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

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