This week has been great. After emailing you last week, we went to go to some caves here in Brașov. The little hike up was beautiful and an absolutely ADORABLE dog kept following me…but we can’t really pet the dogs since they have fleas and if we get bitten, it’s bad news bears. The tour itself was kind of short, but that’s just the Romanian way. It was also all in Romanian — turns out my vocabulary does not include any of the words related to caves but the other missionaries explained what he was saying afterward. When we left, we were trying to fit all six of us in a car and for some reason it was decided that the elders should share the front seat…it led to much hilarity and after we stopped and switched it so that Sora Drotar and I shared the front seat, it was a much better fit.
We dropped the elders off and went with the Powells to teach Alexsandra, the Pentecostal 21-year old in Săcele. We taught about baptism by the proper authority (and emphasized authority since she believes her baptism in the Pentecostal church is enough), the gift of the Holy Ghost, and enduring to the end. I asked her to be baptized at the end of the lesson and she explained again that she had already been baptized. There was some stuff said that I didn’t understand (transitions are hard haha) and her mother, who was sitting in on the lesson, started testifying of all the many things that God had blessed her with. She talked about how she was beat by her parents as a girl for going to church but she kept going. She explained that she would never raise her family in such a way that they could not do what they wanted to, and she talked about how she set a church-going example for her 10 children. She talked about times when her whole family had been sick and she would pray for them to get better and they would be healed. She talked about a time when Alexsandra had been burned by hot water on her back and the skin was all scarred and wounded. Then the mother had a dream that she was visited by God and that He placed His hand on Alexsandra’s back, and when she awoke, Alexsandra’s back was like new with no scarring, nothing to even suspect that anything had happened. Alexsandra even showed us her back. The Spirit was so strong and so when Sora Drotar asked Alexsandra again to be baptized, I wasn’t surprised that she said yes. She shared with us a scripture from the Bible in Acts:
“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
She explained that she felt pricked in her heart, and she knew baptism was right. It was such a cool experience and the Spirit was so strong. We unfortunately haven’t had a chance to meet with her since then, since she’s been so busy with work, but we’re teaching her tonight and I hope she remembers how she felt last week and that she will continue to feel the same.
On Wednesday, we traveled to Sibiu for zone training. We met with the missionaries from Sibiu and Cluj and listened to presentations by some of the missionaries. Sora Drotar and I took a maxi-taxi at 6:00 AM…meaning we had to wake up at 4:15 AM. A maxi-taxi is kind of like a smaller bus with about 7 rows that goes longer distances (about 3 hours from Brașov to Sibiu) but is still pretty cheap. Sibiu itself is BEAUTIFUL! Much more European looking than Brașov, though Brașov does have its fair share of beautiful architecture.
I loved meeting our zone; they are all so great! Elder Covey shared a really great spiritual thought about Alma 13:24 “For behold, angels are declaring it unto many at this time in our land; and this is for the purpose of preparing the hearts of the children of men to receive his word at the time of this coming in his glory.” He talked about how there ARE people being prepared for us everywhere, even though they may not know it, even if we may not know it, and that we are being helped from the other side of the veil, that angels are preparing the hearts of people here in Brașov so that they will be ready to receive me.
After the meeting, we went out to lunch with all of the missionaries which was super fun. It was great to meet more of the missionaries serving here. I still feel like I barely know any of them, but it will come with time and as I serve with more of them.
This Friday we had exchanges with the Sister Training Leaders — Sora Polatis and Sora Lund, my nașes! I worked with Sora Lund while Sora Drotar and Sora Polatis worked together. It was interesting to have a different companion — I’m so used to Sora Drotar! — but Sora Lund was super helpful and supportive as well. She is the sister who has been serving longest in the mission and goes home in the middle of December. She was really helpful in getting me to feel comfortable talking to strangers. I tend to just be quiet rather than talk to anyone cause I worry that my language skills will make it impossible for me to understand anything anyone says and I worry that I wouldn’t know how to respond even if I DID understand. She said when she was learning the language, she would carry around a picture of her family in her Book of Mormon and then when she was sitting next to someone on the bus, she’d ask if she could practice speaking Romanian with them since she was trying to learn. Almost always they would say yes, and she would pull out her picture and describe her family. This usually led to the person asking why she was learning Romanian and she could then move it into talking about the Gospel. I’ve started doing this and it really works! Or at least it works in getting me out of my shell.
We had a great lesson with Lygya, the woman we teach in English since she is learning English and is pretty much fluent. She has been having a really hard time this week and even though she never goes into specifics, I know that she is really struggling. She even mentioned that she thought about texting us, asking if we could pray for her. I told her that we already do every night and I think that really touched her. We had taught her earlier about sincere prayer and I asked her if she has been praying every day and she said she even prayed for two hours one night! We taught her about the Plan of Salvation, focusing on the Atonement. She said she was having a super busy and very stressful week so she wouldn’t be able to read anything from the Book of Mormon, but SHE asked US if she could come to Church on Sunday…um…OBVIOUSLY YES. She came to Church and stayed for all 3 hours. She said she really enjoyed it and felt like the messages were specifically for her. I love the Spirit we feel at Church and sometimes I think I get a little immune to it since I am so used to it, but I’m glad that she was able to feel the Spirit so strongly during Church.
I also had a lot of firsts with Sora Lund — my first placinta (kind of like an empanada and can be savory or sweet), my first block-knocking experience (where you go through a whole building and knock every door — kind of like opening the unmarked containers in the back of the refrigerator, you never know what you’re gonna get), and my first door slammed in my face (it only counts as a door slam if they literally say NOTHING and just close the door in your face). Block-knocking helped me get out of my shell a little bit because even though we got rejected basically at every door, the promise of the next door always reduced the sting a little bit. I’m really glad I was able to go on exchanges this week.
On Sunday, we went out to Feldioara again for the sacrament meeting out there and we were surprised to see Simona there! She is the daughter of the Pavels, a great couple who are just so strong in the Gospel. Simona always sits in on the lessons we teach the Pavels and it was great to see her there. She has an absolutely ADORABLE baby of about 2 months old…SO CUTE. She has the biggest blue eyes and is so well-behaved almost all of the time.
I’m loving having Sora Drotar as a companion — she inspires me in a lot of ways. Since she is a convert of only two years, she is pretty fluent in the Bible since that is all she studied before. I’ve started studying the New Testament more and have started studying Jesus the Christ to be better able to use the Bible in lessons. Lots of Romanians believe in the Bible so it is powerful to be able to use stories and doctrine from there that support our Church. She is also super silly at times which always makes things fun haha.
Today for P-Day we’re going to go hike the Brașov sign — kind of a rip-off of the Hollywood sign haha. I’m looking forward to getting to HIKE! I’ve missed it. Hopefully I’ll get some great pictures of Brașov from above for you to see — you can see a distinct change in architecture between the European villas in the hills and the Russian block buildings in the center, it’s fascinating. We’re also going to buy me some boots for the impending snow that thankfully has not come yet.
I miss you all and love you lots! I hope you have a happy Halloween! We’ll probably be having a Halloween party at the Church though Romanians don’t celebrate the holiday. We found lots of novelty items at the grocery store next door to our apartment building, so maybe we can use our weird American holiday as a good conversation starter this week haha. Who knows.
Hope all is well!
Toate dragostea mea,
Just a man walking his pig…casual.
With the first door slammed in my face!