We went to Buc on Tuesday for our Zone Training Meeting — we had a lot of great presentations made by missionaries in our zone and then we had some taco soup made by the zone leaders and even got to see President and Sora Hill for about half an hour. A lot of the presentations focused on the role of the Spirit in our missionary work. I felt very fulfilled by all the thoughts and I think I really needed that meeting to kind of kick-start me in getting excited about the work here in Alexandria. It is always so inspiring to be around a group of missionaries, knowing that they are doing the same work you are, having days of 6 hours of contacting straight, getting rejected left and right, enduring the cold and weather, and trying to follow the guidance of the Spirit. After that meeting, a lot of my studies this week focused on how we can become better instruments in the hands of the Lord. I found a quote in an article, “The Lord can draw a straight line with even the most crooked of sticks.” I really like that idea — as long as I give my absolute best, which will never be quite enough, the Lord will work with that and use my efforts for the good of the people here, to fulfill His purposes.
We had two lessons this week, both with Marilena, our one investigator. Our first lesson was about the Atonement and we tried to commit her to a baptismal date of April 5. She was hesitant — I need more time! 6 months of study! How about after Orthodox Easter? But we invited her to pray about that date and to continue reading in the Book of Mormon. We also had a lesson revolving around this no-smoking program we teach. 15 steps, 7 days. She was pretty receptive to it (she asked for help in quitting smoking before), but it was REAAAAALLLY hard for her to give up her electronic cigarette and hand it over to us. It finally happened but only after a lot of cajoling from us and Gina. Marilena came to church this past week and bore her testimony during sacrament meeting. It was pretty awesome to hear her say things like “I know the Book of Mormon is true.” Not entirely sure if she said them cause we were all saying them, but it is a great start and we are excited to see her testimony grow. She is making changes in her life and it is amazing to see.
Gina has been a great help and a great friend already. Every lesson we have had thus far has been a member-present because Gina is always willing to come and help us out. She also is becoming a great friend — she talks to us like we’re normal people and since she is only one or two years older than us, it’s not that much of a stretch. She is really straightforward, but I am finding I get along really well with people like that haha. She had all four of us missionaries over for lunch yesterday — ciorba, bread, and really good cake-cookie things. So yummy!! It is also interesting to hear her conversion story and how she came to be a member of the church. She also compliments us a lot on our Romanian haha. She is so sweet and such an awesome person. I am so glad we get to work here with her!!
The first day of March is Marțișoara, which is kind of like Romanian Valentine’s Day. They also have adopted Valentine’s Day on February 14, but March 1 kind of kicks off a whole month of appreciating women! March 8 is Women’s Day and on March 1, people give little presents to all the women they know — they are either little brooches or bracelets, all including red and white thread. We got Marțișoara presents from Gina, Marilena, the elders, and Mama Gabi (the elders’ old proprietar that we went to visit last night). I have heard that the red and white symbolize that spring is here! It is a nice tradition and very fun to see everyone appreciating the women in their lives! We should adopt that tradition in the States, in my opinion haha.
Sora Ruiz is awesome. I love serving with her so much. She is so chill and laidback, but still very willing to work hard, be bold, and share the Gospel. She is so willing to try with the language and doesn’t let that stop her from connecting with people. Because she talks, people already are opening up to her and it is awesome. She is also a trooper with all of our long days of contacting. I learn so much from her each day and I’m so lucky to get to work with her.
I love and miss you all so much. The work is hard, but it is so rewarding. I think about each of you each day and your examples to me make things seems a little easier. I miss you lots and hope you all have great weeks! Travel safely and know that I love you so much.