Monday, March 24, 2014

March 24, 2014

Well, this week, we did some hiking up in the wondrous land of Brasov.  We went to a place called Sapte Scari (Seven Ladders), which is a canyon that was carved out by a stream, so it's full of waterfalls and you have to climb 7 ladders to get up to the top.  It was absolutely incredible.  It was like walking through a fairytale forest.  I can't really explain more about it, you'll just have to look at the pictures.
In other news, for the first time in my entire mission, I got let into a door when we were bloc knocking.  It was really surprising.  The guy didn't want to talk standing up, so he just let us in.  So we got to talking to him, and he wasn't really interested, but he did like to talk to us.  He told us that he was 78, and his birthdayis on june 1.  They really like telling you their ages here for some reason.  But then he told us that his REAL birthday is on may 27, but when he was born, it wasn't recorded for 3 days, and so they marked his birthday as june 1 on his birth certificate.  So now he has 2 birthdays.  Lucky guy.  Apparently his mom said that they drank too much at the place where they handle that kind of stuff.
Another thing, we just started a new thing in our mission about family history.  We're starting a big push with that here now, and we're trying to see if people will get interested through that.  So either I was inspired or just really lucky the other week when I asked for more stories about family history.  But yeah, all the church leaders are really pumped about this new program and contacting methods, and we are too.  I've tried a bit of contacting using family history, and it's kind of hard, but people at least stop and listen and sometimes get pretty interested in what we have to say.

Culture Tip
Here in Romania, they are super superstitious.  Probably the most obvious of these superstitious tendencies is curent.  They are crazy about their curent.  They believe it is the source of all bodily ailments, from toothaches to kidney failure.  Everything.  So what is this curent, you ask?  Let me tell you.  Moving air.  Yep.  That's the source of all our problems.  They will not, under any circumstances, open a window to let in fresh air or anything.  They would rather die of heatstroke than open a window or turn on the air conditioning.  Absolutely crazy.

Two Truths and a Lie
A priest yelled at me for walking on the sidewalk in "his area"
I met someone who thought that we believe that Jesus came in a spaceship
I climbed a tree in my suit


Monday, March 17, 2014

March 17, 2014

 In Sunday School yesterday, I had to give the lesson because the normal teacher just didn't show up.  So I had like 5 seconds of prep time, but I went ahead anyway.  And there's this investigator here who's like the most insane Orthodox person in the world.  And she knows the Bible like a boss.  Anyway, so the lesson was on the Fall.  (I know, right?)  So I go into the lesson and the FIRST question I ask, she tells me I'm doing it all wrong and I don't know anything.  So she starts reading from the Bible and yelling and screaming about how the garden of eden was perfect and the world is cursed and she hates adam and eve for getting cast out and eating the fruit and stuff.  While I'm busy trying to regain control of the lesson, a member comes in randomly and starts listening.  FYI, 2 weeks ago in testimony meeting, President Chirila (he's basically the Romanian Santa Claus) described her as a "tigroica" (tigress), and she knows all the scriptures really well.  As soon as there's a pause in the dictation/incorrect interpretation of Genesis, she starts in.  She pulls out the Book of Mormon and turns to 2 Nephi where it talks about the Fall and how Adam fell that men might be and that men are that they might have joy.  She was reading so fast I could see the flamed singing the corners of the pages.  She goes on to explain everything perfectly and with such passion that the Orthodox woman couldn't even interrupt.  Then as soon as she was done, the Orthodox lady said the Book of Mormon was man's philosophy and not the word of God.  The member defended the Book of Mormon and just kept going on about agency and the opportunity to learn.  They argued back and forth with such zeal and fury as I have never before beheld.  It truly was a battle of giants.  They battled the entire class and everyone just kind of stopped, mesmerized.  Well, everyone except the senior couple who had no idea what was going on anyway.  Nobody dared enter into the war even the bravest and most expert warriors run from.  By the end of this clash of titans, I was surprised the room was still standing.  After a series of heavy blows and forceful language, the member took the lead and terminated the duel.  As the smoke cleared, I knew I had to do something.  So I just wrapped up and closed class early by bearing my testimony about how I was thankful for the Fall and how we can learn and grow because of it.  As I was in the middle of it, the Orthodox lady told me I didn't know what I was saying and said she hoped Jesus would forgive me.  I just said "ba da" which means, but yes.  And I kept going and finished it out.  It ended up being quite the struggle but, as always, the truth prevailed!  The church is still true!
Not too much time this week, so I'm leaving off the culture tip and the two truths and a lie, but watch for them next time!

Monday, March 10, 2014

March 10, 2014

So this week, we started our English classes.  They were great, as usual.  We also did a lot of less active hunting.  Basically, the branch directory here is terrible and really out of date, so the branch's attendance record is way wack, so we were assigned to go find everyone on the list that's less active and see if they even live here anymore and if they want home teachers to visit them and the whole deal.  Our treasure hunts took us all around the city, including the most sketchy parts of town.  It's been raining like crazy, well, not really actually.  It's just been raining for weeks on end just barely.  And when that happens, nobody goes outside at all.  The streets are barren and there's nobody to talk to.  But we did get to have a great visit with a less active guy who can't make it to church because of his legs.  He has diabetes, I think.  Also, we had another investigator come to church this week who hadn't been before, and one of the members here came up and talked to him and then, because he couldn't sit with him, sat him down next to two other guys in the branch.  After sacrament meeting, the investigator and the member really hit it off.  Now we have a standing member present lesson with him.  I cried just one single manly tear of joy, which I wiped away with all the dignity I could muster.

Culture Tip
Here in this city, there are a ton of old people.  TONS.  And basically, being old in Romania apparently gives you special privileges.  Like cutting in front of the line anywhere you are.  You can be waiting in line at a covrig stand and you're about to order, and then someone will come up and just jump in front of you and order before you.  And they act like it's totally okay, and everyone's okay with it.  This also applies to the bank, getting on the bus, the grocery store, everywhere.  Apparently, another group of humans that also get special priorities for cutting in line is bus drivers.  One time, we were on a bus and then the bus driver just pulled over to the side of the road, parked the bus, got out, ran over to a covrig stand and pulled out his bus drivers' license, showed everyone in line, and cut them all and bought his pretzel.  He then got back on the bus and kept driving.  I guess he just had to get his chow on.  Can't get in the way of that.

Two Truths and a Lie
The correct answer for last week was: getting kisses blown at us. Sadly, that didn't happen.  Alright, your options for this week:

  • I got asked if I was Romanian because of my language skyllz
  • I successfully confronted a smecher (smart aleck) on the bus
  • I drank 2 liters of suc (soda) in 24 hours


Monday, March 3, 2014

March 3, 2014

Alright, so this week:  Well on Tuesday we went over to one of the sisters' investigators' house and we gave a blessing.  Pretty sick.  The next day, we went less active hunting and we found one.  He was baptized in '94 and went to the temple the very next year.  He's a really cool member and then on Sunday, he asked me if he could be a member present in one of our lessons.  Less active visits work!  Later, we set up another visit with a former investigator from the area book, okay, here's where this gets confusing.  Okay, so we had an exchange with the ZL's, and my companion and the ZL he was with called the guy on their phone.  They set up for the next day at 11:30.  The next day comes and at 10:00 we got a phone call from the ZL's.  They told us that the guy was at the church right then.  So we called him and he totally was.  Luckily, a member was there to talk to him while we rushed over there.  I was kind of angry about it because the guy just decided to show up at the church an hour and a half early for no apparent reason and it disrupted my day and my schedule and I was already a little grumpy that morning anyway, so basically it was a dumb situation.  Anyway, so we showed up at the church and met the guy and talked to him for a bit.  He's a medicine professor at the university here, no wife or kids, and he believes that the true church needs to conform to the word of the Bible.  Turns out he had a Book of Mormon from 2 years before when the missionaries met with him then.  Since he's had it, he's read it twice.  All the way through.  Needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed.  So we went forward and gave him a Restoration lesson, and he totally agreed with everything we said.  Literally.  He told us after everything we said that he agreed.  We challenged him to pray about the Book of Mormon and about Joseph Smith being a true prophet and he accepted!  It was a fantastic lesson, and we'll meet up again this week.  Then the ZL's called again and told us that the guy, Nicolai, called them and told them that he couldn't meet at 11:30.  They had no idea who he was so they set up for 10:00.  When they all were at (different) churches on time, they knew something was up, and then they realized that he was in Ploiesti, not Bucharest.  So that's where the problem came from and it wasn't Nicolai's fault at all!  Moral of the story: never assume anything, ever.  You're always wrong.  Guaranteed.

There was a holiday this past week on the first of March, called Martisor.  Basically, it's Valentine's Day, except more of an emphasis on the girl.  What happens is everyone everywhere sells these things called martisoare, and guys buy them to give to girls.  They're either pins or bracelets usually, but I saw some necklaces and earrings too.  The bracelets get tied on by a string that's red and white, white to symbolize purity and red to symbolize a new beginning.  It's a pretty big deal here, and Centru was really crowded with tons of people selling and buying martisoare for their girls.  Pretty exciting.

Culture Tip
So there's a word here that is basically the magic word for everything: poftim.  It can mean pretty much anything.  Well, not really.  But you use it and it's like a get out of jail free card.  You can use it when someone says something you don't understand or if you're handing something to someone, like Here you go!  So I didn't really like using it before because it's kind of a dumb word.  When we contact for English classes, we give out cards with the information on it and try to tell people about it.  I would go up to somebody on the street and try to talk to them normally, and they'd always ALWAYS give me the waggy finger or just shake their head or something of that sort and it was terrible.  But then I started my contacts by saying "poftim!"  and then they started begging me for the cards.  As soon as you use the poftim, they're all about it.  People are desperately grabbing for them and if they're walking in a group, everyone in the group has got to have one.  Essentially, that one word made a huge difference in my English contacting and now it's super easy and everybody wants me for my cards.

Two Truths and a Lie
Okay, last week was also too easy.  It was the mustache guys.
So for this week, did I:

  • Meet a guy who carves cow bones for a living
  • Get kisses blown at me by two girls, or
  • Leave the phone in my suit when I took it to the tailor's