Saturday, December 27, 2014

Baptisms, Pranks, and Goliaths

Well, it looks like I won't have my package before Christmas but that's me and two other of our Elders here in Arad so I'm not the only one :) I don't mind spending a later Christmas, but I'm just worried I won't get it until it's time for me to go home.

We actually haven't had the party yet, that's tonight. But it sounds like there is going to be truckloads of saramale, cozonac and caroling so it'll be, you know, Romanian.

Branch Christmas Party
We had a great turn out for the Branch Christmas Party
Brother Moldovan playing his music at the Christmas Party and
I sang some of the songs in English that he had me translate

Well, this week was pretty darn fantastic.

More important things first. We pulled another kinder surprise egg prank. I'm not sure if I've kept you updated with all of them, though so I'll start from the beginning:

1) We gave Elder Chatterton and Elder McArthur kinder eggs where we carefully opened them, took the toy out, and resealed them. They were very disappointed. We promised a toy in the next one.

2) We stole the toy out of them again and put in a rubber band. We promised a real egg next time.

3) We took the chocolate and the toy and wrapped actual eggs. They gave up on expecting a real gift.

4) We baked brownies in the foil...... well, I guess you'd call them blue-ies from all the methylene blue that was in them. Ha ha ha ....

5) Now we have Elder Robinson in our district. We gave all three of them kinder eggs and the others turn to him and say, "It's not real. Don't expect a surprise in there." Elders Chatterton and McArthur open theirs first, and we put in black rocks and a note that said "You are not on the nice list. This is a warning from Santa." Well, a few minutes later Elder Robinson opens his and... it's real. He pulls out his toy and says, "Whoa, this is really cool!" and the other Elders go, "WHAT!? They gave you a real one??"

LOL they're a little upset with us. For Christmas, though, we're finally giving them real ones. Haha...

Elder Chatterton and Elder McArthur

So on to what really has been going on this week. It started pretty slow not being able to get into people's homes. The people whose homes we did get into we've been sharing a video from the church about Christmas, "He is the Gift". Then on Wednesday we drove out to Lipova to do some follow-up contacting. Well, Georgi didn't even come to his door, so we left him a note for when we're coming back. And contacting the rest of the day was pretty unfruitful. BUT. The day wasn't over, so we tried to seek out a less active who lives out there. She had just returned home and was a little surprised to see us (the not good kind of surprised). She let us in anyway, and we chatted a bit and she warmed up to us pretty quickly. She is such an awesome lady! She calls herself a rebel and she's very funny. She got a little offended at something a long time ago, but after our visit she said she really wanted to come to church that Sunday. She hadn't been for years. Unfortunately she couldn't make it because the rain delayed the train too much, but she is coming to the branch activity tonight. SO COOL!

We also have been working with Dan (Florita's husband). Even though he isn't capable of expressing himself very much, you can tell that he's excited to be baptized. We're excited too. Sora Routson is a lucky duck because she's getting a monthly baptism here at the start of her mission :) Haha, well it's a nice way for me to end anyway.

Ioana's doing well, too. She's gone home now though for the holidays.

Ioan, an English student and friends with the Smiths, invited us to a Christmas concert. It was really nice, the first half a decent choir sang a bunch of traditional Romanian carols. The second half the orchestra came out and they were AWESOME! It was a nice concert.

Attending the Christmas Concert

We've also been holding "concerts" of our own (and by that I mean caroling). We went to the government building, where there are a lot of shopping booth-cabins set up and lots of people, and sang and had crowds come by and listen. It was great. We got talking to a few of them and passed out wrapped copies of the Book of Mormon. Merry Christmas.

Caroling for Christmas
Handing out wrapped gifts of the Book of Mormon

And then we had Maria's baptism. It was amazing. She told me she has been feeling really calm and the love of God all week. It was great preparation for a great event. She brought 20 friends and family to it, and the spirit was very strong all throughout. It was awesome. I still can't really comprehend that it actually happened.

Maria's Baptism
The Smiths, my companion and me, and Maria
A lot of Maria's non-member family and friends came to her baptism
Maria at her Baptism
Visiting with the guests after the baptism

It's been pretty wet and rainy here, too. However, on Saturday evening I woke up at 2:00 A.M. and there was snow DUMPING outside. Sora Routson had been up before that because there was a thunder-rain storm right before the flakes just dumped. Normally snow gently floats, but these were huge and they fell like hail. First snow!

Well, it didn't stick and it stopped snowing by the time we got up at 5:30 (because the Brasov sisters came in - Sora Cox included - to see Maria's confirmation). But, it snowed! And we're hoping and praying it will snow for Christmas! There was enough snow collected on the cars, though that I could make a snowball and throw it at my companion :)

Church was well attended, and Maria was confirmed. She wanted Elder Smith to do the confirmation, though, which meant I had to translate. That was one of the most nerve wracking translations I've ever had to do... I think I did well though. Later I sang for the branch "This is the Christ." Brother Piper gave an excellent talk on the birth of the Savior. It was a great meeting.

Maria's Confirmation on Sunday

Relief society was actually nice, too. Normally the RS teacher just reads out of the manual and gets mad when people want to comment/talk about it (we've been working on that...). But this week it was great, there was no arguing and everyone participated and commented and discussed and it was really nice.

Today we played basketball (it was that nice outside. So much for the snow), but it was so much fun.

This week I've been reading about David. There's a ton you can learn from his life. I really love the story of the lowly shepherd boy facing the giant Philistine armed only with a staff and a sling who was able to take the opposing champion down in a single blow. I think one of the most prominent lessons from this story is that everyone has Goliaths, but not everyone is a David. Who is going to have courage enough to attack opposing forces head on with so much faith in the Lord? With all the doubts and shadows and risk that hangs over the obstacle needing to be defeated, who will step up and fight for the cause of good? Not everyone.

Maria was able to defeat her Goliath of forgiving the people responsible for hurting her son. What a courageous feat, and for that she was able to receive the sacred ordinance of baptism and feel so much peace like a river. If she had been baptized with that Goliath still there, I don't know how well she could have felt the spirit even after receiving it. It's wonderful she's overcome that. What a great woman.

Anyway, we have a Christmas party to crash so I'll leave you with that. Nobody go pulling any pranks. Have a wonderful Christmas everyone! I look forward to talking with you face to face, even if there's a couple of screens and a few hundred miles in between :)

Sora Nicalled to Serve

Romanian Smile
Sunday Dinner at the Smiths

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