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.
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
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
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
Have a great week everybody! Soak in that Summer sun :)
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
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
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
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!
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!
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
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
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
english...in 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.
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
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 :)