Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014

Yep I got transferred :(  So now I'm living the big city dream down in Bucharest.  So far, it's pretty cool.  Way different and lots of people, dogs, and blocs. Classic Romania.  Timisoara basically isn't Romania because of how different it is than the rest.  Everywhere else is all blocs and people crammed into tight spaces and dogs.  But Bucharest is fun since we get to metro surf and talk to tons of people all the time.

Culture Tip
In the world, there is a wide variety of humans.  You've got skinny, fat, male, female, tall, short, old, young, mentally sane, and mentally insane.  In most countries, you have institutions that help people out that have mental issues usually.  Well, Romania has programs for such individuals, but those programs are free travel throughout the country and that's about it.  So basically it just makes the problem worse.  You get people who aren't all there roaming the streets and begging.  It's really sad, but there's nothing we can actually do.  We run into issues when missionaries decide that it's a good idea to teach and baptize such individuals who really don't need baptism anyway because of the salvation of the innocents.  But then they become members and become a burden to the branch or they go around telling people not to listen to the mormons.  So that's always good.  This past sunday, we were sitting in church and one such individual strolls in.  I had to go sit by him to make sure he didn't cause any trouble.  Well, he grabbed a notebook he found nearby (mine) and wrote about 20 pages of nonsense in it, then proceeded to the pulpit to yell in gibberish until we had to escort him outside.  In the process of him entering, writing, preaching, and leaving, my companion disappeared.  He was just GONE.  No one knew where he was and we totally thought our friend took him outside and was in the process of turning him into a stray dog pack's dinner.  So we search all around the church and outside and to the metro stop, nothing.  Then we look upstairs in the church and he was sitting up there with ANOTHER such individual who was trying to hit on all the women in the branch before he was taken out of the room.  So that was a great way to spend your first sunday in the branch.

Two Truths and a Lie
Okay well this week what did I not do?

  • Get kissed by an old woman multiple times
  • Buy 6 ties for 3 USD
  • Give a guy riding a bike a an english card, which made him faceplant hard in the street


Monday, June 23, 2014

June 23, 2014

Well, I found out that I'm getting transferred out of my beloved Timisoara after only being here for 1 transfer.  I'm actually super bummed.  I was really hoping I'd get to stay here because it's such a beautiful city and I really wasn't expecting to get transferred so soon.  There are so many young people here and we were meeting so many cool people.  I was really hoping that my companion and I could stick together for one more, since we got along so well and we were getting some great work done.  Also, the senior couple here is amazing.  He's a dentist, so he gives us dental hygiene tips all the time, which is really nice.  Brush at a 45 degree angle, guys, this helps get the plaque out of your gumline.  Also, he loves discussing gospel questions, so we always come up with questions to ask him to discuss with us, and I've had some great insights doing that.  I'm so sad to leave now.

But all is not lost.  This past week for English, we played that Whose Line is is Anyway? game called "Let's Make a Date."  My companion and I both love that show, so it seemed like an appropriate fit.  For those that don't know, this game is where 3 people get "personalities" at random, and then one person asks them questions as if they were on a bachelor show, and then guess what their personalities are.  It was really fun, except one person just did not get it at all.  Not even close.  For example, in one of her roles, she was supposed to be a cop who was afraid of heights, and she was asked the question: what would you name your first child?  The answer: Rachel.  I don't know if that's a stereotypical name for a daughter of a fearful cop, but in any case we had to keep teaching her that in order for the person to guess, you have to give them clues.  Anyway, it was really fun and our class totally loved it.  Some of the favorite roles: a sloth, a blind painter, and the last man on earth.

Monday, June 9, 2014

June 9, 2014

So let me relate to you a little tale of our last p day.  Well, we wanted to do something fun and we heard about this place right outside the city called the Green Forest.  It sounded awesome and super photogenic apparently, so we decided to trek over there.  Well, we wanted to ride bikes up there since it was a bit of a ways, so we rented some bikes from someplace in the middle of the city.  For your information, these are not nice bikes, as you can imagine.  They are single-speed bright yellow super heavy cruisers, complete with baskets.  We packed up our peanut butter and banana sandwiches, charged our cameras, brought our rain jackets, and set off.  The ride to the forest wasn't very far and before we knew it, we were on the path.  This place is pretty built up, and since it's in the city, we assumed it would be pretty nice, with paved paths and all, like every other park in the city.  I mean, this place even had a little historical village (it was closed when we went) and a zoo, so it had to be nice.  We were so wrong.  It is kind of interesting why there would be a forest in the city right?  The reason this place even exists is because it hosts all the transformers and electrical plant business for the city.  That being the case, the whole forest is a giant grid of power lines.  There are a ton of service roads running the length of some, but not all, of these lines.  This is where we found ourselves at the beginning of our journey.

Being that it had just rained the week previous, the trails were a bit muddy, but nothing too bad.  We found a trail that crossed our service road, so we took it.  It was marked, so we figured we were good.  This is where it started to get hairy.  As a side note, this was not mountain biking, not in the slightest.  It was completely flat and very tame.  However, the mud made our voyage quite treacherous.  We both slipped and fell into huge puddles multiple times.  The trail was about 5 km long, which isn't too bad.  We rode through the forest, stopping to take pictures along the way.  We could never stop very long though, because of the onslaught of hordes of mosquitoes that thirsted for our blood.  We ended up putting on our jackets to protect ourselves from the pestilence.  I discovered that socks do nothing to stop them from eating your ankles though.

Well, we made it out of the forest and to this lake area.  It was completely barren except for one guy's little hut on the lake.  Having rested a bit and being that a storm was approaching, we decided to head back.  We tried going on the street that ran alongside the forest, but that was under construction and it was surrounded by huge walls which prevented access of any kind.  We had to brave the forest.  In one of my companion's slips, he ended up scraping up his hands pretty bad on the pavement.  He had quarter sized chunks of flesh dangling loosely from the heels of his hands, making handlebar control something of a chore.  With the approaching storm, we wanted to get back as soon as possible.

Instead of taking our well known, tried and true path that we just came from, we decided to take an unknown, but supposedly shorter, path back.  All was fine until we hit a dead end.  As a side note, none of our paths have been marked.  We just followed the beaten path, where it looked like the most people had been.  We took a turn from a little ways down the trail, which led us in the direction we wanted to go, generally.  Eventually, the trail got more and more trashy, meaning: covered in trash.  We met some dogs, which we thought were wild at first, but then their owners turned up.  We kept going and made it to a clearing which ended up being a gypsy village in the middle of the forest.  That was where the path led.  We had no business being there and they knew it and we knew it.  So we just turned our little white boy selves right around and pedaled back to where we took the wrong path.

After many more wrong turns and frustrated Mormon curses directed toward the no existent trail building committee for the green forest, we made it back to the lake where we could find our happy little trail that we knew and loved.  By this time, the storm set in and it had started to rain.  We rode all the way back through the rain, slipping and stumbling the whole way.  Finally, our battered bodies and bikes emerged from the forest which was obviously Satan's hometown and counted ourselves lucky to not be eaten by mosquito or gypsy.

I now know what it feels like to be in Lehi's vision.  I always thought: how hard can it be to hold onto the rod?  it's right there!  Soooo easy.  Well, what if you see a way that you think would be faster to the tree? You're gonna take that.  You let go of the rod and then get lost in strange paths.  No soup for you.  And when you get off the path, it's incredibly hard to get back on the path.  It's possible, as we found, but it's much more difficult than just staying on the path.  Another lesson to be learned is about taking the right path. Just because a path is well-beaten and obviously traveled often, that doesn't mean it's a path you want to be on.  Those people that travel the path are probably not the ones you want to be associating with.  It's better to stay on the path marked by God rather than the one traveled by men.  There's a reflection for you guys!

Also, the answer to last week's two truths: I didn't see gypsies fighting with swords, sadly.  But we did meet a guy who thought he was Abel reincarnated.  And we sometimes go into the park and do slackline and backflip contacting.  It actually works really well and we've gotten a ton of people's numbers from it.

Monday, June 2, 2014

June 2, 2014

Well, this week was really interesting, as is every other week here in Romania.  We started doing something I like to call "getting lost contacting" where we decide on a place to go in the city that we have no idea how to get to, and we just ask people on the way how to get there.  It's actually really effective and we met a really cool guy and his dad, who admittedly, was a little crazy, but that's okay.  We had a great discussion with him on the street for like 20 minutes and he invited us over to keep talking.  The only problem is that he lives in Baia Mare, which is probably 8-9 hours from Timisoara.  However, it turned into a great referral for the missionaries in Cluj.  Speaking of which, we've turned into referral-giving machines.  We've met a ton of great people that really want to meet with the missionaries... in other cities.  We've given out 5 referrals in the last 2 weeks.  I haven't even receive that many referrals in my entire mission.  But I'm glad we're getting stuff done, because that's what matters most anyway.
Another cool thing that happened this week was we got to see a rugby game at the stadium.  It was free and super awesome.  It was my first time seeing a real rugby game (sorry Nick and Julie) and it was awesome.  I love how rugby just doesn't stop.  Hardly any timeouts or pauses at all.  The game just keeps going no matter what, even if there are injuries.  My companion made an adept analysis of rugby: rugby is the only sport where you'll have multiple medics on the field and touchdowns scored at the same time.  Wrong terminology, but definitely true.

Culture Tip
Well, in Timisoara there is a ton of graffiti, as it seems to be legal here.  The great thing is it's like mural wall art, not just graffiti.  There are some really impressive pieces here all over town.  In fact, Timisoara seems to be a really artsy city.  There are at least 3 art galleries within a kilometer of our apartment.  We stop in sometimes because they're free and talk to the guys that work there.  We found some really strange art exhibits, one of which was all silhouettes painted onto a canvas with parts of the inner anatomy of the person highlighted and created with melted plastic and yarn and other interesting things like that.  Sort of bizarre, really creepy, but pretty neat overall.

Two Truths and a Lie
It's back!
1. I met a guy who thought he was Abel, like from Cain and Abel
2. We did backflip contacting
3. We witnessed two gypsies fighting with swords