So many things to update on! The first of course being my new companion, Sora Ruiz!! She is from Cornovaca, Mexico and has already graduated from BYU Hawaii in English and Anthropology. She’s older than me, just by a year, and I’m pretty glad I don’t feel completely like a mom like I would if she was a new 19 year old sister. She is already crazy good at the language because of her fluency in Spanish…she literally sounds like someone after a transfer and a half, maybe even two! She is also already so willing to talk to people, even if she’s not quite sure how to say something. The people always listen and she is so great at boldly testifying about the Gospel to them. She inspires me so much already 🙂 She can be super goofy and funny and she always makes the day fun which is just what’s needed here. I love her so much already!!
Alexandria has been a rollercoaster ride already. We didn’t have the contract signed for the apartment by Wednesday, the night we came in, so we stayed in the elders’ apartment (up on the fifth floor without an elevator…) for that night and they got a hotel room. The next day, Thursday, the elders got the contract signed so we had to move all of our stuff into our new apartment. But, the new apartment was kind of bare and lacking in anything that we needed for living…so we ended up eating uncooked oatmeal with cold milk out of plastic cups that first day for breakfast since we didn’t have a way to light the stove and we didn’t have filtered water. We spent all day Friday going crazy with shopping and unpacking so our apartment now has things like bowls, a lighter, a toaster, dish towels, and other necessities. We’re still working on getting a shower curtain and chairs, but some things just take time haha.
Alexandria itself is very beautiful and very small. You can basically walk from one end of town to the other in about 45 min or an hour. We do our Internet time at the church computer because there isn’t an Internet cafe in town at all. It was kind of discouraging when we were talking at district meeting. Elder Pischke, our district leader, has served here before for 6 months and he mentioned how missionaries have been here in Alexandria for about 6 or 7 years…and given that the city has about 32,000 inhabitants, most of those people have been contacted by the missionaries before in some way. But I won’t let that bring down my faith that Sora Ruiz and I were sent here for a reason — there are people we need to meet and talk to and teach. Maybe having sister missionaries here is just what Alexandria needs to be strengthened. Previously, there was only one set of elders here at a time and being sent to Alexandria was kind of like being “exiled.” It was just you and your companion in a tiny town where everyone rejected you and the work was hard. But now we have four missionaries here and I think the work will really pick up if we try our hardest. On Saturday we went out contacting for about 4 or 5 hours and had some great conversations and got some phone numbers to call later. We also have been really excited about getting English classes started — it would be a great way to contact former investigators and maybe get them investigating the church again.
Working here in Alexandria is already so different from working in Brașov. Most mornings I wake up kind of discouraged, not really sure what the day will bring. In Brașov, we always had people to teach, people who were interested, members to visit, etc. But here in Alexandria, we are like a lot of other cities in the mission where you go contacting all day for the first couple weeks in the hopes of setting yourself up to have investigators later in the transfer. I also am more than a little overwhelmed/terrified at having to train — how am I supposed to be the example missionary?? I’ve hardly been one for that long! I’m new to this contacting thing too! I have no idea what that person said on the phone! But I’m finding that as I rely on the Lord, my day goes smoother. I find peace in my heart to replace the fear or uncertainty that is there every morning. We’ve also had a lot of success in our contacting — we’ve started doing survey questions, things that get people talking about faith and religion and really great conversations can come from that. People are also very happy to hear about our English classes so we’re really hoping those will be a great success.
Church on Sunday was great and just what I needed. It always helps me to meet the strong members out here in Romania — it reminds me that there are prepared people! Even though there were only 6 or 7 members, they were all so warm and welcoming. Emanuela and Gina are two really great strong members here. Gina actually served a mini-mission (some young Romanians serve for a transfer as a missionary to see if they would like to serve a full-time mission) at the same time that I came into the country so she and I had met that first night I was at the mission home. President Hill had also asked her to serve another mini-mission last transfer and she would have been my companion in Brașov if she had done it! Guess my coming to Alexandria means we really need to work together! She is very willing to come do missionary work with us and it is so great to see that. Everyone at church kept mentioning how excited they are to have sisters here in Alexandria and we are so excited to be here too!
I miss you all a lot and think about you often. The work is much harder here in Alexandria, but granted, I did ask President for a challenge this transfer. Lo and behold, you always get what you wish for in abundance it seems. I am always strengthened by thinking of each of your examples and I can feel your love for me all the way over here. I love you so much and hope you have had the best of weeks!!
All my love,