Monday, December 31, 2012

Hungary Week 22

Boldog új évet!

Hasn't it been such a wonderful past couple weeks?  Christmas time is truly one of miracles.  So much has happened I don't know where to begin.

These past couple weeks Forsythe elder and I have just dove into member missionary work.  It has been such a wonderful opportunity to get to the heart of real missionary work.  We have worked with several inactives in the hope of bringing some lost people back home and the Lord has blessed us with success.  In the past month or two we have successfully brought several inactive church members back to activity.  That means that they have come back to church not only for our wonderful Christmas Sunday, but to stay.  The branch is growing and I couldn't be more grateful.

One of the biggest miracles that I have been able to witness is that of a small 8 year old girl.  Her family has been baptized, but they haven't come to church to much.  By chance, I ran into this family in September, making them one of the only inactive families to have let us in.  We were let in by the only non member of the family.  This little girl is the biggest sweetheart I have ever met.  We came into the door to her just opening up about her desire of baptism.  We had to explain that baptism wasn't just the end and that baptism was just the beginning.  Baptism is such an important step, but every member has to learn the basics, reading from the scriptures daily, prayer and the Sabbath Day.  That Sunday, this sweet little girl came to church alone because her mom had to work.

She has such a desire that she chases her mom down every night to say a family prayer.  This supportive mother and amazing little girl have now attended church for seven weeks in a row in attempt to show us how ready she is.   We asked her yesterday if she thinks she is ready.  Her response was simply, "YES!  And I want you missionaries to baptize me!" 

My Christmas package from my family didn't come in and I couldn't spend the holidays with my family, but this little girl made my Christmas.  She helped me remember why I came here.  I am so speechlessly grateful for this opportunity to serve the Lord and see lives change.  I couldn't be more grateful for my companion Forsythe elder and my wonderful family back home.

Outside of my little Christmas miracle, Christmas was a wonderful experience.  We opened presents with the other elders under our one foot tree we got in the city, celebrated with a wonderful single néni who fed us a four course meal until we felt like we were about to burst, I skyped my family which was absolutely amazing and took some moments to share the true meaning of Christmas, Christ's life.

Tonight we will get to help our branch with a small New Years party and family home evening.  Miracles are happening here in Veszprém and I couldn't be more grateful.

Life is what you make it, make it wonderful.

Nelson elder

Monday, December 17, 2012

Hungary Week 20

Dear everyone,

Merry Christmas!  I don't think that I could have received better Christmas presents than I have this year.

Yesterday, I had the honor of attending Veszprém's ribbon cutting for the building of their first very own meeting house!  This week, Forsythe elder and I did all we could to get the word out to all, members and nonmembers alike.  We had a crowd gathered in what is meant to be the grounds of the new branch house.  Due to our efforts along with the branches, we helped gather up to 10 inactive members to the ribbon cutting.  It was also my honor to help break ground for the foundation of this future safe haven for the wonderful people of Veszprém.  It was so amazing.

I love Christmas so much.  Peoples hearts truly turn due to the miracle of Christmas.  This transfer, Forsythe elder and I are devoting our work to the members.  We are doing all we can to make a solid foundation with the membership of Veszprém so they can be open to accept those wonderful investigators in which we have the privilege to teach.  

We are building the branch through reactivity.  It is actually working fantastically, just confirming to myself that this is what the Lord wants us to do now.  We have, through the help of the branch and the Lord, gathered a consistent gathering of 6-10 inactive members at church weekly.  It is so wonderful to see their fire for this gospel be re kindled.

I will admit though, this has been results of two wonderful programs in which we have had the privilege of starting this transfer.  One is called "Outreach."  One day a week, the missionaries have gathered some of the youth together in the hopes of reactivating those who have fallen away.  We break up all that are present into two man teams to hunt down 2-3 inactive members.  They simply find them wherever they may be living and express their love for them and invite them to one of the many wonderful upcoming programs.  It is so fun to come back to the branch house after, drink some hot chocolate and talk about the amazing experiences these members had serving.

Another program in which we are doing now is the twelve days of Christmas.  We have picked 2 investigators to focus on and we are killing them with kindness.  We have picked the classic symbols in which we relate to Christmas and have written a spiritual message for each, such as Christmas trees and bells.  We then have bought a little something that relates to each symbol.  We then leave this small gift on the doorstep of these members each night before heading home.  On the Saturday before Christmas Sunday, we are going to reveal that it was us who have been stopping by nightly.  We are then going to teach these two inactive church members about the miracle of Christ's birth and how each Christmas symbol relates into the story of His birth.  

This last idea is great, but I am pretty sure the two inactive members know that it is us, but oh well!  It is the thought that counts.  

It is weird though, my sister is getting married this week.  I am so excited for her, but it is weird to imagine myself being the lone child among all these old married folk in my family.  I am so excited for my sister Laura though.  I know it will be such a wonderful experience and I couldn't be more proud of her.

Make this Christmas wonderful!  Reach out to someone.  Make someone smile.  Most of all, just remember how wonderful this life is.  Remember all the wonderful things your Savior has given you.

Boldog Karácsonyt!

Elder Jake Nelson

Monday, December 10, 2012

Hungary week 19

Hello everyone!  This week was a week of changes and surprises, just giving more strength to my testimony that this is the Lord's work.  

I am now in a new apartment and with a new companion here in the wonderful city of Veszprém.  It has been such a fantastic couple days to get to know Elder Forsythe.  This Utahn missionary is probably the goofiest, funniest, yet most powerful person I have met.  We have been together for five days and by the third day, we were laughing so hard that our abs started hurting.  We laugh and have so much fun, but it is such a blessing to be with a missionary who cares as much as me about this people.  He has a true gift for missionary work and for noticing those who constantly seem to go unnoticed.  We are now in the belváros (Downtown).  We are in the heart of one of the most beautiful cities I have laid eyes on.  We step out of our door and there they are an abundance of people just waiting for what we have to give them.  It is such a blessing to see these people light up as the holidays come closer and closer.  I really feel like Forsythe elder and I are going to be able to do so much this transfer.  

It has been crazy.  We discovered records for old investigators last week from 10 years ago.  So Forsythe elder and I just got to work.  It turns out that every number that worked, which in all honesty was only 5, was excited to hear from the missionaries and told us to come over as soon as we could.  It was just such a miracle to "accidentally" discover those records.  The Lord's hand really is in this work.

I think my favorite experience this week was last night.  We were planning for the next six weeks, so basically what we want to do while we are together.  We thought and prayed fervently and then it hit us.  We are starting an outreach program with the local youth to reach out to those who have fallen away from the church.  We are making personalized invitations for the upcoming New Year's party.  We are then going to meet 1-2 times weekly with all the youth to split up into teams and to get these invitations PERSONALLY DELIVERED to as many inactive members as we can.  That is more than one hundred invitations, but there is no better season than Christmas season to expect miracles.  We had this idea at 4:50 at night.  We then realized that we needed to get this word out as soon as possible to get it started this week, so we ran to the branch house to catch the church leaders before the ending of the Christmas devotional at 5.  We made it across town and barley on time to catch ALL the leaders of the branch.

The program was approved and communication with the membership began immediately.  We were just floating on air all the way home.  Then, the first person we talked to, István (Who was excited to tell us his name meant Steve in English), just was ecstatic to receive a Book of Mormon. 

Merry Christmas everyone.  This week wasn't easy at all, but just remember to cherish the blessings you receive.  This Christmas only comes once.  Make it one to remember!

Sok szeretettel,

Elder Jake M. Nelson

Monday, December 3, 2012

Hungary Week 18

Hey everyone!

Life is wonderful isn't it?  I have had some pretty rough trials here on my mission, but I just can't help but smile.  The Lord loves this people so much and I know He is making miracles among them. 

There are going to be some great changes this next week!  It is transfers for us and Bowen elder and I have discovered that we are staying here in Veszprém!  The twist is that our companionship is splitting.  Bowen elder is staying in the same apartment and received a new companion and myself, along with Forsyth elder, are going to move into another apartment in the belváros (downtown).  It is going to be a transfer of changes and fun, but I am grateful Bowen elder and I can keep our momentum going and actually make it spread to new horizons.  

Christmas time is coming!  There are already Christmas lights hanging on the plaza, houses and everywhere.  There are trees and happiness.  My favorite part about this time is that when I try to speak to someone on the street and get rejected, I can still yell "Boldog Karácsonyt!" (Happy Christmas)  It brings a smile to them all.  I also just love talking to people about the importance of Jesus Christ in our lives, so Christmas is basically fantastic.  

They have some traditions here that I haven't experienced yet though.  Apparently they serve this dish that is similar to salty, pig fat jello.  I can't wait to try it, sounds tasty right?

As for the best part of being here, the missionary work, it is going great.  We are giving it our all and being as bold as we can be.  The Lord is truly changing lives for the better and I am just grateful to witness it.  In our companionship, we are giving out so many Book of Mormons and although it feels like we are only planting seeds sometimes, we know the Lord is just refining us to become His servants.

Merry Christmas everybody! 

Nelson elder