Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Gift Exchange

BÚÉK! (Aka Boldog Új Évet Kívánok!) (Aka Happy New Year!)
Wow so I can't give every detail from the last two weeks, but here's a taste of the miracles. I call it the Gift Exchange. 
So here I am in Hungarian. My only Christmas to be a full time missionary in the country with the people I serve. Such a cool experience. Despite being a full-time missionary, I feel like I give so little and get so much in return. 
On Christmas eve we decided to give by caroling in the square. So we went with the elders, brought our hymn books and just sang. And sang. For almost 2 hours straight without stopping. My voice was almost 100% gone after that, but it was so worth it. It was so cool to see how such a simple service can change hearts. We watched several a person rushing about, slow their steps as they walked by. A few dads stopped with their children to have them listen. One sweet néni (older lady) cried with gratitude and wished every good thing she could think of (health, happiness, lots of children...). We had several people thank us for the gift we gave as we just simply sung those hymns. One guy not too much older than us, stood off to the side and listened for at least 6 songs. He then stepped over between songs and stopped us. "Thank you. I hope you notice that the sun is literally JUST shinning on you all right now. I don't think that's by chance." he said and wished us a Merry Christmas. The sun had broken through the clouds in a very movie-like kind of way. Gift Number 1: Sunshine
After our working hours on Christmas eve, Sister Westover and I decided to go back up to the Castle District. It never gets old. We walked around Buda Castle and Fishermans Dwarf. It was such a beautiful day. The bells at St. Matias Church were going. What a cool time to be a missionary in Buda. We then went to the little market place to get some souveniors for family. As we were looking at the scarfs, a man came over and asked if we were Mormon missionaries. We talked to him a little. He asked if we pay our way to serve and we said yes. We save up and our families sacrifice for us to serve missions. Because of that he told us to pick out a scarf and he would give it to us for free as a Christmas present. But the real Christmas present in this story is that he gave us his number so we could meet with him and he also showed up to church this sunday. Gift Number 2: A super nice investigator 
It's always hard to work in an area and not see the end results, because it's so special to be able to see the beginning to the end and all of the change inbetween. I sometimes miss the investigators and members back in Pécs, Nyiregyháza and Szombathely. But even when we don't get to see the end results while we are still there, our hard work is not waisted. Gift number 3 is tri-fold. The Saturday before Christmas, Bogi- my investigator in Szombathely who I worked with for several months, officially got baptized and that sunday was confirmed. She is going to be such an amazing member. Bogi is the one that would come to church with a whole bunch of children she had met when she was a secret santa years ago. We taught the kids a few times. I love them all. Today I found out that one of the older boys has also decided to be baptized. Im so excited for him and the potential difference he will make to his whole family. I also recieved an email from Zoli's wife. She had decided to get baptized a while back but then didn't feel ready and then I got transferred. Well last week she asked me when I go home. This week I got an email from her saying that she has decided to be baptized March 8. I'm so excited for her. Gift Number 3: 3 of my investigators who I absolutely love chose to be baptized. 
I recieved so many gifts for Christmas. Those are just a few examples. But I am so grateful for each one. 
We also recieved a very interesting Szilveszter (New Years Eve) gift this week. The story goes like this:
So I know I always try to write this great miraculous email about how amazing and fantastic missionary work is, but lets be honest- not every moment of life is full of intense thrills.
Well Sister Westover and I had been tracting A LOT. And although the 1 person who accepts the gospel is worth it, sometimes it takes a good 9,000 rejections before you find them. We were getting close to rejection 8 thousand something probably and it was starting to get a little rote and lets face it, exhausting. So one day we prayed to find a little more fun in the work. While we were out, I thought up a game. Ive temporarily named it Rejection. 
We hear A LOT of different excuses for why people don't want to let us in. So I figured why not have fun with that? We made a list of a ton of the different excuses people make and paired them up with directions we would take. For example, if someone says "köszönöm" (no thanks), then we go to the next building that has more then 9 door bells. Or if someone says "nem kerem" (I dont want it), we go to the next green building. Or if someone says "nem ertem" (I dont understand) we take the next public transportation one stop down. Of course finding by the spirit is the most important method of finding, but we figured if the angels know the game too, they can have in on it and play too.
So the next day we tried it. We picked a starting point and played. It took us ALL over. We got one let in and taught a nice older gentlemen and felt pretty good. Then we kept playing and got a "nem ertem" so off we went on the tram down to the next stop. The first people let us in. We walked in looked to the right and there was a man with a silver wig and a funky hat eating a raw pepper. The man who let us let us know that they were about to have a pre-new years eve party. We looked at each other, what had we gotten into? Well they invited us in and we taught a short lesson to them and 2 girls who were also there. Turns out theyre all in a program together- all trying to change and fix their lives. The lesson went well, but we only had one Book of Mormon with us, so the guy who let us in asked us to come back and bring him one.
So we did the next day, but since he was home alone, we couldn't go in. We ended up instead going to the park and walking around the pond and talking to him about the gospel and his desire to be officially changed from his previous self. He asked us what he needed to do and we told him to start, he can pray and read the Book of Mormon and come to church and meet with us. He said "well I'm already starting to do that, I meant what is the NEXT step?" So we talked about the covenant of Baptism. Our News Eve Gift: A crazy fun, and absurd fidning night and a great new investigator
Well that was long and wasn't even a 10th of the last 2 weeks worth of experiences. I hope you all have a fantastic New Year. This new year means a lot for me. Tomorrow is 100 days until I am home. Time is a weird thing. I hope you all have a fantastic new year with wonderful plans to serve, grow and learn. 
Szeretlek mindig,
Curtin nővér