May Senior Missionary Conference

Every 2 months or so, we have a gathering of all the senior missionaries in Hungary for a Conference.  They are directed by President and Sister Smith and are wonderfully spiritual events!  This one was no different.

We have three senior couples who will be leaving their missions before the next conference, so President Smith had each of the six missionaries relate to us their feelings about their missions.  I told President Smith (afterwards) that I wished he would have passed tissues out before the meeting started!  It was a multi-tissue event!

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L-R: The Scotts, The Flammers, The Cromars

I will summarize what many of them talked about.  Their missions were a wonderful growing experience. They learned to study the scriptures better and prayed more diligently for help to do their callings.  They were humbled in trying to learn what some consider the 3rd hardest language in the world.  So they learned they could smile, pantomime, speak Hunglish, or what ever it took to try to communicate to the youth or the members.

They were stretched and never felt more out of their comfort zone.  Sister Scott quoted President Lorenzo Snow, “The nature of those demands upon us [is] such that no person can comply with them, unless by assistance from the Almighty. … He has promised this aid.”  She said she felt very vulnerable when she came to Hungary.  Brother Scott lost his sight shortly before they left on their mission!  He is the Branch President!!!

They showed their love of the members in various ways.  One gave each branch member family a tied quilt they made.   A couple of the senior couples taught music lessons to potential ward pianists and taught the members the hymns (the Hungarian version of our Church hymnbook came out about July 2012).  Many LDS are very talented musically and while on their missions, they used their talents in helping others learn music.  One couple showed CES talks to a few YSA in their home every Sunday evening.  One had Sunday dinners and invited non-members; if there were no non-members, then members were invited.  Many serve in various positions in the branch leadership.  One Elder reminded us to support the junior proselyting missionaries because they are on the firing line and are a basic key to the work!

President Smith then asked his two counselors and secretary to speak.  President Szabadkai, President Ballatoni, and Elder Carpenter, (also known as the Office Missionary).  President S quoted Nephi, “I will go and do the things that the Lord hath commanded, for I know that the Lord giveth no commandments unto the children of men, save He shall prepare a way for them that they might accomplish which he commandeth them.”  This explains why he accepted the call to be a counselor to President Smith and travels 2.5 hours one way to attend meetings –  and also why we (senior missionaries) are here.  President B has a young family is away a lot visiting the various branches.  (He lives in the Pest Ward and his children are darling! He also has a wonderful singing voice!)  He has had offers to work in the USA but feels his mission is with his people of Hungary.  As a convert at the age of 14, he remembers the role the senior missionaries played with him as sometime surrogate parents and mentors. Elder Carpenter was humbly thankful to work with these wonderful men!

Then President Smith concluded with some ideas from the book, The Power of Everyday Missionaries by Clayton M. Christensen.  President Smith listed all the blessings that can be ours if we share the gospel… things like:  none shall stay you and you shall receive strength, and many more which are all taken from the D & C, and then he asked, Who would not want to have these blessings!  So we are asked to stretch even more!  This is way above most of our comfort zones…. but we will try our hardest to be obedient!

The Senior Couples of the Budapest Hungary Mission May 2013

The Senior Couples of the Budapest Hungary Mission May 2013

On a sad note, Cummings Elder and Növér had to leave their mission early.  Sister Cummings had some health issues come up and needed some time to heal.  We hope they can return to their mission when she recovers!

Letters to Hungarian Missionaries

We have been working on getting the YSA weekly meetings more organized…. things planned for each Monday Family Home Evening and Friday night activities..  It has resulted in a variety of things to do.  One of the things that the council decided to do is to write our YSA missionaries from Hungary that are serving all over the world – one even in Hungary!  This is turning out to be a great service project for our YSA.

April 15, 2013 was our second time doing this once-a-month project.  And it was fortuitous that the YSA received an answer back from one of the Sister Missionaries who is serving in Germany on this very same day!  She included a very long letter – deliberately long she said, since she has not had the opportunity to speak or write in Hungarian since she left and she missed her native language!  She included several pictures…  Image

Gabor read the letter out loud while others were gathered around writing their letters.  There was an audible gasp when he read about her missing Hungary but that she would definitely redo this experience of serving her mission.

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It was definitely a choice experience for these YSA to interact in a positive way with those who have chosen to leave their lives behind for the 1.5 or 2 years of their mission.

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Some of their interactions are hysterical…. I wonder what was so funny!  Notice also, the Chocolate Twinkle Cookies that Felsted Elder made….Image

Great Service Project….

Spiritual Saturday

We had a fun and spiritual Saturday.  There were two YSA aged youth baptisms that we attended.  And another activity after that.

One we have known about for a month or so… Noémi.  Noémi started following a blog called scenesfromthewild.blogspot.com.  After a while, she asked the author, Michelle, where she could find out more about the Mormon way of life and  the Church?  See Michelle’s blog for more details.  She has been attending our YSA activities for a while and there were many YSA who came to her baptism!

The Lehnardts, Noémi and her mother.

The Lehnardts, Noémi and her mother.

You can see what a darling person she is – her personality just shines!  Her mother told me that Noémi is her angel.  Noémi was confirmed today, Sunday, April 14, 2013, in the Buda Ward.

Noémi thought she was in the Erd Branch and was taught for a while by the Erd Elders.  She also attended meetings there and even was given an assignment for Visiting Teaching.  However, once her address was known, it was noted that she lived in the Buda Ward boundaries.  So she came to her first meeting there and was overwhelmed.  She knew NO ONE, the ward is BIG, she was upset.  She wrote Michelle she was not sure about this anymore.  Michelle found my blog and immediately contacted me.  SO, we made sure she was invited to the YSA activities.  The missionaries brought her to Institute and she met with the 10-15 kids that normally attend that.  A few took her under her wing and she was happy again!  She is planning on demonstrating some cooking skill this coming Friday.

Our capable leader, Adri, cut some paper in half, got a cover designed and after the baptism, while people are waiting for the baptized person to dry off and get dressed, Adri and her helpers, passed out the sheets of paper to the audience to write something for Noémi.  Then they made a little booklet and presented it to Noémi.

Noémi, Norbi, Aniko, Péti, Adri

Noémi, Norbi, Aniko, Péti, Adri

Noémi will be a great addition to our little group!

The second baptism we just heard about a week ago.  Evidently Kori and his father received a Pass Along Card and came to the Church, wanting to know more.  So they had discussions and decided to be baptized!  They are in the Kispest Ward, which is in our Stake.  We had thought about getting there by the Metro and tram, but we found out that the Mission President and his wife were also attending.  So we rode with them!  The Bishop of that ward baptized them…

IMG_1367Elder Felsted invited Kori to attend our meetings.  He seems to be a serious young man and would also be a great addition to our YSA group.  Look for him in pictures of our activities…..  The Kispest Ward outdoes itself with after baptism food.  The sisters come with bags of bread and other ingredients and set to making the traditional Hungarian open faced sandwiches.  Others bring cookies, brownies, cakes.  There was plenty to eat by those in attendance.  YUM!

The third activity that we attended was after the food was served and cleaned up in the Kispest Ward.  There is a YSA who just returned from his mission to the Ogden Mission/North Salt Lake Mission.  His mission was split after he got there and he ended up in the Bountiful North Salt Lake City area.  We first met him at the Mission Home Tuesday April 9, 2013, where the Stake President came to release him.  Timi, a good friend, came to see him!

IMG_1271We met Levente and his proud family.  At 6’6″ he is the tallest one in his family at the moment.  (There are a LOT of very tall Hungarians!!!)  He has 4 younger brothers, one whom was born after he left on his mission!  They now have a model older brother to emulate.  We knew that his family was having a get-together – like a homecoming event – at the Kispest building but we did not know who was invited….. until Levente asked us to stay for it after the baptism.  So we informed the Mission President and his wife, that we would be taking the Metro home!

Levente had a computer set up with a LCD projector and put on a small slide show that showed his MTC group and some scenes from his early mission days. He was in a group of non-English speakers – from Tonga, Portugal, Singapore, Hawaii, and other places.  He explained most of the slides in Magyar, of course.  However, he bore a powerful testimony in ENGLISH, that had us in tears.  He had to start his Mission in Hungary, as his visa to America was delayed in getting here, so that is why he has one of his missionary name tags in Magyar.

IMG_1374Levente has another great skill:  he is an awesome musician.  He plays the organ (as well as other instruments) and was able to play the Mormon Tabernacle Organ on one of his Preparation Days.  You can view it on his Facebook page… (where I snagged this photo below)

Levente Medveczky at MoTab Organ

And he will be another powerful addition to our YSA group!  At least someone the kids can “look up to” !!!!

 

Changing of the Hat Ceremony

The name of this meeting has changed to New Missionary Assignments; but the old name is sort of cute!  (Shades of Harry Potter…)  We had 16 new missionaries fly into Hungary last night, today they learned with whom they would be serving and in which town they would be serving.  Since we live very near to the Mission Home, we usually attend these meetings.

New missionaries on the right side of the room

New missionaries on the right side of the room

The Mission President and the Assistants to the President (APs) have a meeting right before this meeting to train the missionaries who will be getting brand new missionaries.  Then we have this meeting and all the new missionaries sit on the right side of the recreation room.Their trainers sit on the other side.

(APs are experienced missionaries who literally serve as assistants to the Mission President.  They council with him and help him make the decisions that the mission needs – such as where the new missionaries go; who gets transferred where, etc. Two young men usually serve as APs right before they leave their missions.)

One of the APs conducted this meeting.  He introduced the Mission President who asked that each of the missionaries present stand and briefly introduce themselves and end with a one sentence testimony.  I have to tell you what wonderful young men and women are in the mission field at this time!!!  Some are from small families and some are from 11 or 12 children.  One had 3 missionaries in the field from their personal family.  What a choice generation the Lord has raised up for these times.  As they bore their testimonies – of the Divinity of Christ, of their desire to share the happiness the Gospel has brought into their lives, of their love of families, of their desire to bring joy to the Hungarian people, Ron and I wept.  It is such a privilege to be associated with these youth!!!

With 11 sisters arriving and only 2 leaving the mission field, the Mission President and the APs have had an interesting time figuring out how to arrange them.  There are many three-somes, where one sister with seniority is training two sisters.  Eventually, they will be trained and they will be back in sets, like normal.  Luckily the Lord is involved in all these decisions and the Mission President asked all the missionaries to kneel and pray when they go to their assigned cities to receive confirmation from the Lord that they were with whom they were supposed to be.  Needless to say, it was a strongly spiritual meeting!

Hungary Budapest Sister Missionaries

Hungary Budapest Sister Missionaries

So this is every sister missionary in our Mission – which includes two that are going home tomorrow.

This is just a few of the meetings that help make a Mission run effectively and it shows how the Lord is directlng His Work.  Our Mission Presidents and their wives are choice men and women raised up to be able to manage all the work, make tough decisions and run such a large organization – all with the Lord’s inspiration.  How blessed we are to be here.

District Meeting Spiritual Thought

We have District Meetings every Thursday morning, except once a month, when we have a Zone Meeting.  In attendance are the District Leader and his companion, the Zone Leader and his companion, one set of Sister Missionaries and two other sets of Elder Missionaries and us.

Last Wednesday, the DL asked me to give the spiritual thought the next day.  We did not have our English copy of Preach My Gospel in our apartment, so I went online and went to the October Conference talks and found one about missionaries by President Monson, called See Others As They Become.  After reading the talk, there were many parts that were outstanding, but the part that grabbed my attention was where President Monson told the story of N. Eldon Tanner and an outstanding missionary.  I read it to our missionaries:

“In one particular meeting, N. Eldon Tanner, who was then an Assistant to the Quorum of the Twelve, had just returned from his initial experience of presiding over the missions in Great Britain and western Europe. He told of a missionary who had been the most successful missionary whom he had met in all of the interviews he had conducted. He said that as he interviewed that missionary, he said to him, “I suppose that all of the people whom you baptized came into the Church by way of referrals.”

The young man answered, “No, we found them all by tracting.”

Brother Tanner asked him what was different about his approach—why he had such phenomenal success when others didn’t. The young man said that he attempted to baptize every person whom he met. He said that if he knocked on the door and saw a man smoking a cigar and dressed in old clothes and seemingly uninterested in anything—particularly religion—the missionary would picture in his own mind what that man would look like under a different set of circumstances. In his mind he would look at him as clean-shaven and wearing a white shirt and white trousers. And the missionary could see himself leading that man into the waters of baptism. He said, “When I look at someone that way, I have the capacity to bear my testimony to him in a way that can touch his heart.”

I then told the missionaries that they were truly blessed to mostly come from homes where the gospel of Jesus Christ had been taught.  Their parents had lived the Gospel and that their parents had lived the Word of Wisdom and because of that had been blessed with mostly healthy bodies.  They were not raised with the standards of many of the Hungarians, who come from broken homes, from a history of alcoholism and addiction to cigarettes, from a history of being a repressed people, etc.

Then I read the following words from an old LDS pop song, which our son Dan liked when he was on his mission.

The Promise – by After Glow

Before the seas were formed,
Before the fields were warm,
Before our father let us come to earth to dwell,
I knew you well.

I made a promise there that we would meet again.
That I would search for you wherever you might roam.
And bring you home.

But I didn’t realize,
I wouldn’t recognize your shining eyes,
And glowing face,
Your cheerful smile,
And warm embrace.

And so to keep my vow,
And search you out somehow,
I lift my lamp to every wanderer in the night.
To bring you light.

And someday I’ll pass by
We’ll hear my cry a
And we’ll look eye to eye,
And tears will show. Remembrances of long ago.

And so to keep my pledge
I’ll search earths farthest edge.
I’ll raise my voice and pray my message will be heard.

I keep my word.
Friend I am calling you.
Oh, hear me calling you.
I keep my word.

I said I believed this song/poem.  We were sent here to Hungary to find those that we promised in the pre-existence to find.  We might not recognize them; they might not be like us, but we needed to heed the counsel of our Prophet and See Them As They Might Become.  To quote President Monson, “Courage is the word we need to hear and hold near our hearts—courage to turn our backs on temptation [I added: the temptation to judge them by their looks] , courage to lift up our voices in testimony to all whom we meet, remembering that everyone must have an opportunity to hear the message. It is not an easy thing for most to do this. But we can come to believe in the words of Paul to Timothy:

“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.                                                                                                                              “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.”

And this is my testimony, that God loves everyone of His Children.  It is our responsibility to allow everyone the chance to hear His Word.  In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

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.

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.