie days are over? Eh, a little. But there are great things coming in the future, and I cannot wait to take them as they come!

I am so happy to be out here. Things may have seemed settled in for me here in Szolnok, but bigger and better things are waiting for me in Sopron and in the rest of my mission. I am so excited to see how it all turns out! I will always remember my good times in this city in which I spent the first 2.5 months of my mission in Hungary. I had some great experiences and made some great memories. I bore my testimony on Fast Sunday in sacrament meeting, and everyone was crying in the congregation when I had finished! I'm so grateful for the advances I have made in the language and with how well it has been coming. 

Super excited for these next few days! I know that the Lord is hastening His work! See y'all in Sopron! :)

Lots of love, and have a great week!

Elder Giacalone