Disclaimer: I forgot my card-reader at home so there will be no pictures this week 😦 Ooops
Last week for the rest of P-day, we took it easy and stayed in Braşov. We had been planning to go to Peleş, basically the most beautiful castle in all of Romania, but it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays and we didn’t learn that until Sunday. So this week we are splitting our P-day time between today and Wednesday (3 hours today for groceries/email, 3 hours on Wednesday to go to Peleş). So last week we went out to get pizza with the elders and took our time with dinner, which is much different than our usual hurried dinner. We went grocery shopping which is always a feat, but especially at the beginning of the month cause we have to restock all the basics. Our bags were SO heavy and as we were about to enter our apartment building, the straps broke off Sora Drotar’s bag and a jar of pickles smashed open. We must have looked so pitiful, trying to hobble our way over to the elevator without getting pickle juice/pickle glass shards everywhere. Our apartment smelled faintly of pickles for the next couple days, but after a good mopping, I think we’re all set.
On Tuesday, we went out to go contacting in Feldioară which is where the title of this week’s email comes from. BACKGROUND: Romania is primarily Orthodox and anyone who is not Orthodox is called a “pocăit” — meaning “repenter”. This includes Pentecostals, Baptists, Mormons, basically anyone who is not Orthodox. It’s meant as an insult/name-calling, kind of like “mudblood” in Harry Potter. So we were coming to the bus stop in Feldioară and there was a group of teenage boys and girls and we started a conversation with them. Normally we don’t talk to basically any boy between the ages of 7 and 75 because they tend to be creepy, but we felt a little more comfortable since there were lots of teenage girls with them. That did not stop the boys from trying to hit on us, trying to get our number. I could conveniently pull the, “Nu înţeleg!” card, but Sora Drotar had started talking to them initially about the Gospel so they knew she knew Romanian. We took one of their numbers to give to the elders and they PROMISED they would come to church…yeah right, I’ll believe it when I see it. But my favorite part was the pickup line one of them used: “I’d become a pocăit for you.” It was kind of like when you get a back-handed compliment — a back-handed pickup line. It made me laugh; Sora Drotar and I say it to each other all the time now haha.
This week we experimented a lot with cooking — we made alfredo sauce, cornbread, and Hawaiian haystacks! Not all on the same day (that’d be a weird dinner…), but each one on a different day. This past Wednesday was Sora Drotar’s half-way mark so we celebrated with some chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream. Mmm it was so good! And pretty hard to find too, but we were diligent. Wednesday was also our first and only day of bad weather — it was super rainy and chilly the whole day. Sora Drotar bet me it would snow the next day, but thankfully we haven’t had any snow yet. Everyone said this was going to be the “worst winter in 100 years” but I have yet to see any of that yet…just watch, now that I wrote this, it’s gonna be terrible weather this week. We shall see.
We had a kind of difficult week in terms of lessons — it feels like none of our investigators are progressing and we’re not really sure what we can do to change that. One of the hard things I’m learning as a missionary is that you have to respect other people’s agency. Even though I know what I’m sharing is true, other people have the choice to read and pray for themselves — and more often than not, they choose not to. What is really disappointing is that Julia, our promising baptismal date I told you about last week, has basically fallen off the face of the planet. Her mom intercepts all of our calls or answers the door and makes up excuses that are all kind of fishy…it’s so frustrating because we don’t know if the mom is interfering because she doesn’t want her daughter to be baptized or if Julia herself doesn’t want to be baptized any more and is having her mom speak for her. We’re not quite sure what to do, so we keep praying for inspiration on that front.
Alexsandra also is resisting our efforts — we taught a lesson about prayer and accountability (accounting to Heavenly Father about our day in our nightly prayers) and we invited her to pray specifically about whether the Book of Mormon is true and she didn’t answer us. It was kind of an awkward moment because she didn’t say anything, she just looked at us. It’s so strange, because only two weeks ago, she agreed to get baptized. I don’t know how or why someone’s feelings can change so quickly, but it’s kind of disappointing. We teach her family 30/30 English and next time we’re going to show the Restoration video and testify of the Restoration. Maybe bringing back to the Restoration and bringing the Spirit as we testify will help her to remember how she felt only a couple weeks ago.
We did have some great experiences contacting this week. We were feeling kind of discouraged one day while we were in Feldioară and weren’t really knocking any doors, but we saw one with a doorbell so we decided to ring the doorbell. We met this great older man, Herman. He is originally from Germany and knows 5 languages fluently (I practiced a little German with him — turns out Romanian has replaced almost all of my German in my brain). He immediately invited us in and talked to us for a good 45 minutes. A lot of the older generation here tend to talk a LOT. Like, to the point where you have to interrupt them rudely (though here it isn’t that rude). When leaving we literally had to start walking away down the street to get him to finally stop talking to us. But he had lots of interesting stories and is very faithful. He promised he would read the Book of Mormon and pray about its truthfulness. A funny moment happened when I was offering the closing prayer. He interrupted me and I had absolutely no idea what he said. All Romanian tends to sound kind of angry, so I thought he was getting mad at me for something I had said in the prayer, so after his outburst, I just quickly finished my prayer. After we left, I asked Sora Drotar what he had said in his interjection and she said he was reminding me to thank God for us meeting him — how sweet! Haha, much nicer than me thinking that he was chastising me. We hope to meet with him again when we go back to Feldioară.
I also had my first real contact — by that I mean that it was all me, no help from Sora Drotar. We were waiting at the bus stop and a woman came up to ask me if a certain bus had come already. It was hard for me to get out a response, so I explained that I have only been in Romania for 4 weeks and I’m trying to learn Romanian. She was super nice and kept talking to me. She said she wanted to learn English but didn’t have any money for a course — what a convenient segue for me to mention that we teach 30/30 lessons, free of charge! I gave her a pass-along card with our information so that she can call us if she wants the lessons. The conversation lasted about 10 minutes at the bus stop and the 10 minute bus ride. I can’t believe I had a 20 minute conversation in Romanian and she could actually understand what I was saying! When we got off the bus, Sora Drotar sang her favorite song to sing. It basically consists of her singing, in an annoying voice, “MY COMPANION KNOWS ROMANIAN!” over and over again. It was a fun moment and definitely boosted my confidence in my language abilities. I may not speak perfectly, but I speak well enough to do the things I am asked to do, and I will only continue to improve as time goes on.
This week ended with me also giving a TALK in Romanian. I knew my time was up when I heard Sora Drotar answer the phone: “Bună, Fratele Croitoru! [he’s a member of the bishopric]…Sora Bray?…despre rugaciune?…zece minute?” I was pretty nervous, but basically I wrote my talk in English and Sora Drotar helped me by basically translating the whole talk. If I had to write it on my own, I would probably just say things like, “We need to pray. Prayer is good. We can talk to God. We should pray.” and read like 40 scriptures to fill the rest of the time. Instead, I was able to actually say what I wanted to say. I can send you the Romanian version by mail if you want to translate it, Dad! I basically read my talk and all of the members were really nice and told me that I spoke Romanian very well. This really cool girl from Australia, Elise, who comes to church while she is here in Romania volunteering at a hospital said that I sounded like all the other Romanians who speak (she doesn’t know Romanian at all haha, so her praise was taken with a grain of salt).
So I’ve had a good week overall even if the work can get discouraging at times. I love getting your update emails. I’m sorry if I don’t respond to each one thoroughly, but I definitely read each one and love hearing about your week. I miss you all lots and hope you have a good week!!