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