Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Szeged Week Five Pics (Week 54)

So much food...

Spraying the sisters with perfume. They smelled pretty good yesterday!

Hungarian food!

Street Art...

Greetings from Szeged!

This is how people move in Hungary

Szeged Week Five (Week 54)

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! 

So, 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 town! 
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.

I 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. :)
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, April 14, 2014

Szeged Week Four Pics

Circus came in Szeged! Elephants! I was happy

Tracting! Always a confusing maze!

I found my name. On a license plate. In Hungary...

Strolling in the park.

Szeged Week Four (Week 53) *Year Mark!*

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!

Speaking 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. 
I may have just quoted Miley Cyrus. #noregrets

I love you all! Be safe, and have a great Easter!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Szeged Week Three Pics

Elder Miller and I! Father and son! :)

Conference on a computer!

De-thawing our fridge. No big deal

Spring flowers, war statutes, and me!

We stopped by the new branch house being built...it's going to be massive! Should be done in June!

Szeged Week Three (Week 52)

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!
We 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 and bring 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! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone