Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Well, I was technically transferred to Timisoara on Wednesday, but in an incredible turn of events I was allowed to stay in Buc until Saturday so that I could play for the Christmas concert.  It was suuuuuuuuuuuper cool.  Despite all the headache and dealing with people, it was really great.  We had a couple famous people show up and perform at it, including Antonia Iacobescu (Romanian pop singer) and Fang Shuang (Chinese (?) opera tenor who also speaks Romanian).  My buddy accompanied Antonia, but I got to accompany Fang Shuang on his piece.  It was a really cool experience and I'm super glad I got to stay for it.  I also had 4 English students as well as my piano student show up, so that was great and I got to chat with them for a bit.  Right after the concert, we had to leave and to catch a train to Timisoara.  We had about a gagillion packages for everyone as well as all my own stuff to take with us.  We enlisted a couple other guys to help us out, but in a fury of miscommunication, they got tickets for a train before ours so they couldn't help us get our stuff on the train, and to top it off, they also left one of their own bags with us.  We had to call in backup and they got there just in time to get all of our stuff on the train.  Once we finally got all settled on the train, the guys we were sharin a cabin with showed up.  They turned out to be professional soccer players and pretty much the coolest guys ever.  We talked with them a lot about what we're doing here in Romania and what we believe and whatnot.  We had some really good conversations and became such bros that I thought I'd offer them some good n' plenty that I got at the embassy the other day.  They were a little stale, so they were pretty tough to eat due to the fact that they're already pretty rough on the teeth to begin with.  i don't think they liked them at all hahahha.  They kept calling them rocks afterward and laughing at me for eating rocks.  Well, I made it safely back to Timi, so things are all good.  It's pretty weird coming back to a city you've already been in, but it'll be great.  I liked it the first time, so I'm sure I'll like it again.  Hope you guys have a great week!

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Well, we just finished up the performance at the embassy, and it went pretty well.  First of all, they had a Steinway baby grand.  Oh man it was so nice, especially compared to the electric pianos at the church.  They're fine and all, but the action and responsiveness of a real piano just can't be beat, even if it's a little out of tune like that one was.  So the concert itself was good.  I definitely learned more pieces in such a short period of time than I ever have.  Elder Christensen and I's I Saw Three Ships went much better than expected, so that was a plus.  One thing that was really cool was that I was asked to do so many pieces for many different events that I lost track of them all and in the confusion didn't even get to look at one of them until I was reminded of it at the dress rehearsal last night.  Well, luckily, one of my previous companions who also plays piano had been working on that exact piece for about a month now, so he was able to play for that one.  Inspiration.  It was a great time though going to the Embassy and being able to play that great piano.

Have a great week!

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

We celebrated Thanksgiving the proper American way.  We had a huge feast put on by the senior couples here in Bucuresti and the people from satellite cities also came out for it.  It was prety monstrous.  Like I carved 4 of the 8 turkeys monstrous.  But most importantly, we were able to set up a HUGE turkey bowl football game with all the missionaries that came out for it.  We had enough people for 2 full football teams, and we all got decked out in nasty old second hand grandma sweaters.  Sadly, I don't have pictures yet, but we'll get those soon.

In other news, today is Romanian Independence Day, so they had a huge military parade that we got to watch.  The actual parade wasn't too exciting, because you couldn't see anything, but before it you could go up and see the tanks and whatnot while they were waiting for the parade to start.  Super cool.  You'll have to see the pictures.

Another elder in my district and I are going to be performing (with everyone else, we're not that special) at the United States Embassy this coming Monday.  We're going to do a sweet version of I Saw Three Ships by Jenny Oaks Baker and it's going to be awesome.  We're really excited for it and we've been practicing like crazy for it. Hopefully it works out well.

Have a great week!

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

Our week was pretty good.  We started it off by doing a visit with a member of the district presidency to this guy who used to be branch president here but now he's less active.  He lives kind of outside the city and his wife isn't a member.  We went over there and had a really great lesson with them.  We were supposed to go again today, but their schedules changed so we're going to have to try again later this week.  We'll see what happens with that from here.

In other news, we started a new streetboarding campaign because we have this event coming up where one of our mission president's friends, who is a manager of temple construction or something like that is coming down to give a fireside.  Right now he's in charge of the construction of the Rome, Italy temple.  We were supposed to contact for it, and it really didn't do any good to just stop people on the street for it, so we got some corkboard and 2x2's and built an easel and now we go out and just have a board with pictures of the temple on it and the event poster and people come talk to us!  Much very good.  However, we had a slight issue with the wind the other day and now we are needing to repair the frame of the board, but we'll be back up and running in no time.  This streetboarding thing is actually working pretty well because people see it, are interested, and come talk to us.  Much less frightening than a couple dudes approaching you for no reason to talk to you about something you've never heard before.  We even had a cop come up and ask us about it.  Usually, they just kick us out, but this guy was nice.  Hopefully we don't get fined later or something.

Anyway, we're celebrating thanksgiving with all the missionaries in Bucuresti and the outlying cities and then staying for the fireside with that guy that I just talked about.  Should be a good time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

November 17, 2014

So for this week, we had a member of the First Quorum of the Seventy, Elder Kearon come and tour the mission, so we had a huge tripe-zone conference and then an MLC.  It was really great and he was probably one of the most quotable people I've ever heard.  My favorite quote by far was: "Be happy, but for goodness' sake do not be satisfied."  I really liked that because a lot of people are content with their situation and just blindly let their life and goals and dreams and visions pass them by.  They just survive life without living it.  On the other hand, there are also those who are never satisfied with anything and are never happy.  They just complain and complain for the sake of complaining.  Nothing will ever make them happy with their situation.  To me, this quote means to take the good parts of both scenarios.  You see what's good in every situation so that you don't get bogged down with being unhappy.  You choose to be happy instead of happiness being thrust upon you.  However, you are always striving for something more.  You are not content with your current state, which might be fine, but you know it isn't enough.  You are always craving, starving, and stretching for more.  This is what leads to growth.  One situation without the other is just stagnation, but when put together, they become growth.  It's like those find-happiness-in-the-journey stories.  You realize along the way to some great destination that the real happiness came from the journey and not the end.  However, you cannot find happiness on your journey if there is no journey.  Aimlessly wandering around pretending you're happy is no way to live life.  You need to have a reason to be striving and searching for more, but at the same time being able to enjoy and feel happiness in the moment.
In other news, there was this guy who came to church this past week, so my companion and I started talking to him.  Turns out, he's friends with a member in our branch and that he was actually contacted by missionaries over a year ago and was about to be baptized, but then he left the city to go work and lost contact.  Now he's back and wants to pick up where he left off.  We were just super stoked by that and now we have another great guy to teach!
Have a great week!

Story of the week.  We were standing at a bus stop going home one night, and there were these two drunk guys arguing in the middle of the street, which happened to be one of the busiest streets in the city.  Normal.  So they're just arguing about nothing and getting really worked up about it, then this guy pulls up in his car and starts to park on the side of the road.  The one drunk dude starts waving his hand like he's parking him or something, like that would help at all anyway.  Then out of nowhere the other drunk dude sprints over and tackles him to the ground and they start wrestling each other in the middle of the street.  They eventually both get up and start running around after each other.  One of them picks up a paving tile from a nearby construction site and chases the other one with it, eventually hurling it out into the street.  Our bus finally showed up and we got on.  The last thing we saw was these two guys throwing paving tiles around at each other as we pulled away.

Monday, November 10, 2014

November 10, 2014

The sisters in our district had a baptism this week and they didn't plan for it at all, so I got a call the evening before asking if I could do a musical number.  I had nothing prepared, so I and another elder here who plays the violin got together and we improvised a 3-hymn medley from the hymnbook, complete with an improvised key change.  It was quite the effort and in the middle of it the hymnbook decided it didn't want to be on the page I was on, so it just fumbled about till it got where it wanted to be, and I had to constantly remind it that no, I had no intention of  changing songs in the middle of one and that the page I was on was plenty good and that we should stay over there.  It ended up going really well though, mostly thanks to Elder Christiansen's violin playing.  Also, we have a series of concerts coming up in this transfer, and it turns out that the only pianist in all of Bucuresti is yours truly, so I'm going to be able to play for ALL of them.  Should be fun.
We also got to go inside Casa Poporului today (finally) and it is truly impressive.  It's incredibly huge, way huger than you'd think.  It's kind of a deceiving building in that it doesn't look as big as it is, but man is it something.  We didn't take pictures inside: a senior couple did that, so we'll probably have those ready by next week.  I also think there's a facebook page they might put them on.  It's called friends and family of the romania moldova mission or something along those lines.  The senior couples take care of that.  Anyway, most of the pictures this week are from Casa Poporului, some are in the elevator and the ones in the bathroom are there because you have to take a selfie in the bathroom at Casa Poporului.  In fact, Casa Poporului is a really interesting building because it was built under Ceaucescu, so naturally everyone kind of sees it as a symbol of communism and therefore have a kind of negative outlook on it.  However, they put in a ton of work into it and it's kind of a national pride thing because most of the materials are from Romania and all the carving and decoration was made all over Romania.  Therefore, they have this really strange love/hate relationship with it.  That's why they don't really care too much about it.  As in you can see tape residue on the floor from where they used to have carpet, there are a couple missing window panes here and there, there's a huge crack that runs the length of a room due to an over-expansion on one of the expansion joints that they haven't fixed yet, stuff like that.  And that's why I could do a backflip in the biggest room in Casa Poporului and no one batted an eye.
Also, our recent convert just got the Aaronic Priesthood this past week, but we weren't able to see it because he was with all the young adults in a city called Busteni up in the mountains on some kind of excursion.  We're excited for him though.  Also, this is our last week with him because he moves to England on Saturday.  I'm so sad to see him go, but I know we'll keep in touch, so that's at least comforting.
My companion was sick this week, so I got an entire day to listen to jazzy piano and clean our apartment.  Now, it's really really really clean.
Our English classes start up this week and we've been getting a lot of phone calls from our contacting, so we're hoping it'll be a good turnout.

Cu Drag,

Harri (as they call me here)