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.

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