I’m writing to you from an internet cafe here in Braşov (brah-shohv), my first area! There is so much to update you on, so I’ll try to keep things short while still going into a little bit of detail. (Warning: I didn’t keep things short, sorry!)
The end of the MTC was bittersweet, but I was ready to go. The Italian elders all gave us blessings the night before we left — it was nice to hear the comforting words that Heavenly Father will help with all that I ask for and that there are always those around me that love me. We had to wake up at 3:30 am to get ready to leave for our bus at 4:30. To our surprise, all the anziani had woken up to come say goodbye to us!! Every night when we split up to go to our apartments, we would make up some song that basically said “Goodnight elders” that we had heard another district sing, and so they sang their own rendition the morning we left, “Goodbye sisters” and it was so cute haha. The Rome sorelle also saw us off, but they live with us so they probably woke up more from our walking around haha. But it was so great to see them one last time. It’s hard to believe that all of them are in Italy now!
We went on our bus, took the Frontrunner to the airport, and that’s when I called! We had a layover in MSP then the long flight over to Amsterdam. I was able to fall asleep pretty well, so I haven’t been all that jetlagged. There was a man between Sora O’Brien and myself on the flight to Amsterdam, so of course he heard all about the Church being the only person seated by the three missionaries on the plane haha. It was weird to explain things in English since I’m so used to teaching about the Gospel in Romanian…but it was a nice break haha. After we landed, we got over to our gate and waited for a while for the plane to Bucureşti. The flight had no problems and we met Preşedintele Hill şi Sora Hill plus the APs at the airport! The Hills are SO nice and they instantly made us feel at home. We drove over the the mission office and spent all day running around doing things like signing some papers at a notary and getting a health check (“We need to check if you have any diseases like hepatitis or tuberculosis. Do you have these diseases?” “No.” “Okay, great.” End of visit.) After that, we went to dinner at the mission home. It was both a dinner greeting us and saying goodbye to two sisters who were leaving the next morning. The dinner was SO good and then we had a little testimony with the sisters who were leaving. It was interesting to hear everything from the other side, at the end of the mission.
After dessert, our naşes (nah-shez) came to pick us up. The word naş in Romanian means literally godfather and is the name given to the people who you stay with for your first night in the country. Our naşes were Sora Polaitis and Sora Lund who were both so awesome. It was fun to get to see their apartment and get a liiiittle taste of what was in store for us. We finally got to take a shower and get to sleep in a horizontal position…it was awesome. We started the next morning by meeting with President and Sora Hill at the place where the dedicatory prayer for missionary work in Romania was offered and we read the prayer. It was amazing to hear the exact promises given to the people of Romania by an apostle of the Lord. After that, we met lots of elders and sisters and went to Pizza Hut for lunch. Pizza Hut here is a nice fancy sit down place haha and it wasn’t too bad! Then we went to go wait to apply for our visas — 3.5 hours in line UGH. But while we were in line, one of the elders started talking to a man who seemed interested in the church and he had Sora Merkley and I bear testimony in Romanian about why we were there and why we were learning Romanian — my first lesson in Romania!
After finally getting visas, we went to the mission home to meet our trainers! My companion is Sora Drotar, an absolutely sweet girl from Arizona who is from a Romanian family so she is fluent since she grew up speaking Romanian. It’s been helpful when I have a MILLION questions on how to say things haha. We traveled over to the Gada, the big train station, and met lots of missionaries waiting for their trains. We left with our district (the two of us and Elder Reid and Elder Montoya) at 9:20ish and finally made it home by 12:30 at night. The apartment is really nice and Braşov is ABSOLUTELY gorgeous! We are surrounded by mountains and our area includes the countryside.
I started my first day of missionary work with a lesson with Alexsandra, this really smart and sassy 21 year old who lives in Săcele, about 20 minutes away from our apartment. She is Pentecostal and feels like the Book of Mormon is a good book from God, but she doesn’t see the need to be baptized when she has already been baptized in the Pentecostal church. I was able to actually say a couple sentences and share some scriptures, which is great according to Sora Drotar who says new missionaries usually say a memorized sentence or two, if that much. Sora Drotar is super supportive and encourages me all the time which is just super helpful to have.
After church, we went out to Feldioara, a small town in the countryside (la ţara) where they were holding another sacrament meeting in a member’s home. They aren’t big enough to be a branch yet, but with about 2 or 3 more worthy Melchezidek priesthood holders, they would be able to be upgraded from a group to a branch. I LOVED seeing the faith of the people in Feldioara — sacrament was just 17 people crammed into a small living room singing “I Need Thee Every Hour” a capella, members had handwritten talks about faith and loving others — It was cool to be able to see what the Church looks like at its earliest stages.
We drove back quickly to have a 30-30 lesson with Ligia, a woman from English. 30-30 means we do 30 minutes of English tutoring one-on-one and then 30 minutes of a Gospel lesson. Ligia has really great English (we mostly just spoke with her to help her with her accent and some idioms) and she has an interesting religious background. She basically has tried all religions and really the only people she doesn’t like are people who don’t believe in any sort of God. She seemed eager to read the Book of Mormon to better understand us, but she seemed hesitant to commit to any kind of action.