Monday, October 28, 2013

Hungary Week 65


To be completely honest, I was so confused about why I left Szeged.  We had all of those baptisms coming up and a bunch of miracles happening one after another, but from the moment I stepped in the car with Elder Jones, I knew why I was meant to come to Dunaújváros.
For my entire mission, I have been on a tour of the most beautiful cities of Hungary.  I have served in almost all of the college towns outside of Budapest.  Dunaújváros is NOT included in that list.  This city was built by the communists in 1957 as a MASSIVE factory.  Dunaújváros is in the heart of Hungary bordering the Duna river, making it a great place for transport. 
After the Iron Curtain fell, the city has gradually slowed down.  The need for the factories lessened, forcing many of the biggest factories to close their doors.  Now, as the newest city of Hungary, it is also one of the smallest in population.  
In regards to missionary work, it has been open for many years!  This weekend marked the 25th anniversary of the church in Hungary, and Dunaújváros was one of the first branches established after the church began to grow outside of the bounds of Budapest.  Much of the Hungarian church leadership today has been taken from this branch.
For the past couple years, Dunaújváros has been known amongst the missionaries as one of the hardest areas, especially for the Elders.  Recently it has really struggled considering the fact that there was a total of about 2-3 investigators in our companionship (as compared to the 12 baptismal dates we had in Szeged) when I arrived on Wednesday.  
As Elder Jones, the biggest teddy bear of a man, and I sat down to talk about our plan for this city, we felt the prompting to start in our own building and work out.  We introduced ourselves to our neighbors and as a gift, we shared with them our testimonies of the Book of Mormon.  One after another, the people kept letting us in.

In our own apartment building of 12 doors, 4 people asked us to come back and give them a Book of Mormon.  In experimentation, we branched out to a building across the street where we found more and more people asking us to come back and share our message.
This week, Elder Jones and I found 12 new investigators asking us to come back and share the message of the restoration with them.
Due to the fact that Elder Jones had already experienced what seemed to be "the hardships of Dunaújváros," he started freaking out with joy.  After having such success on Wednesday afternoon, I proposed the idea of pushing for a baptism before the end of the transfer.  On Thursday we met with the one person that was on baptismal date, an awesome 20 year old girl, and proposed the idea of moving her baptism up 20 days to be baptized on the 9th of November to which she responded, "YES!  I am so excited!"
Freaking out, Elder Jones started screaming with excitement.  Then, if that wasn't enough, on Friday we met with one of the only other regular investigators we have.  She is an amazing 55 year old woman.  We simply taught the Gospel of Jesus Christ and challenged her to baptism on the 7th of December, to which she responded with excitement and acceptance.
After that, we had a prompting to tract right next to our branch house where we found a néni who lived in America for 40 years!  We shared with her the message of the Book of Mormon.  After praying with her and for her, she looked at us with tears in her eyes saying, "The Lord's hand truly brought you here."  

Saturday I spent on splits back in the city of Pécs!  I met with one of my old investigators who was put on baptismal date before I left.  Since then, she has been a little unsure, but hasn't miss church since that first time I invited her while I was in Pécs.  She has a testimony about these things, but is just scared to make the big step.  It was amazing to sit down with her again and set some goals with her to get back on track and be baptized before the end of the year.
Other than that, I met with some other former investigators of mine there and was able to put a member's little brother on a baptismal date!  I was with Elder Raymond, a new missionary and we just made some huge miracles happen in the city of Pécs.
As I was coming home on Saturday night, I caught word that our investigator that was planning on coming to Budapest with us for Stake Conference canceled in the last minute.  I was very disappointed after putting in all of the work we did to get a ride for her up to Budapest.
Elder Jones and I then looked at each other and decided to call any and all possibilities after pouring our hearts out in prayer for some help.  That night, we went to bed believing we wouldn't have anyone at the highly anticipated Stake Conference.
As we pulled up on Sunday morning after the hour drive, I had a blast from the past as I saw the members of Veszprém, Szeged, Pécs and a few from Szombathely.  The Veszprém people were freaking out wondering why I was still in the country considering I was there last year.  They were just in shock with my language abilities and just happy to see me as I was happy to see them.
I saw Attila!  He is the 20 year old kid I found in Veszprém towards the end of my stay there.  He has now been baptized for over a half a year and is receiving the Melchizedek priesthood this week.  I was able to sustain and support him in that!
Jake & Attila
Then, as of miracle, Attila was asked to come to the front and bear his testimony for the Stake.  He told of the moment Elder Forsythe and I stopped him in a park on the cold winter day of December 7th.  He bore his testimony and shared his gratitude for the miracle of the gospel in which we gave him.  That was one of the hardest points of my mission to hold back tears.
At that moment, I knew my Heavenly Father was proud of me.  I was able to look around and not only see Attila, but other converts that I helped into the waters of baptism since stepping into the country of Hungary.  I realized at that moment that I am meant to be in Dunaújváros to find that "Attila" that is waiting here.
After returning home safely with the Sisters, Elder Jones and I tracted and were able to finish the week strong with a total of 20 programs, virtually in the course of 4 days together.  We sat down to count up our numbers for the week, and saw how far we had come in such a little time.  We were happy and accepted the fact that we just missed one miracle we asked for in prayer, one investigator at Stake Conference.
After saying a little prayer of thanks and talking about our wonderful week, Elder Jones started freaking out again.  Something that never registered in his mind was a member family that came to Stake Conference.  One of the non-member girls of the family that was recently met in the past couple weeks was at Stake Conference with her family due to invitation.  
The Lord answered any and all prayers of ours and we were able to make all the miracles we set out to make happen.  With joy and excitement, President Smith asked me to share with one of the area 70 this week at Zone Conference the miracles I have experienced recently here and in Szeged.  This really is the work of God.
We really do sink low so the Lord can bring us higher!  I am so grateful for this work and the opportunity to be here as a missionary.  I am grateful to be in the right place at the right time.  Life is going, it is good and more miracles are coming in the city of Dunaújváros!
Sok szeretettel,

Elder Jake Nelson

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Hungary Week 64

Hey everyone!
So we just got the news and it looks like I am leaving Szeged.  I had no idea this was coming.  The missionaries have transfers every 9 weeks now, but there was a surprise mini transfer due to missionaries going home mid transfer.  I thought we were staying because it wasn't supposed to effect the Zone Leaders, but I guess the Lord had other plans.  
We were playing soccer this morning and I got a call telling me I am headed to Dunaújváros with Elder Jones.  It was exciting, but very hard to hear.  We just had 2 baptisms, but yesterday and last week we gave some more people baptismal dates, making a total of 12 people with baptismal goals right now.  I thought I would see some of those baptisms before the end of the transfer, but it looks like I am needed somewhere else.  
I am excited to head to Dunaújváros and help the work there.  I will be Zone Leader over 2 of my previous areas, Veszprém and Pécs.  There are some special people in those areas and it will be fun to help build up the work in my new zone.  
Elder Jones is the happiest guy you could EVER meet.  He is one group above me in the mission and the biggest teddy bear.  I am sure our time together will be full of laughs and smiles.  We are put together not only for the South-West Zone, but to light the work on fire in Dunaújváros.  It is smaller and has been having a harder time, so I am excited to see what miracles that are bound to happen.  
The mission really is one of a kind.  I am so grateful for this opportunity and all of the opportunities I have received this far.  Today I have had to say goodbye to my investigators, friends and those I love here in Szeged, but I know this is just an opportunity to make more miracles happen.  I am so grateful for my mission and I know with every end comes a new beginning.  
I will let you know what the next chapter of my mission is like next week, but never forget to keep smiling.  Life is good!
Sok szeretettel, 
Elder Jake Nelson

Monday, October 14, 2013

Hungary Week 63

This week was full of ups and downs!  Our zone training was a hit and it is amazing to see so many baptisms already!  We actually encouraged our zone to get up and challenge their investigators to baptism.  We have a goal to get a new baptismal date per companionship before the end of the transfer and the miracles are already coming.

To encourage this big step for the zone, we are all praying for a "golden investigator."  So many of us have seen success!  Békéscsaba and Kecskemét have both called telling us about their "golden investigators" coming to them!  Elder Miller and I have already found MULTIPLE "golden investigators" this past week alone. In other words, we are praying for those prepared people.

We are also focusing on getting 3 more progressing investigators per companionship at the end of the transfer as well.  We are so excited to hear the miracles and see the joy and success of our missionaries! 

With the help of the Sister Training Leaders from Debrecen and ALL of our missionaries, we were able to pull together a memorable training on prayer.

First, the Sister Training Leaders gave a wonderful training on how we can receive revelation as missionaries.  They did such a great job.  After that, Elder Miller and I went into the importance of how we can help our investigators receive revelation.  We discussed the importance of our roles as missionaries, stepped into our investigators shoes and shared our personal conversion stories with one another.

To apply it to our role as missionaries in the conversion of our investigators, we encouraged our missionaries to SMITE: Stewardship, Magnify, Invite, Teach and Expect.  The missionaries seemed excited and by the end, wanted to push their faith and prayers to help apply SMITE in their missionary work. 

We were able to have a great role play with Hungarian investigators and members as well.  They taught prayer and the importance thereof to the "investigators."  This role play, along with a departing missionary's testimony, Elder Bowen's, inspired one of our investigators to search even more for the truthfulness of these things.  It was a really special experience.

The crazy thing is, I was referring to the Elder Bowen I served with at the beginning of my mission.  He is one of my best buddies here and is already going home.  Time really does fly as a missionary. 

On the same day of our zone training, I was able to go on splits with Elder Bowen.  We were so excited for this opportunity to work together one last time before he finishes his mission.  We gave someone a blessing to quit smoking, set a new baptismal date and just saw miracle on top of miracle.  It was a great last hurrah for the two of us.
After that, we had baptisms!  They were AMAZING.  We had 10 investigators for the city of Szeged there as well.  It really was amazing to see the excitement of everyone.  More are coming as well!  
We were so scared though, one of them didn't show up to her confirmation on Sunday though!  This wonderful 69 year old woman went to the hospital on Saturday night for heart problems.  We were able to visit her today and give her a blessing.  She is getting confirmed this weekend, but the Lord really had us find her at exactly the time we needed to.  
So many miracles, I can't help but smile!
Have a wonderful week everyone!  Smile!
Elder Jake Nelson

Monday, October 7, 2013

Hungary Week 62

Sok szeretettek köszöntelek benneteket!

How is everyone doing!  I am SOOOO happy.  I love it here in the wonderful city of Szeged.  I just realized how long I have been here!  I have almost been here for 4 months!  I am going to hit my streak of Veszprém soon, 6 months.  I am endlessly happy to be here though. 

We are having some baptisms this weekend!  The two women have already had their interview and are ready.  It is adorable though because they both are over the age of 65.  Elder Miller is baptizing one and I am the other.  It is going to be so special!  We are holding the baptisms at a Turkish bath and the entire program will take place in front of the water.  Almost all of our 10 investigators on baptismal date will be there.  We are so excited!

We also had some special experiences with conference.  First of all, it was just amazing.  There were so many great talks and the spirit was so strong!  Between all of us missionaries, we were able to help 20 investigators come and watch conference.  It was just so cool seeing them on the edge of their seats.  We even had some investigators watch all sessions available!  We had some funny experiences with the translation, but it all worked out in the end.

That first session was the best!  After helping all of our investigators get all situated, the conference began with no problem.  About 5 minutes in, the translation started coming in and out.  After about 20 minutes, the translation just stopped.  We had no idea what to do, and then a member turns to me and says, "TRANSLATE!"  I then started translating over English conference to help the members and investigators hear conference.  After about 5 or 10 minutes, the conference came back in with the translation included.  Then, a half hour later, it cut off in the middle of President Bednar's talk.  I then began trying to translate as his talk kept coming in and out.  It was definitely an adventure, but we heard conference.

The next night at 6 pm, we gathered together to watch what is the last session that is streamed live here in Hungary, the Sunday Morning session.  One of our investigators getting baptized this weekend came to hear the prophet for her first time.  He was the last speaker and just before he ended his 20 minute talk, the Internet froze.  We sat and waited for about a minute when she turns to me and says, "We just need to be patient.  If I had to give a long talk like him I would need a water break too."  I lost it!  It was so funny!  

Over all, I just loved conference.  It was so special to hear the words of the prophet and apostles.  I can still remember back to my first conference here in Hungary.  That was when President Monson announced the dropped age requirements for missionaries.  It is amazing to see what has happened since then!  I try to think back to all the miracles I have seen since then and they are uncountable.  It is just amazing to know that I am involved in the most important cause of our day, missionary work.  It is just unbelievable how many prayers church members, investigators and our church leaders say for ME as a missionary.  If that wouldn't make me feel special, I don't know what would!
We met some AMAZING new investigators this week.  One was an old investigator from 2-3 years ago who was praying for us to call right when we decided to call up old investigators.  Amazing 21 year old girl!  We also taught the "Plan of Happiness" to a new family we are meeting with.  The spirit was so strong in that house!  After teaching the plan and explaining more in detail why we are here, the mom looked up in tears at the end and simply said, "It's amazing."  
I am so grateful to be here.  Miracles happen before my eyes everyday and all I have to do is smile and tell the people why I am so happy.  The mission really is something else.  I wouldn't trade this time for the world.

Smile this week everyone, I know I will!

Elder Jake Nelson