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

Monday, April 30, 2012

Motorcycle riding in Bacau? Maybe not.

Is it Summer already? It is getting hot!

Dragi Frati si Surori:

   Buna ziua folks! It's President Lee (but not Rex E.) How has your week been? Elder Rosenvall and I had a good week. We're still doing well together. We get along very well and love chatting about random things or things that we have in common. He's a great missionary. He's an example to me of humility and striving to be and stay effective. It's tough in Bacau to stay effective. It's a great test of patience, and diligence. Every new day is like Heavenly Father saying, "What are you two going to do with My time today? Keep trying!". And so, we keep trying. We had zone leader exchanges Wednesday this past week, and that really helped! Elder Bruner and Elder Eaton came from Iasi for the day. By the way, Elder Bruner was the last branch president here for 6 transfers before I came to replace him, so he knows how everything is here. I was with him for our exchange. We had a good day. We visited members including Alin, Andreea, Daniel, and Fratele Istoc. The members are doing well. We had a great lesson with Fratele Istoc about hope and the Atonement. He usually has problems with health and depression issues, but he loved to visit with us and really felt the spirit. As a result, he came to church yesterday! He usually has come only once a month or less in the recent past. Hopefully he'll get coming back again. He seems noticeably happier! Elder Bruner and I had good chats about Bacau, and what we can keep trying to do to be more effective, and to not let Bacau conquer us! Elder Eaton and Rosenvall had a good exchange of their own--they found an inactive member and also found a new investigator and taught him and his family a lesson.

   Unfortunately, we also had to remove a member's name from the church. Gabi is his name. He was found by the others on exchange. Unfortunately, he decided that he does not want anything more to do with the church, and has lost his faith in God and in the gospel. We met him at the church and he said he is tired of injustice in his life--working so hard but never really getting anything good in return. He was decided on his desire to remove his name. We tried to see if we could do anything to help and even bore our testimonies to him to try to dissuade him! But, in the end, we complied with his request. We filled out some paperwork and need to fax it to the office (except right now, our fax machine doesn't want to work!) It's a bummer to do things like that. All I can say is that I am so grateful for the blessings the Gospel has brought into my life. I could never deny my testimony.

   Everything else is going fine, as usual. We had a fun p-day! We went to the countryside (about 20 minutes outside of Bacau) to Daniel's parents' house. They live in a bloc in Bacau, but they also have a beautiful little cottage in the countryside with gardens and trees. Daniel's dad showed us his old motorcycles. We took plenty of pictures. We played some chess and Settler's there, then came back to Bacau and had some pizza together. Oh, Elder Rosenvall taught me how to play chess! I've never learned how to play until now. It's pretty fun, I'm just terrible at it. So, I have recently learned how to juggle and how to play chess! Let's see, the mission is doing well. There are 24 baptismal dates for this next coming month across the whole mission. Transfers are on May 9th. We will have interviews with President Hill on Sunday the 6th. I think he'll come to church here too. I don't know yet what will happen to me at transfers. We'll find out in less than a week probably. I have only 2 more transfers, plus a week or two. Life is coming back all too soon!

   It's nice to hear from home. I'm glad all is well. Mom, good luck with your kids (at school and at Primary) and the testing and everything you have to do. It's nice that your Primary class seems to be well-behaved and enjoying your lessons. I hope Chris and Jamie and everyone else is doing fine. I am glad to hear that all the missionaries from the ward are loving their missions! Hopefully Elder Holden will get used to the change with his new transfer in Georgia. Missions are really tough sometimes when you have to get used to a new companion or area. Sometimes you don't like your companion (at first, or maybe just not at all for the whole 6 weeks). It really tests you! It seems so impossible to carry on sometimes. That's when you need to pray to Heavenly Father as if He was your closest friend, because He is. He does bless and help you through hard times. I know that. I have experienced it on my mission. You grow very much when you succeed in coping with new, difficult things and then keep going. My mission has taught me a lot of things, but it has especially taught me how to depend on Heavenly Father when it sometimes seems that you can't go to anyone else for relief. Anyways, We'll talk next week, and we'll see what happens at transfers. Mom and dad, I should be able to do Skype Mother's Day call, but it may be on Saturday or Monday (because the 13th is a Sunday). Maybe we will go to Daniel's house and use his computer. I'm not sure yet. We'll see. Have a great week. Love the Gospel.

Love, President Lee

Monday, April 23, 2012

A Rainbow over Bacau - A sign of Good Things to Come!

April Showers Are Bringing Beautiful Flowers!

Dear Loved Ones:

   Dear family and friends. It's President Lee (but not Harold B.). It's time to recount another week gone by. I hope you all had a fine week and did at least three things that the Spirit prompted you to do. Bacau is getting prettier. The weather has been a bit rainy, but it's sunny today. It can randomly rain whenever though. It's nice and warm nowadays. April is almost over. There are blossoms on the trees, and there are a ton of tulips planted everywhere around centru (in colors like blue, yellow, purple, orange..). In Romanian, "tulips" is "lalele" (I think). It's a fun one to say, especially the genitive version of it, "lalelelor" or the definized, plural version, "lalelele". I hear it's getting really hot in Redlands recently. Don't worry, it's not as bad as Buc summers of deadly heat and humidity. Ok, it's not actually deadly, but it can seem so when all you have to do is contact in parks all day sometimes. I'm excited for the warm, green season coming.

   Elder Rosenvall and I are doing well together, We've been getting along really well and enjoy talking about lots of stuff. The branch is doing alright. Missionary work is still slow, like always. We find ourselves trying to be effective as much as we can, which includes lots of block-knocking. It can be a test of motivation and desire to hit the blocs all the time when you just keep knocking into uninterested Orthodox people all the time. It's always worth it in the end though. It seems like it has been so long since I've started working in a couple of tough cities (with no other misisonaries in the districts) That's why I would really enjoy the opportunity to work in a city that has a well-established branch and more missionaries! I really miss doing district meetings with a group of awesome missionaries and even senior couples. Doing district meeting with the two of us can get kinda lame. Our investigator, Cristina, has not progressed at all. She doesn't understand prayer, even after we have taught her about it many times. She doesn't do her reading and hasn't come to church. She really just wants to go to France. Bummer. It was a good time trying to teach her and invite her to read and pray. We have no other investigators, except Ionela, who we can try to contact again finally, now that spring break is over.

   The members here are doing well, as they usually do. Daniel was going to give a talk yesterday in church, but he got some food poisoning and couldn't come. We still had a good church though. Alexandra Iancu gave a talk, and so did I. Also, there was a family that came from Galati named the Stancu's. They are a very cool couple with a cute 4-year old son. They actually came here for church because there are some problems in the Galati branch which caused them to come here to Bacau for a temporary time. They will come to church again next Sunday. I don't know all the details, but it was nice to meet them and have them here at our church. The wife, Catalina, knows english very well and even wants to help out with the branch. Cool stuff. We also met with The Iancu family at their home in the countryside for Alexandra's birthday! She turned 18, and we ate some sarmale and a very tasty chocolate tort (cake). On another day, we met with Sora Dragomir and she fed us some good potato and pork soup and salad, with some of her home-made cozonac (sweet-bread with raisins and stuff). We had a good week. We listened to all of gerneral conference. I loved it all.

   That's all the news here. It's nice to hear about things at home. Congrats to Chris on being "Educator of the Year". Does that mean he was the best teacher in the whole school for the year? That's funny to hear about Bosco. Is he overweight? He needs to stop getting into all that food and lose some weight. It's good that Chris and Liz, as well as Jamie and Mark are all doing well. I forgot to say Happy Birthday to Jamers last week...Happy Birthday Jamers! Love you. I'm excited to see them soon, especially Kenadee! Well, I think it would be very fun (mom and dad) to see Peles, Bran, Sighisoara, and Sibiu. I have seen some of Elder Rosenvall's pictures of when he was in Brasov. It's really pretty around there. He and the other missionaries in his district went to see all the cool stuff there on different p-days. President Hill has told me in an email that I'd be able to see one more city before I head out. I don't know if that means this next transfer, or my last transfer. We'll see. I think my top choice (If I could choose) would be Cluj-Napoca. Well, that's about it for today. I love you all! Have a good week. Enjoy the rest of April. Read your scriptures! I am actually in Moroni in the BOM. Just 4 more chapters, and I will finish the BOM! For the 4th time! Anyways, ciao!

Love, Presedintele Lee

Monday, April 16, 2012

Happy "Orthodox" Easter from Bacau, Romania!

Dear Family and Friends:

   Buna ziua. It's Elder Lee. I hope you had a good week and a happy Easter. I guess it's still Easter around these parts in Romania. Last week was the Catholic Easter and now, it's the Orthodox Easter. It's been pretty chill. The weather has been rainy lately. It's a little sunnier and warm today though. I am sad to report that Elder Rosenvall and I actually did not go to the midnight mass! It was raining all that night. We would have gone with Daniel, but he was in Brasov, again! It's his spring break and he went there again for the weekend. He went to mass there with the missionaries. He went to church Sunday there. He's also still not around today to hang out with us for P-day! He loves Brasov, and is taking advantage of his opportunity to go during his break from school. He's in his senior year at high school. He's looking to get into BYU next January. So, what did Elder Rosenvall and I do for Easter? Well, since we were all lonely here in Bacau, we just stayed inside, played Settler's of Catan, and listened to General Conference. It may sound lame, but it was fun. I downloaded general conference on my MP3 player a few days ago, and we have listened to 3 sessions so far. I really enjoy it. I like the talks about how the church and gospel are different, but intimately related by Elder Hallstrom, the sacrifice one by Elder Oaks, and the "Mountains to Climb" one by Pres. Eyring. I have found that some of them relate to my experience right now, and have loved hearing every word spoken and every note of music played. I enjoyed the MTC choir, especially their Praise to the Man. We still have both Sunday sessions to listen to.

   We haven't done too much this past week, except for bloc-knocking and villa-knocking. Last Monday, a lady stopped us on the street. Her name is Cristina. She was interested in what we do and wanted a Book of Mormon. We had planned to set up a lesson with somebody that day at 6:30 pm. So, we saw our opportunity and asked if she'd be free at 6:30. She said yes, and so later, at that time, she came to the church and we taught her the Restoration! She's really nice and interested in the message. She talks a lot of how she loves France (she worked there for a time). She says she may return there soon. We had the opportunities to teach her more two other times about the Plan of Salvation. We hope she keeps reading and understands that she needs to pray to God, using her own words, in order to gain a testimony of the BOM. However, she didn't come to church because it was Easter. We're really glad we can teach her. We always need more investigators, and I know that God answered our prayers through her. We didn't even have to find her!

   Other than that, things are the same. The branch is doing alright. We only had 3 members come to church yesterday. It went well though. I gave a talk and used some of Elder Bruce R. McConkie's talk, "The Purifying Power of Ghetsemane". It's a good talk (in the April 2011 Liahona). It shows the reality and even details of Christ's Atonement and resurrection. It helps me to be more consciously grateful for everything he went through for me and for you. Hopefully, more members can come next week. The mission is doing well. There are 19 baptismal dates throughout the mission. A city in Moldova named Balti became a branch. President Hill is going around doing interviews. We are at the tail-end of the interview schedule--May 6th. We'll have zone leader exchanges next week. We will no longer have a mission conference with Elder Causse (because he's now in the Presiding Bishopric). Bummer!

   Thanks for all the news and pics from home. I love those pictures of Kenadee and Chris and Liz's baby. Brooklyn is a cool name. It reminds me of New York for some reason. I'm excited to be living with Zach and Briggs! Thanks mom and dad, for getting that taken care of for me. I look forward to when you guys come. It is a bummer that I'll only be in Redlands for 5 or 6 days though. I'll really enjoy being back in the Redlands 2nd ward for one Sunday! I hope you guys (mom and dad) are doing well with all. It's good everyone is doing well. I've been plowing through that Easter candy in my package. It takes some discipline to let the Cadbury eggs and Reeses last for more than a day! Well, I gotta roll. Hope you have a great week. Isus a inviat!!! (Adevarat a inviat!) Ciao!

Love, President Lee

Monday, April 9, 2012

Happy Easter from Bacau, Romania!

Happy Easter!

Dear family and friends:

    Good Monday! Hope you had a good week. I have had a pretty good week. Said my goodbyes to Elder Doloscan and said hello to Elder Rosenvall. We travelled back to Bacau Tuesday. So far, we are getting along well and have gotten to know each other well. He is from Layton, Utah. He's in his 7th transfer. He has served in Buc, Orhei, and Brasov before coming here. Some of his companions include Elder Simmons, Elder Johnsen, and Elder Mikolyski. He's a great guy. Bacau is the same as it usually is. The weather has been a bit cooler and rainy recently. We have no investigators to work with right now. It's pretty much just Ionela, but she went to the countryside to spend her spring break there. We've done some bloc-knocking and park-conacting. We've talked to a few cool people. Also, we spent some time seeing how members are doing and setting up an Easter party and inviting members to come. Only 5 members showed up to our party. It was ok. We had some good sarmale and salata de beouf. We spent some time buying all the food, and preparing it with Sora Dragomir and a friend of hers. It was the first time I rolled up sarmales! It was fun. We've also spent time reading the Book of Mormon in Romanian. A zone goal is to read the whole book of Mosiah through this transfer in Romanian. I'm on chapter 12 now. Elder Rosenvall is tearing through it and is at the last couple of chapters already! I've been lazy at reading the BOM in Romanian throughout my whole mission.

    The branch is still as usual. We had 4 members come to church yesterday. Alin and Sora Dragomir are the most active. Alin is a great guy. He's a little developmentally delayed and has had kidney problems in the past. He knows english and has a great testimony. He's the one who always calls me Bruce Lee and asks me to teach him some techniques, such as Tiger Style or Cobra Style. Love him. Sora Dragomir is a great lady, one of the first baptized here in Bacau. She loves singing hymns and has a strong testimony. Fratele  Iancu usually makes it every Sunday, and has a good testimony. He and his family just don't have much money and he tends to complain and talk forever about Communism and the Orthodox church. Daniel is doing well. He plays piano for the branch. He doesn't really like most members. He's trying to get into BYU. There are others too, but I don't have much time to explain about them all. The work is going here. On some days, it really feels like we're just trying to sustain the life of this branch. Other days are better. It's a tough assignment for any misisonary to work here, not just for me as a branch president. I feel like there's nothing else to do to help the branch. It just stays the same, always. There's been a lot of great missionaries that have worked here recently, but things just don't change. Sometimes, I feel tired of being here. But, I know I need to be patient and do my best, however small it may seem. I'd love to go to one more city (like Cluj or somewhere larger with more missionaries) for the next two transfers in order to experience more and be in a different place, before I finish my mission all too soon!

    Thanks dad, for all the information about travel and stuff. Don't worry, I'm not trunky. I only have 4 more months, but I want to try to work effectively and enjoy each day I have left. I will really miss my mission. It's kinda a bummer I'll miss out on 5 weeks of my last transfer, but at the same time, it's good to get back into school quick and avoid sitting around for a few months in Redlands not knowing what to do. I received the travel plans in an email from the office. I hope it will be a fun time when you guys come up here. Also, I'm excited for living with Zach and Briggs. I've heard of Liberty Square (I may have even been there once or twice) and I know it's pretty nice. I look forward to that. I think my schedule of classes should be good for me. BYU life is coming back all too soon! It's like my mission is a small dream that flies by, and then I wake up and realize that I'm just back to normal life and that not much has changed. Thanks mom for your package. I love all the candy (I'm getting out of shape though; I want to run again every day when I'm back in Provo). It's good that everything at home is well. Congrats to Elder Mann. Idaho! Why are all the missionaries in Redlands 2nd Ward staying in the states?? Anyways, I'm almost out of time. I love you all, and I hope to have another good week in Bacau. We'll talk again. Have a good week. Ciao!

Love, Elder Lee

Monday, April 2, 2012

My Thoughts and Prayers are with Elder Doloscan and his Mother.

Dear family and friends:

   Hello there! It's President Lee! I'm emailing a little bit later, because I'm actually in Bucharest right now! So here's what happened. I've been with Elder Doloscan for the past 5 days. It was a lot of fun! He's a great missionary and a funny guy! We had a good time and he made some great food for us, including Russian bors (pronounced like "borsh"), which is like a ciorba. He's a really good cook! We had a good church--5 members came, and it was fast and testimony meeting. I haven't yet watched any general conference, but I heard it was really good. I'm excited to watch it soon. Oh yeah, congrats for Chris and Liz! It'll be fun to have another niece! I'm excited to get back home right around the time she'll be born. Also, I talked to Pres. Hill about my release date and all. We established August 9th as my release date. He said it would be fine for you, mom and dad, to come and pick me up then and then to spend a week in the country. Yay! Ok, so back to my story....So, before Elder Doloscan became my companion, his mother had a heart attack. She was doing well, and he told me that he had a phone (with President's permission) to call her once a month to see how she is doing. She is in Venice, Italy. She apparently got better, but then on Sunday night, Pres Hill called Elder Doloscan and told him that his mom is in the hospital again. Elder Doloscan decided to go and be with her and to help her, because there is nobody else to take care of her. So, we had to arrange for him to leave. We came down to Buc, so he could check out plane tickets and stuff and so he could get released from his mission (at least for would be cool if he could come back to the mission soon maybe). I'm at the office now, doing email. I'll be here in Buc for probably just another day. I will be here in the office tomorrow morning to register for BYU classes, so that will be convenient. I found a handful of classes that deal with history, D&C, sociology, a guitar class, Romanian, and maybe a writing class. I just don't know if I'll get all that I want. We'll see what I can do. It kinda feels like I'll just pick random classes that I hope will be good...

   Sorry this email is all over the place. I'll be getting a new companion, Elder Rosenvall from Brasov. Elder Peterson is going to go to Brasov in his place. I'll be going back up to Bacau with Elder Rosenvall tomorrow or in a couple days. I've met him before when he was a boboc in Buc. He's a funny guy. I think we'll have fun. Oh yeah, Elder Knapp is in Mihai Bravu. Guess who his trainer is? The one and only Elder Fonnesbeck! Haha. They're having a ton of fun! Elder Fonnesbeck gave me a call and told me the news. I had the chance of talking to Elder Knapp over the phone twice. It's so good to hear him and know he's here! I don't know if we'll see each other though, at the conference. We may not even have the conference (Elder Causse got called to be in the Presiding Bishopric, I hear, so he may or may not still come.) I think only a few of my MTC group is planning on going home early. I know that Elders Shroedter and Pettit actually want to extend. They're all serving in Arad, Sibiu, Buc, Deva, Constanta, Alexandria, and Orhei.
   Hmm, I got your Easter package! Thanks a ton for it! I'm happy for Easter to come. I hope everything at home is doing well. I'm sorry that this email is short and crazy, but I kinda need to go now. Va iubesc. I really feel bad for Elder Doloscan and that our time we served together was very short, but it was a great time. I hope all goes well for him and his mother. I hope I can get registered for some good classes. 14 or 15 credit hours right dad? I'll be here at the office at 9 a.m. to do all that. Well, I guess that's it for now. I'll let you know how everything goes and tell you how things are next Monday. Have a great week. Love you all. Ciao!

Love, President Lee