So much happened this week — hopefully I’ll be able to mention everything on my mind! Some of the fun stuff first:
I cut Sora Drotar’s hair! She was getting super frustrated with her long hair getting stuck in her jacket or her scarf and she declared one day while we were planning for the next day, “SORA! YOU NEED TO CUT MY HAIR TODAY!!” I had wanted to wait til P-Day so that we could buy actual hair-cutting scissors (or any scissors other than the kid-safe paper scissors we have), but she had had it with her long hair. I was probably more nervous for this than any other thing I’ve done except maybe take the SAT or play a solo…but it turned out great! She wants to go to a ward member who does hair to get layers (I did NOT have enough faith in myself to do that part), but it doesn’t look super choppy or uneven, so I consider that a major success.
That same night we also decorated our apartment for Christmas! We bought a little fake tree from the super-market as well as lights! It already feels homier and definitely makes it feel like Christmas is coming. Plus all the SNOW we have been getting has made it feel quite a bit more like Christmas. We had a good snowball fight before church with the elders and a couple of the kids in the ward.
We also traveled down to București (again) to go to our zone conference/Christmas party! Our zone conference was actually in Arad, but that is about an 11 hour train ride away, and Buc is only 3 hours away, so we got permission to go to the other zone conference. It was fun because lots of people were at the zone conference — the București zones tend to be really big. We took the train the night before and stayed overnight at the apartment of Sora Stapley and Sora Deruvo, two of the sister training leaders. The sisters from Craiova also stayed the night, Sora Smith and Sora Ralls. It is so fun to get to hang out with so many sisters and just talk and get to know them better. Sora Deruvo and I bonded over a love of the Backstreet Boys. Sora Deruvo is also from Italy and she made us all pasta — some of the best that I’ve ever had! We went the next morning to the zone training and conference and found out who our new mission president will be! His name is Clark Ivory and he is the current CEO of Ivory Homes (from what I understand), one of the biggest home-building companies in Utah. He and his wife both served missions in Italy so I bet they will be able to pick up on Romanian really quickly. They seem so young compared to President and Sora Hill, but I am so excited to welcome them to the mission in about 8 months or so!
All of the sisters at the zone conference!
We also had a scarf/tie exchange that was fun and had a really good lunch that reminded me of Christmas dinner at home. We also each got a can of A&W root beer, the best present of all!! They compiled a mission slideshow for the year from pictures we all submitted — it was so fun to see all the activities, funny moments, baptisms, scenery, and missionaries from the past year. I got a couple pictures in there, so it was fun to see haha. The last part of the party was “dying testimonies”of those missionaries that are going home before the next zone conference. We had quite a few, 2 sisters and 5 elders. Each of them was inspiring in their different ways, especially getting to hear Sora Lund. She was my first exchanges and it’s hard to see her go already…but she promised to email me a play-by-play of Catching Fire, so I guess it’s okay.
Sad to let Sora Lund go…we ended up looking kind of scared instead…oops
We kept getting calls from our landlord to come pay our bills, so we went to the office to find that our utilities bill had not been paid since MAY. That was before Sora Drotar was even here in Brașov. It was quite a hefty bill…I’m also amazed that they didn’t throw us out before that or something…guess things are just run differently here in Romania. The bill is never sent to our mailbox, the amount is displayed in this very easy to miss display case near the mailboxes…good to know for the future. But never fear, our bills our paid, we have heat and electricity and water, all is well.
For more of the spiritual things:
We had a great correlation meeting this past week. Correlation meeting is when the missionaries meet with the ward mission leader and discuss what we missionaries need from the ward — callings for recent converts, specific members to fellowship investigators, whatever help we might need. Marius, our ward mission leader, said that President Meșco was interested in setting up a branch mission plan!! WOO! Without the branch president on board, it’s hard to get the rest of the branch involved, so it’s exciting that he is interested more in getting missionary work going. We talked a lot about the three parts of a mission plan — baptism, retention, and reactivation. We want to focus a lot on reactivation. We have a HUGE branch list of members, but only about 20 people ever show up at church at most. We are working with Marius to get members more involved in teaching recent converts with us so then they will be better prepared to be home and visiting teachers for those less-actives that haven’t been to church in years. I am so excited to see the branch taking the initiative in getting involved in missionary work — we missionaries come and go, but the branch members stay there for a long time. I know that if they get involved, the work will accelerate.
We had a Family Home Evening Activity out in Feldioara with the Pavels to teach them how FHE should go. Sora and I taught a lesson about the Holy Ghost — we had one of the kids hide a picture of the Savior around the room and another one of the kids had to find it using our clues of “hot” or “cold” and relating that to how following the promptings of the Holy Ghost bring us closer to Christ. We had snacks and it was kind of just like an FHE in America! We are going over again tonight to have FHE again. The Pavels are easily some of my favorite people to teach here — they are so receptive to the Gospel and really truly desire to follow Christ.
We also got let in while we were bloc-knocking for the first time for me! We were going door to door and getting the usual lukewarm, if not frigid, response we normally get when we knocked one door and this 14-year-old girl named Roxana just immediately let us in. I was so surprised I didn’t even know what to do. She didn’t have time to have a lesson then, but she invited us to come back another time — we’re going to try to go visit her tonight. It’s so cool to see how some people actually can be really receptive to what we have to say.
We have been working with the Borbea family for a long time and missionaries before us have as well — they are the family where the father and oldest son is baptized, but the mother, daughter, and younger son are not members. Even if Fratele Borbea doesn’t come to church, he still sends his children every single week. They like the social aspects of church but the kids are always unsure about getting baptized if we ever bring it up. But what was SO COOL is that Sora Borbea came to church this week!! I’d never even met her before — she is usually working when we go over to teach lessons. I hope that maybe she will be more receptive to the Gospel now and maybe the whole family will be able to get baptized in the upcoming months! We will keep working with them, but her presence at church was such a cool surprise!
I have also been co-opted to be the pianist for the primary’s part in the branch Christmas party coming up on the 21st. Unluckily for me, they are singing the Romanian traditional carols that I have barely ever played before. Time for some practice!!
It’s so great to hear from each of you. I love you all and miss you tons. Hit my 3 month mark this past week — 1/6 of the way done already! I can hardly believe it. I think of you each daily and your emails always brighten my day and help me have continued faith and support.