Full Time Missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints
Hungary, Budapest Mission

Monday, July 20, 2015

Week 61 - 2nd Week in Szeged

Oh man, what a great week!

We have been working really hard in this last week! There is work to be done here in Szeged for sure! Lots of small miracles happened as well. Monday and Tuesday we went on splits with the elders from Békéscsaba (bake-ace-chaw-buh). It went really well. We had them (Elders Andersen and Winegar) come to us for the day. We had a lot of programs planned for throughout the day but somehow they all cancelled. But it's okay we just went finding and Andersen and I got to talk, I think he really needed it.

They ended up leaving at about 3:00 so we saw them off and headed back to the branch house. (Miracle #1) On the way back we saw an old man (one of the sister's investigators) sitting on a bench outside the branch house. He was waiting around for institute and was hoping to catch the sisters. We stepped inside after chatting and found the sisters in the building.

The sisters asked us to help with him. We stepped outside together and the sisters told him they didn't have time right then but the elders would gladly meet with him. He was fine with it so we stepped in and invited the branch secretary to the program (because he happened to be in the building). An even longer story short we were able to put him on baptism date! Right then and right there!

We rode out the rest of the day on a high from that! Which was good seeing as the next day we had to go into Budapest for Missionary Leadership Council (MLC one of those leadership things...) at like 4 in the morning. But the council was good! We learned a lot and we will be working on applying it to the work.

(Miracle #2) Thursday was packed! I enjoy teaching much more than finding and that is a miracle in and of itself. (Miracle #3) In one of those programs we met with a new investigator of ours, Péter. It was our first program actually. He is a cousin of one of the recently converted members, Roland, who was there in the program with us. When we sat down we asked him if he had any questions for us. He did indeed. Basically he told us he hadn't been baptized yet and would really like to be, and wanted to know what he needed to do to get baptized. (and I was like, WWWAAAAAAAHHHHHHHOOOOOO!!!!!) So we gave him a bap date and set up meetings for the next few weeks to teach him. (Elder Oakes and Höferl dancing in the halls after a good program)

(Miracle #4) Friday we also did some pretty good work, we did a lot of finding and we were on our way home walking through a park as we passed a family sitting on a bench. I got a few feet past them before I decided to stop and go back and give them a flier. Which they kindly accepted and proceeded to walk with us and explain they had been looking for a church to go to for a while and we traded numbers and fist bumped their kid before saying good night.

The last big miracle of the week came last night. Our apartment is nice but there are a few things missing, like decent chairs etc... (Miracle #5) We were walking home on Sunday night from being out late again and lo and behold on the side of the street is an office chair. I examined it to make sure it wasn't really just trash... everything was in perfect working order, so I threw it on my shoulder and took it home! Now I have an office chair as my personal throne! (imagine the sight, two Mormon missionaries soaked through by sweat, in the middle of the summer, in shirts and ties and one of them is carrying an office chair on his back, only in Hungary)

(Miracle #6) My little sister, Naomi, is doing awesome back at home and so many people are supporting her! Thanks so much to everyone for being there to help out my family. I love you all! And of course, family, I love you guys too!!!

Elder Oakes, Hungary Budapest Mission

Monday, July 13, 2015

Week 60 - 1st Week in Szeged

Wow this has been a crazy week!

Where to even begin! Lets just start with transfers. We got calls last week that I was going to Szeged. Wednesday we left to Budapest and I switched companions. I will miss Elders Rodgers and Mellor, but I am excited to serve with Elder Höferl. He is Austrian but speaks really good English, though we are tending to speak more Hungarian together. As we were coming into Szeged my luggage broke. Not just one but both of my large suitcases are finished. I literally had to carry one on my back. Poor Elder Höferl had to practically drag the other one.

But Szeged is a nice city and I am glad to be here. Being Zone Leader is going to be hard though. We have to work harder and better with more demands on our time! It's crazy but good and I am excited. The next morning Sisters Whittaker And Heath even took us out to go do Yoga! It turned out to be a lot harder than I thought. Who knew that stretching was such a good work out. We had a hash of good programs the first day as well. This city is big and we were having to run all over the place but its helping me to figure out the city better so that's good.

Saturday we had an awesome Sport Nap! The branch here is super into it and I loved playing with them even though I am not very good at soccer. The Branch president here is probably one of the best players I have ever seen! Luckily I was on his team so I wasn't too much of a handicap. That night though we got a call from a member of the branch asking us to cover the Sunday school lesson for the youth! With meeting starting at 8 we only ended up having like an hour or two to frantically prepare!

But things went well. Church itself was great! Though I had to introduce myself and totally botched it! I just get so nervous in front of people sometimes, but the members knew what I meant to say. We taught the Sunday school class. That went really well. Only two kids in the class, so not that intimidating, and we actually were able to prepare a pretty good lesson. Elder Höferl is super good at teaching too, so that's a big help.

Sunday night I got initiated as Zone Leader. We take "call in reports" from our zone and then pass the information along to our APs. Its kinda a long process but it was good and I got to start getting to know the missionaries in our zone. It's interesting being on the other end of those phone calls.

But anyway, biggest news this week came from back home! My little sister has been fighting leukemia since she was diagnosed a few weeks ago. Apparently my family launched a social media campaign that caught Taylor Swifts attention (let it be known that my little sister is a huge T-Swifty fan) and when she saw my sister's story she decided she was going to help out, by donating $50,000 to my sister's recover fund. Since then the news has continued to spread and people are sending their love, donations, care packages and letters to my sister.

It's amazing to see the blessings that are pouring in. I am so grateful to everyone helping and supporting my sister. Taylor you have a huge fan here for sure!

I hope everyone has a great week!!! ttyl

Elder Oakes, Hungary Budapest Mission

#TeamNaomi Naomi Oakes, my little sister who was diagnosed with Leukemia. She is 11 years old and one of the happiest people I know. She is battling it out with this cancer right now. Thanks to everyone for your love support and prayers! Thanks so much to Taylor Swift for helping my sister.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Week 59 - Transferred to Szeged!

Hey everyone!!!

So this has been a pretty eventful week for us. Tuesday the new mission president, President Szabadkai, got in. I am super excited to serve with him but I am also going to really miss President Smith. He and I had a great relationship and I really felt like he had my back. Its sad to see them go but they served well and now they get to go home with their families.

On Wednesday we got calls from the Zone Leaders that the new misson president wants to meet with all the missionaries before the next weeks transfers. It was super short notice. We had to call and cancel some programs we had planned on Thursday and I was worried we may fall short on our finding hours for the week.

But it all turned out okay, the American football match we had planned got canceled so we had plenty of extra time to go finding! Amazing how stuff like that works out sometimes...

The next day we made it to Györ for the emergency conference. We were there a little bit early so when President Szabadkai walked in I was positioned perfectly for him to single me out, walk up to me and say "Na, mondjad valamit magyarul" which obviously causes great cause for alarm when your brand new Hungarian mission president comes up to you and you start drawing blanks on how to speak. I fumbled through that and through the closing prayer. But you know what they say about first impressions.

The next few days were good, we did splits and Elder Mellor and I went out and blitzed a small city near Pápa that's in our area. We also as a District did service for a member by stacking like 3 tons of fire wood in his back yard. It was good, though! I have been missing good service projects, they take a lot less thinking than talking to people.

Saturday afternoon was awesome. There is a NATO airbase here in Pápa so there are a decent number of Americans we run into here. But every fourth of July they host a giant family party for all Americans free of charge and they have real authentic American products that they bring in. I ate barbeque chicken with REAL "Sweet Baby Ray's" Honey Barbeque sauce. IT WAS SO GOOD!

There was tug of war, water balloons, suction cup, bow and arrow shooting, ping pong, and a lake for swimming. But it comes down to the fact that I LOVE AMERICA, and it was great to celebrate a little on the 4th of July.

So we are winding down the transfer. We got calls this morning and I am leaving Pápa. Tomorrow I will be heading to Szeged, a city I actually really wanted to serve in so I am excited. I will also be serving as the Zone leader with Elder Höferl a German in the mission. Its going to be a great transfer, I am so pumped! I guess my first impression wasn't that bad huh? Anyway, good week I have pictures I will attach below, love you all friends and family.

Elder Oakes, Hungary Budapest Mission

Update on my sister, Naomi:

My sister Naomi is doing good in her fight against Leukemia. She has started on her chemo therapy and is fighting like a champ. My mom has gotten all moved into the hospital with her to be there with her for support. I included pictures of them from home in my pictures.


Thursday, July 2, 2015

Week 58 - 4th Week in Pápa!

Well this week has been quite an eventful one,

We have a few serious investigators we have been meeting with this last week, namely two. The first one goes by the name of Csaba (ch-aw-buh). He is a really cool guy and has been investigating for a while. His hold up right now is smoking, like a lot of investigators. But we have started the stop smoking program with him and he has thankfully been taking it seriously. We have met with him almost everyday and he has been doing pretty good, though he hasn't quite been able to quit cold turkey.

His house is always kinda crazy, there is always something interesting going on. Thankfully this week wasn't quite that crazy. He was just babysitting his cousin's kids (I got a ton of pictures, they were so cute). Unfortunately, the nicotine withdraw makes him a bit cranky, but he is actually doing a lot better.

Our other investigator's name is Kovacs János. He showed up at church the other day randomly. He hadn't ever met with the missionaries before but he had met the J-dubs and decided that wasn't going to work so he came to us! He had also gotten a Book of Mormon from a friend and already was familiar with some of the stuff we believe in. Basically sat down and cut to the chase with us. He is interested in the gospel and already accepted to be baptized by the end of the summer though we don't have a specific date. Talk about being prepared, this guy is awesome!

This week I also got talked into getting my back waxed by one of my companions. He assured me that he is quite the expert and that he knows what he was doing... Morale of the story even if someone has done waxing before doesn't mean they don't enjoy causing you pain!

This week has all together been a good week but I also got a phone call this week that has brought a new challenge. On Friday we were in a program with Csaba when our phone rang. I excused myself to pick up the call. When I answered it was my father on the phone...

He explained to me that they were in the hospital with my sister Naomi and that she had been admitted because of easy bruising. A blood test shows my sister has been diagnosed with AML Leukemia, an aggressive form of blood cancer. It broke my heart to hear, and I am so sad that I cannot be home to help and support her. But I am grateful to all the help and support that my family has already started to receive and would ask everyone to keep my sister in their prayers. (This was a facebook message From Sandor who was in Elder Oakes' previous area) Hi! This morning when I wake up and I noticed it what happened how, I got in the car promptly and I drove to Pápa to meet my elder brother! I had to go away, and felt good very much. I desire much strength and perseverance, improving!

Elder Oakes, Hungary Budapest Mission