Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Castles, Crazy, Cats and . . . Coming Three Week Cramming!

Hello Family and Friends,
Sorry today is going to have to be super short, we went to a castle (that isn't all in rubble...) and spent most of the day there so I only have a little time and I'll have to give the details next week!

Hunedoara Castle

We actually didn't do much during Ziua Aradului... there were booths set up and music but we didn't have a whole lot of time to partake in the cultural festivities.

Kelsi's MTC entrance date is my year in Romania date.

It's cooled off here a lot, too.

Hunedoara Castle

So, very briefly this week, we were super busy and it was super awesome. We had the most lessons in a week than I have had before, we also had zone conference and our President is proud of our zone and district.   We've started regular activities in the Branch that will need some time to get into the groove, we've been getting more students for English, I made a huge pot of soup for a Branch potluck (and it was delicious), we visited a castle in Hunedoara (don't worry, I took pics), and... what else.... I swear there was something I'm forgetting......


So Sora Lidia had her neighbor who wanted the smoking program, right? Her name is Maria. Well, long story very short, we were ready to teach her that, but instead we went into the Plan of Salvation when she shared her back story about her son who passed away the previous year. Well, the spirit was SO STRONG and we had another lesson with her, we taught the restoration and she wanted to be baptized, ASAP.  Just so's you know, the story is so much more in depth and beautiful than I am giving it, so I'll be going into detail next week. But, we decided with her that she will be baptized September 13th. It's the perfect time, too, for Ioana, and the elder's investigators, and the Branch, and for Maria.  So we'll be working hard cramming and preparing her in three weeks! (including the smoking program...)

Ioana is out of town for a week, and then school starts two weeks later so we're holding off on her until she'll be back in Arad for a steady schedule after school starts. But things are still going very well with her.

Okay, I'm sorry but that's all I have time for so I'll tell you more next week and I hope all goes well!

Sora Smith

All Saints Bracelets
P.S. I found the funniest thing at the store the other day... all saints bracelets are super popular here in Romania... I found one that had pictures all of cats, and I bought it.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Been Busy . . . But Believe We Be Baptizin'!!!

Hello all,

So this week we've been keeping ourselves busy. It's been so nice, I love working with Sora Cox.  And this week really was a week of miracles.  Having a new comp is so nice. We get so much work done and so many awesome things have been happening.

This week. We went again to Sora Lidia's and talked to her about going to the temple. She's moving to America for six months soon, to Florida, so we're hoping she gets the chance to go. She's the only member in her family, so she's worried she won't get the chance but we're helping her out.  We're also set up to meet with her neighbor who wants to quit smoking. So we'll start the no smoking program, our first time teaching it, so we'll see how it goes :)

The Smiths
We also went to see Cristina and we brought the Smiths with us (weird, I know, it catches me every time I say it). It was such a powerful lesson, we talked about hope and that we can change through the power of Christ, and I told her how much I believe in her. And she seemed different, like I think she's honestly sincerely changing. She loved getting to meet the (other) Smiths.

We also went to see Florita, the less active sister with cancer who had problems with tithing. We brought the Smiths, and we talked about feeling Christ's love and about the hope for the progression in the Arad branch, and the spirit was so strong.

We had a great district meeting where we all got our heads together how to improve the Branch. We're getting headway on the activities, and we're making a lot of changes that will be awesome. I feel so much positive energy and potential in this Branch, big things are happening and are going to happen throughout this whole transfer. I am so excited.

We took the Smiths with us to the Branch President's house, out in the countryside where we saw their very pregnant pig and many chickens.

Saturday we spent all morning and afternoon cleaning and re-organizing the entire church, all of us missionaries and Cristina. Yup, she came to a silly cleaning project at 10 in the morning. She's definitely changing. We reorganized the whole chapel area, and now it's so beautiful! I wish you could see the before and after, I think it exists but I don't have pictures with me, I'm sorry. The members were all pleasantly shocked when they saw it Sunday.

Changes have definitely started to take place.

We met with a less active, Anisoara who is too old to come anymore. We left her a much needed spiritual uplift, and committed her to asking her kids if they want to hear more about the church.

We had a few other lessons set up, too, but they didn't go through.

Sunday, Cristina came and stayed for all three meetings. And. SORA FLORITA CAME. And the very first thing she did, she picked up a tithing envelope. I actually didn't see it, but Elder Boydstun told me and I was floored. And so, so happy. And another sister came with her husband who, the night before, she said he would never be a member and that he wasn't going to let her go to church.

So many miracles happened! You can't say the work here isn't progressing!

That evening we went to see a member in the hospital who had a stroke. The medication she was on made her really emotional, but it  was nice to see her and I think she liked it. Her husband used to be a member but now is a Jehovah's Witness. I don't know what happened to make him switch. 
BUT . . . We were there with the Smiths and we talked with the two for awhile, and the husband mentioned the time they were at the temple. Awesome! And, the Arad church is super far away and we're looking for a new location. Well, the JW husband wants to help us find a better spot and he's gone out of his way to find us a new building. We have a potential spot we'll be checking out and hopefully we'll buy it and be located more centrally!

And already we have 10 lessons set up for this upcoming week. We're super busy!

Today is Ziua Aradului (Arad Day) and there are lots of festival booths set up. It's pretty exciting. There are a lot of traditional knick knacks and foods everywhere. This will last, like, a week.
Ziua Aradului Booths

And, remember Gabi? He's back now from... wherever in the world he was. He took all of us missionaries to a historical site in Arad, a water tower. It was pretty cool and filled with lots of art.

We were in the top part of the water tower circling around the tank in the rafters, and our guide was saying things like, "And over there you can see the theater, and here is the government building, and there is the piaza..."

and Gabi, who is right behind me says, "And there is a mouse..."

...and a mouse runs right up my leg.

Well, that's all for this week. I hope all goes well with the physical therapy, the surgery, the start of school and anything else that's going on! I will keep you in my prayers and know that I love you all!

Sora Smith

Random quotes of the week:

"If you start conditioning me, so help me..."

"We would get so much more work done if we didn't waste so much time on sleeping or eating."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Holy Bible, Blessings, and Bucharest

Hello everyone in the world!

This week was so good. I feel like I'm finally out of a pit I didn't know I was in and on to solid ground.

This week started slow, just getting things ready for transfers. We met with Sora Lidia on Tuesday at her clothing shop, and she had a couple of customers there that started arguing with each other about God as soon as they found out we were missionaries (not arguing with us, in fact they both said thanks for our service and then turned away, lol). Well, Sora Lidia is super awesome and stepped in and totally made peace between the two with her infinite wisdom. She bore strong testimony and resolved the conflict. She is so great.

Anyway, we left for Bucharest, Tuesday evening and the Elders talked to the sleeper car guy and there was a vacant room, so I run ahead to pay him the extra cost for the room and the Elders and my companion come with the luggage... except for my stuff so we had to stall the train to run all the way to the back of the train, grab my backpack, and run back before the train took off. It was exciting, but we got a sleeper! Phew...

Transfers were really boring, I got to stick around from six in the morning until midnight. But I also got to see a lot of people so it was worth it. I ended up going out to lunch at a Ruby Tuesday with some past companions and friends and it was really great to see and talk to everybody again, even  for the short time I did.

So, my new companion and I got into Arad on Thursday and settled in nicely. Sora Cox is awesome. She is really sweet and we have a lot in common. One of those things in common is we both just came from a very similar companionship, so we were both super ready to get to hard working. She just came from Chisinau, too, where there's mostly Russian so I've been helping her learn Romanian (although for a third transfer missionary she already does great.) We're working very well together.

Also, more blessings, even in the first week we've already had good things going with our Elders.  They actually, listen to us and are working with us......  We aren't alone anymore.  AH I AM SO HAPPY.

I haven't met the Smiths (mission couple) yet, except for Elder Smith briefly when I was in the mission office.  He seemed very nice and I 've heard a lot of good things about them. They just got into Arad last night so I'll see them soon.

Library in Arad
We went contacting with our Elders and we chalked some sidewalks for English classes. I don't know if I told you already, but we're going to do English classes different this transfer because our church building is so far away.  We got permission to hold them in the library. We're hoping for a bigger turnout. This also means that we only have August to do it, so we won't be holding classes for as long a s usual. BUT, if the library likes what we are doing, they'll let us continue.

Sunday, Ioana wasn't able to come for the first week in a long time. She had to stay at the farm, so it's understandable. I think I forgot to mention that last week we found a stray cat on our way to church, so Ioana took him home to the farm. Apparently she named him Myler, hahaha.

We went to primary, Sora Lidia's granddaughter usually comes with her to church, and the Elder's investigator brought his goddaughter. Lidia's granddaughter is so well behaved, but oh my goodness the other girl was difficult. She was running around  the villa yelling... so I grabbed her and sat her in the room and talked about being reverent in God's house,  and she goes on saying things like "shut up," or "you're stupid," "I don't need to listen to you," and I'm just like... .. haha this little girl needs a lot of love. She was most especially rude to Lidia's granddaughter, but she took it like a champ. She was such a good example and would retaliate by saying things like, "I'm not stupid,  look what I drew,"  and she shared her toys and markers.. and the other girl rips her drawing and she just goes, "that's too bad, people would like you more if you were nicer." Woah!  She's five!

Anyway, after that crazy, relief society was just that. .. a relief :) until, of course, the end when one of the sisters gets upset over a small matter.  The other sisters, Lidia and Mogos were also champs. They made her feel validated, loved, and the problem was resolved.

There are some really, really good people here and I feel that those events were just like a tender mercy reminding me how good some people are, especially when dealing with other people.

Anyway, that was this week other than a lot of English contacting. We contacted this one guy who had been to our church before in Arad a long time ago, and he had a lot of questions that he said he asked missionaries but no one gave him a satisfiable answer. Well, he liked my answers. At one point, though, I kind of felt like Jesus when his interrogators were asking questions only to test His knowledge or prove Him wrong, and I figured we wouldn't get anywhere like this. So I bore him solid testimony of the Book of Mormon and our restored church, and he took it and accepted the challenge to read and pray about it.

That's what I learned early on in the mission, it doesn't matter how clever you are with words or at proving yourself right, the absolute best thing you can do is to bear testimony and let the holy spirit of the witness of truth handle the rest.

So I've definitely felt much less homesick over the course of this past week.  I suppose Daniel and Isaiah are both going through a similar deal of being reassigned to the states.  I can't remember who it was,  I think maybe it was either Miss Kate or Fratele Vizante that told me,  "You aren't called to Romania. You are called to serve a mission. You are assigned to Romania. It doesn't matter where you are, just what you are as a set apart servant of the Lord."  I think they both probably understand that fact, but reminders are always nice :)

Scriptures are awesome. Everything really is connected. I was just studying about the portable tabernacle in the wilderness and how it typifies the plan of salvation.... never thought of it that way before but it makes so much sense.

So everyone have a good week!
Sora Smith the First

P.S. That was a lie, there was another Sora Smith long before me who served both in Timi and Arad :), but still.

Monday, August 4, 2014

First Class to Bucharest! . . . On a Sitting Car!

Well, the spider bite's healed up but it got really bad before it got good... It got all huge and purply, it grew right over my eye... it was so nasty. I'm sorry (not sorry) I didn't get a picture of it, but imagine Quasimoto without the hump and you've got the idea.

The recordings worked ! Jeff sounds a lot different. Well, not different but more skilled from the skilled he already was :) That or I just forgot how good he was since I've been gone.

Sora Cox

So transfers are happening this week, and I'll be staying in Arad with a new companion, Sora Cox in her 3rd transfer. Preece and Myler went home, so Baielli and Boydstun are staying, and we'll be getting an Elder Brown and Boydstun will be training a new missionary.

Oh, also we're getting a senior couple here in Arad. Guess what their last name is?

Did you guess?

No, seriously, guess.

THE SMITHS. I was so proud of being the only Sora Smith in Romania. I bet the office had a good laugh, "Where should we send the Smiths? Oh, I know, let's send them to Arad with Sora Smith. That would be funny." I was the only one!!!!

Anyway, this week was slow. Through all of the un-business, a lot of homesickness has crept in. It's definitely time for transfers. According to Boydstun, my new companion Sora Cox is very hard working, so I'm anxious and excited to get with her. But just so you all know, I MISS YOU VERY MUCH! I sent a letter home, so keep an eye out for that.

I've thought of a project I want to start. Like I've mentioned before, I've been very homesick lately. So I decided to start a project to help me get over the homesickness. I made a paper chain with 168 links.

Starting on August 6th, I will only have 168 days left of my mission.

I realize that normally it's a bad idea to count down something like this. But my plan is every day starting august 6th to take off a link and write on it either:

1) A reason I'm out on the mission.
2) A blessing that's come because I'm on a mission.
3) Something that I'm thankful for, or
4) Something good that happened that day.

And then stick them in a jar.

And whenever I feel really homesick, I can go back and read the links I've already written on. I feel like that could really help me get through until January without feeling too homesick. And if you'd like I can send you the 7 things I wrote for that week :)

So, the things that actually did happen this week, we met a couple times with someone from English classes, but she left to England on Sunday so we didn't get very far with her. At least she took a Book of Mormon.

We met with a few people, nothing big happened, and we met with Ioana. Ioana says she's been praying, but hasn't received an answer, but she's been coming to church every week and reading the BOM.  She's so beautiful, and I love working with her. I hope she gets an answer soon, because I really love this girl.

That's all the news. Sorry there's nothing really exciting, except that I have high hopes for this next transfer. I'm glad you were able to get answers and solutions for Daniel's hip. Do you know if he'll be going back out to Peru or not? And if his home time takes away from mission time? I'll keep praying for him and Emily and everyone that needs it :)

Anyway, transfers are this week and I'm excited to see old friends. We bought tickets but they ran out of sleepers, so cross your fingers someone revokes theirs and we can get in a sleeper car instead of sitting up all night to Bucharest.

I'll leave you all with a joke this week:
Two grave robbers were very excited when they stumbled across Mozart's grave, and began to dig for valuables. As soon as they dug a few feet down, however, they found a trap door leading to a secret room where they found Mozart alive, rubbing an eraser over sheets upon sheets of paper. When they robbers asked him what he was doing, he said, "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm decomposing!"

Ba-dum, tsh! I'll be here all week.
And for the next thirty-some odd weeks.

Sora Smith