Monday, October 27, 2014

Dunaújváros Week Nine (Week 81)

Life is just cruising here in the Duna-lands!
Another great week! We had our fabulous Assistants to the President come on down here for splits with the Zone Lords of the South-West (us)...hairflip. I went with Elder Hansen to a few programs, and it was nice to just chat with him about life, marriage, after-mission plans, and mission "death". I love him! Yeah...he goes home in less than a month, so that was our conversation topic. It was super fun, and actually it put a lot of things in perspective for me. Even with how long I've been out, you still keep learning :)
So it rained for maybe five days straight last week, but right now I'm squinting as I type this in the library because it's all sunshine and happiness now! I've already tried closing the blinds, but the Hungarians got mad...("How else is this building supposed to get heated?!") I don't know, maybe you should turn the heat on? #facepalmalldaylong  Like, why u gotta be so rude.
We did service out in literally the boondocks in Duna this morning. I'm sorry I have no pictures, but we helped this old woman move from (I KID YOU NOT) a shack in the woods to a slightly larger shack in a village. She took EVERYTHING with her, even her baby-blue toilet. Yes, the WHOLE toilet. #thehungarianlife But, afterwards, the members we were with felt bad for us and gave us Pepsi! ("You all love Pepsi, right? It's American!")
So I've decided that this city is super fun. It gets a bad-rap for being "boring" and stuff like that, but honestly I really do love it here. It's super hipster. Our work is just going up and up, and we are meeting with so many cool people that are trusting us with their friends and family members, so our referal numbers are shooting through the roof! I love that. This branch is so legit, like every Sunday they all run up and ask us if they can come to any programs with us in the coming week.

Oh my goodness, I MADE AN INDIAN DISH THE OTHER DAY IT WAS SO YUMMY. All of a sudden, I enjoy cooking. The mission gives you some weird moments to figure out your talents in life.
This email is just everywhere.
Everyone, this week is Hungary's "Day of the Dead". So next week you will all get pictures of dead people. Jk. You'll get cool pictures of me talking to sad people in cemeteries because guess what? They don't need to always be sad! Because of Jesus Christ, everyone can be happy. Death truly isn't the end, but, as we tell our investigators, its an important part in Heavenly Father's plan for us. It's sad in the moment, but we know where our loved ones are! So, I guess that's my spiritual thought for the week:  don't forget where you belong, why you are here, and where you are going! 

Have a great week, everybody! Here's to me not getting a parking ticket yet this entire transfer! #blessings
Peace and blessings y'all!
Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Eight (Week 80)

This week went by so fast that I literally blinked and it was over. 
So, last week we saw some cool stuff. It's so awesome to see people make changes in their lives so that they can experience happiness and peace. That's one part of missionary work that I think I will never, ever get sick of seeing. 

We went to Pécs last week on splits with the district leader and his new missionary, fresh from America everybody! My companion went with the DL, and I went with his "greenie". It was great being around someone with "greenie fire", he was just bubbling with excitement! We would walk around a corner and he'd be like "Those are REAL Hungarians!" or "Look at that! It's a BUS!" I laughed the entire time and got to play super old senior-companion for him and give him advice on being a better missionary. It was definitely weird being the old "seasoned" zone leader talking to the fresh new elder from America. Made me think of just over a year ago when I went on splits with zone leaders when I was fairly new. Time goes by fast...

If you remember my email from last week about that family we tracted into, we have met with them FOUR times since then! They are eating up EVERYTHING we have to offer! It's incredible! We invited them to church and they came! It was awkward because as of right now, we have no pianist in the branch, so we sing all the songs accapella(spelling?). I was a little nervous at first and kept glancing over at my investigators to make sure they weren't freaking out. To make matters worse, there was like no one at church and because of several new callings being issued everyone was running around throwing out terms like "home teaching", "Relief society president" and "Melchizedek priesthood". So, naturally, I was a little nervous. 

As I was listening to the announcements, I looked over at "B", the wife in the family, and she was reading the lyrics to "Where Can I Turn For Peace?", the opening hymn. She had her head bent low and was intensely reading the lyrics, and then pulled out a tissue and dabbed at her eyes and sniffed. The Spirit was so strong right then, and I think that was a learning moment for me: sometimes, we get so caught up with the things of the world and get so worried about them that we don't focus on the things that matter most. I know I sound like a "Mormon Message" right now, but even with all the craziness going on around her, "B" was focusing on the one thing that mattered to her: strengthening her testimony of Jesus Christ. It was a humbling moment. 

I have a strong testimony of second chances, getting back up and always, always trying to become better. I'm definitely not the perfect missionary, I have so many faults that when I pray at night it's like trying to stick together a broken vase with Elmer's glue, but- I DO know that when we make the effort, the Savior makes up the rest. 

And that's when the real miracles happen, folks. 

Have a great week! Enjoy that incredible fall weather, Utah! :)

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone 

Monday, October 13, 2014

Dunaujvaros Week Seven (Week 79)

Na, mi újság? 

Everybody guess what: You all know the band that played on the "Titanic" as it sank and they played "Nearer My God To Thee" and the mom told the bedtime story to the kids and the old couple cried on the bed? Well, they were apparently HUNGARIAN. YES. It's sad because they died, but super cool at the same time! #titanicconnections

Oh my goodness, we were in Budapest YET AGAIN last week for MLC. We planned for this upcoming month and we got our SNOW TIRES. YES. Winter is coming! But, it doesn't feel like it outside. Actually, it's a pleasant 75 degrees. Weird. I'm super excited for Christmas! In just a few weeks I can bust out my Christmas music. I WAIT FOR IT WITH MUCH LOVE.

Honestly, other than these things it was a pretty normal week. We finished our 1000 piece puzzle and it was a great success! We are starting another one now that we do in our free time, oh wait, we don't have any of that! So just whenever we are walking in the room we sit down for a few minutes and work on it. So, it's going slowly but SURELY.

Ok, here's something cool: So, whilst tracting last week we got a let-in with a middle-aged woman. She let us into her apartment and we sat down in some chairs by her kitchen table. On the couch was another younger guy who was smoking and watching us. As we got talking, we realized that the lady was very religious, and the man was still quiet. We started off by saying that our message was about hope and happiness and that it applies to all of us. That got the man's attention, and he put out his cigarette and leaned forward to listen to us. As we talked about prophets, the woman exclaimed how she noticed there weren't anymore prophets, so what happened to them? As we explained and answered her question, the Spirit came into the room and the man started to ask us some questions. They were fairly easy, and then suddenly: "Would you be able to forgive a family member that murdered another person in your family? How?" came out. Holy crud. I looked at Elder Raymond and he looked back at me. We both turned back and bore testimony of the family and how important it is, along with the priceless gift of the Atonement, which not only cleanses us, but also heals us. The man sat back in his chair and just kind of stared into my eyes. He wasn't mad, he honestly just looked like a kid in school getting help on his math homework. He asked if we could come back and talk more about Christ. We were like: "This is actually like our thing, like we do this everyday." It was pretty cool. The Spirit was so strong, we knew they felt it! 

Sorry, that took forever to write. I don't really have anything else to say! All is well in the Duna-lands, and they will be for now! Some members have already invited us over for Thanksgiving, even if they are doing it in October because they are a little impatient! I want to make a pie for it! :) 

I love you all! Keep trucking and smiling! There are always good things to hope for in life, especially when it seems a little bit darker than normal! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

This was last week's blog post (Week 78)


Another great week in the Duna-lands. Our church bell is ringing like crazy outside, meaning that either someone just got married, died, or it's noon. 

It's not noon, and no one gets married on Mondays. Sooo...

Anyway, we had a great week! Our training for Zone Conference in Budapest was super fun! We showed how to do "effective finding", and one of our points to focus on was being motivated to find. Sometimes it's easy to get down on yourself as you tract for hours on end, and with no one letting you in it can get pretty nasty. So, we decided to have a moment in our training to give everyone in our zone a "compliment card". The idea was to give every single elder and sister a one-lined compliment from someone they had either served with or around in the past, and it was supposed to be something that stuck out to them (the writer). We ended up calling like thirty plus missionaries getting compliments, it was an adventure! When we gave them out, some people were smiling their heads off! We told them to keep it close by whenever they felt bad while tracting so they can read it. Then we told them that we love them :) Awh! Hocus Pocus. Aren't we such good zone leaders? 

Speaking of Budapest, the only way I knew to the mission home by car was under construction, so we took a de-tour into the hills above Buda trying to find a way into the middle of the city, which is shaped like a snail's shell-it just has curvy streets that make their way deeper and deeper into the city. It's super messed up, but pretty! And we made it! 

Conference was super sick. When the translating happened for the Chinese General Authority, the members all ran into our room and were like: "Now you are going through what WE go through every year!" Haha. I love them. They're just super sassy. But really, it was super sick. I really liked Elder Jorg....something's talk. It really hit home. Also, Elder Holland's was super legit. 

All in all, good week. We've been blessed to meet with a lot of new people: including a small family we tracted into last week. We also are meeting with an American, and some people who investigated in 2005. It's a fun bunch, but I love them. I love Hungary. 

Be good everyone! 

Sok Szeretettel,
Elder Giacalone

Friday, October 10, 2014

Duna Week 6

*** We didn't receive a blog letter this week, so here's Joe's family letter ***

hey family! what up what up!!!

holy crap, my week was so tiring. I'm so tired. But then again, I'm tired EVERYDAY. I find that if I sit down too long then I start to fall everywhere! It's not that I'm staying up late or getting up earlier, because actually I'm pretty precise on that part, it's just that literally we are sooo busy. We usually have programs Monday afternoons and don't have time to relax or's always just go go go! 

ummm answering your questions: I like being zone leader. I don't "love" it, because it's different than being a normal proselyting missionary. You have to go to a million meetings in Budapest and worry over your zone. I'm not crazy about it, but I like it. It's a good challenge. We get a good amount of finding in: we had about 12 hours last week. Not bad. We watched the Saturday and the Sunday morning sessions live: can I just tell you how weird it was to see Salt Lake City?! And MOUNTAINS? did I not notice those guys before?! They're HUGE. I haven't seen the Sunday Afternoon session, gonna have to wait for the Liahona. 

I know I'll be home before next conference because Elder Godderidge asked President when we were going home, and now that Godderidge is the secretary we know that our last work day is March 31st, and then we get home on April 2nd. Sooooo not that far away actually...

And yes, this was my last conference in Hungary :( but I watched it in english! scorreee

We watched the Saturday morning at around six in the evening, and the saturday evening and priesthood sessions we watched sunday morning, and the sunday morning we watched sunday afternoon. just eight hours ahead of yall.

hahah i freaking love Elder Raymond. He's a hard worker, but an amazing guy. He's an amazing example to me. Our joke is that he's the zone leader, and I"m just the chauffeur(spelling?). Haha! I haven't been working out super hard, just watching what I"ve been eating. I've been cooking a lot, too, not a ton of eating out. That's been good. Raymond has been working out with me, and since I have the work-out knowledge of a rock he's been a good help. For the record, I can do like three pull-ups in a row now :) :) woo! but yeah, I've lost a bit of weight. hoping to lose like ten or fifteen more pounds before I come home so I can walk in the airport in my sleek Zara suit ;)

well peeps, I don't know what else to write. our work is growing, still finding some newer people to teach. we snagged nine new investigators last week...that's a big deal. ;) I'll be in Budapest again on Wednesday for meetings with President Smith and the APs, other than that I'll be here in quiet ol' Duna. Where I like it. At first, this placed sucked, but I really, really like it now. I don't really know why.

I love you all! i really do. i feel like the weeks are flying by, and i have less than six months left. weird. still working hard though!

lots of love,

Friday, October 3, 2014

Pics in Duna

Graffitti....and we do love it here!

Veszprém! Right by the castle!


castle in Veszprém

Dunaújváros Week Five (Week 77)

First things first, I survived my drivers test in Buda! Scoreeee. I still got it! It was my first time driving in like a year and a half, but I could still weave throughout the incredibly tiny streets of Buda. My International Driver's Permit is super cool, I'm really proud of it! Haha.
So, transfers came and went! Elder Raymond is super cool! He's from Tennessee, but he doesn't have an accent...sigh. We drove back on the M6 highway from hell and got back to good old stinky Duna. We hit the road running and went tracting. We probably knocked for hours and no one was really interested. The problem is that this city has been tracted a billion times over, but that doesn't mean that everyone has heard our message! So we keep going at it. We had some cool moments where people would refer their neighbors to us, and we were able to get a few let-ins. Just when we would be exhausted, somebody would let us in. Nothing really came out of it, but I love me some tender mercies.

On Sunday, a member going on a mission to England gave her farewell talk in sacrament meeting. It reminded me of my own farewell, which was like eighteen months ago. Her parents were bawling, and a lot of people from other cities came to wish her off. I got to see some old friends from Kecskemét, and that was a real treat!

Other than that, pretty normal week. We have a Zone Conference this week up in Budapest. Elder Raymond and I took like two hours to plan out our training for everybody, we're really excited!  The city's fall foliage is starting to come out, and I love fall here in the city! I'm loving my companion, and I'm loving my opportunity to serve! 

This past week I was thinking a lot about the Atonement. It's literally been a mission-long project, but I thought of something that made it much more personal. When Lazarus died, Martha and Mary were devasted. When they told Jesus about it, He wept with them. He later raised Lazarus from the dead. But what I like to think about is the fact that when He mourned with them, He knew that Lazarus was going to be brought back. He knew that the story had a happy ending. He knew that there really wasn't a need to mourn. But He did it anyway because He loved them.

When I think of that, I think of my own life, especially this past year and a half, and how there were times when I thought the world was coming to an end and that I wasn't doing so great. Looking back, I realize how little I could see the big picture, and those moments later proved to be a strong bedrock for my testimony. But still, in those moments, I could feel the Savior's mercy and help, and things were manageable. He still cared enough to help me.

So, that's my really spiritual insight for the week. Sorry it's so long! I love you all, and I hope you all continue to be amazing people! I have six months left as of this Friday, and that's a scary thought. 

Lots of love from the other side of the world,
Elder Giacalone