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

Monday, March 28, 2011

The Deva Citadel (or Fortress) on the Hill

Week Two in Deva, Romania

  Howdy family and friends! Ce faceti? Week number 2 in Deva is done. I had a blast! Elder Newton and I are doing super good. So are the other elders. The work here is going pretty well. I'm having a lot of fun and we're finding lots of cool people. Deva is getting prettier and prettier as spring comes in its fulness. The weather has been pretty good, with some days being cloudy. It rained a little the other night, and most mornings are cloudy. But it clears up throughout the day. Today has been very nice.

    So this past week has been excellent. Elder Newton and I are working our tails off! We have two girls both named Roxana who are close to baptism. We just need to establish dates and keep them coming to church. We need to help them have a sure testimony of the truth of the Book of Mormon. Other than that, we have a few other investigators and a ton of potential investigators that we find on the streets and in parks. This last week, Elder Newton and I got a total of 20 lessons! That's my most ever! Between 10 and 15 of them were with people sitting on benches. We have had not-so-good success in the blocs here, so "we're takin it to the streets" (I think that's from some song, that's why I quoted it). We talk to almost everybody outside! It is really simple: go up to anybody on a bench, preferrably young families or couples, and ask them if we can sit and talk about the Book of Mormon. Some say no, but some say yes! We invite people to read and pray about it, ask for their number, and try setting up with them later. We also invite everyone to come to slujba (church service)! We're trying to get tons of people to church and more member-present lessons. So, yeah, missionary work is going awesomely (is that a word?) here.
    The branch is cool. There are some awesome and nice people in it. We sometimes have lessons with recent converts and less actives. I haven't yet met one recent convert, Andrei. However, I think I've met just about everyone else. I've only been to church here once so far (because of Arad district conference, which I will speak about in a bit). Between 15 and 20 come. This last week, we started english classes again! Elder Newton and I teach beginner and Elder Fonnesbeck and Laherty teach advanced. On Tuesday, our first class, 16 people came. On Saturday, 10 came. After that class, we stayed and had a lesson with our investigator Roxana and her friend, Andreea. We've been finding some refferals too through existing investigators and through street contacting. We're basically filling up our investigator pool right now, and we hope to see more progressing investigators and baptisms in the next few weeks by doing this. Along with the work, my language skills are improving. I am feeling more confident with it. I can understand a lot of what people say now, but not everything. Constant contacting definitely helps with speaking and understanding!

   So yesterday on Sunday, we didn't have church here. Instead we got to go to Arad and have district conference there! It included members and missionaries from Deva, Arad, Oradea, and Timisoara. Elder Newton and I left early Sunday morning at 4 am by train with 2 members, Viorel and Fratele Simionescu. The other elders came a little later with Sora Floare. The train ride lasted 3 hours and I didn't get any sleep. We got to Arad at 7 and walked over to the church villa there. Arad is a really cool, western European-like city. I apologize because I totally forgot to take a single picture the whole time there. We met and had a meeting with branch presidents and recent converts, then had a priesthood meeting, then the general meeting. Elder Craig Wright presided. I think he's an area 70 or something. He gave a super good message (with a translator because Elder Wright is from England) about recognizing the Spirit. It was a very spiritual meeting. There were about 50 or so members from those 4 cities. It was great! I also got to see missionaries!!! I saw elders: Gunter, Mikolyski, Shroedter, Nilsson, Martin, Bruner, Frandsen and his boboc, and Elder Bateman and Betteridge (ZL's) Also, District President Ursu and President and Sora Lundberg spoke. We finished, got supplies, and headed back to Deva again. Great day.

   Finally, the other cool thing we did was climb up to the cetate! Cetate means fortress. Just this morning, we got up and all 4 of us hiked up and had our studies on a grassy knoll overlooking green hills and sheeps grazing. We saw the whole city of Deva below us, and also walked around and inside the cetate. I have pics! It was great. We took a little elevator lift back down right to where the Olympic training facility is for the gymnastics team. I got a picture next to a bronze bust of Nadia Comanici (I forgot the spelling), that super famous Romanian gymnastics lady. Fun stuff. It was a little cloudy, but sunnied up later. It was a beautiful old fort and scenery all around us. I took tons of cool pictures.

    Well, that's my week for y'all. I am doing fine! I hope y'all are doing well. It's good to hear that home and church and school and work are going well mom and dad and family. Too bad for BYU. They "ran out of gas" like you said Dad. It's cool that they did so well though! Is Jimmer wanting to go to the NBA? Is he a senior or what? Anyways, I hope it doesn't keep raining in Redlands for too much longer. Mom and dad, enjoy Jamers and Mark and Kenadee staying! Take lots of pics and send me some. What are ya'll gonna do? Say hi to Miles and Collete and Mark Larson and the Andreasens back for me! I heard about Japan. Scary stuff. Stuff like that keeps happening more and more though. All I can say is stick close to the Gospel. It will help us be ready for anything. Well, I can't think of anything else to say. I'm sorry if I forget to answer any more questions mom and dad. Sometimes, you ask too many! Feel free to accept that friend request on FB mom. Catalin's a super cool member from Constanta. Don't get too carried away in chatting with a ton of people I've met! haha. Mom, it's almost Easter. I have a favor to ask you. Will you send me an Easter package sometime? I'd really like a tons of those Cadbury cream eggs and mini egg candies. Those are the best! Thanks for all the stuff you send me. I love it all. Well, I'm done. I'm excited for this week, and for April! I'm super happy that General Conference is next week. I hope I can see it somewhere. We also don't have to wear suits anymore the day conference comes. Time for the short sleeves and slacks! I am definitely going to get them tailored though, because they are so fat and loose on me, plus it's cheap here to tailor stuff. Alrighty. I'll talk again soon. Have a saptamana buna! Va iubesc foarte mult. Sanatate si numai bine. Le revedere! Cu drag, Varstnicul Lee.

Monday, March 21, 2011

I'm in Deva, Romania - I love it!

   Salut everybody! Ce mai faceti? I am doing very well and am super excited to be in Deva now. Its a beautiful city. I hope yall are doing well. So far, Deva has been treating me well. My new companion, Elder Newton, is super cool. The work is going well here! The branch is really nice. Elder Fonnesbeck (my MTC comp) is doing super well and its great to serve with him again!

   So, I have only been here for 5 days, but I already like it here. The people seem nicer, and I like the smaller town vibe. Deva is situated up against some Carpathian foothills, with a big hill and a cetate (fortress) on top overlooking the city. I havent been up there yet, but we are planning on going there today! There is also a Hollywood-esque sign saying Deva. I already feel pretty comfortable here. It makes me want to serve somewhere even deeper into the mountains, like Brașov or something. Deva is right in between Transylvania and the west. It is in the Arad zone. I already like Elder Newton. He is from Salt Lake City and went to U of U for a year before (sorry again Dad). He is super nice, super diligent, and super obedient. We get along well together. We have already had 7 lessons and tons of contacting time in since we have been together for the past 4 days! He is the new branch president here. He is getting the hang of it. He started in Craiova, then Chișinău, then Alexandria, where he served with Elder Nelson from my group. He just replaced Elder Vekony (the Hungarian elder who was branch president here). The branch is really cool. About 10-15 people actively attend church. There where about 15 people or so there just yesterday. There are some really cool members, including the Foteas, who are a nice family. I think Brother Fotea used to be a branch president here. He served a mission somewhere. They have some fun little children. The villa is a little bit older, but it is nice. My first day of church was excellent. Elder Laherty and I introduced ourselves and bore testimonies. Elder Newton and I live in a nice apartment. The other elders do too. We only live around 2 minutes away from each other, and the villa is close to us too. It has been a little cloudy and sprinkly here the past 3 days, but it is not cold really.

   The city is kind of on the smaller side (80,000 or something), but I really like it. Somehow, there is more progress here than there was in Constanta. Constanta is like 10 times bigger than here! I am grateful for how the work is moving here. We talked to a girl, Roxana, who said she wants to be baptized. We just need to set a date and she needs to keep coming to church. There is another investigator close to baptism too. Elder Newton and I have talked to tons of new people on the streets and in the blocks. While not all are receptive, a lot are. They accept a Book of Mormoan and some even want us to come talk more with them! The people here are way cool! We have a recent convert who is preparing to recieve the Aaronic Priesthood named Marian. The rest of the branch consists of a few older ladies and another new convert young man named Andrei (there are some others I know I am missing). It has been great and is great for me to be working harder than I ever have with Elder Newton. He is a hard worker.

   So earlier in the week were my last 2 days in Constanta and the bus ride to Bucharest for transfers. It was a fun day! We arrived to the Gara in Bucharest and got to visit with other missionaries passing through. I got your packages mom! Thanks so much for the socks and food and cards and everything. I am sorry to say that I already finished those M and Ms! I was super happy to see Elder Gunter again! We visited a little and he is excited to be in Oradea with Elder Mikolyski. He did a great job as branch president in Bacău. I found my new zone leader Elder Bateman and we went out in the streets of Bucharest contacting around a little bit, catching up on things. He is only in his 7th transfer and has already trained and is now a zone leader (my zone leader!) I cannot believe I am already in my 4th. Time goes fast here. I met up with Elder Laherty of the group under me and we headed out on a 9 hour train ride with the sisters going to Arad. I was bummed out because practically the whole train ride was at night. Hence it was dark. Because of the darkness we could not see Transylvania! We went right through Brașov too. I only got to see the station sign saying Brașov outside. Dang. We arrived in Deva at 3 in the morning. I did not sleep at all on the train. I dont think I can sleep on trains. Unfortunately it was not a sleeper train. It was aight though. Since the first day here I have been working hard and seeing success! I am super glad to be here. I hope to be able to see baptisms here! I have only seen one so far- Dorin Tătărășanu in Bacău. I am feeling that we will see some because of how well we are working as a district and because of how receptive people are here. It is great! Next week we have a district conference in Arad. I am excited to go and see Arad! I am also very excited for General Conference coming up. I hope we can see it (at a members house or something). That is about the only news here so far.

   It is good that everything is going well at home. That is cool that there is a revamped missionary bulletin thing at the church. Mom, take a picture of it and send it to me or something! I wanna see. I hope Chris can find a job somewhere and that Jamers and Mark enjoy Cali. Say hi to them for me Mom and dad. Send pics too please! Sorry I do not have pictures of Deva yet. Next week I will. I am excited to see the sites here, including that castle in Hunedoara. We will see if we can go soon Dad. I also think it would be exciting to go see it or another castle called Lipova (or something) as a whole zone! I am bummed that we dont have zone confernece this transfer. I am close to a lot of people in Arad zone. We will have interviews this transfer instead. I am looking forward to serving in this awesome city. I would not mind staying for another. Well, I am out of things to say and gotta get going.  Good luck BYU basketball. Beat Florida again! I love you family and friends. Mulțumesc pentru tot! La revedere for now! Love, Elder Lee.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Farewell Constanta

Goodbye Constanta - Hello Deva!

Hey everybody! How are we all? I'm doing well. I have some big news. I'm getting transferred again! Crazy. I only got in a month and a half here in Constanta. I'll miss it, but I'm glad to get to a new city to be around some more investigators! After working a lot here, me and Elder Johnsen just couldn't find anybody. It's kinda a bummer (cuz it's a big city), but it's good that there will be new missionaries coming here to implement new ideas and stuff (they include Elder Boehme, Elder Simmons, and Elder Sullivan). Elder Biggs will stay for a 3rd transfer. However, Elder Johnsen and I are out! Elder Johnsen is going to Bucharest (Panduri) to be a district leader there. As for me, I am going to......Deva! Mom and dad, start your research! It's a small little town in the west of the country. I am excited to go back to a smaller town (cheaper too). In fact, it's even smaller than Bacau I think. I will be companions with Elder Newton. He is from Salt Lake City, and is actually very good friends with Elder Johnsen! He is also the new branch president in Deva! I get to be with another branch president. Also, the other elders in the city are Elder Laherty (one group behind me) and Elder Fonnesbeck, my MTC comp!!! Crazy! I will still be a junior companion, and I am fine with that. The only senior companions in my own group now are: Elder Schroedter, Elder Fonnesbeck, Elder Nilsson, and Elder Pettit.  So that's the big news. I'll let ya'll know more about it all next week!

    Anyways, I had a fun, last week here in Constanta. It went so fast too. It was Elder Lainhart's last week of his mission! We enjoyed it together as a district with a fun p-day (we went to the beach and to the mall and played darts there. I'm getting better at throwing darts! ). We also had a fun last english class, playing games, eating brownies, and taking pictures. Elder Lainhart was so good at teaching english classes and being super personable with the students. Elder Lainhart and I also burned our tie and suit! Apart from that, Elder Johnsen and I were busy in the middle of the week moving apartments. We were able to finally move in starting on Thursday. It's a nice apartment! It's fairly close to the church villa and it's in a very convenient location (close to bus stops) It's good I haven't fully moved into it, cuz now I need to pack! I'm glad we got it all taken care of! There will be 2 different elders living there for the next transfer. Hopefully they like our choice! I'm also glad I got to live in our older one, right on the beach, for a month!

    During the time we were cleaning and packing and moving, the Zone Leaders came to do an exchange with the others. It was fun to see them around and have their help both with us moving and in missionary work. I am excited for my new Zone Leaders. One of them is Elder Bateman, one of my favorite missionaries! We served together in Bacau for a month when I first got here. He is such a cool guy. Elder Gunter is finally done being branch president! He's going to Oradea to serve with Elder Mikolyski! Another two of my favorite people here! Let's see if I remember where my group is going: Elder Nemrow is in Chisinau, Elder Nelson is in Craiova, Elder Durand is in Sibiu I think, and the rest are staying in their current cities. We have a new office elder, Elder Herman, who I don't know. We also have a new AP, Elder Bennett, who's a cool guy. Exciting changes!!!

    On Friday night, we went to have dinner at a member's home, Sora Harris. She's here as part of the Peace Corps and teaches english to kids somewhere at a school here in Constanta. We had some chili! She served a mission in Pennsylvania and so she knows how missionary work is. It's really cool that she's here in Romania. On Sunday, Elder Lainhart spoke at church. He gave a very good talk on how faith can become knowledge. Later that night, we went to another member's, Tibi, to have food and fun. Us four came, as well as Alin, his wife Mariana, their baby, and Cata (Mariana's brother). We had mici (little sausages), french fries, and treats. We took some fun pictures. Then, after, we raced back home in separate taxis. Me and Elder Johnsen won! Today, we helped Elder Lainhart pack and sent him off at the gara, saying our goodbyes. We'll miss him! That's my week. Exciting stuff.

    I don't have much else to say, other than I'm excited to go to Deva. I hope the work can go well there, and that I can be super diligent. It's good to hear how home is. Mom and dad, It's exciting that Jamers and Mark are coming down! Tell Jamie to email me!!! I also want more pics of Kenadee! Also, take pics together and send me some! It's good that Chris is going crazy finding some new work. I hear he's doing a lot of those internet articles. Good. I hope he finds at least one good job out of the many places he's applied to. It's good the ward is doing well. I wonder who will be the new stake president. Also, when does Bishop Strong complete his Bishop calling? Keep me updates on ward stuff. Mom and dad, how is work going? Sper ca merge bine. I hope BYU basketball gets far into the NCAA tournament or whatever. It's dumb that the Jazz are doing poopy. I heard from the other Elder Lee and Elder Fisher. They're both doing well with investigators and baptisms. Well, I don't know what else to say. Thanks mom and dad for your emails and the news of what's going on. I'm excited for the next couple of months for y'all and your big trip! I'm done. By next email, I'll be somewhere in Deva. I hope I find some more success there. Well, I love y'all! We'll talk later. La revedere!!! Cu drag, Elder Lee.  

Monday, March 7, 2011

At the Beach in Constanta

I've Been Out 6 Months!

Hello everyone! How are we doing? I am doing well. This past week went so fast! All the weeks go so fast! There's only one more week left of this transfer, AND I hit my 6 month day tommorow (Mar. 8th). I can't believe it's been half a year already. Let's talk about stuff.

     So, the past week went well. Elder Johnsen and I are still finding people to teach and it's still a little dry. We decided to work more with less-actives and in-actives. Alin gave us a sheet of all the members up-to-date. We may use this week to call some of them and try to talk with some of them. I think it would be good for us, as the Lord will bless us as we work harder with less actives. Maybe in doing so, we can also be blessed to find new people! We had 3 lessons this past week, 2 of them being less-actives and 1 being a recent convert. That recent convert is named Anca. She's 17 and her mom is a member of a year or so now, and she is the most recently baptized. She was baptized in January by Elder Nilsson from my group! Last week, we also contaced a referral (the Jordanian kid going to school here) We tried setting up with him and he sounded super cool and wanted to! It was a bummer though, because when we scheduled to meet, he didn't come. He didn't even call. But his friend called us. He said that he was busy with something and couldn't meet. Dang. I hope he didn't just bung us. We'll still try to meet soon. We also brought the sacrament to a sick member's home on Sunday.
    Other than that, we didn't talk to pretty much anyone else, except at blocs. The weather here started to get a little warmer. The ice and snow are melted, and it's sunnier. It's still sometimes breezy and the breeze is pretty cold. Hopefully, it will stay warmer. Yesterday at church was something cool. Alin blessed his baby daughter, Eva Sofia. She was born a month ago and she was blessed in sacrament. A lot of people came! It was about 21 or 22 total people. It was a nice meeting.

    Elder Johnsen and I still haven't moved apartments just yet. So here's the story: we, at first, needed to move out by March 4, but we extended the current contract of our apartment to go for another month. We established the apartment we wanted and went through with the landlord the contract and stuff. Everything's great about it, BUT, the stove runs on a propane tank. We called President to confirm it all, but he didn't ok it due to the propane. We were bummed, but called the landlord back and asked if they could put in a gas line. They said they could! So they have been working on doing that, and will call us any day now to say it's done....I'm hoping. THEN, we can finish the contract and move in. Hopefully it works out. Apparently, apartments in the mission aren't supposed to have propane tank runned ovens or stoves. I guess it could be dangerous. It should be a great apartment. (Dad- we pay the bills monthly for it and then get reimbursed by zone leaders or office elders. We get 900 lei per month. That's plenty.)

   Thats really all our week was. Last P-day, we as a district went walking up the beach together to hang out, collect sea shells, and take pictures and stuff. It was pretty fun. Today, we don't really have a place in mind to visit or anything. It's still a little bit cold, but nice. To be honest, I don't really care whether or not we do any big, fun outing. I like to just hang out as a district and chill. It's a nice time to relax a bit. Today is Elder Lainhart's last real P-day. He leaves to go home on March 16th. He'll leave next Monday to go to Buc and have his last testimony meeting, dinner, etc. On Tuesday, he and his group (just 2 others, Elder Bigu and Elder Zavala) get the whole day to do what they want in Buc. Then he flys home the next day! He's been a great elder to work with here. I'll miss him. He and I will probably burn some articles of clothing together to celebrate our 2 year and half year marks, respectively. I am looking forward to transfers. I'll be going into my 4th already. I'm not sure whether I'll stay or leave, but chances are I'll change companions, as Elder Johnsen has been here for 2 now. I'll tell you next week how things go! I'm hoping to be able to be moved in to the new apartment before then too.

    That's about it for me. It's good to hear how the family is doing. Congrats to Collete! It's also exciting that Jamers, Mark, and Kenadee are visiting you guys (mom and dad). I know (mom) that you're always very excited to get any chance to see her! The ward in Redlands is doing well it seems. That's very cool to hear that L. Tom Perry will come to the Redlands stake conference in April! You guys are getting hooked up with apostles it seems! Oh yeah, and how awesome it is (mom and dad) that you'll be going to Europe in July! How did mom convince you dad? I knew you two were planning on going on some big trip in the future, and it's exciting that you'll get to see Switzerland and Austria! So how much will it be? Tell me more details! Will anyone join you? (family or friends-I guess not the Burch's.) I hope you guys will love it! I'll be close to you! On the other hand, it's too bad about BYU basketball. Is it like the same deal with Harvey Unga? I guess it's pretty popular on the news and stuff. That guy's pretty dumb. Now, BYU will probably not do so well as they have. Sorry dad, I know you're probably mad. It's dumb when stuff like that happens. It's cool that BYU sticks to what is right though. That's what I like to see.

   I haven't heard from other missionaries lately, except my roommate Elder Flake in San Fernando and Elder Fisher in Texas. They're doing very well. Elder Flake is liking speaking Korean! Elder Fisher said he got a baptism and that he loves his area. I hope other elders around the world are doing well (especially the ones that are good friends). Zach is loving BYU. I'm excited for Briggs and Soren and Marshall to go there! Should be so fun! Mom, I'm still waiting on those 2 packages. I'm hoping to get them in a week on transfer day. Also, all those people are ok to accept as friends on facebook, except for "Geremy Xd" I don't know that name. All those girls are just English students. Thanks for taking care of my facebook! Dad, I still forgot to ask where Alin served in England. I'll try to remember to ask.

   Well. That's good enough for today. I hope everyone is doing fine and has a good week. Thanks for your support and what not. Enjoy March. I'm looking forward to a new transfer and soon, General Conference! yay. Well, anyways, I'm done. Love y'all! La revedere dragi frati si surori! LOVE, Elder Lee.