We had a great week — including my one-month-in-the-country mark! It’s crazy to think about how I have been here for a whole month already!
Last week we had a half P-Day on Wednesday to be able to go to Peleş, one of the most beautiful castles in Romania. Elder Reid said it would probably be the coolest thing I ever see on P-Day, so I guess it’s all downhill from here. We went on Wednesday because the tours are not open on Mondays and Tuesdays, but we got there to find out that the castle is closed all of November for construction/restoration -__-. But it was still extremely beautiful even if we didn’t get to go inside. Plus the missionaries from Ploieşti were there for P-Day as well so I got to see Sora O’Brien! It looks like she is doing well and it was fun to get to meet other missionaries that I hadn’t met before. We hung around on the grounds which were beautiful and bought some souveneirs then made our way back to Braşov.
We are also having Thanksgiving dinner today for P-Day! I made some cream corn this morning — Romania better prepare itself for Thanksgiving, Bray style. We decided to have it today because Thanksgiving falls on the day AFTER transfers and we wanted to have dinner all together. We didn’t have it the Monday before transfers either because if any of us are leaving Braşov, we wanted to give that P-Day to whatever that missionary wants to do or see. So I’ll have lots of pictures to share next week of our feast! We also got permission to watch the Lorax! President usually gives us permission (the Romanian word is voie [VOY-ay] and is completely adapted into the mission vocabulary — “We need voie to go proselyte in that area”, etc.) to watch Disney/animated movies at Christmas and Easter but Elder Reid asked if we could also watch one for our Thanksgiving celebration and he said yes! So we are pretty pumped.
Our adventure in the culinary world this week (besides our Thanksgiving dishes) was TACOS! They were super good and filling and lasted us for two nights. Someone had left lots of taco seasoning from the US in the apartment, so it tasted like tacos from home! We always make lots of food for the nights we do weekly planning (a 3-hour block of time where we go over every person we are teaching and what we want to teach them for the upcoming week, we set goals for what we want to accomplish, and we discuss what we could do to be better) — we like to call it Fat Friday cause we buy lots of snacks and make good food to get us through the 3 hours.
Excitedly trying Vita Snacks for the first time! Basically cookies filled with Nutella that every missionary gets addicted to during their first couple transfers until they get sick of them. Sora Drotar captured the exact moment I tried the snacks.
Some awesome news on our end: Julia finally resurfaced! AND she still wants to get baptized! She called us on Wednesday and wanted to meet on Thursday. When we came over, her mother wasn’t feeling well so we weren’t able to have a lesson, but she said she still wants to be baptized and we set her date for November 23rd (this Saturday)! We’ll be heading out to Feldioară basically every day this week to help her prepare. We weren’t sure if she would be able to be baptized so soon because people need to establish a record of church attendance before being baptized and there was only one Sunday between Wednesday and the 23rd. But we talked to President about it and since she has had a habit of attending church in the past (she has been investigating the Church on-and-off for a while), she would be fine with only one Sunday. We really wanted it to be sooner rather than later so that it would be before the baby. When Sora Drotar called to tell her that she could get baptized on the 23rd, I could hear her practically squeal with happiness from across the room. She is just SO excited for baptism and it makes me so excited to see her making these right choices in her life. So next week, I’ll hopefully have some baptismal pictures to share!
We had lots of interesting lessons this week. Some highlights:
-Roxana: a 19-year old who the elders found, had misgivings about meeting with us so we just had a 25 minute chat outside rather than a sit-down lesson. She was very defensive of the Bible when we tried to explain what the Book of Mormon is, but Sora Drotar did a great job of testifying about the Restoration and hopefully we can follow up with her soon to see if she read and what she thinks.
-Herman: the older man we met last week while contacting in Feldioară. We passed him off to the elders and had a lesson with him and one of his friends that just happened to be over. Herman did his usual interrupting/telling interesting stories thing — it’s hard to get through all that we planned, but he is so sweet. He seems to have trouble committing coming to church — we stopped by to invite him this week but he usually travels around on Sundays.
-Alexsandra: we had a lesson where we boldly invited her to be baptized and bore testimony that we knew this was the true church — she said she would pray and wait for a dream. Almost every Romanian I have met and talked to have these amazing spiritual dreams and they trust them a lot. I think the most spiritual dream I have ever had is like when I dreamt about Justin Bieber becoming a missionary that was assigned to our district. But so many Romanians have amazing dreams that most times will lead them to gain a greater testimony. I keep praying that Alexsandra will get her confirmation and we’ll probably meet occasionally with her during that time.
Trying to make our way to Alexsandra’s house and what should be blocking our way but a herd of cattle! Sora Drotar touched one when they went past us…I kept clear…I’d really rather not that my obituary read that I was trampled by cows in the Romanian countryside.
-Mândră: a Gypsy mother who the elders found contacting in Feldioară that wanted to do 30/30 English. We taught her the Restoration and she promised to read and pray about the Book of Mormon. We followed up with her and she said she read so hopefully when we go out to Feldioară all throughout this week for Julia, we will be able to meet with her more.
We also did a lot of contacting as per usual. Most people were rude or mean as expected, so it made the nice people all that more refreshing. No really cool experiences from that, but the work goes onward! I am so grateful that we have so many people to teach — it really is a blessing, especially in this mission. There is a saying among the elders that I’ve heard that I thought was pretty funny: “They send boys to South America to become men. They send men to Asia to become apostles. They send REAL men to Eastern Europe to become martyrs.” I have heard of many missionaries in this mission who don’t have any lessons in the whole week — Sora Drotar and I are so blessed and so grateful for the opportunity that we have to work with many people that decide to listen to our message further, even if they decide not to act on it. I am reminded constantly that my responsibility is to find and teach — that is all that is asked of me and if I do that diligently, I will be successful as a missionary, no matter the number of lessons I have or the number of baptisms I see.
Thank you as always for your emails! I love getting updates from each of you. I think of you daily and miss you lots. I love you each lots and can’t believe that I am almost at my first transfer! How crazy is that?!!? Vă iubesc foarte mult and I can’t wait to see you for Christmas!
With lots of love,
P.S. Here is a note from Sora Hill about sending packages:
Please give this information to any of your family and friends who may want to send packages to Romania (this will apply to you Moldovan’s also if your packages come through the Mission Office in Bucureşti):
Caution: All packages coming into Romania from outside the European Union may be subject to duties, VAT (value added tax) and sometimes other excise taxes. These fees are calculated on the value of the imported goods plus the cost of importing them (shipping and insurance) and can be considerable. Duties may be 17% of the value of a package (excluding books) over 150 Euros; the additional VAT is 24% of the value of a package worth over 10 Euros. There may be other taxes as well. The missionary will have to pay these taxes here when he gets his package.
Remember that most items a missionary needs can be purchased here in Romania and it is up to the family and the missionary to decide whether it is better to ship something or have extra spending money rather than having to pay all that money in duties and taxes on top of the original postage. You can get more details about Romanian duties online. There are similar taxes and duties for items sent to Moldova.