Monday, December 2, 2013

Locked Doors and Fireballs

Here's my mailing address again for anyone who needs it:

Sora Nicole Emily Smith
Romania/Moldova Mission
Sos. Pipera Nr. 41, Et. 7
Sector 2
014254 Bucharest

Well, this week was a little more exciting than I was ready for.
So Sora Gerhartz and I left on Tuesday evening to Bucharest for exchanges. Another train ride, I'm actually getting used to sleeping on those. We were prepared and traveled first class again, I don't want second class like I did when I first left to Oradea. That was horrible. When we woke up, it was Wednesday and there was SNOW OUTSIDE!!! There was no snow in Oradea but it was pretty blizzard-y in Bucharest, snow everywhere. It was actually pretty exciting. We get to the Gara (station gate) and have the rest of the day practically, so we went and ate with a senior couple, the Boyds. Then it's back to the Gara and hanging out with all of the other missionaries until our trains leave.

My new companion, Sora Ralls
I got to see a lot of friends, Elders Cooper, Brown and Lybbert were there. I hadn't seen Elder Cooper for a long time and he seems to be doing really well. Talking with all the missionaries, I actually can put a face to about 50% of the names now! Then it's goodbye to Sora Gerhartz, and time to leave to Craiova with Sora Ralls.  Craiova is just west of Bucharest, so it was only a three hour train ride (as opposed to the 13-16 hour to Oradea). It was nice. Sora Ralls and I got to talk a lot, that is until this man sitting across the aisle started to talk to us. He was really scary, he was excited to tell us he just got out of jail that day... and somehow he knew my first name... and there was this cop watching him the whole time... let's just say I'm really thankful for great elders who ran onto the train immediately when it pulled in to make sure we were safe.

I love this district. I am so happy I'm getting to spend my birthday and Christmas with them. Sora Ralls is really cute and energetic, we get along really great and talk all the time... maybe a little too much, haha. We are sharing virtually everything; clothes, hair products, food, whatever. I love it. She's so much fun and I feel I can be myself around her.  Our elders are Elder Degraw and Elder Mayans. They're both really great and take really good care of us. Craiova was a two elder companionship city, and now it's a "dating district" meaning two elders and two sisters, so we moved right into the old elder's apartment. Haha.... they spent the entire transfer day cleaning the apartment for two girls to come in.......  They're great elders. Elder Degraw is a really good singer. Mayans is from California, I think he does sports or something... I'm not exactly sure. Let me ask him.  Yeah, he does sports.

This photo was taken in front or our apartment building

This is the inside or our apartment

Our elevator is really scary!
It's so cold in Craiova!  Apparently it's one of the coldest cities....yay! There's been snow but it's been melting these past couple of days. It'll be back, I'm sure. Craiova isn't gorgeous like Oradea is gorgeous, but it's really pretty in it's own way. A lot of Elders told me they hated Craiova, and the same amount have told me they love it. Well, Sora Ralls and I love it. Although people here are a lot meaner than in Oradea.

There are only four members and two of them are from America. It's not even big enough to be called a Branch. We're called a "group." We don't even have priesthood/relief society meeting. Our service each Sunday is two hours.  The "group" president is President Spooner. He is from America and he's actually living over here as a part of his work, he works with Ford. He's only here for one more year, though, so when him and his wife are gone, there are two members. Those two are Romanian, though!

This is the view from our balcony

There weren't really stray dogs in Oradea. I maybe saw one my entire two transfers there. There were a few stray cats, no dogs.  THERE ARE STRAY DOGS EVERYWHERE IN CRAIOVA. Everywhere. Parking lot? Dog. Man on a bench? Dog. Going home late at night? Followed by a dog. Holding a yummy pretzel? Really followed by a dog.

So this week was.... something really crazy happened every day.

So we spent Thursday morning unpacking and settling in the apartment, then planned to meet with the elders to do some stuff for the holiday. We leave, I try soarma or sharma or shwarma for the first time... oooh my soarma. It's a tortilla with some sauce and onions and chicken and french fries and... I don't even know. I can't even eat the small one.

Next, we have district meeting.  Then we decide that we're going to go home, bake treats, and meet at the church with pizza to watch a movie and celebrate Thanksgiving. Here's the problem: we can't get into our apartment. There are two dead bolts on our door, and one is never used because it's broken. But it slipped and automatically locked us out, and only the landlord has the key, but he was out of town. We spend all our Thanksgiving wandering around Craiova looking for a locksmith, nothing. Finally, at about 7 p.m. another elder who used to live in that apartment gets a hold of us and tells us how to get in. Elder Degraw works the two locks, and ta da! We're back in. We grab the brownie mix from my birthday package, and went to the church. Our thanksgiving was Betty Crocker brownies and that one Pirates band of misfits movie... but we were too tired to do anything else!

Then on Friday, Sora Ralls wakes me up and throws an armful of balloons on my bed, wearing a party hat, singing happy birthday. It was awesome. She even made me birthday french toast. We did our normal missionary routine, more unpacking, and then met with the elders to eat out and head to a church activity. We ate at this Chinese place, made by Romanians haha.

Every Friday is a church activity in Craiova, so we go to have hot chocolate and cut snowflakes. One woman who always comes to the activities and never to church shows up with two friends, we talk, we cut snowflakes, and then President Hill calls and sings to me, it was a lot of fun. Then we go home to bake a cake.

Brace yourselves, this is where it gets intense. This was three days ago and already practically every missionary in Romania has heard this story.  Our oven isn't automatic, meaning we have to start the gas and then light it with something. Well, Sora Ralls and I have never used one of these before, so we call our elders to make sure we do it right. But for some reason, our oven is not lighting. We turn off the gas, wait a few minutes, try again. We're on the phone with the elders, trying to get the oven to light for maybe ten minutes when FWOOOSH!  A giant two foot fireball explosion out of the oven!!!  We're both screaming, Sora Ralls flies one way, I fly the other, the lighter and phone are thrown across the room. Neither of us can talk, we're just breathing really hard and making grunts as the elders are still on the phone saying "Are you okay!? What happened?? ARE YOU OKAY?!" The first thing either of us can say is Sora Ralls, "DO I STILL HAVE MY EYEBROWS?!" (This is where Nicole's mom says a prayer of gratitude to Heavenly Father for protecting these girls!)

We're both laughing and crying and breathing and... I don't know how, but nothing is on fire. The elders are still trying to figure out what happened. And yes, Sora Ralls still had her eyebrows. The only thing that came out of what should have been a disaster was a scorch mark the size of a baseball on the curtains, and Sora Rall's left arm hair singed off. That's it. That's all that happened. Neither of us got hurt (just really scared).  But how many people can say they almost died on their birthday? Not many.  Oh, and the cake turned out delicious.

On Saturday we finished getting settled in, did some more missionary work, and were invited to have a make-up Thanksgiving at the Spooner's. That was a lot of fun! The Spooners are really great, and the second we walk into their apartment it was like WALKING INTO AMERICA. The furniture was American! It smelled Amerian! It felt like home, haha. And we had RANCH DRESSING. That doesn't exist in Romania. Pizza and ranch dressing and caramel dipped pretzel sticks. That was a much better Thanksgiving.

Sunday there were ten people that came to sacrament meeting, us missionaries, the Spooners, the Romanian couple (I still can't pronounce their name let alone spell it), a drunk guy, and the lady from the activity night who actually only came to get something she left. The drunk guy and the lady leave, and it was the smallest church service I have ever been to.  It was only two hours and half in English, that was nice. It's 100% English if the Romanian couple doesn't show up. Naturally, we all had to bear our testimonies to fill up the time.

This Sunday was December 1st, or in other words, the Romanian Independance Day, so there was a lot of celebrating. Happy Unul Decembrie!  We went bloc-knocking and realized how mean people are here. We got rejected a lot more than in Oradea. We got rejected entering an entire bloc because there was a man at the door who wouldn't let us in, hahaha. He said we didn't know enough Muslims to be allowed in.

And now we're to today. It was an awfully eventful week. Let's hope this next week will be a little more.... normal.

Happy Holidays!  I'm so excited for Christmas! The elders put up Christmas lights in our apartment and we even bought a little Christmas tree from Kaufland, it's so exciting! We decorated it with pass-along cards, ha, ha it's so tacky, I love it.

I'm so excited for this transfer, it's going to be amazing.  I hope all is going well and at least a little more peaceful at home!

Sora Smith

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