Hello from Chișinău! I feel like this past week has been at least 10 weeks packed all into one…it is hard to believe that just last week I was emailing you from Oradea. Sora Merrill and I finished off the week with a great lesson with a woman named Magda, one of our English 30/30 students. She is so open and receptive — she is the one who came to church my last Sunday and when we talked to her, she said she LOVED it and would keep coming! When we talked to her about our purpose as missionaries, she totally agreed and understood, which is pretty rare for an English student since their primary purpose for meeting with us is to learn English.
We also had a great visit with Sora Costea, the Relief Society President. She cares so much about the sisters in the branch and really takes her calling seriously. She reminds me of a RS President from any ward in America…she just seems to get it so well! I loved getting to talk to her and hear her strong testimony.
For one of our last things in Oradea, we bought some baked goods from American Desserts, this amazing pastry shop that has SUCH good cookies and muffins. It felt like America as we ate our chocolate chip cookies! After that, I packed and we made our way to București by first taking a maxi-taxi to Timișoara and then a night train to Buc. We got in at around 8 am and Sora Merrill had a meeting to attend for all the trainers at 8:30. We quickly got into the mission home where I got to see SO many people I had been missing who are all training since 13 elders and 1 sister just came in. I also got a chance to see Sora Ralls!! I hadn’t seen her in a while, so it was fun to catch up with her again. I accidentally got roped into sitting through the whole trainer’s meeting because there was no one there who could be my companion and leave with me. Oops. But it was a great meeting and really got me pumped for the next transfer.
After the meeting, we had a lunch and even MORE people showed up at the mission home: all the zone leaders and STLs for Missionary Leadership Council and then all the new missionaries arrived too! We got to be there when they announced all the trainers and trainees which was so fun!! It was literally like a football pep rally or something: everyone shouting and cheering and so so happy to meet their new companions. I loved it!!
After MLC, which was good as always, we went to the gara and I got to see Sora Johnson!! I didn’t know she would be down for transfers but she was and it was her birthday that day!! It was so great to see her again. I got to hang out with Sora O’Brien, Sora Merkley, Sora Ralls, and just so many of the wonderful companions I have had. Finally, the missionaries going to Moldova, all 9 of us, got on our night train. It was probably one of the GROSSEST nights of my life, simply because of how hot the train was. I was traveling with Sora Bynum as my companion because she was getting transferred to Orhei and our two new companions were already in Moldova, just doing an exchange until we got there. There was a distinct moment when Sora Bynum and I looked at each other and we were both just SWEATING buckets and we couldn’t stop laughing about the ridiculousness of the situation. We had a ton of luggage because 7 of the 9 of us had to bring all of our stuff and it was just jammed into the 2 compartments we had. Basically it was a pretty ridiculous situation overall. We played Apples to Apples and Phase 10 and finally got to sleep after a while, even though it was still stifling hot. At 4 am, we hit the border so we had to wake up and give them our passports. We had to be up for a couple hours because they get checked both when you leave Romania and when you enter Moldova. And then when you enter Moldova, they have to take the wheels off the train (they jack up the train cars like you would with a car with a flat tire) and then switch the wheels because the tracks are a different size in Moldova. So that took about an hour too. I fell asleep again and after a couple hours, we pulled into Chișinău!
That same day, we had a sports night! Sora Uhl informed me that a TON of youth show up to the activities, but only about 2 or 3 of them are members — how cool is that? They all had a huge amount of energy and I was kind of overwhelmed, but it was awesome nonetheless. Probably the biggest barrier I can see here is the language. Most people will understand Romanian, but a lot of people can’t speak it. Usually everyone can speak Russian and some can speak some English, but it makes it REALLY hard — and I’ve seen that only after a couple days. Sora Uhl and I made a companionship goal to be able to pray in Russian by the end of the transfer so we can do that at church. I think it would be cool to learn how to read the alphabet so that I could read words, even if I don’t know exactly what they mean. At church on Sunday, I understood probably about half of it — one of the talks was in Romanian, the other two in Russian; the Sunday School lesson and Relief Society lesson were both in Russian but we had a translator for Relief Society. It is so hard to connect with the members as well if I can’t even talk to them! AGH! Hopefully things will get better as I get more used to it and try to learn more Russian.
Sora Uhl and I get along great already, which is awesome 🙂 It’s always great to have a friend immediately. Our district is also really fantastic: we have Elder Lex who is training Elder Newbern, Elder Daland who is training Elder Armitstead, and the Russian zone leaders, Elder Danielson and Elder Hammer. A lot bigger of a district than I am used to! We also have two senior couples here, the Kneibs and the Schwartzes. District meeting is pretty huge! Also, the branch just functions so well here — it is incredible! There are so many members, so many people excited to make things happen and lots of activities already planned. I feel like I am in a whole new mission here. It can be kind of overwhelming having to jump right in, but I feel pretty up to it!
I think I wrote more than enough, but know that I am so happy here in Moldova! I will try to paint you a better picture of life here in Chișinău once I start getting into the swing of things myself. Until then, know that it is so amazing and I am so happy! I love and miss you all every day. I hope you have a great week!
Cu mare drag,