Tuesday, December 10, 2013

December 9, 2013

December 9:

Okay, well, this week has been interesting.  I'll be getting a new companion, well, actually 2.  My companion is going home, because his MTC group made a deal with President Hill when the MTC times changed, so they're all going home in the middle of this transfer.  So I get to be put in a tricompanionship, which should be fun.  Then I don't know what's happening next transfer, I might have to go back to Romania.  I'm crossing my fingers that that won't happen.  Not too much too exciting up here, except for we have our Christmas party/ zone conference today, so that should be fun.  Oh wait, just kidding, something exciting did happen.  We met a really cool guy this week, who contacted the office in Bucharest with his contact information and a note that said that he could be a great leader.  So we call this guy and he tells us to meet him at "global business center"  so we show up there and it's this crazy super nice building.  The nicest building I've been in while out here.  You even had to have a card key to get in.  So we are waiting in the lobby and it's super nice, and Elder Lasater and I are discussing what on earth this guy's job could be, and we came to the conclusion that the only reasonable explanation for the super nice building and whatnot is that he works for the russian mafia.  Somehow he found out about the church and he wanted us to work for him or he'd pull some illegal deals and get members o come to church if we worked for him or something.  So finally this guy comes down and he greets us and takes us up to his office.  And he's HUGE.  He's like 6'2" probably and had a handshake like a vice.  He could probably kill me in one hit.  Another guy meets us up there and we go in, and it's just a huge room with absolutely nothing in it.  So immediately, I assumed he was going to kill us.  That was why he brought the other guy with him and why he wanted to meet with us and why his office had nothing in it.  But then he pulled us into his real office that actually had a desk and stuff, so we sat down and he showed us youtube videos of himself doing presentations and he told us about what he did.  He's a leadership seminar presenter.  So basicaly companies hire him to give seminars on how to be successful.  He's given tons and he's really successful; he even wrote a book.  He told us that he doesn't believe that being rich means just monetary wealth, it includes emotional, physical, spiritual, and relationship-al wealth.  So in order to be truly successful, you have to be successful in those kind of areas as well.  It was really cool and we ended up giving him a Book of Mormon and teaching him about the Restoration.  We tried to set up a meeting with President Hill, but he never called us back about it, so I guess that fell through.  Oh well, it was still a really cool meeting and I hope he keeps interest in the church.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

December 3

November 11:
Church is going about the same, we get more investigators coming, but that's about it.  Still just 2 Romanian members.  We were worried that our BP would have to leave, but he got his contract extended so he can stay for another year.  Also, we're getting sisters in Craiova next transfer as well, so that will be good for the branch.  Our English classes are awesome.  We have a pretty high retention rate and we're really trying to make them fun.  Thanks for the extra ca$h for te English students.  A little more might be helpful as well, since I'll be needing to buy a coat here soon, thanks.  So back to our English classes.  We did a sports day on saturday, so I was able to talk about Marian Draglescu, the guy who won the vault in the 2004, who's a romanian.  They all liked that I knew who he was.  We had a cultural friday night activity where people brought food from their respective countries, so I brought banana bread, and then we also had this awesome thing called salam de biscuiti, which is basically cookie salami.  It was incredibly good and I asked for the recipe from the lady who brought it.  We have been doing personal lessons with a guy who didn't want to learn about the gospel, but after a few lessons, he took a Book of Mormon and promised to read it!  It was a great experience and really helpful for us.  

November 18:
Well, it's getting a lot colder here now, around 6-10 degrees celsius every day.  Well, this week, we talked about music in our English classes, and so we had everyone go around the room and tell us what their favorite genre and artist was, and almost everyone in the class said that Michael Jackson was their favorite.  He's an idol here.  There's even a shrine of him in Bucharest where people go and cry every year on his death day.  Crazy.  They are also very well versed here in classical music, which was really impressive to me.  They told me about the greatest Romanian composer, George Enescu, so that was pretty cool.  Also, for our Friday night activity we playe backgammon, since every Romanian loves that game.  So now I know how to play backgammon.  It's a really interesting game and they get really into it here.  They have a ton of Christmas lights up here and a ton of new shops in Centru, apparently for Christmas as well.  Apparently, there used to be a competition between Romanian cities about who could go the most all-out for Christmas, and Craiova won every year.  We had out district president come on Sunday to speak.  After church, he got to talking to Valeriu, one of our notoriously stubborn investigators, and they ended up discussing the gospel for over and hour.  By discussing I mean they were trying to takl both at the same time and trying to be louder than each other.  But they were both having the time of their lives and I think it was really good for Valeriu to hear such a strong testimony and zeal for the Church.  So it worked out well.  President Doru also gave us some great advice:  to never say "Ï don't know" because we were called here to say I know.  That was particularly helpfl for me, because whenever I don't know how to say something in Romanian, I always just revert to the easy "Nu stiu" but that gives the wrong impression.  So I've made a goal to stop saying I don't know, but instead I know.  

November 25:
We got to visit with Gabriela and Nico (two of our English students) this week! They invited us over, so of course we accepted. They showed us every single room in their house and all of their acquisitions from their world travels, which included original paintings and plates and shells and other various things. They then fed us a HUGE dinner which consisted of an entire turkey and some crazy vegetable dish and homemade zacusca. It was delicious. The whole time we were there, they had the TV running (apparently that's a romanian thing) with this TV show called sulleyman the magnificent which is a turkish show translated into romanian, so it was super hard to follow. It was really good to be able to meet with them though, even though they're not exactly interested in the church. 
There is a huge musical festival here for the month, and we got permission to go to go see an orchestra from Bucharest at the Filharmonic, which was awesome. What was even more awesome was that the first song they played was Holberg's Suite, which I played in orchestra in high school. Of course, I'm sure they sounded lightyears better than we ever did, so it was really cool to be able to just listen to it. At the end of the concert, we applauded obviously, and there was an old guy in the front who gave the director and the first chair violinist flowers. Then the applause just never stopped. Everyone just kept going and going and going and then it kind of turned into a chant of clapping, like we were cheering for an encore or something, so then they played an encore for us of folk songs, including whatever tune praise to the man is based off of and the Star Spangled Banner. Then the same thing with the applause happened AGAIN so they gave us a double-encore performance. I don't know how common that is, but it was pretty cool.
In other news, I'm finally leaving my first area, and I'm going to Chisinau! Everybody else is jealous. Well, the missionaries at least. Romanians don't like Moldova too much. And I'm going to be with Elder Lasater, who goes home in 3 weeks because of the change in the MTC entry dates a while back, so I don't even know who my companion is going to be in 3 weeks. So I don't even know who I'll be spending Christmas with. At least my buddy Elder Feil the Russian speaker will be there, so that'll be fun. Since one of the elders in our district is going home and I'm leaving and the other two are staying, I get to be in Bucharest from today until Thursday, so I'm just kicking it in the office right now. Anyway, we had our last English class on Saturday and all of the students were so sad that it was over. It was by far the best English class I've had. I know, I've only had 3, but still awesome. They kept asking for our facebooks and emails and stuff and made sure we didn't leave before they got to thank us. However, our star students, Nico and Gabriela weren't able to make it, so I called them to thank them for everything and tell them I was leaving and whatnot, and so about half of the phone call was that, and the other half was just saying goodbye. They love their farewells here. You can never hang up the phone without at least 8-100 salutations of farewell. And when they don't plan on talking to you for a while it's even longer. Such a different culture.

December 2:
So this week was super weird, in that I had to leave on Monday to go up to Bucharest to drop off another missionary who was going home, And transfer day wasn't until Wednesday, so I just got to chill in Bucharest for a good while. Also, I found out on Wednesday that I wouldn't be going up to Chisinau that day because my companion had to take the place of the ZL in Chisinau for the missionary leadership counsel, which took place on Thurday. So I got to hang out for another day in Bucharest and finally on Thursday night we got to take the night train up to the mystical land of Moldova. It was pretty interesting because the train was like, Communist luxury. You could tell it was trying to be nice, but it was just not really. Also, all the people that worked on the train spoke both Russian and Romanian, so that was weird getting talked at in Russian and then having them repeat it in Romanian. Apparently, they thought we were gay because we were all staying in the same cabin, haha. Also, crossing the border was awesome. They come into your cabin at 3 in the morning and turn on the light then start demanding papers from you like your passport and whatnot, then they ask what you're taking with you and why you're there and stuff. Not bad, because it was all in Romanian. Then you just kind of sit there for a while, waiting for them to start moving again. Like an hour later you get to the Moldovan border and then they do the same thing, except it's way more intimidating because they just come into your room and start yelling at you in Russian. So that was fun. So when they finish with that, you go a little farther and then they have to change the wheels because the tracks are different sizes in Romania and Moldova. So we got lifted up in the air and they changed the wheels then we got to continue our journey. So all that takes about 3 hours. It was a fun experience.

On Friday, we got to have a Thanksgiving dinner at a senior couple's apartment, which was really good, and we got to watch Fiddler on the Roof, because it's President Hill's favorite movie. It was actually really cool to watch, because a lot of the things in there are spot-on with how it is out here. The cities are better, but out in the countryside it's all exactly like that village. And yes, they are all crazy about their traditions. Okay, so chisinau. Basically, the official language is Romanian, but everyone speaks Russian too and most people actually prefer it. You can definitely see the Russian influence here. It's very very very different from Romania. Everything here is in Russian, so I can't even read it, so now I'm starting to learn how to read cyrillic so at least I can sound things out. My companion, Elder Lasater is an awesome guy and he's only got about 2 weeks left (his group is going home early for Christmas and school and stuff) so I'll be getting a new companion sometime soon. Kinda weird, but we'll see how it works out. I might have to take the fun train again. Well, my district is really cool and one of my buddies from BYU who I went to concerts with is up here, so it's really cool to see him. Church is mostly in Russian, which is fun because I don't understand anything at all, so I just kinda sat there and read my scriptures. Apparently, one member bore his testimony about how everyone in the branch is lazy and doesn't do service and they're not good members and whatnot. I've never been chewed out in Russian before, but it was definitely one of the scariest experiences of my life. They probably had to get a new microphone because he filled that sucker up with his saliva, he was spitting so much. Anyway, the branch is nice and way bigger than the one in Craiova, so we actually had 3 hours of church, which was a little unusual for me. Well, hope you guys have a great week and we'll talk again soon! Also, Christmas is coming, so we'll get to skype then. I don't really know how it works, but I imagine it'll probably be pretty early in the morning.

Monday, November 4, 2013

November 4, 2013

This week was great. Our English classes are a smash success. We had about 50 people show up to the first class and probably around 30 came back on Saturday! We completely filled the entire church, there wasn't a chair unused. Were crossing our fingers over here, hoping they stay going well and we might even get some investigators out of it. One of them even came to church on Sunday! We were able to give him a Book of Mormon and he said he would study it at home. We are really trying to get more people to come into the church more often, and that was why we have weekly branch activities on Friday nights. The only problem is no one shows up. Were going to try to make them more enjoyable and well defined so that people will want to come and then they can meet members and grow an affinity for the Church. Our original plan was to have a munch and mingle at the end of our English classes, but so many people showed up that we cant possibly do that. So we are trying to think of more ways to get them to stay and talk afterward. Dad suggested a while ago that we do a culture-like type deal for English classes and activities, which I totally loved, but my companion at the time wasnt a huge fan of (probably because hes not american). But my new companion is all for it, so were going to try it! Were really trying to make our English classes and weekly branch activities as enjoyable as possible for these students and investigators. Speaking of which, the awesome couple that came to our Halloween activity invited us over to their house and she even showed me pictures of it and her son. Her son is absolutely incredible. He is only 25 and hes a professor for engineering at the university here and he works for a firm in america at the same time. We are really really really hoping that we are able to make it over there, since they only invited us over tentatively, and didnt set up an exact date. During our spiritual thought during our first English class, we started with a prayer, obviously, and then when I finished praying, one of our students came up and gave us an orthodox prayer book. At first we thought he wanted us to pray from it, but then we realized he was just being nice.
In other news, we had another lesson with Valeriu this week, and it went alright. He seems to believe everything that we believe, only he has a hard time understanding that we actually are talking about the same thing. He has been reading in the Book of Mormon though, so I can see some progress coming from him.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

November 3, 2013

Well, this week was cool. We had a Halloween party for our branch and two of our English students and one of our investigators showed up! It was great. The English students that came are a married couple and they have a son who lived in America for a bit with an LDS family and he was able to speak some Romanian with a returned missionary who went to Romania. Also, the husband went to England in 1975 and he visited the temple there! He said it was a very powerful place. They are a great family and they even gave us a little ceramic pumpkin and invited us over! They aren't too interested in the Church right now, but that's okay. It was awesome to have them come to that activity. Also, this week was Craiova Week or something like that and there was stuff going on everywhere. Pretty cool. There were a lot of stands with hand made stuff like vases and plates and other cool stuff. We have English classes coming up this week, and we've been getting a lot of phone calls and talking to a lot of people so I hope they'll be really good this transfer.

We saw this guy in the park who made a little chair for his dog on his bike, and his dog loved it up there!  It was crazy!  Sorry, the picture kinda sucks, but it's the best i could get since he was far away and it was dark.  Also, there was a mime in Centru who wouldn't do anything unless you paid him, which was pretty funny.  Anyway, have a good week and I hope you don't get sick again!

Saturday, October 26, 2013

October 26, 2013

October 14:
Welp, it's transfer week, so goodbye to Elder Lex my Austrian brother.  I'll get to stay here in Craiova but I'll get a new companion, Elder Mayans.  I think he's only a transfer or 2 ahead of me, so that'll be perfect.  The funny thing is, I asked for a companion who could help me with the language, but instead I got someone with only a little more experience than me.  Hopefully, this is a blessing in disguise.  
This week was great.  We had the opportunity to finish listening to General Conference, which was absolutely inspiring, as always.  I also had the opportunity to do some area book work, which helped me with my language skills a lot, since I didn't have someone to fall back on if I didn't understand.  Also, we got a lot of potential investigators out of that work.  Sadly, no investigators yet.
One of our district goals was to visit a recent convert or less active member each week.  We tried to visit one of our less active members, and on the way, we met with one of our investigators who we hadn't been able to meet with for a while.  He explained why, and hopefully we'll be able to meet up with him again soon.  When we arrived at the less active member's apartment, no one was home.  We were somewhat discouraged as we returned home, but then the cleaning lady on the bottom floor stopped us and asked about why we were here.  We then had the opportunity to share a bit about the Gospel and even give her a Book of Mormon.  The Lord blesses us in ways that we never think of.
Also this week, we went up into a bloc for a meeting with the branch president, and we all got into the elevator, except one elder was too slow and was outside when the doors started closing.  So one of the elders inside put his arm out to catch the door before it closed, only this door didn't want to stop closing.  Once the elder realized this, he quickly pulled his arm out just as the doors would have crushed it.  Welcome to Romania.  
We also got to go bloc-knocking this week, which was a good experience for me.  I haven't worked that hard in a couple weeks.  We went through 3 blocs and got to pass out 1 Book of Mormon, which was really good.  Most people wouldn't even say anything when they opened the door.  They would just see it was us and then close it and lock all 25 locks on their door.  So I guess people really do that.  I thought that was just a mythical missionary tale and that didn't literally happen, but it does.  

October 21:
 This week, I got my new companion, Elder Mayans.  He's really cool and I think we're going to work well together.  We've mostly been advertising for our English classes, which are coming up, so that's been keeping us busy.  We've met some really cool people through that and hopefully, they'll show up to our classes!  We're putting posters up throughout the city, putting ads in the newspaper and online, and handing out little cards to people.  We're trying really hard to get some good success from this, and hopefully it pays off.  I absolutely love teaching English classes, which is weird, since never before have I loved teaching at all, but it's really fun to talk to the students and make mistakes and learn together.  We're having a halloween activity this saturday and we have 3 of our previous english students coming, and they seemed really excited about it so hopefully it'll be a great success!

We went contacting in the park (2nd biggest urban park in europe, aww yiss) and decided to go a new way out to the road, and we stumbled upon this crazy hut thing in the middle of the woods!  It's super cool and just kind of out there in the middle of nowhere.  We also found this crazy communist sign which was really cool.

Monday, September 30, 2013

September 30, 2013

September 23:

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.

September 30:

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.  

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

September 17, 2013

September 9:

This week has been relatively uneventful here in Craiova, but now I'm officially in my second transfer and not new anymore!  We have a new Elder here, Elder Hickenlooper.  He's from Alaska and has been out for 14 of his 16 transfers, so he's pretty much a pro at the language, which is good, because now we're going to be able to put ads in the newspaper for our English classes, and we might even be able to do street boarding!  We finally contacted a referral that we got from Iasi a while ago, and his name is Marian.  He doesn't live in Craiova, so it's hard to get a hold of him, but we finally did and we taught him a little on the street and hopefully well be getting a good new investigator.  We're going to Bucharest today for zone training meeting, so that'll be fun.  Oh and before I forget, can you send me your macaroni and cheese recipe?  Romania is severely lacking in macaroni and cheese.  However, it is not lacking in grapes.  There's tons of grapes here, and they're all ripening.  The church here is covered in grapes, so when we go to the church for anything, we get a big ol bunch of grapes and munch on them while we're there.  Elder Lex likes to freeze them, and when you do that, it's just like eating candy.  It's great to eat the fresh fruit here, because they don't put any preservatives in anything, and the freshest of all is when you just pick them straight off the vine.  That's about all the excitement we've had here this week. 

So every time we talk to somebody who's not really interested in the gospel, they always always always ask us if we are allowed to have girlfriends here.  And it's ridiculous, like is that all they think about?  So I asked Elder Lex and he said that he had the same question, and he said he asked a guy in Cluj about it, and he said that the reason everyone asks us if we are allowed to have girlfriends is because probably, out of all the people in Romania, we have the best chance of getting one hahahahaha.  He said "Just talk to them in your American accent and they'll be all over you"  so needless to say, I've been working really hard on my Romanian accent.

September 16:

This week we had zone training meeting, so we got to go down to Bucharest again.  Elder Lex hurt his ankle a long time ago, and it was still bothering him, so we also went to the hospital while we were there.  The doctor spoke some English, so that was good.  However, he seemed to think that Elder Lex was a professional basketball player for some reason, so all of his treatments were based on basketball.  Anyway, all is well with his ankle, so don't worry.  On Saturday, we had a branch activity where we invited a bunch of investigators and well everybody really.  We had a lot of people there and it was a huge success!  We even got an English teacher to come (even though he can't speak English) and now we have that contact so maybe we can gt some posters up in his school an get more students that way.  I baked your banana bread for the activity and it was a smash hit.  It was the only thing that got entirely eaten.  After the activity, one investigator was interested in getting his English better (most Romanians are) so he wanted to talk to us for a while in English afterward.  He kept trying to convince me that he was actually American (through his thick Romanian accent), even though we all knew that he wasn't.  We had a member from a town 2 hours away come to church on Sunday, so that was good.  He brought his friend too, who was very interested in everything.  He even took home with him a Teachings of the Prophet Lorenzo Snow book.  He also said that he wants to receive the Aaronic Priesthood in December.  We had to carefully remind him that he needed to receive the lessons first, and be baptized, and then he can receive the Priesthood.  We'll see what happens with him. It's hard here because the branches are so small and its hard to teach people far away, since they can't ever come to church.  Generally, we just have to focus on people in the cities that can come to church.  But we'll see what happens.  

 I got subway, so that was pretty great.  It's so cheap here. We met these guys with super powers here. There's a romanian fairy tale that includes these guys that have weird powers.  There's one that is always hungry, one that's always thirsty, one that's always cold, one that flies, and one that can talk to birds.  We've met all but the one who can fly and the one who's always hungry.  We will find them though. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

September 8, 2013

So this week is the end of my first transfer!  It feels like it's flown by for me, I don't know about you guys.  we got to see the transfer board, and I'm going........ to "stay here until I can do a tkachyov on our drying rack" -Elder Myler, one of the assistants, also a gymnast for Michigan.  So I get to stay here in Craiova for another transfer.  Last Monday, we went to the park and did some "chalk contacting."  We drew a big picture of the Plan of Salvation, and people would come by and ask us what it was, so it worked out really well.  On our way home though, it started to thunderstorm, so that was fun.  It was actually really nice because it cooled us down a lot.  We've had 3 storms in the past week, all little ones.  Since then, the weather has cooled down significantly, and it feels almost like fall here already.  So far, Romanian weather has been almost identical to Virginia weather, so I feel right at home.  In the past week, our water heater broke, so we had to call our proprietar (landlord) to come check it out.  He brought some guy who specializes in that kind of thing too.  Since Elder Lex knows more Romanian than I do, he had to explain to the water guy what was wrong, and during that time, I had to talk to the proprietar in Romanian, so that was fun.  He kept asking me questions, and I would give him kind of a blank stare and then he would pat my cheek and say "it's okay little boy" haha oh well.  We had my first lesson this week, with a guy named Valeriu.  We planned on doing a Plan of Salvation lesson, but he ended up reading the Book of Mormon before our meeting, which was unexpected, and he said that he didn't believe that the Book of Mormon was comparable to the Bible.  So our lesson plan went clear out the window, and we discussed the Book of Mormon for 2 hours.  I tried to keep up with him, but my brain couldn't handle all the Romanian, so mostly I just caught up when we read a scripture or when he said that he "doesn't have the memory of an elephant."  However, this guy is super cool and has been investigating churches for 10 years, because he realizes the incorrectness of the Orthodox church.  Hopefully he realizes the correctness of our church.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

August 22, 2013

I talked to a schizophrenic the other day.  We went up to him and were like hey we're missionaries and we're here to help people come closer to christ. do you believe in Christ?  And he turns to "the guy next to him" (who wasn't there)  and he goes, "These guys look really nice with their white shirts and beautiful ties, but you know, strange things happen at places..... strange things happen at places........ strange things happen at places......."  So we just booked it outta there.  In hindsight, that may not have been the best way to have dealt with that, but there wasn't really much else we could do anyway.  another time, we were contacting in the park, and found one of eternal investigators there, named Olimpian.  He's a great guy and really loves the Church and is always finding things for the missionaries to do.  On this particular occasion, he had something he wanted to show us.  So we followed him as he hurried away, toward the edge of the park.  We walked past the zoo (yep, there's a zoo in the park, complete with lions, tigers, bears, a golden eagle, and a gladiator pit) and out to the cemetary.  We zigzagged through the maze of headstones and tall monuments (it kind of resembled the one we saw in Paris) until we reached one particular grave site that he wanted to show us.  He points to the headstone, which said Olimpian Bobos 1948 - ____, and says, "Intelegeti?"  He patted the ground.  "Olimpian va sta aici."  Meaning: Do you understand?  Olimpian will rest here.  He already had his own grave!  Although it was kind of weird for us, and we didn't know what to say back, we can commend him for his foresight.  

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

August 13, 2013

This week was great, but really really hot. I got permission from President Hill to practice piano for 1 hour on days when it's bad proselyting time. In the afternoons it gets really hot, so there's no one outside. Also, since Sunday is the only day that most people have off of work, there is nobody outside at all. It's like a ghost town. We found out that watermelon is super delicious and super cheap here! It's .49 lei per kg, so like 15-20 cents. Also, the suc (soda) here is really good and really cheap as well. You can get 2 liters for 30 cents, and they have crazy flavors, like grapefruit and pear and elder-lemon. (That one is Elder Lex and I's favorite). I found out as well, that leu is the singular for lei, which is their money system. What's cool about that is that leu means "lion." So we pay for things in lions here. Another thing that is amazing here is the Nutella. Although I haven't had any real Nutella yet, they have good knock-off brands that are way cheaper. They have one that's called chocremo, which is a swirl of nutella and white chocolate. We eat that on our delicious italian-like bread that is 1 leu as well. Not to worry though, I've actually lost weight here from all the walking and sweating. Also, I've been teaching Elder Lex some gymnastics stuff, so we'll be in good shape, and maybe my suits will fit again. Also, I found out that Elder Lex is famous! If you ever happen to get your hands on the "Tithing and Fast Offerings" Church pamphlet in German, and you turn to the first page, you will see Elder lex and his family! Apparently, they knew the photographer that did the pictures for those pamphlets, so they got to be in one of them.

And in case you haven't seen this epic picture of Scott, I hope it makes your day: 

Sunday, August 11, 2013

August 11, 2013

Here are Scott's e-mails from his first couple of weeks in Romania: 

Hey! First P-day in Romania! So on our way here, our flight from JFK to Amsterdam was delayed 2 hours for noooo reason so we got to Amsterdam with 10 minutes until the plane left the gate.  When we got off the plane we asked one of the workers there which gate our flight was and it was all the way on the other side of the airport! So we took off running to get there on time and we got there with 5 minutes to spare! But it was the wrong gate.  We were so late that when we asked for the flight to Bucharest she thought it was the one that left 3 hours later.  So we looked at the board thing and found our real gate and ran to that one.  Luckily, we made it with -1 minutes to spare. We were the last ones on the plane, but we made it safely there at least, and all but 2 of our bags (for the 10 people that traveled in our group) made it there on time.  We got picked up by President and Sora Hill and they drove us back to the mission office.  We got interviewed by President Hill, who is a really cool guy.  We mostly just talked about the piano the whole time and I found out that his favorite composer is also Prokofiev, what a coincidence.  We then met up with some other missionaries and went park contacting.  We split off into companionships and my companion had only been out in the field for 6 weeks, so neither of us knew what we were talking about.  Despite our handicaps, we placed 2 BOMs and got 2 phone numbers.  For dinner, we had shoarma, which is this really cool wrap-sandwich thing with chicken and french fries and onion and pickles and some crazy sauce that I dont even know what it was. It was really good though.
The next day we went to the mission home and ate Hungarian Gulash, also delicious.  We found out who our trainers are and mine is really cool.  He's from Austria, so he had to learn 2 foreign languages to go on a mission.  Ans I thought I had it bad.  We went to the Gara (train station) and got on our train to Craiova, our first area.  We ate gogosi (gogoshe) on the train, which are basically donuts, but less sweet and more fried.  Craiova is in southwest Romania, and here it's all fields.  Super flat.  Our apartment is really cool, very European.  We get king-sized beds, so thats a plus.
We met this old guy with only 1 leg who sits on the corner of the street our bloc is on.  According to missionary lore in Craiova, he is one of the 3 Nephites.  He just sits there and talks to people, and never begs for money.  He loves seeing us and always wants to shake our hand and talk to us.  We have to walk everywhere in this mission because the traffic is so bad.  I havent seen one stop sign here at all.  There is essentially no traffic control, so everything is in chaos.  However, it is organized chaos.  Everybody knows when to go and when to stop, but it looks incredibly disorganized and dangerous.  Since ther are no stop signs or stop lights, in order to cross the street you just have to start crossing.  Even if there is a car coming, you just have to step onto the street and cross or else nothing will happen.  If you see a car a little ways off and you start crossing, they will slow down and stop.  You have to put your faith into action before anything will happen.  If you just stand there waiting for someone to let you cross, youll be waiting for a long time.
On Saturday, we went to Severin, which is a town to the northwest of Craiova, right on the Danube.  We visited a member there who hasn't been to church in 20 years, because there is no branch or group or a single missionary in Severin.  This guy was so excited to meet with us and showed us around his city and fed us lunch and talked and talked and talked.  Romanians absolutely LOVE to talk.  We ate this quiche-like thing, which was really good.  He gave us each signed copies of this book that he wrote-in Romanian.  I'm still getting used to everything being in Romanian, and not English.  On the way to Severin, we saw a gypsy buggy, which is literally just a big wagon pulled by a horse.  I didn't know that  ANYBODY used horses and buggies anymore.
Everything in Romania is crazay cheap. We buy bread all the time, and it's like that Italian bread that Dad loves, and it's only 1 ron (~30 cents)!  At church on Sunday, there were 11 people there, and if that seems like a lot, just wait.  4 of us were missionaries, 3 were the branch president, his wife, and his little girl from Constanta, so they were just visiting, and 1 was the branch president, who is an American, 1 was an investigator, and 2 were real, actual, bonafide, Romanian members of the Craiova branch.  These members were baptized 18 years ago when the mission first opened, so they are kind of the pioneer members in Romania.
Well, Romania is really cool.  I've heard that people call it "the Mexico of Europe," and I can see why in Bucharest, but here in Craiova, it's pretty European I think.  There are a bunch of old buildings and statues and whatnot.  I can see all the influences it has had though, like from the Slavs and the Roma and the Turks and especially the Communists.  Everywhere you look you can see a communist bloc.  Romania is a cool country and I am excited to serve here.  
Okay, so this week, I learned that "barfa" means "gossip" (I thought dad would liek that one) and last Tuesday, we went to Bucharest for zone training, and apparently its a tradition, when we go to Bucharest, to go to this one restaurant, which my companion told me was really good.  Well, we went there, and it was awesome.  I'll send some pictures of it.  Basically it was this really really old building which was super cool and all the walls were painted, meaning that they had actual paintings on them, and we had a four course meal, which was delicious, and it only cost 22.4 lei! (~$7-8).  I figured dad would like that as well. My companion teaches me a lot of stuff, and he really likes cooking.  The other day, we ate gnocchis, which I had never heard of before, they're like these little balls of potato (?) dough that you eat with red sauce.  They were really good though.  Also, apparently, Elder Lex went to jail here in Romania for proselyting in the Centru (it was in another city though), so we don't do that, so you don't have to worry about me going to jail. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

July 26, 2013

Here's a letter from Scott's mission president's wife: 

President Hill and I were delighted to meet Elder Harris as he arrived in the Bucuresti airport with his MTC group. He seemed very happy to finally be in the mission field after his weeks in the MTC. He was surprisingly awake after his long flights. President Hill and I had an enjoyable interview where we learned more about this great young man. It is evident that he is sincere in his desire to serve. Thank you very much for sending him to us. We were impressed by his determination to be a great missionary.

The next day, we went to Cismigiu Park where, in 1990, Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated the land of Romania for teaching the gospel. We sang hymns and snapped pictures of ourselves with Elder Harris. I'm attaching the picture for you to see.

Then, all the incoming missionaries came to lunch at the mission home, where they tried their first Hungarian Romanian goulash. After that, they worked hard to stay awake through our orientation meeting and then met their first companions. Elder Harris is now with his initial companion, Elder Lex, in the town of Craiova. Elder Lex, a native Austrian, speaks excellent English, is a diligent missionary and will give him an excellent start. 

Thanks again for sending us such a wonderful young missionary. We could instantly tell he will be a very good, faithful, hard-working missionary.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

July 17, 2013

This one guy gave the devotional on Sunday, and he was like who was baptized in the last 2 years? And they stood up and he picked on guy to come up to the front, and he goes, whats your conversion story? And the kid goes its weird. And the guy is like "they all are."  "Okayy, so when I was in high school, I liked this girl, so I started talking to her, and then I went to church with her a couple times"  Classic right?  "And then her family adopted me" WEIIIIIIIIIRD! And the guy goes, "So are you going to marry her when you get back?" WEIRD. "Nope, we're already sealed." WEIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIRD. Anyway, that's the best story I've got this week.

Our flight plan is from SLC to JFK to Amsterdam to Bucharest.  24 hours total of travelling.  Should be super fun.  Yes it seemed really fast for me too.  On the first day, our branch president said that the mission has 3 parts: the first 4 days, the next 6 weeks, and then the other 2 years, and they all seem like the same length to you.  If he's right, I'm almost 2/3rds of the way done!  We learned some funny things in Romanian, like when you do a past tense accusative statement, like "I desired a shirt," you put the indicator after the verb if the object is feminine, which is weird because normally you would put it before the verb.  Anyway, the reason this is funny is because when you say "I desired a shirt" it translates to: "Am dorit-o o camașă." We thought it was funny because its dorito, like the chip. Anyway, its probably not funny but we thought it was.  My teacher always tells us that were her weirdest group of missionaries, but that all missionaries think that dumb things are funny because they have no relation to the outside world, where things actually are funny. Another thing that we thoguht was funny was when we were practicing saying sentences, my companion could NOT handle how to use the word pe, which is used with the accusative case for the stressors, or on top of.  So we were practicing discerning between acusative and dative, and my campanion kept using the accusative stressors, so he said God and Jesus Christ appeared on top of Joseph Smith, and one of our teachers, who actually is Romanian, thoght it was just THE funniest thing ever and we had to stop class for a couple minutes so he could pull himself together. 

Apparently Romania has very storng nationalism, so one of the biggest holidays is Romania Day, where they have huge parades and they drive tanks though the streets and the Romanian teacher said that people just get to climb on them and stuff.  Anyway, cant wait to talk to you on monday!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

July 14, 2013

Hey, I'm Elder Harris' sister, Holly, and I will be keeping you posted with all the e-mails, letters, and pictures Scott sends. So far, Scott has been in the Missionary Training Center in Provo, UT for about 5 weeks. He will be shipping out for Romania a week from tomorrow, on July 23. 

Here's what Scott has sent so far: 

June 26:
So last night we went to a devotional and the speaker was Janice Kapp Perry.  She told this story about what her husband's first line to her was. She was about to audition for a clarinet part, so she was practicing a little.  her now husband goes up to her and says: Those lips look like they were made for something much better than playing the clarinet.  At that point we all laugh, and her husband, who is 78 ps, starts running up to the podium as fast as he can, and it looks like he's about to say something into the microphone, li9ke nonono that's not what happened, but instead, he just pulls her aside and gives her a big ol smooch.  The crowd went WILD hahahaha.  He turns around and walks off the stage with one fist raised triumphantly in the air as we gave him a standing ovation.  Of course, once he realized this, he gave us an encore performance haha.  Anyway, he's just my new hero, that's all.
My companions are super cool.  My teacher, Fratele Sandberg is the coolest guy.  He has this beautiful hair that swooshes over to the side and he actually laughs at our jokes.  Oh and we figued out how to say animal noises.  dog = hăm hăm (hum hum), duc = mac mac, bear = moar (mowarr), and my personal favorite, the pig = guiz guiz (gweez gweez), oh and the mouse goes chis chis (kees kees).

July 3:
Ummm okay so we teach "investigators" (our teachers) and one time I went in there and the guy, Gheorghe, went to shake my hand and I didn't know what he was doing so I just gave him a bro-hug instead.  It was super terrible.  I like ruined our lesson before it started.  Also, we told him that the water in California isn't boiled, and that Moses built an arc.  So we're doing great, preaching misinformation and nonsense.

July 10: 
Ummmm story of the week, we learned how to sing the birthday song:
La mulți ani și sanătate
sa-ți dea Domnul Tot ce dorești
Zile senine și fericire
La mulți ani să traiești
Mulți ani traeasca
Mulți ani traeasca
La mulți ani
Cine să traeasca?
Cine să traeasca?
La mulți ani
(name) să traeasca
(name) să traeasca
La muți ani!
Basically, the ț makes a sound like zz in pizza, the ș makes a sh sound, and you don't pronounce the i at the end of the word, and you pronounce every syllable.  The song goes to the tune of the Swedish birthday song, not ours, so you can look it up on youtube or something.  

And here are the latest pictures: 

Scott's district at the Provo Temple. 
I'm pretty sure this is his companion getting a terrible haircut. 
Language training
They've been having some fun pretending to be Ghostbusters. 
If there's something strange in your neighborhood, who you gonna call?

Capturing some ghosts

Scott recommends looking up the talk "The Character of Christ" by David A. Bednar. He says it's his favorite talk ever. Here's a link: