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

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.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Had fun watching General Conference and participating in Mormon Helping Hands.

General Conference Was Great!!

Dear those of you who read this:

   Hello! It's Elder Lee. How was the week? My week was good. Kinda had a lack of lessons, and have been having a lack of investigators. But it was great to watch conference. I hope you all had or will have the chance to watch it. Isn't it one of the most important things in the world to listen to the living prophet and living apostles? I think so. Isn't it even more important to do what they say and not do what they tell us not to do? I think so. It was a great time watching it among members and other missionaries in Bucharest. It was broadcasted in the chapel. I really enjoyed the talks from: Elder Scott, Elder Christofferson, Elder Callister (he made the importance of the BOM pretty clear I think), and President Monson. I have to say, that our prophet is a funny man. I love the fact that you don't have to be living in a monastery all day to be a religious, faithful person. You can be like the living prophet, and let a little humor out! "We love yah Bob!" It was great to hear him and others bear witness of the Savior. We got to watch all of it except for the Sunday Afternoon session. I loved the messages of prayer, standing up for your morals, repentance, receiving inspiration from the Spirit, and more. The church is true! It's also NOT the Mormon church! It's the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints!! Why? Because it's Jesus Christ's church that he himself established! He told us to use the name of His church correctly. I enjoyed that talk.

   The work is going well. We had a new investigator, Victor, come to the priesthood session of conference. He's cool. He really talks a lot. He is really interested in history. He's scoured over the BOM and made notes all over it. We need to help him with prayer and receiving a spiritual witness. Valer is cool, but is gone all the time. So, yeah, we have had a lack of investigators, and still do. Just keep finding! That's my new motto. Elder Jones and I have been having a great time together. Especially living with Elders Bateman and Peterson. It's been fun with them. They will finally move out into a nice, new apartment this week. I went on an exchange with Elder Bateman this week. It was fun. We got a block lesson on our first door! It went well and it was a nice guy. Otherwise, we've just been going to parks, as well as more and more blocks. I feel like I've been eating a lot too. I'm always hungry. I'm not gaining weight though, don't worry. I've been reflecting on my language ability lately, and decided I need to speak better! Elder Bateman speaks very well and uses grammar principles that I know, but just don't ever use. I feel like I need to speak better and apply those things I know. I've made a new language study plan that I hope helps me study more diligently each morning.

   Well, things are going well here. We had no baptisms this week in the whole mission. But there are about 15 baptismal dates. There will be 2 baptisms here in Mihai Bravu on this Saturday! (Elder Bateman's investigator and the sisters' investigator) We already have transfers on Oct. 12 (a week and a half), so I will find out what happens to me next Monday. Stay tuned. I think I'll finally leave Bucharest. I wonder where next? We'll see. I'll really miss Bucharest. I've been here forever! I hope the family is doing well. Dad, I'm glad BYU won, and they have a couple easy games coming up. Who do they play in the next few games? I hope the ward is doing well. I'm excited for the Matts and Miles! I'll be waiting to see Miles next year. Any big news in Redlands or the ward or anything? I got emails from Jamie and Chris. They're all doing well. Well, I guess I'm done for now. I hope you had the opportunity to hear something just for you in a conference talk. I love you all! See you laters. Ciao! Love, Elder Lee