Monday, April 28, 2014

April 28, 2014

Well, this week, I went on an exchange with one of my MTC companions, where we decorated easter eggs and ate sugar waffles.  That's about the hardest partying we're allowed out here but it was epic.  Also, I don't know if you guys know this, but that package of easter egg dyes that you sent had a little memory game it, you know where you flip over the cards and try to match them to each other?  Well, there were tons of eastery animals, like a chick, a turtle, a bunny, a lamb, and whatnot.  Well, they all had normal names like terrence turtle or something like that.  All except the lamb.  It was called Lollichop.  I thought it was hilarious.  I couldn't get over how twisted that name was and how it was meant for kids.  I think that it was a joke that some guy put in when they made the cards.
In other news, we had district conference this week, which was really good.  We had an area seventy come down and was the presiding authority.  His name was Axel Leimer and he's German by birth but he knows english like a native, except he can't say th at all, but that's okay.  When it was announced that he would be coming down, our branch president sometimes has trouble with names that aren't romanian, so he paused after he said "axel" and I was super stoked that Axel Rose would be coming down for our district conference.  But alas, we were not serenaded with sweet child of mine or any other classics.

Culture Tip
Here it's pretty commonly accepted that people make out in public.  It's just a fact of life I guess and they're used to it.  So pretty much any time you walk into a park you are going to see quite a few couples going at it, which is something quite unusual i think for us americans.  Another strange aspect of dating life here is that there's almost always a third wheel whenever you see a couple outside.  There's always two guys and a girl or two girls and a guy, but much more rare is the couple alone.  Well, how do these two romantic behaviors work together?  I mean, you can't possibly have a couple making out on a bench in the park with the third wheel just sitting there next to them right?  Wrong.  Happens all the time.

Two Truths and a Lie
I got hit on by a gay dude
I walked about 273,000 steps this week by contacting
I ran two miles in my proselyting clothes


Monday, April 21, 2014

April 21, 2014

Well, this week I learned a new phrase:  O sa te bat ca o covoara (I'll beat you like a rug).  Here, they don't very often have vacuums or even full carpet floors; just rugs.  So in order to clean their rugs since they are without vacuums, they hang their rugs over a horizontal pole and go to town with a little wire hand-like device and just beat the dust out of it.  Well, we participated in this activity this week for service and that's where we learned this phrase.  Good time.
Also, this week was Easter, which is basically the biggest holiday in this country, so there has basically been no one outside for the past few days.  So basically, they celebrate Easter pretty much the same as us, just with way more stuff.  Like they still do the Easter bunny and the eggs, but they also have midnight mass with candles and a huge meal, which is almost like Thanksgiving for us Americans.  It's pretty epic.  So the candles thing.  At midnight, everyone goes to the churches where a priest that has fire that was flown in from Jerusalem and he gives it out to the people via candlesticks. The idea is that you take the candle home and keep it until the morning, when it'll go out by itself, so you can have good luck for the year.  So we were given permission to participate in such an event, and it was pretty cool.  We didn't have a candle, so some lady gave it to us.  That was pretty neat.  So the meal.  Around Easter time, the meat to eat is lamb apparently.  At least, that's what everyone told me.  I didn't eat any lamb for Easter though.  Another thing they have at this meal is colored hard boiled eggs.  That's pretty normal, right?  But the way they crack them is different.  It's kind of a game, but more like a fighting championship.  What happens is you have to have 2 people each with an egg, and one of them says "hristos a inviat" (Christ has risen) and then the other goes "adevarat, a inviat" (true, He rose).  Then the one that initiated it smacks the tip of their egg on the tip of the other's egg, and whoever's doesn't break gets to live to fight more eggs and the one that broke just gets to get eaten.
The other exciting thing that happened this week was a huge storm that we had.  It was the first real storm that we've had this year. It had been raining all week long, just kind of a slow drizzle that just eats away at your soul.  But then on Saturday it cleared up and was actually pretty nice outside.  Then the clouds rolled in.  There was a crazy cloud bank that marked the beginning of the storm.  It pulled in really fast and it poured for the rest of the day.  It was great cause it actually had thunder and lightning, so it was way better than a dreary drizzle.  And it stopped just in time for Easter to be a beautiful sunny day.
In other news, I got my first batch of film developed ever this week, and while trying to wind it back into the roll, I broke it and had to take in shamefully into the developer guy and he just put in his magic jacket with sleeves and it ended up alright, so that was good.  However, about 2/3 of my film was underexposed, but the ones that did turn out turned out great.  I was really pleased with them.

Sorry, my entire email was pretty much a culture tip and I can't think of two truths and a lie, so next week I'll get back on those.  And the lie for last week was the goat one.

Hope you all have a great week!

Monday, April 14, 2014

April 14, 2014

Alright, so for this week.  Well, we had zone training meeting which was pretty good except we had to give a presentation.  I was sick of there being boring presentations and I had do talk about goal setting which is like the lamest topic ever, so i decided to have fun with it.  I made each district a special assignment which they wouldn't know beforehand, and then they had to plan to effectively accomplish their task.  Now normally, this itself would be a baneful assignment, but their missions were 1) to defeat the evil mr clean who traps people in soap bubbles, 2) destroy the robots who have taken over the world and 3) to fend off an incoming horde of pizza loving aliens who want to turn the earth into a giant pizza crust.  They had a good time with it.  We had some great creative methods, including launching a beehive into space, among others.  And there was a moral to the story as well.  When you have set goals that you know you need to accomplish, planning becomes much easier because you know what you need to do.  So now you can see:  presentations don't have to be boring and put you to sleep.
In other news, we met a British fellow who's been living in Romania for 18 years as a missionary.  He must be one devoted man.  He was doing some bible exhibition in the mall which he invited us to, but we got there too late so we didn't get to see it :(  Oh whale.  It was still cool to talk to the British guy and hear his british romanian accent.

Culture Tip
Well, here in Romania, basically everyone has their group of friends that they hang out with, so usually you'll see big groups of guys just standing around and talking to each other.  When I say talking, I mean pushing each other and laughing and just horsing around like young men do.  Normal.  There's a word in romanian: smecher, which describes these guys perfectly.  There's no translation into English, so I'll try to describe it.  It's basically like a sneaky and sarcastic attitude that you use to make fun of people or just mess with them.  It also has other meanings but that's the one I'll focus on.  And you can use this word also to describe a person.  So we call those groups smecheri (plural for smecher). So anyway, we were walking doen the street past a group of smecheri and then one of them called out to us.  I turned and saw that it was one of the guys that I had talked to on the bus before.  So we talked for a minute and usually they just make fun of us the whole time when we talk to smecheri, and they started to, but once they found out that I was keeping up with them and being a little smecher back, they immediately did a 180 and accepted us into their group.  They're like you know romanian so well!  How did you do that?? Then they were showing us their music complete with dance moves and handshakes.  I was even called my brother multiple times and we were invited to clubs with them as well, but we're missionaries so you know we had to decline.  But it just goes to show that the way into someone's heart is to relate to them.  When they see us on the streets, we're just pocaiti to them, but once we started talking to them, they realized that we are actually brothers.

Two Truths and a Lie
Okay so last week, we didn't see Smiley, din pacate.  All the others were true though!

So this week:

  • I watched 2 goats headbutting each other on the street
  • I met a guy who looked EXACTLY like Mark Wahlberg
  • I wore a crown of thorns


Monday, April 7, 2014

April 7, 2014

So for this week, well, not much changed.  We had transfers, but our entire district is still the same.  So that's fun.  We made some sick new stickers with eagles on them to promote our upcoming English classes, so that's been pretty fun.  Rather than bore you with exactly what i did this week, I'll just let you know about my food exploits.  I've recently been trying to enhance my culinary skills by focusing on one type of food per transfer.  I've already given up on tortillas and I got strawberry lemonade down, so the next one I shall conquer will be the ever elusive pizza crust.  So today, I bought a ton of flour and yeast and a bottle of olive oil, and now, I'm working on making the perfect pizza.  I've already made two ehh pizzas, so we'll see how the next ones go.
In other food news, we did what we called the Lumberjack Challenge this week, where we each ate 5 hot cakes, 4 mici, and 2 eggs.  It seemed like a lot of food at first, but no one had a problem eating it, so we were a bit disappointed.
The most exciting thing ever this week comes with a story.  So a couple weeks ago, when we went up to Sapte Scari in Brasov, I lost my watch.  Yep, the epic one that Dad sent me while I was in the MTC.  I have faithfully worn that watch every single day out here and it's really grown on me.  We were like best buddies ever.  Well, my streak of watch-wearing fidelity ended that day when I went to check the time and realized that my beloved watch was no longer clinging to my wrist like a newborn koala.  I was in the forest at the bottom of a pretty steep hill bordering a cliff.  There was no way I could find it.  I had just descended this steep hill and took a little tumble on the way down, and I assumed the watch broke free and careened into oblivion, bouncing down the rocky face of the cliff, never to be found again.  I was heartbroken and couldn't hide it.  My best and more faithful friend who had been there with me for a solid 9 months was absolutely gone.  I trudged back home and ate some comfort foods to soften the blow, but nothing could soothe my pains.  Then, this last week, while rummaging through my backpack, guess what I found?  Duh, my watch.  Oh how sweet was the reunion of wrist to the prodigal timepiece.  All memory of pain was washed away.  So what really happened, was while I was digging in my backpack for my delicious sandwiches, the watch fell off in there and rode safely all the way home with me.  So now we're all happy.

Culture Tip
I can't think of a culture tip this week.  Ummm let's just say that every Romanian will say exactly what he thinks.  One of the elders here has really taken to wearing a cowboy hat all the time, and every person we pass on the street without fail will end up saying something about cowboys.

Two Truths and a Lie
Okay, the lie last week was that I gave someone our list of potential investigators.  I did fall down the stairs at a bookstore and knocked a shelf off the wall.  The employees said it was fine though.  I also read the lyrics of an inspirational metal song as a poem for district meeting last week and everyone loved it and we got really inspired.

So for this week,

  • I saw a woman throw her cat out the window and then proceed to yell at it
  • At least one person in every companionship got sick this week
  • We got to see Smiley in concert here in Ploiesti last week doing a free concert in the park


The Lumberjack Challenge:

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

March 31, 2014

Well, we did a lot of contacting this week, and we tried out our fancy shmancy new family history cards.  At first, it was kind of awkward because we didn't really didn't know what to do for that, but then we made a survey and it made it wayyy more effective. Here's some of our experiences:

We knocked into someone and started the survey with "Do you think families are important?"  And the woman goes yeah of course they're the most important.  Then her husband, from behind her, goes, ba nu! and she's like, why not? you don't think families are important?  And he's like oh, I heard women.  (families = familiile, women = femeile, they sound similar)  And she's like, oh... wait a second!  Women are also important!!  Then she turns back to us, shaking her head, "men."
We contacted a woman on the street and she told us we were too young to do family history and that we could talk to her about families when we have our own families.
We asked a woman if she could take a survey about family history and she told us she didn't need to do family history because she already had enough history and she didn't want any more.
We contacted a woman and her daughter (who looked about 25) and asked them to take our survey.  The mom hesitated for a bit, and then turned to her daughter, "oh talk to the beautiful boys!"  Then her daughter was like mommmmmmmmm.  It was hilariously awkward, especially when the mom forced us to continue the survey.
We asked a group of people walking together to take our survey and they did, until one of them read our nametags.  She was like "what's written there?"  Then her eyes got wide and turned to the other ones "They're pocaiti!  We can't talk to them!  We have to go!"  But the other ones stayed and actually finished the survey, but then booked it immediately afterward.

Basically, when you're contacting on the street, people try to give you super lame excuses to not talk to you.  The particularly lazy ones will just waggle their finger at you.  But those that are trying to be nice will say ma grabesc.  Which means I'm in a rush.  However, whenever anyone says that, they're usually doing anything but rushing.  They're usually just wandering around the park, on a walk with their family, or what have you.  And they know you know they're not rushing, but they say it anyway and they just don't care.  One guy wandered over to us, looked at the card, listened for a minute, and then said ma grabesc and meandered away.  Classic.

Culture Tip
Here in Romania, they LOVE soft pretzels.  They call them covrigi, and you can get them on essentially every street corner.  And they're dirt cheap.  There's a particularly good covrig joint called gigi's here, which is absolutely incredible.  They have chocolate filled covrigi that are to die for.  Absolutely amazing.  Another thing that is dirt cheap here is the bread.  And it's incredible.  Such a crispy crust with a fluffy inside like you've never seen.  Well, while contacting the other week, we found this little bakery and figured we'd give it a try.  It just sold bread really (and it's amazing, by the way) but there was one other thing there that kind of caught my eye.  They were these round braided bread things with some sugar on top.  I thought it was a covrig so I bought it.  Upon tasting it however, it was not a covrig.  No, it was much, much more.  It was actually just some of their bread dough that they rolled up and baked it, then sprinkled with sugar.  Kind of like a breadstick.  You wouldn't think that breadsticks are that great with sugar on top, but you'd be wrong.  It's incredible.  Basically, it was a combo of the two greatest things in romania: covrigi and bread.  They mastered it.  However, this particular tiny bakery is the only place that you can get it.  Basically, it's super exclusive.  We had no idea what to call it though, so we just called it a sugalump.  Now we feast on sugalumps all the time.

Two Truths and a Lie
Okay, last week the lie was that a priest told us to get off his turf.  I did climb a tree in my suit (it's fine) because we tried doing some kite contacting and one of our kites got stuck in a tree.  And yes, someone does think that we believe that Jesus came in a spaceship.  Okay this week:

  • I quoted a metal song for district meeting and the sisters loved it
  • I gave an investigator a Book of Mormon with our list of potential investigators in it, and that particular investigator's name on the list was "dude #4"
  • I fell down the stairs at a bookstore and knocked a shelf off the wall