Missionary Conference – November 2012

Elder Kent Richards of the European Area Presidency visited Hungary on November 14 and 15, 2012 for a missionary conference.  Our missionaries either attended a meeting with him on Wednesday, Nov 14th or Thursday, Nov 15th.  Elder Richards has an impressive resume:  he is a former surgeon, has served in another area presidency in Chile and has held other important Church callings.  He served his first mission as a youth in Mexico.  He was sustained a Seventy in 2009.  And he is everything you would expect of a General Authority – bold yet not mean or demeaning, knowledgeable (he seemed to be quite a scriptorian, in my opinion), and most importantly, had the Spirit and knew how to teach us with it.

Our meeting with him was from 10 AM to 2 PM.  This was followed by a lunch and then the women missionaries had a meeting with his wife, who is also very accomplished –   mother of 8 children, former Young Women General Board Member.

For some background information, Hungary is the only of the Eastern European Bloc nations to have a Stake (like a diocese)!  [The Eastern Europe Bloc nations are Poland, East Germany, Bulgaria, Romania, the former Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia and the Czech Republic), Albania, Yugoslavia.]  We have one Stake – the Budapest Stake, with 5 or so wards, and two districts, with branches (smaller congregations) in the outlying areas south, east and west of Budapest.

So President Richards impressed on us how important Hungary is to this part of the world, as far as the Church growth goes. He quoted President Monson and said, “The Lord is hastening his work.  You are the ones. You were reserved for this moment.”  And then President Richards quoted Elder Rasband, “if not now, when? If not you, who?”  Later President Richards said we have to change our mindset if we are to build up the Kingdom of God in Hungary.  Using scriptures, he talked about having the power of the Holy Spirit to gather the elect in these latter days.  It would not be easy because Satan is trying to tell people that you (missionaries) do not have the power.  The Spirit was in abundance at this meeting.

Sister Richards then talked about the many examples of youth being leaders.  Apostle Holland was the first 19 year old called to serve a mission (when the age was changed to 19), Mormon was 15 years old when called to be a General over his people, Alma the Younger, Nephi, the son of Lehi, Captain Moroni (all examples from the Book of Mormon).  She encouraged studying of the scriptures, as this allows the Spirit to allow us (the missionaries) to use our knowledge of the scriptures to help with the discussions.  Also she encouraged obedience (love what happens to you when you obey) and repentance  (it is about love).

President Smith also instructed us. He quoted some scriptures, including D&C 88: 73, “Behold, I will hasten my work in its time.” which reminded us of the statement made at our recent General Conference when the age of missionaries was lowered..  He also reminded us that concerning strict obedience to the mission rules, we can ask, what are we willing to lay on the altar?

Elder Richards continued with the “Nitty Gritty” and gave us several scriptures that showed the pattern of humility, prayer, obedience results in remarkable changes in ourselves, that allows the Holy Spirit to do the Lord’s will.  He went over the steps that missionaries do to find those who are seeking the truth and said the missionaries do some of those steps very well, but need to work on some of the other steps.  He emphasized that the missionaries need to be simple and brief and let the Holy Spirit testify of the pure and simple truths.  He used 1 Corinthians 14 to emphasize that point.  And he gave other advice to our young proselyting missionaries.

The most dynamic point he made is when he called up Adri, currently a mini-missionary and who was our YSA President, to the front of the group and asked her to tell the story of the First Vision (when Joseph Smith prayed vocally in the grove and was answered by seeing God the Father and His Son, Jesus Christ).  Adri does not normally speak English and she was at a complete loss of words.  I was bawling my eyes out and wanted to stand and shout out – say it in Magyarul!  But I held my peace during the long 5 minutes or so that she just stood there.  She understands English and finally he said – say it in 5 words.  She said very softly, Joseph Smith saw God!  And President Richards said, that is perfect!  That is exactly what you need to do – be brief in your testimony of what you believe and the Spirit will testify to your investigator the truth of what you say.   It was a powerful lesson!

All in all, it was a very edifying experience to be taught so powerfully, yet humbly, how we need to have the self-discipline to improve ourselves.  And it was another testimony that our General Authorities have been called of God to do what they are doing – everyday and all over the world.  Elder Richards and his wife are gong to all the missions in this area and giving similar encouragements for the next few months.

Mini Missionaries

We never heard of mini-missionaries when in America; however, that is not to say that there were not mini-missionaries there.  We just never heard of them.

In Hungary, and I assume in other countries, youth of the Church sometimes serve as mini-missionaries.  From our youth group, we have had three such mini-missionaries since we have been here.

One was Norbi, Timi’s brother.  He served three weeks while the mission was waiting for another missionary to come to replace one who left early.  He is 20 and since this service, is contemplating serving a full time mission.

Elder C and Norbi (Elder R)

Another was Barbi, who has served three other mini-missions. Her picture was in other posting. She is also 20 and would like to serve a full-time mission for the Church.  The third is Adri, the President of our YSA Council.  She is serving for six weeks, until another sister missionary comes in December. (One of her sisters is serving as YSA President until she returns.)

Sister S and Sister Adri C

These missionaries live with their companions and live the same lifestyle as their companions.  They arise early, have their morning prayers, study the gospel, study the language and follow exactly the same rules as the full time missionaries.  They are very valuable to our Mission.  Instead of having to have a three-some set of missionaries for several weeks and shutting down an area where they had missionaries, they are partners to a partner-less missionary who has a specific area to work in.

Sister S and Sister C are being successful; I see that they have three baptisms scheduled soon.  In my opinion, having native young Hungarians preach the gospel is great.  The missionaries from other countries are effective; but in a country where the Church is relatively unknown, Hungarians might be a tad more interested in someone from their own country preaching to them.  (Same in other countries!)

Today, one of Barbie’s converts from her mini-mission in Miskolc, came to the Mission Home to visit and attend Institute and Barbie, who was there for Institute, was so excited!  It was a wonderful  moment for these two sisters in the Gospel to see each other again! You can see how valuable these mini-missionaries are!

A Cherished Moment

Monday is Family Home Evening for the YSA.  For some reason, both Ron and I were feeling kind of in the dumps when we woke up.  No reason why that we could see.  But we did what we we always do and made it over to the Mission Home in the early afternoon.  I had prepared some cooked beans at home that were going to be used in making a Mexican rice dish, so we lugged the pot of beans over.  (Someone had made this dish for the linger-longer after Church yesterday, so we decided maybe the kids would like it, too!)  No recipe but I should be able to wing something similar.  Anyway, so dinner was fine and we also had some left over chicken soup we offered the kids.  Ron made brownies for dessert, and that is always appreciated!

The FHE lesson was given by Lavinia and there were lots of discussion.  We heard “evangelium” (gospel) and a few other words we recognize. We do not have translators, so a lot of the time we are in the dark about what they are talking about. They asked if we wanted to add anything; but, of course, we could only pick up a word here and there and really did not know exactly what they were discussing.  So we declined.

After the meeting and dinner, we got out the materials that the kids needed to make loom hats and the fabric to make blankets that we are using for a Humanitarian project for a family homeless shelter in Szeged.  The Wiggins, the Hungarian Humanitarian senior couple, had just bought the fabric that day and brought it over to us!  Ron and I had cut the “fringe” on 4 pieces of fabric.  Their job was to tie each fringe into a knot.

Working on a service project

The kids were all having a great time.  They were laughing and talking as they worked and seemed so happy.  All the gloom of the morning had passed and we realized this was a cherished moment of peace and tranquility for them as well as for us.  These are the moments that we all cherish.  It was a delightful end of our day.

Halloween Party 2012

The YSA Halloween Party was held Oct 26th.  There was much planning and making of decorations before this event.  Several YSAs came early the day of to decorate the recreation room and help with any last minute food preparations.  This was an event to which all the YSAs of Hungary were invited.

Some of the decorating and set-up committee:  Lavi, Barbi, Annamaria, Timi, Norbi, Péter

The big issue to us was the sanding and varnishing of the recreation floor the week of the event.  Originally scheduled to be completed by SATURDAY, Oct 27th.  We found out that the event was not on the Stake Calendar, even though it was mentioned at Stake meetings since August.  (We have since learned how to get things on the Stake Calendar!)  They changed the order of the sanding so that the recreation room was available on Friday for us.  (Whew!)  When we went into the building on Monday, Oct 22, this was in “our” kitchen:  every folding table in the recreation room, the foos ball table, a podium, several stacks of chairs AND the piano…  We had the workers move the piano to the Relief Society room and cleared a path to the refrigerator, so we could at least get to some food in the refrigerator.

Feri and Csaba decorating cookies in kitchen. Note the foos ball table and podium in the background…

The turnout was about 55, which was a bit smaller than we expected.  However, there were two extenuating circumstances.  One was that the party was scheduled the same week as a national holiday, October 23, the day Hungary celebrates their freedom from Russian domination.  (I will have another post about that sometime in the future.)  This meant that people with jobs had to work on the following Saturday (Oct 26th), so many of our youth had to be home early.  The other is that many of the YSAs who come from long distances do not have a place to stay overnight in Budapest…. and although the party went to 1:30 AM, the trains do not run after 11 PM.

Some of the costumes…

But we think that everyone who came had a good time – and plenty of food!  We had BBQ pork on buns, funeral potatoes, veggies and dip, punch and many snack items brought by the kids and cute decorated Halloween cookies and other desserts.

Aniko doesn’t look like a wicked witch!

We still have some Halloween cookies in the freezer…. made way too much… but the kids had fun decorating them…  Ever try to make black frosting?  The artist, Ron, figured out the best combination of colors…

Pretty colorful!

There were some original face paintings at the party:

Klaudia came from Szeged about 2.5 hours away.

The kids were pretty insistent that we had to be in costume.  So we used our Cousin Camp T-shirts with their “stamps” – one for the annual Cousin Camp, one for our 50th Wedding Anniversary date, one with Heroes Square to commemorate our Hungarian Mission and the Hungarian Flag.  We came as OMA and OPA.  The Adams, missionaries from Szeged, came to help out – dressed as chefs with their In and Out Burger caps…

The Adams, the Felsteds, Sister J with an investigator

The YSA planned some costume contest time, some dancing time, some game time, some movie time and lots of snacking time.  Fun time for all who came…