Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Hai la meci!!!

This week's subject line reflects my P-day activities from yesterday.
We took a train down to Timisoara again to play some laser tag at a place down there only to find out that it was closed, the previous day having been Easter. (Things are SHUT DOWN here when Easter and Christmas roll around.) So instead we went to a park and played some soccer and did some slack-lining. It was really cool and fun. Then, due to some mixups in the train times, we missed our intended train back to Arad, giving us an extra two hours to chill in Timisoara. And what else happened to be happening in Timisoara that night than a professional soccer game!

Some of you caught that last week, I met a professional soccer player in Timisoara who is over from England right now to play on Timi's pro team. He invited us to a match of his but since I live in a different city, I never thought I would be able to catch one. 
But... When two free hours opened up and I found out that his team would be playing a match in said hours I said, "HAI LA MECI!!!" meaning LET'S GO TO THE MATCH!!! So we went. We had to leave early to catch our train and it turns out that our friend went into the game right after we left. Sad, but awesome that he's getting some playing time so soon after having joined the team.

Easter was awesome. Saturday night we attended the midnight service of the largest Orthodox church here in Arad. It was a really cool event to go to. There were some great sermons given, which was awesome to see. It's cool that our church and the Orthodox church agree on so many things.

It's been pretty rainy here in Arad which always slows down the work on the streets, but we've taken it as an opportunity to look for some former investigators and try to make contact with them. Hopefully between that and our English classes, we'll find someone to work with.

I love you all! Have a great week :)

P.S. The internet cafe in Arad doesn't let me plug in my camera or flash drive so I have to send pictures when we have access to the computers at the church. FYI

Friday, April 18, 2014

The long awaited pictures...

Here's a few pictures from my first few weeks in the Arad zone.




Our first class quarters on my first sleeper train ever!



On my first day here in Arad, we found a random dirt bike race course in the middle of one of the city parks. It was really cool. We saw a pretty famous dirt-biker (on the world circuit, I think he was from Austria) but I don't remember his name.



My companion Elder Poulsen in a pretty river-side park.



The town hall of Arad at night.



This was on an exchange in Timisoara. This is "the church that started it all".



This is an awesome guy I met while on my exchange in Timisoara. He is from England but he's playing soccer for the Timisoara soccer team. The missionaries found him and are teaching him Romanian. That's McDonalds in the background. Almost every city where there are missionaries, there is a McDonalds. Supply and demand baby.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Lumina nu poate fi tinuta in umbra

The light cannot be kept in shadow. Apart from being physically impossible, it's a cool analogy about the Gospel. As long as there exists a tiny glimmer of light, it will never be in shadow. Even if that tiny light can do nothing but stay as bright as a tiny birthday candle, it will hold off the shadows.

Sometimes that's how I feel about the church. We are surrounded by shadows of evil, even having to live among them. But, as long as we hold our light aloft, we will never be left to the darkness.
What's amazing about the church is that, despite the ever-thickening darkness surrounding it, it continues to grow! The light is growing!

Apropo de light. I've been studying Isaiah for the last couple of months. It's been an awesome study about the Savior and the last days. Here are a couple of my favorite verses from Isaiah 60:

19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory.

 20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the Lord shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended.

22 A little one shall become a thousand, and a small one a strong nation: I the Lord will hasten it in my time.

Christ is the Light of the world. He is the reason for our little candles of light in our lives. His light could not be kept in the shadow and He carried out the will of the Father in all things. He suffered and died for us. Then He was resurrected, His glorious light exiting the tomb of darkness and giving us each the opportunity to receive of that same light. I am so grateful for His sacrifice and His strength in carrying out the Atonement.


Arad is treating me well. The branch has been very welcoming as well as a few of the "missionary friends" in this city. 
(In every city, there are a few people who the missionaries associate with on a regular basis who aren't members of the church and have politely declined the invitation to become such. There are a few here in Arad and I already feel like I have started up some good friendships with them.)

Unfortunately, the computer I'm on won't let me plug in my camera so I'll have to get you some pictures another time. As soon as I can I promise!

I love you all!
Happy Easter!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Biserica de ordine

Hey everyone,
This week I made it up to my new city, ARAD! I'm really excited to be here. It's a lot smaller than Bucuresti and there are a lot less blocks! The pace is a lot slower out here in the west of the country, something that even after only about four days, I've been loving.
I got to ride my first sleeper train to get up here! The trip is about 10 hours long, give or take a half our or so. That means you get on the train at about midnight and get there about ten in the morning the next day. And what better way to pass the time than to sleep!?! So the trains for long trips like that have sleeper cabins with a couple of bunks where you can sleep for the night as your train makes its way to your destination. Pretty cool. It wasn't my best sleep ever, but I enjoyed the experience.

Our branch here in Arad is of medium size, but full of faithful members. Just a lot of simple people with simple faith in God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

I am thankful this week that our church is a biserica de ordine. A church of order. The church is true wherever you go. It's organized the same way wherever you go. The teachings are the same wherever you go.
So far I have gotten to see just the Saturday sessions of conference, but I have loved it all!
I am really impressed with the "foreign" speakers. (The ones for whom English is not their first language.) They always do such a great job staying calm, composed, and confident as they deliver their messages. I have grown a larger appreciation for that since I have been here in Romania. It's harder than they make it look sometimes.
I pray that each of you will take the advice of the general authorities and take a stand for what you know to be right. I loved Elder Eyring's talk that encouraged us not to sleep through the Restoration! It's going on right now! In a few thousand years or maybe even sooner, someone will ask us when in the history of the world we lived. We will be able to tell them with pride that we lived in the dispensation of the fulness of times. They will ask us what we did to help further the building of the Lord's kingdom. What will we say? What stories will we tell?
I hope they're good ones.
I love you all!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Arad

Well today is pretty weird because I'm signing up for my upcoming college term. That means a short one this week sorry.
As of this week I have about four months left. All in all I'm feeling pretty good about it. I'm not going to lie, I'm excited for coming home, but I still have that feeling that I have unfinished business here.
Transfer announcements were on Saturday. Looks like I'm finally getting out of the Buc circle! I'm headed up to Arad to serve as a zone leader there. It's going to be really different but really cool.

I guess I'll just finish this off with a couple of pictures from the transfer :)


At our local grocery store...


 A couple of friends... 
    
 Our English class

Last but not least, TOM flippin' HANKS!!! With his beard from Captain Phillips and everything!!
One of the craziest moments of my mission for sure.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Oarecum da...

Oarecum da loosely translated means "ya, a little bit" or "ya, kind of." I use it when someone says something that I kind of agree with. So someone asked me the other day if we believe in aliens in our church... HA! 

This was a pretty full week of treaba-type work. We had a zone conference on Friday and that means that we had a ton of stuff to plan for, including a meal for 60-ish people. I won't bore you with all of the stuff we had to plan and organize, but I do want to tell you about the food.

Last Monday night, we went to the local German equivalent of WalMart and bought about thirty-three pounds of ground pork. (the beef isn't very good quality and it's more expensive) We then supplemented that already well-laden shopping cart with the corresponding amount of peppers, beans, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, sour cream, cheese, and tortillas. We had over 120 tortillas. Then on Friday we threw all 33 pounds of meat into a ginormous pot and cooked it all at the same time. It took forever to cook, but it was an awesome sight.

We also had an exchange in Alexandria this week. That was pretty fun. We knocked a row of vile (houses). Usually we knock big huge apartment blocks, but Alexandria is a small enough city that most of those have been knocked. So we started in on the houses on the outskirts of town. Surprisingly to me, we had a lot more success having gospel conversations with these people than we usually do in blocks. (you remember the math I did a while back about that)

Today was another handball day. LOVE IT.

Transfer announcements are coming this Friday. Odds are looking pretty good for me to leave Bucharest. I have three transfers left and I am expecting to spend them outside of the big grey.
That's a little taste of the city in the background. In the foreground is my comp playing guitar on our balcony in his socks.

Love ya

Monday, March 17, 2014

Ole ole ole ole

Well, we're going to skip the niceties and get straight to the point. I went to a professional soccer game this week!!!
We talked President Hill into letting us move some of our P-day onto Saturday so we could catch a Steaua Bucuresti soccer game. Steaua is like the LA Galaxy of Romania right now. They are number one in the country and they have recently had a few bids at getting into some major leagues. Unfortunately they played some no-name team on the night we went, but it was still awesome to go!!! I cheered my little heart out.



That's me and one of the guys in my district just chilling with our Steaua gear before the game.

So ya, that was basically the highlight of my week :) That's not to say the rest of the week went horribly.

We also had a baptism in our branch this week. A thirteen year-old girl from a part-member family finally got permission from her mother to be baptized and she wasted no time. She called the sister missionaries, did all the lessons, and was baptized about two weeks later :) She is an awesome member already. I'm so happy for her and her family. I was able to say a few words at her baptism and I spoke to the members and friends that were there to witness the baptism. I drew everyone's attention to this young woman's glowing face and then asked them to think back to the moment of their baptism. For those who weren't members, I had them imagine what it must be like to be cleansed from every one of their sins and then to embark on a journey back to their loving Heavenly Father. Then I invited everyone to keep that feeling with them all the time. I shared one of my favorite verses, Alma 5: , and challenged everyone to be able to "feel so now" all the time. It was a great experience.

And finally, while making a seemingly routine less-active member visit last night, we unwittingly walked into a sort of open casket funeral reception, Romanian Orthodox style. The member invited us in and sat us down in the living room where the casket lay on a table. We shared a few scriptures about the Resurrection and the power of the Atonement and then gave this man a blessing of comfort. His family, none of whom are members, were all very interested in what we had to say and do. It was a very different visit from what I am used to, but it turned out to be a good experience for all involved.

I love you all, keep on keepin on!