Romania, Bucharest Mission: Sept. 2010 - Sept. 2012

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Christmas in Craiova!

Merry Christmas!

Dear Family and Friends:

  Ho Ho Ho! Guess what happened? Christmas happened! Yay! Craciun Fericit! Sper ca voi toti ati avut un craciun asa de frumos! I did! It's that time of year again. I remember my first Christmas here in the country. Had a good time in Bacau with Elder Gunter. It was snowy and cold. We went to Chisinau, caroled at a few less-active members, gave them brownies, had good food. It's been a year since then. This Christmas has been really enjoyable. Elder Abbott and I had a great time on Christmas, even though we're alone in Craiova. It started on Friday night with the Buc Xmas party! On the train ride there, there was snow out in la tara! However, there was no snow in Buc. Or here in Craiova...But the party was super fun.

  We started with a tie and scarf exchange (well, after I went to a little leadership meeting with district and zone leaders first). I ended up with a cheesy holiday tie (that was proudly worn on Christmas day a couple days later). Then we had free time to chill, ate some snacks and stuff. A few of us went outside to carol for a few minutes before dinner. Dinner was a feast. We got turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, jello, A&W Root Beer, dessert....Headed into the chapel to view the mission dvd slideshow. There were  tons of super cool and funny pictures sent in by all the missionaries and put together by the office elders. Finished with a testimony meeting. Had a sleepover with Elder Bateman and his comp, Elder Doloscan (from Moldova). The next day, we trained it back to Craiova. I opened a few letters from awesome friends. Thanks Bro. Ririe, the Mellor's and all you who sent me letters. They are hugely appreciated. We wrapped each other packages (which made it feel a lot more like christmas--you know, the wrapped up gifts and excitement of opening them). We made another caroling visit to the Panduru's. Florin, the father was visiting from his work in Italy. We gave them cookies and shirts Elder Gauthier left for them. We went and bought a movie (don't worry, President Hill gave us permission to view an animated movie for the holidays) Elder Abbott and I got "Tangled"- the one about Rapunzel. It was pretty funny, and nice to just watch a movie.

  Christmas morning! We also got permission to sleep in til 8. So, we did so gladly. Went to church. It was just us 2, the Radulescu's, and 2 nonmembers that always come, but don't really want to be investigators. It was a good meeting. I lead the music now (I learned how to do it, it's pretty fun) We sang Christmas hymns. I gave a little talk using Helaman ch. 14 --another witness of Christ's birth and divinity. I also shared Moroni 10:32. Christmas is really a good time to help us perfect our faith in Christ, and as members of His church, we get the blessing of doing this every single day through the covenants we make and through His restored Gospel. Yay! The Radulescu's had us over for a Christmas meal- ciorba, salata de beouf, sarmale, and a super good cheese pastry dessert, cooked by Sora Radulescu. Went home to open our presents! I really enjoy all my gifts! Thanks Rod and Kaye for the tie and shirt and thanks mom and dad for all the stuff in that package! I really dig the In-n-Out shirt! We chilled in our apartment, and just enjoyed the time of Christmas day. Still no snow in Craiova though...but that's fine.

  So, yeah, I've had a great one. I hope you all had a good one too. I look forward to skyping tonight mom and dad. Be ready! Thanks for your love and support and all. I hope you're enjoying the time you have with Chris and Liz. I'm having a fun time with Elder Abbott in Craiova! That's about it, I guess. I love y'all. Have a good week. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, December 19, 2011

Isn't Christmas just about here?

I'm Dreaming of a White (Romanian) Christmas!

To Whom It May Concern:

   Good Monday! It's time for another letter from Elder Lee. Let's see what's new....Well, it's almost Christmas. I think we all know that. It looks like Elder Abbott will just be chillin' here in Craiova on Christmas Sunday. We have an hour of church on Christmas--standard procedure, I guess. We'll be in Buc on Friday for our party. It'll be fun. We leave Friday morning. So, dad, it says it's gonna snow here later this week? That would be cool. I like snow. I don't want my last Christmas in Romania to be without that pretty white fluffiness all over. So, it's been a good week. Nothing of too much noteworthiness took place. Like I said last week, Elder Abbott and I were in Buc for P-day. Also, on Wednesday and Thursday, we had exchanges with Elder Pettit and Elder Johnsen, our ZLs. They came down, and I stayed with Elder Pettit for 2 days here, while Elder Abbott and Elder Johnsen returned to Bucharest. I had a good time with Elder Pettit. We did some villa-knocking, bloc-knocking, met with a couple members, Sora Panduru and Ileana, and had a cool lesson with Paula (Gina was there too). We wee glad to meet Paula after some time of no contact. We really focused on her and followed up on her BOM reading and praying. She hadn'e read for a 2 week period. We basically talked again about the importance of the BOM and testified that as she does her part, God will do His part. He will answer. She just has to knock with faith. She is now reading more from the BOM and came to church again. Gina and her are friends and we're grateful for Gina's help. Otherwise, our other investigators, Daniela, Cosmina, Dani, and Simona just need to be met with! Elder Pettit is a great zone leader and we talked about zone goals and such. We took a train back to Buc (nearly missed it, if it wasn't for our crazy taxi driver who sped past traffic by going in the opposite lane!) We made it into the train just seconds before it took off! We stayed at their apt and then Elder Abbott and I took yet another train back to Craiova the next morning. It was completely full of people! I don't get how or why they'd sell all those tickets for a train that was filled past occupancy! We had to stand for half of the trip. Luckily, two guys got off at a city before Craiova, and Elder Abbott and I stole their seats and were able to sit for the second half. Fun!

   We did meet with Simona the other night. So, she is actually Sora Gorzo's niece! When Elder Veenendaal was here, Sora Gorzo called him and asked if they could make a visit to her (she lives in Craiova and teaches at some school out of town) Elder Abbott and him went and shared a spiritual thought. Us 2 went to her the other night and had a full Restoration lesson, and invited her to read the BOM and pray. She already knows a little about the church. It was cool. She's going to Cluj for the Holidays, so we hope to keep in touch. Everyone else is doing well. The Spooner's are in America for the Holidays, yet, we still had a good church. A member from the District Presidency in Buc came and spoke. Elder Abbott and I taught Priesthood- we talked about Desire by Elder Oaks. It's actually fun teaching out of thew GenCon Liahonas. I love using quotes from living Apostles in lessons!

  Not too much else happened. Everything is going well. I'm excited for Christmas and New Years. Elder Abbott and I are having fun and we get along really well. So, a little more about him: He's from Orem, Utah. He's a swimmer; did swimming in high school (at Orem High I think). He did a year at BYU before his mission (stayed at Helaman Halls). He's in his 4th transfer. He started his mission in Deva, with Elder Hyatt as he trainer. He's in the same group as Elder Jones, in fact, they were MTC companions. He's a smart guy and just super easy to get along with. We're having a good time together in Craiova.

  Thanks for the news from home, mom and dad. I still haven't gotten the package yet mom, but I should at the party in Buc on Friday. I got a package from the Poulsons though! I don't know what exactly it is though, because Elder Abbott took the contents out and wrapped them as gifts and put them under our Xmas tree. Yeah, we have a "tree", you see, it's made out of green construction paper. Elder Abbott's family sent it to him complete with paper ornaments. We bought some lights at the piata for 7 lei and taped them on the tree. Lookin' pretty! As for the Skype stuff, I tried getting on my Skype, but it's not letting me in. I'm pretty sure my name is "XretrohouseX" or something. I guess I forgot the password too. It still didn't let me on after doing the "forgot your password?" stuff, so I don't know. I'll keep trying. What's your name on skype mom and dad? I guess I may send you guys an email sometime this week if I have to, to get things finalized. Monday (the 26th) night at 7 pm Craiova time works better for Elder Abbott's family, so would that be fine? If not, then Saturday at 7 pm Craiova time. We'll keep in email touch this week if we have to. Be ready for any possible emails from me before Skype will happen, ok? Well, I guess that's it. I hope you guys have a great week. Merry Christmas! Craciun Fericit! We'll talk. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'll be in Craiova for Christmas!

Back to only us two missionaries in Craiova

Dear Dragii Mei:

   Good morning! It's Elder Lee, like always. Have you had a good week? I have. Craiova's been treating me well. It was Elder Veenendaal's last week of his mission! It has been fun serving around him again for 3 more weeks. He'll be flying home early for Christmas on Wednesday morning. I'll miss him. He was my office elder when I first came in. It's sad to say bye to awesome missionaries. We had fun living together in the same apartment, but I'm about ready to have 2 guys in an apartment again! So, Elder Rasmussen will be going to Galati with Elder Kebker. I'll stay in Craiova with Elder Abbott! Time for some 2-man madness. I'm excited to stay here with him. We love each other. We both came to Craiova October 12th. We hope to do some good work together! I know we'll have a great time and do a lot of work. I want to do a lot of work! The weather in Craiova is actually like September weather! It's been sunny and a little cloudy and wet, and not that cold. There is no snow at all yet. It's the middle of December. I'm dreaming of a white Christmas. Where is my white Christmas!?! Maybe it will snow in a week or two. We're going to have the Christmas party in Buc on the 23rd. It'll be fun: tie and scarf exchange (white elephant style), dinner, the mission dvd with pics, dinner, and fireside. I'll get to stay the night at Elder Bateman's apartment! I'm looking forward to that.

   Right now, I'm actually in Buc. Elder Abbott and I are spending most of our p-day here. The reason is because last night, as we dropped off Elders Rasmussen and Veenendaal at the gara in Craiova, they they realized they forgot to bring the woodcarvings!(done for some missionaries going home by Ninel, a cool carver guy in Craiova that lots of missionaries work with to get temples and stuff carved into wood, pretty cool stuff) Their train was to leave in ten minutes. Elder Abbott and I booked it back to the apartment and picked them up, but the taxi guy was too slow, and we missed their train! They needed to bring those to Buc by the end of Tuesday. So, Elder Abbott and I decided to just come here early in the morning by maxi taxi with the carvings and get them to the office. We got to say bye to Elder Veenendaal one last time. The last thing he said to us before their train left was "GET THE WOODCARVINGS! HURRY!" haha. So, we're here at internet. We actually are going to have a lesson at The Petria family on the way back to Craiova in Slatina tonight(nearby Craiova). They're the super awesome family in which the wife and kids recently got baptized. So, it should be a good day. The branch is doing well. Gina's still strong, and we met Alexandru, trying to get him to church. He just doesn't want to least now. There are a lot of members Elder Abbott and I should visit and help come back to church. Our investigator  Paula has not been able to meet the past 2 times and hasn't answered her phone the past few times I've called. So, we need to find more people!!! Mainly, through english class!

   The apartment in Craiova is so much more quiet. It's weird. Elder Abbott and I feel like empty-nesters. It'll be so good to have quietness and not so much of a mess. We got inspected by the Panduri senior couple, the Wahlquists yesterday. They came to church in Craiova and gave awesome talks. Elder Wahlquist spoke on how when he was a 7 year old boy, he lived on a farm with cows and chickens and stuff, including a bull. His mom taught him never to ran away from a bull if it were ever to chase him, but rather to run towards it. One day, he was walking back from milking the cows, looked back, and noticed it chasing him! So, he did what his mom taught him because he trusted her. He ran towards it, and it went around him, because it was merely running trying to catch up with the cows. He likened the experience unto us, trusting in God and His commandments and then doing them. Good talk. It'll be kinda more lonely in Craiova also because Brother Spooner is leaving to be home with his family for the holidays. He's leaving in like 3 days and won't be back until January 2nd. So, it's looking like a skype call wouldn't happen at their place. I don't know if other members have internet, but I know the internet cafe we use has computers with webcams. I assume we'd do the call on Saturday, Dec. 24th or Monday the 26th, maybe 7 at night (Craiova time) or something. Stay tuned for the exacts.

   That's about it for me in my neck of the woods. I hope you guys are doing well. It's good to hear that you're all doing awesome. Hope you're excited for Christmas. Mom, have you been doing a lot of shopping? I'm glad you did well singing for the Christmas deal. How are things at church and work mom and dad? I wonder if Tyler will be married by the time I get back. Now that would be weird. Congrats BYU football for ending an ok season with a good game. No more Jake Heaps? I'll be looking forward to hear how BYU basketball does. It's good all my missionary pals are loving their missions. We were in the mission office earlier this morning, and I looked at the "Incoming Missionaries" packet thing. I found Miles!!!! I can't wait to see him. Well, I'm about done. Have a festively good week and think about Christ! Mai vorbim. Va iubesc! Have a good week. Pa!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, December 5, 2011

Feeling a bit like Christmas in Craiova

Craiova - City of Marvels

Dear loved ones,

   Good Monday! Today is December 5th, 2011. It's almost 2012. That's weird. What also is weird is that it's been a little warm here the past few days (12-18 degrees today). It's nice, I guess! Well, I have been doing well in Craiova, City of Marvels. The past week was alright. We were kinda lacking in lessons. We have only one progressing investigator, Paula, but she was too busy to meet with us the whole week. Luckily, she came to church and we set up with her there to meet this week. She's really cool, and I hope she's been able to read and pray about the BOM. She and Gina are kinda friends now, after chatting together in church. Gina was confirmed a member of the church in Sacrament meeting yesterday. It was cool. Elder Rasmussen gave her the Holy Ghost and a blessing. She was happy to receive the Gift of the Holy Ghost. It's a pretty good gift I guess (Oh yeah mom, she told me about your chat on FB!). Church was cool. We had a couple of inactive members come! It was nice to see them and meet one of them for the first time.

   Saturday night was our branch Christmas party. It was pretty fun. We had a good number of people there (lots of our favorite english students came). We watched "Joy to the World", had some food and suc, and played a couple games: Christmas pictionary and Ninja! Bro Spooner held it earlier so he could come, because he's going home for the Holidays in a week or so. I'd say it was a success. Wednesday was Elder Veenedaal's birthday, so we went out to a place called Bulevard and got some good pizza. It was super thin crust, almost like a pizza quesadilla! We also got smoothies there that were super good. I ordered "Red Orange Magic" and when I got it, it was green! I don't know how that happened, but it was delish anyhow. Elder Rasmussen kinda felt sick that day, so he didn't eat anything. It may have been because of the curry rice and chicken we made for lunch the previous day. Mmmm...curry....While he was resting in the apartment for the evening, I was able to watch some general conference. I love Tad R. Callister's talk on the BOM. Short, blunt, and to-the-point. The Book of Mormon is the Word of God, exactly as it professes to be. It is a 2nd witness of Christ's divinity. It is a completely true book. It helps us understand what the Bible does not explain clearly. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so he's still talking to us today. If you want to find proof of that, read the BOM. If you want to really understand what Christ did for you and come to know Him more than you ever could otherwise, read the BOM. I know these things for myself. It's a pretty cool book.

   Anyways, nothing else is really new. Elder Veenendaal goes home in a week and a half, and then it will be a 2-man city. The mission got 2 baptisms this last week and there are about 20 baptismal dates mission-wide. We found out when we'll have the Christmas zone party deal. Both Bucharest zones will meet on Dec. 23rd in Buc. Thanks mom for the Xmas package. Maye I'll get it there, at the party.  Thanks for the fun pictures. I wish I coulda been there at the airport to see Tyler. I guess he's already bored out of his mind? Haha. I wonder who that missionary was that Sister McClaine saw in Paris. Maybe it was Elder Gauthier? But he just left a few days ago. I can't seem to think who it'd be. I hope both the Matthew Elders are doing well and loving their missions. I'm still excited to see Miles soon...Oh yeah, I heard that there might be a problem with Wells Fargo cards working here. Elder Abbott had a problem with his and said the bank shut off all their cards in Romania or Europe or something. Dad, maybe you know anything about it? I haven't tried using my Wells Fargo card in a while, so I'm not quite sure if it will work or not. Anyways. I'm about done I guess. Hope you all have a good week. Soon, we can start singing the 12 days of Christmas. Ok, toodles for now!

Love, Elder Lee

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Thanksgiving was great in Craiova

The Holidays are upon us

Dear Family and Friends:

   Buna. It's me. I'm sorry I'm a bit late with this email, but I kinda ran outta time yesterday to do this. For P-day yesterday, us 4 decided to go to Alexandria. Elder Veenendaal wanted to buy a couple of suits before he goes home, and Elder Abbott got one too. Don't worry. I didn't buy another one. However, I tried on a sweet gray one and liked it. Maybe later...Mom and dad, I was thinking it would be fun, if you did pick me up, to go to this infamous suit factory in Alexandria. I wonder if dad would like the euro look. I'd like to go home with at least another one anyways. Well, we had a good day. We took a train at 7 in the morning to a small city called Rosiori, then hit up a maxi taxi to Alexandria. We met up with Elder Benson and Horgmo who are serving there, and went to the suit place and had really good food at a restaurant called Rovi's. It was fun to hang around with them. Alexandria is small and doesn't really have anything super amazing to do. On the way back to Craiova, I got a bad headache and had a nasty stomach ache. I guess it's because I didn't eat breakfast? I survived the train ride back, and when we got home, I took a hot shower and went to bed a little bit early. I feel fine now! It was fun I guess.

   It's been a good week here. Craiova's awesome as always. It was actually kinda warmer the past 2 days here, which is nice. It's fun to be around Elder Veenendaal, and he's excited to be going home very soon (Dec. 14). He's going home early for Christmas with a few other missionaries, and when he leaves, I believe I will be here with Elder Abbott with Elder Rasmussen going to Galati. Craiova will be a 2-missionary city until February, when more elders finally come in. There have only been sisters coming in recently, and a number of very young-in-the-mission soras have to train! Fun stuff! I had a great time training and I think it would be fun to do it again. We still have to live in the same apartment for 2 more weeks. It's going alright. I'm happy to stay here in Craiova for the Holidays. It's almost December! There has been no snow yet... It's been good with Elder Rasmussen. We're still getting along fine. Right now, we're getting out lots of english cards before the classes start up again. BREAKING NEWS: We had a baptism last Saturday! Gina got baptized! It was a great ceremony. Elder Gauthier came down with his mom (they're on a little mission tour) and he performed the baptism. Gina was happy and so were we all. I'm glad for her decision, and it's cool to see how the Gospel has literally changed her life. The gospel's true! We've been blessed to have 4 baptisms in Craiova in just 3 months: Gina, Claudia, and Claudia's 2 children. It was fun to see Elder Gauthier one more time and say bye. It's so crazy how it's been a year since we first met. I'll miss him. He's one of the first missionaries I ever met here in Romania. Elder Rasmussen and I are working with Paula. We still haven't met with her a second time, but this week, I hope we do. She's really cool. She's read some of the BOM and told us she reads it when she feels angry or upset. She couldn't make it to church last Sunday, but she did make it to Gina's baptism! Otherwise, we need to find more investigators.

   Church was good. We had Viorel and Sora Panduru come (with her adorable little boy and girl), who are both less-active members. Viorel even came earlier and passed the sacrament! Elder Rasmussen and Toni gave talks. Cristina, Toni's girlfriend, taught a great Sunday school lesson on how we need to be thankful to God, and have faith in him in order to see miracles and be redeemed. The Radulescu's invited us over for food again! They prepared ciorba, potato-turkey casserole, sarmale, and some good little cakes and hot-cross bun thingies. They also had the best tea I've ever had (don't worry, it's not against the W. of W.) It was called sunatoare or something, and they put in some apple stuff and cherry syrup. Super sweet and tasty. I love their little home. It's so comfy and it feels like grandpa and grandma's when I walk in! Oh yeah I almost forgot Thanksgiving meal! It was good. Us 4 just made it at home. We had chicken with a good herb sauce in sauteed peppers and onions. We made garlic mashed potatoes and buttered carrots, with caramel-vanilla ice cream and microwaved chocolate swiss rolls for dessert! We made root beer too! Snap! It was so tasty! I was really full after. I hope you guys all had a good turkey day!

   Mom and dad, I'm glad things were fun in Utah for Thanksgiving. Man, I wish I could have seen Tyler come home! I'm sure Kim was excited! Sounds like a lot of fun. I hope you had fun at Chris and Liz's. Sounds like she made a lot of good food. I got that little thanksgiving package! Thanks. I like the Hershey's licorice. I wonder what I'll be getting for Christmas...haha. Anyways. I'm glad things are going well here in Craiova and there at home. I hope you all have a good week. We'll talk. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving from Craiova, Romania

I'm Staying in Craiova

Dear Family and Friends:

   Good day everybody. It's been another week here in Craiova. It's been going well. The weather has gotten even colder. It's not snowy yet, but it's been gray and a little nasty outside the past 2 days. It's getting towards the end of November. That means the holidays are about here. Oh yeah, that reminds me. I'll be staying here in Craiova with Elder Rasmussen for this next transfer. So, I'll be here for all of the Holidays. This next transfer will go to January 4th or something. I'm excited to stay. It'll be really cool and pretty with snow all over in a little while. Elder Kopsa's going to Sibiu, Elder Abbott is staying, and guess who's coming in with him? Elder Veenendaal! Yep. My old office elder and zone leader in Buc will come in, but just for the first 3 weeks of the transfer. He and 2 others are going home early for Christmas. So, when he leaves, either Elder Rasmussen or Elder Abbott will probably leave to Galati, where Elder Schank is for his last 3 weeks. Transfers are looking good. The mission had 4 baptisms this last week and there are 20 baptismal dates in the mission. We were told not to look for an apartment any more for a few weeks, because they said the mission has a lack of funds or something to allow a new apartment to be opened. So, we'll just do whatever they say.

   We have been doing alright in Craiova. We have just had a little lack of lessons and new investigators. We have been putting a good amount of focus on Gina, the one who's getting baptized this Friday. She's basically ready! She has the interview on Thursday and the baptism on Friday. We still need to make the program. We got a cool template sent to us from the office. We're excited for her and her baptism coming up. Otherwise, we don't really have many other investigators that are progressing. We have found a few cool people to set up with though, including Paula, a really cool lady who has come to church here twice, both times with visitors from Buc. She lives here in Craiova. We have her number and we'll try and meet with her. Oh yeah, more people came from Buc yesterday at church. The Dragoi's, Mateescu's, and Fratele Paun! It was cool to see them, especially Fratele Paun (I'd always visit him and his daughter in Buc). He's doing well. Church was good. Pres. Dragoi (1st or 2nd counselor in the Buc District presidency) and Frat. Mateescu spoke in Sacrament. After, The Radulescu's prepared a meal for us missionaries and Bro. Spooner. They made us turkey ciorba and a good turkey potato casserole with cranberry cake for the dessert. They live in a nice, cozy villa. Sora Panduru came with her 2 adorable kids. It was good to see her. Pres Spooner is gong to leave home on December 14th. We'll have a Christmas party on the 3rd of December. I'm not sure what we're doing for Thanksgiving. If no one has us over to eat, then we'll just count that meal at the Radulescu's as an early Thanksgiving meal.

   Well, everything else is going well. I'm so excited for Elder Lee. I hope he has a safe flight and gets adjusted to real life again. It'll be exciting for him. I hope everyone's doing well back at home. Thanks for the news about BYU. They better keep winning! I am still awaiting that package. It'll probably be at the gara on transfer day. I think I'll be staying with Elder Abbott here and Elder Rasmussen will get Elder Veenendaal, so they'll pick up mail and supplies for us. I hope you enjoy Utah and being with family mom and dad! Give Tyler a huge hug for me! Let me know any other big or interesting news. Have a good week! Buh-bye!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, November 14, 2011

Craiova is Cool!

Staying Cool in Craiova

Dear family and friends:

   Good Monday. Hope you had a great week. How has the first couple weeks of November been? Here in Craiova, it's getting kinda cold. No snow yet, just that crisp, almost biting cold coming on. I am sporting my new scarf though, so I'm keeping it warm, and stylish (it's a nice black and gray plaid one purchased for 18 lei). It's almost Thanksgiving; it will happen 2 days into next transfer. So I'll see if I'll still be here. This transfer is going fast. There's just one week left. Next Monday, we'll find out transfers. It just keeps getting faster. I'm excited for Tyler coming home in just a week. He's definitely excited, I bet, and is probably at least somewhat trunky. It'll be weird when that day comes. Part of me won't want to leave, and part of me will. Don't worry though, I'm not getting trunky thinking about it...

   The week went well. Elder Rasmussen and I are still getting along. Craiova's still cool and pretty as always. We looked at 2 apartments again, and decided to move into one of them. We're gonna meet the proprietar tonight and go through our contract, to see if he likes it. We're praying that he will. Otherwise, we'll just have to tell the office elders to change some things on our contract and then try again. It's a nice apartment, literally right in the center of the city, so it'd be cool if we can get it. It's something really random to be doing, I've noticed, to be looking at random apartments to try to rent one out, speaking to agency workers and proprietars (in Romanian) in Craiova, Romania as a 20 year old American. Alas, it is what must be done.

   Missionary work is still going. We were really excited to be able to see a baptism on Saturday! It was Claudia, the other elder's investigator (whose family are all members already). She was baptized by Pres. Spooner. It was an awesome ceremony. The spirit was in rich abundance. The confirmation the next day was also awesome. A family from Mihai Bravu came to visit church here in Craiova (the Brinaru's). They're an awesome family and they remembered me from my days in Buc. It was nice to be able to see them again and talk with them a little bit. Gina, our investigator, came to the baptism and to church. She really enjoyed it. We're really excited for her, because she decided she will be baptized on the 25th of November, by my old friend, Elder Gauthier. She is ready for baptism. She's got a super solid testimony and has changed so much. I wonder which one of us will be here for her baptism, because it will take place 3 days after transfers. It's always super cool to see a baptism here. They don't happen super often, and they're really something special (even if they're not our own investigators). The branch is doing fine. Still small, but we're continuing to work with the less actives. There are some cool members here: Spooner's, Radulescu's, Toni, Cristina, Cristian, Alexandru, Sora Panduru and her 2 awesome kids, Viorel, and more. We hope to keep helping the branch grow and keep finding new people that will help to grow it.

   That's about it in my neck of the woods. It sounds like things at home are going well. I hope the fam's doing well. Thanks, mom, for sending me that package. I still haven't gotten it, but most likely will get it at transfers. That's scary to hear about Matt and his family. It's really amazing that they weren't hurt at all. God sure does protect His missionaries (even those who aren't quite at the MTC yet!) How's work mom and dad? Finally getting over that cold, mom? Hopefully. I heard that BYU won their game. That's good. But I hear Riley Nelson is injured. Is that bad? How's Jake Heaps doing? They should win their next game. Mom and dad, I hope you guys enjoy going to Utah and being there for Thanksgiving time. Are you actually going to be there at the airport for Tyler's homecoming? If so, tell him I say hi, that I love him, and that I congratulate him for completing his full-time mission!!! Well, I don't think there's anything else. Have a good week!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, November 7, 2011

I'm Still Growing to Love Craiova, Romania

Craiova - City of Wonders!

Dear dragi frati si surori (si prieteni si familie):

   Good Monday to you. It's been another whole week in Craiova, city of wonders. The weather has been pretty good, not too cold. I wonder when it will start snowing. It's getting to the middle of November. Last year in Bacau, it first snowed in the last week of November. The time change makes things a little more dark a little earlier. It gets dark here at like 5:45 or 6. Kinda bummerish, but it's making us do more blocs! We have permission to do our langauage study at night if we don't do it in the morning, so we've been doing that lately. Elder Rasmussen and I are getting along fine. He's a funny guy. He went to a year at Utah State University (if I haven't said this yet) He said he really enjoyed it. He rode a bike there, and said he even rode it around in the middle of winter! He's into philosophy, so he's a smart guy. I'm not too into deep stuff like that, but we still get along, for the most part.

   Well, some stupid news. We still haven't found an apartment to move into yet. We've looked at a number of apartments, and have even tried moving into 3, but each of the landlords do not agree with our contract. As I said before, we can only use our contract (the church's). They all have said they don't like how it's written or they don't agree with some of the items in it. So, we're still looking. We may also try to look through a different agency. It's been a little frustrating. By the time we got the call from the agency worker saying for the 2nd or 3rd time:" Proprietarul nu ii place contractul vostru" (the landlord doesn't like your contract), we just kinda laughed. I wonder if any landlord will accept our contract here in Craiova. I think our contract is just fine. Anyways, it's been alright with all of us 4 in the same apartment. Oh yeah, the washer does work now and has worked for a little while now, so that's good.

   Missionary work is going. We've been meeting with our 2 main investigators, Alin and Gina. Alin still needs to quit smoking and come to church more, and Gina needs to decide when exactly she wants to be baptized. They're both awesome people. It's been fun working with them. We're trying to find more people through english class, referrals, and bloc knocking. The other elders are going to have a baptism next Saturday. They've been working with an awesome family from Slatina (an hour out of Craiova). The 2 kids were just baptized before I got here, and now the wife is going to be baptized. Cool stuff. The mission got one baptism in Iasi this last week, with a good number of baptismal dates too. President and Sora Hill are doing awesome and I think just got done or are about finished with their mission interview tour. There's nothing big planned concerning mission-wide trips or get-togethers, as far as I know. The transfer's really going fast. It's already been 4 out of the 6 weeks! I feel like I've gotten worse at Romanian in the past few weeks. I think it's because of a lack of quiet study time at my own desk in my own apartment. Also, we haven't been talking to as many people (compared to all the people I talked to in the summer--in parks and such), so I hope I keep doing diligent language studies and get better again.

   Well, that's about all in this neck of the woods. It's good to hear from home. I'm excited for Elder Tyler Lee. He's coming home real soon (like 2 weeks!) I'm excited for the Matts. Hope they love the MTC like I did. Mom, I still hope you get feeling better. I guess it's nice you don't have too much work this week. I hope you enjoy your time off work and start doing your Christmas shopping and all that. Thanks for the pretty pics of Austria and the cute pictures of kitty-Kenadee. I will keep sending you some cool pictures of Craiova.  Tell Miles I say hi and am way excited for him. I wish I could have been at the temple with him and at that Romanian meal! Just tell him that Sora Gorzo (a member) in Bucharest makes the best Romanian food ever! Well, I guess that's all I have to say about that. Va iubesc atat de mult. Have a good week. Mai vorbim. Pa!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween from Romania

Happy Halloween from Craiova

Dear Friends and Family:

   Well, it's that time of the year again....presents and Christmas trees, reindeer and elves, candy canes and wreaths. Oh wait, hold on, wrong holiday. I meant to say...Happy Halloween!!! This year, Halloween happens to fall right on my P-day! Well, it will probably be just like any other p-day. Romanians don't really do much for Halloween (at least they don't do the stuff Americans do, like Trick or Treating) I was thinking today that us 4 here in Craiova could go trick or treating in the blocs! Wouldn't that be fun! I don't have a costume, unfortunately. Anyways, I hope you all have a good Halloween over there in the states. I'll try and have a good one here and avoid any vampires. I'm talkin' real vampires! They really do exist here...ok, maybe not. I have always liked this time of the year, when tree leaves fade into brown and dark yellow, when it gets a little more chilly, and when you see a few real orange pumpkins amidst a piata full of CABBAGE! Romania loves its cabbage. I do too. (But seriously, the piata behind our apartment has about 20,000 cabbages, and under one of the carts of them are about 5 pumpkins.)

   We actually had a really fun branch Halloween party on Saturday night. We had lots of people (20 to 30, consisting of us missionaries, members, and english students and investigators). Sora Spooner dressed up like a witch and had a few fun games all planned out for us, including pumpkin carving and cookie decorating. There were lots of little treats and suc and decorations. I had a fun time and got a few good pictures. I like the holidays. Is it really already November tomorrow? I'm coming up on my one year mark in the country in just a week! It's already been a whole year since I was leaving the MTC and started it all in Bacau! Here in Craiova, it's been fun. The weather is still nice, just a bit chilly 35 to 50ish degrees.

   It's been an alright week in terms of missionary work. Elder Rasmussen and I are getting along fine. We have been meeting with our only real progressing investigators: Alin and Gina. Both are super awesome and are wanting to be baptized. Alin is a very faithful guy (about 20) and wants to be baptized, but needs to quit smoking. We've met with him twice this week and have talked about Joseph Smith and the gospel steps. Gina is a student here at the University and is doing well. She will be baptized towards the end of November. We have recently been reading out of the Doctrine and Covenants a little bit with her. Otherwise, we have no other real investigators at the moment. We need to get finding more!!! Even if it means lots of blocs during the night-time. The other elders are doing well. As for the apartment, we're still all living together. Elder Rasmussen and I found a good apartment a little bit northwest of centru, and we were given the keys to it even. We were going to move in, but waited in case the proprietar (who had been in Bucharest) didn't like our contract (Side note, apparently, not a lot of people agree with the our contract. I don't know why.) We are only allowed to use OUR contract. It turns out the proprietar didn't like it. We had been working with his brother or friend and an agency guy. I guess they assumed the proprietar would be ok with our contract. He told our office he doesn't agree with some things on it. So, we have nothing else to do with that apartment. We had to give them the keys back. Now, we're hoping on a backup (one near centru and the other elders' apartment) and we hope to get into that one in the next few days. Fun stuff it is.

  Anyways, it's all been good stuff. We had interviews with president and the AP's Wednesday. It was good to talk with them. We have a great beginner's english class. On Saturday, we had 13 or 14 people, which is a lot more than I'm used to (in Bucharest, they were lousy). We did the famous cup object lesson as a spiritual thought (where you label principles and ordinances of Christ's church on cups and then stack them up as if you are building His church. Then you take out the "prophets and apostles" cup from the bottom and it all falls! Then read Ephesians 2 :20 or 21...about Christ's church being built on the foundation of prophets and apostles.) Church was good too. It's a tiny branch, but the active members are cool. Well, anyways, I'm about done here. Thanks mom and dad for all the cool news. I'm excited for the Matts and for Chase. Congrats! Get feeling better mom! I hope BYU won against TCU. Have a great week, and we'll mai vorbim. Love you all. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, October 24, 2011

I'm Enjoying Craiova!

Week Two in Craiova

Dear family and friends:

   Hello there. It's Elder Lee. Thanks mom and dad for the emails. I enjoyed hearing how things are going. Mom, I hope you get feeling better! Good job on your piano solo at church, it sounds like you did a good job. That's funny to hear about Elder Kopsa and Sarah. Maybe I'll ask him about it and see if he remembers anything! So I hear the ward and everything is doing well. Ma bucur sa aud. Well, I had an alright week here in Craiova. Time's still going fast. Let's see what happened.

   First of all, Elder Rasmussen and I are getting along just fine. We've been having fun together. Elder Kopsa and Elder Abbott are fun too. We've still been apartment looking. So far, we've been living together in the same apartment. It's a little annoying though, because their washing machine isn't working because the water for it (for the whole bathroom) isn't working. Luckily, there are 2 bathrooms. However, I've been piling up all my dirty clothes for the past 2 weeks almost! Just yesterday, I actually started washing stuff by hand in the tub. I think it's working... Elder Rasmussen and I have tried looking for more apartments online and calling people. We've seen 2, but they are on the edge of town and super far away from where we'd like to live. One was super nice though (and 400 euro) The office said that 400 is too much. So, we may settle on one that's close to centru for 350, or, we may see a couple more. In any case, we'll still be living in the same apartment as the others for another few days. Hopefully not more than a week.

   Not much has happened, really. On p-day, we just walked around a little shopping place in centru. There's not much to do here for fun on p-days. As opposed to Buc, Craiova's a little more chill and relax. We haven't done much missionary work because of apartment hunting and english contacting (trying to get lots of people to come to english) We had sign-ups for english and a good number of people came. I just feel kinda bad that we haven't really done much gospel contacting. It's a little tough too, living in the same apartment. Also, the weather has gotten cloudy and colder. Not many people are out on benches and such. I want to be able to move this week and focus on missionary work! We have about no progressing investigators. We are working with a cool couple, Adriana and Florin. Elder Kopsa and I were on an exchange on Tuesday (because the other two had to go to Buc early to get visa work done) and we had a first lesson with them. They are really nice and we committed them to read from the BOM and come to church. However, they didn't come to church. We will visit them again on Tuesday. Sadly, Alin, a guy who had a baptismal date just prior to me getting here, has not met with us since. We haven't been able to get in contact with him. He works a lot (does city clean up stuff). Something happened with his phone, so we have to call his mom when we want to meet. Hopefully we can talk to him tonight even. It's been a little slow in Craiova. I want to pick it up and do good missionary work! Yesterday was my first normal sacrament meeting in Craiova. It was good. It's just 2 hours, like Bacau. I gave a little talk using Helaman 5:12 and 3 Nephi 14:24-27, all about building your foundation on Christ (living His gospel). Then, Fratele Radulescu spoke, and a branch presidency counselor from Pitesti came and spoke, all on joy.There were 5 or 6 members there, including the Spooners. Kinda empty. Craiova is very new to the church still (for just 3 years the church has been here).

   We had a cool zone conference in Buc on Wednesday. Half the mission came and we got to hear from Elder Teixiera and his wife. They gave great messages. We learned about how we need to pray harder and with more faith (especially with and for investigators' family and friends in need), trying to teach in peoples' homes, and constant contacting. He told a story about how he asked his son to promise him to get 21 lessons in his first week of his mission (in New York City) Elder Teixiera had looked at the missionary department stats of that mission's key indicators and saw that on average, missionaries got 7 lessons a week. ( kinda like here). He wanted his son to see that 21 lessons could be possible. His son agreed, and with his trainer in Staten Island, got 21 lessons his first week. He encouraged us to have more faith that we could do the same. It was great.

   Well, time is passing by. I am pretty much done. I hope you all have a good week. I hope we can move, and really focus on missionary work here. We have interviews with President Hill on Wednesday, so it should be cool! We also have a Halloween party on Saturday. Well, I am gonna peace out. Love you all. Loves, Elder Lee.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Enjoying my First Week in Craiova!

Hello from Craiova!

Dragi Frati si Surori,

   Hello family and friends. Elder Lee here, reporting from his new city, Craiova (pronounced cry-ovah). Well, first thing to say is that I really like Craiova already. It's a pretty city. It's got a cool centru, and a nice balance of villas, blocs, and cool Orthodox churches. It's not too big (well, for me at least, after being in Buc for half a year). The people are noticeably a little more receptive to contacting than in Buc. It feels so FRESH to be here. My new companion, Elder Rasmussen, is from Fresno, CA. He went to Utah State University before hie mission. We are getting along well. He's a funny and kinda zany guy. I figured out the other day that he really reminds me of my friend, Zach Andreasen. He has a lot of characteristics in common with him. He's a smart guy (he wants to major in philosophy or linguistics). He is super good at Romanian! He's only in his 7th week in the country and speaks the language pretty well. He just opens his mouth and out comes correct grammar and declinations and pronunciation! He's super good for how young in the mission he is. I probably didn't start talking like he does till my 3rd or 4th transfer. The other elders, Elder Kopsa and Abbott, are cool. Elder Kopsa is a funny guy. He's in his 13th transfer. He's from Sandpoint, Idaho. Elder Abbott is from Orem, Utah. He was actually Elder Jones' MTC companion. I like him a lot. He played water polo or was on swim team in high school. He's a smart guy and knows Romanian pretty well already. He reminds me of one of my roommates, Michael Stevens, at BYU. Super nice and smart and easy to get along with.

   So far, we haven't done too much. We've given out english cards, done some blocs, met with a couple investigators. One thing we have to get on is finding a new apartment. I came in the city kinda in a little mess. The city was only 2 elders 2 transfers ago, then Elder Pettit and Rasmussen came in just last transfer. They had been looking for an apartment, and got back into the one left vacant by the previous other elders. But, the contract expired, so they were forced to move back into the existing apartment. Why they didn't just renew the contract?....I don't know. Elder Pettit left to be zone leader in Buc, leaving me to come in to look for an apartment. Also, he had the phone with him when he left, but missed his scheduled train. We didn't end up meeting at the gara in Buc for him to give me the phone. So we have been phoneless. Luckily, there was just a district conference in Buc, and the Spooner's went and brought it back for us. So we do have a phone now at least! I'm not too stressed at all though. I came into the transfer expecting to be stressed from the culture shock of changing from 6 months of Buc to a smaller, 4 man city. However, I am adjusting just fine. I just hope I don't get homesick....of BUCHAREST! Buc's been my home for too long. The Spooner's are awesome. They are from Michigan and Bro. Spooner works at Ford. Dad, it's "Spooner" not "Scooner" as I saw in your email. They have a very nice apartment and Sora Spooner does institute there for members and investigators. It's a very small branch (27 total members) and very little are active. I haven't met any members yet other than the Spooner's and Fratele Radulescu (1st counselor to Pres. Spooner). The Radulescu's are really the only strong couple here. The church villa is takes me back to Bacau and Deva times. I hope to meet the other members really soon. There was a big district conference in Buc yesterday, so no one came here to church. Us missionaries were told to stay and do a 15 minute little Sacrament meeting. It was just us 4 and a random investigator. I wish we could have gone to Buc. However, we will be going to Buc on Tuesday night for a Wednesday special zone conference where Elder (or Pres?) Teixiera will come. He's in the area presidency around these parts. Should be a cool day.

   We've only had lessons so far with Gina and Leonardo. Gina is a cool girl who had been taught earlier in Alexandria by my good old friend Elder Gauthier, and now goes to school here (there's a big university here). She wants to be baptized and has a date for the end of November, but she wants to be baptized by Elder Gauthier (when he finishes his mission in a month or so) So, we kinda meet with her on a daily or every other day basis to keep helping her progress towards baptism. Leonardo's a cool guy that has been taught in the past 3 months or so. He came after we had finished the short sacrament meeting, and we sat and talked with him. He believes in the church and BOM, and had a cool lesson, and even invited him to baptism. He said he needs to think. He kinda smelled like alcohol, so I'm assuming he drinks. He also mentioned he smokes. Cool guy though. Apparently, there is a guy, Alin, who was found and taught a little bit by Elders Pettit and Rasmussen. He actually had a baptismal date for last Saturday, but it didn't happen. I haven't been able to meet him yet. He hasn't answered his phone and didn't show up to church. I hear he's really cool (20ish years old). I hope we can meet him really soon. Otherwise, we have just been blocking and english contacting. I've taken a lot of pics of the city already. So yeah, everything's going well so far. I hope everyone is doing well at home. I am still excited for Miles. Can't wait to see him soon. Hope he loves the temple and Romanian food on his birthday! I wish you all well. How's the weather in Redlands? 102???? Here it's gotten pretty chilly already. Today is 8 to 12 degrees C. Well, I love you all. Keep me posted on any awesome news, and I'll do the same. I look forward to a new full week of Craiova-ness. (I really like the name of the city, especially when you roll the "r") BINE, LA REVEDERE. Love, Elder Lee.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Goodbye Bucharest - I'll Miss You!

Goodbye Bucharest - I'm Going to Really Miss You!

Dear Family and friends:

  Hello! Happy Monday to y'all. Elder Lee here. How is everyone doing today? I hope well. I'm doing well. We found out transfers today and I am finally leaving Bucharest! Here's what's happening: I'm going to be serving in....Craiova! I'll be serving there with Elder Rasmussen. He is in the group right below Elder Jones. I don't know him. He'll be in his second transfer. he was trained there by Elder Pettit, so I'll be taking Elder Pettit's place. It was a pretty big surprise. I was not expecting to be going there. I thought I would go out somewhere in the west or Transylvania area. What I really would have liked to do is be a zone leader with Elder Schroedter in Arad. But, he's staying there with his same companion, Elder Schank. I don't know what to think. I'm really kinda stressed about leaving and adapting to somewhere different with different missionaries and members. It's something I haven't had to do for so long. I'm going to miss Bucharest immensely. I love this place! It's been one of the best summers of my life here! I will miss Elder Jones a lot. We've had so much fun together (also, living with Elder Bateman and Peterson). Those 2 finally moved out into their new apartment. Anyways, transfers are crazy. Elder Jones is staying here with Elder Awerkamp (he's one transfer ahead of Elder Jones). Elder Newton is going to be the new assistant to president! It will be fun to still see him around at interviews and zone conferences. He'll be a great AP. So yeah, what else to say? I hope I will grow to get used to and like Craiova.

   Well, we had an alright week. Well, first of all, some cool news: we had 6 baptisms in the mission this last week. 2 of them were here in Mihai Bravu! On Saturday, we had a branch picnic and a baptismal ceremony for Elder Bateman and Peterson's investigator, Ionuti, and the sisters' investigator, Mihaela. It was awesome. 2 new members here in the branch! It's been a while since I've seen a baptism, and it was cool to see 2 in one day. There are about 16 baptismal dates throughout the whole mission. I saw that Craiova just had a baptism and 2 baptismal dates, so I guess it will be cool to go in and see how that goes. For about the whole week, it was kinda sunny and warm one last time. On Saturday after the baptisms, the weather became windy and cloudy and rainy. It became a lot colder just in a few hours. It's still the same today, not as wet though. I guess it's finally the fall weather coming. It's kinda depressing weather though. I really miss the hot summer weather and sunny days already. I hope it clears up soon.

  We have still had a lack of investigators. We have about 3, but they are just not willing to meet up and go to church. It's been harder the past few days with the weather getting uglier, so we can't really go through parks anymore. Just gotta keep finding and having more faith and diligence. Levent came to the baptism! he just missed the actual baptising, but he still saw them bear testimony and stuff. He liked it. However, he didn't come to church. Church went well. It was testimony meeting. Lots of strong ones in this branch. After church, we went to Sora Gorzo's and ate a ton of good food, then Elder Jones and I made a last visit together to Sora Bobeanu. She's not feeling so well, but we were glad to share sacrament and a spiritual thought. I'll miss visiting her.

   Well, that's about it. Things are changing. It's becoming colder fall weather, the transfer is done, I'm heading out to Craiova, and Sora Hansen is going home. I'll really miss everything about Buc. Sad day. I just hope to do my best in Craiova and never forget the awesome experiences I've had here in Mihai Bravu. Thanks mom and dad for the news and updates. I hope BYU will beat TCU (they'll probably lose) It's nice to hear stake conference went well. It's good everyone is doing ok. Time to pack the dusty bags and get ready for Craiova. I love y'all. have a good week. I hope I have a good one too... Bye! Love, Elder Lee.