Monday, May 26, 2014

Week 44 (Just did the math) :)

Hi Family and Friends,

To answer your questions:  Yeah, Sora O'Brien is one transfer behind me. Which is AWESOME because it means I get rights to calling the new missionary my son. I HAVE TWO CHILDREN NOW, I'm such a proud mother. Haha, but working with Sora O'Brien is great, we get along well and get a lot of work done. We got our entire portion of English cards passed out and our classes haven't even started. I've never even gotten close before. So it's been pretty awesome.

Arad, Romania

I'm starting to get to know the members better, I mean we've had different turnouts both Sundays so I haven't seen them all that much.
NATHAN'S COMING TO ROMANIA, I CAN FEEL IT IN MY ROMANIAN BONES. One of my mission buddies is going to train him. Called it. I'll be awaiting my Symphony Bar for guessing right.

Gosh dang, hearing about Les Mis makes me want to be in another show ha, ha. That's so awesome, I wish I got a chance to work with Jeremy Showgren (the director) before I left. Oh well, I still have time.

That's funny that Lara and Dave are working at Kneaders together. Kneaders is probably in better hands now than when I was working there where the managers and cooks were all high school or barely into college kids. Like me. 

Liz promised me a Garden of Eden by the time I get back, so let her know that's what I'll be expecting :) She has until January.
Dave is still on with working in the Provo Temple, right? They should move to Romania, we have an apartment open in our bloc that the lady across the hall keeps asking if we'll rent it out. In all seriousness, I hope they find a good place :) (in America......)

So this week was a little stressful and crazy. On Monday we crashed the Elder's barbeque. They were partying without us so we showed up and brought peaches for them. Moral of the story: if you're planning on breaking plans, at least bring a peace offering. I found out Elder Myler is actually from Orem, he went to Timpanogos, graduated 2010. So that was cool.

Tuesday we had Zone Training Meeting, but we didn't have to catch any trains because it was actually in my own city. That was kind of nice. And since the STL's were in Arad, we started the exchange that night and into Wednesday. I was with Sora Tobler, and we did a LOT of walking. (And I still don't remember how to navigate this city...)

But it turns out that we got a surprise visit from an RM who actually never served in Arad, but she was visiting a friend who lived there, a member. Unfortunately, some things fell through with the member, and since the former Sora W doesn't know this city, we had to kind of be her escorts and take care of her while she was here. It kind of made things a little crazy. I was in charge of sleeping arrangements, and remember our across the hall neighbor that wants us to rent her apartment? Well, we did for a night :)

We finish out exchange on Wednesday, and Sora O'Brien and I work together again and get our nose to the grindstone, and we found some amazing people. No investigators yet, but if anything I got a good reaffirmation that Romanians are great people.

But then we hear that our guest, the former Sora W wants to go to Cluj to pick up her books (I don't know if I ever mentioned, there's a famous book binding place in Cluj that all the missionaries get pretty covers on their bibles/BOM's etc). Problem is, the epiphany came and we realized this sister's books are not in Cluj being bound (which takes months). They were in our apartment. Unbound.

Book Bindery in Cluj

The member Sora W was visiting was supposed to get the books to Cluj, but she asked a missionary a transfer ago to do it and it never got done because there was no money to pay for it. Sora O and I knew the books were there waiting to go to Cluj, we didn't know what to do with them and then we realized on Wednesday, these books belong to this RM and she thinks they're in Cluj and that they're bound. We had to break the news to her on Thursday, which was sad because she was really nice. We ended up saying goodbye, and she headed off to Cluj to get the books started, I think she's planning on having a missionary bring them home and she'll pay to get them shipped within America.  The moral of the story is, get your books bound during your mission so you can keep track of them. Poor Sora W, I hope everything works out.

SO, after all that treaba was finished with, we were working hard again on Friday. Elder Baielli was serving an exchange with the elders in Timisoara, so I got a call asking me where I got my ukulele. He ends up buying the same one, and we're starting a Hawaiian uke band in Arad :) After I teach him how to play it, of course...

We had to pick up a couple of things from Kaufland on Saturday, and while we were there, there were these two men who were eyeing us and started to follow us. Even when we maneuvered and hid in a hardware aisle, they appeared and one of them in English says, "Don't be scared!" and I was like what the heck! The guy started laughing, his friend looks confused, and then the guy says "I'm Gabi Oanta."

OH, the famous Gabi. Let me tell you a little about Gabi. I've been hearing all about him since my first transfer. All the missionaries are convinced he's a spy. He works for the government and travels a lot, and if you ask him what he does for a living, he'll give you a card that says he tends flowers. If you get any nosier, he says "I'll tell you, but then I'd have to kill you." Basically, the missionaries call him if they need any help with anything. He apparently found us multiple apartments in and out of Arad. He's fixed a lot of the broken items. Need help finding someone? Call Gabi. Lost in Arad? Call Gabi.  I'm personally not convinced he's a spy, but he's got some sweet connections and he's very nice. I just haven't met him until that time in Kaufland. Although, I don't know his connection with his friend that we saw in k-land, his friend was from America (apparently lived in Orem a few years) and served a mission in England. How did he know Gabi and why was he in Romania? And is he really a spy? Some things we'll never know.

Kaufland Store in Arad

I forgot to mention that on Wednesday, we did service by volunteering at a kid's daycare center. It was a little crazy, the younger kids were actually fine to work with but when the tweens showed up, things got out of hand haha... but we'll be doing that now every Wednesday (at least, if I don't die before too long.)

On Sunday we sang a special number as missionaries, "Veniti la Isus" (Come Unto Jesus). It sounded very nice, we have some good voices in this district.

Sunday evening I was doing the dishes when a little while later I find myself cleaning and organizing the entire apartment. (Cue the "who are you's and what have you done with our daughter's?") If there's anything that's changed on my mission, it's that I keep everything clean and organized now. Mom, I know, it's a shock. When was that ever going to happen? Don't expect me to still be this way when I get home, there's still time. :)

So yeah, that's this eventful week. It was nice, but now I feel uber exhausted. And hot. Gosh, it's like someone poured boiling water over Arad and now we're sizzling like bacon in a frying pan of sweat. Does no one in Romania believe in air conditioning? Curse you, curent!

A photo of the sisters in our mission
The reunion photo of my MTC District taken during transfers

Sora I-Will-Survive Smith

P.S. I lost my camera adapter in the move from Timi to Arad, I mean I know where it is but I need to hunt it out and then actually put it in my purse again so I remember to send photos............. :D

Monday, May 19, 2014

A Rad Week in Arad!

This week was pretty great. In fact, I haven't felt this energized for doing missionary work in a while. So as much as I like to pretend that Arad is horrible and how much I really didn't want to serve there, it's actually a great city. Although I've never been rejected so much in another city. Boo hoo, I'm over it.

Town Hall in Arad

My new apartment is definitely smaller and more cluttered. But I like it. I mean, the "mansion" apartment was nice and all, but it was so big it got annoying since we spent so much time out of it. This new apartment is more manageable, and frankly feels a lot more homey. So I like it.

We so far don't have anyone to teach. Not an ideal start for a new area, so we've got our work cut out for us, but we're both determined to get things going here. I'm planning on working harder than ever this transfer, and that's something my companion and I have in common so we're gonna get a lot done in Arad.

My companion is great. She's Sora O'Brien from Washington, and we work together really nicely. Sometimes time escapes from talking a little too long. So this will be a hard transfer, but in the good way (is there such a thing?)

My companion, Sora O'Brien

Having the ukelele is awesome. Haven't used it contacting yet, but I mean, come on, I have a uke. I was able to carry it separate in the box it came in, not too much of a handle because it's so small. 

First, here is a picture or our bicycling activity with the 3 girls in Timi.

So starting Tuesday, I spent the morning packing and baking cupcakes, then we went to the church for FHE and to say goodbye and stuff. Elder Middlebrook brought us all moustaches for a district picture.

Here is our District Moustaches Picture

I said goodbye to the girls and to Claudiu, and then we hopped on the train and headed to Buch. I brought cupcakes because of an inside joke.. and shared them with missionaries on transfer day and a lot of people said they were the best cupcakes they'd ever had. SCORE. I am now like... mission favorite.


Transfer day was all day Wednesday, I got to say hi to a lot of old friends and shiver in the cold air because I didn't anticipate it being freezing... oh well. It poured buckets all day. But it was the first day my whole MTC district was ALL together again since we split up on day one! Usually one or two of us would be missing, but ALL of us were there and we took a picture (which, unfortunately, I don't have...) it was awesome.

Traveling on the train between Timi and Buch, and saying "Hi" to the Elders on the train. 
This gives you an idea what the sleeper cars are like,
that we travel in for our 14 hour journey.

That night we headed back to Timisoara. I left my luggage there because it would be pointless to take it ALL the way down to Buch, and then ALL the way back to the west. There are direct trains from Timi to Arad so I just left my luggage there, picked it up Thursday morning, and then we were on our way to Arad. The annoying thing is it was also raining in Timi, and not a single taxi wanted to take us because it would mean they'd have to lift our luggage. We stood in the rain for probably an hour and a half until the Alstons came to our rescue... and then we were on our way.

Rain in Timisoara

The rest of Thursday I unpacked a little, we went out to get some good shaorma with the Elders. Then we contacted. I actually enjoy contacting with Sora O'Brien, it's been a lot of fun so far.

Friday I tried unpacking more, we did more contacting. It was still rainy a little though, so things were going slow. We also worked with our proprietor (landlord) on fixing some broken things, and HE ACTUALLY WORKED WITH US AND SOLVED THE PROBLEMS. That never happens with proprietors here, lol... We also had a problem with our filter that the elders had to come look at. While Elder P was taking a look at it, I let Elder Baielli try out the ukulele, and I've never seen such a happy Italian. He wants to buy one now and I'm going to teach him :)

Saturday was normal. Contacting. District meeting. I finished unpacking finally, lol. Sunday, of course no one really plays the piano, so I'm the branch pianist. Again. Stop laughing. There was a huge turnout which apparently there hasn't been that many people at church for months. One guy had to search for a spot, so it was really, really awesome. The members are so nice, and we'll be meeting with a lot of them this week.

A street in Arad

So that was this week.
In my current district, we have the ZL's, Elder Preece and Elder Baielli. Baielli is from Italy, he's really energetic and funny. Preece, I'm pretty sure he's from Utah, and he's cool, I just don't really know him well enough to say. Today is going to be our first day our whole district will really spend time together. Our DL is Elder Myler, I can't remember where he's from... he's really cool and I'm pretty sure he's a gymnast, I'm only assuming though, because he does a lot of physical training. I'll have to ask. He's training a new missionary, too, Elder Boydstun from Utah (I think Layton?) and, since I'm the senior sister, that makes him my son! So, I have two kids. I'm a proud mommy. He's tall, and I heard he's super funny but I can't tell through the jet lag.

Anyway, not that it's already a novel but I'm done for now. If you haven't already looked through May's church magazines, do it. Nothing in there in particular, but I was fingering through a ton of Liahonas and I just felt really good and uplifted. So if you're in need of a spiritual boost . . .

Have a good week, home!
Nicalled to Serve

P.S.  Here are a few final pictures from Timisoara

Waiting to Skype with my family on Mother's Day
Skying with my family on Mother's Day
Soccer stadium where we watched the soccer games.
Block housing
Fountain in Timi
Street in Timisoara

Monday, May 12, 2014

Errybody in . . . Arad Gettin Baptized?

Well, as you (my family) already know, I'm leaving the beautiful city of Timisoara to go to the... other city that is slightly less beautiful called Arad.

A photo of Arad

I'm sad to have to go, I'm going to miss the three girls and the members and everything. But it's also really refreshing to get a new start somewhere else. So this will be the new start transfer.  Here are some final photos from Timisoara:

Piaţa Unirii, where the Romanian Revolution began
More of Piaţa Uniri
Piaţa Unirii
Piaţa Unirii
Gypsy House in Timi.  We live in the Gypsy section of town.
Cool Building near Victory Square

Our Church in Timisoara

This week kind of whizzed by with all the excitement with transfers and Skyping and everything. We celebrated Cinco De Mayo on Monday by making Tacos for everyone.

Tacos don't taste quite the same in Romania

It was a normal week of normalcy, we had our final English classes and we had a decent turnout our last day when we practiced job interviews.

Me and Andreea, one of my English students
Amalia, another one of my English Students

Elder Morby and I finished our 15 game deal.... and... I lost. All 15 games. I got so close at the last one, though, it's not even funny! I led him practically the entire game, and then I get to 19 and..... he wins the bet. Vegemite sandwich. I'm stalling as long as I can, I want to live at least a little longer.

Final Family Home Evening in Timisoara

Saturday we also had a bowling activity for Edina's birthday, which actually isn't until the 28th but since the Hunts (and I) were leaving we celebrated on Saturday.

Edina's Birthday
Celebration of a good roll!
Not so good!
Our Bowling Group

On Sunday after church we had a big welcome meal for the Alstons provided by the Relief Society. It was all really good, homemade Romanian dishes and sweets. The whole branch is so great, I am going to miss them all.

Dinner at the church for the Alstons
Romanian Food at the Relief Society Dinner
Sora Negriu, sweetest lady ever!
Sora Gabi, the Relief Society President,
amazing cook and a great person!

We also met with Sora Nedelcu who is the first member in Timisoara to be baptized. She speaks maybe 20 decibels too loud, maybe 20 miles too fast. But you can't help but love her.  And then I got to Skype home!
Anyway, today I ended up buying a ukulele.... lol. I plan on using it in Arad for... lol, "contacting" purposes :) It was cheap and I'm like, eh why not. Today we're going to go bicycling with the three girls, we're renting bikes, I'll get to feel like an American missionary for a day!

Farewell to my current district!

Anyway, I still have a lot of packing and stuff to do, so I'll write to you next week when I'm in ARAD.  Here are some random final pictures from Timi:

Safari jeep, just for Lara. (Notice how there's a giraffe on the side)
Place with good ice cream
Toilet Paper in Romania is colored
The sidewalks in Romania. 
Just kidding, there is construction going on,
but the sidewalks here are a little lumpy
Strange bugs in Timisoara