Monday, May 27, 2013

Week 53 (May 20-27, 2013)

Mindenki a maga szerencséjének kovácsa.
I know for a fact that won't work in a translator. It's a Hungarian saying and I think it's so rad. I don't even know how to properly translate it. BUT I wrote that because I bought a sweet T-shirt with that on it. It's something along the lines of "Everyone determines their own fate/luck."
Wow, so it was another incredible week. I don't even know where to start... I'll do my best.
Okay, so we'll talk again about the incredible family. (The one where the mom wrote a letter right before we arrived.) We'll call them... Miracle Family.
So we went to meet with them for the third time. We were in their living room and we were just having some small talk and they asked to show them the official website for the church. Their family computer is on a desk right there in the living room so Elder Cox went over and pulled up the website. As he was at the computer he felt like he should pull up one of his favorite talks by President Erying. The mom said, "guess what! I had a very strange dream just last night!!" by the time she said that, Elder Cox had finished and sat back down. She started to explain her dream and she explained, "well, at first, I was talking with a man. He was very very tall and I remember he was bald. It was strange because I felt so comfortable with him and I felt like I could trust him but I didn't know who he was. Then all of the sudden, he walked into a TV! After a while, he walked back out and told me 'I'm sorry your life hasn't been what you expected.' ... and that's all I can really remember." (By this time, I didn't know that Elder Cox had pulled up a talk by Elder Eyring.) I was just sitting there thinking about her dream when Elder Cox softly said, "this might sound weird... but was that the man in your dream?" as he pointed to the computer monitor which showed a big still-frame of President Eyring. She just about flipped a biscuit and yelled, "YES! YES! THAT'S HIM!!" and then she said, "I remember exactly how his voice sounded, it was soft and kind. Please, play the video so I can hear his voice." as President Eyring started to speak, she started to cry, saying, "it's him." It was absolutely incredible.
Get this! In each of the two incredible families we are teaching right now, there is a teenage boy. While teaching them this past week, both of the boys (at different times on different days) turned to us and asked, "I feel like you guys are really really familiar to me. Is that possible? Like maybe we knew each other before we were born?"
Okay, next piece of miracle:
Back to the Miracle Family. While meeting with them this week the mom turned to her daughter and said, "tell Alldredge that thing that you told to me the other day!" She was really hesitant at first but the mom finally convinced her to tell me that she has had re-occurring dreams about me for the past few years. I was shocked, and this is what she said about it: "In this dream, I am living in a village. I have lived there for a very long time and it is very familiar to me. Then one day, a boy comes into the village. He has dark hair and his eyes are black and he looks exactly like you. So he drives into the village and he offers to take me away from the village in his car. I am really hesitant because I'm so used to the village and I'm afraid to leave it. The boy continues to try to convince me to leave the village. After a time, I finally agree and he drives me up a large hill and takes me to a much, much better place. And then the dream is over."
When she finished, everyone in the room was looking at each other with a big smile. We all knew what it meant. I felt like I needed to be wearing a techni-colored coat or something. It was so neat.

A funny thing happened with that same girl just the other day. She told us that she wants to stop smoking. So we gave her the program that the missionaries use to help people stop. Then we asked, "do you have any cigarettes left in the house?" she told us that she did. We then said, "we'll gladly throw them away for you!" and she said, "what!?! No! You can't do that!!" and we said, "well then how do you expect to stop smoking if you have them here in your house!?" and then her little brother stood up and yelled, "SHE KEEPS THEM IN THE BREADBOX!" and he ran and got her stash and he held her down as we grabbed them and ran out of the house. The mom thought it was hilarious and she backed us up the whole time. Now that's what I call missionary work!
After a long day of tracting this week, we headed to our car to drive home. As we were walking, we noticed an open door leading to an apartment complex. We stood there staring at it for a minute. It was time to go eat dinner but we couldn't bring ourselves to walk past it. We finally went in and up to the top floor. The first door we knocked on was answered by a young family who invited us right in and were so excited we came. At the end of our visit, they gladly invited us to come back this week.

Okay, last story, I promise: We've been meeting with this really really awesome and hilarious 21 year old lately and he LOVES the church but due to some family things, it would be hard for him to commit and convert right now. He came to sacrament meeting for the first time yesterday. In the foyer he said, "wow I feel like Joseph Smith! I went to the Greek Catholic Church yesterday, now I'm here and later I'm going to attend the Reformist Church!" Before the meeting started he said, "how many times are we going to have to stand up during this?" I replied, "we don't have to stand up at all." and he said, "oh!! I already love this place!" (He's just super funny like that.) The first talk of the meeting was incredible. It made him tear up and when the speaker finished he turned to me and said, "you guys win..." He was LOVIN' it! When the meeting finished he said, "I love this place! I want to come every single week!"
Well, as you can see, things are going great over here in Hungary. I love you all! Make any day an incredible one by reading from The Book of Mormon.
Sok Szeretettel,
Alldredge Elder
THIS is a picture of the delicious Branch Activity.  (I am in love with all Hungarian food.) 

These lovely people love to feed the missionaries and learn about the church every Friday night! (the guy in the middle put on a suit so that he could look like us! haha)

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

ONE YEAR! Week 52 total May 13-21, 2013

Tök jó volt a hetem.
(My week was awesome.)
So I know this is a day late. Pentacost was on Sunday... Which gave the entire country an excuse to make Monday a holiday with no work or school. Sweet.

The Zone Leader Council meeting in Budapest this week was grand. It was really interesting to be on the "other side" of things. Such as seeing how big decisions for the mission are made.
Elder Cox and I will be giving our first Zone Training tomorrow. We're really stoked and it's going to be under the topic of "Teach People, Not Lessons" and we're really going to emphasize the importance of questions. Questions are my absolute favorite thing. At the end of programs, I often times have people ask me, "what do you want to do for work when you go back to America?" and I always reply with, "I want to be a psychologist" and every single time they say something along the lines of, "that's what I was thinking" or "I feel that" or "I can tell" --I'm not sure yet if that's a good thing or a bad thing.
I was able to go on splits with the APs this week. Their apartment is absolutely incredible. They had actual door knobs! I hadn't seen those in ages. The only thing they have here in Europe are door handles. It was a thrill. Speaking of splits, I was also able to split with Elder Smith (one of my past companions) and it was a blast!
In some miraculous way, Elder Cox and I were able to get 14 new investigators this week. It was unbelievable. The number of new investigators for super standard is 3 in a week, if that gives you a little something to measure how crazy this was.
Speaking of such. Here's a little story:
We had a half hour before we needed to drive to where we were going to meet the other Elders for splits. After driving from one of our programs, dear Elder Cox fell asleep in the car. I drove to a random 10 story building, woke him up, and told him we were going to tract the building. As we went up to the top, we quickly discovered that this was the worst, nastiest, dirtiest, stinkiest, most run down building either of us have ever been in. I didn't know why I felt so good about it... but I did. About the 8th door we knock on is opened by a younger girl who lets us right in. We sit down in their living room and meet the mother, with her daughter (who let us in) and her son. We began talking to them and introducing ourselves and the church and the mom had the biggest smile on her face. After talking with them for a moment, she said, "I don't know if you'll believe this, but about 5 minutes before you two arrived here, I finished writing a letter to God and to the helping angels asking Him to send something, someone, anything that would help me and my family come closer to him and help other people." We were both kind of in shock and she preceded to pull out the piece of paper and show it to us. It was an incredible little letter and the end said, "please send something RIGHT NOW. Thank you, thank you, thank you." Sure enough, the date proved that it was just barely written. We were bummed because we had to hurry to our next appointment but we set up another time to come back and the little family was ecstatic to meet with us again.
It doesn't stop there.
So we go back the second time to visit. They invited a friend of theirs to listen to our message with them. They all gathered around us just super excited to hear everything that we had to say. We taught about the restoration and they all had incredible questions. At the end, the mom asked, "in your church, are there things you're not allowed to do or eat?" we were hesitant to jump right into the Word of Wisdom or anything like that in the first lesson with them. We told her that we would talk about that more in the future but she insisted that we give a little summary. As soon as we told her that we don't smoke she stopped us. She then said, "I know even more than this wasn't by accident... Yesterday I was sitting in my kitchen and randomly I decided right then and there to completely give up smoking. I had no reason why, I just did." (This story has a special place in my heart because I grew up hearing a very similar story from my dad, that happened with an investigator, when he served his mission.)
Needless to say, it was a great week. I'm excited to write more about the great things that are going on here while serving the Lord!
I hope all is well with you! You're in my thoughts and my prayers. As long as you are all reading daily from The Book of Mormon I know that I don't even need to worry about you. So do it.
Sok Szeretettel,
Alldredge Elder
Finally a picture of Elder Cox and I together.
A hobo's house 


The picnic was right next to a woodsy area which, as you can see, was really pretty.

Elder Cox and I couldn't figure out how kids were supposed to play on this thing... There's solid asphault underneath it.

The beautiful city of Miskolc.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Week 41 in Hungary (May 7-May 13, 2013)

Na, akkor most Miskolcon vagyok.
Transfer day went well! Saying goodbye to everyone was rough but it is what it is. I think transfers are good for us missionaries. In one area, we get used to the place, companion, people, routine, etc. It becomes us and our way of life. Then suddenly, from a phone call, everything we know is completely changed and we know that EVERY thing will be completely new and we will have to adjust. The interesting part about all of this is that this is exactly what our investigators have to go through in their decision of baptism. Suddenly, everything they know about life and how to live it is changed and they have to adjust. The common part in both situations is that the Lord is there with us, every step of the way.
It was kind of nice not having to worry about when my train was going to depart or anything like that this week. I just loaded up our car and we drove out of Budapest. I'll be honest, after a year of not driving, it was really interesting to have to drive in one of the biggest cities in the world. Yea--we'll just leave it at that. I thought it would be like riding a bike. Once you learn, you can never forget. I think I have a handle on the whole driving thing now but driving in Europe is pretty different. Their streets are not in the least like Utah's. They twist and turn every which way with a billion arrows pointing to who-knows-where. I'm enjoying it though!
Last weekend, the Pécs Branch gained a new, strong member. I was bummed I couldn't be there for it but I heard it was incredible. They will be gaining another new, extremely strong member this weekend. I will sadly have to miss that event as well. Pécs is just too far away from where I am now. BUT it's okay. She's getting baptized and that's all I care about.
Get this, the companionship I just came into is going to be having a baptism this Friday! So where we give, we gain... I'm sure I just wrecked that saying but I'm sure you all know what I'm trying to get at.
Speaking of new companion... Elder Cox is wonderful! Get this: this transfer is his LAST transfer! It's been extremely interesting to go from Elder Bennet, in his very first transfer to Elder Cox, in his very last transfer. Since this is his last transfer, everyone calls it his "dying transfer"and I will be the one who "kills"him. (I don't know if those terms are common among other missions, but it's what we all use here in Hungary.) He's from Bountiful, Utah and he has an angelic voice. He also has a guitar with him and so it's been way (too) fun to jam with him after we do our planning every night. I get the biggest kick out of his humor and I've already loved serving with him so far. He's such a great missionary and I'm excited to gain some of his wisdom this transfer.
I haven't been able to take many pictures of the city or our apartment yet--we've been too busy. The city is pretty pretty... Our apartment is actually right on the main street so there are constantly people and trams right below our windows. Actually, to get to our apartment, we have to drive on the tram's tracks. We have a special paper on our dashboard that allows us to do that and I'm still trying to get used to it. It's really scary driving on 2 sets of tracks that could have a tram coming at you at any time. It's an adventure though!
The meeting house here is MASSIVE! They actually have benches in the chapel and it's such a pretty building. I will have to take some pictures of it as well.
We met with a man this week who seriously tried to convince us that Jesus was Hungarian. I have heard stories of such a thing happening to other missionaries... I didn't know it was real.

I'm going to Budapest this week for my first "Zone Leader Council" meeting. I'm excited for that!
Oh yea, if you don't know what a zone leader is or anything, here's something that will get you up to speed:
Within the companionship, there is a junior and senior companion. One of the senior companions in the district (usually consisting of 2 different cities) is the district leader and watches over all of the companionship's. There are 2-3 district leaders and districts in a zone and each zone has 2 leaders (the zone leaders) that are in a companionship together. They watch over all of the district leaders and the companionships that they watch over. (So they watch over about 4-5 areas) Then there are 2 assistants to the president who are over all of the zone leaders.

Well, that's about all I can think of as far as updates go. Update yourself on your reading from The Book of Mormon--daily. You will love it, yourself, your life, and your strong relationship with God.
Alldredge Elder
A sad goodbye to our golden investigator.

We were two peas in a pod... This is a humorous picture of us getting off of our train.

Another sad goodbye to Elder Bennett (same tie, same backpack, same belt bag-that's what they call fanny packs here... and yes, we're wearing them European style)

DRIVING!! (Driving in Europe is nuts)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Week 40 April 30-May 7, 2013

Well, the end is here. Much to my dismay, I will be packing up today and leaving Pécs tomorrow morning. I'm going to try my hardest to keep this email upbeat and positive. Let's hope my tears don't break the keyboard.

This Saturday, the son of the first man I baptized here in Pécs will be baptized by his father. How cool is that? I'm really bummed I have to miss it--but I know it will be incredible nonetheless.

Today, I also bought a super rad hoodie from the Pécs University Psychology Department. I'm so stoked about it!

So yes, I am going to be transferred. I will now be serving in Miskolc which is almost as far away from Pécs as you can get as far as cities with missionaries go. It's a tad bigger than Pécs is. Much to my surprise (and much to the surprise of the entire mission) I have been called to be a Zone Leader. Which is pretty strange because I haven't even been a District Leader yet. While in Budapest tomorrow, I will be getting my international driver's license because the Zone Leaders here drive cars! I just found out that my new companion does not have his license so I'll get to do all of the driving. Let's see how this goes!

My new companion will be Elder Cox. I'm really excited to serve with him. We've become friends just from seeing each other in Budapest and such. I'm sure I'll have more information about him next week!

This week was a great week for us here. We went tracting last Monday evening on my birthday and we had an abnormal amount of success! I think it was the Lord giving me a little birthday present.

It's not for sure yet, but I might be able to come back to Pécs in a couple weeks because I'm the one who is supposed to baptize the really golden investigator I've been talking about. (By her request.) I'm hoping that will work out! If not, the point is that she gets baptized, right?

Speaking of her, she had our whole Sunday School class in tears this last Sunday. Her testimony of the true church is already extremely strong. It was incredible to listen to her tell the class her story and how grateful she was that I "finally knocked on her door". She also explained how she feels like she has finally "come home".

Well, this morning has been rough. As I was reflecting on these last few transfers, I remembered when I was in the MTC and I first heard about the city, Pécs. I had the most amazing feeling and I knew right then and there that I would serve there one day and that it would be incredible. Interesting how those kind of things work out, right?

We tracted into an insanely awesome young couple this week. They opened their window as we rang their doorbell on the street and we just told them who we were and why we were here and they lit up and let us right in. Looking at them, you would have never guessed that they would want to investigate the church, but they love everything that we've taught them so far and they're so excited to meet with us again!

One of our investigators brought up the fact that the scriptures always say that we should "fear God" and he asked us what that meant exactly. We, of course, answered that it is similar to "respecting God" and he had a hard time understanding that because he went on to explain the differences between fearing God and respecting Him. It was really interesting to listen to his perspective. It made me think a lot. We were able to have a good discussion about the similarities and differences between loving, respecting, and fearing God. It's quite the thing to think about... Especially because he put it into the perspective of a father. He explained that he wants his kids to love and respect him but he does not want his kids to fear him. He knows the things he would have to do to achieve both results. I came to the conclusion that while yes, fearing God means that we respect him, we should also be "afraid" of letting him down or falling short of our full potential as His children.

I'm sure I'm forgetting a million and a half things... I've got loads on my mind right now. Just the thought of having to pack today is discouraging. Nonetheless, life goes on. It's comforting to know that everything will work out, everything will be taken care of, and it's all part of something bigger than I can comprehend.

Something went wacky with my SD card... I think I picked up something sour on it. It's not showing the recent pictures I've taken... At all. This is a problem. Not one that I can deal with right now. Hopefully it will be fixed by next week!

I love you all, I hope all is well on your side of the waters. I'm excited to Skype soon!! I'll be asking you about what you've learned from The Book of Mormon lately! Get ready!

Sok Szeretettel,
Alldredge Elder