Monday, June 30, 2014

Szeged Week Fifteen Pics

Pretty day, waiting for the villamos :)

America Party 2014!

Pretty Szeged!

Street art!

Year Mark with Elders Richards and Godderidge, and Sisters Dinehart and Hinckley :)

Szeged Week Fifteen (Week 64)

Squibble Squabble.
That defines my week. I don't know how, but it does. 
So, it rained SO MUCH last week! In the states, this means that I could sit at home and not do anything. Quite the opposite over here. We knew that the rain was coming, so we scheduled a good amount of programs on those days so we wouldn't be outside.
Well, looks like we weren't supposed to be inside, because THEY ALL CANCELLED. Suprise! So, we tracted a lot! I even cracked out my sweater, it got so cold! I mean, this is almost JULY people!
We had our American Party last week! Pretty much the missionaries here in the city organized a party for all investigators and members, and pretty much anyone that wanted to come. It was so much fun! I got to chat with members and random people from the street about the gospel and also do the Cha-Cha slide in front of 50 random Hungarians.
Oh, how the mission has changed me. :)
There was a baptism on Sunday! "F", the sisters' investigator, was just beaming after he came up out of the water! There is always a special spirit at baptisms, and I'm grateful I could've been there! After the closing prayer, "F" got up to thank everyone, and then asked if he could give another prayer. Everyone was like "...Ok", and then he said quite possibly the most beautiful prayer I've heard on my mission. He was so grateful to his Heavenly Father for His help. He thanked the missionaries. He started to CRY, which means I started to cry, which was just a great moment all-around. So much fun!
Really fun moment: On Monday, right before we started this not-so-fun week, we had a nice moment that carried us through the week. We finally got a hold of a lady we had tracted into a few months ago, and as she opened her door she started chatting with us, seeing how we've been doing, blah blah blah. Then she got kind of serious and she said "Boys, I don't know why, I mean, I'm an atheist, but I really, really have been wanting to get baptized into a church that believes in Christ. How can we do that? I want my partner and my kids as well. I mean, we'll meet with you and read with you, whatever it takes. Do you need money? I have my purse right here...Wait, why are you laughing?" Meanwhile, I'm just DYING because this is a golden moment. We got it sorted out with her, and it's gonna be a fun time teaching "A" and her family. :)
Sometimes we have hard weeks, and it's maybe nothing that we did wrong. I have a strong testimony that we go through hard weeks to recognize the good hiding in them. Last week was kind of rough, but I learned so much from it. I'm learning how to be a better missionary. I'm a lot happier nowadays, I don't really know why. 
Have a great week everybody! Soak in that Summer sun :) 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Szeged Week Fourteen Pic


We found Santa while tracting!

McDonald's in Pest! Massive!

Rakott Krumpli: potatos, cheese, Tejföl, kolbász and eggs!

"G" and I at church on Sunday! I LOVE HIM!!!

Szeged Week Fourteen (Week 63)

Hey everyone! What a fun week it has been! We've been so busy.
We had Zone Conference last week in Buda with President and Sister Smith, the APs, our Zone Leaders, and the Sister Training Leaders. It was super awesome and I got so many answers to my questions that I've been having. One of them was actually pretty fun: I have been here for like a year now, but I have never really known how to use a fire blanket and I've been too scared to ask someone. So, Sister Smith was going over "household topics" and asked if anyone had any questions. In front of everyone I asked how to use a fire blanket. And guess what? There were other missionaries that had no idea how either! So, congratulations Hungary Budapest Mission, I just saved like fifteen missionaries from a certain fiery death. Hooray for Blond Questions! Don't be afraid to ask them! 
But other than my obvious lack of household appliance knowledge, I am doing super great! Szeged is doing soooo well. The weather is HOT. I am SWEATING. I am LOSING WEIGHT. Life is splendid. 
Guess what? On Saturday, we had Sport Nap. We usually play soccer, except they call it football over here. Awkward. Anyway, I scored a goal. Heck. Yes. 
I bought a tank-top for next summer that says: "I <3 Nothin". I have officially transformed myself into the equivalent of a fourteen-year old white American girl. Speaking of that, Elder Mellor had his very first Vanilla Bean Frappucino from Starbucks when we were in Budapest. He loved it. 
As you can tell, this email is very scatter-shot. This is what happens when I forget my planner with everything written in it!
Oh, here's something cool. So we have this new investigator that comes to church like every Sunday. We met with him after his work one day and chatted about the Book of Mormon. It was like our third program with him and I asked how his reading was going. He said so good and that he feels so good when he does it. I love that answer. I pointed out that that is the Spirit that he is feeling and that it bears witness of truth. Pushing it a bit more, I asked him if he thought the book was true. He said "As far as I have read, it is true." Feeling a little more egged on, I threw a bapdate out at him, asking him to be baptized if he knew the book was true. He said of course. He didn't want a date yet, but he said in the fall sometime. It was pretty cool!
Still loving life. It's getting so hot. My trainer goes home in like two days, talk about weird. He's a good kid! At church on Sunday, I met with one of my oldest friends in Hungary: my very first Hungarian I met in a program, my friend "G" from Szolnok! He was in Szeged to meet with the visiting Stake President, because he's going to Freiburg! When they say they're "going to Freiburg", it means that are going to the temple to get our their endowments! When I walked into the chapel for church that day and saw him sitting down, I started tearing up. He came up to me with this huge smile and just said "I'm sure you can understand what I'm saying now!" It had been one year! I'm still in shock.
Missions are full of these types of miracles. You find yourself stressing, praying, fasting, and crying over your investigators. Their problems become yours. Their trials become yours. You work so hard to see them through. Sometimes they can't make it through, or it isn't their time. And sometimes, they gloriously succeed, and they hug you until you can't breathe and say "thank you" a billion times in your ear and you are an emotional train wreck. 
It was hard saying goodbye to him again, but he'll be ok :) He has his faith. 
I loved my week! Find a reason to smile, because life is just a weird adventure sometimes, and you gotta smile to make it through alive! Have a great week everyone!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Szeged Week Thirteen Pics

My comp is also a squirrel..

These misting things are all over the city so people can stay cool :)

From when I was in Buda...

Be happy!

Szeged Week Thirteen (Week 62)

Another great week! So good. The heat has gone down a bit, and it is actually pretty cloudy outside right now. Maybe it will rain? That would be splendid. 
I feel like this week was super awesome, but at the same time just super fast and I feel like there wasn't anything really going on! We tracted a good amount this week in just one building, and we found three people waiting for us to teach them. I guess it had been tracted by missionaries in the past several times, and the people were just like: "Hey, we've seen you guys a TON around here, what exactly are you wanting?" So awesome! 
One of the Zone Leaders here got a really bad in-grown toenail and had surgery last week. Because of that, he couldn't walk around for like a week! So, we did lots of splits with them, which hurt our working hours a bit, but it was for a just cause. I got to go see Hódmezővásárhely again! I love that city! 
So, here's my crowing jewel of this week: do you all remember that guy that came up to me at the table in the park like two months ago? Well, we met with him in another park last Thursday. We chatted and began to talk about the Plan of Salvation. It was a beautiful program with a very sweet Spirit there! We began talking about the Savior's time on the Earth and what He did for us, and "B" just kind of stopped and was like: "What do I need to do in my life so that I can be happy? My parents are divorced and my brother is in an unhappy situation as well. How can I be happy?" 
Well, what would you say? 
We actually get that question asked a ton from people. In our "survey" we give when we go tracting, we ask people "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" A lot of them say for happiness. So, how can we be happy? If we follow the Savior. That is happiness right there. He knows exactly what we need to do in life to be happy. 
So, we told "B" that. He needs to follow the Savior's teachings. He thought about it for a second, and then I felt like I should challenge him to get baptized. He said that he had actually been thinking about that for a long time, and he would really, really like that. He then asked us how we can do it. We explained it out and how it works. He thought again...and said yes. :) It was a very, very happy moment for us. 
I don't mean to cause anyone to freak out, but tomorrow marks me being one full year, 365 days, in this beautiful country of Hungary. I cannot believe how fast it has gone. I feel like I have seen just about everything here, the culture, the people, the food, the church members. Everything. But, every day when I wake up, there is always something that surprises me. I love it here, and I know I was supposed to be here. 
Well, that's about it. Everyone have a happy week! There is always a reason to smile! 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Szeged Week Twelve (Week 61)

Imagine this situation: you are in a city located geographically the most southern part of Hungary, and close enough to the ocean to have a Mediterranean climate. The weather is ridiculously warm in the summer, and you have the second largest river in Hungary cruising right by you.
This is my life. 100% humidity. 83 degrees. Sweat. So much sweat. My shirts are just NASTY, but this will be my last Summer using them, so I don't care as much as last Summer. Literally, there is like a good twenty degree difference from the shade and the sunlight. So bad. SO BAD.
But, I'm losing weight! *Mario jump of glee*
Anyway, besides the fact that the heat of a thousand suns is on my neck every waking minute of the day, we had a good week. We found some really cool new people to teach! One of them was when Elder Mellor and I were tracting in yet another dingy, damp ten-story building. We knocked on a door and a younger guy answered it. I motioned that it was Elder Mellor's turn to talk. Literally, as he opened his mouth this guy was like: "Oh, hey Elders. Come on in." What. What. So, baffled, we follow him into his little apartment. We find out he met with the Elders like four years ago, but then they got whitewashed or something, and he was "lost". He's super excited to meet with us, and he said that he has questions about stuff in life, like why we are born. He asked me that question like four times: "Why are we born? What is the point?" He said he had talked to all the priests and ministers in town about it, and he had gotten no answers. I just sat there, totally freaking out, and sputtered out: "Um...I can answer your questions, actually." He looked at me, and he just smiled! He was like: "Tessek", or "Go for it". The awkward part was that we were running late to another program, so we gave him a BOM and assigned a chapter to read. We exchanged numbers and then left. 
So, I called him this morning. He had read a good chuck of the reading, but he'll be in Budapest for THREE WEEKS for his job. LAME. I guess the Buda elders will be getting a referal from the Szeged elders soon...
So, Pentecost was yesterday. Nothing was open. LAME. That's why I'm emailing. These types of things happen pretty often, actually. Just a heads up if you're coming here in the future :) 
I went on splits with my Zone Leader, Elder Hansen. He's such a fun guy. Since they have a car, we just drove and chatted between programs. So good. He's actually a pretty cool guy.

I have nothing else to say! I'm just so glad that I'm losing weight: LOL. But, we're also working hard! WOO. 
I love you all! Do good things! My dear cousin, Jessica, has informed me that I have less than 300 days in my mission left. Sad day, what ever happened to the 730? EW. I love my mission, it's the best!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Szeged Week Eleven Pics

Szeged University!

I found vanilla Coke! happy day!

City fountain. The cool kids come here before tests and study. Nice.

Look at my eyes! Lol. My hair was so long! Time for a haircut!

Szeged Week Eleven (Week 60)

Dang...I think that this email will actually be pretty short!
It was another great week here in the sunny city of Szeged. I'm not trying to be corny or anything, that is actually Szeged's nickname 'The Sunshine City'! Cool, right?! It was SO hot last week, like 80's for a few days straight...I cannot believe that it's already summer again! It reminds me of sweating, losing weight, and more sweating. So good. :)
Lots of fun things this week! 
For one, after English Class last week we went and tried to look-up someone we had tracted into the week before. She wasn't home. Cool. So, we decided to just try tracting out the neighboring building. We came to one door, I knocked, and a man answered it. I thought at first it was a little strange, because the unoffical rule of ettiquet here in Hungary is to yell from the other side of the door 'WHO IS IT?!", instead, this guy just swung open his door and invited us in. Oh, and it was in English. Cool. He's from Spain, and he's totally an English teacher. So it's a Spaniard...teaching Hungary...I have no idea why... Anyway, we're going back in a few hours and we totally found a Spanish BOM in our apartment. Heck. Yes.
But, it was funny :)
Another fun thing! I got a haircut today! #euroclass
Random moments that were awesome:
In the same building in which we found our Spanish friend, I had Elder Mellor knock a door. An older woman answered the door and was really curious in what we were doing. My companion was doing so well...until she started asking him what was his favorite translation of the Bible was! Poor kid. He just looked at me and was like "it's all you!". So, I chat it up with this old lady for a bit. She wasn't interested in our message, which was a bummer, but she then asked me about my life: what I wanted to do with it. I said, sort of jokingly, that when I get home I don't know what to do, I just don't want to make my parents mad! I laughed a little bit, but this sweet old lady took my arm, looked me dead in the eye, and said "My small son (this is a normal thing to say here so don't freak out), you follow your dreams. You are doing God's work right now, so don't worry! Do what you want!" When she finished, I was just staring at her. Literally speechless. I had actually been thinking about what I want to do after my mission that week, and been praying a bit. Little did I know that my prayer would be answered through an old lady in a dingy, old ten-story building. Crazy. 
I've also tried a lot more lately to be more "engaged" in the work, that is, love my investigators more and try to serve them as Christ would. I prayed for it a LOT this past week, and I had an experience in one program that was an answer to my prayers. One of our investigators is in a rough spot with his family and relations with the branch here. As he talked, he kind of just spilled his heart out to us. In the past, this would usually trouble me and maybe I'd squirm a bit in my seat. This time, however, my heart literally broke. Like, pain. Feelable sorrow. Tears came to my eyes. Things got very, very real. As I turned to translate for my companion, he was all like "um...Elder Giacalone...are you ok?" haha poor kid! I then turned to our investigator and bore testimony of the power of the Atonement, and that it can help him.
So, then Sunday comes around and that same investigator BEARS HIS TESTIMONY in church of the power of missionaries and bawled. There was a former missionary there visiting with his family, and I thought it was directed at him. Then, our investigator, while talking, just does a shout-out to me over the pulpit. The whole branch just kind of swiveled in my direction and had tears in their eyes and smiled at me. Insane. 
I don't know why that happened, and why I have been so blessed lately, maybe it's because I have a new missionary, but I literally had the most emotional week of my mission last week. My testimony has grown by leaps and bounds. Our work is kind of slowing down with all the students going home for the summer, but it is giving me time to think of where I am at in my mission and what I want to do these next ten months. I love where I am at, though. 
Missions are literally the coolest things. And that's fact!
I love you all! Have a great week! Miracles are real, and if you love others, crazy awesome things will happen :) 
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone