21 December, 2008

I got home from my mission ONE YEAR AGO today

Here's where I was one year ago and two years ago, respectively. These are, in case you can't figure it out on your own, emails from my mission.

18 December 2006

To everyone:

Merry almost Christmas! I'm pretty sure the internet places are all going to be closed next Monday (as well it should be) so I will try to make this two week's worth of Koler Nővér action. This is shaping up to be a great Christmas: I don't have to stress about buying presents for anyone (family, I bought a little something for you, but it's going to be more of a Valentine's Day present).

I have a new companion. I need two weeks before I can say anything concrete about her. [Pollock, that was you]

Taking Gillespie Nover to Budapest to go home was a little like taking a beloved family dog to be euthanized. I knew it was all for the best, but inside I was dying because I knew SHE didn't want to go. I tried to be enthusiastic, for her sake, but it was rough.

"C'mon Gillespie! We're going to Budapest! Oh boy!"

It's funny: often I expect things from people, particularly from my fellow missionaries on my mission, but I am always surprised to find out that everybody is different. In Hungarian we have a saying "Nem vagyunk egy formak." That means "We are not the same" but it means more than that, really. Like you can't apply one certain way of thinking or one certain idea to everybody. Except the gospel of Jesus Christ. That works for everybody.

I'm really sorry but I have to go. I wish you all a merry Christmas filled with all those things that bring actual happiness, which are, in fact, not things.


P.S. If anyone has had a baby recently, please send me a picture.

17 December 2007

My very last general epistle from Hungary:

My heart has been beating in my fingers and my ears all day today. For a lot of reasons.

I ended my last week with a lot of programs, a Zone Conference, a really cool tracting experience (more on that in just a second) and a baptism. Not someone that we taught, hanem a woman from Kazincbarcika. She has a very strong testimony of Elder Ady, who is going home with me in two days. Coincidence? She is a nice lady but at the baptism she hugged Elder Ady and kissed his neck repeatedly ... she is at least 60 ... really disturbing.

Elder Ady and I had an interesting conversation the other day (at the baptism) along these same lines. I have noticed (or rather, experienced) that female missionaries get sexually harassed a lot here, which doesn't happen to male missionaries very often. On the other hand, male missionaries have a lot of problems with investigators or members -- generally older, lonely single women -- falling in love with them. That has yet to happen to me, thank goodness. Elder Ady theorizes that older women here fall in love with the IDEA of a young, handsome guy that wears a suit every day and abides by a strict moral code and is nice to everyone. But that isn't a realistic perception. Nevertheless there are a lot of inactive women we meet with who pretty much joined the church because some elder charmed them all the way down into the waters of baptism.

Although if you saw how slim the pickings are in Hungary, how hard it is to find a decent man, it would be a little more understandable. And because there are so few nice men, they don't have to fight for women at all, and the ones who treat women badly make out OK too. What a mess.

Anyway, last night I got sexually harassed for what I hope is among one of the last times by these two drunk idiots. I try not to let it get a rise out of me, but it always does. It's especially hard now that I understand everything they say to me.

When we got home Sister Loveland reminded me about a blessing she got our second transfer together when she was sick, which said that she was going to have a great mission, that her and her companion (me) were going to be like the apostles of old. Then she showed me this scripture in Matthew:

"Blessed are ye when men shall revile you."

That made me laugh.

Also, we were an hour late for Zone Conference because there was construction in Budapest and we got lost ... we were in the car with the elders ... it was really embarrassing. So I missed the talks and the training, but was there in time for lunch.

I gave a really short departing testimony because I was the only one. I don't remember what I said. I had promised myself I wasn't going to try to give advice about missionary work because it's not like I know anything they don't. So I just said a lot of stuff about Jesus. I might have cried. That's all I really remember.

The coolest thing that happened to me all week is as follows: I may or may not be a little tired and burnt out this past two weeks, but lucky for me my companion is a slave driver and doesn't let me get away with anything. She drags me out to go tracting even if we only have an extra 15 minutes to spare. I complain a lot but I appreciate it, I guess. So the other day we had about 20 minutes before Angol Ora was supposed to start, and she dragged me out to go tracting, like usual. We were on this small street near the branch house, and because it was dark and cold, people were all telling us to go away. Then at house number 22 this happened.

(knock on door)
Me: I wish I had a greenie.
Loveland: Why?
Me: Because then I would be in charge! And if it were up to me we'd be inside right now.
Loveland: Shut up. You love this.
Me: Do not. I'm freezing. (no one has come to door yet) This guy isn't home. Let's go.
(porch light comes on, woman comes out and walks to gate) (it's my turn to talk)
Me: Hi, my name is Sister Koler, and me and my friend represent Jesus Christ's Church. We would like to share a message about Jesus Christ.
(I wait for her to tell us to go to France)
Lady: (smiles) Oh, please come in.

It was like a Church movie. Not even kidding. She let us in and cried during the opening prayer. She's totally sane.

So maybe I will miss all of this a little bit. A lot, actually.

See you soon. I love you all.


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