Greetings from Hungary: Share your talents, share your faith

By Michelle Lehnardt

For the Deseret News

Published: Friday, May 31 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Elder Daniel Bracken (Farmington, Utah) and Kereki Noémi (Budapest, Hungary) just before her baptism.

Michelle Lehnardt

This article isn't about me, or even about Kereki Noémi, a new Hungarian convert.

It's about you. Your unique personality and experiences are exactly the inspiration someone needs. Whatever your talents or trials, our Heavenly Father can make use of your voice.

I'm a quiet person. My little blog doesn't have a big list of followers and I use the basic white template. Again and again, I've considered making my site private — who wants to read about my life anyway? Still, my ramblings about my children and faith intrigued 22-year-old Kereki Noémi (Hungarians state their family name first) when she stumbled across my blog early last year.

A native of Budapest, Hungary, Noémi delighted in our large family and silly antics. She also related to my sorrows. Some of the heartrending experiences I'd been most hesitant to share connected her heart to mine.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, after she'd been reading for several months, Noémi wrote an email to me titled, "Greetings from Hungary." I'd never guessed someone across the world was reading my words.

One sentence in her email stood out, "I would appreciate it if you could give me some advice where to start learning about Mormonism." My 16-year-old son Hans was sitting beside me as I read Noémi's words out loud and we both jumped with excitement.

Few words could be sweeter. I love my faith — I want to share it with everyone I meet because it makes me so happy. We quickly compiled a list of our favorite links from mormon.org, showed her how to find "I'm a Mormon" profiles in Hungary and told her how to request a visit from the missionaries.

Everything we sent Noémi was accepted with enthusiasm. Five days later the missionaries knocked on her door, "And I knew my life would change forever," Noémi said.

Impressed by the service of missionaries far from home and their efforts to learn such a difficult language, Noémi stirred up goulasch and rolled cookies for them each time they taught her.

As Noémi continued learning and studying and asking lots of questions, the answers made sense to her. The gospel does make sense. Everything in the church supports the family and families provide the greatest joy.

The LDS members in Budapest wrapped their arms around Noémi — answering questions, inviting her to events, providing true friendship. At our house, Noémi became like a member of the family — exchanging almost-daily emails, letters and gifts and birthday cards, sharing in our joys, worrying over us during illness, offering Hungarian recipes.

At one point, ward-boundary confusion necessitated Noémi changing to a new congregation. She was worried about starting anew when she'd just began to make friends, but through the power of the Internet, I found the blog of a missionary couple serving in her new ward. The Feldsted's blog led the right people to Noémi at exactly the right time.

In April, members of both wards supported Noémi at her baptism. One of the very first missionaries who knocked on her door, Elder Daniel Bracken, received permission to travel three hours each way to perform the baptism. Elder Matthew Miller traveled to Budapest the next day to confirm upon her the gift of the Holy Ghost. Love spilled over and filled the room as Noémi was congratulated by members, missionaries and Noémi's mother, Beke Csilla, who said, "Noémi is an angel."

"Literally, the solution to my problems walked right through my door," Noémi said. "I am so happy since then. My life has completely changed. I know where I am going and where I came from."

Noémi gained a testimony, a worldwide family and a new vision for her future, but I believe I am the greater benefactor in our relationship. I've gained a friend, an almost daughter, a sister for my little girl.

Through Noémi, I have a greater understanding of missionary work. She taught me, "Don't be afraid to send your sons and daughter on missions because we appreciate them. We love them, they help us, they teach us and we become friends. My life wouldn't be the same without them." As a mother of missionaries, her words are manna to my soul.

I've felt the power of God work through my meager talents. When I consecrate my life to the Lord, just as Bach dedicated every musical composition "to the glory of God," my small and simple efforts are magnified.

Every talent, every skill we develop can be used for good.

Never again will I hesitate to write what I believe, to share my joys and sorrows. And neither should you. Write, dance, sing, plan parties, learn Chinese, quilt, play ping-pong, be yourself and share your faith.

Dedicate your life to the glory of God — your Father in heaven will make use of your efforts.

Writer, photographer, Michelle Lehnardt is raising five future fathers and one little mother. She write at scenesfromthewild.blogspot.com on building chicken coops, hosting tea parties and missing her missionary son in Russia.

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