Monday, January 27, 2014

Kecskemét Week Two Pics

My drawing of the Plan of much fun!

It was Elder Mullen's birthday, and we gave him a jar of peas. I love this kid!

Our district and E at her baptism!

French toast party!

Kecskemét Week Two (Week 41)

Hello everyone! Wow. Week of weirdness, small miracles, and just all around craziness.

I'm really getting used to my city here. Remember how I said the weather was super nice and mild? Well, about this time last week, it totally was. All the Hungarian's we chatted with said "Enjoy it while you can, winter is coming!" We laughed them off like the Americans that we are, and said that it will stay like this until Spring. Hahaha WRONG. WRONG. It started to snow a little bit last Thursday, and then BLIZZARD FOR A PURE 48 HOURS. Yeah. COLD. It was -9 this morning, in Celsius, and the roads are a nightmare. My shoes have like no traction in snow, so me and Elder D'Angina have been sliding all over the place! BRRRR! 

Also, we went without water in our apartment for a good 48 hours. Cool. Gotta love last minute notices from our landlord. 

Random sidenote: The radio at the internet place just did an interview with One Direction. Why. Now they're playing "Story of My Life". The other elders just started busting up laughing at my reaction. Good thing I'm over One Direction...

We met with a less-active family that is comprised of a mom, a twelve year old boy, and an eight year old girl. They are super awesome and have been members for like a couple years. The mom was doing something in the other room, so we just chatted it up with the 12 year old. He reminded me so much of myself as a kid. He loves history and politics and countries, and he said he is super awkward around other kids and loves to chat it up with adults. I thought it was some sort of time portal moment...except in Hungarian. But yeah, we chatted about the history of Hungary and World War Two for like a half hour. So awesome. 

On Saturday, we had E's baptism. It was held in the ward building in the brand new font. Some miscellaneous things did happen that almost derailed it: when we started to fill it up, we just turned it on and left to go to District meeting, in the other room. After thirty minutes, we came back to see that the drain had been left open, and there was no water! After getting that fixed, we had to wait a while for it to fill up. Then, we couldn't find the baptismal clothes. After tearing the entire building apart we couldn't find them. I said a small prayer in my heart asking for help from Heavenly Father. Instantly the thought came to my head "Call Bishop". Before I could say it, D'Angina said "I think we should call Bishop". Comp unity right there! He told us where they were: the girl's rest room! Lame. BUT after ALL THIS, her baptism was great. It was my first one, and the Spirit was so strong. Our group was small for it, but it was perfect. Absolutely perfect. It was a small confirmation to me that: Yep, I need to be here in Kecskemet. People are here that need ME. 

Other fun story: We teach a guy that is dating one of the ward members here that is currently on a mission in another city in Hungary. He asked if he could just marry her and not be baptized. We both groveled for a minute in how to answer that, and I felt that it would be good to share the story of my grandparents. Now, I don't have a ton of time to explain that story, but to simplify, one was a member and one wasn't when they were married. Now, they are both members and have strengthened their family through the blessings of the Gospel. Our investigator thought it was a cool story, and said thanks. I think it might have been for me, though, because I felt such a strong feeling of gratitude for my grandparents and all they have done for me, on both sides of the family! I love them! 

I love being a missionary. President mentioned in my interview how there is a large group of missionaries coming in May that will need require all the younger missionaries to step it up a little bit, perhaps to even train. And there are 13 missionaries going home in May. He also said to enjoy having an older companion that can speak the language really well, because I'm down to just weeks of that left. It was a weird moment, definitely. I've loved all my senior companions, and it's a weird thought to think that soon I'll have to start helping younger missionaries. 

The work is picking up so much out here. When the Spirit is guiding you, you can't go wrong. Life is great! I ran into Elder Becker up at Budapest the other day at interviews, and he said a lady that I had streeted while I was in Sopron was now on bap date! I didn't even get a chance to teach her while I was there, but I know that where I go in this marvelous country of Hungary, is truly where I need to be. 

Life's great. 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, January 20, 2014

Kecskemet Week 1 pics

Elder D'Angina! My new companion!

Saw a UPS Truck...?

Boardwalk in the city

Kecskemét Week One (Week 40)

Hello everyone! The madness that is transfers is all over and now I am settling into my monstrous apartment in the beautiful city of Kecskemét. Some fun stuff about this city: "Kecske" means "goat" in Hungarian. I have no idea why they named their city after a goat. More fun things, there is a resteraunt(spelling? wow, my english is going down the drain...) that is exactly like Cafe Rio here owned by a member. We hit it up like once a week here, and it is very, very yummy. :D Also, apparently Kecskemet was one of the only cities outside of Budapest that rebelled during the 1956 Revolution. Because of that, the Russians came down HARD on this city, but it is also very prestigious and the Hungarians love this city!
My apartment is very big and super roomy. I have a study room that has a view out onto the main street in the city. I love my apartment! My companion is Elder D'Angina and he is an amazing missionary and a great Elder! He works hard and he has been teaching me what it means to be a "missionary", not just in work ethic but also in love and compassion for others. He's a great example for me, and he's rocking the language! We made a goal that he would correct me whenever I messed up, either in prayers before we leave or after programs. It's been humbling me, because (as many of you know) I do NOT like being corrected. But, this is helping me learn and grow, and I really appreiciate it. 

My WARD is fantastic! Yes, my WARD. The first since Utah! When I walked into Ward Council on Sunday morning, the missionaries just watched and listened as the Ward Auxiliaries just went to town on everything! Teachers and Priests passed the sacrament, and Sunday school teachers taught. Missionaries just had to worry about their investigators, first time ever for me! Great spirit was there yesterday, and I love my new Bishop! He taught a lesson yesterday in Sunday School about knowing Christ and who He is to us, the Spirit was so strong! When it finished, D'Angina leaned over to me and said "and THAT is Bishop!". Insane!

I've been meeting the members throughout the week and getting to know the families in the ward. They LOVE the missionaries, I guess for my companionship for this past Christmas the missionaries had dinner AND lunch appointments for EVERY DAY of the week of Christmas! WOW. That's insane! The Ward Mission Leader is actually the old Bishop. He's probably the most sarcastic Hungarian I have ever met, but I love him haha! So all in all, the ward is fantastic. Truly one of the success stories of the church here in Hungary. I love it here!

I've been streeting lots with D'Angina. It's been pushing me more and more out of my comfort zone, but I'm ok with that! Angol Ora (English Class) is also really big in this city, and I love that! I teach the Profi class, or the professional class. It is 100% English and we actually discussed politics in the last class! Super fun!

MIRACLE: Remember "E" from Kapos? It will be my honor to baptize her in the baptismal font here in Kecskemet this Saturday! :) Due to a series of events that I'm pretty sure were divinely inspired, she will be here this week and we'll be doing it here. Sometimes, life is just AWESOME. It's like Heavenly Father is just like "You do realize that this is MY work?". I know that HE knows what we are going through. 

What else...I am just loving it out here! The weather has been very mild and warm. It rains just enough in the morning to make the air crisp and fresh. I know what is going on when we teach Hungarians. I haven't been lost in a program since Halloween. Things are just great. I'm so happy. I wrote in my journal a couple nights ago that I was just "happy". And really, because of Christ and His Gospel, and I just that. Happy. :D

Smile everyone! Because Christ loves YOU. 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Kaposvar Week 9 Pic

Sunset in Kaposvár

Pretty farms :)

Counselor in the Branch Pres., he's a great guy!

Last day tracting in Kaposvar

Tracting in Kaposvar

My "dark shirt" and my "dark" look

Elder Gould and his shirt

Kaposvár Week 9

Hello everyone!

WOW. So transfers. Lots of weirdness happened. We got our phone call fairly late in the morning, so we spent our early ours pacing and sweating around our apartment. Then, the call came: Gould is staying. I, on the other hand, am leaving. Surprise! I'll be heading out to a city called Kecskemét! I actually have been there a few times on splits from when I served in Szolnok, so it will be a blast from the past.

I will be serving with Elder D'Angina! I've heard lots of good things about him, and so I'm very excited! I've heard that we have the hardest last names in the mission, so yay! Fun other facts about transfers: my trainer, Elder Miller, went AP. He will do a great job!

Fun other things that happened this week: Gould and I bought companionship t-shirts from a shop that was actually entitled "Dark Shop". Fun stuff! Our shirts are all about Hungary rising again from the ashes of post-WW1 and reclaiming lost land-so positive! Yay! My shirt actually says "Justice to Hungary". Alrighty...

We also were able to visit a smaller, but still fairly large, city called Dombovár. We went out with the Colledge's to look for two members that supposedly lived out there. Turned out they live in England. Awkward. Still, a fun little excursion to that city.

It's been a CRAZY week. One of the weirdest on my mission. I'm super sad to be leaving Kaposvár: I've really grown to love this city, and I will definitely come back in the future sometime. I actually connected with my investigators here, met some amazing people, and had great companions. I cannot believe how fast my mission is going, I'm going onto my fourth city! Absolutely crazy.

Fun last spiritual story: "J", my investigator that had no faith and didn't belive in anything at the beginning of our meetings, he says prayers with us now :) I know that he is on the way for baptism. I think that maybe this is how my mission will go: planting seeds, and nurturing them but not necessarily seeing the outcome. My two bapdates are still on track, but I won't see them. But, nonetheless, I am happy. :D I know that I need to be in Kecskemet, and I am so excited to serve the Lord there.

I love you all!
Sok Szeretettel,
Giacalone Elder

Monday, January 6, 2014

Kaposvar Week 8 pics

Sunset in Kaposvar

"Sajt Nite" with the other elders. We just deep fry blocks of cheese and eat them :)

Went out to cut trees for a member's family, this was our scenery!

Gould and I playing with some dogs!

Ok, so when we tract, sometimes people look out their windows to see what we are all about. I thought this was funny that someone had put a car reflector window on the outside so they didn't have to strain their head. Super weird!

Kaposvár Week 8

Yay! 2014 is here!
New year, new start, new everything!
That's what we have been emphasizing with all of our investigators: you can change and be a whole new YOU this year! We've had a lot of stop-smoking, moving out, and starting to pray lessons with people. It's been great!
New Years in Hungary was kind of crazy-the day after, there was quite a lot of drunk people all over the place, and they would leave some pretty nasty stuff on the ground too...ew. Quite different from a Utah New Years! Another different thing: it's been like 50 degrees out here, daily! The Hungarians are all freaking out. I'm not complaining: I haven't had to wear my heavy winter jacket in like a week! Super nice.
Transfers are next week! I really hope I stay here in Kapos. There is so much going on and we are super busy! I love it!
Fun story: So there is this family in the branch that lives out in this small village called Alsobogát, like a 45 minute drive from Kapos. They needed help cutting wood for the rest of the winter, so us four elders and the branch clerk all headed out to go help. I got to connect with my inner-lumberjack! We spent four hours out there hauling wood and chopping it up. Super fun time, and I was sooo sore afterward! I've never done something like that before! Quite the experience. Unfortunately, my whole "soreness" thing turned into a cold, which left me kind of messed up for the next few days. Ugh. I HATE being sick!
Cool story of the week! So, we've been meeting with "J", one of my favorite investigators. He continues to claim that he has no faith, but he loves to meet with us and we try to help him sort out his life. Usually, it ends with us feeling like we're forcing upon him something that he doesn't even want. That's not how it's supposed to be! He's very honest, and when we ask if he prays, he says yes. Then we ask him if he felt like he's been receiving answers. He says "No, I don't want to lie to you guys." Ok then! After the end of a particulary weird lesson, as we were wrapping up and I was asking if we could say a prayer, he stopped and said: "Guys, I want to say thank you for all you do. I know that these meetings have been helping me"-and, then my favorite part "I am beginning to feel." I told him that we all walk with baby steps in this life, and that baby steps definitely take us somewhere.
Sometimes, I feel like that is how the Lord is with us. He sees us make wrong decisions that cause pain and sorrow in our lives, and desires us to make the baby steps that we need to make to bring our lives in harmony with His. I know that He is the source of all peace, good, and light. I know that He is willing to forgive us of our faults and shortcomings.
There's a quote from C.S. Lewis that I found in the other Elder's apartment:
"(God) has infinite attention to spare for each one of us. He does not have to deal with us in mass. You are as much alone with Him as if you were the only being He ever created. When Christ died, He died for you individually just as much as if you had been the only man in the world."
I sure hope you all remember that. I love that quote, and I actually glued it onto my planner for this next transfer coming up! I'm so happy for where I am right now, who I am with, and where I'm going. I feel like everyday it gets more and more clear what my purpose is out here. I was a little unsure at first, but now I know. Missions are hard. If they were easy, then people would slack-off. I'm learning so much, it's insane. I'm so grateful to be out here right now.
I love it :)
Have a great week! Be safe!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Kaposvar Week 7

Old church in Hungary

Sometimes I like to street roadkill

Typical Hungarian "family house". Windows face the street, gate leads to a front door on the side

One of our bapdates made each of us a cool package of cookies!

"meat goods house", or a butcher shop

"Raise your arm if you'd like to learn about the gospel!"