Sunday, November 30, 2014

Breaking the Ice

The woman playing the accordion in the video you saw, was probably Vera, she's about as culture as you can get :) She sometimes comes to the English classes.

Well, this week I finally got to see my first baptism! It was amazing, and Maria came so that was special. I was talking to Fratele Piper, a counselor in the branch, and he was excited about it and said that this baptism was "a break in the ice." I'm so glad the members are feeling the momentum from all this, things are just going to keep rolling from here.

Apparently someone commented to Sora Smith how all the sudden Arad has all this potential and fire going on, and she was just like "all the sudden? Noooo... this was months of hard work and preparation." Yup, it sure was. But man it's been so worth it.

We now have a new elder, Elder Chatterton in his fourth transfer.

Also there's this handicapped girl, Clara, who has been coming for the longest time to church all on her own, and now we have the confirmation to teach and baptize her, too. We'll involve her family in the lessons, who knows what will happen.

One of the counselors of the church presidency in Romania, President Chirila, came to Arad over the weekend and apparently things are going to start rolling a little further as pertaining to the functionality of the branch. It's been a long process, and it's definitely not over, but man Arad is being so blessed and going through so many changes, it's soon going to be so strong and I look forward to the day when it will be.

We went contacting in the village of Lipova just under where the ruins we always visit are. After tracting through the mud and encountering a flock of a million turkeys and then being chased off by an angry farmer man, and dropping a Book of Mormon while fleeing to safety (-5 beauty points for future husband) . . .

We found and spoke to one man chopping wood in front of a really humble home. Georgi's parents were Pentecostal but he doesn't believe there is a God after "praying for 20 years and not ever getting an answer". It was an interesting conversation, it went all over the place, but in the end he took a Book of Mormon and promised he would read it and try out the test in Moroni 10:3-5.

Let me tell you why he took the book and challenge.
It was not because we proved him wrong with some scripture/doctrinal fact.
It was not because we have clever words to get him to take it.
It was because of the pure and simple testimony that no one can deny.
This man didn't want to take the book, he didn't want to believe something that obviously has been hurting him for years. He's felt neglected by God and didn't want to believe He exists because it hurts.
We had no power to convince him of anything.
But, by bearing testimony, we allowed the spirit to grab a latch onto his heart and tell him the truths we cannot convince him of; that God loves him and this is His Son's church. That is an important lesson for anyone.
Arguing doesn't convert. Biblical evidence doesn't convert. Amazing doctrinal facts doesn't convert. The spirit does. The best way to bring the spirit into their hearts is your testimony.

Well, there you go.

The reason I share this is we had another visit with the Seres family where we took Elder Smith, and it ended up being a Mormon vs. Pentecostal, "let me show you where you're wrong" battle. No conversion took place. That never works.

We spent Thanksgiving with our district at the Smith's, and it was so great. We all pitched in and brought a dish, and I took the plunge and made pumpkin pie all from scratch (and I had to prepare the pumpkin myself... they don't sell canned pumpkin here.) It turned out great, I was actually a little nervous haha... but we ate, said what we were thankful for, and then argued over a game of phase 10, haha I was winning until everyone realized I was winning...

Shopping on Thanksgiving/P-day


Thanksgiving Card Game - Phase 10

And now we're here. This Saturday since it's both mine and Sora Routson's birthday we're going to buy a cake (because I still remember what happened last time I tried to make a cake on my birthday...) and set off lanterns like they have on Tangled. It will be fun.

Well, I've kind of exhausted my energy for writing so I'll end it here. I'll write again on Monday so chances are next email will be pretty short :)

Sora Smith the First

P.S. I promise I will send pictures Monday... :) I have a ton...

I Told You It Was Gonna Be Supermegaawesome.

Dear Family and Friends,

The weather has definitely gotten colder. It was really nice at the beginning of the week, we were getting away with just a cardigan in the afternoon. Now I'm pulling out the thick leggings and winter coat. No snow yet, but it's supposed to come this week. Brr..  My winter boots are torn apart, is there any way I could get some money for new ones to last me at least two more months?

So this week starts out with English classes, and even though we only had one student it went well. Just like Miss Kate used to say, "It doesn't matter if the audience has 1 or 1000 people. Your show is going to be just as good for that one person as if they were the most important person on earth."

We met with the Bacanu family, and if you don't remember who they are they're a big family of less actives who live too far away to afford to come to church. We made a plan with them to get the mother of the clan a temple recommend and that will help impact the family for the better. Elder Smith told them that the mom is Moses and the daughter who was there is Aaron, and then "Moses" said to "Aaron", "Whatever I say you tell the rest. Go, take the sacrifice up to the top of the mountain." Lol.

For Family Home Evening I told the story of Daniel and the Lion's den and made everyone get up and act it out. It was fun watching a bunch of adults doing that :) But then we sat and discussed it and it turned out great.

Card game for our Family Home Evening activity

Well we went to Bucharest this week for a Zone Conference. We didn't get a sleeper car there, though, so we spent the whole night on seats and got maybe a total of 1 minute of sleep. It was hard to stay awake for the conference but I succeeded somehow. Elder Kearon of the Seventy came and spoke to us. He said a lot of really great things but what I loved the most was, talking about morning routines, "If you drift into the day, you're going to drift right through it."

An actual LDS chapel in Bucharest

I also got to see many old mission friends, that was great. I had to do the musical number. I sang "Jesus, Savior, Pilot me", which it surprised me that pretty much no one had ever heard that song before, let alone knowing it was in the hymnbook lol.  Then we went back to Arad. I never slept so well on a train bed.

We met with the most American member I have ever met with in Romania. Sora Birau is so nice and just like any other sister back home. Like, it felt like a normal visiting teaching appointment in a normal American home with a normal member and normal baby in the corner and delicious normal Romanian cake. It was, how do you say it... kind of a relief. Really nice. Breath of fresh air. Now back to work. Too bad she's only here for the month of November.

Service Project for one of the Sisters in our Branch
We stopped near the Hungarian Border on our way back from our service project

We also met with Alexandra. If you don't remember, she's the one who has been struggling getting back on her feet after a mistake from a long time ago. Well, since I committed her a few weeks ago, she's been reading and praying daily now and you could just see the difference it has made on her. She has been coming to church for a few weeks in a row, too.

We saw Maria. It's been a while, we decided it would be good to give her a "time to miss the spirit" break. Well, that was a really good idea because she's so cheerful to see us and tells us a million amazing things, and the best are the following:
1) She doesn't feel like her son's soul is in turmoil anymore
2) She really missed the spirit and the church
3) She felt really impressed that she needs to come to church every week, no matter how hard
4) She has been able to forgive, forget, and move past the boy that killed her son and his mother who mocks her.
5) She wants to be baptized ASAP.

Well, this week we'll be meeting with her and setting the date and details. She's finally going to be baptized!!!! She was so happy and full of so much light, it was amazing. I can't wait to see her again.

Practicing my song for the Christmas Program
We saw the Seres family and it went well. Re taught the plan of salvation better, and even though I really wanted to talk about baptism and authority and stuff, something kept telling me not to, not this time. So later we'll help them realize how this is the one and true church :)

We saw the Bacanus again to run a pre-temple recommend interview for Aurica the mom. It was amazing, since the time we were there before, everything was super cleaned up, even her appearance and I wonder if it's just the thought of getting a recommend that she's changing the lifestyle. It was awesome.

Anyway, I've run out of time but I love you all and I will write again next week with more good things to come!!!

Sora Nicole Smith

Sora Mom

Well, my dressing up as a cat this Halloween is not nearly as creative as your costumes, especially the Anna one I thought was great.

So as far as convincing my new companion that the Smiths were my parents ... well hahaha, I totally had her going until I was talking to another missionary at the train station and let slip something that didn't work with my "parents" being on a mission..... so it didn't last very long and my comp won't forget it :) hahaha totally worth it.

Our new district and my new companion Sora Routsen in front of a gypsy mansion
The fence around the property the church owns
for building a chapel as soon as the branch is big enough.
It is across the street from the gypsy mansion.

I got my package! Thank you for the new clothing, I'll have to make good use of it these last few months.

Yeah the Smiths have another page - it's called something along the lines of "Family and friends of the Romanian/ Moldovan mission" and it's a private group so you'll have to request to be in it. There's like, tons of photos of me on it so you'll love it I'm sure.

So... okay this week was awesome and tiring and normal. And I'm afraid this email is going to have to be a bit shorter than usual, so here's the Readers Digest version.

We tried meeting with people so Sora Cox could say goodbye, but no one could meet so the transfer kind of ended anticlimactically. Then we went to Bucharest. I saw lots of people. I got a new companion. DUN DUN DUN her name is Sora Routson from Oregon. AND guess what? Her birthday is November 29 (although she wouldn't believe that was my birthday too because of that prank I tried to pull on her.) But after a flash of my driver's license, we started planning how the end of this month is gonna turn out.

Heading to Bucharest for Transfers

Trip to Bucharest for transfers

Sora Routson and I writing emails home

Okay, so we've been working hard and had three investigators at church: Ioana, and the parents of the Seres family. And we have all these people we're working with but those three are worth mention for this short email. Working hard, doing well, and getting ready for super cold weather.

We made a goal to get 40 people at church by the end of this month. We've been averaging 15-20 people over the past three months, so it'll be a push but it'll be awesome when it happens.

We celebrated Halloween with the district and Ioana carving pumpkins. After the super awesome pumpkin I carved for the party last week (you'll get a picture, I promise...) I was out of creative juice to do something cool so Sora Smith and I made a snowman out of pumpkins.

Speaking of snow, thank goodness none yet but it's been cold enough.

We went to Lipova today. Again. But the Smiths and I were the only ones who've gone so it was cool.

I think that's all the big details of this week, sorry I'm just really tired and so this email is lame. Hiking up a mountain can really take it out of you, lol. That and just being a missionary in general. Anyway.

I hope everything turns out well, sorry to hear that Daniel won't be making it back out but really, God doesn't command us to do something we can't do so he's in the right place. Also, was that Lindsay with him? Did she go to Orem High? because I saw her and I'm like I have no idea who that is, hahaha. Well I have to remember 800 thousand people in Romania so all of you are foreigners to me.

And tell Kaylee and Evalee to stop growing, seriously I keep telling people they're 1 and 2 years old and them I'm like, wait, that's not right anymore...


Sora Mom Smith (because I'm the mom of this whole district.)

P.S. I forgot to mention that November 1st was Ziua Mortilor (Day of the Dead), and so we took advantage of that to go contacting and ask people "What do you do on Ziua Mortilor?" and it opened the door up for a conversation about the Plan of Salvation and such. it was awesome.

P.P.S.  Haha I ALSO forgot to mention, when I got into the mission home to have a trainers meeting before getting my new missionary, I walk in and some of the Senior Sisters were making dinner and one sees me and goes, "OH! This is 'The Voice'," and they all had me sing for them for a minute. Apparently they've been talking about me... and requesting for me to go to Bucharest so they can listen to me sing all the time.   We'll be having a Christmas concert in Oradea and Sora Geambasu wants me to sing that for it...

Trainer's Meeting

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A Little Not As Superawesome!

Hello all,

To answer your question, yeah, since I'm in my last two transfers, and I'm training which takes two transfers, President Ivory pretty much told me I'll be staying here until I'm gone. They've started submitting proposed itineraries to SLC for my return home, the proposed itinerary has me going through Paris, so that'd be cool :)
Me and my new companion Sora Routson,
with Elders McArthur and Dunkley in front of
the Gypsy Mansion across the street from the church property

The property the church owns for building a chapel
as soon as the membership has grown large enough to build a chapel.

So this week was a little not as superawesome. But we all know that just means next week will be superMEGAawesome.

Most of the lessons of this week were bungs, so we didn't meet with as many people as I would have liked. Also I was not feeling the hottest but I trucked on through it anyway. Sometimes I just get frustrated with my body deciding that it doesn't want to work anymore so I don't listen. But I'm doing a lot better now so no worries.

We went to Sora Krnacs's house and helped her chop firewood for the coming winter. Well, the Elders actually did all the chopping. We helped her by locating mouse holes and putting poison in them because she's got a bad mouse (and rat) problem. Man, she lives in such a humble home which is literally falling apart. Like, as in it's made out of mud adobe and one wall is on the verge of collapsing. We are getting her some help for the issue to fortify her home. She was surprised the branch would/could do that for her. Well, that's what we're here for.
Helping out at Sora Kmacs
At the Boarder Crossing for Hungary near Soar Kmacs home
At the entrance to Hungary

We also went to see the Seres family, buuuut it actually didn't turn out all too well. They tried coming to church but couldn't make it, though so that's good news. For the lesson we had a member come with us, who is a great member and great for some people, but she's very passionate about... politics.  And so her with the Seres family went off arguing and we couldn't get it back on track. We ended with a brief overview of the Plan of Salvation and got the heck out of there. Man. Well, goes to show some people aren't right for everyone. Like, things are still okay with the family and all, they weren't scared away or anything. but it was rough.

We had to go to Oradea to practice singing for a Christmas concert that will be on the 6th of December. It was nice, but it took up pretty much a whole day that could have gone to good use.
Practicing for our Christmas Concert
So this week I have been studying about motivation and drive and I came across this discovery:  Pretty much any motivation can be traced to three: fear, duty, or love. Fear stems from fear of what would happen if we don't accomplish the thing we need to (Elder Doe went on a mission because he was afraid of everyone judging him if he didn't). Duty stems from an innate obligation to do what we're asked (Elder Doe is serving a mission like all young men are asked to do). Love stems from the heart to serve God and our fellowman (Elder Doe is on a mission because he wants to help his brethren by sharing the love of Christ). Obviously fear is the lowest degree and love is the highest degree of motivation. During the performance of the Atonement, Christ was faced with the duty of fulfilling what was asked of him, and when it came to drinking the dregs of the bitter cup, it was His pure love for all humankind that uttered the words when the press became too difficult, "nevertheless, Thy will be done." Another example is Captain Moroni facing the inner feuds of the Nephites when he wrote the title of liberty. What he wrote was all a reminder to the Nephites about where their motives need to lie - not in fear of defeat by the Lamanites (or themselves), not even in duty to their government to protect their land, but for their families, children, freedom, and God. For love. So yeah. That was all pretty cool I thought.
Emailing our Families
Family Home Evening at our Meeting House in Arad

That was this week. I'm just so grateful for all the huge life lessons I get out here and learning where my priorities and motives have to lie. Seeing all the things I've seen, I know first of all how much I took for granted, well, everything. Second of all, I know better what is most important in life. Love, family, God, gratitude, charity, service... which, in reality, I just said the same word six times :)

Have a good week

Sora Smith

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Reign of Queen Smith Comes to An End

Alas, my short lived time as an all-powerful sister trainer has now seen it's demise... well, as having been an STL for half a transfer, I can at least put that on a college application :D

Dun dun dun DUUUUUNNNN!! I'm training again.

Didn't see that one coming. I got a call Saturday night and it was President Ivory saying how he appreciates my hard work and how he wants me to finish my mission like a star training in Arad for my last two transfers so we can have "another 'me'" even after I die.  WELP, looks like I'll have spent my WHOLE MISSION in the west, half in Arad. Therefore, I'm not an STL anymore. Which I'm okay with, but it only means I have even more responsibilities now.... :) the "T" word.

The best part of all of this is that we're going to pull the best prank ever on my new missionary. Ready?   We're convincing her that the Smith's are my parents. LOL they're totally on board, too.  I MEAN, OF COURSE THEY COULD NEVER REPLACE YOU.

So this week because I was an STL and it was the last week and I still hadn't gone on exchanges (I mean, it's not like I knew I was an STL all transfer...) I tried to go on exchanges. So we planned on Thursday... and that didn't work so Tuesday... but then it was Wednesday... and then one of the sisters got really sick and so it never happened. WORST STL IN HISTORY OF ROM/MLD MISSION? Check :) Haha I'm kidding, I mean I tried everything I could and President knew about the situation so it's all good. But. Haha, that was pretty short lived :) 

Well, we found pumpkins finally. They were small and kind of unattractive BUT we found some at a piata. THANK GOODNESS. But three days later and suddenly Kaufland decides to get in a shipment of 100 pumpkins... after all that searching...

So we have been visiting one sister at her pastry shop, and every time she loves to give us pastries to snack on and she won't accept money from us. So this time, we let her give us some pretzel sticks and then we order cornuri cu rahat (croissant with Turkish Delight, my new favorite treat, 2 lei) and I toss 10 lei in the window and we take off as if we had stolen something, I could hear her screaming "HEY!" at us and we were laughing while munching on them. Well, lets just say that when Sunday rolled around I got in a lot of trouble from this sweet sister who didn't want us to pay for her treats :)

We took the Elders with us this time to the giant family in Zimand-Cuz and had a nice chat-not-really-lesson lesson. But we showed them a Mormon message from the Smith's computer and it goes to show how nice it will be for the missionaries that follow me after the iPads come in.

We saw Maria again and talked, and she opened up to us that she feels her son is troubled and hasn't been able to rest since his death. She says her soul is pained because she thinks his spirit can't rest because of the injustice over his death, that the family whose son killed Maria's son had paid the police and so her son is upset over that. She said she doesn't want to be baptized with those feelings. Well, I told her that she needs healing and repayment, and I told her that being baptized would heal her and going to the temple to be baptized for her son will be repayment. I don't know how much she took that to heart, but we'll see down the road.

We also met with Ioana and told her about the potential temple trip.  Well, she does really want to go and to be baptized. So then the weirdest thing happened. You know how in the scriptures it talks about Jesus or Alma or so on perceiving the thoughts of those they talk with? Well, I was thinking about why, if she wanted to be baptized so bad, she wasn't setting a date. And then it came to me. It's her parents. I asked her about it and she says they wouldn't like her being baptized. And suddenly I could read her mind. I asked her about if they knew her affiliation with the church and so on, and they only sort of did, but not that she was regularly coming.  What my guess is, and I'm not sure, is that she was waiting to graduate and move to America for college and be baptized then. Which would be all cool and what not. BUT. We're going to try to see what we can't do now. So this will be taking a lot of prayer.

Friday we had our Halloween party. We had about eleven people show up, two non-active teenage boys so that was awesome, and one of them came to church on Sunday. I've never seen him at church. The Smith's Facebook page has tons of pictures and videos from the party. It was great, we did dancing, pumpkin carving, cookies (because donuts are expensive) on a string... and it was a ton of fun but a lot of work putting together. The decorations were awesome, though :)

Saturday we finished English classes by watching Mickey Mouse Prince and the Pauper in English. Lol. and then....  we went circus contacting! It's exactly what it sounds like. It was mostly in Italian so I took that opportunity to ask the people around me, "We're not from here, what are they saying?" "It's Italian." "Oh, I see." "Why are you here?" "I'm a missionary!" and so on. It was exciting and I saw a penguin. No guys sticking their heads in a lion's mouth, though.

On Sunday we found out about transfers (except I actually got a call the night before). Sora Cox is going to Brasov, Elder Boydstun is going to Chisinau Moldova, and I'm training and Elder Dunkley's new companion will be Elder McArthur who is two groups ahead of me. AKA I'm not the oldest in the district anymore, AKA less people relying on me to translate everything... :)

Our Branch and me and my companion
on one of her last Sundays before transfers.
Today we spent P-day going to Timisoara. It was so awesome to go back to that beautiful city. Less exciting than I was expecting, but nice. And now here we are.

Singing for our Cultural Night event in Timi

I know that there are missionaries who are extending here, so maybe that extending canceling is only in that area or something. So I'll be talking to president about that.

Well, that's crazy news about potentially going to Italy... I mean, that would be three years living in Europe for me :) however the study abroad opportunities for like music and stuff would be phenomenal. Haha... of course, that is if it all works out that way.

Funny thing, we've been seeing Sora Krista in the hospital who suffered from a stroke and she's been in for months. Her whole right side was paralyzed but we saw her this week and she could move her right hand and leg. I was watching her and actually the thought of my grandparents flashed across my mind, which never happened there before, and I had an overwhelming feeling like something similar had happened. Well, it's nice to hear it's not nearly as severe and I hope and pray everything will go okay :)

Anyway, this has been a busy week, and next week I'll have a brand new missionary out of the MTC... well, let's just hope this goes well... :]

Sora with-a-fourth-on-the-way Smith