My name is Joe Giacalone. I've been called to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for 2 years. This blog is about my experiences in Budapest, Hungary. I love my Savior and love to serve Him.
Hello everyone! Greetings from beautiful Magyarország!
Wow, I cannot believe how fast the week went! They feel like they are just going faster and faster!
the main event of the week was definitely Easter. Here in Hungary, that
is ranked probably at or even above Christmas in terms of holiday
importance. During the week, the people have their own kind of
"consecration week", where they give up something that they like to do
(watch TV, drink beer, go swimming, etc.) for a whole week and replace
it with something better or more productive (i.e. going to church,
spending time with family, or working out). Also, on the day before
Sunday (so like...Saturday...I guess.) ALL the church bells go off to
ring in Christs death. It went on for like a half hour! So loud! When I
first got to Hungary all the Hungarians said their bells were annoying. I
thought they were crazy. Now, I KNOW WHY.
Another fun thing, SO MANY people showed up to
church on Sunday! Most of them were inactives that came back because it
was Easter! Pretty cool! Here are some of Hungary's Easter Traditions:
1) The Monday after Easter is when they spray the women with perfume or a small thing of water. They do this because of an old Hungarian
tradition where they believe that womanhood originated from flowers. If
you are scratching your head right now, we are in the same boat.
2) Everyone goes out of town to the small "falus" or villages to
visit their grandparents and such for the weekend. Szeged was a ghost
3) Everyone that stayed in the city spent time with family, and they were so happy :)
We went to an Easter lunch over at a member's house.
He fed us so much food I thought I was going to die! It filled me up
for the entire day, I don't think I had dinner that night!
Also this week, we got so many let-ins! One was a guy that we
talked to at his door for like ten minutes about the church. He said
that he didn't have time and that another time might be better. So, we
left to the next door. A few minutes later he came back outside and said
"Actually, come back. I have time." So we went back. He said that he
had recently turned to God in his life, because so much was going on
with his family and job, that he just could not handle it anymore. He
said that he thought we were a sign that God was wanting to help him.
So, we taught him a really awesome lesson on the Book of Mormon and
scheduled to come back.
People are truly being prepared. And that is the coolest.
think that no matter what happens in life, be happy. It is so much
better to throw a smile on your face than to just sulk in misery and in
sadness. I think that is what a lot of people are missing nowadays. I
know that if we at least try to be happy, then great things will happen. That, I am certain.
Remember who you are, and that the greatest Being in the universe loves you. :)
Hello everyone! I hope you all had a "tetszik" week. Lol. Hungarian.
The weather is beautiful right now! Blue skies, warm sun, and the river is sparkling. I love Hungarian springs!
We had a Zone Training last week! All the
missionaries from Szolnok, Kecskemét, and Békéscsaba all congregated
here in Szeged to get a training from the Zone Leaders. It was super
trippy because I had already served in Szolnok and Kecskemét, and I knew
the missionaries/senior couples that are stationed there! We had a
great training on prayer, and afterward went out to eat at the mall. I
always love when we all get together.
So the amount of weird things going on with our
apartment continues to baffle me: 1) our fridge literally freezes
everything you put inside it, and we've tried to change the settings but
nothing helps 2) for some reason our gas bill was ridiculously high
last month, but we know that can't be accurate.. 3) Our sink is clogged
and 4) our washer leaks.
And just barely, we found out that our microwave broke. Great!
of our humble residence, our upstairs neighbors have this great habit
of blasting that song that goes "bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?
whatcha gonna do when they come for you?" every day at 8:30 AM in the
middle of my personal study. Just recently I found out that it's a yoga studio...ok, but seriously, who does yoga listening to that?! So weird!
Fun story of the week: So in our branch there is a
really, really old néni (or lady), I mean,she is 93 years old, and she
come regularly to church. She won't get baptized but really like our
church. I don't really know how else to explain it. Anyway, she comes to
the investigator/new member Sunday School class. We just so happened to
be talking about Priesthood that day, and she mustered all her 93-year
old strength to stand up, and with a really shaky hand pointed at the
teacher and yelled: "JESUS DID NOT CALL APOSTLES TO BE PRIESTS. WE DID
NOT, NOR DO WE NOW, NEED THE PRIESTHOOD. THE BIBLE SAYS SO. WE HAVE
EVERYTHING IN THE BIBLE, AND THE OTHER BOOK (Book of Mormon) DOESN'T
TALK ABOUT JESUS. WHY DO YOU GUYS READ IT ANYWAY?" She then sat back
down. The whole class was just awkwardly quiet. The investigators were
totally lost, they thought she was a member! Finally, someone shared a
scripture in the Bible about the priesthood and it was all figured out.
But still, that lady was terrifying! Also hilarious...
Spiritual story of the week: We are still meeting
with our fun Serbian friend, "V". We had taught him the Restoration and
then we did the Plan of Salvation. I was worried the entire program
because he never had any questions. Sometimes this can be a good thing,
say, in like a university or college. But when you are teaching someone
about eternal salvation, then they need to start asking questions, or
you (as the teacher) need to prod questions out of them. I don't know,
it's weird to explain. At the end of the program, I asked him if he had
questions. He said he had none, that it was very "világos"...I don't
know what that is in English..."enlightening", maybe...
That wasn't what I wanted to hear. So I tried another approach, I asked him what he thought it meant for him,
as "V". What it meant for his family. I don't really know where these
questions came from, but it provoked something from him. He sat there
for a bit thinking, then he said "This single lesson has answered all my
questions that I have in my life. I know what I need to do now. I want
to be nicer to people from what I've learned." Bazing! THAT is what I
wanted to hear. He also told us that before he had been really hesitant
about meeting with us, but now he wants to learn more and more!
...and, it's my year mark this Thursday! I cannot
believe it's been a full year since I've put my badge on for the first
time. Time goes by so fast, and the past 12 months feel like a blur. I
really feel like I just figured out how to be a missionary, and half my
mission is gone! It's insane. I've never been happier in my entire life
than now. That is a fact. I'm so excited to see what's on the
"other side of the hill" and what my Heavenly Father has in store for me
in this last year as a missionary.
But, we all know, that it's not about what's waiting on the other side, it's the climb.
Hello everyone! I hope you all had a great week. I did!
First off, transfers!
Elder Shoop and I will be staying together for another six weeks. I'm
very happy with my call, because I feel like I still don't really know
this massive city yet, and I'm glad that Elder Shoop is staying to help
me get around! I'm also happy because I love this city. The people are
super classy and chill, and it's a beautiful city.
What else, so as many of you know,
I am not gifted in the area of sports. Like, there is not a single
sporty bone in my body. However, here everyone is super fun and they
play soccer a ton. So, the Branch has a "sport nap", or a "sport day" every week, and sometimes on the morning of our P-Days. So, I've actually
been enjoying it! Crazy, right? Anyway, so I was goalie(..spelling?)
and I totally blocked a really, really fast shot from on of the ZL's,
and my hand snapped back and now it really hurts! Lame! Elder Shoop and I
think it's just sprained, but it hurts! I guess that means I'm an
athlete now, right? I even have battle wounds! :)
Conference! Ah! So good. I watched
the Saturday morning and evening, and the Sunday morning in English,
and then the Priesthood session was in Hungarian. I haven't seen the
Sunday afternoon, but everyone says it was good! I really enjoyed all
the talks, and I got a lot of questions answered...hooray for prophets!
I'm so grateful for them!
We continue to find a weird
plethora of international people. Elder Shoop and I made a small list of
the "interesting" ones that we talked to last week:
Two hipster guys from Sweden trying to find a massage place. That was awkward.
An old woman from Denmark who was pretty much blind and spoke no Hungarian.
So many Serbians
So many Americans
A cool kid from Saipan (that's by Hawaii...kind of. Give or take 1,000 miles...)
...and a man from Taiwan!
have also been working hard to get members out to our programs. We
weren't quite sure who to bring or who to pick, but somehow it just all
worked out. I was amazed time and time again when the investigator and
the members just had so many of those "Wait, you have this problem? I
did too!" moments. It's been great and truly a small miracle!
Speaking of cool members, I've
already talked about the branch president from the article in the
Liahona. Anyway, we brought him to a program that just didn't go quite
right. Afterward, he asked how our work was going. In all honesty we
said that it could be going better (when I get here, we had only one
progressing investigator). He himself having been a missionary here in
Hungary quickly just threw out advice for us. It was so cool. He even
said "Right now, I want you guys to street me. Go." It was awkward, but
we did it. He gave good feedback and what we could've improved on. I
marveled at his willingness to help us, weird Americans with broken
Hungarian, out just a bit.
At the end of it all, he said
this: "Szeged is ready for the gospel. There are so many people waiting
for their own happiness. Go find them andbring them home."
I'm so grateful for all my
experiences that I've had so far on my mission. With my year mark
creeping up, I feel like I have so much to be grateful for...but, that
will be for next week's e-mail. :)
I love you all! Don't be afraid of sharing your religion and shine!