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. . .