Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Dunaújváros Weeks Seventeen/Eighteen (Weeks 89/90)

So, last week we couldn't email because the email place was closed and we had no time it was sad.

HOLY COW SKYPING MY FAMILY FOR THE LAST TIME WAS TRIPPY. We went to an amazing member's house and Skyped/had Christmas dinner with her. Actually, the branch made a list for someone to feed the elders from the 24th until TODAY. They're awesome! All the members here are super great...I'm going to miss them...

Yes...I'm leaving! The call came this morning and everyone was suprised. I'm leaving and Raymond is getting someone else. Richards is staying as well with Elder Fronk. Where am I going, you may ask? The one zone I've never been to, the city where it all started, and where it will all end...

...BUDAPEST. The capital! I'm going to stay Zone Leader but over the Budapest Zone! My new companion is Elder Spedding! I don't really know him that well, but I'm excited! I will be serving in the Kispest area of the city, which I'm equally lost about. But, I'm excited! They don't have a car, instead I'm going to be walking again! Hooray for losing weight! Haha! 

The weather is freezing outside: it's like 20 degrees with a massive windchill. Just so you all know. 

I don't know what else to say! 

The holidays were great! I loved every second! This year it didn't feel as strange as it did last year, it felt a lot more like Christmas. I tried to focus a lot more on the WHY of Christmas: WHY is it important that we celebrate it, WHY was Jesus Christ born, WHY am I here as a missionary in a random country in sketch Eastern Europe in the freezing cold knocking on doors in a ten-story where sometimes we see really disgusting things in elevators? I focused a lot on questions like these, and I got a pretty big answer as I've been studying. You know, missionaries don't know a whole lot, but God knows everything, and He likes helping us out when situations like these arise. 

And I'm really glad that He helps us out. I'm really glad that He answered some of my questions in random ways throughout this holiday season. I know that He is always willing to grant us knowledge if we do our part. 

Here's to my new adventure in the CAPITAL!

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Sixteen (Week 88)


In the city center here they have put up a concert stage and these little kiosk things that sell beer, wine, apple cider, fresh bread, and CHOCOLATE. Minus the first two items being sold, it's a dream place! Granted it is in a giant Communist built main square that reminds me of in the Hunger Games when everyone's lined up for the drawing thing and then Katniss is like "I VOLUNTEER AS TRIBUTE". 

Anyway, it's like that, if that helped any of you. Shnowfer. Lol. 

We had Christmas Zone Conference yesterday in Budapest with President and Sister Smith. Elder Raymond and I gave a training on the Christlike Attribute of "Hope". It was super great, we ended up ditching like half our notes and doing things completely different. I don't encourage that tactic, but it worked out great for us and the Spirit was strong. President Smith talked about getting rid of that one thing that is holding you back from being the missionary the Lord wants you to be, stuff like doubt, disobedience and fear. Just get rid of it! I really liked it. As usual they had the missionaries going home soon give their departing testimonies. I know this might sound weird, but I usually write down parts from them in my journal, just because they are usually about enduring to the end and building your testimony. As I was doing it, suddenly I realized that in the next Zone Conference, in three months,  I will be giving my departing testimony. Holy barnacles, Mermaid Man. What happened to the time? 

We've been super busy meeting with new people and tracting this city out. 
Miracles/Tender Mercies: 
  • teaching a lady the Restoration and her saying "this is...familiar. Not from this (the pamphlet she was holding) (points to her heart).
  • program with an investigator and a member-present, and the investigator kind of begins Bible-bashing with our member. We prepare ourselves for the worst, but in the end she kind of sighs, shrugs her and says: "The boys (us) told me that one of the things in that you can change. I don't quite believe in God yet, but I believe in change, and that's what I want to do." 
  • sitting in Zone Conference and getting some serious answers to questions I've been struggling with lately. 
  • bringing "Gino", my new elf friend/doll from my grandma, to church with me on Sunday and the members freaking out over him. "THE DOLL IS SO CUTE PLEASE LET ME HOLD HIM!!" Score.
...and lots of others! We've had a great week. I've felt so blessed. Lots of "don't-forget-this-feeling-ever" moments. Lots of reading about Christ's life in the BoM and the Bible. I hope that we all can learn a little bit more about Him and His life, because He already knows everything about you, why don't you learn a little bit more about Him

Have a great holiday season! :)

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Friday, December 12, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Fifteen (Week 87)

....and this time two years ago: I opened up a thick, white envelope in my living room, surrounded by friends and family members, who were all starting wide-eyed and silent. I was as nervous as it gets. When I read "You are assigned to labor in the Hungary Budapest Mission", I felt my body like...tingle. It was a strange sensation. But, I knew in my heart that this is where I was supposed to go. It was a long four months of waiting afterwards until I could go, but then I "crossed 900 E." in Provo, UT, took a deep breath, and...well, the rest is history. Here's to TWO YEARS of Hungary being a part of my life!  

We had a good week! We were in Budapest for Mission Leader Council with President and Sister Smith and the APs. We talked about goals for 2015, especially the Baptism Goal. Our goal this year wasn't reached, and so we debated about a new goal. President had us vote once, and the numbers were all over the place. He then stopped the debate, had my companion say a prayer for help on the matter from Heavenly Father, and then had us think hard of what we thought this mission could do. President then had us vote again. Still no common answer, but the Spirit was strong, and the range between the numbers dropped a ton. He (President) then looked at the board in silence for a good minute. We all just stared at him. He turned and said that 180 (a few off of the average) would be good. When he asked for a sustaining vote, everyone raised their hands. It was so incredible. We went from debating and almost breaking into different voting groups (you all know I'm all over the analyzing of the voting blocks ;) ) to coming together and supporting one number. It was super cool! I know that that number seems small to other missions around the world, but that's above average for our mission. It'll push us, but we can do it!  

Mikolás came! That is, Hungarian Santa! He comes on December 6th and gives the good kids chocolate in their shoes and a bundle of golden sticks to the naughty kids. I have no idea what ever happened to just "coal" in shoes, the Hungarians have to be a little more elaborate, which is super fun. Mikolás gave Elder Raymond a massive Milka Oreo Bar. He must've been a good boy!

Have you all visited It's SO cool! Our mission is using this thing like crazy, and "He Is The Gift", or in Hungarian "Ő az Ajándék!" it's freaking awesome guys! We have these little pass-along cards that get to hand out, and this amazing video online that talks about Christ's birth. It's such a blessing to be able to use this stuff, it makes teaching a lot easier. :) 

Cool moment: I don't remember if I talked about this or not, but we tracted into a guy a week or two ago and gave him the survey. We asked him if he could ask God any question, what would it be? He thought a moment, and then said he would ask Him nothing. That was surprise. We asked why. He said: "Because I don't want to mess up anything in my life that He has planned for me, but I guess when this is all said in done...I want to know if He's proud of me." We were able to tell him that yes, He is so, so very proud of him and that He wants him to be happy. It was a cool moment. The work is kind of going a little hard right now, lots of people leaving the city for the holidays, but moments like these I'll cherish for a life time. It's hard to explain the things I felt when he said that, but I KNOW that Heavenly Father is proud of His children. We're not perfect, and He knows that, but when we succeed with simple things in life, He's excited for us and just like an earthly parent, He's very, very proud of us. 

More importantly, He's proud of you. :)

Well, I typed a novel again. It's just getting worse and worse! Have a great week everyone! Lots of love from the city by the Duna.

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Fourteen (Week 86)

Chinese food in Hungary

Driving for Dayyzzzzzzz

Dunaújváros Week Fourteen (Week 86)

So I just want to start things off by saying that yesterday in Ward Council there was a noticable argument/discussion amongst the ward leaders as to who would feed the missionaries Christmas dinner. A compromise was reached where a list was to be passed around next Sunday with time slots, and we are to go from house to house eating my own body weight in food.


I bought a Glade Candle that is entitled "Warm Spice", and we bought a little dinky Christmas tree with some ornaments and we have Christmas music and we are going to make pancakes and I LOVE CHRISTMAS SO MUCH.

So, we had a good week. We had to kind of do an "emergency baptismal interview" in Székesfehérvár last night. I drove through a hurricane's worth amount of rain and freezing wind to pass off one of the classiest investigators in Székes to enter the waters of baptism. He bumped up his bapdate to this Wednesday, so that's why we had to drive out there. Fun times! 

On Sunday, the Primary Program was held during sacrament meeting. Granted there are three primary kids, it was still incredible. Each bore a small testimony and they sang songs. It seemed pretty simple, but there wasn't a dry eye in the whole room when they sang "Család együtt élhet örökké", or "Families Can Be Together Forever".  

Transfers were sad! I hated saying goodbye to Elder Peterson and Sister Moffatt, shout-outs to them back in good ole' America! Also, people have now started referring to me and the rest of my group as really old missionaries, and some have even started asking me "What I've Learned From My Mission"...umm...what? I've got four months left!....from today! :/

Elder Richard's new missionary is such a nice guy. His name is Elder Fronk, and he's like an ARTIST. He draws animals so well! I wonder if he can draw cotton-headed ninny-muggins...#elf 

Remember the guy that met with us in the library last week? So we met with him again, and he's like golden. He wants to change his life and teaching him the Restoration was so easy, he soaked it all up. At the end, he got up to leave and we asked if before he left we could say a closing prayer, and he quickly sat back down and said, with a smile, "Of course! I need to get used to doing this anyways!" HE'S SO COOL THOUGH 

Welp! Off to go save some souls. It's like perpetually grey outside. Still don't know if it's spelled "gray" or "grey". 

Whatever. Haha. :)

Love you all! Have a great week! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Friday, November 28, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Thirteen (Week 85)

Well, transfers were a pleasant suprise!

I'm staying zone leader in Dunaújváros with Elder Raymond! We're excited to be staying together and spending Christmas with each other. We have been eyeing a little fake Christmas tree in Tesco now for the past few weeks for like ten bucks...we might have to buy her! ;) Oh! And Elder Richards is training a new missionary this transfer! It's always good to be around a greenie :)

So, literally, right as I sat down to email, a guy came running back into the library, ran straight up to where we (missionaries) were emailing and said: "I have no idea why I came back, but I felt like I needed to talk to you guys! Please, tell me about yourselves!" Elder Raymond chatted with him about some of our basic beliefs, and he wants to meet with us. He said that he "just feels good" talking to us. Holy cow people, we just got an investigator whilst emailing! So. Freaking. Awesome! 

Awkward moment of the week when our investigators invited us to go to the midnight premiere of "Mockingjay Pt. One" in the movie theater...

We went to Veszprém last week on splits! I really enjoy going to the cities in our zone and working with the elders there. It was fun going there because they had their Angol Ora on the same day, so we got to meet investigators and members. They said that it would be cool if I finished my mission in their city...we'll see!

Last week, for our mission-wide study of "Christ-like Attributes" before Christmas, we studied "Virtue". I learned that it's more of a mental attribute, and all about controlling what you think. Christ told the congregation around him that when the woman touched his robe, virtue had gone out of Him. Pretty important attritube, that virtue. 

We had a massive Thanksgiving dinner at a member's house last week. The wife even found a freaking turkey-here in Dunaújváros! We were full afterwards, and then gave a spiritual thought on being grateful in all circumstances.

Well, that's about it. Just loving life and soaking this experience in. This week marks the beginning of my 10th of 11 transfers....well, that's just scary.

Sok Szeretettel,

Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Twelve (Week 84)

Time is going by so fast all of a sudden! I feel like I just started to figure out how to do this "missionary" thing, and now I have four months left! 


I'm freaking out a bit.

Anyway, so many awesome things happened last week, I will try to summarize everything! 

Last week, we had our zone training in here in good old Duna. Our zone is incredible. There were some parts of our training that Elder Raymond and I had designated as "ask them a question" or something just to kill some time, but the elders and sisters would boldly bear testimony and just make incredible comments about things going on in their lives related to the training, and we would just stare at them in awe. Truely, I was the learner on that day. Our zone is the best.

I've started the "D&C countdown"! Well, actually I started it last week. It's where you read a section from the Doctrine and Convenants everyday until you "kick the bucket". I'm on 134 today, and tomorrow is 133. If you want to follow along with me, by all means do it! 

On Sunday, the Hungary Budapest Stake had it's Stake Conference at the Stake Center in Pest at Tihany Tér. The old stake presidency was released after more than eight years of service! The old Stake President bore a powerful testimony and amidst tears said how much he loved this stake. President Smith would always say the joke of how he was "Hungary's best stake president", considering he was Hungary's only and first ever stake president. The new Stake President was actually the Bishop of the Buda ward, and he's an American living in Hungary with his family. I'd never seen him or met him before this, but he struck me as one really in-tune with the Spirit. He told the congregation (which was upwards of 700 people) to not look at him as "amerikai", instead as someone that loves them and wants to help.

Holy crud, people. Hungarian members are LEGIT

Elder Donalson from the Seventy and President Kearon from the Area Presidency were also there and gave talks that were about receiving answers to prayers and pressing through adversity. They both had AMAZING accents! Hooray for foreigners! President Keaton said something that really struck me: "The Atonement makes something beautiful out of our sins." Thinking of that made me want to utilize the Atonement more in my life. 

It reminded me of someone taking a broken mirror and making it into a beautiful glass sculpture. 

Or that one time when my cousin Jessica and I would try and find all the stolen Bertie Botts Every Flavored Beans on Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets PC game. 

Anyway, you get the point. 

In closing, we got a referral for a new investigator that is literally the most prepared person I've ever met. She said that we are to "teach her everything we know, and everything she needs to know" about the church. She already has friends in the branch, she just needs teachers. We told her that's kind of "our thing". 

Keep on trucking everyone, cause life is beautiful. 

Peace, love, and hippy-hugs everyone.

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, November 10, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Eleven (Week 83)

Oh my goodness this past week was EXHAUSTING.

So, we ended driving around this beautiful country like four days in a row. It totally killed our work for the week, but it was worth it. On Wednesday, we had our monthly Mission Leadership Coucil up in Budapest with President and Sister Smith and the AP's. We talked about getting investigators out to church and other problems/opportunities with the mission. It's always pretty interesting to hear the insight of everyone involve, because literally everyone has a different opinion about every topic discussed. I actually really like that concept, though. 

On Thursday, we drove back  up to Budapest (yet again) for our quarterly interviews with President. I think it was my favorite interview to date. I really like talking with President Smith, and the fact that I've known him for more than 19 months makes every time talking to him feel like I'm talking to a close friend. He's a good guy! There was one scary part when he told me how I only have one more interview left with him before my exit interview on April 1st. Talk about freakyyyyy. 

And then we went on splits to a city called Székesfehérvár. We spent the day there, spent the night, and then stayed for their District Meeting. I got to spend the day with my old companion, Elder Barbour. He's still super fun to be around, I love that kid! I've really had some awesome companions on my mission, and I can't wait to hangout with all of them post-mish! 

BUT SERIOUSLY SO MUCH DRIVING. Also, in Hungary, tractors and bulldozers drive on highways, so unless you can pass them, you just kind of....follow them. For MILES. #thestruggleisreal

I had a cool experience driving back from Budapest on one of these occasions. Part of the journey through the winds and bends of downtown Buda takes us down by the Danube River, or the "Duna" in Hungarian. Even though it was only like 5:30 in the evening, because of the time change it was dark already. The city looked fantastic from where we were driving. Parliament was blazing bright with lights, and the bridges were all decked out in flood lights and cars driving on them. The Duna was black but looked like some giant snake moving through Budapest. All around us were people moving on mopeds and bikes and scooters and just being the little hipsters that they are. 

Holy crud that paragrah sounded so awesome. Sometimes I can write good things ;)

Anyway, right then I said to Elder Raymond: "This is where I need to be!" And I FELT it, too! I love Hungary, and I don't know what I would be without knowing it! 

So, workwise, this week was kind of not the best for us. We still worked hard, but our time was swallowed up with other things. Happens sometimes. We are really, really pushing ourselves this week, though. I'm excited to see what happens! 

Pray for the Hungarians! They are such interesting folks.


Peace and Blessings y'all. 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Duna Pics

Fall in Duna

Day of the Dead

Dunaújváros Week Ten (Week 82)

This past week was incredible, exhausting, and above all: nostalgic! Haha!

Here's some fun things that happened this past week. Here we go!

1) Met with a new lady that we tabled. She invited us into her house and we chatted. She has lived in like six countries outside of Hungary, and she said that in every single one of them she saw the Mormon missionaries walking around. She never talked to them, but she felt like she should have. So, as she was walking the street of Dunaújváros in this great country of Hungary, she saw my companion and I tabling, and she said that she "knew that one of us would come talk to her". It sure happened! 

2)  President and Sister Smith showed up, along with the office couple,the Bagozzis, to church on Sunday! It was a pleasant surprise, we hadn't planned on them coming. They came to our new member/investigator classas well, that was a treat! They bore their testimonies in Hungarian in sacrament meeting as well! So that was pretty cool! It was awesome to be with them in a teaching situation like that. 

3) Holy crud: I went back to Kaposvár last week on splits with the elders there. I was there exactly a year ago from right now. Talk about trip down memory lane! I visited "M", who is now a counselor in the Relief Society Presidency! She was quitting smoking when I was there! I also met with "E", whom I baptized last February in Kecskemét. She said that she was planning on serving a mission this next year! Sooooo cooool. I also got to see a family that I helped teach, and the daughter is preparing to serve a mission as well, and now her mom is taking the lessons! "E"'s mom is meeting with the elders as well! I was so happy. Like, this happiness is....different. It comes from knowing that these people will be my friends for a very, very long time. :)

4) Hungary had it's "Day of the Dead". It was my last one :( The graveyard here was lit up with thousands of glittering candles, each placed carefully on the grave of a deceased loved one. There was a really creepy fog that rolled in and made picture-taking really hard, but it also made it super pretty! 

That was my week! This past week we watched "Finding Faith in Christ" with an RCLA. He's been struggling lately with a few things, and we've been working with him on them. There's a part in the film where it shows the woman touch Christ's hem and get healed. Everyone knows the story, and by her faith she was completely healed. What I really got out of it this time though was that sometimes we seem so insignificant as one person: Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ have an untold number of us to worry about, but in this story we can learn that they will always pay attention to the one that is in need of help, even in they're  in a city full of crowded people with thousands of problems. Christ's attention is infinite, and He knows us all one by one. 

I love that. 

I love you all! Have a great week! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, October 27, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Nine (Week 81)

Life is just cruising here in the Duna-lands!
Another great week! We had our fabulous Assistants to the President come on down here for splits with the Zone Lords of the South-West (us)...hairflip. I went with Elder Hansen to a few programs, and it was nice to just chat with him about life, marriage, after-mission plans, and mission "death". I love him! Yeah...he goes home in less than a month, so that was our conversation topic. It was super fun, and actually it put a lot of things in perspective for me. Even with how long I've been out, you still keep learning :)
So it rained for maybe five days straight last week, but right now I'm squinting as I type this in the library because it's all sunshine and happiness now! I've already tried closing the blinds, but the Hungarians got mad...("How else is this building supposed to get heated?!") I don't know, maybe you should turn the heat on? #facepalmalldaylong  Like, why u gotta be so rude.
We did service out in literally the boondocks in Duna this morning. I'm sorry I have no pictures, but we helped this old woman move from (I KID YOU NOT) a shack in the woods to a slightly larger shack in a village. She took EVERYTHING with her, even her baby-blue toilet. Yes, the WHOLE toilet. #thehungarianlife But, afterwards, the members we were with felt bad for us and gave us Pepsi! ("You all love Pepsi, right? It's American!")
So I've decided that this city is super fun. It gets a bad-rap for being "boring" and stuff like that, but honestly I really do love it here. It's super hipster. Our work is just going up and up, and we are meeting with so many cool people that are trusting us with their friends and family members, so our referal numbers are shooting through the roof! I love that. This branch is so legit, like every Sunday they all run up and ask us if they can come to any programs with us in the coming week.

Oh my goodness, I MADE AN INDIAN DISH THE OTHER DAY IT WAS SO YUMMY. All of a sudden, I enjoy cooking. The mission gives you some weird moments to figure out your talents in life.
This email is just everywhere.
Everyone, this week is Hungary's "Day of the Dead". So next week you will all get pictures of dead people. Jk. You'll get cool pictures of me talking to sad people in cemeteries because guess what? They don't need to always be sad! Because of Jesus Christ, everyone can be happy. Death truly isn't the end, but, as we tell our investigators, its an important part in Heavenly Father's plan for us. It's sad in the moment, but we know where our loved ones are! So, I guess that's my spiritual thought for the week:  don't forget where you belong, why you are here, and where you are going! 

Have a great week, everybody! Here's to me not getting a parking ticket yet this entire transfer! #blessings
Peace and blessings y'all!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Eight (Week 80)

This week went by so fast that I literally blinked and it was over. 
So, last week we saw some cool stuff. It's so awesome to see people make changes in their lives so that they can experience happiness and peace. That's one part of missionary work that I think I will never, ever get sick of seeing. 

We went to Pécs last week on splits with the district leader and his new missionary, fresh from America everybody! My companion went with the DL, and I went with his "greenie". It was great being around someone with "greenie fire", he was just bubbling with excitement! We would walk around a corner and he'd be like "Those are REAL Hungarians!" or "Look at that! It's a BUS!" I laughed the entire time and got to play super old senior-companion for him and give him advice on being a better missionary. It was definitely weird being the old "seasoned" zone leader talking to the fresh new elder from America. Made me think of just over a year ago when I went on splits with zone leaders when I was fairly new. Time goes by fast...

If you remember my email from last week about that family we tracted into, we have met with them FOUR times since then! They are eating up EVERYTHING we have to offer! It's incredible! We invited them to church and they came! It was awkward because as of right now, we have no pianist in the branch, so we sing all the songs accapella(spelling?). I was a little nervous at first and kept glancing over at my investigators to make sure they weren't freaking out. To make matters worse, there was like no one at church and because of several new callings being issued everyone was running around throwing out terms like "home teaching", "Relief society president" and "Melchizedek priesthood". So, naturally, I was a little nervous. 

As I was listening to the announcements, I looked over at "B", the wife in the family, and she was reading the lyrics to "Where Can I Turn For Peace?", the opening hymn. She had her head bent low and was intensely reading the lyrics, and then pulled out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes and sniffed. The Spirit was so strong right then, and I think that was a learning moment for me: sometimes, we get so caught up with the things of the world and get so worried about them that we don't focus on the things that matter most. I know I sound like a "Mormon Message" right now, but even with all the craziness going on around her, "B" was focusing on the one thing that mattered to her: strengthening her testimony of Jesus Christ. It was a humbling moment. 

I have a strong testimony of second chances, getting back up and always, always trying to become better. I'm definitely not the perfect missionary, I have so many faults that when I pray at night it's like trying to stick together a broken vase with Elmer's glue, but- I DO know that when we make the effort, the Savior makes up the rest. 

And that's when the real miracles happen, folks. 

Have a great week! Enjoy that incredible fall weather, Utah! :)

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Seven (Week 79)

Na, mi újság? 

Everybody guess what: You all know the band that played on the "Titanic" as it sank and they played "Nearer My God To Thee" and the mom told the bedtime story to the kids and the old couple cried on the bed? Well, they were apparently HUNGARIAN. YES. It's sad because they died, but super cool at the same time! #titanicconnections

Oh my goodness, we were in Budapest YET AGAIN last week for MLC. We planned for this upcoming month and we got our SNOW TIRES. YES. Winter is coming! But, it doesn't feel like it outside. Actually, it's a pleasant 75 degrees. Weird. I'm super excited for Christmas! In just a few weeks I can bust out my Christmas music. I WAIT FOR IT WITH MUCH LOVE.

Honestly, other than these things it was a pretty normal week. We finished our 1000 piece puzzle and it was a great success! We are starting another one now that we do in our free time, oh wait, we don't have any of that! So just whenever we are walking in the room we sit down for a few minutes and work on it. So, it's going slowly but SURELY.

Ok, here's something cool: So, whilst tracting last week we got a let-in with a middle-aged woman. She let us into her apartment and we sat down in some chairs by her kitchen table. On the couch was another younger guy who was smoking and watching us. As we got talking, we realized that the lady was very religious, and the man was still quiet. We started off by saying that our message was about hope and happiness and that it applies to all of us. That got the man's attention, and he put out his cigarette and leaned forward to listen to us. As we talked about prophets, the woman exclaimed how she noticed there weren't anymore prophets, so what happened to them? As we explained and answered her question, the Spirit came into the room and the man started to ask us some questions. They were fairly easy, and then suddenly: "Would you be able to forgive a family member that murdered another person in your family? How?" came out. Holy crud. I looked at Elder Raymond and he looked back at me. We both turned back and bore testimony of the family and how important it is, along with the priceless gift of the Atonement, which not only cleanses us, but also heals us. The man sat back in his chair and just kind of stared into my eyes. He wasn't mad, he honestly just looked like a kid in school getting help on his math homework. He asked if we could come back and talk more about Christ. We were like: "This is actually like our thing, like we do this everyday." It was pretty cool. The Spirit was so strong, we knew they felt it! 

Sorry, that took forever to write. I don't really have anything else to say! All is well in the Duna-lands, and they will be for now! Some members have already invited us over for Thanksgiving, even if they are doing it in October because they are a little impatient! I want to make a pie for it! :) 

I love you all! Keep trucking and smiling! There are always good things to hope for in life, especially when it seems a little bit darker than normal! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

This was last week's blog post (Week 78)


Another great week in the Duna-lands. Our church bell is ringing like crazy outside, meaning that either someone just got married, died, or it's noon. 

It's not noon, and no one gets married on Mondays. Sooo...

Anyway, we had a great week! Our training for Zone Conference in Budapest was super fun! We showed how to do "effective finding", and one of our points to focus on was being motivated to find. Sometimes it's easy to get down on yourself as you tract for hours on end, and with no one letting you in it can get pretty nasty. So, we decided to have a moment in our training to give everyone in our zone a "compliment card". The idea was to give every single elder and sister a one-lined compliment from someone they had either served with or around in the past, and it was supposed to be something that stuck out to them (the writer). We ended up calling like thirty plus missionaries getting compliments, it was an adventure! When we gave them out, some people were smiling their heads off! We told them to keep it close by whenever they felt bad while tracting so they can read it. Then we told them that we love them :) Awh! Hocus Pocus. Aren't we such good zone leaders? 

Speaking of Budapest, the only way I knew to the mission home by car was under construction, so we took a de-tour into the hills above Buda trying to find a way into the middle of the city, which is shaped like a snail's shell-it just has curvy streets that make their way deeper and deeper into the city. It's super messed up, but pretty! And we made it! 

Conference was super sick. When the translating happened for the Chinese General Authority, the members all ran into our room and were like: "Now you are going through what WE go through every year!" Haha. I love them. They're just super sassy. But really, it was super sick. I really liked Elder Jorg....something's talk. It really hit home. Also, Elder Holland's was super legit. 

All in all, good week. We've been blessed to meet with a lot of new people: including a small family we tracted into last week. We also are meeting with an American, and some people who investigated in 2005. It's a fun bunch, but I love them. I love Hungary. 

Be good everyone! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Friday, October 10, 2014

Duna Week 6

*** We didn't receive a blog letter this week, so here's Joe's family letter ***

hey family! what up what up!!!

holy crap, my week was so tiring. I'm so tired. But then again, I'm tired EVERYDAY. I find that if I sit down too long then I start to fall everywhere! It's not that I'm staying up late or getting up earlier, because actually I'm pretty precise on that part, it's just that literally we are sooo busy. We usually have programs Monday afternoons and don't have time to relax or's always just go go go! 

ummm answering your questions: I like being zone leader. I don't "love" it, because it's different than being a normal proselyting missionary. You have to go to a million meetings in Budapest and worry over your zone. I'm not crazy about it, but I like it. It's a good challenge. We get a good amount of finding in: we had about 12 hours last week. Not bad. We watched the Saturday and the Sunday morning sessions live: can I just tell you how weird it was to see Salt Lake City?! And MOUNTAINS? did I not notice those guys before?! They're HUGE. I haven't seen the Sunday Afternoon session, gonna have to wait for the Liahona. 

I know I'll be home before next conference because Elder Godderidge asked President when we were going home, and now that Godderidge is the secretary we know that our last work day is March 31st, and then we get home on April 2nd. Sooooo not that far away actually...

And yes, this was my last conference in Hungary :( but I watched it in english! scorreee

We watched the Saturday morning at around six in the evening, and the saturday evening and priesthood sessions we watched sunday morning, and the sunday morning we watched sunday afternoon. just eight hours ahead of yall.

hahah i freaking love Elder Raymond. He's a hard worker, but an amazing guy. He's an amazing example to me. Our joke is that he's the zone leader, and I"m just the chauffeur(spelling?). Haha! I haven't been working out super hard, just watching what I"ve been eating. I've been cooking a lot, too, not a ton of eating out. That's been good. Raymond has been working out with me, and since I have the work-out knowledge of a rock he's been a good help. For the record, I can do like three pull-ups in a row now :) :) woo! but yeah, I've lost a bit of weight. hoping to lose like ten or fifteen more pounds before I come home so I can walk in the airport in my sleek Zara suit ;)

well peeps, I don't know what else to write. our work is growing, still finding some newer people to teach. we snagged nine new investigators last week...that's a big deal. ;) I'll be in Budapest again on Wednesday for meetings with President Smith and the APs, other than that I'll be here in quiet ol' Duna. Where I like it. At first, this placed sucked, but I really, really like it now. I don't really know why.

I love you all! i really do. i feel like the weeks are flying by, and i have less than six months left. weird. still working hard though!

lots of love,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pics in Duna

Graffitti....and we do love it here!

Veszprém! Right by the castle!


castle in Veszprém

Dunaújváros Week Five (Week 77)

First things first, I survived my drivers test in Buda! Scoreeee. I still got it! It was my first time driving in like a year and a half, but I could still weave throughout the incredibly tiny streets of Buda. My International Driver's Permit is super cool, I'm really proud of it! Haha.
So, transfers came and went! Elder Raymond is super cool! He's from Tennessee, but he doesn't have an accent...sigh. We drove back on the M6 highway from hell and got back to good old stinky Duna. We hit the road running and went tracting. We probably knocked for hours and no one was really interested. The problem is that this city has been tracted a billion times over, but that doesn't mean that everyone has heard our message! So we keep going at it. We had some cool moments where people would refer their neighbors to us, and we were able to get a few let-ins. Just when we would be exhausted, somebody would let us in. Nothing really came out of it, but I love me some tender mercies.

On Sunday, a member going on a mission to England gave her farewell talk in sacrament meeting. It reminded me of my own farewell, which was like eighteen months ago. Her parents were bawling, and a lot of people from other cities came to wish her off. I got to see some old friends from Kecskemét, and that was a real treat!

Other than that, pretty normal week. We have a Zone Conference this week up in Budapest. Elder Raymond and I took like two hours to plan out our training for everybody, we're really excited!  The city's fall foliage is starting to come out, and I love fall here in the city! I'm loving my companion, and I'm loving my opportunity to serve! 

This past week I was thinking a lot about the Atonement. It's literally been a mission-long project, but I thought of something that made it much more personal. When Lazarus died, Martha and Mary were devasted. When they told Jesus about it, He wept with them. He later raised Lazarus from the dead. But what I like to think about is the fact that when He mourned with them, He knew that Lazarus was going to be brought back. He knew that the story had a happy ending. He knew that there really wasn't a need to mourn. But He did it anyway because He loved them.

When I think of that, I think of my own life, especially this past year and a half, and how there were times when I thought the world was coming to an end and that I wasn't doing so great. Looking back, I realize how little I could see the big picture, and those moments later proved to be a strong bedrock for my testimony. But still, in those moments, I could feel the Savior's mercy and help, and things were manageable. He still cared enough to help me.

So, that's my really spiritual insight for the week. Sorry it's so long! I love you all, and I hope you all continue to be amazing people! I have six months left as of this Friday, and that's a scary thought. 

Lots of love from the other side of the world,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Four (Week 76)

Going into transfer nine of eleven....feeling really, really old...
Well, the transfers come and go, and sadly Elder Peterson is leaving me! He's off to go train a new missionary in the city of Szombathely. Last night, we had a pretty good idea that he was leaving, so he started telling me everywhere to go tracting, where some of the less-actives live, and things about the car...because starting tomorrow I get to drive a car! Freak out! 
So today is the first day of Fall! Yay! The trees are starting to change color, and I'm super excited! 
So, I will be getting Elder Raymond. He's only a transfer under me, but I hear he's an amazing missionary. And also a professional model. I'm so excited! It's gonna be great!
We went to the city of Veszprém last week on splits. Can I just say really quick how lucky I am to be where I am and have the ability to see so many awesome cities? It really is incredible! I was able to serve with my greenie, Elder Mellor, for like a whole day! I miss that kid, soooo much! We are definitely hanging out post-mission. We got a let-in with a really cool older couple who said the elders can come back and teach them. Elder Mellor turned to me while we were knocking and said:"It's like Szeged all over again!" Minus the 120 degree weather and mosquitoes, it was! Haha. 
I don't have a lot to say, other than the fact that our work isn't doing so hot right now, but I have some big plans for the upcoming transfer. Sometimes you can get a lil' blue on your work, but if you remember that every disappointment is a blessing on your head, then it will all work out. So I guess we'll keep knocking on door until our knuckles are sore! Another important thing I'm learning: attitude. It's all about your attitude to not only yourself, but to others. Be kind to others, especially be kind to those that kick you out of ten-stories, call you rude names in Hungarian, and threaten to call the cops. It's all part of the journey, and it really does get better with time. Plus- you get something to laugh about! 
"Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."-Plato
Love you guys! Have a good week and do good things! 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pics from Duna

Sister Magda is going home! :( My sisters' missions are almost up!)



Neely and I in Székes.

Baptism last week! Elder Peterson baptized and I...watched. Haha ;)

Hungarian Risk

Duna's ten-stories-they color them so they won't be as depressing as they already are! Haha

Smelly factories- sadly, them employ like half of the city

Hungarian countryside!

Duna at night!

Dunaujvaros Week Three (Week 75)

So, first of all, I forgot my planner out in my apartment :( So now I don't remember what happened this week! But, I'll try...
Last week, we went down to Pécs to give a training. The car ride down the highway was about two hours, and the countryside was absolutely gorgeous. We passed lots of plains, mountains, and small villages carved into the sides of large valleys. I love Hungary! The last time I was in that city was a year ago for a zone training, back when I was in Kaposvár. Crazy how fast time goes! We also gave another training in Székesfehérvár, and we got a nice surprise of President and Sister Smith coming on down to watch the training! They did an amazing job of adding the Spirit into our teaching, and we were super happy they showed up.
It's been raining SO hard recently, I cannot believe it. We'll be sitting in our car about to get out, and then suddenly it sounds like someone is pounding out roof with a hammer and then the road disappears into a fog of rain. Dang, that sounded pretty poetic, didn't it? :) Anyway, my days of getting caught in the rain seem to be coming to an end, since we've always been in our around our car. Soooo don't have to worry about ruined ties.
Last week, I won my Risk game! Woo! Still rocking it. Also, a member had us come over and give back-to-school blessings to her neighbor's kids in her ten-story. They weren't members, and the thought of a random American boy coming and putting their hands on their heads and muttering Hungarian in a weird accent wasn't the most exciting thought. Noticing that the kids were kind of scared, the member said that she would get a blessing "as an example". She then told Elder Peterson to give her a blessing. Talk about awkward blessing! He didn't really know what to say, so he said something along the lines of "I bless you that....your things in your life will go well...?" I don't know, I can't give it justice. It was just so awkward for someone to be like "Give me a blessing as an example"!  I admit that I was also nervous, but once I put my hands on the head of a small little seven-year old girl, the words came and the Spirit was so strong. Very special moment indeed! 
Don't have a whole lot to say, just that I'm loving being a missionary! Next week is transfers, and there is something like twelve new missionaries coming in: pretty big group! Going be awesome :)
Loving everything. I am so happy to be out here in this beautiful country, speaking this amazing language, and serving these incredible people! Super happy! :D 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Dunaújváros Week Two (Week 74)

The weather is starting to get colder...and it's only September...ehhhh
What happened last week? Well, we got invited over to a less-active family's home for family night last week. They wanted to play the beloved board game "Risk" with me, my companion, and the other two elders. Not wanting to give up an opportunity to utterly thrash everyone in my favorite board game, I obliged. I took up my position in North America and diplomatically weaved my way out of any serious situations. In fact, I currently have everyone thinking they are in an alliance with me...oh dear.
Currently, I'm in a position to win. Don't even worry about it. We're going over again tonight to finish it. I felt like I was back with my friends at home, except it was a bunch of Hungarian getting screamed instead of English! Haha way different! 
I went on splits to Székesfehérvár last week! I've never been there before. It was a super pretty city, and apparently it was the first capital of Hungary "back in the day", that meaning like the year 1000. So it's pretty old. I got to see my good friend Elder Neely, and that's always a treat!
I had a dream about Harry Potter last night. I miss Harry Potter
We had a program with a new investigator, and I showed her pictures of my family and said how I have three younger brothers, a mom,a dad and now a dog. She took the picture from me, looked at it, and said: "My dear, I see your brothers and your dad, but you didn't tell me about your beautiful sister! Where's your mom? Is she in the back somewhere?" Peterson started laughing and I had to awkwardly explain to her that my "sister" was in fact my mom. So...shout out to my mommy for looking young! HAHA
We had our first MLC (Mission Leadership Council) this past Wednesday. We drove through Budapest's winding streets until we got to the Mission Home and were able to discuss the needs of the mission with President and Sister Smith, the other eight Zone Leaders, and the Sister Training Leaders. It was super cool to hear President in that kind of setting, as we talked about problems and solutions regarding the work here in Hungary. He's a super awesome person, and really in-tune with the Spirit.
We had a baptism last Saturday! "K" was super excited! She was found tracting by some elders in this past March, and she has just been progressing awesomely since then! I kind of got here just as we were finishing up her teaching, but after her confirmation she still grabbed my hand and with tears in her eyes said "Thank you, thank you, thank you for teaching me." I have to admit, it had a massive affect on me. You just never know who you might touch with what you say, nowadays.
And it's true: You NEVER know how you can affect someone. So, always be YOU, but more importantly, remember who you ARE. 
Love you all! Peace and blessings from Duna! ;)
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, September 1, 2014

Eger Week Five (Week 72)

I hope everyone had a great week! Also, somewhere along the line my Week Number got messed up, so it's on 72 now. #sorrynotsorry
Anyway, CHANGE HAS COME TO MY LIFE AGAIN. Transfer calls were this morning, and we were both surprised to see President Smith on the caller ID. Elder Barbour is being sent to my good friend Elder Neely in Székesfehérvár, and I am also leaving and going to be a Zone Leader in the city of Dunaújváros. Kind of scary, but I am super excited! I will be serving with Elder Peterson, who is actually my "mission mother", and he is a super cool kid! Also, I get a car! My dirt road biking days are over! 
I talked to a German the other day! I was surprised by how much I could understand him, but literally when I tried to reply to what he was saying, just Hungarian came out. Gosh dang it, so much for three years of German in high school. #fail
August 20th was last week! Happy Birthday Hungary! That was said in the voice of Katy Perry, by the way. We hiked up to the castle that overlooks the city, and I guess it totally stopped the Turkish invasion in the 1500s. Just a little FYI. It was gorgeous, and later that night there was a super cool fireworks display outside of the Basilica. There were booths set up on the walking street, and you could buy lángos (a giant scone) and lots of yummy candy. Hungarian holidays are the best!
It has been a super good ride out in Eger. A super fun....five weeks. Dang, they call this "one and done", when you get to an area and then you leave like at the next transfer. Also, our companionship, and our massive amount of work, is going to the other elders because we are getting "shut down". Simply because they were more elders leaving than coming in, so some had to go down. So I have to CLEAN SO MUCH TONIGHT. 
Love you all! Be good and pray that I don't crash a car next week!
Elder Giacalone

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Eger Week Three (Week 70)

So, I discovered this past week that the metro in Budapest is an unforgiving, terrifying place.
Just don't ever go there.
Anyway, I had such a good week. As previously mentioned, we were in the capital for a day for interviews with President and Sister Smith. I love them both so much! They care so much for us missionaries and are amazing examples AND I JUST REALIZED THAT I FORGOT MY BELT AGAIN TODAY GOOD CRAP.
We also got permission from President to go to a ghetto circus! #missionmemories 
There were like at least nine million screaming Hungarian children in that hot tent, but I saw a real live Llama in Hungary! Score! Super great moment when during the show the main circus clown guy stops everything, stares straight at Elder Barbour, who had just taken a picture, and says in English: "And for those who do NOT speak the Hungarian language, we do NOT take pictures or record during the show performance! Thank you!" We all laughed super hard.
Sick moment of the week: like about four hours ago we had a program with one of our new people at the branch house. I still can't believe what happened, so I'm going to go to express it like this:
Me: "So "N", did you read out of the Book of Mormon?"
N: "Yes, I did."
Me: "Where exactly?"
Barbour: "Did you pray about it?"
N: "I just kind of flipped around it. I read a story about some intense warfare. It was very interesting. But while I was reading it I kind of just realized that this book is like really God's Word, isn't it? Like, how cool is it that He gave us this book?"
Me: ", like, do you want to get baptized?"
N: "I would most certainly enjoy that. My birthday is October 24th, so I was thinking maybe the Saturday after that? If not, that's fine. I have a coffee problem."
Member present: "I had that same problem. I will personally help you overcome it and be there every step of the way!"
N: "Wow! You are all so fantastic. I am so glad that I know members of the church like you, this church is fantastic!"
(Lots of other random but amazing things discussed by him and member present)
So yeah, super sick program. He's totes gettin baptized. He's got his problems, but "Nobody's perfect" in the words of Hannah Montana. 
It's still so hot. So incredibly hot. But the work is on FIRE. We had  SEVEN people at church yesterday, I didn't know what to do, mostly because I was translating for Elder Herd for sacrament, blessing it, and then preparing my talk for priesthood. Props of serving in small branches, but you know, you love it. It's the best :) I love where I'm at, and life is grand! 
És ne felejtsetek el, mennyire értékesek vagytok Isten szemeben :) 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone So, I discovered this past week that the metro in Budapest is an unforgiving, terrifying place.
Just don't ever go there.
Anyway, I had such a good week. As previously mentioned, we were in the capital for a day for interviews with President and Sister Smith. I love them both so much! They care so much for us missionaries and are amazing examples AND I JUST REALIZED THAT I FORGOT MY BELT AGAIN TODAY GOOD CRAP.
We also got permission from President to go to a ghetto circus! #missionmemories 
There were like atleast nine million screaming Hungarian children in that hot tent, but I saw a real live Llama in Hungary! Score! Super great moment when during the show the main circus clown guy stops everything, stares straight at Elder Barbour, who had just taken a picture, and says in English: "And for those who do NOT speak the Hungarian language, we do NOT take pictures or record during the show performance! Thank you!" We all laughed super hard.
Sick moment of the week: like about four hours ago we had a program with one of our new people at the branch house. I still can't believe what happened, so I'm going to go to express it like this:
Me: "So "N", did you read out of the Book of Mormon?"
N: "Yes, I did."
Me: "Where exactly?"
Barbour: "Did you pray about it?"
N: "I just kind of flipped around it. I read a story about some intense warfare. It was very interesting. But while I was reading it I kind of just realized that this book is like really God's Word, isn't it? Like, how cool is it that He gave us this book?"
Me: ", like, do you want to get baptized?"
N: "I would most certainly enjoy that. My birthday is October 24th, so I was thinking maybe the Saturday after that? If not, that's fine. I have a coffee problem."
Member present: "I had that same problem. I will personally help you overcome it and be there every step of the way!"
N: "Wow! You are all so fantastic. I am so glad that I know members of the church like you, this church is fantastic!"
(Lots of other random but amazing things discussed by him and member present)
So yeah, super sick program. He's totes gettin baptized. He's got his problems, but "Nobody's perfect" in the words of Hannah Montana. 
It's still so hot. So incredibly hot. But the work is on FIRE. We had  SEVEN people at church yesterday, I didn't know what to do, mostly because I was translating for Elder Herd for sacrament, blessing it, and then preparing my talk for priesthood. Props of serving in small branches, but you know, you love it. It's the best :) I love where I'm at, and life is grand! 
És ne felejtsetek el, mennyire értékesek vagytok Isten szemeben :) 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone