The longest week EVER

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Foggy early morning as we were on our way to Buc
 

WOW this week has literally felt like at least 3 weeks all rolled into one. When I remember that we went to Zone Training meeting this past Tuesday…that feels like forever ago! Our presentation went well and without a hitch — we tried to come up with a catchy phrase for each part of using the Book of Mormon in our work:

 
1. Study — Read it like Romanian. Too often we just gloss over the scriptures we have read a million times and dont really think about what this would be like to read if we were reading it for the first time. Then, when we read scriptures in lessons, we sometimes miss the teaching opportunity of helping investigators really understand the words. So we encouraged the missionaries to study the scriptures as if we were reading them in Romanian, not our native languages. When we do that, we get a fuller understanding of the meaning and are better able to ”feast upon the words of Christ”.
 
2. Prepare — Whatever Casserole. There is a recipe in the mission cookbook called ”Whatever Casserole” that gives you lots of mix-and-match options to make whatever casserole you like best. We emphasized here that in preparing for lessons, we need to find the best recipe for the people we will be teaching; not every scripture works perfectly for every person. Sometimes missionaries get stuck in teaching ruts where you use the same scripture every time to explain the same principle and it is easier to do it that way than to branch out and try something new. But we encouraged them to pray for guidance, follow that guidance, and find the best casserole recipe they can.
 
3. Teach — Creative Courage. There is a line in the prayer that dedicates the country of Romania for the preaching of the Gospel that says the people here will have ”creative courage to come unto Christ.” I absolutely love that line and we wanted to emphasize here that missionaries should take a chance, make a mistake, get messy! Sometimes it takes creative courage to follow a prompting to share a thought, a scripture, or an idea that pops into your head. But we wanted to encourage them to follow those promptings and creatively implement their scriptures — introduce them as a narrative, as if they were teaching it to a child.
 
We had a fun time preparing the presentation but we were SO GLAD once it was over. It was also so good to see all the members of our zone, especially Sora DeRuvo (who I will get to have an exchange with ONE LAST TIME before she finishes her mission after this transfer!), Sora Newell, and lots of others.
 
This week was also interviews with President and Sora Hill. It was so great to see both of them and to be able to catch up with them. Talking with them always uplifts me and helps me to feel like I am doing exactly what I need to be doing. Sometimes when you do not see results, it is easy to get discouraged, but they always reassure us that we are doing exactly what we are asked to do and they encourage us to just keep going.
 
This week we moved into our new apartment which is MUCH bigger, has a lock on the outside door, and has lights in all the hallways. The elders moved into our little old apartment and are settling in well too. Sora Ruiz and I hardly know what to do with all the space — now we have a huge living room that we have never had before…what are we even supposed to do with it?! But the beds are comfy, the shower is great, and it has everything we need! We spent basically all of Friday moving — first packing and cleaning our old apartment, moving everything from our old apartment to the new one, and then cleaning and unpacking in the new place. 
 
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Moving on a rainy Friday…nothing better.
 
Sadly, our baptism did not go through this Saturday. Marilena was all ready, prepped, good to go, but when it came to the actual baptism part, her extreme fear of water hindered her. She has asthma and other breathing problems that make her very afraid of putting her head under water. After 3 tries, she did not want to try any more. It was a really really difficult situation to handle — many of the members were trying to help, but just creating a more chaotic situation by yelling instructions and doing what they thought was helpful. I think she just really needed some peace, some quiet, and a calming influence. She also felt like her whole body had been under water, though the top of her head was not quite under, so she did not understand why she had to do it again. She left before the service was over in a pretty upset mood and we are not quite sure where to go from here. We want to reach out to her soon and let her know that we love her, regardless of what happened. We want to make sure that she feels loved and cared for, not that we are upset because she could not overcome one of her biggest fears.
 
It was really hard for me to understand why this happened — why would someone come THAT close to baptism and it would not go through? Why would Heavenly Father allow that to happen, when someone is about to make a big commitment that will bring them a lot of blessings and joy in their life? This is the ultimate purpose of missionary work — to bring others unto Christ by helping them be baptized. Why is He allowing our work to be impeded like this? I found some comfort in the scripture found in Hebrews 11:40, ”God having provided some better things for them through their sufferings, for without sufferings they could not be made perfect.” Also, I read this week in Alma 31:38, ”And the Lord provided for them…he also gave them strength, that they should suffer no manner of afflictions, save it were swallowed up in the joy of Christ.” Maybe I do not understand entirely the plans the Lord has for Marilena. Maybe she needs this short period of trial and suffering to be made more perfect, to be given better things in the future. She has had a lot of trials in her life, and I do not understand why this happened, but I trust that all things are in the hand of the Lord. I will do all that I can as an imperfect person, an imperfect missionary, but a missionary nonetheless, and I will leave the rest in His care. He can make a straight line with even the most crooked of sticks and I have faith that this is true. 
 
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The inspirational note the elders left for us to help cheer us up
 
We did not have much time for contacting or teaching this week what with the crazy hectic schedule and events we had going on, but we did have a chance to have a lesson with Manda, the woman who tried to give us back the Book of Mormon but read it and decided to keep it. She is so amazing already. She really does thirst after the knowledge that is available to her. She just kept asking us question after question — it was great to meet someone so excited about learning. We are going to meet with her again this week and teach her more!
 
I love you and miss you all! I think of you all daily and hope all is going well. Life is a happy song!
 
All my love,
Sora Amy
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