This week has been full of lots of things, both good and bad (as it seems every week is). Last week for P-Day, it was snowing so we cancelled our plan to hike to the Brașov sign — we wanted to take Elder Brown and see the city in the snow! Instead, we opted for game night at the Powells’ apartment. We played fun card games, had popcorn and cookies, and just relaxed. It was so nice! And much warmer than hiking would have been. After that, Sora and I went with Levy, the group leader of the Feldioara church group (they are a group since they’re not big enough to be a branch yet) and his wife Teo, and the Powells to hold a Family Home Evening at the Pavels’ house. I write occasionally about the Pavels, especially their daughter Simona who we are teaching. Ioan and Elena live with all of their children and grandparents — 21 people in one house! Their grandson Patrick is the only other church member of the whole family, but many of the family members are receptive or have investigated the church at different times. For FHE, the whole family sat in. We did the game where you have a ball of string and say something no one knows about you then throw the ball of string to someone else and say something nice about them until everyone has gotten the ball of string. It was cute to see them all participate. We related the net this made to the safety net a family creates and how we strengthen our bonds when we are kind to each other and see the best in them. We also tried to play the game where each person is an animal with a sign and then you pass the sign around in a rhythm…however, that one fell apart really quickly cause I don’t think anyone understood it and one of the little kids just kept making animal noises whenever he wanted to haha. But it made everyone laugh and I think that is the ultimate purpose of FHE. We brought some snacks along with us and just planned to eat more popcorn, but then Elena and Simona bring out HUGE PLATES of food/potato salad/some sort of fried salami. It was so kind of them and completely unexpected.
With Patrick and Adelin Pavel and Simona with her baby in the background
We started English classes again this week. We had a low number (about 7-8), but we didn’t have the recurring students we always have — people who have come to these English classes for 5 years, never progress in their English, and have no interest in learning about the Gospel. We mostly stopped our English classes this past transfer to switch it up and avoid the recurring students…seems like our efforts worked! We got to see Lygya on Saturday at English — we haven’t seen her for a long time, but it was so good to see her again! Hopefully we’ll be able to go over this week and teach her again. She seems like she is at a point in her life where she can really use the Gospel.
We had a kind of frightening experience this week. We were knocking a bloc when we got to this one guy’s door. He was pretty tall, older, probably in his 60s, and did not want ANYTHING to do with what we had to say. But instead of just slamming his door or something, he started yelling at us to leave. We wished him a good day, left his door, and went to go knock the next door. He came out of his door, yelling lots of stuff I didn’t quite understand (but I got the gist) and he PUSHED Sora Drotar. Obviously we left immediately and Sora was all okay physically, but we were both upset by the experience. Why would someone be so mad about us just wanting to share our message that they would push a young woman? And I know we both look much younger than 22, so I’m sure he thinks we were like 18 or so. We had a couple minutes to calm down and went to the next floor to keep going. We didn’t want one person’s bad attitude to ruin the opportunity to find someone who was prepared and ready to hear our message. We now carry pepper spray around at all times, so don’t worry. This was the first time anything like that happened to Sora Drotar in her 10 months so I don’t think it’s all that common.
We had some good lessons this week. We went with Marius, our branch mission leader, to visit the Borbeas and Alexsandra’s family. In both lessons, we did a lesson on the Atonement of Christ. We offered to give each person a treat at the end, but to get the treat, someone had to do 10 push-ups. But not just anyone could do the push-ups, Marius had to, cause he was chosen for the job. And even if they didn’t want the treat, Marius still did the push-ups. We read scriptures about the Atonement and what Christ has done for us and how we are only expected to show our thanks by following His commandments. They were some great lessons and I think the kids especially enjoyed it.
We are also making an effort for more member-present lessons. We passed out a blank calendar to each member so they could write out when they are usually free and able to come to lessons. We already have 3 lessons with members scheduled — it’s so cool to see our efforts have direct results! We also met with Fratele Croitoru, the first counselor in the branch presidency (he looks JUST like Gru from Despicable Me…it’s weird). He was one of the first members of the church here in Brașov and he remembers everyone. We went over the entire directory for the branch and discussed who would be good less-active members to visit, who has moved away, who has changed addresses or phone numbers. It was good to get to hear all of that information and better understand the branch. It was also nice to get him a little more involved in the missionary work here.
We also did some fun things this week, including filming a music video during weekly planning haha. It’s so fun to be at a point where Sora Drotar and I are really comfortable with each other and able to be ourselves. When you work hard, you gotta play hard too. I’m so glad I get to spend the holidays with her and not a companion that I would just barely be getting used to at this point in the transfer.
Yesterday, the assistants to the President (APs) stopped by on the way down from the Arad zone Christmas party. They had 2 hours in between the trains so they came caroling contacting with us. We sang all the Christmas carols from the hymn book in Centru (the big center of the city where the Christmas tree and lights all are) and it was so fun! The APs are really good at singing — like able to harmonize on the spot — so we sounded pretty good. We took turns being the person to give a pass-along card to anyone who stopped to listen. One lady even joined in singing! The title of my email is the name of one of the traditional Romanian carols included in the hymnbook. It’s a really fun one with a fast tempo and difficult-to-say words haha. We parted ways and then heard later that the APs ended up staying the night at the elders’ apartment because their train was pushed back an hour and a half…meaning they would get home at like 2 am. So instead they are coming with us to Bran castle today! I’m excited — this is Dracula’s castle! Sora says its not as pretty as Peleș, but there are tons of good souvenir shops and lots of picture opportunities.
I got a big envelope of letters when the APs came with lots of notes from so many of you! It was so sweet of you to take the time to write me a note — it instantly made me feel more at home and made Christmas that much sweeter. I also got a couple separate letters — thank you so much to each of you who write, whether its emails, letters, or whatever it may be. I love hearing from you and I’m sorry if I’m slow in responding. I probably don’t get mail until 4 weeks after you send it, then I have to find time to respond, and then my letter has to make its way back to the states…so I’m sorry if I haven’t responded to a letter or email yet. Please know that I appreciate it so so so much.
I miss you each — I hit my two months in the country mark yesterday. I can’t believe it is going by so quickly, but I also feel like there is nowhere else I should be. I was saying a prayer before language study one morning when I was just overwhelmed by the feeling that I am meant to be here — these are my people, this is my language, this is exactly what I need to be doing. I have such a love for the Romanians, even if they can be pretty mean sometimes. But the kindness and love of the majority more than makes up for the hatred and rejection of the few. I am so grateful for this opportunity that I have to serve.
I love you and miss you all and think of you every day!
All the best,