Wednesday, December 30, 2009

It's snowing again and it's almost January! - Dec. 30, 09

Hi Everybody!
Ok, so I was thinking today (oh yeah, it happens) and it's almost New Years which means it's almost January, which means I almost only have about 18 days until I'm in Hungary! (see, that's why I try not to think too hard too line of thought get's kind of crazy...). Yeah, but we should be getting our flight plans next Friday! (the 6th, I think...) And I'm so sad, that Albanians are leaving this Monday! They've been here since we've gotten here, so we've really gotten to be good friends with them...ha, but Elder Smith said he's going to be going to BYU, so hopefully I can find him there....he's such a great guy, he comes into our room pretty much every night just to hang out with us and share his candy....actually, he usually tries to leave his candy, because EVERYONE sends missionaries candy! We have so much right now! haha, one of the Hungarian traditions is this big box of candy that we pass on....I have no idea how old some of the stuff is, but the Starburst I ate was still ok.....haha. Yeah, but I think we'll definitely be adding A LOT more candy....
Ah, so Christmas! It was so great! We woke up early so we could wake up Elder Smith (haha, I got a video of it), then we kind of went back to sleep until 7, when we woke up, made some hot chocolate, and opened presents! It was so much fun, and thanks to everyone who sent something or even just prayed for us! (Believe me, we need all the help we can get learning this language....). Yeah, but Young Women, you are all awesome! The package was super-great! Haha, I don't know if you should have sent the ball though, sometimes when we get back to our residence hall, we bounce it off all the walls and stuff...we stop by quiet time though, so I guess it's ok....haha. Yeah, but thanks so much! It was so great being able to open presents on Christmas, especially since we had no idea what we were going to be getting! Oh, and if any of the Young Women are thinking about serving missions, I would totally encourage it! We've got a sister missionary in our district, and she brings such a different spirit to everything we do....we can see such a difference between those districts that have sister missionaries, and those that don't...sister missionaries bring such strong testimonies, and everyone is so respectful of them.
Ok, so after we opened presents, we got showered and went to the Christmas morning devotional....our district and the Albanian district were ushering, so we got to sit in the 2nd row....and Elder L. Tom Perry was the speaker! Oh my gosh, he is so much taller in real life! On tv, he looks just average height, but he's really tall! His family came too, and they each read something out of the scriptures about Christ's birth, and then he would talk about was such a great devotional, and afterwards, as he was leaving, he stopped to shake hands with a sister who had sang a special musical number. She was sitting right in front of me, so L. Tom Perry was like, 6 feet away from me! It was so cool!
Ok, after the devotional, we went to lunch, and Elder Perry was there too with his family! We didn't get to sit by him or anything, but it was just cool seeing him sitting with missionaries and talking with them. After lunch, we went to our residence hall to write letters. Then, we went to the fireside where we got to hear from Greg Olson! He showed a bunch of his paintings, and explained how he's learned so much more about the Savior just from the amount of thought that he puts into trying to portray Him.
Oh, so I forgot to mention the fireside from the 20th (I think....). I can't remember the speaker, but he's in charge of the the Home Front, which is the group that puts out the LDS ads on tv, so we got to watch a bunch of them! They are so ridiculously cheesy, but so great! You should all definitely check them out online! (I think they're online....?) One of them is called "The Practice" (I think....) and it won an Emmy! That's so cool! Then, there's another one about divorce, and when they were having tryouts, they asked each kid to bring their favorite toy...the boy who was in it brought his favorite toy car, and the girl brought her favorite doll....before they started filming, they took the girl outside and took her doll away from her. Then, they took the doll inside to the boy, took it's head off, and put his car inside the doll. Then they brought the girl back in, gave her the doll, and started filming. It's so funny, because they do that between takes (sorry, earlier i said it was before filming), and you can see the exact moment when the kids react to what happened. It's pretty funny. There all great though, you should watch all of them.....most of them will have you laughing, if not because they're funny, then at least just because they're so darn cheesy!
Yeah, well, my clock is blinking at me....I've only got about 4 minutes....oh! We heard from an Elder who left a few weeks ago, and we get 1.5 hours for email, so these might start being a little longer...haha. He also said we can watch Disney movies on P-Days, but who wants to go to a foreign country and stay inside watching movies!? I'm going to go everywhere I can! Ah, I'm so excited! Our departure date is getting closer and closer! And the time is definitely speeding up....I don't know how, but it feels like we're going to be leaving really soon! I can't wait!
I love you all, and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! Remember to keep writing, and I'll send the address that I'll have in Hungary next week....I forgot to bring it with me today.....
Happy New Year! almost....
Murray Elder

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dec 23, 2009

Hi Everyone!
I hope the subject thing didn't fake anyone out, it's just that whenever it snows, Lundeen Elder says that....actually, whenever something great happens, he says's pretty funny.
So, today was pretty awesome! We got to clean the temple! It was wierd seeing it all empty with plastic everywhere (they were sanding some paint), but it was such a great experience! Ha, and we got to wear nifty temple scrubs! Ha, Lundeen Elder and I thought that if we got bigger sizes, the pants would be longer--a reasonable assumption, right? Ha, wrong. The pants are all the same length, so we just had big billowy hiwaters. Ah, good times...
So, after we got back from the temple, we ate lunch and went straight to a TE was our first one one P-Day, and it was wierd...usually, we don't really have to worry about teaching or anything, so that was definitely an interesting experience...but a good one. One of the Hungarian teachers is working there (they get paid A LOT to work through Christmas), so we've signed up to teach him once (sometimes twice!) a day until he goes back to just teaching--I think it's January 2nd....yeah, but we get to teach him as a progressing investigator--in Hungarian! Ah, it's hard, but it's definitely helpful! Before, we just taught to English-speaking teachers, but I think I'm getting more comfortable with teaching in Hungarian than in English...we had an English appointment a few hours after a Hungarian one, and it was wierd....
Ok, so, the Tuesday Night Devotional speaker was.............................Neil A. Andersen!!!!! Oh my gosh, he was so great! His wife talked first about an experience they had when he was mission president in southern innkeeper loaned them his van so they could be home for was so nice, and just reminded me to always be thinking of others and what I can do to help them. After her, their grandchildren came up and sang a medley of Christmas was nice, and one of the grandsons was only 4 or 5, so he couldn't reach the microphone, so he just kind of sang along and did his own was pretty funny. After them, Elder Andersen spoke on looking back and looking forward, and also about "Knowing the condescension of God." It was really good, and he talked about the different types of knowing...knowing something because you see it, and knowing something because you feel it (it went more in-depth, but that was the basic meaning--sorry for the short synopsis, I'm running out of time....) Oh, so I realized the other day that I haven't told you about Hungarian Christmas! So, Santa comes on December 6th (I think) and puts candy in children's shoes that they leave out on their windowsill...and, if they meet Santa at the mall or at church, they have to perform for him, and then they get some candy....apparently, Santa just kind of sits there with a stern expression, and the kids are all, I have to wait a year before I get to have Christmas in Hungary....sounds fun.
And then, on December 25th, Baby Jesus comes and gives them presents. It's nice because they separate between the Santa aspect of Christmas and the aspect dealing with Christ.
Oh, another Hungary, there used to be a law that you could only name your children certain names.....that law isn't around anymore, but people still pretty much name their children those same names, because each of those names belongs to a day of the year, and everyone's "Name Day" is pretty much as big as, if not bigger than, their birthday! Apparently, if you know it's somebody's name day and forget to get them something, it's really bad....but it's ok if you don't know.....the only name day that Sister Snow remembered was Szilveszter (Silvester) which is on New Year's.
So, I was going to send the longest word in Hungarian and a little Hungarian Christmas song, but I'm running out of time...I'll send it in a letter home, and maybe someone can post it with my next email...
Yeah, so, I'm pretty much out of things to say...apparently Greg Olson is coming to speak on Christmas Eve or Christmas....that should be way awesome! Ah, I can't wait for Christmas! A fireside on Christmas Eve, a devotional AND a fireside on Christmas, AND extra letter-writing time! I am so excited!
Oh, speaking of Christmas--thank you so much to everyone who sent a letter! I wish I could thank each of you individually, but the letters are back in my room, and there's only so much time on here...but thank you all so much! Those were so neat to get! Haha, our mailbox was soooo full, and everyone was staring at Miller Elder and was pretty funny. Oh! And when we got those, we saw Elder Floyd down at the mailroom! Ah, that was so neat! Miller Elder and I had looked for his classroom, but we couldn't find it, and then it was just so unexpected to see him, just out of the blue like that! He leaves pretty soon here, and he was sooo excited! Ah, speaking of leaving, we should be getting our flight plans in two weeks! I can't believe we're going to be in Hungary in less than a month! I am so excited! One Elder that left about halfway through our stay here emailed Lundeen Elder and said that he can pretty much teach only kids.....but he's learning a lot! He's a junior zone leader or something (there's only one zone-leader per zone....) in Pest, so he gets to drive around....apparently the roads are crazy though, so that must be interesting...
Well, I love you all, and I hope you all have a great holiday! Thanks again soooo much for the letters! Those totally made my day!
Murray Elder

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Dec 19

Here are some pictures from the MTC

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dec 16, 09

Hi Everyone
So, the new missionaries going to Hungary arrive today! We've already seen 2 of them--one of them is from Switzerland! We are soooooo excited about meeting all of them tonite--now we're the older district and we get to take them everywhere with us! Haha, Motra Peatross (Sister Peatross) is going to Albania, and she lived in Germany for a few years, so she was talking to the Swiss elder (I could still understand most of it!), and then he spoke some Swiss-German, which sounds pretty much just like a blend of French and sounded really cool, and I think that maybe I recognized a few words...I can't be sure though, because it doesn't really sound like German (well, it does, but also like French, so I don't know....). I think I might buy a German dictionary from the store, because I don't want to lose what little I do know...It's just that I'm supposed to be focusing 100% on learning Hungarian, so I don't know when I'd use it....
Oh, so for the Sunday evening Fireside, Lundeen Elder was assigned to say the opening prayer, so Miller Elder and I got to sit up in the 3rd row with was such a great fireside--the BYU Men's Chorus just sang a whole bunch of songs--they were amazing! The guy in charge of service for our residence hall is a member, so we saw him. They are so good, and they sang a whole bunch of really awesome Christmas songs. Ah, and guess what!? For the Christmas day devotional, our district got assigned to usher, so we're going to get really good seats, and it's probably either going to be an apostle or a member of the first presidency! Oh my gosh, I am so excited!!
Alright.....I'm running out of things to say.....
Oh, thank you so much to everyone that have been sending me stuff--If I don't write you back soon, don't worry, I will definitely try to eventually. It's just that there's so little time on P-Day for writing...Just know that I am so grateful for everything you've sent! I hope that I'll be able to thank everyone individually, but if I don't get around to it, or if it takes a while, just know that I did receive it, and I am so grateful for it!
Haha, so Lundeen Elder and I got suspenders when we went to the temple today--we decided that they are definitely the new in-thing for tall people. They are so rad. Yeah, I just felt like saying that. We promised each other we'd buy some in Hungary. Ha, which reminds me, apparently there's this guy in Budapest that will sell you a bag of 1000 ties for the equivalent of about 75 dollars...apparently a bunch of missionaries just pitch in and buy it, and everyone gets a bunch of hideous Hungarian ties....they said it's kinda sketchy though; he tells you to meet him in random places, and he's just got a big bag of used ties....ha, one of the elders said that when they were buying from him, the police were across the way or something, and the guy seemed really nervous.....
Oh! I almost forgot--we're not going to be able to call home on Christmas, but we do get more time to write letters, so that will be nice. Oh, and I'm really sorry if I don't send home any Christmas presents--there's not much at the store in that department....ha, except for these awesome highlighters....maybe I'll send those....everybody needs a highlighter...haha. No but seriously, I'm super-sorry if I don't get a Christmas present sent home. I'll try to send a home-made postcard (they're nifty) if I can get one printed out in time....
It feels like the time here has just flown by...I can't believe we've been here 6(?) weeks! Ha, see, I don't even know which week it is! And, our older group that left last week said that once you get your younger group, the time goes soooo fast! Our teachers told us the other day that we've learned pretty much all of the grammar rules, so now it's just all going to be reviewing and studying. fun...haha Oh, so calling home...apparently, we can buy a phone card, so I'll try to call from the airport...ah, that's going to be here so fast! Gosh, I was thinking about it the other day, and two years seems like it's going to go by so fast! Maybe it's because our teachers just tell us the funny stories from the their missions......but I don't even care if I have really bad days, I'm just going to find everything good that happened that day, and just be happy about that. Ah! I'm so excited! I'm going to Hungary in almost exactly one month!
Yeah, well, my time's just about up....I love you all, and I hope you have a great Christmas! Tell Sister Anderson thanks for her letter, and I'll try to find Anderson Elder in Hungary. (I'm going to be there soon!) Murray Elder

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Dec 9th Snow!!

Hi everyone!
So, it finally snowed! I am so excited! It started on Saturday, and at first it was just kind of dust that didn't really stay, but Saturday night, it snowed a ton! And it's been snowing ever since! Ah, I'm so happy.
Although, we went to the temple today, and we decided to take a bunch of pictures, and it was like, 10 degrees out (actually I don't know...the lady handing out the clothes said it was 9 or something...). So, it's really cold out, and we were taking forever becuase we were taking pictures...haha, we got to the temple, and our faces and hands were all bright red. It was pretty funny.
So, the speaker for the Tuesday Night Devotional was Claudio R. M. Costa--ha, I actually remembered the name this time! He's a member of the presidency of the 70...he was such a great speaker! The thing that he focused the most on was planning, and I never really thought about how important planning can be....he told us the story of his conversion, and when the missionaries first came to his house, they taught once, then wrote down the information in the area book. After that, missionaries didn't look in the area book (or at least that section of it) for the next ten years! Finally, someone looked, and they went out to visit his family, and they got baptized. It was just such a great story, and he said you need to be THAT specific in your planning--even down to including time to read through the area book. It doesn't seem like that big of a deal to us, but it just might change someone's life!
Ah, so as zone leaders, Lundeen Elder and I get a list of the missionaries coming in this week....foreign missionaries sometimes arrive on Tuesday nights, and we have a Canadian in one of our new districts (I know, they totally don't count as foreign....haha) so we were waaay stoked to go get him and bring him to district devotional review....but he didn't come. It was kind of dissappointing, but we're looking forward to meeting him today, along with the rest of the new missionaries. Oh! And guess what!? So, the two new districts are going to Pocatello, Idaho and Everett, Washington! Ah, I'm totally telling the Washington Elders to say hi to you all for me if they go to Stanwood (that's in the Everett mission, right?). It's so crazy though! I mean, what are the odds?
So, I've been getting the letters and packages and stuff you've all been sending....thanks so much! Those totally make my day! It's so exciting to get mail! I think I say that in every email, but it's so true!
Oh my gosh, so we have a TRC appointment this Thursday (we have one every Thursday..). That's the Teaching Resource's where returned missionaries go and pretend to be investigators, and we get to practice teaching and speaking our mission language. I remember the first few times were waaay stressful, but then I realized that it's okay if I don't speak the language that well, I know it's just for practice....I've been so much more relaxed about them now! It is so much fun! It's like a little taste of what it's going to be like in Hungary! Oh. but, so this Thursday....every week up to now, we've done an intro in Hungarian, left to plan a lesson, then returned to teach in English....this week, it's all in Hungarian! Ah! I don't know if I'm more worried about speaking so they can understand, or being able to understand them....but, I'm not stressed. It kind of stinks though, because Lundeen Elder and I have to leave at 7:30, so we'll just have time to the teaching and everything, we won't be able to get the feedback.....Hopefully Sister Snow will make notes of the many things we need to work on...haha. Yeah, but we have to leave early because we have to meet with the new missionaries again and teach them about the rules and everything......should be pretty fun--both getting to know them, and also seeing if they're anything like I was those first few days....
So.....I get my second haircut today.....looking forward to that....It's way easier having shorter hair, it's just that my head doesn't stay as warm in the winter......ha, I guess that's what hats are for, right?
Oh, here's something for Bishop (and anyone else who maybe just needs a little boost) because I don't know if I'll have time to write a letter to you.....I'll definitely try, but just in case I don't get around to it, I know that the Lord only wants to bless us. I forget which scripture mastery it is (sorry Sister Willard...) but it talks about how we are not tempted above our ability to withstand, and then in 1 Nephi, he says that the Lord prepares a way for us to the things He has commanded us. I know that these two scriptures are so true! We will be able to overcome any obstacles we face in this life--even the ones that seem so overwhelming. The Lord is there to support us if we learn to just trust in Him and try to learn from those trials that we face. I hope that whatever trials you are now facing, you will be able to overcome--just remember, overcoming adversity should not be our only goal...we need to learn from our trials. I know that the Lord loves each and every one of us--that love is evident all around us, if we just take the time to look for it. That's another thing I've learned during these few weeks--there's a good and a bad to every situation, and how you are able to deal with trials in your life is largely based on your attitude and perspective. Always look for the good in everyone and everything, and I know that you will find it! The same is also true for the bad, but who wants to focus on that?!
Murray Elder

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Dec 2, 09

Hi Everybody!
So, I forgot which week this's easy to do here, there's so much going on, and everything just goes by so fast.
So, on Thanksgiving, Elder Holland spoke! It was so exciting! He talked about being thankful (of course--it's Thanksgiving) and then, he just spent the rest of the time answering questions that a bunch of missionaries had sent a few weeks was really cool, and really humbling, because he got to one that involved being sealed to more than one person (like if your spouse dies and then you get remarried), and he tried to explain it as best he could, but in the end he just said "You know, there are some things that we just won't know the answers to in this life." It was so amazing, because he's an apostle, and there's still stuff he doesn't really helped put in perspective how little we all know, and how much we just need to rely on the Lord and have faith that He will take care of everything.
The Sunday night fireside speaker was someone in charge of missionary affairs (something like that...I'll put his name in the letter home, I don't have my notes right now...). He was awesome! He was so funny, and he really got his point across about the importance of our work. Then, last night's Devotional speaker was the primary general president (Sis. Dalton). She was really good too, she likened us to the 2000 stripling warriors in the Book of Mormon, and she really went in depth with it. She also stressed how important the "Primary Answers" are, and I have to say, I never really thought about it before, but she is totally right (all the teachers here are right!). It really is the simple things like praying, reading the scriptures, going to church, etc. that help us stay close to God. Everything else we do in the church just builds off of those fundamental principles.
Ok, so my dad said my emails were all starting to sound alike...sorry about that, it's just that every week is structured the same...we learn different stuff, but we have a very set schedule, so sometimes I have a hard time remembering what stuff happened in which week. I think Rowland Elder does too...he's the senior district leader, so he picks people to say prayers before and after classes, and one day, I think I said 3 prayers! haha, I didn't really mind, it's just that we have to say them in Hungarian, and my vocabulary is quite limited at present, so all of my prayers sound very similar....Ah, but that district got their flight plans last week! They're leaving this Monday! I can't believe seemed like we were all going to be at the MTC and going out to the field together....I'm going to miss them, they were all so awesome...I hope I can be companions with at least one of them in the field. Oh, and with that, they're getting released as zone leaders this Sunday....Lundeen Elder and I are going to be the new ones! Ah, I don't know if I'm quite ready for that....but, they were zone leaders from their first day, so I think I'm a little more comfortable after having been here a while. And, I know that the Lord will help me, otherwise He wouldn't have called me to that position. It's kind of funny though, because this happened in the other district as well...the one who is the farthest along in the language and is the best at studying and learning is called as the district leader, and the other two are called as zone leaders. Rowland Elder was the district leader and is just about fluent, and Miller Elder is the farthest ahead in our class, and he just got called as district leader. I think it's going to help me though, because I think Lundeen Elder and I have meetings during the week, so we're going to miss two hours of classes each week....It's going to force me to study as often as I can, which is good, because in school I never really studied, it all just came pretty easily to me. I think this is getting me ready for college...
I so amazingly excited to get to Hungary! We ask our teachers to tell us a story from their missions, and they spend the rest of the class time telling more sounds like so much fun! And, I know that there are going to be difficult times, but I just need to focus on the good things that happen to me. Lefevre Testver (there should be an accent over the "e"--that's Brother in Hungarian) subbed for our class the other day (he usually teaches the older district) and he said the most important thing to remember while serving your mission is always to have a smile on your face--people will want to know why you're so happy, and you'll actually look like you are excited about the message you have to share. With all the stories I'm hearing, it's not going to be difficult to find something to smile about...Ah, I'm getting so impatient to get out there! I was thinking about it the other day, and I'm at least 1/3 of the way through my MTC seems like way longer, but then again, the time has gone by so fast, I can't even imagine how soon I'm actually going to be out in the field, and how fast two years is going to go by.
Well, I think I'll wrap it up here...When the time starts getting low, you want to send your email as soon as you can, because if time runs out, you get logged out automatically and your email gets deleted...
Oh, and I promise I'll send pictures back soon...I just wanted to take some pictures of the district that's leaving before I send memory card is not very full right now...
Ah, I almost forgot...haha, the Hungarians apparently have a lot of tradition here at the MTC, so they pass stuff down to each new district...I think we're going to be moving a lot of stuff into our room this week, so I'll take some before and after pictures so you can see how much stuff there is...
We have learned the first verse of the Hungarian poem "Talpra Magyar"--we yell it whenever a district from our zone leaves. Ok, well, I've got to go, but I love you all and miss you! Have a great time at home, and stay strong in the gospel! It will bless you!
--Murray Elder