What a great week we have had! We finished off last P-day in Buc by going to the Mexican Embassy, heading to Ikea for lunch, and then mailing off the documents to Sora Ruiz’s family. Weirdly enough, I had never been to Ikea before — who would think that my first trip would be in Romania? The meatballs were SO good, like everyone has been telling me for years! We were at the will of the office elders who had the car so we went with them as they picked up the mail, headed back to the office, and finally made our way to the maxi-taxi and back to Alexandria.
On Tuesday, we had a lesson with Marilena about the gift of the Holy Ghost and enduring to the end. Gina came and was a great help in being able to explain what it meant for her to be baptized — she can connect with the people here so much more since she had to renounce the Orthodox religion to join the Church so she knows the struggles these investigators are going through. During the lesson, Marilena agreed to a baptismal date of April 5! We are so excited for her! She had been resisting, saying that she needed more time to study and to be prepared, but I think talking with Gina really helped her see that she didn’t need to know everything, just enough. We also taught Marilena on Saturday about prayer. This is a difficult topic to teach because the people are so entrenched in their Orthodox traditions — fixed prayers, praying to saints, doing the cross, praying to icons, etc. We tried to address a lot of these concerns and we are hoping we helped her better understand that prayer is a way for us to communicate directly with our Father in Heaven. We were supposed to walk with her to church on Sunday, but she wasn’t outside her building, she didn’t pick up her phone, and she didn’t answer her door. We don’t know what has happened — did she just forget and was out of the house? Is she in the hospital again? Has she decided not to get baptized and doesn’t want anything to do with us? We don’t know, so the baptismal date of April 5 is a bit tentative currently. Hopefully nothing too bad has happened, but we’ll keep trying to get in touch with her as much as we can until we know.
We also were able to meet with one of our potentials, Ioana! She is about 30 years old with an adorable 4-month old girl. We met her doing our survey — she lives really close by and we were going down the street door-to-door. She agreed for us to come back but we have had trouble in the past where she wasn’t home when she said for us to come over, etc. But the stars finally aligned and we had a great first lesson. She was really attentive and asked a lot of questions. We are excited to follow-up with her and have more lessons.
We have also been trying to follow-up with a lot of our potentials. It’s great to get someone’s phone number or an invitation to come back…but if we don’t do anything with that, they won’t become investigators. We have a couple really promising people, and we are meeting with some of them this week! It is cool opening a city because you can directly see the results of your work — because I did X amount of work, we now have Y amount of investigators. In Brasov, it was hard because some of the investigators were from before, and you were never sure if it was the fruit of your labors. Not that it entirely matters whether I did the work or someone else did, but it is a cool side-effect of opening a city that we can directly see the difference our hours of contacting make.
We had a couple cool experiences contacting this week. We were doing our normal survey contacting and we knocked on the door of this woman, Patrița. She let us in immediately and we sat in her courtyard for about 45 minutes, asking her some of the questions of the survey and just talking in general. She was very open to the idea of the Book of Mormon. We shared with her a verse about the purpose of life (2 Nephi 2:25) and she just kept reading! Her daughter has Down’s syndrome and was so sweet with us. Even just being in her courtyard, you could feel the Spirit radiate from her, her family, and her home. She invited us back and said she would come to church next week. We are so excited to work with her and hope things go well. On a different day, we were going around, trying to contact a lot of our potentials. We walked into a bloc and the woman we were looking for wasn’t home. When we walked out, we noticed an old woman sitting on the bench by herself, looking very lonely. We were getting ready to go visit the next potential when Sora Ruiz asked, “Do you wanna go talk to that lady?” I had had the thought as well, so we figured there must be some reason we both thought that. She had actually been contacted before by the elders and was very sweet. We talked for quite a long time — close to an hour — and at the end she told us that she had been sitting there, praying for God to send her someone to talk to. We were able to share some scriptures with her and give her some comfort, but more than that, we were an answer to her prayer. Though I don’t think she will ever be baptized or anything like that, it was amazing to see how we are literally tools in the hands of the Lord. By acting on the promptings we received, we were able to be an answer to this woman’s humble prayer.
This week was also zone conference! We traveled Thursday evening and stayed with the sisters in Panduri and then went to the conference on Friday morning. It was pretty long, but it was also SO GOOD to get to see lots of people, like Sora Ralls, Sora Merkley, Sora DeRuvo, Sora Adams, Elder Houk, Elder McBride, Elder Speyer, Elder Brown, and lots of others. I also got to see the Powells, which might be one of the last times I get to see them since they go home in June. It was great to hear from President as well — he gave a great presentation on “success” as a missionary and what that means. Some of the best things we will do on our missions cannot be reported through statistics — how do you report great conversations that left someone spiritually uplifted?
I miss you all so much and it is always so fun to read about what is going on for you. I love you and think about you daily. As the days get lighter and warmer, it’s easier to be happier, but I know it is also your love that I feel more. Things are moving here more in Alexandria and I am so grateful for this opportunity I have to serve. I love you and miss you!
With Sora Newell and Elder Brown, both of whom attended UCSD!