If I had to describe our district in one picture, this would definitely be it.
This week has been a great one. One of my favorite parts of this week was my exchange with Sora DeRuvo. She and Sora Case came down on Tuesday night and stayed until Wednesday night. Sora DeRuvo leaves after this transfer, so she is getting down to like 16 days left…crazy! But what I loved most about our time together was that I got to talk to her about everything that I have been keeping bottled up inside for the past couple weeks. I think a lot of the disappointment from Marilena’s baptism and the stresses of training were piling up but I wouldn’t let myself really feel them because I thought I needed to be strong. So talking with Sora was great because I could kind of just let it all out. She reminded me of what I had asked for in an area when we had our last exchange back in Brașov — I had asked that I be given a challenge, a place where I would have to work hard, contact all day, and maybe not see that much success. She mentioned that she was surprised I had said that but also reassured me that it was the Lord’s will for me too because it actually happened. She had had many instances where she asked for something in her next area or companion but was not given it because it was not what would help her the most. But she made the point that my will and desire in coming to Alexandria were exactly in line with what the Lord desires for me. She reminded me of one of my favorite talks by Henry B. Eyring, Mountains to Climb, where he asks God to give him mountains to climb, challenges to grow his faith. He says,
I heard President Spencer W. Kimball, in a session of conference, ask that God would give him mountains to climb. He said: “There are great challenges ahead of us, giant opportunities to be met. I welcome that exciting prospect and feel to say to the Lord, humbly, ‘Give me this mountain,’ give me these challenges.”
My heart was stirred, knowing, as I did, some of the challenges and adversity he had already faced. I felt a desire to be more like him, a valiant servant of God. So one night I prayed for a test to prove my courage. I can remember it vividly. In the evening I knelt in my bedroom with a faith that seemed almost to fill my heart to bursting.
Within a day or two my prayer was answered. The hardest trial of my life surprised and humbled me. It provided me a twofold lesson. First, I had clear proof that God heard and answered my prayer of faith. But second, I began a tutorial that still goes on to learn about why I felt with such confidence that night that a great blessing could come from adversity to more than compensate for any cost.
I sometimes feel like President Eyring…and I know that great blessing can come from adversity. I have already seen so many wonderful things in my life as a result of my time here in Alexandria. Sora and I did some contacting as well and met a great lady, Madalina, that we will hopefully meet with soon!
With Sora DeRuvo in front of the church
Sora Ruiz and I also had some great experiences with contacting this week. We had a day where we decided to go contacting in the forest at the edge of town — it is kind of a park/forest combination. We saw a lady, decided to approach her, and she immediately responded positively and invited us to sit down with her. In talking with her, we learned that she was Seventh Day Adventist, but had stopped going to church. She mentioned that she felt like something was missing from her life since she had stopped going and was very interested in meeting with us again and coming to church. Her name is Gabriela and we are so excited to see where things go with her.
When we were walking back from the forest, we accidentally ran into a wedding that was parading down the street. We asked around to see what was going on (everyone was peeking out of their houses at the spectacle) and got to see some traditions — the bride decorates a Christmas tree/evergreen tree that gets taken around with them throughout the day and represents their undying love and marriage.
We just had a meeting with a totally adorable 18-year-old, Diana. She showed up at the church last Saturday asking about English classes because she is preparing for an English certification exam and wanted our help. We explained our 30-30 classes to her and we just had our first lesson. She is so sweet and friendly and we’re really excited to meet more with her and teach her not only English but the Gospel as well.
This Sunday was district conference for the București district — we all traveled down to Buc as a branch and met up with branch members and missionaries from all over Romania. I got to see a lot of the members from Brașov — it was so wonderful!! They all arrived at the same time so I had 3 whole minutes of just hugging and squealing in seeing everybody. It was so fun to get to talk to them and see them again.
With Corina, a member in Brașov, after the Relief Society meeting in Buc
Hope you have a great week! Know that I love you, I miss you, and I think of you daily. But ultimately, I know I am here with these challenges, these mountains, because it is what the Lord wants for me right now. I love you!