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

Monday, August 6, 2012

I'll Never Forget My Experiences in Romania!

Farewell Romania - I'll Miss You!

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hey, it's Elder Lee! It's the last email of my mission! Today is the last P-day I have here in Mihai Bravu. This whole week is just a week of lasts for me. It's hard to believe that the time has just about come for me to go. I have loved my mission immensely. I will be forever grateful for it. I hope I don't get too sad when I'm back home, thinking back on all my mission memories. I guess it's a good thing to hop right back into school, right? I hope I survive writing papers and taking tests; that's all you do in college. I'm so looking forward to seeing family and old friends at home and at BYU! I've really had the time of my life serving in the Romania/Moldova Mission, escpecially the time I have had this summer in good old Mihai Bravu. It was a dream come true to serve with Elder Knapp too! I'll miss him. He's doing so well.

   This past week has been a little weird for me. I finally started to realize that my time is about out. It hit me a little bit that I'll be seeing you, mom and dad, in just a couple of days! Elder Nilsson and I have had a blast serving together. We really have done a good job together and have learned a lot together. We didn't have much happen this last week in terms of busy missionary work; our investigators dissapeared on us! However, it has been a great week. I have been cherishing every last day I have. Time goes too fast. It's not fair! We were able to hang out one more time with Elder Farr and Elder Kebker last Tuesday. They both left for home last Wednesday. We ate at a pretty good Mexican restaurant called El Torito (I don't know if it's the same as that one back at home). It was tasty, and spicy! The spiciness was a surprise. I got some tasty chicken enchiladas. We went to see a baptism at Panduri. It was really cool. Guess who showed up? Daniel from Bacau! He was hanging around in Constanta (he hung out with the missionaries there, including Elder Knapp!) and then he dropped by in Buc to say bye to Elder Fonnesbeck and me one last time. It was good to see him again. I enjoyed my last transfer day at the Gara. I actually didn't get my newly-bound scriptures yet, so maybe it would be cool to have Sara get them for me. They should be done by this point. The plan originally was to have Elder Nilsson bring them home with him in September. It would be really nice if Sara brought them back with her (if they are done by then). I hope she has enjoyed being in Cluj. I would have loved to see that city. At least my scriptures have been there!

   Elder Nilsson and I had ribs the other day for lunch at Ruby Tuesday's. It's funny, because we both went there last year for our year-mark together. And we both got ribs there too. The ribs there are really good. We also enjoyed watching some of the Olympics on the t.v. while we were eating. We had a good last district meeting about sacrifice and consecration. The new district leader is Elder Schaub (who just got out of the office). He's with Elder Fonnesbeck for now, then he will go to Elder Nilsson when we leave. Elder Durand is in the office for his last four weeks with Elder Awerkamp. He is going to leave 2 weeks early to take the ACT test and to try to get into BYU-Idaho. Our sisters have been really fun these last two weeks. Sora Sam is with Sora Stark (who is from southern California somewhere). She got transferred from Galati. She's hilarious. I'll miss all of these fun missionaries that I've gotten to know so well. We made one last visit to the Bulgarasu's with the sisters. I love the Bulgarasu's. They have so much faith!

   My last Sunday in the branch was great. It was fast and testimony meeting. I bore my last testimony! So did Elder Fonnesbeck. Our recent convert, Flavian, came and bore a great testimony as well. He just got back from a young single adult confrence in Hungary! He said he loved it, and I was super happy that he was able to go and that he had great time. We ate Sora Gorzo's famous stuffed peppers for lunch after church. Then, on Sunday evening, we got to go to a fireside/farewell for the Radu's. They are the first Romanian senior couple missionaries ever! They just left today to go and serve 23 months as temple workers in the Bern, Switzerland temple. It was a great fireside. They are such great examples to all the members, even to all of us missionaries. It was cool to be able to see them for the last time and say bye. It was a historical event!

  Today is my last P-day. We're going to take a tour of Casa Poporului--my 2nd time. I need to start packing pretty soon! I hope to enjoy my last 3 days here in Buc. Mom and dad, I'm excited to see you guys and be with you here in Romania for a week. We'll have a great time. I'm glad that everyone is doing well at home. Chris is enjoying Dartmouth I hear. That's so cute that Kenadee wanted to talk to me. She doesn't even quite know who I am yet! Anyways, I will be happy to be back into the real world again. But, I'll miss being a full-time missionary in this beautiful country among these faithful Romanian saints so much. I have learned everything that I needed to learn and I am grateful for that. Now, I'll feel so much more ready to deal with life's challenges. I love you all. I'll see you all real soon. Have a great week. La revedere!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, July 30, 2012

I Love Serving in Bucharest!

My Days in Bucharest are Numbered!

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hey, so another week has already quickly passed. This transfer has come to its end. Fifteen transfers are done! We found out what will be happening: I will just stay another week with Elder Nilsson, and an office elder, Elder Schaub, will be with Elder Fonnesbeck for a week. It's the last transfer day for me this Wednesday. I hope to go and enjoy being around some missionary friends for the last time. Also, I hope to get my scriptures back from Cluj. I'm actually not sure that they will be done by then. It would kinda be a bummer if I don't get them on Wednesday, but, it's ok. Elder Nilsson would be fine with bringing them home with him in September. Then, we could meet up and hang out and I could get my scriptures from him! So, I may not have my own scriptures for a little while if that were to happen. We've had a good week.

   We've been trying to keep teaching Mihai and Ioana, our prime investigators, about the importance of prayer, baptism, and the commandments. We had one lesson with them this past week. Ioana is still slower at understanding, but she did come to church last week. Mihai understands a little better, but he has not come to church at all. We had a lesson set up with them and a member--Florin--but they didn't show up. They also didn't come to church yesterday either. They have a baptismal date for August 11th, but I am pretty sure that date will be moved back. It's just hard to gauge their seriousness. Mihai also smokes and drinks a little, and has been living with his girlfriend for 7 years! So, we really need to get the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity fully taught to them. Other than them, we're still working with Flavian, Ana, Tene, and Phil. We had a lesson with Tene and reviewed with him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. He's a great guy and lives the Gospel happily. We had a very good lesson with Flavian about the "Why" of priesthood service (using Pres. Uchtdorf's recent conference talk). We invited him to pray and to ask God to be sure he is ready to receive the priesthood. He feels ready. He's really been enjoying church and reading the BOM on his own. He says it makes his days and weeks so much better. Also, he will be going to a young single adult week-long conference in Hungary this week. He is excited, and so are we!

   We have had a lot of fun as a district. I'll miss all these missionaries when I leave. I'll get to see Elder Fonnesbeck and eventually Elder Nilsson back at BYU though. Elder Fonnesbeck will be living with Elder Farr in a condo somewhere near campus. So, it'll be fun to see both of them. Elder Farr is going home this Wednesday! He actually stayed the night with us (after getting here from Sibiu) and had breakfast with us this morning. It's been fun to talk about all the stuff we've done (I was with him when I first came to Buc last year, and Elder Nilsson was with him in Chisinau this last winter). We had a good district meeting about how to use the BOM in answering questions of the soul. We each wrote a question, then mixed them up, received someone else's question, then had to use only the BOM to find an answer. Mine read, "What happens to the Holy Ghost after the Millenium? Will he ever get a body?" Thanks Elder Durand! (It was his question). So, I found a good verse for it in the book of Jacob, chapter 4, verse 14. We all had a good laugh. I am pretty sure that question is not pertinent to our personal salvation! After the meeting, we had ice cream that the Wolsey's brought, then took some fun district pictures outside the church.

   We finally finished english classes. We had four people show up in advanced. It was fun. Church was nice. Elder Doloscan (he came back from Italy into the mission again) spoke, as well as Elder and Sora Wolsey. They are actually going home in one or two weeks! The new humanitarian senior couple arrived Saturday and came to church. They are the Francom's. I think they are from Canada. Elder Francom was already sustained to be the 1st counselor in the branch presidency! We sang "Secret Prayer" as a branch choir during sacrament meeting. We all ate and sang hymns at Sora Gorzo's afterwards. I only have two more Sundays in Romania!

   It's good that everyone is doing well at home. That's cool that Chris is at Dartmouth now. I hope he enjoys his time there. I'm excited to hear that Briggs will submit his mission papers soon. I hope Dad enjoys his short trip to Sacramento. Mom and dad, I'm going to see you guys in like a week and a half! Isn't that a little strange? We'll have a lot of fun! Oh yeah, I have made a few purchases recently. I got a white shirt, a pair of jeans, new socks, a new tie, and a big Romania picture book with gorgeous pictures of the country. I still may want to get one more suit and some new shoes as well. We'll see! Anyways, I hope you have a good week. Va iubesc. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, July 23, 2012

Graffiti? I Think Not!

Another Great Week In Bucharest!

Dear friends and family,

   Good Monday. It's a new week again. It's getting close to August. Summer has been going very fast! The weather here in Buc has sort of heated up, but I don't think it feels as humid. It's been a little windy too. So, it feels alright. I've had another good week here in the big city. Elder Nilsson and I have done a good job this week. We are happier because we have improved at contacting people and staying diligent. Also, we made contact again with Mihai (the investigator that keeps disappearing on us). We also met his mom, Ioana! They invited us over to their home for a lesson. They live right near the church. Mihai has been doing well and has read from the BOM, but he hasn't ever come to church yet. His mom, Ioana, is a very nice lady who is interested in what we have. She has trouble reading though, and we're trying to help her better understand the BOM and Restoration. We also taught her about prayer. She came to church! She enjoyed it too! It has been a nice opportunity for Elder Nilsson and me to see some more progress with them, and to give us more to do! We also met with Phil (one of the members from Cameroon, Africa). He got baptized in December or January. He's a funny guy. We had an interesting lesson. We originally planned to review with him the Word of Wisdom and Law of Chastity. He wanted us to tell him something he didn't know. So we asked him about fasting, and it eventually turned into a little lesson on fasting and the spiritual power it can bring. He's been doing well. He knows the doctrine well and has a lot of faith in God.

   We had interviews with President and Sora Hill (and the APs) on Wednesday. We had them at the mission home. I had a good time there talking with them. I told the Hill's that Elder Nilsson and I are having a great time together and are trying to finish strong. I'm really glad that I don't feel really anxious or trunky at all. I'm glad to be working diligently to the end. Elder Nilsson is a great example of diligence and obedience to me. Pres. Hill also gave me a renewed temple recommend (in Romanian!). My old one expires July 31st. So, I got an interview and got a new one which lasts until February, I think. The APs talked to us about personal integrity and obedience. Elder Nilsson and I enjoyed our time spent there at the mission home. We had a nice district meeting about the importance of studies. We all shared some of our favorite scriptures. My favorite scripture always changes! I thought about it and decided to share Moroni 10: 32-33. I love those verses. Even though we cannot be perfect in this life, we can become "perfect in Christ" by his grace and love. Through the Atonement of Christ, we can become "holy, without spot." I always thought it would be so neat to be spotless before God. It can happen, but only through our own faith in Christ and repentance. We all shared some nice scriptures together as a district. We had a good advanced english class--4 people came. We talked about Subway, vacations, sites to see in Romania and in the U.S., and more. The students enjoyed it. Finally, Sunday was nice. We heard talks about God, eternal families, and service in Sacrament meeting. Elder Nilsson and I taught the Sunday school lesson about the Word of Wisdom. We kinda of both felt a little unprepared at first (because we didn't have much time to prepare in the first place). However, as we got talking about it using D&C 89, we both felt that the Spirit was present and guiding our words. I really enjoy the feeling of teaching and saying what the Spirit helps me to say. At the end of our lesson, we sang "In Our Lovely Deseret!" We had a good meal at Sora Gorzo's (sarmale). It was a refreshing Sunday and a good week.

   So, it sounds like things are going well back home. Mom and dad, I read about what you said concerning the McFadden's favor. They were just wondering if you could bring two laptops over for some reason. It's probably not a problem if you guys don't have the room to take them. I'm sure the McFadden's will get them some other way. If he calls me again, I'll let him know. Or, you guys can email him back. It's good that Chris and Liz's baby is alright. Hopefully, it all works out and Chris can go to Dartmouth. Their house is looking nice. How are Jamie and Mark doing? I rarely get emails from Jamers. I'm excited to see them in Redlands when I get back. That's exciting that Elder Rowley's dad is getting him in Chile. It will be fun to see him soon. Dad, I already asked Pres. Hill about storing one of my luggages, and he said it would be fine. I think everything should be in order for our week together when you guys come here. Anyways, I guess that's about it for this week. Have a good one! Ciao.

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, July 16, 2012

I've collected a few name tags!

Can it get any hotter?

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hello! It's been another quick week in Bucuresti. We find ourselves here at the internet place yet again, emailing our respective families and all. We always have to race to get a computer! This place we go to (Orange--a phone company) has 9 really nice Mac computers. Today, we all made it to a computer! Well, besides the sisters. Sora Moulton and Sora Sam were too slow. However, there's another internet place nearby, and they went there. Anyways, Elder Nilsson and I have had a good week here. Apparently, this is one of the hottest summers in years in Romania! Remember how winter was like the worst winter in decades? Well, I guess it's kinda similar now, just dang hot and humid instead. I hear it will get a little cooler this week, then heat up again by Sunday. Mom and Dad, I guess it's good that it has been humid in Redlands. You need to prepare yourselves for Bucharest. Maybe it won't be as bad in Brasov. I look forward to the time you guys come, but I am also keeping myself focused on finding some cool people!

   We don't really have any investigators at the moment (they disappeared). But we do have some recent converts and less-actives that we still work with. We had a lesson with Gabi and Mihai Geambasu--a really cool couple. Mihai served a mission in Spain a few years ago, and Gabi, his wife, got taught and baptized by Elder Nilsson and Elder Simmons in November or December. We talked to them about preparing to go to the temple, and the blessings of the temple. On Saturday, we had exchanges. Elder Nilsson went to Elder Fonnesbeck, and Elder Durand came to me, so we were companions again for the day! We had a lesson with Ana. We talked about the importance of prophets. She's been doing well, but hasn't been reading her scriptures for a little while. We encouraged her to read daily, and we told her that she would see and feel a difference in her life as she does so. We also visited the Males's and the Paun's. We talked with them about inviting others to learn about the gospel, as well as the blessings we have seen in our lives as a result of the Restoration. They're awesome. Elder Nilsson and I have also tried to find a few more former investigators, but we haven't had much luck.

   The branch is doing well. Church was great yesterday. Unfortunately, we had no investigators come. Also, Flavian, our recent convert didn't show up. We need to meet with him soon. Nicu did come and passed the sacrament again! He was kind of less-active, but is now coming to church more often. It's great to see him in a white shirt and tie, passing the sacrament. He is a funny guy. We heard talks from Pres. Bulgarasu about keeping the Sabbath Day holy, from Ioana about prophets, and from Elder Nilsson about prayer. We sang "Faith in Every Footstep" as a branch choir too. We sound good! Now, we are practicing "Secret Prayer"--in Romanian, it's "Rugaciune Tainica". It's fun to sing the bass part in the chorus. Sora Gorzo made us ardei umpluti (stuffed peppers) after church. They were really good. Elder Nilsson and I found out that there's a Subway (the American sandwich place) that just opened up in a mall near our apartment! So, we went there once or twice already. We found out that there are supposed to be 5 or 6 in Buc by the end of the year (there are 2 now I think), and lots more across the whole country by the end of the year. There are Suways in Buc, Tmisoara, Cluj, Iasi, and Constanta I think. I've been enjoying Subway Melts, Chicken Teriyaki with sweet onion sauce, and the cookies! It costs about 20 lei for a footlong (well, actually a 30cm) sandwich meal. That would be cool if Togo's ever came to Romania...

   Anyways, that's about all we've been up to lately. I haven't taken any exciting new pictures, because we haven't really done anything exciting on our P-days--we've just chilled in the church all day. It's good that things are going well at home. I'm excited for everyone coming to Redlands for my homecoming. I'm excited to be able to see and hang out with Kenadee right when I'm back! I hope things all go well for Chris and Liz. I guess we'll see if he's able to go to Dartmouth or not. Mom, I'm glad you've been enjoying your primary class. I guess that would be fun to drop in and say hi to them in Romanian when I'm back. So Keith and Jordan are already back? Wow. That seemed fast. And Truman will be home really soon too. It will be fun to get back in touch and hang out with them all again at BYU. Anyways, I'm basically done for this week. Have a good week, Ciao.

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, July 9, 2012

Time Is Going Too Fast!

Dear loved ones,

   Well, hello there again. Let's talk about this past week. It's been a good one here with Elder Nilsson. I've really enjoyed being with him. Bucharest is hot and humid. Big surprise, right? We're all doing well as a district. Elder Nilsson and I are really trying hard to keep focus on the work. It can be hard sometimes because a lot of the time we have is just finding (new investigators or former investigators). We have enjoyed talking about BYU and things, but we also try to keep our minds on our work as much as we can. I didn't know it could be tough sometimes to finish strong on your mission. We have had success last week with meeting a couple of former investigators (Mihai and Gabi). However, this week, they decided to stop answering their phones and doors! So, we have kind of lost contact with them, already! It's a little bit of a bummer. They both are awesome people. We do have a little handful of recent converts and less-actives to work with. The sisters gave us Phil and Tene to work with. They are the ones from Cameroon, Africa. They were baptized in December or January I think. We have them now, because it can be difficult for the sisters to meet them with another member or missionaries to be present there every time (because of a mission rule). So, the work moves on! Elder Nilsson and I are really enjoying trying to figure out why exactly we are here together near the end of our missions.

   The branch is doing well. The mission had 3 or 4 baptisms this last week. There are a good amount of people throughout the mission with baptismal dates. Our district now has one baptismal date--an investigator of the sisters named Jamal. That's cool, mom and dad, that you guys got a letter from President Hill. It'll be cool for you guys to meet him. He is an outstanding mission president, and I will miss him when I am done here. Mom and dad, I think the Brasov church address is Str. Artur Leiter Nr. 1. I just looked at the church site in Romanian (its My scriptures are getting bound up in Cluj-Napoca. I should be getting them brought back down at transfers. Hopefully they'll get done correctly. I think the sisters up in Cluj take care of binding all the missionaries' books. I want my English quad to be hard-back, black, with gold lettering and designs (saying "The Holy Writ") and my Romanian triple to be hard-back, black, with silver lettering and designs (saying "Sfintele Scripturi" meaning "the holy scriptures") So, It will be cool to get those soon. Curently, I am studying out of the New Testament (I just finished Galatians) and I am borrowing Elder Nilsson's Bible.

   So, it sounds like you, mom and dad, had a fun 4th of July at Five Guys and at the Andreasen's. I want some Five Guys! I remember that was the last meal I had before walking into the MTC. That day doesn't really even feel that long ago. How was it at the Andreasen's? There were a lot of missionaries there? Were Zach and Briggs there? How do they feel about rooming with me at BYU in just over a month? I hope you enjoyed the fireworks! The only time I have seen fireworks here was for New Year's. Well, last New Year's in Craiova was super foggy and I couldn't see much of anything. I sure heard the fireworks though. Do you want to know what we did for Independence Day here in Bucharest? We went to eat at a Chinese restaurant! It was actually Sora Moulton's birthday on the 4th. We didn't do much throughout the day, but in the early evening, we all met together and ate at a Chinese restaurant (I forgot the name) sort of nearby the church. It was pretty good food! I got some sweet and sour chicken with pineapple and all that good stuff. It was fun to celebrate Independence Day in a Chinese restaurant in Romania! Sora Wolsey made us some good cake the next day for district meeting. Church yesterday was nice. We heard talks about service, sacrifice, and charity in sacrament meeting. We practiced "Faith in Every Footstep" as a branch choir after church. Sora Gorzo fed us some good food, as usual.

   It's good to hear that things in Redlands and in Utah are going well. It sounds like it's pretty hot there in Redlands! Enjoy it! There's no humidity there! Chris sent me a picture of their house, with those fires in the background. They got pretty close to the house! Are all those fires put out yet? That's a cute picture of Kenadee that you sent me, dad. Mom, I'm glad you are loving your Primary class. That is kinda a weird dream you had. A Romanian wedding? In Bulgaria? And Alin from Constanta was there? Did you say hi to him for me? Haha. That's really cool that Muse will be performing a theme song at the Olympics. Tell me how it goes! I still really like Muse a lot, especially how they play live! I'm glad to be here in Buc and continue to be a missionary trying to focus hard and work. My time is running out, so I'm trying to love each new day that I still have. That's about all I have to say about that. Have a good week. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, July 2, 2012

Great Times in Bucharest!

Time just keeps on rolling - too fast!

Dear loved ones,

   Hey, it's Elder Lee again! This past week has been a good one. The weather has not been too bad lately. However, it's July now, so it might start to get really bad soon. I'm almost used to the extreme humidity around these parts. I think it's pretty hot and humid in all the other cities in the mission. It's really weird that June is already over. I think it may have been the fastest month of my whole mission! The weeks keep on counting down for me ever so quickly, and it feels almost unfair that time just keeps on rolling too fast when you want it to go slow! I've been cherishing every day though. Elder Nilsson and I have been having a great time together. We get along really well, and have done some good things.

   Lately, we have been trying to re-contact some former investigators (found/taught in the past year or two). So far, we have actually found some success! We called a guy named Mihai. This Mihai was actually a guy Elder Farr and I contacted a year ago or more here in Buc! Elder Farr and I had a great lesson with him, and even invited him to be baptized and he said yes. But, unfortunately, he kinda disappeared for a while and stopped answering his phone. Well, Elder Nilsson and I got back in touch with him and have had two lessons with him this last week. He is a very nice and sincere guy. He's trying to find a new job right now. He even showed the BOM to his mom, and invited us to come over to them the next time we have a lesson! He didn't make it to church yesterday, but we hope he comes next week. The other former investigator we met with is named Gabi. She's a nice lady, married, and has a 17-year old son named Tavi. Only she was home when we visited, but we still had a great lesson and discussion about the importance of the BOM, Joseph Smith, and prayer. She didn't really remember much of what she was taught in the past. We gave her a new BOM to read, and she said she'd read it, and would be welcome to have us over again to talk more about it. Usually, I've never had this much success in trying to hunt down and re-teach former investigators, so it's really cool.

   We've also met with a couple of members-- the Firaru's and the Males's. They are both awesome families. We talked to the Firaru's about Helaman 5:12, and how we can build ourselves upon the rock of Christ. We visited Cristi and Iulia Males, with their little baby daughter, Louiza. It was kind of late, and we actually didn't have time to give a spiritual thought. But it was good to get to know them better and see how they've been. Their daughter is so cute. They made us some good fried squash and mici and french fries too. The branch and the district is doing well. We had a really fun talent show the other day--"Talente Mormone", in which members and missionaries from both the Buc branches participated. Lots of people showed up, and their were some really cool and funny performances--like Fratele Radu and his wife singing some opera and traditional Romanian music, Sora Alexandru doing some stand-up comedy, and her son, Vlad, dancing around and singing some dancey-beat songs. We all enjoyed it a lot. They do it each summer, and I think this one was just the fourth annual Talente Mormone talent show. I got to see Levent there too! (he was an investigator we taught here last year) Church was nice. It was nice to fast and hear each others' testimonies. Sora Gorzo made us some stuffed zucchini after church! It was really good. There was an Austrian couple (members of the church) that visited yesterday at church. They are a young married couple (the husband got back from a mission to Russia about 6 months ago) and they are doing a huge biking trip along the Danube River from Austria to Istanbul, Turkey! They came with us to eat at Sora Gorzo's too! They were really nice and spoke english really well.

   Well, that's about all the stuff that has happened this week. President and Sora Hill are doing well and are starting their interview tour. I actually gave my scriptures to the office elders for them to put in the office supplies for the Cluj missionaries so I can get them "Cluj-bound". There's a guy there that does some really nice binding and stuff, and tons of missionaries love to get their sciptures bound and fancified there. My scriptures should make it up there in the next couple of days with Pres. Hill and the AP's on their interview tour. I hope that it all works out, and that I can get them before I leave. Worst case scenario--I'll get them from Elder Nilsson or Durand back up in Utah after they finish their mission. Anyways, it's good that things are going well at home. I love hearing about how the family is doing, and seeing pictures of everyone, especially Kenadee. I hope you have a great week. Let July begin! (Oh yeah, sorry I forgot....Happy (late) Father's Day dad!) Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, June 25, 2012

Good times in Bucharest & Peles Castle

Loving Bucharest . . . even with the heat & humidity

Dear Loved Ones,

   Good day! I've had another good week in Bucharest. I have been here for a while now. I'm in my 6th transfer in Bucharest. It has always been fun, even when it has been hot. The weather lately has still been pretty hot and humid. However, there was a little changing up in the sky. It was cloudy and rained for a bit after church. But, soon enough, it all cleared up again. I hope you have all had a nice week. It has been really fun to have Elder Nilsson as my companion. He is from my MTC group. He came from Arad as a zone leader there. He's been a zone leader for the past 7 transfers in Mihai Bravu, Chisinau, and Arad. So he has been here in Buc before, last September to January. He is happy to be back. He is from Sandy, Utah, and went to BYU in Provo for his freshman year. He isn't going home early to start school in the fall (I think all of us going early include Elder Fonnesbeck, me, Elder Nemrow, and maybe Elder Nelson, I can't remember). So Elder Nilsson will finish his misison on September 12th. He's an awesome missionary, and is very sincere and diligent. So, I think it will be good for us to be together here. Also, one of his older brothers is the beat-boxer for the BYU a capella group Vocal Point. It's a pretty good a capella group.

   So, this past week went well. Elder Nilsson got settled back in (when he was here last year, he was in a different area). Before transfers, we had a big Mihai Bravu vs. Panduri football game at the chapel. We lost big-time! It was hot and a lot of misisonaries in Panduri are just huge and athletic. Transfer day was fun. I saw lots of missionaries, and a group of us went to eat Subway for lunch. We had a good time. I always get the Subway Melt sandwich there, with ranch and Chipotle Southwest sauce. On Thursday, we did some service. Together as a district, we helped move some of President Doru's (the district president) relatives out of their bloc because they were moving. It lasted about 2 hours, and we had a good time doing good old-fashioned service. Oh yeah, our whole district is the same except for Elder Nilsson and Sora Moulton. Sora Moulton was born in California, but grew up in Utah. She went to BYU there, and actually has been to Romania before as a BYU student in Iasi working in orphanages. She and Elder Nilsson are both awesome additions to the district here. We had a district meeting on Friday. Elder Fonnesbeck is still the district leader. We talked about how we can be succesful missionaries. Success does not come from the numbers, key indicators, or baptisms. It comes from our own commitment and consecration to missionary work. It comes when we know we have the Spirit with us as much as possible. It comes when we are happy that we are doing all we can to serve the Lord. I have learned that it is not always so easy to do these things! But as I strive to do them, I am so much more happy, and I feel that I am succesful, regardless of baptisms or tons of investigators (sure, those things can be a result of working hard). It was a nice meeting.

    Elder Nilsson and I have done a little bit of park contacting. We haven't found any new promising investigators yet, but we hope to. We also plan on visiting a number of members this week and seeing if we can get any referrals from them, or if we could see if they know anyone that would like to stop smoking. We got a new, updated version of the stop-smoking program at our last zone conference. It would be cool if we ever had the opportunity to use it and help a few people try to stop smoking. I did it with two people in Bacau, but they were never really committed enough to quit. Church was nice on Sunday. We heard talks about courage and agency. We learned about the importance of prophets in Sunday school. When they tell us we need to do something, we need to do it, because when they speak, God speaks. We had a lesson about charity in Elder's Quorum. Flavian and Nicu (two of our RCLA's) came to church and stayed for all 3 hours! During sacrament, we sang (as a branch choir) "Let us Oft Speak Kind Words". It sounded really nice. A member named Fratele Nichifor (the guy who set up Elder Fonnesbeck and Knapp to sing in their concert) played the piano for us. He wrote his own arrangement for it. It sounded nice and a little swingy even. Finally, Elder Nilsson and I had a great lesson with Ana (our RC) the other day. We reviewed some commandments (the Word of Wisdom and Tithing) and talked about obedience. When God commands us to do something, we can always know that He also provides a way to do it. When we do our part, He blesses us. That's about it for my week.

   It's good to hear that everything at home is well. I hope that fire avoids Chris and Liz's house. That's too bad to hear that Wells Fargo is being a little stupid for them. Mom, I hope you're enjoying your break and all your shopping! Maybe you'd like to go shopping here when you guys come. I still want to get some more clothes and another suit. So I guess the house will be nice and blue-er by the time I get back. You guys are just painting it blue again, right? I'll miss having Elder Knapp in my district! It was a great time to be around him for the past while. I bet he's having a great time in Constanta. It's a nice branch there. Well, anyways, I think that's about it for this week. Keep it real and read your scriptures daily! I'm in Acts in the New Testament. I'm enjoying it a lot. See you later! Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, June 18, 2012

At last . . . . A Visit To Peles Castle in Transylvania

The time is far spent, there is little remaining . . .

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hello! It's Elder Lee here again, reporting on another awesome week in Mihai Bravu. It's been a good week. The weather is pretty hot and kind of humid. It can get really nasty in buses and metros. Well, we all found out abut transfers a few days ago. So here's the deal. I am staying put in Buc, and I'm getting Elder Nilsson (from my MTC group!) He has been a ZL in Arad for the past 2 transfers. I'm excited for that! Elder Durand is simply going over to Elder Fonnesbeck. Elder Knapp is going to Constanta with a missionary named Elder McCombs. The rest of the district is just staying the same, except Sora Hosking will be going to Timisoara, and Sora Moulton will be coming here to be with Sora Sam. So, it looks like another fun district. It's funny how there will be 4 of us together here from our original MTC district. I will miss Elder Knapp! It's been so fun serving around him here! But I know he'll have a great time in Constanta. He is going to have a fun district there. And, he'll get to meet the branch president/Anaconda star, Alin! It will be pretty hot for him there too! We will be getting an new AP--Elder Pettit, from my MTC group. He is extending another transfer, so he will probably finish his mission as AP. He's a great missionary. I am happy to be staying in Buc!

   Elder Durand and I have really enjoyed being together this past transfer. The work has been a little slow for us two, but we have done a good job trying to find new investigators, as well as working with our less-actives and recent converts. This transfer went so fast! But, when I stop and think back upon the things we did earlier on in the transfer, it seems like a very long time ago. It's weird. We had a good week. We made some member visits to Sora Oros and Fratele Gabriel, as well as talked to Ana and Flavian, our recent converts. They're all doing well. Sora Oros is a great member, and is so funny. She made us some good food, and we talked with her about how small and simple things become great. We had a great visit with Fratele Gabriel. He does finances and stuff like that in the branch, I think. It was the first time I visited him in his home. He lives with his dad, who is not a member. Fratele Gabriel is a more quiet guy, but he is a very good example and has a strong testimony. We talked with him about how the word of God can have a more powerful effect upon our minds and hearts than anything else (see Alma 31:5 and 36:26). I like getting to know members better. There are a lot of great members in this branch. Ana is doing well. We talked to her about the Doctrine of Christ, and read 2 Nephi 31 together. She is coming to church about every Sunday and is trying to read her scriptures daily. Flavian has been busy finishing up his Master's. He hasn't met with us for a little while. But, he came to church (and to a branch picnic we had on Saturday). We talked to him about the Priesthood and about how he needs to stay at church for all three hours. He needs the Priesthood soon! He's a great guy, and has a strong testimony and knowledge of all the important things in the Gospel. We committed him to stay at church for all three hours, and promised him that he would have more desire to study and pray alone, as well as feel more confident and ready to receive the Priesthood if he did so. We're still trying to find new investigators...that's what we are always trying to do, right?

   We have done some fun stuff this week too. We had some delicious breakfast at the Wolsey's last P-day (and today for that matter!). They made us breakfast burritoes and root-beer floats. Today, they made us french toast and bacon. We didn't have our full P-day last Monday, because on Wednesday, we went to Peles Castle!!! We had a great time going up to Sinaia (the town where the castle is) together as a district as well as with the APs. The train ride only lasted for almost 2 hours. Oh my goodness, it was so gorgeous when we arrived there, up in the mountains! It was the first real time I have been in the mountains here! It really is super pretty. The humidity went away the further away we got from Buc. We got there and walked our way up a pretty path lined with shops and stalls until we got to the castle. It was really pretty. So much detail, inside and out. We did an inside tour of the first and second floor. Amazing stuff! We all got student discounts, so it was super cheap (only 12.50 lei per person!) I loved being there with some awesome fellow missionaries. I took tons of pictures. I'm so glad I got the opportunity to finally see this country's mountainous beauty. The next day (Thursday) was Sora Sam's birthday! Just 2 weeks after mine. So, we had a great district meeting in which we talked about Christ-like attributes, and Sora Wolsey made more cake! It was a really good maple walnut sponge cake with cream cheese frosting. After the meeting, we went to eat some pizza at a place near the sisters' apartment. Later in the day, we did some chalk contacting in the park with the sisters (everyone else was busy I guess). On Saturday, we had a fun branch picnic. Guess who showed up in a visit? The Lundberg's! Pres. and Sora Lundberg, as well as Josh, are visiting the country for a little bit to see their organization in some city I don't know of. They paid a visit to the church on Saturday and joined us in our branch picnic. It was good to see them. They're doing well. I got a picture with them! Finally, church was great. We heard some nice talks, and Elder Durand and I taught the Sunday school lesson on Baptism and the Gift of the Holy Ghost. We had good food at Sora Gozo's right after--roast beef and potatoes.

   So, it was an eventful week. I'm excited for next transfer. Hopefully Elder Nilsson and I will keep finding people, before I go home! It's good to hear from home. I'm glad that the fam is all doing well. Mom and dad, you're probably getting excited to come up here to Romania soon! I bet you guys want to see Brasov and those nearby castles even more now! I do too! Haha, I got that email from Elder Holden. That's hilarious! That was just like him. I hope he's having a great time in Georgia, and learning important things. That's impressive that Redlands 2nd Ward has so many missionaries serving! Anyways, Thanks for the email mom and dad, and I hope you all have a splendid week. La revedere!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, June 11, 2012

Great Times With Great Friends!

The Heat & Humidity Have Arrived in Bucharest!

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hola! I hope you all had a good week. Mom and dad, it sounds like you're enjoying the 90 degree weather there in SoCal. It's a lot better there, without the humidity. Here, it's been getting warmer and more humid. The past few days have been a little too humid for my taste. You gotta love it here in the summer. Mom and dad, it looks like you had a fun time in Utah with everyone. I saw those pictures. It looks like it was a nice reception for Tyler and Chelsey. I can tell Kenadee was running all over the place. I can't wait to hang out with her and actually chat with her. I hope the family's all doing well. I saw pictures of Chris and Liz's new house getting built. It looks nice so far. It's got a pretty view of the lake and mountains. It looks like the end of August will just be busy for everybody! Good to hear that the familia is doing bine.

   It's been a good week here in the Mihai Bravu side of things. Elder Durand and I are improving at talking to more people out in parks and what not. Contacting constantly takes a lot of diligence and self-discipline. We kinda have a new investigator! His name is Patric. We met him at english. He's  a medium english student, and wasn't able to come in time for the Tuesday class. So, Elder Durand and I stayed a little after our normal advanced class to teach him some english. After, we had a little lesson with him about the Restoration and gave him a BOM. He's a cool guy. We hope to have another lesson with him tomorrow after english. We have needed new investigators this whole transfer. Elder Fonnesbeck and Elder Knapp had a baptism on Saturday. They have been teaching Alex, a cool 20-something year old who had been talking to missionaries since last year (but in Panduri, I think). It was nice to see yet another baptism. Baptismal ceremonies are just a great way to spend a hot, humid Saturday afternoon. Elder Durand and I helped Sora Hosking and Sora Sam teach a lesson to Tene and his non-member friend, Francis. They are both from Africa, and are way cool. We had a great Restoration lesson. Francis has already read some of the BOM and has heard about the church from sometime before. By the end of the lesson, he really wanted to be a member of the church!

   We had zone conference on Wednesday and Thursday. It was both Ploiesti and Buc zones. It was awesome. We heard from both sets of zone leaders, the AP's, and Pres. and Sora Hill about stuff like success, personal study, having more faith to find and teach, and giving people commitments. Also, I had to bear my "dying" testimony! It was my last zone conference! Elder Fonnesbeck had to bear his too. That's been the tradition in this mission: when you're at your last zone conference, you bear your last testimony! It was a neat experience, and a little weird too. Elder McFadden (senior couple in Panduri) made us sweet and sour pork for lunch! It was pretty tasty. It was a nice change from Domino's pizza. It was fun to see other missionaries there and mingle a little bit. Oh, dad, on my birthday, I got a new suit! Well, I got the pants first, then, just a few days ago, I got the suit coat. It all cost 300 lei. I also got a new tie too. It's a nice gray suit, which I sported to zone conference. Sunday was a good day. Church was nice. Elder Knapp spoke! He talked about love. He did a great job! He pronounced everything perfectly. He was nervous, but everyone knew he did a good job. Sora Gorzo had us over. This time, we had sarmale and a good bean ciorba. Luckily, we did not get "Gorzo-ed" again. I trust her sarmale.

   Last piece of news! We got a special P-day organized for all the Buc missionaries (if they can/want) to go to Peles castle! It will be this Wednesday, because the inside tour of the castle is closed on Mondays. The AP's and Pres. Hill O.K.'d it. We will leave around 9 or 10 in the morning by train, and come back at around 3 or 4. I'm excited! I finally get to see some pretty mountains and a castle. The whole trip will cost about 110 lei. It will be a fun day. I'll get to see it again with you guys, mom and dad, in August. Anyways, that's about it for now. I hope you have a good week. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

I'm 21 Years Old!

June Has Arrived And We've Hit the Parks Contacting!

Dear loved ones,

   Hello there. It's Elder Lee reporting on his recent week here in Bucharest. It's been a good week. The biggest change is that the rain finally decided to stop! It's been so much nicer the past few days. The sun is out, and it's nice and clear. It is more humid and stuffy, however. Especially here in this internet cafe right now. But, I'm pretty tired of wetness, so it's a welcome change. At least for now. In July and August, it will be so much worse. Elder Durand and I are having a great time together. We have still struggled to get out talking to lots of people all day, because of the recent weather. Also, I feel like I am not as good at contacting as I was last year here. It seemed so much easier back then! Maybe it was because I was training. Elder Durand and I do have those days where it's hard to find motivation, simply because we are nearing the end. But we continue to keep trying to be effective every day. We hope to find more investigators now with the weather being more missionary-friendly.

   We have still talked with Nicu, Ana, and Flavian. They're all doing well. Both Nicu and Ana came to church yesterday. Nicu bore his testimony and even brought a friend. Flavian didn't make it this Sunday to church. However, we were able to meet with him earlier this week. We talked about the Priesthood. We want to try to prepare him to receive the Aaronic Priesthood soon. We talked about what it is, what it means, and the blessings that come through the Priesthood. He is a great guy. He's always busy with his work though. The district here in Mihai Bravu is still a lot of fun. The sisters had a baptism on Saturday. The person who got baptized is named Ioana. I have never really met her, but it was still a neat experience seeing her get baptized. It's been a while since I have seen anyone get baptized! Elder Fonnesbeck did the actual ordinance. She was confirmed just yesterday in church by President Bulgarasu.

   We did some fun stuff this week. It was my birthday on Thursday. I turned 21! I think I'm too old now. We had a good district meeting. Elder Fonnesbeck talked about relying on the Lord, and the McFaddens (the Panduri senior couple) came over to give us some little spiritual thoughts. Sora Wolsey made me a tasty chocolate cake! Then, we went as a district to Ruby Tuesday's. The food is always good there. Then, on Friday, I went on exchange with Elder Knapp! He came over to my apartment, and we spent all Friday together. We didn't have any lessons set up, so we went to the park and talked to a few people. We had some shaormas for lunch, and just had a good time. We made my Pillsbury cake and brought it to the church for correlation. It was good. On Wednesday, the Wolsey's invited Elder Durand and I and the sisters to help sort some toys for the Red Cross Association of Romania. We went to some warehouse and sorted tons of toys into piles and boxes for future use, I guess by orphan children or children in hospitals. It was a nice opportunity to do some service and have some fun.

   Church was nice. It was fast and testimony meeting. We heard many nice testimonies about the power of prayer and how God works through other people to help us and answer our prayers. Sunday school and Priesthood classes were well-taught (by Ioana and Cristi Males). After church, we all ate at Sora Gorzo's. She made us some potato ciorba, chicken, and rice. She also knew it was my birthday, and had some chocolate cake for us all. She gave me a birthday card and a little t-shirt. It was a good time. However, this morning, pretty much all of us who ate there woke up with some trouble in our bowels. We may have gotten a little diarrhea (or as we call it, "we got Gorzo-ed"). I think it's only the first time I've gotten some bowel troubles from eating her food. I think I'm feeling better now, fortunately.

   That's basically my week. It's nice to hear that you (mom and dad) had a great time in Utah with the family. It must have been fun to hear Kenadee talking and lisping. It must have been a nice time at Tyler and Chelsey's wedding reception. That missionary who came must have been Elder Finch. He's from Spanish Fork as well. He was a fun missionary. He replaced me and Elder Abbott in Craiova. Anyways, I hope all goes well this next coming week. I am enjoying being here in Bucharest. Have a good one! Ciao.

Love, Elder Lee

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Mihai Bravu District is the Best!

Still Raining in May . . . . But I'm Doing Great!

Dear Loved Ones,

   Hey, it's Elder Lee here in Bucharest on another p-day with the district. We just got done eating breakfast and studying at the Wolsey's. They made us eggs, potatoes, bacon, and toast, with home-made strawberry jam. Tasty. We talked about different facets of the gospel in our little study session after. We read from 2 Nephi, the New Testament, and D&C. We talked about pressing forward in enduring to the end,  keeping the sabbath day holy, the good Samaritan, and using our agency wisely. The past week has gone well. It's still raining. I don't know when it will stop! Elder Durand and I have virtually no investigators, and so with the added rainfall, missionary work is a little slow right now. We have been trying to go to parks, and we went to one even though it was a little rainy. We did talk to a couple of people. Elder Durand tried a new idea to contact the person we spoke to. He asked her if she likes to read, then said, "If I gave you this book which contains a thousand years of history, talks about Christ's appearance in the ancient American continent, and contains the fullness of His Gospel, would you read it?" The lady was not so interested (plus it was raining) so we just gave her a pass-along card and kept on going. Besides trying to contact, we had other meetings and things that happened in the week. We had a good district meeting and talked about hope. We always have a correlation meeting on Friday night and talk about all our investigators. We had a great Sunday at church yesterday, and we usually eat at Sora Gorzo's afterwards.

   We were able to meet Nicu, a less-active member, the other day. Elder Jones and I actually found him last summer in Cismigiu Park. We thought he wasn't a member the whole rest of the time I was here in Buc last year. When I left, I got a letter from Elder Jones saying that Nicu actually got baptized 10 or 11 years ago, and that Elder Jones and his companion were talking with him often and re-activating him. So, we met with him just a few days ago because he hasn't been to church since around general conference time. He is a funny guy. He works in construction. He is a smart guy, and has a testimony of the Gospel. He has been working lately, including on Sundays sometimes, and he told us he is trying to get off work on Sundays. He told about how he joined the church and how he gave up smoking and drinking. We invited him to keep reading the scriptures (he's reading the Bible now) and to come to church. Unfortunately, he didn't show up yesterday at church. But, We did see Ana come (who is a recent convert that Elder Jones and I found as well!) So, it was good to see her there. We also made a visit to President Bulgarasu's on Thursday! He came up to me at church last Sunday and said, "Lee! When are you gonna visit us? The sisters are coming over Thursday at 6, you guys should come too!". So, we did. We went with Sora Hosking and Sora Sam to visit him and his family (his wife and 4 year-old daughter). They are such a great little family. They fed us some delicious ciorba, and we had a spiritual thought about serving others and gratitude to God (see Mosiah 2:17-19, I think.) It was the first time I had been to their home! He is a great Branch President.

   Elder Durand and I are teaching advanced english. Well, we don't really have a class. Only one person came last time, and it was actually Elder Fonnesbeck's and Elder Knapp's investigator. Her name is Afrodita. She is super nice, and she knows english pretty well. The other two english classes are pretty well-attended. I have not had a well-attended english class for a long time. Church yesterday was great. Pres. Dragoi (from the district presidency) and his wife spoke about the Atonement and the name of the Church--how it is The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She talked about what the name really means and what it means for us to take upon ourselves the name of Christ. Elder Fonnesbeck gave a short message about the Gift of the Holy Ghost. Sorin Stanciu (the member who is in charge of all the technical stuff) gave me a translating microphone to translate for the Wolseys! So, I tried. I am super bad at it! It's tough to do stream-translating. I get lost super quickly and it's a little frustrating. But, it was good language practice. I hope I didn't ruin the Wolsey's Sacrament meeting by being a bad translator! After church, Sora Gorzo had our district over and made us some really tasty breaded zucchini and cauliflower, bean ciorba, and potatoes and little meat-loaf things (which contain turkey, beef, and lamb meat). It was all pretty good. Last night, Elder Fonnesbeck and Elder Knapp sang in another concert! It was at 7:00 at the Atheneul Roman. They performed three songs--Sweet is the Work, I'll Go Where You Want Me to Go, and Love One Another. It was in a smaller hall, but there was a pretty good turnout. There were also other pieces that other people played (on the cello and piano), but some were kinda funky contemporary pieces that sounded kinda weird. It was super fun to see them sing! I got some pictures of it.

   Anyways, that's all the news here. It's nice to hear that things are going well at home, and in Utah. Mom and dad, hope you have a great time in Utah. I'm excited for you Mom, that you are done with work for awhile! Enjoy your break! I am sorry for Grandma. I hope she's doing well. Isn't the femur a bad place to have your leg broken? I'll try to remember to keep her in my prayers. It sounds like the Lee Family Reunion will be a fun time. Well, it sounds like all the details are planned out for when you guys come up, Mom and Dad. I look forward to it. Don't worry, I'm not trunky. We're just trying to work even with the rain and lack of investigators. I got my package! Thanks a ton. It's got a lot of good things in it. It's my 21st birthday in 3 days from now! I'm getting too old! I still feel like a kid. I think we'll have a fun day. I'll make my cake, maybe bring it to district meeting, maybe go to Ruby Tuesday's; it will be fun. Anyways, I'm all done for now. I hope you have a good week. Pray for the rain to stop here in Bucharest! La revedere.

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, May 21, 2012

Subway has come to Bucharest!

Everything is going great in Bucharest!

Dear Loved Ones,

  Happy Monday! Life has been going well lately for me here in the big city. I am really enjoying Bucharest. Again. Elder Durand and I have had a good week. We're trying to find new investigators, but it has been tough because of nonstop rain for the past week! I'm getting tired of the wetness everywhere! I think today or in a couple days it will clear up. It has also been cooler too, which has kinda been nice at least. I've been loving being around Elder Knapp and Elder Fonnesbeck too. I've gotten to know the other missionaries in my district too, and we all get along and have a great time. I have enjoyed district meetings here too. Last district meeting, we talked about obedience and what we want to become as missionaries--especially when we return home. Elder Fonnesbeck is a fun district leader. We've been handing out english cards lately, as the classes start this week. I haven't done a lot of english contacting in a long time. It's kinda weird to stand at a busy corner and just hand cards out to random people, but I got used to it quickly. We gave out tons of cards! However, on Saturday (the day of sign-ups) it was rainy! So nobody came! Everyone's scared of the rain. Only about 4 or 5 people showed up, and I think they all signed up for medium level. So, we'll see if we even have a class to teach (Elder Durand and I are planning to teach advanced class).

  We were able to meet Ana, a recent convert, and Flavian, another recent convert, this week. Ana is the lady Elder Jones and I found in a park when I was last here, then I left. She was taught by Elder Jones and Elder Awerkamp, who had replaced me. She got baptized last November or so, and so we decided to meet her and see how she is doing. She still remembers me! She's a nice lady. We met with her and decided to review the Restoration. She has a hard time retaining information, but as soon as we got talking about Joseph Smith and the BOM, she began to remember everything. She just needs a lot of review often. She hasn't come to church the past two Sundays. Flavian, another recent convert, is doing well. He was baptized just before I got here. He came to church just yesterday. He is actually from Craiova and is working here near the mission office. We had a lesson with him last night. We talked about how he can strengthen his relationship with God by keeping the Sabbath Day holy, reading the scriptures each night, praying often, and simply enduring to the end (see 2 Nephi 31:18-20). He is a great guy, and after our meeting with him, he felt super good and now wants to make it a goal to read the BOM every night for twenty minutes. We need to also prepare him to receive the Priesthood soon. We made a visit to a member, Fratele Paun. He's a good friend who we would make visits to last year. He's got a 13 or 14 year old daughter, Denisa. We talked about how things have been going, and had a spiritual thought about how we gain testimonies. He's a great guy.

   Church was great yesterday. We heard talks about fasting, the temple, and faith. Fratele Radu and his wife just got back from a temple trip to Kiev, and he spoke about the temple and his experience there in Sacrament meeting. He's a strong member, and he gave a great talk. He encouraged other members who hadn't yet been to the temple to go, and to do all the things necessary to obtain a temple recommend. Elder Durand and I taught the investigator Sunday School class. Elena (who usually teaches it) had to do something after Sacrament meeting and couldn't be there to teach. It was fun. We decided to talk about the importance of the BOM and covered three points: it's another witness of Christ, it confirms and clarifies Biblical truths, and it shows that God still works today. We used Elder Tad R. Callister's BOM talk from last October conference, and concluded the lesson with how we obtain a testimony of the BOM (we read Moroni 10:4-7). It was a good church, even if it was rainy. We went over to eat at Sora Gorzo's after. She made us a good spinach-rice ciorba and ardei umpluti. Yummy! Also, the Saturday before church, we had a branch activity. We all met at the chapel and watched the Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration film! Ioana translated (because it was only in english). It was a great time. It's a very cool movie. It was so cool to watch it with a lot of Romanian members who have testimonies of Joseph Smith! Now, they have even stronger testimonies of him because of the film. On a sadder note, last P-day, Elder Peterson injured his knee playing basketball. It turns out that he tore his ACL. He had to go home for emergency surgery on his knee. He left on Friday or Saturday. He has a family doctor who will hopefully fix everything up. He may come back into the mission after 3 months or so, but it's not for sure. It's a bummer. I'll miss him. He's a great missionary.

   Well, that's about everything that's been going on in this neck of the woods. Things are going well here. I just hope it clears up soon. It's nice to hear that things at home are going well. Mom and dad, I hope you enjoyed Tyler and Chelsey's visit. I hope they have a great honeymoon. It will be exciting to see them soon. I also hear that work on Chris and Liz's house finally started! Chris sent me the picture of the foundation. That's good news for them. Kenadee looks cute with her new hairstyle. It'll be exciting to come home soon and see all my favorite people again. It will be busy too I guess! Anyways, I'm basically out of things to say for now. Have a good week folks, and don't forget to pray! La revedere.

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, May 14, 2012

I love being back in Bucharest!

I'm Loving it back in Bucharest!

Dear family and friends:

   Hey, it's Elder Lee! So, I'm here back in Bucharest Mihai Bravu with Elder Durand! So far, I have really enjoyed it. The weather has been warm, the branch is awesome as it was last year (now with a few new members), and I love my district. Oh yeah, and I'm in the same apartment as I was in last year! It feels like deja vu or something. There are some fun differences now though, like being around Elder Knapp! It's so fun! I remember last year when I found out he was coming here on his mission. Now, we're in the same district! I would have never imagined where we are right now 5 years ago. It's great to be able to talk to him about all the things we remember from back home, whether it's the ward, school, all the fun things we did, or whatever else. We find ourselves reminiscing about good old times in the middle of other missionaries talking about other things. He's just the same as I remember him, except that now, he's speaking Romanian!

   We have had a fun last few days. I am enjoying being with Elder Durand. He is from the West Jordan area I think. He worked before his mission. He wants to go to BYU Idaho after his mission, in January. He just got back from being Branch President in Deva recently. Elder Cooper was his last companion here in Buc. It's funny, because we're both former branch presidents serving together (not to mention that we were in the MTC together). Also, I am his 6th companion he has served with from our MTC group. He has served with Elder Schroedter in Timisoara, Elders James and Pettit in Pitesti, Elder Nemrow in Constanta, Elder Mikolyski in Deva, and now with me in Buc! It's pretty cool. We get along great and have already talked about our branch presidencies and the stuff we've learned as branch presidents. The other missionaries in the district include: Elder Fonnesbeck, Elder Knapp, Elder Staheli (from Colorado), Elder Green (from Idaho), Sora Hosking (from Utah), Sora Sam (from Brentwood(?) California), and of course, the Wolsey's from Canada. It's great to be around all these fun missionaries. The branch here is super nice to be in. My first Sunday back (Mother's Day) was great. I said hi to a few members that remember me. I've missed this place! The branch president is still Presedintele Bulgarasu. Since I left last year, there have been a few baptisms here. It is nice to sit in the big congregation and not have to worry about conducting and delegating talks and lessons. However, it was a great experience to sit up in the front of that tiny congregation (if you could call it that) in Bacau and conduct every Sunday, as well as give talks about twice a month or more.

   Elder Durand and Cooper taught and baptized a guy named Flavian before I got here. So, he is now our recent convert. I have met him once so far, at a Helping Hands service project we did with all the missionaries and some members from both branches. He's a cool guy, and speaks pretty good english. He works at Oracle, which is up by the office. Other than him, we have a couple investigators named Cosmin and Cristian. We haven't been able to meet with them yet. Mainly, we need to find more investigators and get working with a few more less-actives. There are two or three baptismal dates here in Mihai Bravu (the sisters have one or two, and the other elders have one or two, I can't remember). There are 17 total baptismal dates in the mission. So anyways, the Helping Hands project was fun. It was sort of like the one we did last year. We got in the yellow vests, met at the chapel, then went to a random neighborhood with some empty fields and picked up trash for a few hours. I got a bit sunburned. It was a good time. We have also gone to Sora Gorzo's once or twice. It's good to see her again and eat some of her famous food. The other night, Elder Durand, the sisters, and I went to the Arcul de Triumf because it was randomly open for free to go in and go to the top to see the view of Buc and stuff. We had a fun time. I guess it's usually closed, so it may have been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity! I'm excited to be back here and try to get back to some busy missionary work again.

   Mom and dad, I enjoyed skyping with you guys. It will be the last time we talk before we do it in-person. Stefan (the member who let us use his laptop) is a great guy, and I'm sure you (dad) had a fun time talking to him a little about your missions in England. I'll be getting your package then in a couple weeks. Thanks for sending it to me. It's good to hear that everyone in the family is doing well. Hope you had a happy Mother's Day mom! I hope you have a good week. Today, we ate breakfast (crepes!) at the Wolsey's, and we might play volleyball or go shopping later. I want to get another suit. Maybe a gray suit. I'm having a ton of fun, but I need to start getting back into the Buc summer missionary work swing of things again, where you talk to tons of people everyday in the parks and meet lots of members and less-actives/recent-converts. It was hard to do any missionary work in Bacau, so I need to get back into the groove of contacting more people again. Congrats to Tyler and Chelsey! I missed out on their wedding! I'm sure it was awesome. I'm happy for them. Well, I'm about done for now. Have a good week, and we'll mai vorbim. La revedere.

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, May 7, 2012

So long Bacau - I'll miss my Branch!

Back to Bucharest! I'll Miss you Bacau.

Dear loved ones:

   Hey, it's Elder Lee! Yes....just Elder Lee. I have some news. I'm not a branch president anymore! I am leaving Bacau. Elder Rosenvall, my awesome companion, will be the new branch president! I am happy for him. So, we found out transfers on Friday. Pres. Hill called us. He told Elder Rosenvall that he was to be the next branch president of Bacau! He will be getting a second transfer missionary coming from Cluj named Elder Ealy. And as for me? Well, let's just say dreams do come true because I will be going back to Mihai Bravu in Buc! I will actually be serving with Elder Durand from my MTC group! And guess who else is down there? Elder Fonnesbeck! And who is he training? Elder Knapp!!! I'll be serving in the same district as Elder Miles Knapp! I am excited. I never thought I'd get to see him the whole rest of my mission....Now I get to see him many times a week! I know he is excited too! He called me and we rejoiced together! President Hill decided to put me back in a nice, big, functioning branch with lots of misisonaries. I'm ok with that! I won't be a district leader or a zone leader. Just a normal, former branch president missionary! Also, Elder Durand is a former branch president! He was recently BP in Deva before he got to Buc with Elder Cooper (who is going home this week). Exciting!

   Those who are going home include Elder Bateman, Elder Newton, Elder Cooper, and Sora Henriksen. I'll miss them, especially Elders Bateman and Newton. There will be two new elders and one new sora. One of my favorite companions, Elder Abbott, will be training one of those new elders in Pitesti! Hooray for him. Time flies. Next transfer, I don't think any elders leave, and maybe only one sister will leave. Then, after that, Elder Farr and Elder Kebker go bye-bye, then, ME! I have onyl 3 months left! I am excited to go to Buc again. In my interview with Pres. Hill, he wished me well in Buc and wished that it could be an "exclamation point" on my mission experience. So, I assume I will stay there until I'm done. I assume the same for Elder Fonnesbeck. Transfers are exciting. A number of missionaries are going back to cities they've served in before. For example, Elder Schroedter (from my group) is going back to Timisoara (where he served for his 3rd, 4th, and 5th transfers) to be the branch president there. Pres. Hill always seems to do transfers in a way that makes you say, "well, that makes sense."

   It has been a good week here in Bacau with Elder Rosenvall. We didn't do much, mostly because we had to do a lot of apartment treaba--new air conditioner being installed, our water heater getting fixed, a leak getting fixed in the bathroom, etc. All the problems are fixed now. Our apartment is back to being in good order. We had a fun last couple of days. On Saturday, the Heningers came up (a senior couple in Brasov) to do an apartment inspection and also to take us out to lunch. They started their mission in Iasi, but moved to Brasov recently. He has given me help and advice for branch president stuff (every Sunday, we'd talk on the phone for a little bit). They are very nice people! We had a good time chatting and eating some good food (a romanian/turkishy place with really good sandwich kebab things). They were a bit surprised to find out that Elder Rosenvall would be the new BP here. Yesterday, we had the Hill's and the APs at church here in Bacau. It was a great fast and testimony meeting. We had a good turnout (a couple less-actives came). President and Sora Hill made some remarks, and Pres. Hill released me as branch president and sustained Elder Rosenvall as the new one. He also shared a very cool experience he had right after he got his mission call from President David O. McKay to go to Germany. He was working in Salt Lake at a hotel, and one day, he saw Pres. McKay walking by with the help of his son or somebody (he was very old and needed help walking). He decided to help and grabbed his other arm. They walked him into the hotel and went up to the 8th floor, where Pres. McKay actually lived. Pres. Hill said he finally found the courage to tell Pres. McKay that he had given him a mission call to serve in Germany. Pres. McKay told him congratulations and gave him a big hug. He said "success to you". Pres. Hill said he'll always remember how Pres. McKay never said "good luck", but "success to you". He helped him into his room and watched him hunch way down to give his very short wife (I guess he was pretty tall) a big kiss. Pres. Hill and Pres. McKay talked for a little while, then Pres. Hill left and continued on working. After a Sunday school lesson about sacrifice, we took a branch picture and then headed home. There, we cooked up some tasty pasta and all ate together. It was fun hosting Pres. Hill, his wife, and the APs in our apt. They said they liked the food! After that, we had interviews, then they were on their way back to Buc. We were the last missionaries to get interviewed on their tour of the mission.

   Anyways, there's all the big news!  I hope everything is going well back home. It sounds like everyone is doing well. I'm excited for Tyler and Chelsey! As for Skype, I should be able to do it Sunday night or even Saturday night. We can plan on Sunday night 6 or 7 pm (my time). If I have to, I can email you again in the next few days. Stay tuned...Well, I think that's about it. I hope to have a blast back in Buc with some of my favorite people! Have a good week and read your scriptures! Love you.

Cu drag, Elder (not President anymore...) Lee