Thursday, August 28, 2014

Can it be Week 5 Already!

Wow!!! It's been 5 weeks here in the MTC with only a little more than 3 left to go!!! I don't know how it's felt for all of you, but it has really felt like it's flown by! The missionaries going to Finland in my zone are leaving this week and it is going to be really sad seeing them go! They're all super cool and it's going to be especially weird because that will be me 3 weeks from now!!! It's starting to hit in a little more that we're actually leaving so soon, because I'm starting to get a little bit more nervous about the language. I feel like everything is coming along really well, and I love doing our language study, but then I think -will I be ready to talk to actual Hungarian people 3 weeks from now and I definitely get kind of nervous. But don't get me wrong, I am way more excited than I am worried!!! I am definitely counting down the days till I get on that plane and go off to a totally new world!!!

So to answer a few questions my mom had: I did get to welcome the new missionaries coming into the MTC again yesterday. It was super fun (especially because we get to miss class for a couple of hours) and awesome to meet different people going lots of cool different places. I actually got to host one Elder who was going to Boston for his mission, so I was able to assure him that New England is the best place to be by far and that he was totally going to love it. It seems like just yesterday I was like them, coming in here for the first time and really having absolutely no idea what was going on or how to say anything in this crazy language that I'm studying.  We got the new group of Finns that are here to replace the old ones, but it really won't be the same. There is one friend of mine from BYU who came in so it was really cool to see her and she didn't even realize I was in her zone when I was talking to her. Gym time is still always the best. I’ve been playing a lot of basketball and it is some definite needed exercise after sitting in a classroom for 3-4 hours at a time. The BYU Fall semester hasn't started yet, but it will pretty soon, which is going to be super weird. I can't quite see the campus from the MTC, but I can hear the bell tower go off at the hour pretty frequently, and it's basically just a block down the road. Kind of strange to think about that though, so I try and imagine I'm not a five minute walk from my old apartment.

Unfortunately, there is not a lot of other stuff that goes on here. We kind of just go to class all day, speak Hungarian, and teach lessons, so I'm sorry all blog followers, but my life is not all that exciting right now. Yesterday we found out that our favorite teacher is being moved to the other Hungarian class, and although it is only next door, it feels like she is leaving us forever. She was definitely my favorite teacher and we were all super bummed to hear that she was leaving, and she was super bummed about it too. I like the new teacher coming in, but Christensen Nővér is the one who tells us all the awesome stories from Hungary and she is super hilarious and definitely helps us get through the late night class periods when we are all just EXHAUSTED!!! It's going to be sad if she has to leave our class, but she said she is going to try and still pick up at least a couple of shifts with us.

I'm not sure if you remember when I was sick a few weeks ago, but there's a funny thing that happens when 7 people are crammed in a small room together for 16 hours a day. Yeah, I got everyone in my district sick (including my teachers) so our classroom kind of sounds like some sort of quarantine section. Luckily, it's not the flu or anything, but one of our teachers and a couple of the other Missionaries got it SUPER bad and really did not sound good at all. Luckily I think they are all almost over it now, but it was a rough week for everyone else. 

Things with the language are definitely ramping up over here though. This week we really hit it hard, and have been trying to speak Hungarian a lot more. Our teachers are cracking down on us just speaking Hungarian in the class room, and we also have two SYL Days (Speak Your Language) where we have to try and speak Hungarian the entire day. We can use some english if we really have no idea how to say something, but on Wednesday and Friday, we have to speak just Hungarian, and it is definitely not easy. Yesterday was the first time we did it, and we probably only got through 3/4 of the day, but we did a lot better than I thought we would. It is always cool to see how much you progress and I have definitely progressed SO MUCH!!! 

Well I don't have a whole lot of time, and there is not a lot else that happened this week, but I definitely love being out here! I miss you all back home, but it is awesome to be getting ready to help people in need and see an entirely different way of life. I absolutely love my mission and I am SOOOO excited to go to Hungary. Feel free to email me if you have any questions about what I am going to be doing on my mission or if you just want to tell me a funny story. I hope things are great back home and I love all the support I am getting from everyone! Thank you all so much and I will talk to you next week!!!

Dalton Elder

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Halfway to Hungary

     One month here in the MTC and it's hard to believe that it's been that long. I am almost half way now (I leave four weeks from Monday) and am so so so so excited to head out to Hungary! But I am also really learning to love the training center and am having a truly amazing time! And believe me, I am not in a rush to get out. As far as the language goes, I still have quite a ways to go with that... 

     Anyway this has been a really great week! I will start off with last Thursday night when we had our weekly TRC (which is where we teach and speak with volunteers from around the area, (all in Hungarian of course) and it was a really great, but difficult experience. We walked into the classroom where we have the meeting and found ourselves sitting down with three people, when we only expected to teach one. Let me say, that it was much more intimidating than you can imagine, especially when they were making jokes and laughing and you just have no idea what they are saying. Two of them served their missions in Hungary, but one was a native Hungarian, and she was VERY intimidating. Worst of all, I really don't know my second person plural conjugations very well, so it was a little bumpy and awkward. They were all super helpful, and we taught two lessons, and both turned out really well!  We were able to ask some questions and have a little bit of a discussion and it was the first time that I really felt like I knew what was going on. Don't get me wrong, I still only understood about 10% of what was said, but I was able to (somewhat) get my ideas across and it was pretty cool! There is definitely a reason they push us hard here in the MTC because that is what helps you learn it best. Those tough situations really make the difference. 
     Along with that, we started to teach our daily lessons without writing out what we want to say before hand. Previously we would just write out a full lesson, translate it, and just memorize the lines, but our teachers told us we can't do that anymore and have to get a plan, study useful vocab, and then teach in the moment, to better help the needs of the person. It was REALLY scary at first, but over the course of the week, our lessons have improved so much and my Hungarian has improved quite a bit as well! One of the most amazing experiences I've had here at the MTC was the other day when we were teaching a lesson to our investigator (someone who is interested in the church) Rita (actually our teacher). Rita was enjoying the lessons we were teaching her, and liked talking with us, but she didn't really see why it was important and wasn't super invested in making a difference in her life. We had been struggling with her for the last couple lessons, and before this next lesson, I told my companions we were just going to go all out, bear everything we have in our hearts, and not leave until we convince her of the truthfulness of the things we taught. This was one of the most amazing lessons, and experiences I've ever had. We read a few scriptures with her, and said a few lines, and then just each took turns pouring out our entire souls to her in whatever broken Hungarian we knew. I just told her how much this church has blessed my life, and how I feel God's love for me and all of his children every single day of my life. I told her that I know with a surety that the Book of Mormon will bring her closer to Christ and that she will be greatly blessed through this. It was really amazing and I could tell our teacher was getting emotional. We had her pray right then and there to know if what we said is true and if the Book of Mormon is true and it was really the most amazing experience. I got so invested in helping this fake person in her life, I just can't wait to go help real people out in Hungary.

     One of the great perks of being in the MTC for so long, is that we get to host the new, incoming missionaries, meaning we get to pick them up at their cars, swoop them away from their families, and help them get settled in. It was actually a really cool experience because we got to see all these sad families say goodbye to their children for 2 years, but you could also tell they were so happy and so proud of the commitment they were making. After some tears and some goodbyes, I would take the new missionary and all his stuff around campus for a little bit, get all the stuff they need, take them to their residence and then their classroom and then move on to go pick up someone else. It really is just great to talk to more people who are giving up so much to help people and serve the Lord and see some different circumstances than my own. We did that for about 2 hours and I hosted 4 missionaries, who were going to Mexico, South Dakota, Paris France, and Tokyo Japan. It was super fun (and an awesome break from class) and I really hope I can do it again next week.

     Well, I think that is about it for this week, because other than that it is just cramming Hungarian ALL THE TIME or making jokes and having fun with all the awesome missionaries in my district and in my zone. I absolutely love everyone in my zone and we are having the best time. Unfortunately, the Finns just started their consecration week, which means that they only speak Finnish all the time. This goes till next thrusday, and then they leave that monday which will be SUPER sad and really weird not having them around. It is really an awesome awesome time here at the MTC and I am totally loving it. Once again, feel free to email me if you have any questions (or Dear Elder me, you can ask my mom what that is if you want) and I would be happy to answer them if I can! I absolutely love my mission and I love God, and I have never felt closer to him before in my life. I am so thankful for all of you and the amazing love and support that I have felt. Szeretem Titeket (I love you all). Have a great week!!!

Dalton Elder

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Sziasztok Barátok! (Hey friends!)

Sziasztok Barátok! (Hey friends)

I cannot believe that it has already been 3 weeks here in the MTC!!! It is unreal! It seems like I was back home just yesterday, and yet it feels like I have been in the MTC forever too. Unfortunately, in the MTC, all the days are very very scheduled, so there is not too much variety from week to week, but I will do my best to try and make it somewhat interesting for you.
It was great to say goodbye to Logan today!   I totally wasn't thinking he was actually going to make it to the temple (especially because it was super early in the morning) but it was great to see him! A little bit of worlds colliding and we could only talk for a little bit, but that goodbye on skype definitely wasn't enough for two years.

 I am really starting to enjoy the classroom and my teachers are hilarious. We have a lot of fun with them as they tell us crazy stories about their time in Hungary.  Even though we try to stay focused and be productive, we are definitely not afraid to crack some jokes and spend a good 15 minutes laughing and telling stories. 
For all those concerned I am feeling a lot better than I was last week! I still have a bit of a cough, but I feel totally fine again.  During the peak of my illness, I sounded pretty terrible (even though I didn't actually feel that bad) and everyone in my class always made fun of me and we all told the teachers that I was dying (because it actually did sound like I was dying). A whole lot of fun here at the MTC though. 
So based on a question that my mom asked me today, this upcoming week I will get to host the new missionaries! What this means is I get to leave class early, and go meet missionaries when they get dropped off, help them with their bags, check them in, and take them to their residence and classrooms and stuff. From what we hear from the Finns, it is the highlight of the week, and I am especially interested to see the terrified faces of the missionaries coming in so I can get a small idea of what I looked like when I first came in. 

Things with the language are getting interesting. I am starting to feel like I can actually say what I want to say half the time (terrible grammar though), but I am also starting to see why the language is so tough. The deeper we get into the language and the better we get, it seems like we get into even more ridiculous rules and exceptions and strange cases! It's been great though and I am getting so much better. Last week on Thursday we have something called TRC, which is basically where volunteers come and we teach them a lesson all in Hungarian. They are mostly people who served their missions in Hungary, but there was actually one local, and nobody could understand what he was saying. It was a really great experience though, because we get so used to listening to our teachers and they talk so slow and help us to understand, that it was a real eye opener when we had to talk to people who would not slow down. They were all super nice though and helped us try to understand well, but one of the guys we talked to, I swear, I did not understand a single word he said. He spoke SOOOOOO fast. We have that again tonight and it is probably the most stressful lesson we teach, but also the most beneficial, as it stretches our abilities that much farther! 

Alright! It's all of your favorite part of the post! That time where I talk about ridiculous Hungarian people that my teacher tells us about!!! Wooooo!!! Alright, so as I mentioned before, the Hungarian people are rather clothing challenged. However, there is a deep rooted fear of sterility within the culture associated with the cold, so in the winter they bundle up like no other. Our teacher told us that they don't have any air conditioning, and even though it gets blazing hot in the summer, nobody or no building has air conditioning because, obviously, AC makes you sterile. Along with this, you can't walk around your house with bare feet (because everybody knows that causes sterility too) so everybody has house slippers they wear, and if you go over to someones house, they will give you house slippers! My teacher said she would have old ladies come up to her in the winter if any part of her was showing and yell at her. So all together, it just sounds like a really hilarious place. There are so many interesting cultural nuances and I am so excited to share my unique experiences in the country with you in about a month and a half! One more interesting Hungarian belief, is that nobody is allowed to sit at the corner of a table, because if you do, that means you won't be able to get married. So clearly the Hungarian people are very concerned about continuing on their blood lines!

Anyway, I think that's about all I could work out of the week. I can barely even remember what happened because you get into the routine you can barely even tell the days apart. It seemed like I was just writing my last post yesterday!!! I absolutely love it out here and I can't wait to help and serve the people of Hungary. I greatly appreciate all the amazing support I am getting and I want you to know that I love you all. Oh, and as promised here's a little Hungarian: 

szeretem időm a MTCbon, és szeretem a miszionáriusokot. Akarom segíteni az Magzorsága embereket. Tudom, hogy Isten segíteni fog engem és tudom, hogy ö szeret minket. Szeretek titeket és köszönem mindenkiért aki megmutattak a szeretetei.

In an effort to discourage you from plugging that into google translate (because it probably makes no sense), I will give you a translation:

I love my time here at the MTC and I love all the missionaries. I want to help the people of Hungary. I know that God will help me and I know that He loves us. I love all of you and thank you all for showing your love.

That's it for this week. Feel free to email me ( or my mom with any questions and I will try and get back to you as quick as I can or plug it in next weeks post. Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Sziasztok Barátok! (Goodbye friends)

Elder Andrew Dalton

Friday, August 8, 2014

2 Weeks Into the MTC

      Alright, well we are two weeks into the MTC!!! It's kind of weird, because it seems like just yesterday I was back home with all of you, but at the same time it seems like I have been in here forever and have another 7 weeks left... But it's alright because I really am loving it!!! So the language is pretty intense!!! Believe me, I am nowhere even close to fluent. I can barely even congegate basic sentences in my head, but we just work hard to translate scripts and memorize our lines.   We are actually starting to be able to have some conversations with the teachers if we prepare for the lessons well!  I would try and write out some Hungarian, but spelling is a bit of a struggle, so maybe that will be a venture for next post (something to look forward too!) 
     We definitely try to find as much fun in the MTC as we can (while still following the rules...) I am in the choir and it is a lot of fun. We got to sing at the devotional on Tuesday, and apparently, the big screen zoomed in real close on my face. I would have looked, but it did the same thing in practice, and I just broke out laughing, so I had to restrain myself in the actual performance. I've seen a bunch of my friends from BYU too!  I see them everywhere. I saw my friend Alex, Sean Haskell (Yes, the REAL Sean Haskell), I saw my roommate Morgan, my friend Katie, I also saw Elijah, the kid from our stake that we went to the temple with, and a few more that I probably just can't remember right now. But it is super weird, and it's super weird trying to call them Elder or Sister.

     I totally love my companions, my district, and my zone!!! We are all having a lot of fun together and it has been super great. They are all super great missionaries and we have a good time. We are tight as a zone too, so we do a lot of stuff like zone soccer or volleyball. That's probably the thing that I look forward to most in a day, is gym time. After sitting in class for 4 straight hours (having had 3 hours in class earlier that morning) it's definintely the little stuff that gets you through. That 50 minutes of gym time is definitely the highlight of each day. We mostly just play soccer, basketball and volleyball, but it is just awesome to go out and get some exercise. The hardest part so far is getting up at 6:30 every single day... I mean I have definitely gotten used to it, but that doesn't mean it's not hard. I did get a nap today, since it was my P day, and let me tell you, it was wonderful. 

     Unfortunately, the past few days have been tough because I have come down with a little bit of a cold. I didn't get much sleep last night because I was up coughing (I apologize to my roommates) and I just felt awful for most of the day. I am feeling a little bit better now.   It's pretty tough being sick in the MTC, because you basically just have to keep going, and you barely get any breaks as it is, but hopefully I will get better soon (and hopefully I don't get everybody else in the MTC sick too. I guess these things happen when you are crammed in a small room with a group of people for 16 hours a day.). 
      We have had a lot of really great speakers at the MTC so far, but probably the best one was  John Groberg, and if you don't know who that is, he is the missionary from the movie The Other Side of Heaven. For those of you who haven't seen this movie (which is probably many) I would suggest watching.    My mission is going to be a little bit different from his, but it is a great story and example of how difficult a mission can be. He gave a really great talk (and we even got to watch some clips from the movie, it was great.).

     Well yeah, I think that's about it for this week. It's kind of weird, because each day and week seem to blend together now, I had a litttle bit of trouble remembering what even happened this week, but it has been a great experience so far. I am really loving it, and I am learning to enjoy the language (even though it's ridiculous...) and I am super excited to be here. Feel free to send me any more emails if you have any questions about what I'm doing or just want to show some support, and I will try and get back to you next week on my next P day! Oh, and before I sign off, I do have one more funny story. My teacher told us about her experiences in Hungary and apparently the people over there struggle a little bit with clothing. Mowing the lawn, picking up the mail, and even grabbing some groceries at the store, are all regular activities that are frequently performed in the nude. So I guess I'm in for a very interesting experience over there! Alright, that's all for today. I absolutely love all the support I am getting from back home, and it definitely gets me through the day. Love you all and hope you have a great week!

Dalton Elder

Friday, August 1, 2014

Week 1 from the MTC

            My first week at the MTC has definitely been interesting! It was quite a lot to handle at first when Brad and Tanja dropped me off and I was basically thrown into a totally new world.  They ran me from one spot to the next, giving me paperwork, and name-tags, and all kinds of stuff, and it was a little bit overwhelming at first. I am in a trio, so it is Mortensen Elder, Peregoy Elder, and myself (it's backwards because Hungarian is a weird weird language...).  I really like all the Elders in my district and in my zone. There are two Hungarian districts so about 13 missionaries going to Hungary. We also have two Finnish districts in our zone and all the Elders and Sisters are super awesome and really nice! They definitely made an effort to make us feel at home for our first MTC experience and they are all super cool. There was also a group of Albanian missionaries who just came in yesterday in our zone.  I haven't really gotten to talk with them too much, but I could get a look at myself when I first went into the MTC, and I must have looked terrified, because that's what these missionaries were looking like. This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever done. When we first walked into the classroom, the teachers only spoke Hungarian to us and tried to explain what was going on, and it was really confusing and a little bit overwhelming, but after the first week, I really am starting to feel like I know what is going on, and I am even getting to learn Hungarian pretty decently (for only being here a week...) The days started off super long, and seemed to be impossible, but now that I am starting to get into a groove of things, they actually go by pretty quickly (relatively speaking of course).

        Just for a point of reference I will give you a quick run through of what my days are like. First -I wake up at 6:30 every day, and let me tell you, it is going to be one of the biggest struggles of my mission!  I am able to get up, but I am just exhausted afterwards. I know that I will be able to get used to it (and it's not like I got that much sleep in high school), it's just definitely going to be a struggle getting up every day that early. After that we shower and get ready and then head over to breakfast.  In case you were wondering, our zone has claim to a table, and all the other missionaries know to stay clear, because that is the Hungarian/Finnish table, and we don’t mess around. The food is ehhh, about what you would expect from the MTC. Sometimes it's decent, other times it makes me just a little bit sick, but no complaining, it's free food! So after that we go straight to class where we usually have personal, companion, and language study. This is the time we use to prepare lessons for "investigators" (They're actually just our teachers). On the third day we taught a lesson in Hungarian, and that was pretty tough, but like I said, we are all learning super fast and we can put together a pretty decent lesson.  We have some trouble understanding what the teacher is saying when she asks us questions and we have no idea how to respond as soon as things go off script. For personal study we study things on our own and find out what we think would be good to teach the investigator. Then companion study is when we talk about it with each other, write out a solid lesson plan, and then maybe do some role playing stuff to practice leading a discussion. After which is language study, which basically means translate as best you can into Hungarian, and then CRAM memorizing so that you don't blank as soon as you walk in to teach the lesson. Then we have some additional study time which is nice because we use that to work on memorizing too. After lunch we go back to class and actually teach the investigator. Which is super awesome, and in the first lesson I was able to bear my testimony to the investigator in Hungarian and it was really awesome and I could feel the spirit so strong. After that we have some classroom instruction, then later on in the day we get gym time (which is obviously the most looked forward to time of the day.) So far we have gone to the field and played soccer, played basketball in the gym and played beach volleyball, and it's super fun too, because we usually do this all together as a zone. After gym we have dinner (at like 5, so I am literally always starving right before I go to bed). After dinner is MORE classroom instruction where we hit the language stuff hard! Nothing is too confusing so far with the language, but it is just hard to remember all of the different vocab and how to pronounce stuff. We do about another 4 hours or so of class time, with some computer language study, and then we go back to the residence at 9:30, get ready for bed, hang out a little bit and talk, and then quiet time at 10:15 to do some scripture study, and lights out at 10:30. It seemed unbearable after the first couple days, but it's amazing how things start to fly by.

        I already have seen a lot of friends from BYU around campus and made a lot of cool friends in my district/zone. The MTC is definitely an interesting experience and I am a little bummed that I still have another 8 WEEKS before I can actually go into the field, but believe me, after studying the language I think that the extra time is definitely going to be needed. I love you all and miss you so much! I hope everything is going great back home and believe me, I am thinking about all of you every day! Feel free to write me letters too, because it does get a little bit lonely in the MTC. There's also this thing called dear elder that you can use where you basically send an email, and then they print it off at the MTC and give it to me that day. Look it up, it's a real thing, I promise. So I love you all and I will hear from you next week!

Dalton Elder