Monday, May 4, 2015

May 4, 2015

So this week we had my last ever zone conference.  That was pretty monumental.  President had us do some excercises to stretch out and whatnot, so he called 3 of us up to the front to do clapping pushups and it was hilarious because we were probably the 3 shortest ones there but the only ones that could do those.  We also had a record number of people at church this week: 53!  Apparently, that's a record for here in Chisinau so that was pretty exciting.  We went to this place called Orhei Vechi today as well, but I forgot to bring my card reader so pictures will have to wait till next week.

I'm desperately trying to think of exciting stories from this week, but I'm just drawing blanks.  We made pizza yesterday and I learned how to toss a pizza, so that was really fun.  We met a guy who told us that Moldova is the 51st state in the USA because the US is just using the politicians here like puppets.

I'm sure I'll think of more stuff to tell you guys when we talk next week.  Have a good one!

Monday, April 27, 2015

April 27, 2015

So this week we saw a guy riding a bike while wearing roller blades.  I guess more wheels make you faster?  Anyway, he was going up this hill and he wasn't able to make it to the top and so he had to do this awkward straddle-the-bike-roller-blade-up-the-hill thing and it was sooo funny.  But that makes you think, are there times when I'm trying to ride my bike while wearing roller blades?  Maybe we're just trying to do too many things at once and really one of them is just superfluous and we would just be better off with just one.

It's pretty fun being in a new city and getting to know all the new people here.  It almost doesn't feel like I only have a month left on the mission.  It kind of feels like it's just starting again.

So we went to this tower museum today and it had a pretty cool view from the top.  All you see in the pictures is Chisinau.  It's pretty huge:

Monday, April 20, 2015

April 20, 2015

So this week was pretty fun with getting transferred and whatnot.  The thing about doing transfers from Chisinau is that the phones don't work in Romania, so you kind of just have to go with the flow and hope everything works out because no one can contact you at all.  Well, on the day we were supposed to go back to Chisinau the guys I was supposed to go back with weren't at the train station, so I wondered if they knew when the train was.  I had the tickets so I wasn't too worried.

They finally show up an hour before the train is supposed to leave, which is plenty of time.  But then they go, "so where are our bags?"  And that was when we knew we were going to have trouble.  The office has been doing some weird stuff recently by not helping people out at all like they used to, so for this transfer day, they made all of the new trainees carry their bags all around town to the train station which is a huge pain.  There was a reason the office elders used to just take all the bags to the train station for them.  But anyway, the trainer thought that they would bring the trainee's bags to the train station like they always did in the past, but this time they didn't.  And this was happening at rush hour so it was highly improbable that they would be able to make it to the office and back with the bags before the train left.  They called the office elders to see if they could help them out, but then nope of course not.  Oh and another thing is that there is only one train that goes to Chisinau and it only comes to Bucuresti every other day.  So if we miss the train, we'd have to stay in Bucuresti for another 2 days, and I had already been there for 2 days, so that would mean 4 days in Bucuresti.

Anyway, they take off to get the bags while I just waited at the train station hoping that they'd make it in time.  With 5 minutes to spare, they made it and it turned out that they had to take a sister's bags as well because for whatever reason the office decided it was a good idea to fly her to Chisinau but have us take the train with all of our stuff PLUS hers.  Anyway, we got all the missionaries at the train station to help us carry all the junk and we just took off running.  I show the tickets to the guy at the train and of course, he tells us that our wagon is the one at the exact opposite end of the train.  So we take off again trailing all the stuff for everyone going up, and when we made it about halfway up the train, the conductor blows the whistle and the train lurches forward.  We just opened the first door we found and threw all the bags up into the train and climbed in ourselves, with the train moving.  It was definitely an adventure.

Then I figured when we got to chisinau we would just go home, but instead we went to the other elders apartment to drop off them off with all their stuff and then I got to travel the whole city the rest of the day in just my slippers.  And the senior couple that picked us up and took all my stuff with them went to orhei that day and didn't get back till that night so I didn't have any clothes or anything at all until that night.  But you know we still went to the youth activities and all the other stuff that happened that day.  It definitely was an adventure.  So lessons learned from the story: Don't micromanage things.  It doesn't work out.  And then when things don't work out your way, you've got to just go with the flow and things will work out.
Have a great week!

Monday, April 13, 2015

April 13, 2015

Well, this week was Easter here and it was pretty good.  Everything exciting happened in the weekend.  First of all, I'm getting transferred for my last transfer, which kind of sucks because I was really hoping to stay here but alas, I guess I'm needed elsewhere.  What's interesting is that I'm getting transferred back to Chisinau.  Remember when I served there a year and a half ago for 2 weeks?  Yep, so I'm going back now, which I think has to be some kind of joke because what are the chances for that to happen?  But yeah I'm excited to go back it'll be good.  I'm still really sad about leaving my pretty Timi right as it's starting to get really nice.  And our English classes were just starting to take off really well as well.  We were just so set here and now I have to go.  It's too bad but oh well.

For our last English class, we had a big old barbeque and we figured not that many people would come because it was right before Easter and a ton of people usually go out of town but a ton of people showed up.  We were even a little bit cramped because we had more people show up than we originally guessed.  It was awesome because we really just got to destroy the teacher/student relationship and make it more of a friendly thing to show them that we're just normal dudes.  That's the reason why our English classes are successful, not because we offer some great english program or because we know all the grammar and whatnot.  So I was really glad that we were able to have such a great turnout.

Also, we got invited over to one of our English students' house out in the country for Easter and they served us the biggest meal ever.  It was like 5 or 6 courses.  Ridiculous.  We had soup, bread with some spread, deer sarmale, lamb leg, turkey breast, and this stuff called drob which is like a meatloaf made from lamb organs.  Apparently it's traditional Easter food.  It's actually not too bad.  But the meal in general was really great and their family is super awesome.

Also, random thing, we stumbled upon the most venomous snake in Europe the other day, the horned viper.  My companion kept telling me to pick it up but then after we looked it up I'm glad I didn't.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

April 6, 2015

It's not quite easter here yet, but Romanians are definitely prepared for it this week.  They've got the huge Easter market out in centru here where they sell all kinds of stuff.  One thing they have that's really cool are those hollowed out painted eggs.  When I saw them, I decided that they couldn't be that hard to make, so I went home and tried hollowing out my own egg.  Turns out, it's really hard and takes forever to do.  I spent probably half an hour milking the egg with a toothpick to get all the egg out of the shell.  So tedious.  I decided that the eggs are worth buying after all.

We went with the branch president this week to buy some groceries for a member and it went pretty well at first, but then she wanted to buy some lightbulbs.  The problem was that she didn't know what size her lightbulb sockets were at home, so she just guessed.  She bought a ton of stuff so it took forever at the checkout counter and everyone was getting kind of fed up behind us.  Then once we finished checking everything out, the lightbulbs came up and she asked the guy who was checking us out if they would fit a normal light bulb socket.  He said no, so she decided that she didn't need the light bulbs anymore and to un-check them out.  That was when total mayhem broke loose.  No one could figure out how to un-check them out, so they just struggled for about 5 minutes until they got the manager to come do it.  She had no problem figuring it out, but either she got told wrong or heard wrong or had no common sense at all because instead of un-checking the light bulbs, she unchecked everything EXCEPT the light bulbs.  So then we had to go back and recheck EVERYTHING all over again.  It was definitely the most stressful trip to the grocery store of my life.  But we got the job done and we helped out a member and that's what's important.

It's supposed to be in the high 60's by the end of the week here and we're incredibly excited.

March 30, 2015

This week was pretty good.  We visited a less active member with our branch president and he insisted on showing us The Other Side of Heaven, which I think made the branch president kind of uncomfortable for whatever reason.  Eventually we were able to get him to turn it off and we were able to talk a bit.

Another piece of exciting news is that my Austrian trainer came back to Romania with his whole family and I got to see him today which was really cool.

Oh and I guess I'll explain the pictures.  We were in centru the other day and saw this lady fire dancing.  Some of them are leftovers from a while back when I was in Bucuresti.  Also, around this time people start doing their spring cleaning and they just kind of throw their stuff out on the streets in front of their houses so there's a ton of trash all over in the neighborhood the church is in.  It's also just been really pretty here because all the trees are in bloom, which is nice.  There are a ton of pigeons that hang out around centru.  Also, we went into the giant Orthodox cathedral so there are some pretty cool pictures of the stuff inside.  It's HUGE if you can't tell from the pictures.  It kind of reminds me of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, but obviously not that huge.  The orthodox priests sing their church service, and it sounds a lot like the call to prayer at the mosques.  Also, the hollow-domed architecture is very eastern looking, so it's kind of like a merging of the two cultures.  Pretty neat.  Anyway, have a great week guys!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

March 23, 2015

Despite our new advertizing tool, we had about the same number of people show up to English this week.  We think it's because the weather is so nice that no one wants to sit around inside anymore.  They've got better things to do.  However, our core students from last class all showed up, so at least that made us feel like we're good teachers.

This week I got to give a talk in church and of course I forgot about it until saturday night, so my performance on monday was a full wing.  I got some scriptures that I could use and I found a cool talk on the subject.  But it was in english.  So I decided I would look it up in Romanian when we got to church and then use that.  However, that talk of course wasn't translated in Romanian, but I liked it so much that I decided I would just translate it myself as I was reading it.  The member who gave a talk before was supposed to take 20 minutes for her talk and then I would take 20 as well, but then she ended up wrapping up 10 minutes early, so I was blessed with another 10 minutes of speaking time.  I've never given a full 30 minute talk before, but you know, I figured I could do it.  I prayed for help and after that I was feeling pretty confident.  So I get up and just go for it.  I had no problems until I started reading from the talk in English.  I learned pretty quick that translating in real time into a foreign language is pretty tough.  But I made it through that and continued giving the talk.  I got into that flow zone where you don't even hear yourself talking or think about what your saying it's more of just your brain talking for you.  I think the translating sapped my powers because once I got to about 25 minutes in I realized I just couldn't even understand what I was saying.  Once I realized that, my mind just shut down and I kind of stuttered to a halt.  But I was able to recover with a great scripture coupled with a metaphor and dismounted gracefully with a testimony and stuck the landing.  After the fact, I had the greatest post-talk relief wave of my life.  I wasn't really nervous to begin with and my audience wasn't huge, but the relief was great all the same.  I realized then that that was the longest talk I had ever given, regardless of language.  And I didn't prepare it hardly at all.  I was pretty proud of myself after that because there was NO WAY I would have been able to do that before the mission.  Even in English.  My prepared talks usually crapped out at around 3-6 minutes.  Now I'm cruising with the 30 minute foreign language fully winged talk.  And it felt pretty great.  God was definitely with me, there's no way I could have made it otherwise.  So the moral of the story: don't be forgetful.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

March 16, 2015

Well first of all, Orthodox easter is different than our easter, so it comes a bit later.  This year it's april 12.  Easter is a pretty big deal here, it's actually bigger than christmas, so it's huge.  But pretty much the biggest thing that happens is the midnight mass.  Everyone goes to the church where they have a flame (indirectly) from Jerusalem and you light your candle off it and take it home with you then put it in your window.  Then there's also the easter egg WWE where you take your boiled eggs and say Jesus resurrected then someone else responds yes, he resurrected.  Then you smash your eggs together and whoever's egg didn't smash is the winner.  They also have the nice little easter markets where you can get really cool painted eggs and other spring-y stuff.  Oh and of course there's the easter feast where you HAVE to eat lamb.  It's the traditional easter meal.  So yeah, there are some romanian easter traditions for you.

In other news, the Alstons, a senior couple that used to be here in Timisoara came back for the weekend because they're going home in a few weeks.  They were here last time I was here and they're pretty much the coolest people of all time.  It was super awesome to be able to see them again before they go back.

Also this week we were officially given permission to make a facebook page for our English classes with the help of the Masons, that family that lives here.  We put it up exactly a week ago and now we have over 500 people on the page, so hopefully we get some good english classes this week.  We're working on honing our skills as teachers so the classes are worthwhile and make people want to bring their friends and come back.

It's been dreary and cold this past week but then it got warm today and everyone seemed to come out of hibernation.  The streets were incredibly packed and everyone went out to eat at whatever outdoor restaurants were open this week.  We're really hoping that the weather stays this way because everyone is actually outside and we're not just walking around a ghost town.

Monday, March 9, 2015

March 9, 2015

Well here it's been pretty good.  We got to visit a member this week and she made us sarmale, which is the greatest stuff ever.  I'll have to make it for you guys when I get home.  She told us that her son, who's about 23 wants to come back to church!  She said it was out of the blue and she didn't prompt it at all, he just totally wanted it all of his own volition.  I thought that was pretty cool and can't wait for him to come.  We also got to visit a family who lives out in the boondocks.  They're not members, they're just a really great family and we met them through english.  They're really cool and incredibly nice.  Hopefully, now that we know them, we'll be able to visit them more often.

A missionary from 2001 visited the branch this sunday and he was pretty cool.  The members kept giving him a hard time for being fat and bald because apparently he used to be skinny and had hair. He showed them his wife and they asked him if he was the only one who eats in his house and told him to let his wife eat some.

We're also teaching primary here to the american kids.  It's pretty fun and we're teaching them how to sing I am a child of God in Romanian, but now I know why they have young couples teach nursery.

Monday, March 2, 2015

March 1, 2015

So this week, we had zone conference in Cluj.  That was my first time going to there and it seems like a really fun city.  It's kind of like Timisoara, but more hustly and bustly and more college students.  But I really like it here in Timi, which is why I'm glad I'm staying here for another transfer.  I only have one shot left to go somewhere else now, since I only have one transfer left.  Pretty crazy right?  I still don't really know anything about where I'm flying in or if I even get a choice or anything.  Aparently, those in the group ahead of me also have no idea, so yeah, I guess that's pretty reassuring.  I hope they figure it out or let us know or something.

Well, today we went into the cathedral here for the first time since I've been here and it's incredible.  Apparently it's the tallest cathedral in some region, like Romania or something.  Anyway, it's really tall.  And the inside is completely hollow so it's that much more impressive from the inside.  My companion was wearing his had when we walked in and some lady came up and scolded him for wearing a hat in the church, and then she kept coming back to us to tell us stuff.  Eventually, we got her to take us upstairs, which was really cool.  Then she said that if we came back tomorrow she would take us to the bell tower, which would be super cool so we're definitely going to do that.  After the cathedral today, Elder Cooper decided he wanted to try to catch a pigeon because people do it all the time here and birdman has trained the pigeons to not be afraid of people.  So we thought it would be easy, right?  Well, not so.  It eded up being really tough.  We all thought Elder Cooper was just being too timid, so we all tried to prove that it was easy.  You kinda get stagefright when you're out there though because so many people watch you bend down to try to pick up a pigeon.  I ended up punching a pigeon (on accident!) and after that I gave up.  We ended up not getting a single pigeon, which was sad.  And Elder Coopeer ended up kneeling in pigeon poop.  But we walked away having learned an important lesson: only birdman can catch the pigeons.

We also found a korean restaurant this week, and since it was full of asians, we thought we'd try it out.  We walked in an were greeted by the cook with a cheery "bu-a eewa!"  so we knew we were in for a treat.  The only non-asian there was our waitress, so of course the food was really good.  We were quite pleased with our find.

Monday, February 23, 2015

February 23, 2015

So I got a haircut this week and it's the greatest haircut I've ever received.  It was so great that I thought I needed to tell you guys about it.
Well, the American family is officially moved in and the dad is called as branch president, so there go my days as branch presiding elder.  They are a really cool family and I think it's going to be great with them here.  They've already fed us twice, which is way more than we're used to, and we played settlers of catan with them and their kids, so we're doing well.
Our English classes are going incredibly well.  We actually just got invited to attend a symphonic orchestra tomorrow with a couple of them, which we're really excited about.  We're doing this pretty cool thing for our spiritual thoughts actually.  An elder in the district came up with the idea of telling stories from the book of mormon and showing what we can learn from them.  They make for some really entertaining spiritual thoughts, especially when we reenact the stripling warriors fending off the lamanite army because they did not doubt the truth of what their mothers taught them.  I doubt anyone has tried to incorporate belly stabbing or throat slitting into a spiritual thought before, but we managed to get it in and keep it spiritual at the same time.  We're excited for the weather to be warming up and we can start going out to the parks and stuff, so that'll be really great.
Sorry I haven't sent pictures in over a month, but here are some now.