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.