Sunday, November 10, 2013

Happy Ziua Mortilor! (Oh the irony . . .)

Hello Family and Friends,

The weather: is starting to get cold. Besides the fact that it is humid, the weather changes pretty similar to over there in Utah. Last week was actually pretty warm and I got away most days without anything on my legs and a short sleeve shirt, but the Romanians gave me weird looks and told me to put a coat on ha, ha. So I tell them "Sun din Utah, am sânge calde!" (I am from Utah, I have hot blood!) But this week the weather is starting to get cold and you can smell winter on the air. No snow yet, but I wouldn't be surprised if it came this week.

The babies are soooo cute! I just can't believe how big they look, I was expecting them to still be just as small, (I have no idea why), but three months is a lot I suppose when you're little! That's crazy.

As for Halloween, no, Romania does not celebrate Halloween (sort of) hahahahaha. At a market (Lidl if it exists in the USA) in Oradea they were having a "Halloween Week!" So Sora Gerhartz and I checked it out and it was pretty much random junk (like a cheese grater??) with a sticker on it that made it Halloween. You'd think that in Transylvania, they would celebrate it. No, I didn't see any vampires. So to celebrate, our district took some time out of our dinner hour to go to a shop called "American Desserts" and got a piece of cake. American Desserts, by the way, is super good. It's owned by a Romanian family who lived in the States for a while and bake sweets like we have in America (because brownies and cake like we know it doesn't exist here). But they do a good job!  (Oh, and I dressed up as my MTC teacher, Vizante for Halloween.  Yes, I still have the mask, hahaha.)
Gosh, now I want to go to American Desserts.
So, no, Halloween only semi-exists here, BUT there is a holiday on November 3 called "Ziua Morţilor" (day of the dead) which is not commercialized, and everyone makes and buys wreaths to take to grave sites and they think about the dead. We decided to take the opportunity to do contacting about the Spirit World.

We contacted for an hour doing bloc-knocking (which really felt like five hours because it was on fast Sunday) and we ended up in a bloc right across from an Orthodox church, so virtually NO ONE listened and we ended up with many doors slammed in our face. So, we sat outside on a bench thinking of what to do when a lady walks by with a bag of pouffletes (remind me to talk more about poufflettes in a minute) and Sora Gerhartz says, "Let's go talk to her." So, we ended up saying hi and she invited us into her home, we talked about Lumea Spiritelor (spirit world) and she was just bawling the whole lesson because she was so touched by the spirit. Her name is Viorica, and her son died when he was 32 from a freak fishing accident, so our message about the spirit world was just what she needed and we'll be meeting with her again sometime soon.  Moral of the story: Truck through the door slams and God will bless you with someone who really needs the message.

Poufflettes (Pufeletes) are the worst things ever.
"What are poufflettes, Sora Smith?" Well, let me tell you.

I don't even know.

Think of a Cheeto, take away the cheese flavoring, and you have poufflettes (styrofoam packing peanuts, basically). I don't know why, but every single Romanian loves poufflettes. I am not exaggerating. Aisles of poufflettes in grocery stores. A cabinet in a member's home filled with dozens of bags. Guy in the back of the bus? Has poufflettes. A pause in the middle of a lesson to run to the store and get poufflettes (yes, that happened!). And do they even taste good? No! So what I want to know is, why does everyone here love them???  
And then I realize I just ate a whole bag of those disgusting things.

And I'm going to buy more when we go shopping later today.

So, I have a really great story this week. Remember Kevin, the 8-year old we've been teaching English? Well, this week we met at their house rather than the grandma's where we normally meet, and his mom Francisca was there. Holy cannoli, that lesson went so well! We took the usual half an hour teaching Kevin, and then on to the spiritual thought where we talk with Francisca about our purpose on Earth because she asked us that question the first time we met. 
We read in 2 Nefi (sorry, I can't spell it Nephi anymore) and answered her questions, she was listening so intently. She is Catholic, but she mentioned a lot about her church that she doesn't like, and I think she is so ready to just learn more! So we gave her a copy of the Book of Mormon to read. When we asked if she would read Alma 32 and pray about it, she said "I will read and pray. You know, you girls leaving your homes to talk about this, I don't know why, but I just feel like I really need to read this book." We never get a response like that! And then she said, "I hope you don't mind I won't just read Alma 32, I'm going to read the whole book." and we're like "WE DON'T MIND AT ALL!"

I think because I talked about people not opening the book in my last email, God decided to give us someone who would. So we're excited to talk with her again and see what she thinks. The thing is, she's not brainwashed by her religion (which a lot of Romanians are), and it seems to me she has her head on straight, so I look forward to seeing her progress. She's just so cool.

We had one more lesson this week with Sylvia, the lady who I mentioned before had called her friend who said to "not believe in Mormon, believe in God."  She likes to meet with us because we're her friends, and at first she was not interested at all about talking about the BOM or Mormon, she just wanted to talk about Jesus. So, here's how the lesson went:  It was her birthday two weeks ago, so we brought her some of the brownies I made. At the
start of this week's lesson, she asked me for the recipe. Since Romanian measurements are different than cups, teaspoons, etc, we wasted an hour trying to explain to her the recipe. Because I don't know how to describe how to make brownies in Romanian, that was a little difficult for me, but halfway through Sylvia's son came home and explained to her what I could not. He didn't speak English either, but he knew what I was trying to say. Anyway, when we FINALLY got to the lesson, I was super burnt out language wise, but Sora Gerhartz was linked with the spirit and really touched Sylvia's heart, and now I think Sylvia is more willing to open the Book of Mormon.  Every time we call her she leaves us with a list of things to pray for her (health, money, to find a job, etc.) because we "have more faith than her so if we pray, it will happen." We don't know if she will progress very quickly, but her son was really into the lesson and we think, if he is there next time, he can become an investigator, too, and help his mom out.  (By the way, he is the one who left during the lesson to go buy poufflettes.)

Anyway, those are the big events of this week. Things are picking up and I've been sleeping better and more distracted so my homesickness has gone way down. We're also going to try a new way of contacting, I'll tell you more about that when we get started.

Oh, before I forget. In the middle of my first transfer, I don't know if I mentioned but our Branch President Isupescu got really sick and hadn't been coming to church for a long time, then at the beginning of my second transfer he had to get an operation. For weeks in a row we hadn't seen him, but this last Sunday he came back and the whole branch was super happy!  A lot of branch members have had this virus going around, but Brother Filip came back this week, and he was really happy to see me. He is a really sweet old man who keeps reminding me he's going to make me Cozonac (a sweet bread) for my birthday. The members are so great here!  The branch is also perked up because the elders have had a couple more investigators coming to church. They are all so willing to help and build the branch, it's really great.

So I have to go (and buy some poufflettes) so I'll write next week, and I hope everything goes well!

Aveţi grija!
Sora Smith

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