Monday, December 30, 2013

Kaposvár Week 7

Sziasztok mindenki!
Hello everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas- I sure did! We had a great Christmas dinner at the Colledge's consisting of ham, mashed potatos, and lots of cake! Yummy! Super grateful for a super cool senior couple, gotta love the Colledges! 

Skype was a super fun time! Super weird seeing everybody after nine months (since when did Vincent's voice change?!) but I loved it! Following Christmas, a couple days later Elder Gould and I went out to M's house for lunch. She said that she made some fish for us. It was really good, and I asked her, jokingly, if she liked to fish. "Of course", she replied, "I was a professional sports fisherwoman." This, my friends, is why I love hanging out with this lady. She never ceases to amaze me. After our lunch, we went into her living room. Turns out it was her mother's birthday, who had recently just passed away. She asked us all if we could say a prayer "within ourselves" for her mother. She was sad, but there was a difference: she was hopeful. She knew that her mother still lived, just not with a body. A month or two ago, she would've been a wreck on this day, and now she just sat in her big Lazy boy chair and smiled. She knows it will be ok. 

Best feeling ever. (I know I say that a lot, but this one really was the best).

Now, let's talk about Sunday. Oh. My. Gosh. SUNDAY. 
First off, we have three investigators at church that day, including both our bapdates, that's awesome! After a short program with M, we make our way to the chapel, where there is a LOT of commotion. Turns out that 41 people showed up to church. You guys, that's INSANE. Not normal AT ALL for Kapos. That's huge! The room was PACKED. You think this is the end? Nope. So, there is this couple in the branch that are originally from Germany, and the husband only speaks German, so he can't really do a whole lot within the branch without his wife's help, and she speaks only German and English, so the guy needs his wife, and then a missionary to translate if he wants to speak to a Hungarian. You following me? Super crazy. Anyway, he wanted to bless the sacrament. So, he totally did it. In a thick German accent, he read the blessing in Hungarian. Incredible spirit. It was a super special moment for that family, who hadn't really been able to contribute much because of the language barrier. Awesome. Next thing, there was an actual baby blessing in the Kaposvár branch! A return missionary that now lives in the city did the blessing, and it was beautiful! Afterward, he came and sat by me and he just said over and over to his brand new baby boy: "We did it, buddy. We did it!" Super great Spirit! And THEN, there was a total of like 15 kids there because some of the families came back, and it was actually a LOUD Sacrament meeting! Weird to say, but I've been used to dead quiet meetings with just adults for the past little bit, and this past meeting actually reminded me of Utah! Good times.

So yeah, that was MY Sunday. Absolutely crazy! I loved it. 

Well, that's about it from my side of the woods. It's been like super warm lately, and all the Hungarian's are saying it's super weird. I'm ok with it. Transfers are less than two weeks. Ew...I wanna stay here, but we'll see what happens. 

I hope you have a great new year! Make awesome goals, and STICK with them! My goal is to read all the Standard Works by December 31st, 2014. I think I can do it! Motivating emails and letters will hope though ;) 

I love you all SO much! Have a great week! :D

Sok Szeretettel és Boldog Új Évet Kívánok nektek! 
Elder Giacalone

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Kaposvar Week 6 pics

Joe and Elder Gould wearing their scarves and p.j.'s sent from Nena

Christmas Tree with family picture ornaments

Justin Bieber toothbrush, white elephant gift

Branch Christmas Party

Joe and investigator "M"

Opening up the 12 days

Opening the chocolate covered pretzels...little happy!!!

Elder Gould and "M"

Monday, December 23, 2013

Kaposvár Week Six

...Mielőtt elfejlettem, azt szeretnék kívánni nektek egy csodálatos, áldott, békét Karácsonyt! :)
                          Hello everyone! MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! Yay!!

I hope that everyone has a great holiday with lots of fun things received and given. I love this time of year! We had a great week and did lots and lots of work, and we are starting to see some really cool things start to happen with people.
Fun things:

The water in our apartment was out for 24 hours last Monday! I forgot to write about it because I was stressing about it. SUPER DUMB. But, it's all good now! We had to live out of the Branch House for a few hours, but we were busy that day and it didn't cause that big of a deal.
We were able to go up to Budapest as a zone this past week on Friday to celebrate Christmas with President Smith and his wife! Super fun time! We had a couple trainings given by the Assistants to the President (APs), our Zone leaders (ZLs) and the Sister Training Leaders (STLs). Then, Sister Smith read to us a Book of Mormon picture book about a Nephite family and the star that appeared in the sky-super cool! Then, President Smith talked to us about how well the mission did this past year and how we are to strive to become a "better YOU". Then we played some games and had a white elephant gift exchange. I received a Justin Bieber toothbrush that plays a couple of his songs while you brush! IT'S THE BEST MOTIVATION TO BRUSH YOUR TEETH EVER.
I also got my packages while I was up there! My grandparents sent me a package containing "The 12 Days of Christmas" in it, and I was supposed to open one every day until Christmas day. Well, I received it on December we had some catching up to do! BUT-my gifts are incredible! I have truely been blessed so much by my family! I have a big, green, paper Christmas tree up on my wall now with ornaments from all of my family members (cousins, aunts, uncles, etc) and it's so great! I can't really describe how I feel, other than LOVED. I also got several other things, and I love everything I got! Thank you, thank you also to you who sent me letters and cards! I love reading about your holiday adventures, and I hope to write you all back soon!
The Branch had a Christmas party last Saturday at the Branch House. There were so many investigators there and less-actives: I think there were more of those there than actual active members! It was super fun! We played some games and ate a really yummy dinner! I also finally got to watch the First Presidency Christmas Devotional, and it was super good! Albeit it was in Hungarian, I got the gist(spelling?) of it!
Funny yet kind of random story: so our train ride from Buda was like three hours long, and during that time I just sat and chatted with Neely. However, there was this cool kid sitting one row up and across the aisle from us, and he was playing on his laptop. We had a pretty clear view of everything he was watching, we just couldn't hear because he had earplugs in and there was no audio. Suddenly, I notice that he is watching a movie...then I notice lots of movement...and Brad Pitt is there....and...yep...he was TOTALLY watching World War Z. So, Neely and I got to watch parts of World War Z (kind of), and we just guessed what they were saying. Absolutely hilarious, and now my craving to know what it's all about has been satisfied! Haha!
Well, I think it's finally starting to sink in that I'm in Hungary, speaking Hungarian. I remember when I received my call, more than a year ago now, and how giddy I was with excitement. I had to teach Priesthood on Sunday, and I was a little nervous when I found out that the Stake Young Men's President from Pest was going to be there. Mostly, I was just insecure (don't know what for...) about my language. But, you know, God doesn't let us fail, not when our cause is righteous and valiant. Sure enough, my Hungarian was great the entire lesson, and it's starting to stay that way now as I use it more and more. Everytime I talk to Hungarians about how I willingly come here and learn this crazy language, they always say "You know, it IS the 3rd hardest language in the world, right?!" At first, it was intimidating. Now, I realize that with Christ's support, everything is possible. Even if it's intimidating at first.

Nem Szabad Feladni...remember? (don't ever give up)
I am so grateful for my Savior. I love Him, and I know He loves me. Oh, how I love putting my badge on each morning and knowing that I represent my Savior, your Savior, and everyone who has ever, or will be, on the Earth's Savior.
And I get to say this everyday for two years :) Life is great!
I love you all! Isten aldd meg a magyart!
Sok SOK Szeretettel,
Giacalone Elder

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Kaposvar Week 5 pics

Pepper eating night! HOT STUFF THEM PEPPERS

All decked out for winter tracting!

The Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch! *Monty Python reference*

Baby Jesus and I

Christmas village in Kapos! All the main cities in Hungary make these

All lit up for Christmas!

Kaposvár Week 5

Hello everyone! I hope you all are having fantastic weeks in this fantastic month in this fantastic year. That was one of my cheeziest opening lines I think I have ever done. Super lame. Anyway, I'm super happy, because we have had a fun and great week!
It's been interesting settling back into a "normal" companionship. We both have had to change our tracting and teaching methods from tripanionship way, to normal. I absolutely loved having Elder Quinton around! He was a great influence and he was able to help me lots with the language. He's a zone leader now in Budapest, and he will do great!
This week has been a good one in terms of teaching. Both of our baptismal dates are doing great, both solid. One of them is still struggling with smoking, and we are concerned about how well she will be by the time her date comes around. She says she will quit with the "help of God", and she is the most determined Hungarian I have ever met. With just two of us now teaching, my participation levels have skyrocketed! I even led a few programs last week, pretty fun! My Hungarian is doing great!

This Friday we will all be heading up to Buda for our Christmas Zone Conference with President and Sister Smith. We were all instructed to buy a white elephant gift. I bought air freshener? I don't know...

We also met with this really cool guy named Jozsef (my name :D ), and his story is interesting. Pretty much he has no faith, doesn't belief in God, and hates life. He is "done". However, over the past few weeks as we have been meeting with him and just talking with him (he gets lost if we talk about the "big three" lessons...kind of have to take it slow), there is something growing in his eyes. It's hard to explain. As we pray and talk about who God is to us, that He is our Heavenly Father, that He loves us so, so much, and that He wants us to be happy, he normally just stares at the ground. Just kind of zones out. Now, I've never really gotten emotional in a program before because, you know, being a missionary is a professional thing. You gotta act the part. But, as we bore testimony of Christ, he (Jozsef) looked down and just smiled. I got tears in my eyes as he just sat there and smiled. I started smiling! We all just sat there in silence and, well, smiled. :) The Spirit was so strong!
I hope you all have a FANTASTIC Christmas! I know that because of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we will all be smiling in the end. These past 8 months, I've discovered how ugly life can be for others, but within those ugly parts are the truly happy, and shining parts. And that's all that matters. It's all because of the Gospel. I love Christ. It's my honor to serve Him right now, and I know the best is yet to come :)
Boldog Karácsonyt Kívánok!

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Kaposvar Week 4 pics

Our District found Miklaus! Woop!!!

One Direction in Hungary!

Selfie in the elevator. My hat is bunny fur!

Found a swing-set in a ten-story complex. Decided to party!

It's a picture of us tracting at a late 4:00 PM...look how light it is! ummm, no!

Sunset in Kaposvá pretty :)

Kaposvar Week 4

Super weird how fast the weeks are going. I am certain that this past week was one of the fastest ones I have had on my mission. So much happened and we even had a transfer thrown in there to stir things up a bit.
We had some really cool experiences this week regarding some programs with our investigators. We set up a few new bapdates with some solid people. It was so good! One of them is this lady who has smoked for like 50 years, has no family, and until recently wasn't very interested in meeting with the missionaries. As we have met with her though, she said how she has felt a longing at church. For example, she said that while she was shopping she felt like she needed to be at church. She couldn't get these thoughts off her mind throughout the week. When we met with her we brought the newest church member with us as her first ever member-present program. She was nervous, but our investigator started asking her why she was baptized. She said that she knew that it was what she needed to do. Our investigator looked at her for a bit, and just thought. Elder Quinton then brought up what we had planned to teach her that day. We met with her again on Sunday before church. As we talked about the Word of Wisdom with her, she said "I will, with God's help, quit." It was so powerful! Then, when we asked her about a bapdate, she simply said: "I know what date it will be. It came to me. February 17th." And that people, is how it goes! Absolutely incredible. The Spirit was so strong! 

Regarding transfers, I'll be staying here with good ole' Elder Gould. We became super tight during our fun little time in a threesome with Elder Quinton, and now we are excited to take on the task of teaching our investigators. We have only been here for less than a month, so we are still a little unsure of the city, so today we have planned to "get lost" and see if we can find our way home...wish us luck! Haha! 

Another cool thing: my relationship with the Hungarian language has probably just now entered the "friend" area :) I was at a feeding program with this super cool couple out in the suburbs of the city. There was a time after dinner where we were sitting with me next to the wife and my other two companions off to the side with the husband chatting. I didn't want her to feel left out of the convo, so I started asking about her life. It was like uncapping a fire hydrant! So much Hungarian started flowing at me, and at first I felt a little overwhelmed. She was probably one of the fastest speakers that I can think of, too! Then, it just clicked. I can't think of another way to put it, I just stopped worrying and focused on her and what she was saying. And it clicked. I understood all her childhood dreams, the fact that she doesn't like her car insurance, or the fact that she thinks her family watches too much television. I caught it all. I don't mean to toot my own horn, but it was definitely a gift of tongues moment, and I loved it! If only they can happen like that all the time! 

Christmas time is really here now! I love this time and the city is so pretty at night, with the lights on and everything. The Tesco here is always packed full of people shopping and getting food for the holidays. I love it! People have been asking me if I have been homesick or what not, with the holidays. Honestly, I have been so busy I haven't had time to think about it! The Colledges do a pretty darn good job too of making sure that we all feel at home and are happy :) For example, on Tuesday, Sister Colledge made us all AMERICAN PANCAKES with AMERICAN BATTER and MAPLE SYRUP. Wow. So good. 

I hope you all have a smashin' week! Do good things, help others, and love your friends. Shout out to my second companion, Elder Loveday (who just went home!), you are soooo dead!!! ;) Haha!
I love you all! God loves you more, though. 

Sok Szeretettel,
Giacalone elder

Monday, December 2, 2013

Kaposvar Pics Week Three

Found Mountain Dew in a little store. Score!!!

Christmas tree lighting in the main square! So many people were there!

Kaposvar Week Three

Hello everyone! I hope you all had a fantastic week. Super fun week here in good 'ole Kapos. The city is still kind of foreign to me, but I am rapidly learning to love the people and the branch, and I hope that I can be here for a little while longer.

This week, I was able to tick another dash on my cities that I have been in Hungary: I was able to go to Dunaújváros (literally translates as "New City by the Duna") on splits with my zone leader, Elder Nelson! I had a really good time with him in Duna, which is mostly a factory city right on the Duna river, or the Danube. The city itself is just full, FULL of ten-stories. So, maybe not an eye-pleasing city, but the branch is strong and almost a ward! Yay!

We had a good Thanksgiving this week! We all went to the Colledge's for dinner and Sister Colledge made us chicken and mashed potatos. Super fun time! We talked and savored our Dr. Pepper that I had found in Tesco. I absolutely loved that night!

We had our baptism on Saturday! Emese had a fantastic baptism. Elder Quinton baptized her in a swimming pool at a high school. They just kind of do it where they can here! She bore her testimony on Sunday and said originally how when she met with the missionaries she wasn't that interested in the Gospel, just in English. But, she said that she was "missing something" in her life, and the Gospel was that certain something. So cool :)

Also, I FOUND MOUNTAIN DEW. Praises to the Angels above! Gould said he found it in a small ghetto little store on the corner of main street, and sure enough, hidden in the corner...there she was. I partook of it this morning, and it was worth all 210 forint, about $1. Was it worth it? Of course. So. So. So. Good.

I am so excited for this month! We have possibly one more baptism coming up, transfers are next week (boo), we have a Christmas Zone Conference on the 20th, and of course: CHRISTMAS! I think that this Christmas, being my first away from home, will be super special. I cannot wait to see how it turns out! I feel really comfortable speaking Hungarian nowadays, and it's weird to think it's been a daily thing for like eight months now! I absolutely love speaking this beautiful language!

I hope that everyone has a super great week! I love you all! The Gospel really does fill those "missing" pieces in our lives. It's so perfect and simple. I cannot wait to celebrate the birth of our Savior this month. He is not only my Savior, but he is YOURS. Do not ever forget it!

Have a fun week! Love y'all to pieces.

Isten aldd meg mindenkit!
Sok Szeretettel,
Giacalone elder