Monday, February 3, 2014

I feel like my testimony is getting picked apart and re-arranged out here. I love it!

We are Europies! Man. Adrienne. Russia! I am so stoked. My people hate your people. What can I say?
Alright, just kidding.  This side of the world is so different from America. There is so much history. There is so much hurt and sorrow. There is so much tradition and old grudges. I would basically describe Europe with that word, Old.
I would say that the thing I learned the most this week ( because there usually is a general theme) is who the "Hungarian" is. Where they came from, why there are who they are, and the losses they have suffered. It is changing my mission, just figuring out who they are. I think I am stepping out of my American bubble. And I really like it. These people don't come from a place where freedom bells ring and where they sing about their accomplishments. The Hungarian anthem is pretty much a plea for a better land and time. The first line is " God bless the Hungarian..."
We went and visited A. last week. I would describe him as an antique, a piece of artwork. He sits in his little antique shop with his best friend ( his dog named tadpole),  feeds him little apples from his garden, friend to any tired traveler that wants to reminisce, and polishes old clocks. We walked into his old little antique shop and said we wanted to talk a little. He pulled out the old translation of the Book of Mormon and set it on his little table. He paused for a little and then started to explain what we were doing there. He said, "You are missionaries, you come here because you believe something, you want to make other people believe. You don't understand where we come from."
He then started to explain his idea of religion. A Pope telling him when to sit, when to stand, when to pray, when to worship.
He talked about real faith. He talked about the need for genuine people. He talked about the history of Hungary, losing wars, losing two-thirds of your home, and being told how to live. Told us about the day the tanks rolled down the street, right outside his shop. Told us what they were told to think, believe, and live.
I hurt so bad when I think of that. When I think of one of my old investigators getting his only pair of denim pants taken away because he wasn't in uniform. I hurt when I think of the all the Hungarians on the street that tell us they are losers, ( they know the English word for it) and I hurt when little A. pets his dog and tells us that is what religion is. But he has FAITH. If there is one thing a Hungarian is, it is sincere. When they believe something it is because THEY believe something. It is real. This is not a disguise for them. It is them. They do not wear masks, they wear tired, stone faces, you can see chisel marks, and abused edges, but you don't see cracks.
I look back at who I was before my mission I just see a Mormon. I see a person who as a Laurel president shook hands because she wanted friends, who learned the gospel for knowledge, who prayed for acknowledgement, who went to church every Sunday.  I see a girl who wanted to be perfect on the outside, whose reflection in the mirror was more than the being within. Who did because she was told. That is not the person who follows the living Son of God.

Who the heck cares if I am Mormon! I've met more than a hundred better people than me on my mission. I've seen a hundred stronger faiths than mine. I've seen a hundred kinder acts and heard a hundred sincerer words.
SO WHY IN THE WORLD AM I HERE!?! Well... not because I am Mormon.

You want to know. Because right now you think I am apostate. :)  No one makes it to heaven because they are a Mormon. No one makes it to heaven under any religious name. No one makes it to heaven unless it is under ONE name and one does not wear "that" name. One becomes that name!
My comp and I got yelled at the other day by a man who said just about every rude thing about a Mormon he could think. I have never felt so sick in my life and I attributed it to the fact that what he said might have been true. And I didn't know.  20 years of learning about this religion and I was so sick that I might be wrong.
So I did some evaluating.

What is the main thing Christ teaches in the Bible? What does EVERY single question probe? Every question is a probing of the heart. Where is your heart? I can stand here all day and tell these people I am right, but if I don't act in such a way to exemplify the Son of God, then no matter what my religion I am wrong.
The bible talks about how  when we are judged there will be quite a few people that will say, "I did miracles, I did so much good, I preached about Christ, and I have done so much for him."
Do you know what the Master says? " I never knew you. Get out of my house and don't come back you wicked servant." Isn't that interesting? We can do all the good we want, we can obey, teach, and help, but in the end where is our heart? What is in our heart?  Where is our faith?  You remember all the times that Christ said that the Gentiles were more righteous than the Jews, when they had more faith than the Jews, how the harlots and the publicans would enter the Kingdom of Heaven before them. So it is the same here.
For forever I have felt like my religion stood in the way of my faith. I didn't understand......I was just doing it backwards!  It is super easy to serve in the branch, easy to eat a piece of bread in sacrament meeting, easy to serve a mission and have people write you and tell you how great you are. All of that means nothing without understanding.
What is hard is living is such a way that in every situation you are applying the gospel, living Christ's example, and serving an All-knowing God.
Now don't get me wrong.  The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is true! It does matter that I am a member of this church. It does matter that I have been baptized, following the example of my Savior. The Church of Jesus Christ has been restored from the original church Christ himself organized.  We need it, we need the Priesthood, we need the ordinances for salvation, we need it to help us build a relationship with others, with our Savior and Heavenly Father, but without real faith, it is worthless.
I feel like my testimony is being picked apart and rearranged out here. I love it! I want to be converted, truly converted. I don't know exactly how, but the Hungarians are teaching me.
I love Jesus Christ. I love his gospel. I love his Church. You hate my preaching right now. Understandable. I am just really excited because something clicked for me! I am studying and learning what conversion is and I am building on a sure foundation. I recommend it to everyone. Feels great!
This week was incredible! We have 6 people that are going to be baptized and we got standard again!? THIS NEVER HAPPENS. But it is happening. Cool, huh?
Also, A. has this little craft that ADOLF HITLER made for his sister!!!!!! I saw his hand writing! He is a very artsy man, too. Who would've known? He also gave us the old Hungarian money. Which equals more than 1000000000000000000 forint! The inflation in Hungary was so bad that they had to start using numbers in the thousand billions! And one millard ( that is what they were called) would buy you an egg. Crazy cool, huh?

I think Adge, if I could give you any advice right now it is to study the Russian history And with the language learn the alphabet over, and over and work on the pronunciation. Do that until you get into the MTC. Trust me that makes it 10 times easier. You are going to love Europe. I thought I was going to hate it. It is great.
Also yesterday was incredible because I was able to use my peacemaking skills. We were visiting this family that hasn't come to church in a while. When we got there the spirit completely helped me to talk to them about what was going on, they were angry and upset and at the end we were kneeling in prayer! I couldn't believe it. There is still a lot of work to do, but it was such a blessing! They want us to come back every week! This is a very strong family that can really help out our ward!
Anyways, I talked way too much.
Adrienne I love you. You will love it there. I would say get a coat now. It is FREEZING HERE. I don't even want to know what it is like there. Don't take a lot to the MTC and just buy stuff when you get there on a P-day. Get a side bag- it is a rule now. AND GET A SUITCASE WITH 4 WHEELS. If the transportation there is like it is here you will regret not getting that. With trains and the subways and buses- you'll die without it. You'll also screw up your back. I have really messed mine up.
Alright, I love you all. YOUR LETTERS WERE HILARIOUS. Boys stop being such lady killers!

Nathan: I come home on July 23. Be ready for a party.
Love Sis. Fowers

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