Sunday, October 13, 2013

First Transfers

Hello all,

I've was able to see a little bit of Conference, about half of the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions. It was cool because I got to watch them live! But because it started at 7 in the evening here in Romania, we couldn't watch the afternoon sessions. BUT! I will be able to read them on my own time.

I absolutely loved what Richard G. Scott said, that God doesn't hold weakness at the same level as rebellion. That was so profound, I love Richard G. Scott, and not just because I got to see him at the MTC :)

Yup, I'm over my Curent (spelled with only one "r", because Romanians never use double consonants!)  Sora Gerhartz's finger is healing great, we've been going back to the doctor to get it cleaned and looked at. Today, when we arrived to get it cleaned, there was a HUGE line that was going to take an hour or two to wait in. But, when the doctor stepped out for a minute and recognized us, she said, "Come in real quick!" and she let us skip the entire line. She likes us a lot and she's easy for me to understand so I can freely talk to her in my Romanian :) She says we can always skip the line each time we come.

We did English classes again, and I had four students this last time! My class is growing. I really don't like the lesson plan, though, so I decided to create my own, and the classes are going a lot better now and are more fun. One student, Andie, has been coming to English for many months and never stays after for the spiritual thought, but now she is! I think she likes me. She's in her 20's and she's really cute. And her English is perfect, haha, I don't know why she keeps coming.

I miss going to the temple! We won't get a chance to go to Kiev at all. You missionaries with temples close by are so lucky.

So, what do you get when you mix boredom, curiosity, and a box-dye sale at Kaufland?  Answer: A red-headed missionary! Yup, you have two red-headed daughters now. Surprise! I don't know if I'll keep up with this red hair or not, but for the time being, I kind of like it, hahaha.

So, this week, I finally had my first lesson! (We don't count the one with Maria because it wasn't really our lesson, we just sat in with the elders on their lesson). Surprising that it's only been my first lesson, huh? Let me explain why: Usually new missionaries come into a city where there were already missionaries and investigators to jump right into. I didn't. I was white-washed into my area, meaning we had to start completely from scratch. But hey, I can say now that I was whitewashed into my first transfer, that's pretty cool!

When we went villa knocking a week ago, we met one woman named Ani who had a big family, she was very cheerful and she shared grapes from her vine with us. We had to leave quickly, though, so we told her we wanted to meet later and she agreed. So, this week, we were finally able to meet with Ani and give her the first lesson (and the very first lesson for me!).

Sora Gerhartz tells me it was the worst and hardest lesson she has ever had on her entire mission. How's that for a first lesson ever?  Ani and her family call themselves "Charismatica", which basically means they believe that God doesn't have a religion, but they believe in faith, Christ, the bible, etc. Ani and her daughter Eunice had a really hard time accepting the fact that Adam and Moses and Abraham were prophets. They don't believe in prophets, which is funny because they believe in the bible, apparently.

But really, the whole lesson we tried teaching about the restoration and they bible bashed against even the most basic things we said, like about how prophets speak the word of God and the concept of apostasy, etc.  The worst thing they had misinterpreted, though, was when Ani said the words, "Eu stiu, eu STIU ca eu deja am viata vesnica! Dumnezeu mi-a marturisit." (I know, I KNOW that I already have eternal life! God told me so.)  Sora Gerhartz and I just looked at each other and... you know. It wasn't a good lesson.  We ended with just asking her to at least read and pray about the Book
of Mormon, saying that if something is true God will tell us and she says "Yeah, we'll see then." So really, I'm not sure if she will read or even open her heart to the spirit, but at least we did our job and the ball is in her court now.  Then, as we were leaving her villa, she left us off with, "You two should preach repentance instead of all this strange Mormon, Jospeh Smith stuff," and that was that. Wow, I still get fired up talking about it, it was such a crazy lesson.

Then, on the other side of the spectrum, we had another first lesson this week!  I can't remember if I already told this story, but a couple of weeks ago it was my turn to decide where to go, so I just got on the bus and asked Heavenly Father to guide my feet. I felt impressed to get off on a stop we had never been before, and I walked right into an empty looking park and immediately contacted a woman sitting alone on a bench. We asked to talk more later, and she agreed as long as it was after September 29th because she was testing for her doctorate in economics.  So, we finally got to meet with her. Her name is Mihaela, and she is Orthodox which means a lot when I say she accepted the message of the restoration, because Sora Gerhartz told me that she has never converted a member of the Orthodox faith. WOW that lesson went a whole lot better than the one with Ani!  Mihaela was polite, she listened intently, agreed to another lesson, is reading the Cartea lui Mormon, she asked real questions..  Unfortunately, however, her husband is really against all religion and he has no idea she has been meeting with us. She's been coming to English class and then meeting afterward, so all he knows is that she's coming to English. We're a little concerned about him. We hope this will work out.
So, about Maria. We've been trying to get her to come to Sacrament meeting, but she loves her church so she can't ever come because it's at the same time. This week, though, because we had conference, our church service was at 5 p.m. so we thought it would be perfect for Maria to be able to come. So, on Sunday morning, we went with her to her Catholic service (the church was absolutely beautiful! I can't take any pictures inside of it, sorry,) and asked her to come to ours at 5. She said no, because she really just didn't want to. We're really disappointed, and we think it might be time to drop Maria because she will not progress unless she comes to sacrament meeting, which she won't. We're giving her a week or maybe two, but then we'll have to let her know. We're hoping and praying to help her discover how much she and Gabriella need this church, but we don't want to push her, either.

Anyway, that's pretty much what has happened in the last 5 days. The good news is our numbers are slightly increasing each week, so we've been seeing how our white-washing here has begun to take effect and open the mission. The crazy news is we get our transfer boards this Friday so we'll see who is where next transfer (holy cow I'm almost in my second transfer!). Sora Gerhartz predicted we'll stay together, usually trainees and trainers do the first two together. So, all is well in Romania, and we'll have to see where this week goes for those we met with last week.

Never thought I'd see a "no farting" sign.  Ever.  This was on the wall in the restaurant LactoBar, honestly, we saw it and Elder Lake says "Haha, that looks like it says no farting." and then, after closer inspection, that's what it really was.  Hahaha, we had a good laugh.
LactoBar is the closest thing to an American burger we've found here. It's not actually that great, but we love the decorations. A car in LactoBar, we had to take a picture with it.

All of the men here just keep on trying to hit on me!

Thought for the week (in Romanian, of course):
Sunt foarte recunoscătoare pentru înțelegerea pe care le avem în aceasta biserică. Mulți oameni au ochelari de cal peste ochii lor, deci mulțumesc Tatăl Ceresc pentru Cartea lui Mormon și fiecare lucru avem să știm unde să mergem și cum să credem.

Oricum, mulțumesc pentru rugăciunile voastre și dragostea pe care am primit-o de la voastră! Vă iubesc!

Sora Smith

(And a translation because I'm nice):
I am very thankful for the understanding we have in this church. Many people have blinders over their eyes, so thank you Heavenly Father for the Book of Mormon and everything we have to know where to go and how to believe.

Anyway, thank you all for your prayers and the love I have received from you. I love you all!

Sora Smith

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