Sunday, October 26, 2014

P is for Pants Day!

I got to wear pants today. It was a good day.

This is the last week of this transfer, so we find out about next transfers this Saturday. I get the impression I'll be staying here as an STL, though. But you never know.

So this week we went with the Elders to a little outskirt town called Zimand-Cuz to do some contacting. We found the most beautiful little- well, big family. A mother and her 10 children. But the house was so clean and full of the spirit, so it was a nice visit and we'll be going there again this week.

After that trip we headed to Oradea to stay the night so Sora Merrill and I could fly to Bucharesti at five in the morning. Our companions were going to stay together in Oradea. So that morning we were in the airport terminal when I realize, I have pepper spray in my bag and that probably won't get through security. So I tossed it behind a fire extinguisher hoping it may still be there when we got back. We get on the plane for an hour and a half, and it was pretty nice. Much better than the 16 hour sleeper train.

So the conference was nice, and President Ivory had me conduct the meeting.  In President Ivory's email this week he said,  you did a great job at our STL training,  so I guess it went well.
So anyway. We talked a lot about some cool things (like, for instance how this mission is getting Ipad Minis this year.... just before I leave, haha). And it was nice and I learned things. But I still have no idea what I'm doing.

While Sora Merrill and I were flying back, I had the weirdest sensation sink in. I was thinking about the last time I was on a plane was when I was coming to Romania... and that I will be right back there again in THREE MONTHS, WOAH!

Well, I thought maybe the package came in so I searched through ALL the packages, and I found one for everyone in my district except me, so I lugged their three packages and 5 billion letters back to Arad and charged them delivery tax for each item. That's how you play the missionary game. :-)

So those kids are still hanging around, and still causing a ruckus, but I haven't even been in Arad much this week so I didn't have to deal with them much.
The weather's been a bit rainy and cooling down, until today which was perfect, and that was nice because we went to another fortress in Siria. That's why I got to wear pants today. And it was so beautiful. Apparently the city Siria was established way back in the 1100's, so that's pretty cool.
Old Fortress in Siria, Romania

We went back to Oradea again on Saturday because we had a conference for our district and the temple president from the Freiburg, Germany temple came and spoke with us. He addressed a lot of the member's personal concerns and told LOTS of stories. But the main idea behind the whole thing was "You can do anything you want if you try your absolute best.
Freiburg Germany Temple - Closest Temple for the People of Romania

Sunday the Smiths had us over for dinner and then we went sing contacting in a park. I LOVE SING CONTACTING, and Sunday dinner. And especially not having to cook for myself, lol.

We've been doing some planning and preparing for a Halloween branch party for this Friday, American style. So in other words, awesome style. I'm excited, but we can't find pumpkins ANYWHERE. What's Halloween without pumpkins??

Not much else to report. I have been studying the atonement recently and have a much greater appreciation for the infinite sacrifice. Aaaannnd... I'll write you all next week.

Sora Smith

Monday, October 13, 2014

Knock Knock. (Who's there?) Missionaries. (...) Okay, next door.

We'll start off today's email with a couple of dumb jokes:

- One night a missionary woke his companion. "I think there’s a burglar in the kitchen eating the cake I made."

His companion replied, "Should I call the police or an ambulance?" 

- Did you hear about the two Mormon missionaries that were called to teach a small tribe of cannibals in Africa?

They gave them their first taste of religion.

Ba-dum, tish! Okay, now that you're not expecting anything actually funny, here goes with this week.

Things are going well in Arad. We've had some really good lessons with both Ioana and Maria, with Ioana we've starting going through all the commandment lessons, even though she doesn't have a baptismal date, and we committed her to fasting to receive an answer for a date, so that was pretty awesome.

When we met with Maria, she started telling us about how she can hear or feel her son who passed away every once in awhile, and how everyone was telling her she was imagining it. So we linked that to family history and the connections we have in this life and the life to come. It was pretty touching, and I can now safely say that Maria is back on track for baptism. We had her fast for a date, too. And as we were leaving, she told us "I hope it's in the will of the Lord that I can be baptized while you two are still here in Arad." AWESOME.

We met with a guy, Stefan, who we contacted the first time last transfer. Back then he was insistent about the Sabbath being on Saturday, so I was a little nervous for a Bible bashing night coming to meet with him again. Well, it didn't turn out that way and it was awesome. His wife and sister were there, and we talked with the three of them in a park for a while, telling about why we're here and how we decided to come to Romania and leaving our families etc. etc., and Stefan asked a lot of difficult questions. BUT. We were laughing, chatting, and at the end got to share a good testimony about the Book of Mormon that his sister seemed to be excited about reading, and him and his wife wanting to see us again. That's what I love doing as a missionary.

We FINALLY had branch Family Home Evening. I've been trying to hold it for transfers now, and it finally happened. And it was a blast, we held it right after English so we had people stay and it was nice. I SO hope it will keep happening weekly.

So I still don't have any idea what I have to do as an STL, but uh... well there's an STL Conference this week (that I have to conduct...) so hopefully I will find something out so I can do exchanges before this transfer is over. Haha, I have no idea what I'm doing...

So those kids that were disrupting conference have actually been causing a LOT of trouble this week. They were running around screaming in the church, so we asked them to leave and as they were going they cracked one of the windows. That and they apparently were speaking a lot of vulgar language and drove people away from English classes....  We tried talking to their parents and they don't care what their kids are doing.   So... we'll figure something out this week. Otherwise, I fear for the lives of those children...  :-)

We went grave digging.
Well okay, we were helping Cristina clean and weed her father's grave. Perfect activity for October.

Nothing else I can think of to report. The weather has been absolutely perfect. We've been listening to Conference and it's been really great. And... oh yeah I get to fly to Bucharest and back for the conference so that'll be cool.

Anyway, I hope everything is going well at home!
Sora Sleepy Smith

Monday, October 6, 2014

Fiecare ploaie vine cu un curcubeu

I appreciate everyone's kind words of encouragement after last week. I have definitely received the strength to keep going.   I hear people praying for missionaries and their families all the time and I think God is always blessing us in more ways than we realize.

Kaylee is as big now as Evalee was when I left... tell them to stop growing up until I get back, okay? Okay.  And, Paisley is so cute, tell her not to get any bigger either.

Well, this week went a lot better than last, and actually I have good, bad, and funny news to share.

Bad first. So, we're halfway through the transfer, right? Wednesday we're doing language study when I get a call. It's the assistants, so I'm thinking oh, I must have forgotten to enter our weekly numbers. No, that wasn't it. The assistants tell me that apparently they accidentally forgot to tell me I'm an STL (Sister Training Leader) this transfer. Now I have to be responsible and be a good example and go on exchanges and do things! :-)   But, don't ask me what an STL does, because I actually have no idea.

Okay, that was actually the funny news, oh and there isn't really any bad news. And that's the good news too.


Last Monday we went to the Gai Monastery in Arad, and surprisingly it was very well lit. Usually Orthodox churches aren't so bright. Lots of artwork. It was cool.

Gai Monastery

So we've been visiting Maria a couple of times.  The first was Sunday and kind of scary.  Elder Smith, Sora Piper and Elder Dunkley came with us.  (We visited the Bacanus beforehand, and decided to drop in on Maria with just us sisters but she invited us all in.)

Well, she was wearing a Pentecostal head wrap and told us first thing when she got up that she drank a big cup of coffee and went to the Pentecostal Church. That was the atmosphere we started talking to her in.

Well, members are awesome and Sora Piper was awesome in negating any wrong idea Maria talked about, like when she says she can't be happy anymore, Sora Piper says "It's not true! You can choose to be happy all the time!" and so on. She even defended Gabi to help Maria understand he's not the enemy.

Well, Elder Smith shares a great story about a member he knew in Bucharest who another member came up and said to his face, "You're a gypsy, you're not welcome here," and he shrugged it off because he knew it was the true church. That ended up touching Maria, and when we met with her the second time this week she told us what Elder Smith said really stuck with her, that 1) God loves her and knows her, 2) This is the true church, and 3) her and her family need the blessings of baptism and going to the temple. After that, she told us she does in fact want to get baptized at some point, but she's not ready now and doesn't want to rush anything.
WHEW. I felt like I could breathe again. We invited her to conference, well, actually she asked if she could come. She ended up "making no promises" and didn't show up, but we're going to make her (and the whole branch, actually) a CD of all the talks.

English classes started, we're not at the library anymore but we have some new people coming and they're all actually interested in the church. So yeah, good way to contact people.
We did more less active hunting, and we've found quite a few people who never want to see us again! I mean, it's sad and all they don't want the church in their lives anymore, but it's nice to know where to not focus our efforts (at least for a while) so we can get more people worked with who are ready.

We'll be starting mission prep and temple prep classes for Cristina, so that's sweet.

This picture was recently in the Church News.
It was taken at our District Conference in Oradea. 
I am in the center at the back.
Conference... was a little disappointing. I was so excited to be able to sit and listen to the talks, but I ended up being on babysitting duty all day both days so I didn't get anything.  The nice thing is I can download the talks on my ipod and listen to them over and over whenever I want, but there's always something so nice about Conference Weekend that me and my comp just ended up missing :) oh well.

Clara, is a handicapped girl who comes every Sunday and she started bringing her younger siblings to church and activities and stuff, but they come to play and don't understand we're not a daycare, we're a church to come and learn about Jesus. So they run around and scream and disrupt conference for all the members and the Elders are nowhere in sight so we're trying to catch them and tell them to quiet down or they have to leave and... well, conference just didn't end up happening.
I was very happy to read this part of my email from President Ivory today:
The Smiths have told me you are the hardest working missionary they have come across. Cheers to an amazing missionary.

So yeah EVERYTHING IS OKAY and fine and okay and nobody worry, I got this. God is good and He knows best and everything will work out for the greater good.  And He is very merciful.  I've been noticing a lot of His tender mercies lately, and there are a lot. And the more you notice them, the happier you feel. It's like the "Forget me Not" talk that President Uchtdorf gave.
I think that's it for today. I miss you all a lot and hope everything goes well this week.
Sora now-an-STL Smith