Monday, 31 December 2012

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

We do get the Ensign, but it's the Liahona, and it's in Romanian
usually.  But that's OK.  I can understand a whole lot of written
Romanian when I read it.  It feels awesome to understand and speak a
different language.  But, of course, you learn a little bit every day.

Me at the Hobbit
Christmas was great, we watched the Hobbit,(our Mission President is a Lord of the Rings fan!) which was good as well. And the food was good (He had lasagna and Italian cake).  We are watching the Emperor's New Groove for our other movie and staying up till midnight.

(We got to Skype with Austin on Christmas Day for 2 1/2 hours, which meant we had to become Skype literate, LOL!  He was at a member's home--pictured below. It was awesome to see him and talk with him!  He looks and sounds good.  He told us he likes the European clothing styles much better than American---skinny suits and pointed shoes, funny!  He has had his suits, pants and shirts tailored to be quite fitted.)

Me and my companion on Christmas at a member's home
We went shopping today at the market, we bought 2 kilos potatoes, 1
kilo tomatoes, 1 kilo onions, some peppers, and a ton of parsley for
less than 30 lei.  Produce is so cheap here.  We are making salsa for
the new year tonight.  Hopefully it will be good.

I had an exchange with our district leader here Oradea the other day.
 He was recently one of the assistants to the president
for the mission and he's an awesome missionary.  He goes home in
February but he's still going strong and he's a great example.  We did
a ton of contacting and started making handouts for a scripture study
class (the bible) that we want to start up in the city.  Hopefully we
can get some people to come.  As for the contacting, we went block
knocking basically.  We knocked on a ton of doors, but no lessons.
Had to have been over 40.  We did give out a few book of Mormons and
some pamphlets.

We ran into this old Roman Catholic lady, and she
told us to come in, and we said we had to leave, but she said, "no,
you're coming in and getting some food." she gave us cozonac, I don't
know how to explain it.  It's like cake bread, tastes nasty.  But she
loved us and the pass along card we gave here.  So after we stood in
her house, we said a prayer for her, then she pooped us ( the kiss on
each cheek thing) and did the cross on us (kind of awkward) and said
God bless you and we left.  Wonderful lady.

We talked to another guy in the same staircase, we actually talked to him in the staircase, for
like 20 minutes.  He said that nobody really knows the truth about
God, he was interesting.  We got his number though.  Then we had a dry
spell.  Until we had a funny experience to end the night.  We knocked
on this door.  A guy answered and I asked him if he was religious.  He
said, "no, communist."  What?? weird answer for the question I asked.
We found out that he knew who we were and lived in Salt Lake for 20
years.  He spoke English, but spoke Romanian to us.  He said," There's
a ton of Mormons in Salt Lake, do you guys know that city?"  And we
said yes, we were both from Utah.  He wasn't interested, then closed
the door on us.  Not very many people want to listen here.  oh well.
That's basically the week.  Not super productive, but we talked to a
lot of people.  We still haven't taught a lesson this entire transfer,
so hopefully we can change that in the next few weeks.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

My Romanian is Getting Better!

Elder Phelps is doing well.  He had a little frustration with the post office in trying to send a package home and said, "It takes forever to do things in this country."  Other than that, it seems like things are going well.  We are looking forward to Skype with him on Christmas Day!  He didn't attach any photos to this week's e-mail.
Here's the latest:

So this week was good. We were in Arad for the Christmas Zone
conference/party. So 2 hour trip on the train both ways, but it was
fun. All the missionaries from Oradea, Arad, Timisoara, Cluj, Deva,
and Sibiu were there. We watched the year end slideshow, ate a ton of
food and relaxed and talked with each other.

After we got home, we had a couple cool experiences. We were
finishing up a day of english contacting and putting up posters for
english when we went into a book store close to the gara here in
Oradea. The owner asked us if we were German, and we said no,
American. He told us we speak Romanian very well, and then asked us
what we were doing here. Love it when people say that, because it's
an immediate in to tell them about the Church. So we explained that
we are missionaries and we are teaching people in Romania. We gave
him and his wife a Book of Mormon and some pamphlets. Cool

Similar to the experience above, we were out English contacting a
different day, and we saw some ties in a store window so we went in.
We were looking at the ties and the guy at the counter said we speak
good Romanian, and that my companion has a better accent than I
do.... Oh well. Anyways, he guessed that we were missionaries and
then him, the owner of the store, and another girl working there, we
all got talking about religion. The girl there actually read
Moroni's promise out loud for everyone. And they took the Book of
Mormon and some pamphlets. It was cool, and I went to buy a tie,
which cost 20 lei, I only had 15 in my wallet, and the owner saw that
I was 5 lei short, and said "ahh, just take it, 15 lei is fine." So,
I got a tie for 5 lei off, and we basically gave a restoration lesson
to the 3 people in the store. Cool experience.

Monday, 10 December 2012

The Church is True, It's Cold in Romania Right Now, and Being a Missionary is Awesome!

It sounds like Austin is doing great being a missionary in Romania!  Here's the latest update from Elder Phelps:
 Our Christmas tree! (that has been up since I arrived in Oradea in September..... It's Christmas all the time at our house)

The trip to Bucharest was awesome. I got to see all my buddies from the MTC. It was super cold while we were there. We went to one of the malls there, and It's huge. It has a bowling alley, theater with an IMAX dome, tons of stores, food, ice skating rink, and just everything. Also we went to a few of the piatas (like the silk market in china) and got a few ties, I also bought a scarf. Those things are awesome and super warm. It was fun to see everyone there.  My companion is super cool. He's from Oregon most recently, his family moves around a lot. We have been getting along just great so far.

It snowed here on Saturday, and basically, it's freezing cold. It's different cold than in Utah. So we've been bundled up the last few days. We were in the park with our table and such in the snow, and the cops came up and asked us if we had permission to be there, and I took out the paper. They took all our our IDs and wrote stuff down, but we all checked out and they said to come find them if we ever had any problems. We got talking about religion and they didn't take any Books of Mormon, but they put one in the glove box of the police car! that was kind of funny. The guy said he never reads, so he said to give it to someone else who would, but we insisted he keep it, so he just put it in there. Funny.
 Snowing! at night from our kitchen window

Another funny thing, they don't have Dr. Pepper here. So I jumped on the Coke and Pepsi bandwagon and now I have acquired the taste. They have Mtn. Dew, but it tastes funny. Mostly I drink Coke, Sprite, and some other fruity flavored sodas they have here. I do drink a lot of water too, so don't worry about that.
(His mom finally gives up Coke and he jumps on that wagon --- that's not helpful for keeping me on the wagon! haha!)

Our power went out in our block last night, that was funny, we were in the dark a few hours before bed. Must've had something to do with the snow storm. There's quite a bit of it here. It's funny, none of their snowplows here are the same, all different. And they have people that shovel the snow in all the public areas, same people that rake up the leaves everywhere. Good thing to give people jobs I guess.

My other companion left me and went to Alexandria. So now I'm like the person who knows the city the best out of the 4 of us here. I can speak well enough now too, to get by by myself. My new companion is super good at the language, even though he's only a transfer ahead of me, so I hope to learn a lot from him too. I understand probably 80 percent of what I hear. It's mostly just vocab now. I understand all the prepositions and sounds that refer to different cases of the language. I carry around a little notebook and write words down that I don't know and look them up later.
The work is slow, we contact a lot, focus on street boarding in the park, and obviously english. Either way, we are always busy with something, between studying, contacting, serving at Caritas, or doing stuff with the government (like today, we had to get our permission to put up posters around the city.

Life's good, the Church is true, it's cold in Romania right now and being a missionary is awesome!

Monday, 3 December 2012

Staying in Oradea for Another 6 Weeks

Today's e-mail chided us for not sending an e-mail to Austin this week.  I did send one, but apparently it didn't go through. . .I must have tried to attach too many files.  Anyway, here's the latest from Elder Phelps!

No email for me this week? I guess what goes around comes around, eh?

Anyways, things are still good here. I am basically done with my second transfer out here. I am going to be staying in Oradea for another transfer. My companion is leaving me though, he's headed to Alexandria, the smallest city open to missionary work.  I was in the MTC with my new companion for a few weeks, he is only 1 transfer ahead of me, so we'll see how things go. We leave on the train again tomorrow for Bucharest, and we return on Thursday again. 2 more nights in a row spent on a train.

So on Saturday, it was National Romania Day, just like our 4th of July. They had a big ceremony in the middle of the city, a bunch of Orthodox priests sang songs and did some stuff. It shows that church and state are not really separate here.... But it was interesting, and people took pictures of us, it was kind of funny. I bet they were like, " Look at those weird Americans standing on the corner!" Anyways, it was good, then that night, we went to the park and watched them turn on all the lights. That was cool, it was pretty cold.
Us at the park, National Romanian Day

Then Sunday, we got invited to a concert put on by the Baptist church in the city. We called the mission president and he said we could go, just make sure we don't get converted while we are there, that was way funny. So we went, and it was good. There was a lot of singing and the orchestra was awesome. We even got 4th row seats. They had a guy from Texas, a big black man, a baptist preacher come and talk. He spoke no Romanian, so it was translated as he talked into Romanian from English. Everything he taught was from the Bible and it would have been basically the same in our church. Most churches in the world are good and teach good things, but don't exactly have the whole pie, just some pieces or most of the pieces. It was interesting. It's easier to respect other religions when we know what they actually do and how passionate about their faith they are. I enjoyed going, and we went up and talked to the guy after. He vacations in Park City. I'm sure he knew who we were, we were in suits and nametags. But we just told him we enjoyed what he said and appreciate what he does for people. He said thanks for coming and we snapped a picture and that was it. Super nice guy. I'll attach the picture.

Me and my companion with the Baptist Preacher from Texas

After the concert, we had a lesson with one of the member families. After we talked for a bit, they fed us langos (scones basically) and I told him that our family is beekeepers, and then he walks in the other room and brings out this jar of honey. It was kind of runny and super dark. Then he tells us he MADE the honey with sugar and flowers. I didn't even know that was possible? Anyways, we had some on our scones and it was pretty good, not that sweet and super runny, but it was honey in my book. He's this old Hungarian guy that speaks pretty hard-to-understand Romanian, but he made honey. Funny story.

Til next week, Elder Phelps

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Since when does Austin like Chili?

So conference was good. Our train was an hour and a half late arriving in Bucharest, so we didn't have time to shower or shave or anything before the first session of the conference at 9. That was kind of annyoing. It was super funny, at the gara in Bucharest, they just have a bunch of random "taxi drivers" really just normal people who drive people around and try to rip them off. So we were walking, looking for a cheap taxi, and everyone wants to drive us, because we are american. So we are asking how much they all charge to get to where we need to go, across the city a little. This one guy said 30 lei (it's like a 10 lei trip if they use the meter) and we were like, nope, and kept walking, then he offered 25, we said no. Then 20, and we said yes. It was this old, piece of junk car that this old guy drove, but he took us to the church, we paid him and he gave us a receipt and everyone was happy. So that was kind of funny for the starting of the day.

The conference was super long, it started at 9 and ended at 5. We had a 45 minute lunch of some super awesome chili and brownies and ice cream for dessert. One of the senior couples there cooked for us. And we had 2, 15 minute breaks too. So it was a very long meeting. Elder Stephen C. Kerr, from the area seventy came. He is from Scotland, so he had a cool accent. Super funny guy, and he kept us all involved and attentive, mostly. After the conference ended, we looked at mail and packages and stuff at the church with all the other missionaries. I did get the package, thank you. And, our train to Oradea, which was supposed to leave at 8:40, was 75 minutes late coming from Constanta. So, we went to Subway, it was pretty good. Haven't had that it quite a while, and it tastes the same here as in America.

But our train finally showed up and we got on and basically went to bed. And when we woke up we were only in Cluj. Which is like 2-2.5 hours away from Oradea. We were going through the mountains, so that was really cool. Tons of little towns along the way. And we lost another 30 minutes on the way so we arrived in Oradea 2 hours late. But yeah, that's basically the trip to Bucharest in a nutshell.
Town called piatra craiului, on our way through the mountains between cluj and Oradea. Taken from the train on our way home from Bucharest.

My health is fine, a piece of the filling on my front tooth came off, but it'll be fine, I might go get it fixed, i dunno. Doesn't bother me at all. Apparently the dentists here aren't half bad, so we'll see. It's finally starting to be kind of consistently cold here. 

As far as a day goes, here it is:
6:30 wake up shower, shave, get dressed
7:30 breakfast
8-11 or 10:30 study (personal, companion, language)
That's basically every morning.
As for the afternoons, we usually have an English lesson before lunch which is usually about 1 or 12. Then if it's Friday or Thursday, we go to Caritas to do service. Other days, we take care of stuff for English (classes), go street boarding in the park, do member visits, we take a dinner break usually, also we contact former investigators, obviously we try to schedule lessons, but it doesn't always work. That's some of the main things we do. Every day is different, so it's kinda hard to say "this is what we do every day."

So if anyone in the family asks what I need for Christmas or birthday, I need like 10 bucks, with a letter on how they are doing. That would help the most I think, because it doesn't make sense to buy something there and then ship it here, it I can just buy it here for cheaper most likely. anyways, that's my two cents on the birthday thing.

That's basically it for the week. I'll send another email with a couple pictures. We went to the cetate (fortress in the middle of the city) here, so i'll email a picture. Transfer board comes out on Thursday, so we'll see if I get moved, or if I'm doing another one here. Also, we are going to Bucharest again next week for transfers and I need to do some visa paper work too. But yeah, until next week.
The fortress wall, we climbed up a little to this hole, I grabbed a brick above my companion, and it broke out, and got dirt all over him. Super funny!

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Turkey Bowl -- Romanian Missionary Style

So fun things first.. We just got back (like 30 minutes ago) from Arad. We met up with the missionaries there and the ones from Timisoara and we played the Turkey Bowl football game. It was awesome. We played 7 on 7 flag football on this government owned "field" of mostly dirt, and some weeds.. Everyone got super dirty and had a great time. The sisters even played with us. One of the sisters here, she can catch ANYTHING, I was playing quarterback the whole game basically, and she didn't drop one pass, maybe one, but probably not. My team lost... 19-20 (we were playing that one point=one touchdown). Oh well, it was still super fun. And we did pretty good considering the other team had 2 people who had played football through high school and such. But, we had to get up at 4 AM!! Our train left Oradea at 5:07 and arrived at Arad at 7:40. Then we played the game at 10, then ate lunch as a zone at a pizza place. Good thing the restaurant was right across the street from the gara (remember that word, because I'm never saying or typing "railroad station"ever again in my life). We hopped on our train back and literally like 1 minute later it was pulling away from the platform. So yeah it was a super fun p-day. We arrived back in Oradea at 5:07 and here I am now! Haha
Turkey Bowl and the field we played on
I asked him some questions this week and here are his responses:

So, how goes the teaching of lessons?

Lessons have been hard to come by this last week. We have only taught less than 15 this whole transfer so far. It's pretty rough. Crazy how different the work is here than in Brazil or Africa where Carson and Nance are. Carson told me he taught 41 lessons one of the recently passed weeks. HOLY COW. that's insane. We are lucky to get 3 or 4 in a week. Anyways. The baptism is still a date, for the 5th of December, but we'll have to see if it happens. It's gonna be probably moved to a different day, because we will be in Bucharest for transfers that day. We'll see, it's a super peculiar situation with the investigator, so we don't know what's gonna happen.

How are you getting along with your companion?

Me and my companion get along pretty well. I would be fine with doing another transfer with him, but it's probably not gonna happen. This is his 3rd transfer here, he's probably going somewhere else. I had another exchange with our Romanian Elder, so that was another full day of speaking Romanian.

What is the best part of church on Sunday?

So church on Sunday. It's super long. Especially because it's all basically in the same room with the same people. But I learn tons of words on Sundays usually. It's a 3 hour language study for me.. haha. We usually go to the park and set up a table with Books of Mormon and pamphlets and people come talk to us. And studying. We have church at 10 so we miss 2 hours of studying in the morning, so we do it after lunch usually.

What is your favorite food so far?

So, here's the scoop on food here:
They eat tons and tons of cabbage here, and it's gross. Sarmale is one of their favorites, and I can't stand the stuff. Just look it up on Google so I don't have to explain. And they just use cabbage in everything. They fed us at Caritas some fried cabbage hearts or middles or something and I had a hard time eating them. Anyways. They have super good pastries and bread here too. Bread is 3 lei per loaf, way cheap. They have this thing like scones, but they put just sugar on it and sometimes like Nutella, those are way good, and super cheap, only like 2 lei. So we buy those a lot. I haven't had a Romanian soup that I haven't really liked yet, maybe one, and it was mushroom, so obviously I wouldn't like it, but for the most part, the soup is good. They have shaormas here, those are pretty good too, Google those too. But my favorite food so far is Mama Ana's chicken cordon blue (home made) and crepes with cream cheese and chocolate and berry sauce for dessert.
 Sign on the pizza place we ate at last week, "probably the best pizza in the city" funny

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Another Encounter with the Guy from the Tram

Here's the latest from Elder Phelps!
"Things are still going pretty good for me here.  I'm in my fourth week of my 2nd transfer and it is flying by!  Crazy.  Time flies when you're having fun I guess.  But not much is new this week.  We didn't get to meet with any of our investigators this week, they were busy/sick/whatever else, but we met with both of them today, in the middle of P-day, so we had to work them in.  It's fine though.  We need to be flexible because we are here to help other people.

So I got my first haircut here.  It was 20 lei that included a wash and everything.  We went to a pretty nice salon place.  There were a bunch of men there getting pedicures, a little bit weird to me.  But yeah, it was like a 6 dollar haircut with a wash, can't beat that price in the US.... haha.

Remember that guy I told you about that called us the anti-Christ?  We had another run in with him the other day.  He stopped us on our way to teach English class and asked if we had a Book of Mormon, and of course we did.  I handed it to him and he began flipping through the pages and kept asking if it was the Bible.  We said no, and that we use it to teach about Jesus with the Bible.  He then told us to show him where it says "for God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son." we said it doesn't say that because there is no book of John in the Book of Mormon and it's not the Bible.  He said it isn't valid then.  We tried to explain but he was getting snappy.  Finally he wrote in the front cover of the Book of Mormon we gave him, "This Bible is not valid, please leave romania." Then crossed out a random page in Alma, handed the book back to me and just turned around and walked away.  Super annoying, because now we can't give that Book of Mormon away or the pamphlets in it because he wrote all over them.  Oh well.  Funny story of the week I guess.

The other Elders have an investigator with a baptismal date, hopefully it doesn't fall through.  So that's pretty cool.

I finished reading The Inevitable Apostasy and the Promised Restoration by Tad R. Callister.  What an insanely good book.  I would definitely suggest reading that one.  So much to learn.  It gives every reason, logical, spiritual, that our church is true and all the things we do in our church are right.  I'm still amazed and I wrote like 30 pages of notes on it in my journal.  Super cool read.

As far as missionary work goes, it was a pretty slow week.  We gave out some pamphlets and a Book of Mormon while we had our street display set up in the park on Tuesday, and like I said, we didn't have any lessons.  We've been trying to contacts some former investigators, but haven't had any luck yet.

The weather here has been really annoying too.  One day it's like the North Pole, and the next day 70 degrees.  Similar to Utah.  But it hasn't snowed here yet.  Apparently it does, it just hasn't yet.  It rained cats and dogs a couple days last week, and we got drenched.  We didn't bring umbrellas because it didn't seem like it was gonna rain, but it poured.  We wrang water out of our suit jackets when we got home.  yeah it was that wet.   And, since the government controls our thermostat, our apartment is always burning hot.  I have had to sleep with no covers the last few days.

Oh and check out this video. It's a news coverage program about the church in Romania.   Cool program.  Understand what you can.  Some of it is in English. or if it doesn't work, google search "secretele mormonilor"  it means secrets of the mormons....... lame title, but it's way cool that the church got this much press coverage here."

The video is really awesome, watch it if you can---it's about 18 minutes long. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

It's Already November

Me, my companion and the lady that feeds us once a week and her mother.
It's hard to believe that Austin has been gone almost four months!  The time flies and stands still at the same time -- kind of a funny phenomenon.  Here's the latest update. . .and a new photo too!
"My companion and I just woke up that day and I said Happy Halloween and he said thanks and went and took a shower and that was about the end of it. They don't celebrate it really here.  Mostly just like the bars and clubs have parties,  but no such thing as trick or treating.

So we had companion exchanges a few days ago.  I was with a native Romanian Elder for 24 hours.  He is originally from Romania, but has lived in Spain for most of his life.  He speaks Romanian and Spanish, and like 10 words of English.  So it was pretty hard to communicate, because I had to do it in Romanian, but we got along.  I gave our another Book of Mormon while I was with him, so that was good. His companion is learning a ton of the language, that's for sure. 

So last Tuesday we were in Arad for another zone training meeting.  We got on the train and took a 3 hour ride, had a 3 hour meeting, then caught the first train back to Oradea.  Kind of a long day.  We had a faster train on the way back and I talked to a guy for a little bit that recognized us as Mormons.  He was Pentecostal and had lived in New York, Canada, Florida, and California.  I didn't have a Book of Mormon with me (Fail) so I just gave him a pass along card.  He actually started talking to me first, because he heard us speaking English, he spoke very well.  But yeah that was Tuesday.

My companion is the district leader here in Oradea now, so we get to do exchanges with the Zone Leaders.  So they will be in town on Wednesday, and I'll be going to Arad again with one of them to work there for a day and come back Thursday night. 

Our English class started again, we have 6 new people in the advanced class and 3 new people in the beginner class.  They all speak English pretty well, and they speak Hungarian, and a couple of them speak German too.  And a bunch of people have called us Today and yesterday, so I think more people will come on Tuesday.  And they all said they would want to learn more about the church, from what they put on their sign- up forms.

That's basically it for this week.  It was kind of boring.   I blessed the sacrament again yesterday though." 

Monday, 29 October 2012

Giving Away My First Book of Mormon

Austin sent a great email today about his Romanian missionary adventures.  We are always grateful to hear from him and know that he is doing well.

"We finished watching conference the other day. The missionary age announcement was cool. Our mission president said it could potentially double the amount of missionaries in our mission over the next year. So that will be interesting to see how it plays out. I also saw that the applications have increased 400 percent. It's crazy. They are getting 4000 applications per week now. There are going to be a lot of missionaries. I dunno how they are going to do it, because the MTC only can hold about 3000 at a time, hopefully they have a plan that includes that sort of stuff. I'm sure they do. The elders behind me came into the country last week as I finished my first transfer in the field. Time flies when you're having fun I guess.

The weather here decided to cool off finally. It rained all day yesterday. Pretty heavy rain too and it was freezing. We had daylight savings time here too so it gets dark at like 5 PM now, that's kind of annoying because people think it's dark they can't leave their houses and meet and talk and stuff. Oh well. It's pretty cold today too, I wore a sweater and gloves today. The cold here is a bit different than the cold in Utah, it's a little more humid here so it feels colder. All the leaves are falling off the trees and winter is showing up finally. I'll take cold over hot any day of the week. The heaters in our house are super annoying too. We have no way to control them. The government just turns them on and off as they please. They work by running hot water through coils of pipe. Super inefficient, they could save a ton of money if they didn't do it like that, but then again, all the blocs were built during the communist era, and I guess that's how they did things. But basically our house gets either super hot or super cold, kind of annoying. Anyways.

So we will start another round of English classes on Saturday. We've been trying to get some more students to come. The first attached picture is our poster. We paid the government here to let us put them up at all the government owned advertising pillars and boards across the city. And we stuck some at the university here and at the library. And we hand out our little flyers to people too. (OK, so I am not as techno savvy and this blog won't let me insert the copy of the poster because it's a PDF file and not a JPEG---go figure! If anyone has any suggestions that could help this "old" mother, it would be appreciated -- haha!)

But yeah, here's the interesting story about how I gave away my first Book of Mormon to finish it all up:
We were on the tram on Wednesday on our way home for the night and this guy comes up to us and says "My name is..." and then kind of went off and looked out the window. About a minute later he came back and said, "My name is...." (trying to speak English with a puzzled look on his face). I said "My name is Elder Phelps." Then he pointed at my companion's name tag and asked us where the church was. We told him where and then he said it doesn't exist. And we said it does. He said no. And then he proceeded to tell us how we were the anti-Christ and how we were all trying to be greater than God. We said no, of course. He then said he had been called by God (we were beginning to think he was a little crazy by now) and received power through prayer and he could touch people and heal them and command sticks to turn them into serpents, stuff like that. By this time in the conversation 3 other teenagers on the tram are listening in. The crazy guy asked us if we had a book, so I pulled out my Book of Mormon (my companion gave his away earlier that day) and gave it to him. He started flipping through it and said it was anti-Christ.
And we asked how. He pointed at the cover and said it again. Then, one of the teenagers, I'll call him curly haired kid, asked what the book was. We told him and he said he'd heard about it before. And then, he told the crazy guy that the Book of Mormon talks about Jesus, just like the Book of Isaiah, the Book of Job, and the other books in the scriptures.

While he was saying this, my companion took the Book of Mormon and opened to 2 Nephi 25:26 and told the guy to read verse 26. The curly haired kid chimed in and said "verse 26!" The crazy guy took the book, and pointed. Then, the curly haired kid stood up and came over. The crazy guy started to read a different verse, and then curly haired kid took the book, said, "no, verse 26," and proceeded to read verse 26 out loud which says:
And we talk of Christ, we rejoice in Christ, we preach of Christ, we prophesy of Christ, and we write according to our prophecies, that our children may know to what source they may look for a remission of their sins.
While he was reading he emphasized the word "Christ" each time he said it. The tram stopped at our stop right as he was finishing up, but not all the way done reading the verse. The crazy guy tried to get off the train quickly but the curly haired kid stepped in front of him to make sure he heard the whole thing. As we were getting off the tram, the curly haired kid went to give us back the book and we said he could keep it if he wanted and he said, "Please! Thank you very much!" and he kept it and we got off the tram. As we were walking the guy was kind of walking behind us, he said he was just going home and he's not following us to our house and that he was sorry and it's good to be preaching of God and Jesus and then we gave him a card and said to call us if he wanted to learn more.

Pretty cool experience. A Romanian (probably Orthodox) basically made our point for us, even though he had only heard about the Book of Mormon, recognizing that it taught of Christ just like the other books of scripture. And I gave out my first Book of Mormon, so that was a plus. It's not every day that a random person on the tram will back you up on what you're saying when someone is accusing you of being an anti-Christ."

Isn't that a great story! Wow...a testament to how the Lord guides the work of His servants!

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Being a Missionary is Awesome!

Austin and an elder who was going home to New York

We got a great letter from Austin today!  He is doing awesome and seems to be loving his mission thus far. Here is the scoop:
"Anyways, things here are good, Transfers are this week, and I will be staying here in Oradea for another 6 weeks.  Until the 5th of December at least, could be staying here for half my mission, nobody knows..... haha.  We had a big district conference yesterday.  All the missionaries and some members from Timisoara, Arad, Cluj-Napoca, and Deva came to the city for a big meeting that the mission president presides at.  It had 2 sessions, Priesthood/Relief Society, and the general session for everyone.  It was super long, the whole thing lasted about 4 hours.  The meetings were longer because the talks given in English had to be translated into Romanian line by line.  Like for the mission president and his wife, they both spoke and don't speak Romanian.  There were a few other people who gave the talk in English first too.  It was a good day though.  We got  to visit with the other missionaries from other cities and we had interviews with the president.  They finished off a week long of driving, Oradea was the last stop, they had already been to Arad, Deva, Timisoara, and Cluj-Napoca before the conference.  So they left pretty quick to drive to Cluj-Napoca to fly back to Bucharest today.  They are doing all the exit interviews the next couple days and interviewing new missionaries coming into the country.  The president's assistants get to drive the car all the way back though, while they fly, that was funny."
The other 3 missionaries in Oradea in the park -- Austin took the photo
I asked him about some specifics of what days he does what, what they do on P-day, and about what they eat, how he is sleeping etc.  He replied,
"Our service at Caritas is on Thursday and Friday from 12:30 to 2.  And we just serve the food and clean up the cafeteria and wash the dishes after, we don't usually cook anything, it's all already made when we get there.  We teach English classes on Tuesday and Saturday.  For about  1 1/2 hours, depends on the day.  My companion and I taught the advanced class this transfer, so we might be teaching beginner next transfer, but we have an Elder coming into the city who is a Spanish native, but is also from Romania and doesn't speak very much English at all, so he and his companion will probably teach the beginner class.  Another elder got on a train to go back home to New York on Saturday.  The first picture is me and him. .  P-Day, we study in the morning as usual, then we usually go grocery shopping. Then we go to an internet cafe, or the library, to email and such.  Then we just go shopping places, go to the tailor to get clothes fitted.  That's awesome, we have a tailor right next door to our bloc, so basically all of my clothes are tailored now.  It's super cheap, it's like 4 dollars to take pants in and hem them and only like 2 dollars to slim shirts up.  But after that we usually play basketball or soccer at a park or something.  We just do laundry when we need to, we have a washer in our apartment, so it's not necessarily on P-day.  I just went to the gym once,  I was on an exchange with an another elder, and he got permission to go, so we went while I was with him for a day.  We don't usually go, my companion and I.  As far as food goes, we still eat at Mama Ana's once a week.  And usually at McDonald's once a week too, the prices are about the same as they are in the US so that's kind of annoying, should be cheaper.  But it tastes good when we go.  Other than that, we just buy groceries and make food at our apartment.  Cheaper that way, and we can make what we want.  We had pancakes for breakfast this morning, and sandwiches for lunch.  Usually stuff like that.  We make fries a lot, noodles, chicken, rice.  A lot of stuff.  We eat bananas and grapefruits often too and yogurt.  Pretty much whatever we feel like.  We usually only eat out for snacks.  They have chocolate filled soft pretzels here that are amazing.  I'd say we buy those the most.  There's all sorts of food to get on the street here.  The gelato is pretty good, they have these things called shoarmas, look that up on google, that have just everything in them.  All these things I don't like, but somehow, it tastes good.  They have like chicken, mystery sauce (it's different everywhere you go), cabbage, tomatoes, onions, more mystery sauce (different than the first sauce), lettuce, and whatever else they have which also depends on where you buy it.

I sleep fine, we obviously don't get enough sleep, but that's how missionary work is.  Long days and seemingly very short nights.  Church is good, still hard to understand a lot of people, but church is a good place to learn the language and I have been learning a lot there.  I don't have a calling, sometimes I bless or pass the sacrament, but that's about it.  They don't even have 2 counselors in the branch presidency here, just a first counselor.  We have watched all of conference except  the sunday morning session.  So we are going to do that soon, probably in Romanian though, because of the new elder coming into the city who doesn't speak English.

But yeah things are great, I'm still learning a ton.  I bought a new camera so that's taken care of.  I haven't got the packages yet, they only brought mail with them.  But one of the elders is coming back from Bucharest on Thursday and he should bring them, so hopefully I'll get them on Thursday.

I wish the weather would make up it's mind here.  One day it's freezing, the next it's too hot.  Winter just needs to come.  The work is good, but slow.  It's tough.  I just got a letter from Mike shepherd that said Carson teaches 30 lessons a week in Brazil, and Brian Nance does similar in South Africa.  Very different here.  People don't want anything to do with it.  Pretty interesting.  The whole mission only has 4 people on the list to be baptized in the next 2 or 3 months.  Crazy.  But we just get out and do it, that's what matters.

Things are great, being a missionary is awesome!"

The following are some pass along/calling cards that Austin sent to Jensen:

Monday, 22 October 2012

Lost Email. . .Found!

Austin re-sent the lost email from October 8th.  He is doing well. . .here's a bit of what's going on:

"Things are good, we have taught more lessons this week than any other week in the mission so far.  Mostly to less active members and recent converts.  We have 3 investigators right now, so it's kind of exciting.  The Church is definitely small in this country.

I haven't seen general conference yet, we are downloading the sessions right now and we are going to watch them another time at our house on our DVD player.  I'm excited to watch it.   With the time difference, the Saturday morning session didn't start here until 7 PM and we were busy so we didn't get to watch it.  And, everything is closed on Saturday except the crappy computer place that my phone back home is faster than basically.  So, we didn't watch it, but we will.

We met with a guy yesterday.  He has been in America for the last 4 months working.  He'd talked to missionaries before, and remembered us when he got back here and called us.  We set up a meeting and it was pretty cool.  He's 23 and is currently going to college in Oradea.  He is studying theology and English.  And he is super curious about the Church and Joseph Smith.  He is going to Moldova this week and said he would 'definitely' read and call us when he gets back.  So, hopefully he does.  Super nice guy.

It's still hot here, and now we have to wear our jackets (suit coats), because it is between conferences.  Hopefully it cools off soon, I'm ready for the cold to happen. (Speak for yourself Elder Phelps)

It feels normal to be here now, I'm pretty adjusted to the schedule and the time change and stuff.  I dunno if I've told you about the service we do twice a week?  Anyway, we volunteer with the Catholic Church here and help them serve food to the homeless and needy people and stuff.  We go every Thursday and Friday.  Super humbling experience.  Everyday in this country you see people that carry all they have in a grocery bag and see people picking through the dumpsters.  They actually have cages around most of the dumpsters so people can't go through them.  Super sad to see.  But it makes me even more grateful for where I come from.  We are really blessed to live in America.  People here dream of moving there.  When Romania joined the EU (European Union), many citizens moved to Germany and Italy and France to work, because they didn't need a passport.  They are very proud of being part of the EU.  All of the products they make here say 'produced in the European Union' on the back instead of 'made in Romania.'"
"Me next to a hearse, check out the license plate."

Our Kitchen

Monday, 15 October 2012

3 Months Already!

It's hard to believe that Austin left for the MTC 3 months ago already!  Time flies and yet seems to stand still...funny phenomenon how that works.  For some reason,  a couple of his e-mails haven't come through, so we didn't hear from him last week.  Here is the latest update:

"I'm doing great over here.  The language is making more and more sense.  I'm learning a ton by just listening to what people say, then asking my compnion and then having him tell me, and then it usually makes sense.  I can order my own food places and stuff like that, encounters where I do most of the talking and less of the understanding.  We still go eat at Mama Ana's house once a week.  Romanians use a billion tomatoes in everything they make, especially soup, they are starting to grow on me I think.
The weather is cooling down here as well.  The leaves are changing colors and stuff.  There is like no grass in this country so that's kind of unfortunate.  And there are no mountains in my city either.  Hopefully I get to go to Brasov or Sibiu sometime during my stay here, they are both in the middle of the mountains.
We have some people we're talking to right now, we teach them English lessons privately and then share a spiritual thought at then end.  And we have several investigators right now too,  I explained them in my other letter. (That's the letter we didn't get.) It's hard to get appointments with people because everyone goes la tara (basically to the countryside) every weekend, and some people don't say when they are coming home.  As far as the whole door to door thing, we don't do that very often.  Because it's very ineffective.  Everyone lives in blocs here so we call it block knocking.  Many people just don't answer the doors because they all have peepholes and they see us and don't open.  We knocked a staircase of a bloc and went 0 for 14.  One lady said she couldn't listen because she has a kid.  People give all sorts of irrelevant excuses like that.  And everyone here is Orthodox too.  Look up some stuff about that religion, it is VERY different from ours.   So we try to focus on working with the members and contacting former investigators as a way of teaching people.
The last 4 days in the city here, they have been having the Oradea Days Festival.  The big park in the middle of the city is filled with booths and rides and stuff.  It's like a super big carnival with concerts and food and everything. There was even a guy selling honey at one booth.  We went there to help Caritas (the place where we serve the food) set up their booth and we visited them there a few times.  They are all super nice people that work there.  But yeah, there was a ton of people in the park the last  few days for that.  I'll send you some pictures another day, I forgot my memory card reader at the apartment.
Funny story of the week.  The other day, we were coming back from the homeless shelter, and we were on the wrong tram, but the tram we needed to be on was right in front of us.  So we hopped off, and did a 400 meter dash, (yes we measured it on the map when we got home), and caught the tram stopped at the light at the next station.  It was nuts we were like dodging people and cars and running in the road, it was crazy.  But we got on the train and it saved us probably a 10 minute wait. And we got our exercise for the day... haha"

He asked us to send him some honey---imagine that?!?  He said it's expensive over there and he's never had to buy honey before.  I'm sure it doesn't taste as good as Phelps Honey either!  I do think, however, that he is not doing the math of expense and forgetting  that it costs us around $50 to send anything over to Romania!

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

3 Weeks in Romania

We didn't hear from Austin last week and so Derk and I both gave him a bad time and told him he'd better get in touch.  Turns out (his side of the story anyway LOL) that he did send an e-mail and for some reason we didn't get it.  So, he sent it again and so we got two yesterday.  Here are the highlights:

September 24, 2012
There is just so much stuff to say and no time to say it all! haha.  But things are going well.  My companion is awesome.  We get along super well.  He has a sense of humor similar to mine, so we always understand each other's jokes and stuff like that.  So we get along great.  He's from Orem, Utah and graduated one year earlier than I did.  He's been in the mission for 10 transfers so like a year and 3 months.  We workout in the mornings like situps and pushups and pull ups and stuff.  Some mornings we run over to the park not far from our house and do some stuff on the benches there.  As far as English classes go, we had our first one on saturday, and only 6 people showed up.  So we told them that we can't teach if there are only six, so we have another class tomorrow and hopefully more people will show up.  We go to a different sunday school than the rest.  The branch president teaches our class and we bring investigators and such to it.  There are only a few youth that come.  One girl who is 16, and the recent baptism, who is 19.  But that's it.  There's only 2 kids in the nursery as well.  The language is still tough.  I understand lots of words, but I don't really put them together very well.  But it's coming slowly.  I hear it all day everyday so that helps too.
All of the blocs here have like a little deck, but ours is all closed in, that's where the sink and stove and fridge are.  We have a washer in our apartment, but no dryer, so we have a drying rack for that.  Kind of a pain.
It's way fun here. Crazy thing here is, everyone cares more about their cars than what/where they live.  We saw a Ferrari last night and I've seen Porsches all over and Audi's and BMWs and VW are everywhere.  People just buy super nice cars with all their money.  I've also seen a few Maseratis around as well.  And, every car here is diesel.  All the cars use it.  And gas is expensive.  It's like 6,40 lei per liter.  That's like 2 dollars a liter.  So way expensive, but somehow, everyone drives cars still.  Also, not very many American cars here.  I've only seen like 2 Dodges, there are some Fords, but not a lot.  Mostly European made cars, some Asian made ones too, but hardly any English made or american made.  There's actually a Porsche dealership right across the street from the mission office in Bucharest.  People are also always cleaning and washing their cars too, there are so many car detaling shops.
There are tons of stray dogs around too.  Some of them look super scary, but none of them ever bother people.  They just bark at stupid things and at each other.  There's a big white one that looks like a wolf that lives by our bloc, we see him every morning walking to the tramvai station.
For General Conference, we are supposed to have an internet connection at the church so we can watch it there, but it's not for sure yet.  So we'll have to watch it on delay at a computer somewhere if we don't get the connection.  They'll set up a projector in the chapel if we get that connection though.  Hopefully they can get it set up.
I've only really had one real Romanian meal.  We eat at this lady, Ana's, house once a week. She's a professional cook and feeds us tons of food for only 15 lei.  She's a non-member, but has been feeding and taking care of missionaries for over 10 years.  She loves having us at her house.  And the food is awesome.  They make a lot of tomatoish soups here, but they are way better than the United States tomato soups.  When we went there, we had a tomato based soup with potatoes in it, then lasagna (which was good) and this "banana salami" for dessert.  It was this chocolate dough with cookies in it, that was wrapped around a banana.  The way she described making it, the method  was similar to cinnamon rolls.  It was good.  She says she is our mom in Romania and she needs to take care of us.  Funny lady.

October 1, 2012
Well contrary to popular belief,  I did send an email last week.  But I sent it to you again so hopefully you'll get 2 for this week.  Anyways. Things are going great here we don't have very many people we are teaching right now.  But we have several people who we teach English to, with a spiritual thought at the end of the lesson.  And the seem to be interested in what we say in the spiritual thoughts.  We invited them all to Church, but they were all busy this week, so maybe next week.  Also, Saturday night, we met with a man who has talked to the missionaries before and he read the Book of Mormon.  He said that what we believe is very similar to what he believes a member of the Orthodox church.  He said all the religions he has investigated have the same vision and purpose.  Which is good.  So we invited him to church and he was busy too.  So maybe next week.  He told us a lot about his son. His son works for the EU in Luxembourg.  and he speaks like 4 or 5 different languages and his daughter in law who is married to him speaks like 7 or so languages.  That's the crazy thing of Europe.  Most people speak more than one language.  For example, here in Oradea, many people don't speak Romanian and only speak Hungarian, since we are close to the border.  And many speak both Hungarian and Romanian.  So it's pretty interesting.
Cool thing of this week.  We made an ad for the Church and had it put up in one of the busy bus stops at downtown.  I attached a picture of it.  That's not what it looked like when we took it to the agency.  We showed them what we wanted and they put together an awesome looking ad for us and put it up there.  We had the mission president approve it and the office payed for it and everything.  So hopefully we can reach out to some more people that way.

I bought a coat today at a secondhand store.  only 52 RON, which is less than 15 bucks and it's plaid grey and black.  They have second hand stores all over here with cheap clothes. 
That's all for now!  Love and miss everyone!
Elder Phelps

Monday, 17 September 2012

First Area

We got the first e-mail from Austin after arriving in Romania!  Yea!! It was good to hear from him since his arrival in the country and it sounds like he's off to a great start!

City of Oradea

So, here I am in my first city, Oradea.  It's up on the northern part of Romania, almost on the border of Hungary.  It has been quite the trip getting here.  The flights were all good, but I'm still a little jet lagged.   I stayed my first night in Bucharest with some other Elders, the the next day we had breakfast with the Mission President and we got our companions and cities assigned.  After that we went to the station and hungout there for awhile and then got on our train.  It was about a 12 hour ride and we had a sleeper cabin with 6 beds on the way.  It was my new companion and the other 2 missionaries headed to our city.  There's only 4 of us here and it's a pretty big city.  We got to our apartment, I attached a picture on this email of it, and it's kinda small, but it's fine for just 2 of us living there.  We do alot of handing out flyers for teaching english.  Apparently it's the most effective way of talking to people.  We have class at the church twice a week, my first one is on saturday so we'll see how that goes. 

The language is way tough.  It's super hard to understand what people are saying.  I pick up words a lot and can understand quite a bit, but I can't talk back to people very well.  People are super nice here for the most part.  The city is pretty cool, there are a ton of old buildings and there's a lot of history here.  We take the tramvia everywhere, it's basically the trax of Oradea.  It costs 60 RON for a monthly pass which is a little less than 20 bucks, so not a bad deal at all.  People here are crazy drivers, but they are actually good at being crazy drivers, it's kinda weird.  We went to church on sunday, and I didn't understand a whole lot.  Oh, well, I'll catch on eventually.  I got to participate in the conformation of a new member though, that was way cool.   He's from Moscow and he speaks Russian, Romanian, German, Hungarian, Italian, French, and Spanish.  He's awesome.  He hangs out with us sometimes, way nice kid. He's 19 and wants to serve a mission so that's super exciting.
Chapel in Oradea
At our apartment, we only have a washing machine, so we have to let everything air dry.  We can't drink tap water, so our sink has a filter on it to make it so we can drink it.  Also, there is bloc housing everywhere, we live on the first floor of one, but our apartment is pretty nice.  All the buildings here are made of concrete basically, bad news bears if this place has an earthquake.
Desk inside the apartment
Food here is super cheap, we usually go to the grocery store and buy groceries and cooks stuff at home.  Some street vendor food is way good and cheap.  yesterday I had a better version of the American mozzarella stick.  It's like a Pizza Factory breadtwist, but it has mozzarella cheese in the middle.  Super good and it was only like 60 cents.  I haven't had really any real Romanian food besides that yet.  There's a lot of pizza here and just people selling stuff on the street.  Like I said we usually cook at home, sometimes we go out to eat.  Today we ate at a chinese place in the food court at the mall, it was alright, I got seasame chicken with french fries (not very authentic haha) anyways.

Taxis here are everywhere, and their super cheap.  But we usually take the tramvai because it usually goes anywhere we need and we get monthly passes.  But yeah, we've met with a couple members, and handed out a lot of english class cards.  The branch here is in a rented villa (house basically), we only had like 15 people at church yesterday.  The branch president is like the nicest, most humble man i've ever met.  He rides his bike in from one of the little towns right outside the city and he cleans the church every saturday by himself.  All the members are super strong, they all come to church every week and to every activity.  We are going to the city of Arad tomorrow for a zone training thing, hopefully that will be fun, that's where our zone leaders live so we have to go to them. 

But yeah, we went to the mall today, and just got done playing basketball.  I have a bunch of pictures and not a lot of time this week so I'll hopefully send some home next week on a disc.  We'll see.  But ask me some questions because I have like no time this week, we got caught up playing basketball.  I'll try to answer them next week.  But I gotta go so I'll talk next week.  Oh and I only get snail mail and packages every 6 weeks, just an FYI.  Talk to you all later!

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

He has Arrived!

We got an e-mail from the mission president tonight that lets us know that Austin has arrived in Romania, safe and sound!

Dear Families of New Romanian Missionaries,

 Yesterday at around 1:00 pm local time, my wife and I and our assistants met a wonderful group of new missionaries at the Bucharest, Romania airport. They were a bit tired after spending many hours in the air. But they were so excited to finally be in Romania to begin the "real" part of their mission. Sister and I had a delightful interview with each and  our Financial Manager, instructed them in handling their personal and missionary funds. They had a brief medical check-up required by the government and then spent the evening with missionaries around the city. Most of them got a good taste of their first proselyting in a city park.

This morning we welcoed them to a breakfast at the mission home and then took them to the beautiful Cismigiu Gardens in the middle of the city. Here on February 9, 1990, Elder Russell M. Nelson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, dedicated the country for preaching the gospel. This was about six weeks after the communist government was overthrown. In the afternoon they applied for resident visas and then returned (sleepily) to the mission home for an orientation session. We assigned them their first district and companion, or trainer. These are experienced and trusted missionaries with whom the new missionaries will spend the next six to 12 weeks. In a few days, your missionary will email you and tell you where they are serving and how they are adjusting.

Attached is a photo of the group taken in Cismigiu Gardens on the dedicatory site. We are so pleased with the opportunity we have to work with these outstanding new missionaries. They bring such energy and faith to our work. Thank you so very much for sending your missionary to us. We will do our best to help him or her have a great experience serving the people of Romania and Moldova.
How grateful we are for the support you give your missionary. It means a great deal to a missionary to know they are loved and cared for by family members back home.
With love and appreciation,
There is a photo, but for some reason I can't get it uploaded!  I'll try again later, but at least we know he is there!  Keep him and the rest of missionaries serving in your prayers.  We love you all!

Off to Romania!

On September 10, 2012, Austin boarded a Delta Flight en route to Romania!  He was so very ready to get on his way.  He said the MTC was a good experience, but enough was enough. He also admitted in the last letter we received that he didn't have much to tell us because his experience was getting to be like the movie with Bill Murray called, "Ground Hog Day," --- the same thing, day after day.

Here is an excerpt from his last letter, "I am excited to leave! I really thought this day would never come, but now it's right around the corner!  Crazy.  I have been reading a lot since I've been here. I have read all of the Gospels in the New Testament.  Found my new favorite scripture: Mark 10:45.  Check it out. Also, Our Search for Happiness. Awesome book.  And, I'm about half way done with The Infinite Atonement.  That book is insane.  Tell Dad he needs to read it.
Anyways, I look forward to talking to everyone on Monday! And eating airport food! Make sure you're around so I don't get the answering machine!"

Austin's best friend Kyle's "tail" that he sent Austin in getting ready to submit his own mission papers (He sent Austin his wisdom teeth too, but I didn't think you would all want to see the photo of that!)  Austin said he would hold onto to it until they were both back from their missions, and then give it back to Kyle!

"Elder Lybbert from our district drew all of our pictures and then Sister Lund sent them home and her mom had T-shirts made out of them for us.  This photo is of all of us wearing them."
Austin and his long time friend and soccer buddy, Elder Daniel Layton (Dan is going to Chile)

He called us from the airport in Salt Lake City, but he only had about 3 minutes to talk, so we didn't get much info., other than to hear his voice and tell him we loved him. (Just long enough for his mom to get a big ole lump in her throat and have her eyes mist over!)  He had stops in Detroit and Amsterdam, but neither were long enough for him to call again.  As far as we know he arrived in Romania safely...we have yet to hear from him.  More to come soon. . .

Monday, 20 August 2012

New MTC Photos!

We got some photos from Austin at the MTC today!  He looks like he's having a good time with the other missionaries. . .
Me and the crew at the map Left to Right: Marc Berbert (Thailand), Tanner Huff (Nicaragua), John Bills (Chile), Bryant Dixon (Chile), Bryan Nance (South Africa), Me (Romania) -- All Davis County area friends that went to Viewmont.
 Me with Bryan Nance and John Bills 
 Me and Edgar Reynoso (Rage soccer team mate)
 Everyone in the MTC going to Romania
 Me and Nance the night before he left
 Romanian speaking missionaries at the map
 This is how I study Romanian grammar--note cards in the bed springs ---that's how you learn! (Who knew
Austin's handwriting could be so good!)
 Me and Sister Petrisor (one of our teachers)
 Our District on Sister Petrisor's last day of teaching
 Our Romanian Flag has sleeves. . .
 So it's fun to wear!
 Me and Elder Koniez (cone-etz).  He's from Frankfurt, Germany.  We play soccer together @ gym time.
Me and Christian Keddington, he's tall! (soccer buddy)

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Halfway through Basic Training!

Elder Phelps is doing well at the MTC.  He has been there for 5 1/2 weeks so he's on the downhill slide towards his departure date to Romania, which is scheduled for Sept. 10.  A week ago I went with the youth of our ward to youth conference.  He was asked to send a little note to the youth---the theme of the conference was "Who is on the Lord's side?"  Here is what he had to say. . .
 Anyways, here's what you can read for youth conference, they will need their scriptures:
 So, "Who's on the Lord's side?" Interesting question.  I would hope we are all on His side.  Think about it.  The Savior Jesus Chriset is the central figure in our chruch.  So being on his side would be being like him.  I think the best way we can do that is to serve.  If we remember how the Savior served we can better understand.  Jesus gave sight to the blind, strength to the lame, put words in the mouths of the dumb, and gave life to the dead.  Along with numerous other miracles and healings.  While we may not be able to serve in such a way as he did, we can certainly do our part, by serving our fellow men, just as he did.  In Matt. Chap 16:24-25, Jesus himself explains: "If any man will come after me, let him deny ."himself, and take up his cross, and follow me."  It goes on saying: "For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it."  When we choose the Lord's side of service, we gain respect and love for our fellow men and God smilies down upon us when we serve.  By serving our fellow men, we are serving God. King Benjamin offered some insight while addressing his people (see Mosiah 2:17) "....when ye are in the service of your fellow beings, ye are only in the service of your God."  The Savior also teaches about the subject in Matt. 25:35-40.  "Inasmuch as ye have done it unto the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."  Two people said it, one of them being Jesus Christ himself, so it must be true doctrine.  Our church is and the Gospel are centered around God's love for us.  So if we want to be like him, on the Lord's side, we need to love and serve.  Again the Savior talking, in John 13:34, right after he washes the feet of the 12 apostles (act of service), " one another."   That's what this church is all about.  Loving and serving.  Let us remember what King David asked in the first book of Chronicles, chap. 29:5: "And who then is willing to consecrate his service this day to the Lord?"  The choice is yours.  May we all choose to be on the Lord's side.  Have a fun time at youth conference! I'm having a great time here.  The Church is True! Ne mai vedem! (see you later!)
He is getting a bit tired of being at the MTC and ready to move on--the schedule is physically and mentally exhausting.  He and his companion, Elder Covey, just got called as zone leaders so they will be busy with meetings on Sundays.  He ran into Elder Kevin Martin (the other missionary from our ward who just entered the MTC on the 15th going to Lubbock, TX Spanish Speaking) for a minute coming out of the cafeteria this past week.  In addition, he surprised a friend of his, Elder Konner Frey (called to Singapore), and jumped on his back as he was walking into the MTC with his host after the drop off .  He stated, "Things are good, can't wait to get out here though."
Drop him a line if you get chance---he'd love to hear from anyone and everyone!

Saturday, 4 August 2012

3+ Weeks in the MTC

Austin says he's doing well and learning the Romanian language and having some good teaching experiences where the Spirit has been strong.  He has Derk on a extensive search for a dictionary and verb conjugation book written by a native Romanian--it hasn't been an easy find! He said the elders in his room have been sick this past week so they have skipped gym to rest and such.  Hopefully, they are all feeling better.  Austin gets along well with his companion and says he is very driven---studying all of the time (even when they are eating!)  They went to the Provo temple last week and he said it was awesome.
We sent him the Sunday newspaper last week and he was grateful.  He said, "The US president could die and I wouldn't know until I leave this place on Sept. 10!"  I miss having him here to keep me completely updated on the happenings of the Olympics as he has done in past years!  We are anxiously awaiting more news and will update as is it available.

Friday, 27 July 2012

1st Photos from the MTC

Austin is doing well in the MTC.  He tells us the schedule is very rigorous ("not much time for even a bathroom break!") His companion is Elder Christian Covey (Steven Covey's grandson) from Provo.  There are 9 Elders and 2 Sisters in his District---all scheduled to go to Romania at the same time.  He says the language is difficult, but it's coming along.  Elder Covey took some lessons prior to entering the MTC, so he's a little ahead of the game, but Austin is not discouraged.  He has already written and asked for more of his favorite type of pens because he does so much writing.
There are several of his school/soccer buddies in the MTC right now too (Bryan Nance, Marc Berbert, Elvon Farrell, Bryant Dixon, and Austin Watts to name a few).  He says they eat lunch together when they can find each other.
 Elder Phelps and his companion, Elder Christian Covey
 Romanian Missionary Tag and CTR Ring
 Austin and his district on their first walk to the Provo Temple
 Elder Phelps and friend Elder Bryant Dixon
 Elder Phelps and friend Elder Marc Berbert 
 Elder Phelps and friend Elder Austin Watts
 Elder Phelps and buddy Bryan Nance
Elders Berbert, Nance and Phelps---going to different parts of the world!

He has been out a little over two weeks and is already tired of the food---imagine that!  I'm sure when he gets to Romania, there will be days he will long for the MTC food!  He would love letters and promises to write back!