Wednesday, June 18, 2014

YSA's and Leaping Over . . . Hurdles I Guess

Here is picture of me with brown hair again... I'd say it's pretty close to where I used to be. Oh yeah, and I gave myself bangs again... looks like I just went back to square 1 :)

That's interesting to hear a lot of us had a rough week last week. This week was definitely a lot more positive, even with things still being a little difficult.

Yeah, Arad had a lot of different missionaries before I was transferred in. President tells me that we "have an uncommonly good district here in Arad," I guess he's noticed how the branch has been struggling and sent some of his best troops in here. Which doesn't explain why I'm sticking around... :P

NOOOOO, Nathan was supposed to come to Romania... oh well. I'm sure San Jose will be a great place for him. Is he going Spanish or English speaking?

Sorry I still don't have many pictures with the city or apartment or church... that will be next week's goal! The picture taking starts now. (In other words, I'm horrible at taking pics...)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY MELISSA! This is 31, right? I'll eat a covrig with chocolate for you...and by for you I mean for me... :)

This week our first English class had one student, Ioana but she is really cool and we're hoping she'll be interested in investigating the church... this week we're going to try meeting with her. 
We also have been meeting with some of the Arad members, like Sora Piper and Sora Lidia, who are both such amazing and strong women. Sora Piper calls me "draga mea" (my sweetie) all the time, it's cute :) I love the members here but I can see why the branch is struggling. It's missing a lot in unity. Seldom anyone stays for all three hours. There's apparently all these stories of how the branch used to be so powerful. Well, Sora O and I have been delving into a lot of less active work, and finally we're getting somewhere.

Wednesday we went to do service with the kids again. It was normal. Tons of crazy kids, stealing our name tags (we never found Sora O's, we figure one of the kids must have made off with it...) and playing games. Normal.

These photos with little kids in them are from our service activity, the one wearing my nametag is Irina and she's the sassiest... but I'm her favorite:)  Below are some photos of the elders playing soccer with the boys.

We held a YSA and youth activity on Friday, and after making a million phone calls, people showed up and it was actually an awesome activity. Five less actives showed up, and two non-members. We played soccer and badminton and frisbee, and everyone was included and just having so much fun. Each of the less actives talked about how they were excited to come back to church. It was amazing!

Saturday's English class, we had five people there so that was nice. We did a mock trial, it was super fun and everyone in the class participated. It was kind of like clue meets how to host a murder mixed with English class. It was awesome.

We also got in lessons with two other less actives, one of which we committed to coming to church. However, she has made so many commitments in the past, but every time she fell through so we didn't know if she'd really show up or not.  Well, come Sunday and she showed up for the first time since November of last year! The members accepted her and she did so well and was so happy. I was impressed with her participation in Sunday school, she still seems to have such a strong testimony. Oh, it was so great.

Unfortunately, none of the less active YSA's or youth showed up to church, but the activity was still a great touch for them that, if we continue these activities and rekindle what they felt with the church, they will come back and help strengthen this struggling branch. Things are starting to work, slowly, but surely.

So this week I'm looking at things with a lot more hope than last. I think that what the branch needs, is a little more help. We just need to help them help themselves, because when they are strong it will be easier for us to bring in new members, and things will just take off from there. Even if it'll be years from now when that will happen, the great thing is it will happen, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

Today, being p-day, our district went to Lipova (pronounced Leep-ovah. Oh, now the email title makes sense.) There are castle ruins at Lipova that we got to hike up to and climb all over, it was really cool and really fun. Don't worry, I actually got a lot of really cool pictures. Poor Elder Baielli is a little scared of heights, and it's a lot of rock climbing with big drop offs, so it made sense that he was a little nervous :) but with a little coaxing and encouragement, we helped him get over his fear and we all made it to the top of the highest tower together. It was awesome!  But coming down it was EXTREMELY hot....... :p   Moral of the story is, districts are good for helping you overcome your fears ;) (reference to the germ thing...)
Ruins at Lipova
Ruins from up above
Lizard at Lipova

Another Lizard at Lipova

Climbing the Stairs at the Castle
Elders Myler, Boydstun, and Baielli on a Ledge

Me in Front of the Castle
Overlooking the Castle
Well, that's the big news for this week. I'm looking forward to the next while in Arad with more hope, and the lesson here is how important church attendance is. As important as it is to go and renew your baptismal covenants and be nourished by the word of God, it's more than just about you. Your appearance at church affects the whole ward/branch. Fulfilling church callings is super important, too. I mean, if you don't, the missionaries have to do it, and we have enough on our plate trying to bring in more members to your branch, so please, do everyone AND yourself a favor by going to church and fulfilling your calling. It's so worth it, and God does bless you for all your efforts.

With love,
Sora Nicole Even-I-have-to-be-branch-pianist Smith

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