This week the craziest thing of my mission thus far happened: English classes. And not just any English classes…English classes where 450 people showed up for the first day. Yes. 450. In the little chapel in Chișinău. Imagine it, if you will.
We knew we might have a LOT of people coming since the elders were getting around 150 English calls a day, so we braced ourselves for impact. Tuesday, instead of being a day where we taught, we just had a sign-up for people to sign up for 1 of 4 tracks that we now offer. I was manning the beginner table and I was OVERWHELMED with people, all asking me a million different questions. Probably one of the most stressful hours of my mission. Sora Barrera and I now teach the beginner class almost every day of the week, Saturday by far being the worst with 3 classes back-to-back. All of the classes are pretty full and huge so it’s exciting!! We already have 4 lessons set up for this week with English students who had questions about the gospel. Also, I was talking to a couple of the students after class and they were asking what I do for a living at home. I mentioned that I was going to study biostatistics and she said, “Well, I am a teacher and I can tell you, you are a FABULOUS teacher! I love these classes!! You should be a teacher!” Who knew what 18 months of teaching ESL could do to a person! So if all else fails, I can always fall back on being an English teacher to Romanian speakers. Everyone needs a plan B, right?
One of the people we set up to meet with is a girl named Diana (also 16 years old…confusing, right?) and we invited her to church the next day. Lo and behold, she came and stayed for all 3 hours! It was terribly confusing for her since she had only ever heard a spiritual thought from us so she asked me a million questions, but she was intensely paying attention and said afterward that she loved church so much and would be back next week! We gave her a pamphlet that explained the restoration for her to read before we met on Saturday and hopefully that started to answer some of her questions. Or maybe it will just give her more questions…we shall see.
This week was not only tiring because of all the English classes, but also because we went down to Buc for MLC on Thursday. We left at 4:30 in the morning for the airport and got into Buc nice and early. The meeting was really great and inspiring, as always. We talked a lot about the “why” behind all of the work we do. It was interesting and made a lot of sense — you can be a good, obedient missionary without fully understanding why you are doing the things you are doing. But once you begin to better understand the purpose behind everything you do, there is an added strength to all of your actions and they become easier to do, more of a joy than an obligation. President Ivory also said something that hit very close to home. He was talking about the church leaders here in Romania and he said so simply, “They’re not getting rid of me. I will be their friends for life. I will always have a piece of Romania and Moldova with me.” I started tearing up, thinking about how this is true for me as well. They’re not getting rid of me here. I will always have a piece of Romania and Moldova and they will always have a piece of me. After a long day of meetings, I had to start saying some final goodbyes to some of the missionaries present because I probably wouldn’t see them at transfers. It was a weird feeling, that is for SURE, and just a precursor to all the rest that will follow.
One random cool experience to share: last Monday, Sora Barrera and I were finishing up our proselyting time and we decided to go bloc-knocking. Neither of us were very enthusiastic, but we still went out to do it. We picked a bloc and on the second door, a woman answered the door. She agreed to take our survey but was pretty uninterested in anything we had to say. As we were getting ready to leave, she asked where we were from. When she heard America, she quickly says, “Would you like to come in for some tea or coffee???” We agreed and we met her, Alina, and her husband, Oleg. They had lived in Alabama for a couple years and were so excited to meet us and talk to us. They also had an ADORABLE Dachshund puppy so everything was just the best. They listened really attentively when we shared our message and I could see the change in this woman’s heart from our initial conversation at the door to that point. I am seeing so much how people want to connect with other people, not with some cookie-cutter missionary. Once I let people see my personality, whether through teaching English or talking about my life at home as I pet their dog profusely, then they are always more willing and receptive to hear about the things I believe in so deeply that I left my home, family, and friends for 18 months.
I am so so so grateful and happy to be here. I can’t believe in just 5 weeks, I will be in California! I love you lots and think about you often. But until that day comes, I will be working my hardest. I was reading today in Jacob 5 in the Book of Mormon and a verse really stood out to me: “And it came to pass that the Lord of the vineyard wept, and said unto the servant: What could I have done more for my vineyard?” I want to be able to look back on this last transfer and be able to ask that question and know that I did all that I could.
I love you!