Sunday, January 26, 2014

Exhausting Week!

Wow, things have really been crazy in Timi! It's like a completely different mission here!

It's weird hearing about the world over there and how much it's changing. It will be so different when I get back.... exactly a year from today! That's weird, I feel like I only just got out to Romania. But at the same time, it feels like I've lived here my whole life. Weird. Just weird.

As far as speaking Romanian with companions/districts go, that's extremely difficult to do. We're encouraged to "SYL" (speak your language) in order to better practice the language. Sora Merkley and I made a goal to turn Sundays and Wednesdays into 100% SYL days, but otherwise, we speak English. It's a lot different than if we were to have a native companion, because if there's something neither of us know, we can't learn immediately. In this mission, the missionaries learn the language a lot slower than other missions. But hey, I'm working hard so I'll be there soon! ...or maybe by the time I get home.

Still no snow. Which is super lame. I can get by today without a jacket. Of course, I don't, because every Romanian will give me funny looks, ha, ha.

To answer some questions from the last home email, I actually heard "Let it Go" by Idina Menzel when I was getting Christmas music on iTunes, and it sounds amazing. But, it wasn't her that sang the Romanian version, it would be kind of hard to have to sing the same song in a bunch of languages you don't know. The song in Romanian is "S-a întâmplat" ("It Happened") and the singer was actually also incredible. I was amazed at how good the voices in Romanian were, in fact, some of the songs I prefer in Romanian, lol.

I can't really answer the question about the Mcdonalds food in Romania, I never had it much in America so I can't tell a difference. Tastes like American fast food, anyway.

So! A little more information this time!

It's really different being in an 8 person district. I like it! If one set of Elders can't go contacting, talk to the others! If one set of Elders aren't listening, talk to the others! If you need a change of pace from them all, you have a Senior Couple! Lol. No, but actually our Elders really are great! Elder Stinson is our DL, and he reminds me a lot of our cousin Brad, actually, in looks and personality. Good, responsible, and always says to have a great evening after he calls us ha, ha. His companion is Elder Bliss who is really funny and when he's dedicated to something, he's dedicated. Elder Montoya is from D.C., and he's a lot of fun. We all fake slap each other because of him. His compy is Elder Morby, who I don't know if you remember, is the Elder who we met at the airport right before we took off to Romania. So, he's technically "in my group" but I wasn't in the MTC with him.

Elder Stinson and Elder Bliss
Elder Montoya and Elder Morby

Sora Merkley is from Vernal, and she is a lot of fun. Contacting is a lot of fun, I actually thought I'd never enjoy contacting in my life. But we make it a blast. We get along great, I really enjoy being with her.

This is us (in the background) practicing street contacts and presenting a message

The Hunts are awesome! (I have to say that, I think they read my blog...). Just kidding, of course they are really awesome!  It's great having a Senior Couple in the mission, adica, (in other words) missionaries who are responsible over the age of 19/20......... lol. Work is easier with them around.

Timi is booming. My first day here, we had two lessons scheduled. One of them fell through, but I mean, way to hit the ground running. We've only had 3 since, but that's already more than I had in Craiova! What else is funny is Sora Merkley says last week was the lowest number she's ever put in for lessons, before that her lowest ever for a week was 5. Ha, ha, I was lucky to see one a week in Craiova or Oradea. It's nice knowing that that's what I set-up for other sisters though, replacing me in those cities. I will always be their first sister mish, muahahaha!

Oh yeah, so we currently have like, 16 investigators. More than I've had collectively! The nice thing is, that means we hardly contact here. I haven't had 16 total from my previous cities, lol. It's really weird teaching a bunch of people I don't know, though, and who I haven't found myself. I haven't done this until now.
One investigator is Victoria. She's the first one I met. She's 17 and trying to get into Cambridge.. so she's extremely smart. Apparently she's asked a lot of really good questions, like "How did God get a body?" or "So does that mean there's a Heavenly Mother?"  I wasn't there for those. I came later. We've been trying to get her to take a BOM, but something is keeping her back. Probably that her dad is a priest. So that's our focus for her: take the book! You'll love it!

The next three girls are Elida, Edina, and Damaris, three high school friends who have had all the lessons, and even had baptismal dates for a little bit, but something happened. Still trying to push for those.

Next is Maria, a woman from Nigeria in her early 30's with a crazy and sad background story. She works at the hospital, but either doesn't get paid at all or is paid so little because she's not a Romanian citizen, so she relies on her boyfriend's wallet. Such a strong and amazing lady, and this week we're going to help her quit smoking with a program made by the church.

Those are the big ones. I haven't met much of the rest of the investigators. Well, there is also Tibi, but I'll tell more about him later.

The mission in Timi is so different. There are weekly branch activities, like FHE, institute, seminary... those didn't exist in my other cities ha, ha. The branch has about 15 active members, and Sunday School and Relief Society can get pretty.... scary. Two sisters in particular like to argue a lot, haha.

Family Home Evening

We've been doing some contacting for English classes which start tomorrow. Apparently Timi gets a LOT of English students, so that will be exciting.

There's one sister in Timi who is very old and has been battling cancer more than half her life. She has a wonderful spirit, and we go there occasionally to read her the BOM or Bible. She's so funny, she likes to joke about going with us to the disco tech. And, she shows us she can lift herself up from her bed, and she's grinning ear to ear. What a sweet lady.

We had zone conference last Tuesday in Arad. Nothing special happened. A bunch of missionaries talked. I was asked to play the piano... (why does everyone think I can play???)

Zone Conference Object Lesson on Cooperation and Working on Common Goals

Sora Merkley gave Elder Morby a haircut. It was funny watching him clean the hair off himself with a vacuum....

On Saturday we went to an Orthodox Monastery with Tibi. Tibi is a taxi driver the sisters contacted before I got to Timi, and who is interested in religion and wanted a copy of the BOM. He took us to the monastery, and that was... well, let me say this:  When people build things out of faith, it's really beautiful. It was a nice place with many interesting paintings.  But gosh, was I relieved to get out of there.

Sag Monastery near Timisaora
Driving us back to the city, Tibi tells us Goliath (as in David and Goliath) was 5 stories high, and that he found a dinosaur whose tip of it's finger was a ten story building.   That's great, Tibi.

I gave a talk on Sunday about how the Book of Mormon answers the questions of the soul. Talks will be so easy when I say them again in English. I tried using as little notes as possible.  Well, I almost did it.

And then today! We went laser tagging! The three girls came (3 Investigators) and brought some friends, so there were 12 of us playing. It was fun, but I'm definitely out of my game.  So I wore pants today, for the first time in months. They didn't fit me in the MTC, but they fit today! What good news, lol. I'm relieved, and weirded out. I'm wearing jeans.

Anyway, that's kind of how things are going. I've been super exhausted this week. Sora Merkley and I are doing the Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred (exercise program) ha, ha, and so I've been pretty beat. But it's good beat and in 20 more days, I'll be shredded.  Lol.

So I wrote enough for this week and last. This blog will make quite a novel.

I don't know what else to write.
Um, the Book of Mormon is true! I'm reading in Mosiah right now, and I read recently about the people of Limhi who were in bondage, and the Lamanites are persecuting them so the people of Limhi are fighting back, but they don't get anywhere because they're slow to remember their Lord.  So, they stop fighting and are praying a lot, and what I love is that, instead of causing that they should be released from bondage, God grants them with strength to endure the trials.  I love that, because that happens today. Sometimes we think, "just take this problem away!" But, what needs to happen is that we're just able to better deal with the problem.  And then, after they exercise their faith in the Lord, the people of Limhi escape the bonds. 

Anyway, that's about it. We're hoping one of these 16 can turn into a baptism this transfer!

We'll see.

Sora Smith

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