Last week, we went over to our member's house to do some service. Afterward, we talked and they gave us desserts and we gave a spiritual thought. these members are really cool and have been members for about 20 years now! they live in an old house that I think Sora radulescu's father built, or at least lived in. It's so old that they have very little insulation, so they just covered the outside with styrofoam. Apparently, that's a pretty common practice here in Romania. they also have about 5 bajillion plants growing in their backyard, with tons of different fruits. The plant they have the most of, however, is fig trees. They grow tons of figs, and sora Radulescu makes preserves out of them. She was even nice enough to give us a jar. They were fantastic. I think it's basically just figs and sugar, and orange peels. Last time, I accidentally ate on of the orange peels because I thought it was just a dried fig. oh well, more fiber. they also have a dog named Rocky, who I'm pretty sure is Trixie's soulmate. He's about the same size and has goofy little short legs just like Trixie and he barks at anything that moves. he loves human attention and is always begging for food from the table. He even does the crazy dog run when he gets wound up.
We went to Bucharest for district Conference on saturday, which was great. We had the temple president from Kiev come down and speak. It was a little weird having church in english, but I got used to it. while we were there, we had to travel by metro. We were with the zone leaders and going to get some dinner during rush hour, so there were tons of people around. we were waiting for our train when the one going the opposite direction showed up. One of the ZL's decided that we should go on that one instead just because he was tired of waiting for ours. So we all hurried over to get on the train, but by this time the doors were already closing. The train was really full already, but we just barely squeezed on. Then we turned around and realized that one of the ZL's didnt't actually make it on the train. There was just not enough room. He had to wait for the next one to come around. Later, when we were taking a tramvai back, there was a car accident right in front of us, one of the only car accidents ever in Romania, they just never happen. Anyway, so that held up traffic really badly, so we decided to walk. However, we were in the middle of a giant street, so we just walked on the tramvai tracks. Then we noticed that it was getting lighter out. We all thought that was strange until we heard the horn blare behind us. we turned around to see the tramvai coming straight for us. There were cars on either side of us, so we couldn't get out of the way; we just had to start running. We were running away from Death and just made it to the station in time. However, the same ZL who missed the metro decided he didn't want to run, so his imminent death was much closer than the rest of ours. Of course, we were totally fine, and the tramvais actually have good enough brakes to have stopped before it hit us, it just seemed like a very perilous situation at the moment.
On my exchange with Elder Hickenlooper (yes, he is related to the governor of Colorado), we took a shortcut through a graveyard. It reminded me of the cemetary in Paris with the bridge on top of it, although it wasn't as nice. However, there were some really ornate and well-kept gravesites there. One was a multi-stoned sculpture of an angel crying next to a pillar. We read some of the poems and sayings on the headstones, and they were all really sad a depressing. they all said something along the lines of: In life you forgot us, and in death you left us. Some were really short, like "eternal regret." All in all, a really depressing place. It's sad to think that as a culture and people, that death is such a sad thing. Of course, death is sad, but as elder Hickenlooper explained it, it's really just like saying goodbye to a friend who's moving or going on a mission. You are sad that they are leaving, but happy that they are moving on to better things, and that you will see them again after a few years, and you'll be even happier to be reunited with them at that point. I'm so glad that we have the knowledge that we do about the world after this one and about families, and it's such a great blessing to be able to share that knowledge with my brothers and sisters here in Romania, who don't have that knowledge and joy yet in their lives.
Okay, so this week, we were at the library doing our email time, and this lady asks me what some word means in English (apparently, we're known here because everybody and their mother asks us to correct their English or what things mean in English), and I didn't even know what it meant. Anyway, I looked it up and then we started talking a little bit and she thought we were students and we told her that we were missionaries, and then she was like "oh, okay." and went back to reading her English book. The next day, we went on exchanges with the zone leaders and we were walking down the street, and we heard someone saying "hello!" behind us. But that happens all the time, so we didn't think anything of it, because Romanians are always trying to practice their English, but when they say things to you, they never expect a response. So after 2 or 3 hellos, we actually turned around, and it was the lady from the library again! So we talked for a little bit, and turns out she's studying at the university here, working on a graduate degree in English, so that would explain why she was reading such hard words. So she invited us to go see a movie with her, and we said we couldn't. She was disappointed, but she was satisfied when we gave her our facebook names. So now I have my first Romanian facebook friend! That evening, we were walking through Centru and we got to see a performance of what I assume was traditional Romanian dance, which was really cool to see. We had a lesson with our investigator, Valeriu, this week. He knows EVERYTHING about the Bible; he's studied through it 10 times. He knows his stuff. He's been searching for a church for 10 years now, since he knows that the Orthodox Church isn't true, so we've been meeting with him. Usually, the lessons had been interrogations, he being the interrogator. He hasn't been progressing, either. He would refuse to accept commitments because of the parable of the 2 servants who are asked to go into the field and one says yes, then doesn't go, but the other one says no, but then he goes. He doesn't want to be like that first guy. He wouldn't read and he doesn't have time to come to Church, so it was kind of rough. This lesson, we decided we were going to stick with our plan no matter what, and we prayed for strength beforehand. We met him at the church and told him that we had something special prepared for him. We asked him to pray at the beginning of the lesson, and he refused. We kept on anyway, and taught our lesson. He listened carefully and answered our questions very thoroughly, since our lesson was about the gospel of Jesus Christ, so anyone who's read the Bible 10 times should know at least a little bit about that. As we concluded our lesson, we asked him to pray, and he did! He even accepted a commitment to read in the Book of Mormon! We were very blessed that day, and it was probably the best lesson I've had so far. Yesterday, we had the opportunity to meet with the mother of the branch president in Constanta, because she lives here in Craiova. She invited us over for lunch, which of course, we accepted. She's not a member, in fact, she's very Orthodox, but she likes having the missionaries over anyway. She fed us, and it was great. We had figs, cucumber and tomato salad, fried potatoes, telemea, and a whole entire chicken. It was my first real experience of eating Romanian food. It was great. Okay, I know, you're dying to know what telemea is. Basically, it's a cheese that they only have here in Romania, as far as I know. They make it with cow, sheep, or goat milk. The kind that we had was from a goat. They let the milk curdle, then soak it in a super salty brine, and tada! telemea. It's actually really good, but it's kind of iffy to eat just on it's own or even with something relatively tasteless, such as bread, since it's so strong. However, it goes really well with tomatoes and cucumbers, or the potatoes.