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!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Te rog frumos

Oiii!
 
I had an exchange with one of the AP's this last week that was really good for me as well. At the end of each exchange where you are the junior companion on the exchange, you set a goal to help you progress. This last exchange was really cool for me because the AP I was with told me that I was doing great and that he has always been able to count on me as "one of the guys you don't have to worry about." It was a great compliment. 

We then had a great conversation about how each of us was feeling about the time we have left on our missions. I have about 5 months left. We came to this conclusion. We each want to serve each and every day of our mission like it will be our last, so as to not have any regrets. If I had to go home tomorrow, could I look back at today and feel good about how things had gone? Good question. So that's what I'm working on doing from here on out.

This week we contacted for 19 hours including park contacting, teaching English classes, and block knocking. We weren't kicked out of any blocks this week, but someone did threaten to call the police. We made the decision to stay and finish the rest of the block. One of the last doors we knocked opened and a nice woman and her boyfriend let us in. The offered us tea HA! but we politely declined. Apparently these two are part of a small branch of the Orthodox church that believes firmly that the Orthodox church is the true church of God, but that its priests have corrupted some doctrines. We tried teaching them but eventually we just left, agreeing to disagree, but with a seed hopefully planted in their lives.

All in all, a pretty normal week. Nothing crazy good, nothing crazy bad.

I finally know how to complete a Rubix cube and I'm working on some new guitar chords!
We played handball again today and it was awesome!! I'm going to have to see if I can find a way to play when I get home.
 
Va pup!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Apa trece, pietrele raman

Hey everybody,

Short one this week sorry :p

Another 22 hour week this week. My legs are actually sore from walking around and standing so much.
I guess our P-day activity might be helping. We went with one of the investigators in our zone to a handball facility and learned how to play handball. Wow is that a fun sport. I've seen it a lot on TV since I've been here. (Let's not jump to conclusions, I haven't been watching TV, I just catch glimpses when I walk by bars and stuff.) Anyway, it's really fun. It's like a mix between water-polo and basketball. I did pretty well, having had a little practice dribbling from basketball and a little practice from my intramural inner-tube water-polo team at BYU. Haha ya right. It was really fun though.

My subject line is from a talk given in branch conference this last week. Water passes/flows, but the rocks remain. When the "rains come down and the water comes up" we rocks are surrounded by trials and troubles of every kind. But, as we endure them well, they will pass and we will remain as firm as the rocks of the riverbed.

I love you all. Keep "rocking"!
(Cheesy I know dar ce sa facem?)