La Mulți Ani!

This week has been both exciting and difficult. Exciting in that we had 7 potential investigators, we started English classes with pretty good success, and President and Sora Hill came to church on Sunday with President Doru (our district president). Difficult in that we had an Orthodox priest confront us on the street and tell us to stop proselyting and just generally be very rude and mean to us and the elders had a run-in with some punk kids on the street. 

 
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All of us at church with the Hills!
 
Last Tuesday was our first English class and we had about 10-12 people come which is HUGE for Alexandria where only Gina has come for the past 4 transfers. We tried really hard with our English contacting and it definitely paid off. We have some really sweet members in our class (Sora Ruiz and I are doing a conversational class…but mostly it’s people who think they are past the beginner level, so we have a whole range of abilities) and I’m excited to see where things go. We had this one super sweet younger woman, Nicoleta, who understands English really well, but whenever she tries to speak, it comes out in Spanish! Luckily, Sora Ruiz is obviously fluent in Spanish so we want to set up to do 30/30 lessons with her since she could really benefit from some one-on-one attention. 
 
We had a lot of success contacting this week. We mostly do surveys and knock on people’s doors in the blocs and out in the vilas. We explain that we have a couple questions for us to better know the opinion of Romanians here in Alexandria and usually people are pretty receptive. Our questions are things like, “How important is your family in your life?”, “Have you ever prayed with your own words?”, “Why do you think God allows trials and suffering to occur?”, and “If there would be another scripture outside of the Bible, would you be interested in reading it?” From these questions and their responses, we have lots of things that we can testify to them about and even if they aren’t interested in us coming back and teaching lessons, we usually leave them with a good positive impression and a good conversation. We had 3 or 4 women this week open up to us a lot — telling us about their children that had passed away or how their husbands were very sick or whatever the situation was. Some even ended up crying to us as they opened up. It’s truly remarkable how open and loving these people can be. We’re excited to follow up with a lot of the people we met, but if nothing else, we are helping people think more about religion and the role it plays in their lives. 
 
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Guess no one lives at this door? Or if so, they are ignoring all their bills pretty well.
 
We were able only to have one lesson with Marilena this week because later in the week she went into the hospital with stomach problems. We visited her yesterday with Gina and she seems to be doing better. Hopefully she will be out by Tuesday. It was fun to just visit with her at the hospital and talk about lots of stuff — dogs, favorite foods, future plans, etc. It’s fun to get to be better friends with her. We are still working hard with her to feel like she could be ready for a baptismal date soon
 
Our hard day was Friday. We were going down a street to do some vila knocking when we noticed that an Orthodox priest was also going door to door a little bit behind us. When he finally got close enough, he asked, “So are you going to leave? How are we going to do this? The easy way or the hard way?” We tried to be friendly and nice, but he kept accusing us of breaking the law with our proselyting and said this was our “last warning”. He accused our English classes of being a big lure to get people to join our church — which is silly because anyone can come to the English classes and they are in no way obliged to even stay for our 10 minute spiritual thought at the end, let alone get baptized or become converted. He was very antagonistic and it was something really hard for me to take. I’m never sure if I should be like Paul from the New Testament and boldly testify and be stoned and spat upon for my beliefs, or if I should take the pacifist way of not even trying to contend, just leaving them in peace. I tend to go with the pacifist way haha so we left after trying to talk to him for maybe 10 minutes. Sora Ruiz and I sat down on a bench and let ourselves have a little break, then we got up and went bloc-knocking. Nobody’s gonna stop us! We found a great woman through that bloc-knocking and when we went on that street where we met him at a different time, we ended up finding two great potential investigators. I guess there’s a reason he didn’t want us going down that street haha. Later that day, we visited one of our potentials and tried to bring her cookies, but she barely opened her door, said something about a priest visiting her and how she didn’t want us to come visit her anymore. That was also difficult because she had been so open and sweet just the day before. But, we will just keep going on with the work and doing our best. We can’t make people choose to listen to us and we can’t make people stop antagonizing us, but we can control how hard we work and with what kind of attitude. 
 
This past Saturday was Ziua Femei — Woman’s Day! It is basically a Mother’s Day/Valentine’s Day combination where people show love and respect to the women in their lives. It was also Elder Speyer’s birthday (he was in my last district in Brașov) so we gave him a big happy birthday call. I also heard from Sora Ralls about the crazy amount of success they are having over there, especially in Feldioara. There are 4 people with baptismal dates and Feldioara will soon be needing a building (instead of the little room they have rented right now). She also said Ion, Adriana, and Beatris all came to church last week — I literally almost cried with joy when I heard that. It’s amazing how much the Lord is working in Romania. We are facing a bit of opposition here in Alexandria, but I feel like that just means lots of success is on its way. It’s always darkest before the sun rises, right? 
 
Sora Ruiz and I are getting along so well. She is so laid back and yet can be so silly. She is such a great example to me always of thinking of new ways to do things, testifying boldly to those people we meet, and working hard. I am so blessed to have her as my companion. I can’t imagine this crazy adventure of opening Alexandria with anyone else. We will hopefully be sorting out all of her visa things soon (since she is from Mexico, she has different protocols that the office didn’t know about until she got here). We might have to spend a day in Budapest, since you need to apply for a visa outside of the country, so maybe we’ll have an awesome adventure traveling together! One can hope 🙂
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Six month present from the elders — Milka with Tuc!! One of the best types of Milkas available
 
I celebrated six months this past Tuesday — Sora Ruiz and I tried to make brownies…it ended up being kind of like chocolate cake/bread, but still good. We also learned how to turn on our gas stove that doesn’t have any starter — terrifying because of the possibility of blowing ourselves up if we did it wrong, but no worries, cause we did it right (with the help of the elders)! 
 
The work is hard, but each day I’m finding that the better I understand my purpose and WHY I am here (as opposed to WHAT I am doing or HOW I am doing it), the happier and more fulfilled I am in the work. The people here are great, the elders make life fun, and Sora Ruiz is just amazing. What more could I ask for?? I love you and miss you a lot. I think about you often and hope that everything is going well.
 
Mi-e dor de voi și vă iubesc FOARTE MULT!
 
Cu drag,
Sora Amy
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