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

Monday, January 31, 2011

Bye, Bye Bacau - Hello Constanta!

Hey Y'all! I have exciting news for you this time. It deals with transfers. Yes, I am getting transferred. BUT, first, let me tell you about how I've been and what we've done this past week very quickly, THEN I'll tell y'all where I'm going!

    So this past week was a good one like always. I was feeling that it was my last week in Bacau, and I am right. Elder Gunter and I had a fun last week together. We got 7 lessons, some with a less-active, one with a new member, and some with other investigators. The weather has been ok. It's cold but not too cold. It's icy too. We met with a less-active, Dan Meresan, to give him a priesthood blessing to stop smoking. We've also helped him with Book of Mormon reading and have shared awesome messages about it with him. We found a new investigator at the blocs and had a lesson with him. His name's Andrei and he's way cool, except that one night (while bringing a member with us to have a lesson) he wasn't there. His roommate was though. He was totally against us coming in and told us to leave. He called Andrei and told him not to meet with us, at least at their apartment. Bummerz. We have also been focusing still on member missionary work and visiting less-actives. It's been a good week. One night, a drunk guy ran into us and we chatted pointlessly with him for like 10 minutes. I couldn't stand his alcoholic breath and he was pretty stoned and just mumbled in half Romanian half English. We finally got ourselves out of that when we got a call from the other elders and had an excuse to leave. Annoying huh.

   I also have news that Bacau will be getting a senior couple this next transfer!!! It's exciting because they can really help with the members and the branch. They are named the Marcov's. I don't know anything about them. Elder Gunter will be with them here, as he has one more transfer as branch president. Bacau will be very exciting, but I'll be gone.

   On my last Sunday here for church, 3 members came. I also played the closing song on the little electric keybard. It was "God Be With you Till We Meet Again"! Fitting huh. It was a good Sunday. In unrelated news, I am getting annoyed with my socks. About half of them have holes in them already! I hate it. Parents, you can send me more church socks in a future package some day!

   Ok. That's my week in a nutshell. Let's get to some more exciting stuff. So, I am indeed leaving Bacau. I am going to.......... CONSTANTA! The city on the shore of the Black Sea! My new companion will be Elder Johnsen. Parents, start looking up stuff on Constanta haha! I am pretty excited! I am ready for some change! I'll miss Bacau too though! This transfer is my 3rd now. It's a very exciting time! I don't know much at all about Constanta, but I will soon enough. It's also very cool that 3 of my MTC district members will be going senior already!!!! Elder Schroedter, Elder Pettit, and Elder Nilsson will be senior companions to (get this) Elder Durand (a guy also in my MTC district), Elder Horgmo, and Elder Miner (respectively). Those last 2 are from the group below me!! That's crazy I think! As of now, it looks like my travel schedule shows I won't be with the rest of my MTC district to get our Visas in Buc. I am mad at that. I think we can get an earlier train to leave and I can be with them all! We'll see. If I don't get to see them, it's aight I guess. But, anyways, I'm super pumped and excited!!!

   It's also good to hear from home. It's good that you (mom and dad) are doing well. You better get that rat problem solved. Oh yeah, I took a picture of a dead rat on the sidewalk a few days ago. That just reminded me, thats all. It's nice to get more pics of Kenadee! She's so big now! And so much hair. She's got a good smile too. Keep 'em coming. Chris and Liz, keep working hard and take care of Bosco for me. That's funny about Bishop Strong. I bet that was a good Sacrament meeting. How's the ward doing? Good, I hope. I haven't heard from any of my missionary friends, except Elder Fisher. He's loving his mission so far. I think he leaves to Texas real soon, if not already. I'm so excited and proud of all my missionary friends around the world! For you Dad, I think the mission reached 131 or 132 baptisms for all of 2010.

   So anyways, I'm outta time. I miss y'all and lurve y'all. By the next time I email, I'll be in Constanta! Thanks for the support and emails and whetever else I'm forgetting. (Oh yeah, I didn't get a letter or email from Matt yet, but I'll get it soon, along with those packages, Mom.) Anyways, I don't have any cool pics to put with this today, but later I will. Love y'all. La Revedere!!!! Cu drag, Elder Lee.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Photographs of Daniel (new member) and his brother Alin in the Bacau Branch

In Bacau, Romania and still doing great!

Howdy everybody! How are people doing? I'm well. Romania is still keeping me very excited every day. Also, time is going very fast. I guess it just does that as a missionary. I almost hit 5 months! Anyways, let me tell you a little bit how my week was.

    So this week went well as usual. It was a little warmer than usual. Elder Gunter and I have been shifting our focus on the members of this branch. We only got 3 lessons this week with investigators. That's because we spent more time talking with the members about how they can do better to help us and reach out to inactives and less actives. They really need to improve on this. The branch is weak. We need the members to also go with us to lessons. A member present lesson is the most important lesson a missionary can have. Investigators need members as a support and friend. Unfortunately, member present lessons are extremely scarce here. Elder Gunter, though, is doing a great job as Branch President. We need to help our members now more than investigators. We also always need our investigators to come to church. A story about that: The other elders brought one of their investigators to church yesterday. I don't know him; it was the first time I saw him. He seemd cool and spoke English, but 10 minutes into Sacrament meeting, he said (out loud amidst a very awkward pause) that he didn't want to be there and asked if he could leave! It was his first time to church I guess. He spoke very loud and that made it more awkward. He left, wishing us a "nice service". Haha. He just wanted to strictly observe I guess. Maybe he thought we sang the hymns too bad or something! Church continued without further incident.

    The rest of the week was pretty normal, with interviews with the President on Wednesday, and another district exchange. At interviews, I got some mail I didn't even expect! Thank you Zach, The Lees, The Harlesses, The Mellors, and especially the Redlands 2nd ward primary! That was way nice! I love mail. About the exchange: I exchanged with Elder Kebker this time. It went well. We got no lessons, but did a hecka lotta walking, contacting, and block knocking. He is very diligent, despite how he's a little slower at learning the language. He taught me how to be more persistent through his enthusiastic example.

   I'm pretty sure I'll be transferred in a week. It's possible that missionaries stay 3 transfers in a city if they're not office elders, assistants, or branch presidents. I am ready to leave. I am excited to serve in another city with somebody new! The months and transfers go by so fast.

    So, something I've come to realize since I've been here is how much more I appreciate how big and living the church is, worldwide. As I see Orthodox people and churches, I am proud to be a member of a true and living church, which sends missionaries out worldwide to actively search for people prepared by God to recieve the restored Gospel. I also appreciate so much more General Conference and the Ensigns/Liahonas that contain its messages. We got the new November 2010 conference Liahona, and I love reading it. I also love how my BYU roommate, Jordan Beal, is on page 49, as a missionary in Ireland!!!! haha. He got his picture taken with others in his zone I'm guessing, in Dublin, Ireland. I loved seeing that! We only get 4 Romanian Liahonas sent to us here throughout the year. I appreciate them.

   Hmm, I can't think of much more that has happened this last week. Oh yeah, 2 weeks ago, I gave a talk at church on the Atonement and the resurrection. I used my Atonement report which I originally wrote in English to submit to President. So I kinda translated it there while I was talking! I shared a lot of scriptures, and according to Elder Gauthier, I spoke for "27 minutes"! I don't believe that. I guess I rambled on and repeated myself a lot. Anyways, I love this language. Even though it's useless outside of the country, it's very unique and not too hard.

   I am loving the work here with Elder Gunter. I find out next week about transfers. Stay tuned. I'll (99%) be transferred. It's good to hear about home. Sounds like Redlands 2nd ward is doing well. I heard from Elder Taylor Fisher from the MTC! He's doing well! He said some of the missionaries in his district are going to the San Bernardino mission! Crazy. He says he's getting used to it. He'll already be outta there pretty soon. I hope he loves Texas! I haven't heard from anyone else on their missions lately. Thanks mom and dad for your stories and feedback on how Redlands is. I hope the family keeps doing well! I want more pics of Kenadee!! I'm outta words for today. I love and miss you all! Later!  Cu drag, Elder Lee.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Some Good Olde Fashioned Home-made Romanian Food!

It is finally starting to warm up in Bacau!

Howdy y'all. Hope you had a good week. I did. It's getting warmer here a bit. All the snow's melted. It's sunny. The question is how long will it stay like this? I dunno. It's still winter for a little while. I'm enjoying the warmer weather. I'll try to remember what happened this last week.

     One day while cleaning the church villa, a random man from off the street tried to get in, but we had the door locked. It turns out he just wanted to learn more about us, so we let him in. He had the annoying stench of beer on his breath, but that's not surprising. We were able to have a lesson with him about the Restoration and what we believe. He seemed sincere. We haven't heard back from him. I love serendipitous lessons.

      The next day, we had exchanges with the Zone Leaders. I went with Elder Sullivan. We had a good day. We only got one lesson, but it was a good one with our investigator Daniel, who is very cool. It was fun to have the ZL's over and get to know them more. The day after the next day after that (2 days later, thats a lot easier) we exchanged within our district. I went with Elder Gauthier. We had a lesson with a less active. We also met a lady at the blocs and had a sweet lesson with her. New investigator!!! Elder Gauthier rocked that lesson. The lady claimed (at the end of our Restoration lesson) that the BOM isn't true. We said to her that she couldn't even know that as she hadn't read or prayed about it. She's a strong Orthodox member, and said she relied on what ministers and priests tell her. Then, Elder Gauthier busted out the question: "well, who knows more for you than a priest or anybody else on Earth?" (the answer's God, in case you don't know) She unwillingly agreed to it being her Heavenly Father. We left her a pamphlet, but she wouldn't take the Book of Mormon yet.

    Church went well. We had the 5 regulars who normally come. Again, no investigators came. Going to church is the key indicator that they are progressing. So, they are choosing not to progress. We're working harder with them. Elder Gunter and I are still doing very well together. We're still finding people as well as helping less-actives get back to church. I still enjoy Bacau, especially with a bit warmer of weather. Yeah, anyways, last week was pretty basic apart from the exchanges we had. This next week we have interviews with President Lundberg.

    I (most likely) have only 2 more weeks here before I get transferred. I'm excited, but I'll miss Elder Gunter. He's helped me so much and we get along very well. I'm excited though, to be able to see all my MTC district pals in Bucharest at transfer day. We will all go to get our visas/residency cards that they have finally made for us since the first day in the country. I wonder where' I'll get transferred to and who I'll be with. I wouldn't mind a bigger city like Bucharest, Cluj, or Timisoara or something. I just don't like the pack up and sit on trains for long amounts of time part.

   It's good to hear that everyone's doing well. I really wish I could go to the new Cafe Rio in Redlands. Oh my, I miss their giant delicious salads.....I hope everyone in the ward is doing well. I also wish my friends at BYU to have tons of fun like I did. I'd like to hear from Elders Fisher and Campbell soon. I know they're doing well though. I got an email from Elder Tyler Lee. Haha. It's too bad to hear that he got unexpectedly emergency transferred from a big, strong ward he loved to a small town with a small branch. I emailed him. He'll get used to it. I wished him well. The branch here in Bacau is smaller than any branch he'll serve in there in Denmark!

   Well, good. I can't think of anything else to say. Thanks Mom for sending me pictures of Kenadee! She's getting so big!?! She looks cuter than ever. Keep sending me more pics! Thanks dad for your fun mission stories from England. I appreciate those. Well, I am done for today. Miss y'all. Peace and blessin's! La Revedere!

Monday, January 10, 2011

I've Been on My Mission for Four Months and Loving Every Minute!

Howdy friends and family! How are we all? I'm swell,of course. I hit my 4-month mark! Hmm, I'll try to think of other stuff to talk about.

    So this past week was pretty basic. We got 7 lessons, and again, we found a sweet, promising lady while knocking blocs. We got in the 1st lesson with her. It feels good to find new people and get lessons while bloc knocking. At the beginning of the week, the zone leaders came over to exchange, not with us, but with the other elders here. It was fun to have them around. They're super awesome peeps (Elder Toronto and Elder Sullivan).Elder Sullivan can shred the piano like nobody's business! He's so good! He's from St. George. Also, Elder Toronto went to the high school in Salt Lake where they filmed High School Musical. He was on the football team there and was in a deleted or alternate scene from the show. ha. They had a good exchange with the others, and we also had a good district meeting with them. They're supposed to some up again and exchange with me and Elder Gunter in a few days.

   Later in the week, the senior couple missionaries from Galati came up. They are Elder and Sora Van Wagoner. They're from Utah, near Cedar City and Zions Park (New Harmony or something?) They are super nice. They had a dinner and invited some members and less actives. Then they came to church the next morning. Elder Van Wagoner is hilarious, he's so talkative and full of energy. That Sunday morning, it kinda rained (instead of snowed) and it made the ground incredibly slippery and icy, like everywhere! It was an extremely dangerous walk to the villa, and I happened to slip and fall on my butt. But, to no avail, injury or even soreness did not come of it.

   At church, 5 members showed up and 2 were less-actives! Thanks to the Van Wagoners, we got a couple less actives to come. After church, Sora Van Wagoner drew caricatures of all of us missionaries. She's way good at it! I got a sweet picture of me playing a guitar. It's very accurate too. For lunch that day, we made a delicious homemade soup with chicken and taters and stuff. We got to talk to 2 less-active people and share good lessons with them about the Atonement and covenants.

   That's all of the specifics I can remember. Bacau is still keeping it real. It's not too cold, but is still a bit snowy. Elder Gunter is still super awesome! I like it here, but I'm also excited to get transferred (in a month, I'm pretty sure). So everything is good, good, good. I'm understanding the language better and speaking better. I wanna see another baptism here! It'll happen, I'm not sure I'll be here anymore when it does. There are 2 people extremely close. They just need to GO TO CHURCH! Church is fun! Why not go? We will continue to work towards that with them!

   It's good to hear everyone and everything at home is doing well. I wish success to Elder Taylor Fisher as he's leaving this week! In answering my friend Miles's questions: I have seen little old ladies sweeping sidewalks and in parks with their little home-made stick brooms. I have seen one or two horse-drawn buggies in the countryside. There are gypsies everwhere. You can just tell they're gypsies, mainly from their clothing. I have refrained from eating street vendors food. There are actually no street vendors here in Bacau, but probably in Bucuresti there are tons. I love Romania!
   Keep doing well parents and family and friends! Enjoy January. I have been able to email Elder Tyler Lee in Denmark, and he's having the time of his life there! It's good to hear from him. I haven't heard from any other BYU roommates or friends yet. Anyways, I encourage more people to check up on this here blog to see how things are going from a missionary's perspective in Romania. I'm out of things to say I think. Lurve y'all! La revedere!  Cu drag, Varstnicul Lee.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Photographs in and around Bacua, Romania

Happy New Year!

What's up folks? I guess I should say "Happy New Year!" to y'all. 2010 is over. It kind of went fast, for me at least. Hi 2011. In a week I hit my 4 month mark of my mission. It goes kind of fast. I'm excited to start a new year here; the start of my whole year in the mission!

   My past week was a good one. Elder Gunter and I have been finding people. A little uplifting story is in order: So we were knocking blocs trying to find people and get a lesson. At this time I've only ever had one lesson on a bloc knock. I knew we needed on that night. So, when we got to the first door, I said a quick, simple prayer to Heavenly Father that we may be blessed with some success. I guess I was meaning, "bless us with a lesson!". Lo and behold, two doors later, a nice 30 something year old man named Eduard warmly invited us in so we could chat about the Restoration. He even served us some orange Fanta. We got in the restoration lesson and set up another time to meet with him, tonight. There you go! Something very simple, yet a small miracle. My quick little prayer was answered!  Anyways, we continue to knock blocs and give out English class fliers to people on the streets. We had 5 lessons total, got an investigator to come to church, and got that new guy, Eduard, as a new investigator! Sweet deal.

   We also had a fun week. One day, we (as a district) went la tara (countryside) to a member, fratele Iancu, to have a meal and give a quick little spiritual thought. We got a random person to drive us there (its sketch, I know) BUT we paid him. It was about a half hour north to a village called Tescan. Iancu's home is very humble and shack-like, but it was warm inside and we had tons of food, including, but not limited to: ciorba (sour soup), salata de beof, sarmale, mici (sausage like meats) and bread. I was very good and filling. We got a maxi taxi back to Bacau. On New Years Eve, we went to another member's home, Sora Profira, to have yet more salata de beof and sarmale, as well as cozonac (a sweet bread). We then went to spend the night at the other elders' apartment. For New Year's Day, we saw fireworks out the window at 12 midnight with tons of people cheering. It sounded like a war zone!  We slept in till 8 and for the day, we did absolutely nothing. The reason we stayed inside and did nothing is because everyone is drunk or wasted from the previous New Year's eve parties. No effective missionary work was really done, except later, handing out English fliers. It was fun.

   We had a good church. 5 members came and the one investigator, Petronela, came with her sons! It was sweet to see her there! We all bore our testimonies cuz it was fast Sunday.

   A lot of our investigators were gone this past week for the holidays I assume. This next week we should be able to have more lessons with them, that is if they even answer their phones. Anyways, all else is doing well. I still have an awesome companionship with Elder Gunter. We do well together. On p-days, we just go to the mall here, email, eat our weekly dose of KFC, look at stores, then just chill for a while before getting groceries. I am pretty sure I will be transferred after this transfer, giving me this whole month  of January to still be here. I'm enjoying all of it.

   I love reading your emails (mom and dad) It's good to hear that all is well. It looks like you had fun at Tom and Kim's condo. Hopefully you had a fun New Year's Eve and day. I got an email from Elder Truman Rowley again. He's doing so well! I also got an e-mail from Elder Taylor Fisher. He has 10 days left till the MTC! I wished him well and am excited for him! Missions are very very cool things! I am also excited for BYU to start up again for my friends there! Pretty soon, I'll be back thar. It' good that y'all are doing well. Thanks for your prayers, support, emails, etc. I'm out of things to say for today. Have a happy January! Lurve y'all! La revedere!!!

    Cu drag, Elder Lee.