Another great week here in the great country of Magyarország. The mom told me that I haven't explained everyday life enough so I was thinking I would explain a little more about the wonderful life of a missionary here.
Bowen elder is a stand up companion. He is from Utah which makes it very funny when we speak to people who are familiar with the "Mormons." People often start talking to us by asking, "Let me guess, you're from Utah?" Companions are such an important part of missionary work and your sanity. As a missionary, you are with your companion every moment of everyday. Even in the church buildings we are asked to stay in the same room. Then there is teaching in which most, if not all missionaries teach and do the work different. It is an adjustment every time you get a new companion.
It is these reasons that I feel like I have been lucky to have the two companions I have had so far, especially Bowen elder now. We had our quarks to start off with, in teaching and everyday life, but we have been able to just make the most of our time together. It is all about the companion unifying activities like daily cooking. We experiment and cook everyday. We are learning and laughing, relieving the stress of being a missionary. Since being here I have learned to cook a few Magyar dishes and I have learned to make some delicious and fresh tortillas. The main thing is we can laugh and look past our imperfections. If a missionary can do that, they can serve with anyone.
Outside of our own cooking, the food is so good here. We often eat with members who just love to have the missionaries over. Most of these people have been recently baptized so the missionaries are still such a big part of their lives. They often cook with peppers (paprikas), meat and cabbage or some other vegetable. It is so delicious, lecso, paprikás cirka és gyümölcs levesek. They also have this special sausage here called "kolbász." It is so delicious. They also have this topping like sour cream, but better called "tejfől." Almost all the food is hearty, meaning there is usually a lot of meat, cheese or what not.
The desserts are out of this world. It is slightly different because they are often not as sweet as American desserts, but they are to die for. We often go to what we call a "pékség," meaning bakery, and fill up on their really cheap pék snacks. It is not that the food isn't good, but the food in Hungary is just cheaper than in America. We can buy a loaf of fresh bread for about one American dollar. They have things similar to a ridiculously fresh doughnut to, what seems like, a cinnamon roll that they rolled with chocolate powder. They also often use what we call "turos," which is like sweet cottage cheese. It is finom (delicious).
I am currently living in what we call a ten story. These are the extremely tall cement apartment buildings that were built by the Russians in the communist days. On the first floor there still is this giant poster printed in the communist era that explain the rules that accompany these large ten stories. Ten stories look exactly as they sound, large and cement. They are very durable, cheap and practical. That is probably why where we live is considered the more "ghetto" side of Veszprém, but I still find it nice. Ten stories are usually found in clusters, so we live amongst the biggest cluster of ten stories in Veszprém. We have our own laundry machine in our apartment, but we don't really have a dryer. The washing machine just has this cycle that shakes the water out of our clothes, we then just hang all of our clothes on drying racks.
We do most of our shopping on our preparation day, which is Monday when we email and just do all we need outside of missionary work for the week. We shop at a giant store called Tesco which is basically the British Walmart. Although we buy most of our food on Monday, we often find ourselves buying bread at least one other day of the week at a pékség. Like I mentioned, I have began to love cooking. We cook burritos, pizza, mozzarella sticks with fresh cheese we buy and bread, egg soup, taco salad, banana bread for members, pancakes/palacsinták, and different dishes with potatoes along with some Hungarian food. I feel like I am slowly becoming a prepared mother with my cookbook I have began to create.
There are so many fun things that we have been able to experience, like what I have mentioned along with seeing these unbelievable castles, statues and art pieces. These are all wonderful, but they don't even compare to the wonderful experiences of sharing this gospel with people. It is so beautiful to see someone change not only in their appearance, but in their eyes. I occasionally worry about how well I am speaking Hungarian, if I am really making a difference, but then I often realize, it is the moments that make a good missionary, not just the numbers. It is what we do when people aren't looking that truly define us. If we are giving our hearts in this work as we serve, that is enough.
I have learned to not worry, but to act. This last week I felt so horrible because I started to worry about my language and how I stack up to the other missionaries, like I previously said I occasionally worry about. I worried for half a day, then I decided to act. I decided I am going to read the entire Book of Mormon in Hungarian before the end of this year. I also decided to speak only Hungarian for the past week. My companion and I, today, decided to keep it going and we are going to only speak in Hungarian for the rest of the transfer (4 more weeks). Many can spend their lives worrying about tomorrow, but only few do something today. Don't worry, just act and love the journey you are given.
Elder Jake Nelson