Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Romania Week 3

Dear Family and Friends,

Yes, we're still teaching Maria and Gabriella, however they've been out of town so we haven't seen them for a while. We're planning on scheduling a lesson with them for this week, which we're going to focus on Gabriella and talk about "Choosing the Right" and I'll give her one of those 'Allege Ce E Drept' (CTR) rings. We think that if we show Maria and Gabriella how much we really care about them, it will give them more of a connection with this church. What Maria needs really, is to see how much she and her daughter need this church. So that's our goal.

We use pre-made lesson plans out of English Class books made for missionaries, and we have the classes at our church (which, really, our church is only a Villa). However, we've had two English classes already and I haven't taught anybody because no one is advanced enough for my class ha, ha. One of the church members, Brother Weber, has been coming to help because he is good at English, but we've just been sitting in my class and talking about Romania and Oradea because I have no students. I've learned a lot, though!

Here's some Oradea history:
Oradea is very close to the border of Hungary, so most people here are Hungarian and speak fluently in both Romanian and 'Limba Magyar', and some are trilingual knowing English too. Over time, the territory of Oradea has been owned back and forth between Hungary and Romania. Eventually after Romania had claimed it for the final time, a man had posted a sign on a large bridge that says "This Territory is Christ's Territory!" and the fighting over the area stopped. Brother Weber says that outside of the ward, Hungarians and Romanians don't like each other very much.

Sora Gerhartz was really enthusiastic to hear about Oradean ancestry because her ancestry only four generations ago is from here. She met a woman in her English class whose last name is the same as her ancestors, and that made her really excited.

I appreciate our President's adding the finding hours and BOM's handed out too because now we're not turning in zero's every week. And yes, I read Daniel's email. Sora Gerhartz was not happy hearing how he has so many baptisms lined up bahahaha. There are only 14 baptisms lined up for the next three months in ALL of Romania. None in Oradea. BUT! We have two investigators and SIX possible investigators, which is really good for a mission like this!

We've only done the singing contacting once, but it wasn't really effective because we just walked around singing and it didn't seem anything exciting was happening, so we'll be changing the way we do it for next time. And yes, Sora Gerhartz sings and I sing and singing just happens all of the time in and out of our apartment. And sometimes we have to make an extra effort to remember that "Before He Cheats" is not inviting of the spirit, Lol.

The Modest Circus Attendants
The circus was kind of silly ha, ha. Naturally, it was geared toward kids (which was surprising, really, because the women were dressed terribly). The first act was super boring, but the second act they pulled out all the lions and Orlando did his signature act which was balancing on tall stacks of round things and that got pretty exciting. Although, because it took so much time out of what was supposed to be a relaxing P-day, I'd say I wouldn't do that again :) he, he. This week we're not doing any special activity and just taking it easy. You know, as far as taking it easy goes as a missionary.

We're always worried about the men here. It seems like some days it's no worry, but some days we have to really be cautious. Like today. Before we got on the bus, there was this old man who walked up to me and started saying how pretty I was, but it's different than when people would say that in the States. You just feel so unsettled, so we got on the other end of the bus. This kind of thing happens frequently. The rest of the day Sora Gerthartz has been telling me that guys have especially been watching me today. I think I'm gonna get an ugly haircut.  Which is kind of weird, because last Monday the men in Oradea were giving Sora Gerhartz problems, and now this is my problem day I guess. We've come to the conclusion though, to not wear yellow. She was wearing yellow last week and now I am this week. No more. 

I've definitely been feeling much better this week. Nothing's really changed, either, so I figure I'm just adjusting to all of these new situations and scenarios. I caught a bit of a cold, so Wednesday was a little slow with the work, but I've been fine otherwise. Of course, I don't think I'm completely adjusted still, but Sora Hill is really good about reminding us that we have her to call if we're struggling,  so I have a good support system.  One thing I realized that has made this adjusting a little hard for me was remembering that, for my very first transfer, I am white washing AND opening a new city, which isn't easy for ANY transfer. Once I realized that, though, it relieved a whole lot of stress and I actually feel pretty good now.

Ralphita, our investigator for role play!
We've been doing a LOT of finding. We got 11 hours this week, which is a lot even considering I was sick on Wednesday and we also have to take time out of every day for my 12-week program (which every new missionary has to do).  I LOVE 12-week.  I can't say anything bad about it (...because I told Elder Lake I wouldn't, lol).

So here's something important: if anyone sends me something (packages, letters) it gets sent to the mission office and NOT my residence, meaning not only will it take time to get mailed there, but then it will be a few weeks before I see it. SO. If you'd rather email, I'd rather you email.  
Also, as for the Christmas package, Sora Hill says:   Christmas packages need to arrive early-before American Thanksgiving (November 28) to ensure you’ll get them in time. They should be mailed as much as 6 weeks before that.  If you miss your package at zone conferences, you’ll miss it until January transfers.  Just ask your family to write “Do Not Open Before Christmas” on it! Tell them if they do, you’ll be exactly obedient!"  - I'll be exactly obedient.

Spiritual Story Time!
One day, before we headed out to do contacting, Sora Gerhartz told me it was my decision to choose where to go. So, we got on the bus, and I prayed for God to let me know when to get off and where to take us. I had made no plan where to go. Then, once we reached a stop we'd never been to before, I felt my heart burn and I thought to myself, Okay I feel it, I feel it! We got off and I walked straight into a park that seemed pretty empty. There was one woman on a bench, I walked straight up to her in confidence and started talking. I don't even remember what I said, I just spoke about prayer or something and I actually talked to her for the majority of that contact. Sora Gerhartz usually talks and I insert a phrase or two, but not that time, I led that entire contact. And guess what? We got her number out of it. We got three more numbers in that park, which is pretty rare because Romanians are stingy about their numbers.  So yeah. That was pretty cool.  Heavenly Father has a way guiding us exactly where we need to go if we just ask for it.

Later that day, we went into a Xerox store to get some copies made, but the man's store was out of power. Before we left, we left a pamphlet about the Plan of Salvation. When we came back to that store another day to see if he read it, he not only read it but he MARKED IT UP and really STUDIED IT and had his Bible out comparing verses and he immediately said to us when we walked in, "Hey, I have a few questions!"  For 45 minutes, he just asked us a lot of things, like who Alma and Nefi are, who holds the priesthood, etc. but never bad questions, he just sincerely wanted to know more. His name is Marius, and he's just so ready to hear about the restored gospel. We'll be visiting him again with the elders this week.

Side note: In Romanian, you say "Vreu sa fac copii" (I want to make copies) but you need to pronounce it 'CO-pi' rather than 'co-PI' or else you're saying "Vreu sa fac copiii" (I want to make children). Lol.

The members in our branch are so great. Even though the branch is small, it's just as strong as any other ward.  Sora Gerhartz and I got to visit the Relief Society president and share a message with her.  She even had a non-member friend over, and we're hoping to get her more interested. The president, Sora Costea, shared her story about her conversion and it really is inspiring, and I'm sure many of the members are just as great. We're having family home evening tonight with another sister from the branch. President Hill tells me that the members are really excited to have sisters now, and it seems like they all like us and are very friendly.  It's nice to know that we have a good branch that we'll be bringing others into.

I really don't get discouraged over how slow this mission is progressing. I see other missionaries who do, but I really feel like Heavenly Father is pleased with my work and as long as He is pleased, then everything that is happening is how He wants it, right? And even though we don't have a million baptisms lined up every week, I can still see how little by little the faith is growing in these people.
Daniel mentioned a difficult story where the man wouldn't listen to what he thought were contradictions.  Well, that's kind of what we deal with here everyday. That, or they're really just not interested because practically everyone and their dog are Orthodox.  I wasn't kidding about the dog part, either. I see maybe 50 dogs a day.  Orthodox.  All of them.

But one thing I do respect is how religious the people actually are. Everyone does believe in Jesus Christ, and that's a huge thing. It's really different than in America where everyone hides their religion and you don't ever talk about it or show it outside of your church houses. There are so many crosses and religious monuments everywhere, and people are open about their religious beliefs (I'm sure the fact that everyone's orthodox influences that, but you know).

Okay, I think that's everything. I actually wrote down a list of things to remember to include in my email because I always forget a million things, and Sora Gerhartz joked that I would forget the list when we got to the Internet cafe for email time. Well guess what? I forgot it.  So I hope I included everything ha, ha.

I hope that everything goes well, and that your hard work in the yard and the basement will pay off! I was studying about sacrifice today when I came across the lyric in "Praise to the Man" which reads, "sacrifice brings forth the blessings of Heaven."

Deci, noroc si aveti grija! Va iubim!

Sora Smith

Monday, September 16, 2013

Romania Week Two

Wow, I must say I'm really happy I wasn't in the MTC during that storm that hit Utah County! That must have been crazy, just having cleaned the first flood in our house and then another one happening!  The picture you sent is unreal! (See below) And, I love hearing about the helpful ward members, that really makes me happy.

50 Year Storm that Hit Utah Valley on Sept. 7th 2013

As far as the woman with her siblings, we never ended up meeting with them. We called her and she gave a response similar to, "I don't have time, but if I do, I'll call you," and we all know what that means.  It's too bad for her and her family, but I'm not discouraged over it.

I really like our mission president and his wife. It was Sora Hill's birthday a few days ago, so we made sure to call her up and sing the Romanian birthday song (which, by the way, is super long and weird ha, ha!). President Hill is really cool and gives us permissions on a lot of things because he trusts us so much. Like, for instance, as much email time as we need.  He trusts us because we always ask permission, so really, it's a circle of trust that has been built. AND (get ready for it), we asked permission to do a special activity for p-day today, and he said yes! Guess what it is?? . . .

Okay I'll tell you.

We're going to the circus! There are posters all around Oradea for "Circus Orlando" who apparently was on Romania's Got Talent and President Hill said my district could go WOOHOO!  I've never been to a legit circus before, and this is a ROMANIAN circus so I'm super excited. Elder Lake wasn't especially excited (who knows WHY, I mean it's a circus) but we're making him go anyway and he can choose next week's activity, lol.

Speaking of the Elders, they are such good boys. There are only the two of them and us in Oradea, so whenever we need help installing the water filter or moving heavy things to the apartment, they're always helping us out. Sometimes we wonder if we annoy them with all of these things, but I think they like us just fine ha, ha, and we're going to bake them a nice big red velvet cake for how great they are.  So I've learned quite a bit more about them.  Elder Lake is big on football and country music.  Then there is Elder Conover who always knows what he is doing and is extremely spiritual and helpful.

The branch is really strong in Oradea. I guess the reason I was happy hearing about the members helping back at home made me think of our branch members here and how they would do the same in a similar circumstance, even with only 14 of them right now. And the branch president is really cool - apparently he went inactive, but was called to branch president WHILE he was inactive and he came back to fulfill the calling. How interesting is that? His wife is still inactive, and he wants us to meet with her so we'll be doing that sometime soon.

Good news! We have two new investigators and possibly one more!  Our two new investigators are Maria and her 9 year old daughter, Gabriella. The Elders found these great people and handed them over to us, and Maria is super faithful. She believes everything we teach her, but she is also strong in her orthodox church. She believes what we say is good, and she wants to be a part of both religions because she is happy with hers the way it is. We think that what she needs right now is a really spiritual experience to let her know just how much she needs this church. But, she is a very sweet woman and her daughter's smile is contagious. Gabriella is mentally handicapped, but she is such a sweet girl!

The other possible investigator is a woman named Rodica who we met at the bus stop. We were doing English contacting (I'll explain what that is in a second), and she asked why we're here so we told her who we are and what we talk about, and she says that she "just went to a church with missionaries who talked about Jesus, and it made me so happy! I want to come to your church too." So, she'll be coming hopefully this Sunday!

We've been doing a lot of contacting. Because we're considered a "finding mission," a lot of our
numbers are zero, so President Hill decided to add two more figures to our mission which are "finding hours" and "Books of Mormon handed out" which is why we've been doing so much contacting. We have different ways that we contact: some of them are like English Contacting where we invite Romanians to come to free English classes, (yes, I'm going to be teaching Romanians how to speak English every Tuesday and Saturday), and we have a spiritual thought after to invite them to learn more about our church. Apparently it's really effective.  Also, yesterday we did singing contacting. We just walked around singing in English with a sign that read, "Want to know what they're saying? Come to English Class!" It was kind of silly. There are a lot of creative ways we'll be doing contacting after these English classes start.  I'm going to be teaching English to Romanians. I'm teaching the advanced class all by myself because Sora Gerhartz is teaching the beginners. That will be exciting!

So, funny story time.
On Thursday we had a service activity, so our district went to a homeless shelter to help out. We were all put in the shower area to distribute soaps, towels, and shaving supplies to those who came to get a shower. What's funny is that the showers in the women's shower room stopped running warm water, so Sora Gerhartz and I both had to go in to figure out the problem, meaning not only were we exposed to 80,000 degree water but all of the naked women in the showers as well. That was... well, there's not much else I want to say about that. Oricum.

The men are a little scary here in Romania. Apparently it's just normal for a guy to just grab a girl because Romanian girls will just take it and the men don't get in trouble for it.  I don't mean to say this to scare you, nothing has happened to me, but you know,  I really have to focus on keeping a distance.  And it's not like a controlling grab; the way Sora Gerhartz describes it is they just want a touch and it's usually just the arm or shoulder. But still, not okay.  So hopefully I don't run into any of that.

I do, however, see the way some men will look at me, we're very cautious of those.  I guess this comes with a culture where pornography is just so easily accessible, whether you want it or not. Which, I must say, I am super proud of our Elders here. Sora Gerhartz and I have realized that every time a group of us missionaries pass by a pornographic picture, all of the sisters turn immediately to the Elders to see if they're looking. I'm proud to say that our Elders here in Romania are super good about avoiding contact with those things.
One thing I've realized and I've heard over and over is that those of us missionaries in Romania are really similar personality-wise: we're all strong-blooded, stubborn people, and ALL of us are from European descent. I guess that's the kind of person Romania needs right now.

The language has been a little harder for me this week. I guess it stems a little from how overwhelmed I feel in this culture and such, but it's really not bringing me down because I understand that this is normal. I have done a lot of things that my companion and other missionaries say they couldn't ever do on their first transfer: I've engaged in conversations by myself, I've made phone calls, I've said things unplanned, and I usually understand what the person is saying. A lot of the missionaries keep telling me how impressed they are with how fast I'm learning, and I'm sure the same goes for the rest of the district I had in the MTC because we were all pretty much at the same level. Kind of cool evidence that the Lord is really hastening his work.

Transylvania Bank, where vampires make their deposits? :-)

As far as how I'm doing, I'll have to be honest, I've kind of been struggling this week.  Sometimes little things just stress me out a bit.  Elder Brundage is in my zone and I got to talk to him a lot about things, he says he feels the exact same way I do.  It was really a relief hearing I'm not the only one.  And, it was nice to see a friend again for a little bit.  I just kind of feel like I can't be myself right now, which is something I know will change with time. 

Anyway, I really do have to go now!  I am including a couple of photos of our apartment.

So La Revedere! Good luck with cleaning up the second flood!
Va iubim!

Sora Smith

P.S.  Here is the final Sunday photo we took with my MTC District on Purple Day.


Monday, September 9, 2013

First Week in Romania


P-day is Monday now and will be for the rest of my mission.   There is so much to write in so little time, so I'll try to condense it in the short time I have! ...just kidding, I actually have a lot of time for emailing here because my mission president is super awesome and gave us all the time we want.  So hopefully I can detail the past week and a half as much as I can remember!

On Monday morning, we got up at 4:30 to get our luggage together and to the airport. We were bussed to Salt Lake, which was really weird for me because, unlike the rest of my district, I was only just leaving home for the first time. Everyone else came to Provo, but as we were passing by UVU and center street in Orem, I was like, "Oh wow, I'm actually leaving all of this behind." So that was weird.

We arrived at the Salt Lake airport, checked our luggage etc., and as the seven of us in my district were standing by the gate waiting for the departure time, a missionary approached us. We thought he was being a friendly missionary just saying hi to other missionaries, but when Elder Brundage greeted him, "Buna ziua, ce faci?" (Hello, how are you?),  he responds IN ROMANIAN. We were all shocked when we see his tag is in Romanian too. We thought we were the only ones! This new elder asks if we know who he is, none of us knew, and he's all like "What? Vizante or Frandsen never told you?" Apparently he was in the MTC before us, but he went on a medical leave so he was departing with us. Crazy, right? So our district went from seven to eight, although it didn't matter much because he was on a different flight, unfortunately.

So, we flew from SLC to Dallas, Dallas to Amsterdam (which we went straight from gate to gate so no sightseeing there for me), then Amsterdam to Bucharest. The plane food was surprisingly good as far as plane food goes. I don't sleep on planes or trains very well, apparently. From Sunday to Thursday evening, I probably only slept a total of eight hours. Not only that, but the time zone is nine hours ahead in Romania, so once we arrived it was 1 P.M. in Romania and we had to stay up until it was evening. All of us were drooping and lacking energy, it was kind of sad. I wish I could have watched us better as we arrived, but I suppose we'll get to when the next batch of new missionaries arrive!

When we arrived, we were missing 8 bags of luggage between the eight of us. I was only missing one, but poor Elder Brown and Elder Lybbert were each missing both. It's a good thing we had the necessities on our carry-ons. So, after we sorted out a way to get our luggage back, we drove around Bucharest to get paperwork things done. I was so tired, I honestly don't remember what happened or who was even moving my body, because I know I wasn't. At the end of the day we wind up at President Hill's residence in Buch and eat some REAL FOOD!!!! Chicken and eggplant and potatoes... too bad I can't remember what they tasted like. I just remember it was good. Sora Newell and I then went to stay at the apartment of some sisters serving in Buch until the next day when we would find out where we were all going to be serving.

Picture of Bucharest from online
Bucharest is a pretty large city with many old buildings, and I'm sorry to say I was unable to take any pictures. I don't really remember much of it either, other than there were stray dogs everywhere. Also, the drivers in Romania are really scary. I'm thankful I will never have to drive a car here.

The next morning we go to the mission office and are each interviewed by President and Sora Hill (who are both super great people, by the way!). Still tired and jet lagged, I don't remember the names or the faces of any of the missionaries I met there, but apparently all of them knew me already.  I guess everyone read my Mormon.org profile because they'd say things like, "Oh, you like to sing" and I'd respond, "Thanks, I didn't know that." :-) Then we drove around to more paperwork places for visas and such, then Sister Hill went over some stuff I don't remember, THEN we got to find out where we were going and who our new companions were! (What is sad, though, is that this was the last time our district was together since we were all going to different cities) :(

I was assigned to the city of Oradea with Sora Gerhartz. What's funny is that apparently all of the missionaries placed "bets" (because we don't gamble) on who would go where, and ALL of them guessed I'd be going to Oradea with Sora Gerhartz.  So, we boarded a sleeper train and were on a 14 1/2 hour ride to Oradea. Oradea is very north and is close to the Hungarian border, so there are many Hungarians here.

What's cool about being assigned to Oradea is that the city has been closed to sisters, so Sora Gerhartz and I are white-washing and opening the area. There are four of us in the district here, the other two being Elder Lake and Elder Conover. They were really happy to have two others assigned here because they've been the only two for quite a while. But, because we were the first sisters here, we didn't have an apartment so we had to stay the first four nights in a hotel. It was a spa hotel with massages and "organic" tanning (whatever that means). The president must trust us a lot, there was a flat screen TV, a pool, a mini bar right in our room, and a whole spa which would have been great after all of that traveling. We didn't use any of that. But hey, at least we got free breakfast every day.

Elder Conover and Elder Lake were in charge of finding us an apartment, and we were able to see it this morning after checking out of the hotel. I have to say, it is SO nice having a place where my stuff belongs and to call home now. Ever since Monday I haven't had that, so it's been a week that I've had to carry my things around with me. Now that I have a place to belong I feel more settled and easy. The apartment is really nice, too! I haven't taken pictures of it yet, but I will! According to Sora Gerhartz, it's the best apartment in the mission. The elders did a good job finding it.

It was really hard getting my bus pass because I only have a temp Visa.  Sora Gerhartz and I had to wait in many lines and talk with many people, it wasn't until 5 in the evening on day two in Oradea we were able to find someone willing to work with my situation and make me a paper pass, which was really nice of her. It's nice not having to buy a ticket each time we get on the bus, which is many times a day.

So, more about Oradea/Romania.

The architecture!
The buildings here in Oradea are so beautiful. I took some pictures that I'll try sending. There are SO many churches here (which is unfortunate because we can't proselyte near a church) that are so pretty - some of the buildings kind of remind me a little of main street in Disneyland teehee :) Many of the buildings are old, but they're all really colorful and have cool designs.

The food!
I actually haven't had a lot of what you'd consider "Romanian" food yet. What we had at the Hill's on day one in Bucharest was made by a Romanian, and it was really good. But because we've been living in a hotel we've been having to live off of ham and mayo sandwiches with fruit for the past few days. I DID, however, get a Kinder egg! Kinder chocolate is SO GOOD. The fruit here is amazing. It's extremely sweet and flavorful, especially the watermelon which is to die for. I don't think I'll ever be able to enjoy an American watermelon again after this.

The people!
...are grumpy. Vizante wasn't kidding about Romanians never smiling, BUT there are still many great people here once you get them to talk to you. Romanians really like to keep to themselves. Romanians also have the best and the worst tastes in fashion. The men are extremely well dressed, the woman are extremely under-dressed. Also, I don't know why, but apparently it's trendy here for men to wear super short shorts and shave their legs. Everyone smokes here, and that's in Romania and not just Oradea, so not only does it look like Disneyland, it smells like it too.

The Branch!
There are only 14 people in the branch, but they are all really great people. We only just met them yesterday, so I don't know much about them, but from what I saw in church is they are all really strong. Sora Gerhartz counted the empty chairs in the villa (where we have sacrament meeting) and it is now one of our goals to fill the 22 chairs before we leave Oradea.

The language!
One thing that's very fortunate about me starting in Oradea is that the people here talk very slowly. I can understand people! I can follow conversations! And then my jet lag starts catching up to me and suddenly I have no idea what words are coming out of their mouths. But sometimes it turns out I'm okay because they're actually speaking in Hungarian, and I didn't learn Hungarian. Even so, my Romanian just keeps on improving and my district is impressed that I'm so much farther than they were when they began, in half as many weeks from the MTC. Sora Gerhartz was there for twelve but says I know more than she did, which is really cool how apparently the Lord is hastening his work.

My district!
Sora Gerhartz is really sweet and silly and reminds me a lot of Emily Hinkson from LDC for those of
you who know her (her first name is Emily, anyway, so it all works out). She is a really good trainer and I don't feel inadequate which is something I'm sure a lot of brand new missionaries struggle with. I know right now that even though I can't communicate perfectly and still have a lot to learn, I am doing all that is required of me right now which Sora Gerhartz reminds me of every day.

I haven't spent a whole lot of time with the Elders, but they are very kind and good from what I know of them so far. They're diligent and hard workers, I have learned that about them for sure, and they do a good job in their work (as evidenced by the nice apartment they picked out for us) :)

Let's see, is there anything I forgot...

The first time I ever contacted someone was a street contact with a woman to whom I said "poftiti" (here you go) and gave her a pass along card. She spoke many fast words and I was so nervous I didn't know what she said or what I said, but guess what? Now we're going to give a first lesson to her and all of her brothers and sisters. Apparently that doesn't ever happen. That all started from me saying "poftiti." I guess Heavenly Father wanted me to have a good start.

Another day we contacted one particular lady named Florica in the park one day who, when we asked if she knew that God loved her, began to cry. We sat with her and she spoke how lonely she was. She spoke about her husband and how he hit her, but that he has passed on without ever hearing about God.  Sora Gerhartz asked if she knew where he was, she responded with "probably in hell." We told her about the spirit world (in a contact, yes, but it felt right) and that he has the opportunity there to hear about the gospel. She began to cry again, but we definitely touched her and we hope that contact will bring her closer to learning how lonely she doesn't have to be.

Oh, good news! People think I'm French! One lady was surprised to hear I'm American, because she's like "you look and sound French." Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha.

It seems the subject of encouragement has been coming up a lot. I guess that with a difficult mission like Romania, many missionaries get discouraged over the lack of numbers and the amount of rejections. Something that President Hill has mentioned is that there are different kinds of missions, and ours is a finding mission. Some missions have many members with referrals of people who have been found that are ready for the gospel, but that's not the case in Romania. Most of our time will be out of people's homes and out and about looking for those who need to be contacted. We are very much pioneers in Romania, preparing the people for the future when it will become more of a teaching mission rather than a finding.

President Hill also said something that I really like, which is that "people will need up to 7 or 8 'touches' and their hearts will open." We contacted someone yesterday who said no but took a pamphlet, that is a 'touch'.  Some people will accept the gospel on the first 'touch.'  But I love how clear it is that he said 7 or 8 touches, that even though that may take a long time, it's how the Lord prepares their heart to receive the gospel. It's nice to think of it in terms of touches, because even if someone rejects you, they're still one touch closer to opening their hearts to Christ. That's another thing we have to remember as missionaries is that they are opening their hearts to Christ, not to us. I can't remember the scripture, but Christ says to not be discouraged when you are rejected because we need to remember that the people rejected Him first.

Anyway, that's what has been on my mind lately, especially with so many of us out on missions. I'm so grateful to be able to look at this in such a positive light, but I do know there are those that struggle and I can see why.  Satan is trying so hard to hinder our progress, but Thomas S. Monson has said that "no force in the entire world can stop the work of God." It's also cool to look at it this way: since time began the world has followed a pattern: prophet, apostasy, prophet, apostasy. . . until Joseph Smith, and now we have the knowledge that there will be no more apostasy before the Second Coming. The word is here to stay. I just thought that was cool.

Well, I'm off to do shopping and get all moved into the apartment, so I'll write to you again next week!

Sora Smith

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Sora Smith Has Arrived in Romania

Dear Brother and Sister Smith,

President Hill and I were delighted to meet Sister Smith as she arrived in the Bucuresti airport with her MTC group. She seemed very happy to finally be in the mission field after her weeks in the MTC. She had a very long first day, waiting for late luggage and starting a long visa application process. By the time the missionaries arrived at the mission home for dinner, they were all pretty ready to turn in! 

The next morning, however, they were a new bunch, bright-eyed and ready to conquer the world! President Hill and I had an enjoyable interview with Sister Smith, where we learned more about this great young woman. It is evident that she is sincere in her desire to serve. It was also fun to find out she knows our grandson, Adam. We always love making those connections. Thank you very much for sending her to us. We were impressed by her friendliness and determination to be a great missionary. After interviews, we had an orientation meeting with the new missionaries and snapped a picture of ourselves with Sister Smith. I'm attaching the picture for you to see.

After pictures, the missionaries met their first companions. Sister Smith is now with her initial companion, Sister Gerhartz, in Oradea, where they are opening the city. Sister Gerhartz is a vivacious person who has just finished being a sister training leader. She will give Sister Smith an excellent start.

Oradea, Romania

Oradea, Romania
Thanks again for sending us such a wonderful young missionary. We could instantly tell she will be a very good, faithful, hard-working missionary.

With much appreciation,
Sister Hill
Romania/Moldova Mission