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

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