Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Hobbit 2 at the IMAX!

Q: Did you get to see the Hobbit? Did you like it? Anything else new since we talked to you?

A: The rest of the week was pretty good. We did see the Hobbit 2 on the 26th in IMAX. I liked it a lot. Not much really new, just getting ready for the new year, nothing too exciting.
Us at the Hobbit 2

Watching the Hobbit 1 at President's house
I'm still doing good. As of news from today, I might be doing 5 transfers in the office, one more with Elder C., then 2 more to train someone else, leaving me with one left. I think it'll be good, I feel like I do a good job, and apparently everyone else thinks the same.

We're having a little new years party with the senior couple missionaries, the Bakers. We are going to play games and eat I think. The weather has been really weird lately. Today it was really cold, but just the other day it was 12.5 Celsius. It's kind of like Utah, where if you don't like the weather, wait a few minutes. Overall, it's been really foggy. We still only have 1 actual snow storm to date.

All in all, I'm doing good. I've been a little sick the past few days, just the sore throat, headache, stuffy nose thing. I'm feeling a little better today though.

Monday, 16 December 2013

This Gospel is One of Love

Life sized poster of Elder Phelps
This was written by Austin to be shared at our ward Christmas Party where the theme was celebrating our missionaries and missionary work.  He gave me permission to post it here:

I’ve learned a lot of things in my mission; first and foremost being that this Gospel is one of love. The most basic principle of this Gospel is just that, love. We need to learn to love like the Savior loved. A big task? Yes. Will we fail? Surely. We all know that no one can be perfect, even as He was perfect. But, that doesn’t give us the excuse not to try. Our job is to do our best, and then the parts we can’t do, He will help us with.

I’ve found it quite difficult to love people out on my mission. It’s something that I’m trying to work on. It’s very easy to be annoyed or become angry with people we talk to who aren’t nice, or don’t say good things about us or our church. This has happened to me multiple times out on my mission. We can argue and argue and we will always come out of the conversation with feelings of anger and frustration.

When it’s all said and done, every religion has a gap, a loophole, or a blank spot, where things don’t add up, where things can’t be proven. These loopholes are bridged, covered or spanned by faith. Every person can be backed up against the wall of faith where all they can say is, “Based on my experiences and the faith that I have, I know that what I believe is true.” This is our (for lack of a better word) best weapon. Nobody can tell us what we do, or do not know. I’ve seen in almost every situation in which I have shared what I know, my testimony, people have respected that. Of course, there will be the select few who are still offensive and mean. This is where the love comes in. We need to have a love for them, and be able to say we respect them for what they believe.

I’ve come across many people who are very resistant to the message of our church. We just have to recognize what they believe, and praise them for the beliefs they have. In my mission, we have to do this every day. And, it’s really hard.

So, I’ve figured out there is more than one way to share the Gospel. We can do it many ways, but especially here in Romania, we look different. People ask us why we’re dressed up and look so official for being so young. Heck, people ask us why we’re smiling! Sharing the Gospel is sometimes as simple as putting a smile on someone’s face, helping someone carry bags or whatever, brightening someone’s day. Being an example is probably the thing that has brought me the most success. Being an example means being the best example of YOU that YOU can be . . . without worrying about what you haven’t done or what other people have done.

We are called on a mission to be us. We will change, but we need to be ourselves. Being someone you’re not isn’t a good way to go about doing missionary work. People can tell if you’re trying to be something you’re not. Sincerity and honesty matter the most. And, that’s the Gospel: loving everyone, being honest. If we do those things, we’ll be in good shape for the rest of the commandments.

The Church is true. We have a Brother who suffered for our sins and set the ultimate example for us to follow. If we hold firm to that, we will be blessed. But, at the same time, we need to be patient and faithful. It always pays off, but we don’t get to choose when the blessings come. They will come when the Lord sees fit. My commitment to all who are listening to this is, to find out how you can be a better person, to make the world a better place. Like President Uchtdorf said, “None of us is quite as Christ-like as we know we should be. My testimony is that we can all take advantage of the Atonement, to improve ourselves, and become better people, better examples. Once again the Church is true. We have a living prophet on the earth today.

In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen

Elder Austin Phelps

Same Old, Same Old

Here's me with the tree, my desk and the stocking you sent. 

Q: What are your plans for Christmas? Will you spend it with a member, with the mission president, see the Hobbit 2 or what?

A: Plans for Christmas are to open our presents at the office with the tree, and then go see the Hobbit 2 probably. Maybe dinner with the office couple here. As for the life here in the office, just the same old same old. I sold my first car this week! haha. They put me in charge of mission vehicles, and we have some extras, so I sold one. El Matador, that's good stuff. We have a pretty good Mexican place here, El Torito. Kind of expensive though. (Derk and I went to El Matador this week for Derk's Birthday)

The house sounds like it's coming along, just get it all finished by the time I get home.

Sorry it's short this week, but I really don't have much exciting to write about.

Monday, 9 December 2013

The Christmas Spirit is Alive and Well in the Office

The Christmas tree loaded up in the car
Q: How was your week?
A: Just another run of the mill week.

I said: Dad was looking at the missionary website yesterday and the office phone number is listed so he said, "Look, here's Austin's phone number if you want to call him." Haha it was kind of funny!
Austin replied:
And yeah, there's a good chance I'd answer the phone if you called that number! haha.

Q: Are you strictly in the office or do you have the opportunity to do any other teaching etc.?
A: We sometimes get out contacting. We don't really have anyone to teach. Especially because we have 4 actual missionaries in our area. We'll do skype lessons every once and awhile. And we occasionally do exchanges with other missionaries.

On Wednesday one of the senior missionaries serving here in Bucharest fell on the sidewalk and busted up her arm bad. They called Germany, then Salt Lake, pulled some strings, and they were on a flight home Friday morning. They ended their mission almost a year early. Too bad. But it was like their 4th or 5th mission, so maybe it was better. That means, yup, you guessed it, we took them to the airport at 4:30 Friday morning. Then that same day, we had our Christmas Zone Conference/Party. So we were busy before and after taking people places and to the train station and such. During the party, we have a little bit of training, big lunch, we watched the Christmas slideshow (which I made), and had our annual tie exchange. It was a fun, and long day.

We did something pretty funny this week. On our way walking into IKEA for lunch one day, we saw that they had started to sell real trees for Christmas. That got us thinking. We ate lunch, then went over to the big grocery store (basically Wal-Mart) and on our way out, we saw more trees. Asked the guy how much, he said 90 lei for all of them except that tall one in the back corner, it's 120 lei. After some aloud debating on whether the vehicle we brought could handle it, we got the big one. They wrapped it up in a net for us, and we loaded it in our car (see picture). It fit, just not all the way. But, we drove with the hazard lights on and made it back to the office without a ticket or injury. And the office couple serving here loved it so much, they payed for half of it! haha. So now we have a tree, lights, some decorations and stockings. The two assistants to the president who work in the office with us got stockings similar to the one you sent me, so we have all those hung up as well. The Christmas spirit is alive in the office.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Thanksgiving was Just a Busy Day

This last week was transfers week, the busiest of the entire transfers. It's 5 weeks of planning and preparation crammed into 2 days. We didn't sleep much either, we had to stay up late, and get up early. I was pretty exhausted by the end.

We've been working on the mission picture slideshow too, we just submitted that to Pres. Hill for approval. About 1000 pictures to sort through and put music to. It was a big job, but we finally finished it.

Thanksgiving was just a busy day. We were supposed to eat with everyone at around 2, but we had to pick someone up at the train station. So we missed the meal with everyone, but we went back about an hour later, and there was still tons of food, so we got to eat. They got a huge turkey from the embassy, which was probably the best turkey I've ever had. Mashed potatoes, beans and carrots, everything. Real pumpkin pie for dessert with Oreo salad. That's basically Oreos, cream, and vanilla pudding all mixed together. And we got to take leftovers home, so it was good.

As for the game. It was a World Cup Qualifier between Greece and Romania. Played in a 2 game series. Whoever scores the most goals qualifies, and whoever loses, doesn't go to the World Cup. Our game was the second leg in the series. Romania had played Greece about a week earlier in Athens, where they lost 3-1. Then Greece came here and tied Romania 1-1. So, in total goals, Greece scored 4, and Romania scored 2. Therefore, Greece qualified for the World Cup, and will go to Brazil next year. And Romania missed qualifying. It's the closest they've come in many years though. It was so loud in that stadium. 53,000 people were in attendance. the whole stadium was waving Romanian flags except for the corner of Greece fans. Their stadium is brand new, and has a retractable roof on it. Pretty modern. It was crazy! People were lighting flares, smoke bombs, and throwing some sort of explosives on the field. The announcer actually came on and said that they would stop the game if people kept doing it. They kept doing it, and the game went on.

My companion and I went on a tour of the Arcul de Triumf (Triumph Arch, just like the one in Paris) yesterday. It was pretty cool. They opened it up for National Romanian Day, December 1st. It's like our 4th of July. 

 Arcul de Triumf (Triumph Arch, just like the one in Paris)

Fall in Bucharest

Amazing sunset!

Pretty Fancy Romania Graffit--stuff like that is everywhere

Monday, 25 November 2013

Meeting with a "Big Cheese" of Romania, the Minister of Cults

Here's a picture of me and Elder B. at the Romania vs.Greece game.
Sounds like Elder Phelps had a good week. Apparently, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is considered a "cult" in Romania! Here's the story:

Well this last week was good. We stayed busy as usual. Just preparing all the paperwork for the new missionaries who arrive tomorrow. We had a cool experience today though. So there is this huge stack of difficult to obtain documents that every missionary needs in order to apply for a visa. One of those documents is an invitation from the Ministry of Cults for each missionary to stay in the country for the duration of their mission. Usually we drop the documents off, and then come back about a week later to pick up the papers. This time, the papers didn't come through. The lady told us she'd call us back this week. But, we have so much stuff hinging on these documents that we needed a specific time. Because if nobody has the document, they can't apply for their visa before they leave to their different cities around the country. We went in on Friday, the guard said the lady had already left. So, we went back today, same guard told us that she wasn't there. This time we brought a Romanian missionary with us, and he said if we can't talk to her, we need to talk to someone. Right at that time, a man with a bag and nice suit asked us what the problem was. Elder G. (the Romanian) explained it to him as well. Then he invited us upstairs. Turns out that guy was the assistant to the Secretary of State in the Ministry of Cults. He leads us upstairs to a really nice office, then a conference room. We sat down, then the well dressed man said, "Gentlemen, The Minster of Cults." And an older guy walked in and sat down with us. He was the real Minister of Cults. The head honcho, big cheese, boss of bosses. He's actually the boss of the guy that signs our papers. He asked us what the problem, Elder G. explained and he told the secretary and his assistant to call the lady. They told him that it was on the computer in the office and it was locked and they needed a flash drive and so on. He basically said that he doesn't care about the computer or the office, just get the documents. He was really nice to us and said that he was Orthodox, but he respects all religions, especially because that's his job, to promote unity and cooperation between them. After about 10-15 minutes of him asking us how people treat us here and how it is as missionaries, the documents came and we were on our way. When we got out of the office, Elder G. explained to us that we just met with a VERY high ranking government official. They also left us with both business cards, the Minister and his assistant, and they told us to call them if we have any problems or want to discuss something and we can set up an appointment. Probably one of the most important people I've ever met in my life.

That's the cool story though. The next few days are going to be super busy for us. We have to take missionaries to a ton of different places around the city in order to get them applied for their visas. We are just running around all day tomorrow, Wednesday, and Thursday. get up early, stay up late, sleep all day Friday... haha. Not. We're always busy doing something.

Monday, 18 November 2013

You Would Have a Heart Attack if You Knew What Driving was Like Here.

Q: How are things in the Romanian mission office? So, what's new with you? Tell me again why you have a group for church instead of going to the branch and why it's shorter? 

A: Things are just fine. More paperwork, more problem solving, more crazy driving. I'm telling you, you would have a heart attack if you knew what driving was like here. Serious.

In the past (before I was here) there were branches for every sector in Bucharest (6). But as people stopped coming, the branches slowly closed. Now we have 2, and one group. One chapel on the west side, and one in the south east. The district president thought it would bring people back to church to have a group in the north (where the mission home, and office are). Because apparently there are many members up here, and they suspect that the distance was keeping some members away from attending church. So they formed the group in northern Bucharest. And we only have 2 hours of church, because it's like a satellite branch. All the donations are taken through the branch in the west, and they have "group leader" not a president. It's all under the direction of the other branch.

The weather here just cooled off really quick. It's been pretty cold the last couple of days. Still no snow or rain though. We are currently working on our mission slideshow to show at Christmas zone conferences. We have to sort through about a thousand pictures and put music to them and make the presentation for everyone to watch. And we have transfers next week, so we are in the middle of preparation for the new missionaries to come into the country. Staying really busy like usual. We played soccer in the park today. And it was Elder O's (my last companion) year in the country mark this week, so we ate at the Hard Rock to celebrate. Great burger, but kind of expensive.

I'm getting kind of tired of having 4 people in our apartment. Too crowded and hard to keep things clean. The other elders are moving next week though, that will make things easier. I dunno if I told you, but Elder O. has a native companion. A temporary missionary from Iasi. He's a funny kid named Mihai. He doesn't speak very much English, so we've all been able to practice Romanian a little more than normal.

I hope they don't make me go to the singles ward when I get home. Too much pressure to get married there. Maybe I can get a calling in our home ward and stay. We'll see I guess.

Well I'm really tired, and still have 20 bazillion pictures to sort, some health insurance claims to file, and maybe some grocery shopping to do. Sorry it wasn't too epic this week. That's how it goes in the mission office!

Dragon statue advertising the Hobbit 2

Monday, 11 November 2013

We Get to Have Turkey on Thanksgiving!

Q: How are things in the office? Did you do anything new and different/exciting this week? What's the weather like there? How is your health?? Are you staying well?

A: Nothing much new here. Just paperwork, errands, the usual. We did have a skype lesson with a recent convert though. He lives in the Czech Republic and he speaks Romanian a lot better that he speaks Czech. He just got baptized over there, I guess the office elders before me were kind of teaching him through skype on and off. That's about as exciting as it gets. We have to start running all over the city this week, because we have new missionaries coming in a couple weeks. All of their paperwork needs to be taken care of. On Saturday, we did go out to this member's house, like 30 kilometers from the city and we did some service in her garden. Cutting down some trees, turning dirt over, just cleaning up for the winter. We had 3 cars of missionaries full go out there, so there was good company. That's basically it though.

So you know the couple who works at the embassy I told you about before? They invited the whole office staff over for Thanksgiving this year. So we'll be at their house. And, cool thing is, we'll get to have Turkey! They don't really have whole turkey's here, but we're ordering one from the embassy. It'll be just like Thanksgiving dinner back home. My companion makes really good pumpkin pie too.

My health is just fine. The weather is cooling off here. Fast. It was really cold this morning, and apparently it's supposed to stay cold for the rest of the year. Up until now, it's been warm, but not anymore.

That's about it for this week. We are going paintballing today too, us office elders and most all of the other missionaries here in Bucharest. And, on the 19th we got permission to go the Romania vs. Greece World Cup Qualifying game. I'm pretty excited about that. It's at the National Arena, a big, brand new soccer stadium. It's gonna be a good game, and we get to go with a bunch of my friends in the mission. Our tickets were only about 15 dollars each too.
At the mall they had a coke stand, and you could type in something to put on your can.  I put PHELPS, and this other missionary, Elder R., his first name is Austin too.  He put AUSTIN on his and I stuck ours together, and took a picture.  (It translates to say, "Share a Coca-Cola with...." and whatever you write.)

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Official Office Elder

You're officially an office elder now---how is it going? How many people are in your branch and how many come on Sunday? Who is you new companion and how is that going? How are things going with the new investigators (the renters of the sisters' apartments)---did you have to hand them off?
Things are going busy. We have lots of stuff to do all the time. We actually go to a group, not a branch. And depending on the week, between 5 and about 15 people. For church we had fast and testimony meeting, then for the second hour we watched the last 3 talks from the priesthood session. Since it's a group we only do 2-2.5 hours of church. It was cool, because we had two native Romanian missionaries there with us. They are both in our district. They are both on "mini missions." I'll explain further down. They both bore their testimonies and it is awesome to see people with that kind of strength, because it's super hard to be a member of the Church here, let alone go on a mission.

My new companion is actually one of the first 18 year olds who came into our mission. His 19th birthday is next month and my 21st birthday is in January, so I'm about two whole years older than him. It's kinda weird. He's from Southern Michigan. We get along great. We've had an interesting situation the last couple weeks. So I was with Elder O and Elder C. (my new comp) was with Elder G. Elder G. left last week, which left us as a tri companionship. But yesterday, Elder O. got a new comp, a member from Iasi is going on what we call a "mini mission." That's super mission lingo, but it means he is a temporary companion for the rest of the transfer. Usually mini missionaries only stay for a transfer, and they come when we have an odd number in the mission. In this case, he came because we have an odd number, and this member wants to serve a mission, so he's gonna see how it goes for a few weeks. We also have 4 people in our apartment still, which is kind of annoying. The other two will move out in about a week though, they have another apartment which is being remodeled right now.

As for our investigators, we passed them off. They live pretty far out of our area, so we gave them to some other elders to teach. That's how it goes sometimes, but we're all on the same team.

Other than that, we've just been busy doing all the things required to run the mission. If someone has a problem in the mission, they call us. We have a ton of stuff to do. This week, monthly vehicle reports are due to Germany, stack of health insurance claims to file, cars to fix, cars to sell, cars to wash, car insurance to be renewed, finances to do, my to-do list is getting longer and longer, and stuff doesn't get checked off very fast..... haha. I like it though. we have an appointment at the Porsche dealership this week. That's where some of our mission vehicles get fixed. And we're in the process of replacing cars, so we have several to sell. We are also in charge of the Christmas DVD for the mission, we'll start that this week too. Crazy crazy.

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

I'm Doing Just Great Here

I'm doing just great here. So I'll be an office elder officially on Thursday, when the other missionary goes home. We'll take him to the airport on Thursday morning. But this week was good. We were in the office a lot. We are starting to get lots of mail and packages. And there's about 50 different post offices to pick them all up at. We were doing that a couple days, driving around some more. We actually had a lesson this week as well. It's a little bit of a funny story:

There are two branches here in Bucharest. One on the west side, and one in the south east. I served in the one in the south east about a month and a half ago when I was here the first time. But, recently, they created a new group to meet in the northern area of Bucharest. The meetings are held in a member's home. The member who works at the embassy doing kind of what Eric does. Going along with the new group, President Hill decided to move some missionaries there as well. So that includes, the Assistants to the President, Office Elders, a companionship of sisters, and another companionship of elders. They don't have any apartments besides the assistants and the office elders, so they have been looking for new apartments recently. Well, they found one for the sisters, and the people who own it just started coming to church. They are super nice people. So down to earth and interested in the church. They love it. We had a lesson at their house, it was kind of jumbled, as he likes to talk, but we got through it and are planning on going back. They have been to church 3 times now, and every time they go they tell us they feel something different there, so that's cool. They are both about 50 I think, and their 26 year old daughter sat in on the lesson and said she was excited for our next visit. We'll see when we can set up with them again, they are pretty far out of our area, and don't go to the same church we do, so we may end up passing them on to another companionship. Anyways that's the story. They became interested in the church because we rent their apartment. Who would've known.

That's about it. We went to a cool old palace place with a lake today. I forgot my camera cord at home so I'll have to send the pictures another day.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Driving Here is Hysterical

View from the roof of our bloc, they opened a new mall across the street, and they were shooting off fireworks, but I didn't get up there with my camera in time. Anyways. The mission office is on the 7th floor of the short building to the left of the big building with the blue sign on top.
So the scoop is, I'm not technically 100 percent in the office, yet. Kind of half and half. We have 2 other office elders as well. One of them will be going home next week, so that's when I'm in all the way. Right now I'm learning the basics from Elder O. So we're in half the day, out the other half. I drove for the first time the other day too, that was cool. It's been over a year since I've been behind the wheel. It's fun though, driving here is hysterical. I did good, and I'll get better as it goes on. I'm gonna have to learn all the streets and stuff really fast. This city wasn't very well urbanly planned. They built all the buildings without taking parking/cars into consideration. So now there is no room to park or anything. Only the newest buildings come with underground parking structures. Anyways.

I think the office is going to be fun. As office elders basically solve everyone elses' problems. We take care of mission vehicles, phones, visas, traffic tickets, health insurance, insurance claims, basically all the stuff we need to have to function as a mission. On transfer day we were busy shuttling missionaries around, moving luggage, helping them with visa paperwork. It's going to be good administrative experience I think.

Monday, 14 October 2013

Going Back to Bucharest to Work in the Office

Short update from Elder Phelps this week:
The picture is me with the branch president and his family. His wife is Polish and he's Romanian, and they speak English too.  Their kids are awesome too.  Some of the coolest, nicest people I've ever met.  I'm gonna miss them.

My questions to him:
So, what's new with Elder Phelps? How was your week? You've been in Cluj for almost 6 weeks, are you staying there, or will you be going somewhere else--do you know yet? How is your investigator doing with his progress? Is he still on target for baptism next month? Did you get to watch the rest of conference? What was your favorite talk?

District picture at the senior missionaries' house. We went there for lunch as a district.

Me sleeping on the train to Arad
His Response:

Howdy all,

The week was pretty much the same as usual. Our investigator is still doing great. We met with him again last week. He takes his Book of Mormon to work with him and reads when he has time, so that's cool. He still has his date for the 16th. We still haven't watched the rest of conference yet, we'll get there though. But the week was filled with the usual contacting teaching english, nothing really new.

Also, this week being the week before transfers, we did find out where we will be going. Elder V. is staying here, his 5th transfer in a row, and getting a missionary younger than him. As for me, I'm headed back to Bucharest. I'll be working in the office as an office elder. So I get to drive, do paperwork, visas, take care of mission cars, deal with cell phones. It's gonna be crazy. The office elders are basically the bridge between the English speaking office staff, and the Romanian speaking Romania. I'm excited for it.

That's about all that's new though, I  know it's short, but that's the kind of week it was ya know? We get on a train from Cluj to Bucharest tomorrow night, and we'll be back in Bucharest in the morning on Wednesday!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Short Video of the Salt Mine in Turda, Romania (Warning: viewing this video may cause motion sickness!)

Here is a little clip of video that Austin sent from his trip to the Salt Mine on P-Day.  Kind of cool to hear his voice!

Today was a Cool P-Day and P.S. Could You Send a Chick-Fil-A #1 with a Large Lemonade and Extra Fry Sauce!

This week was kind of messed up, because I wrote you on Tuesday or Wednesday, I can't even remember. Zone Conference threw a wrench in our week. It's cooling off as well here. Frost on the cars and the grass in the mornings, winter is on the way. Apparently it snowed in Brasov last week. I've heard that people are saying that its supposed to be a really cold winter, not sure why, but that's word on the street. We had general conference this weekend, and our investigator's wife and daughter were sick, and Saturday is really the only day we can meet with him, so we didn't get to meet with him. We have heard, that he takes his Book of Mormon to work with him and reads when he has extra time, so that was reassuring to hear.

We got to watch the two morning sessions of conference, because of the time difference, they start at 7pm. So we watched Saturday morning session on Saturday night, and Sunday morning on Sunday night. They moved church to 5:30pm, we had sacrament till 6:30, then watched conference from 7 till 9. We will watch the other sessions when we can during study times and such, we download them and play them on our DVD player, and I think the branch will show them over the next few weeks as well. I haven't heard Elder Holland's talk yet, but I loved Pres. Uchtdorf's talk about people in the Church aren't perfect but the Gospel is, and him inviting everyone to come and see what the Church is all about. Also the fact that we don't try to force anything upon anyone, that the Church respects agency 100 percent.

Our conference viewing set up, the tv hooked to the computer, we watched it over the internet with the senior couple here, and the rest of the district.  We watched it in English up in the branch president's office, and everyone else watched in Romanian downstairs on the projector.
Today was a pretty cool P-Day. We went to a town called Turda, about 30 minutes south of Cluj. There is a huge salt mine there that you can walk through. It was really neat. They had cut out this huge cavern underground and they have tons of things in there. They have a sports court, ping-pong, a mini bowling alley, a ferris wheel, and like boats you can row around the little lake at the bottom. All the structure is made of wood, because metal rusts too fast in a salt mine. I'll attach a picture for you to see. After we explored the mine for a few hours, we ate lunch at a restaurant in the town and took the bus back. It was fun. I also emailed you a little video of the inside of the cave, hopefully you get that.

I don't really need anything. If someone insists on sending something, tell them peanut butter, hi-chews, fun fetti cake, or a Chick-Fil-A number 1 with a large lemonade and extra fry sauce.
Our district in the bottom of the salt mine

Bridge of wood at the very bottom

Friday, 4 October 2013

This Week was Long it Seemed Like!

It's starting to cool off here a ton. We still only have one guy who we are teaching right now.

This week was long it seemed like. At the first of the week, we had visit with the branch president and his family. He has a Polish wife and two kids. Their kids are pretty crazy. But, the speak English, Polish, and Romanian. We had a nice visit with them. It was mostly to get to know them, since mostly likely Elder V. will be leaving and I'll be staying. Their name is Iepure, which means "rabbit." so that's funny. They are awesome though. They both speak English too. They fed us and we had a spiritual thought and chatted for a bit.

Along with that we've just had lots of contacting going. We handed out a Book of Mormon on Wednesday and talked to a bunch of people. That's basically what the week was, contacting. On Friday though we had an elders quorum activity. We all got together and went out for pizza. It was fun to get with some of the members outside of just Sundays. We also had another lesson on Saturday with our investigator who has the baptismal date. His wife fed us, and we went over what he read in the Book of Mormon.

When the weekend came, we went to church then after, got on the train to Arad. Our zone conference was there yesterday, about a 5 hour trip. The meeting was good, they are always long though. Started at 8:30 and ended at 4, with a lunch in the middle. They broke it up well, and we made it out alive. There weren't any trains to go back yesterday, so we left Arad this morning and got back to Cluj a few hours ago. The meeting was all about how our mission is a finding mission. We don't teach lots of lessons, or baptize lots of people. We just go out and try to find people that will listen. That's basically every day (among meetings, lessons, etc.). That's about it though! Talk to you next week.

Monday, 23 September 2013

We Have a Baptism Scheduled!


Me with my friends from Oradea.  I spent Christmas with them last year.
It's finally starting to cool down here. It actually gets pretty cold at night now. The heaters in our apartment come on in the mornings and evenings. The summer was HOT. Dang. I've heard its supposed to be a rough winter because last year was so mild, but we'll see. I'm in the market for a winter coat, I found one I want, but it's pretty spendy, so i'm gonna shop around a bit.

This week was a little more eventful. To start off the week, we had an exchange. I was with my MTC companion, Elder C. We haven't really served around each other for a long time, so that was cool. It was a cold day, but we talked to some people and had a lesson at the end of the day, so it was good.

Elder V. and I taught English on Tuesday and Saturday. We teach the beginner class, so it's pretty easy, and it helps him learn Romanian. We also got a referral from the office. So, we went over and talked to this college student who wanted a Book of Mormon. It was a little bit awkward, I think that he thought we were just gonna bring him the book, but we sat down and had a discussion. He doesn't live in Cluj, he goes home to Medias on the weekends. So we invited him to read it and we're calling him later this week. We were kind of excited about it because he referred himself, but it turned out to be a little weird. We'll see what happens. And yesterday, we had another lesson. He is an investigator of quite a long time. His wife is a member and they have a little girl. We went over to their house with the senior couple missionaries here.  It was kind of a get to know you lesson, because it was my first time there. But at the end, Elder B. helped us out a little (this man understands English, but doesn't really speak it) but we set a baptismal date with him for November 16th.  Little ways down the road, but he'll make it. He really likes Elder V. and the senior missionaries. He wants to finish the Book of Mormon first, so we're gonna start going over and reading with him and answering his questions. Apparently he's been coming to church for years with his wife, and he's had every lesson, so that's kinda where we're at. That was the week though. We were happy that a few things happened for us. Hopefully next week will be similar.  That's about it!

Way cool Ferrari that parks by our house

Monday, 16 September 2013

It's Starting to Feel Like I've Been Here for Awhile. . .

City of Cluj from the hill at night
Things are good here in Cluj. We had a pretty busy week. we had to travel twice. We had zone training meeting on Tuesday, and then we went to Oradea yesterday for District Conference. Our apartment here is kinda small, just a kitchen/family room, bedroom and a bathroom, but it gets the job done. We teach English starting tomorrow, hopefully some people come, we've been English contacting all week.

It's starting to feel like I've been here for awhile... haha. I've been here in Romania over a year now. I'm trying to be more patient, but some of the little things are starting to nit pick at me. I'm working on it though, so don't worry.

Like I said though, our week was pretty full. We went to Sibiu for zone training meeting on Tuesday, so that was a day full of bus rides. Pretty long too. Other than that we were English contacting all week long. Just trying to get some people at our classes, we'll see how that ends up tomorrow. we had a funny experience contacting the other day. We were walking through the park and this older guy stops us and starts talking to us. He just asked us all these semi-peculiar questions that were totally loaded to get the answer he was looking for. To tell you, the Jehovah's Witness church is pretty strong here. He at first, told us he was Orthodox, but then at the end of the conversation, he told us the truth. Interesting what people will say to get your attention. We both knew what he really was, because Orthodox people don't contact in the park! haha. Anyways.

We also got caught in the rain a few times, one time we ended up drenched and the other time we were close to cover. We were supposed to have a lesson with a part member family investigator, but it fell through because he had to stay late at work. We're meeting with him this week though. Our district conference yesterday was good. It was cool to go back to Oradea and see the place where I started my mission again. Same members, same building, same everything. I saw my friends Vlad and Anda, the family I spent Christmas with last year. We took a picture but I forgot my camera at home. I'll send it next time.

Cool experience last night too. When I was in Bucharest, the lady that feeds us, gave me a package of stuff for her granddaughter here in Cluj. So we went last night and dropped it off. But, to our surprise, she invited us in and fed us dinner with her two kids! Super nice lady. And apparently she was investigating the church, so we're gonna look up on that. We don't have a chapel, but we have a big house that we meet in. There are lots of members here, more than any other city in Romania. They're awesome and we have several families here too. But yeah, that was the week in a nutshell!

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

I'm Doing Great and Excited to be Here in Cluj!

Me and Elder V. in front of the big Orthodox church in downtown Cluj
My questions to Austin this week: 1) How is your new area--is it a smaller town or city? 2) What's your apartment like? 3) How many members are in the branch there and how many come to church? 4) Are you enjoying your new companion, Elder V.? Sounds like you had quite the week prior to your transfer with moving into a new apartment and passing by a Pink Floyd concert. Have you seen the nativities you were telling me about? I'm wondering if you think it is worth $100? I would love one, but want to be sure that it is worth that much.

He says:
My new city is Cluj-Napoca. It's the second biggest city in Romania. It's really cool. It's a college city. there are about 50,000 students here at the height of the school year. I assume there are lots of members here, at church they usually have about 50, it's the strongest branch in the mission. Elder Van Dyke is awesome. We were already great friends a year ago in the mtc. He was in the group 6 weeks behind me and then went home while he was in the mtc. He came back to the mission and is in his 4th transfer now. So we're excited to be together. Yeah that last week was a joke of moving and cleaning and heat wave. But we're here in cluj safe and sound now. As for the nativities, i need to find out more about them. I'd only heard of them. The man that makes them is in a town really close to brasov.. so i'll try to find out some more info and let you know.

As for the week, not too much. We got in really early Thursday morning to Cluj and that day was unpacking, cleaning, and getting bus passes for the month. Over the weekend we did some English contacting, and just exploring the city a bit. It's pretty big. We had correlation meeting with the branch mission leader too. He's a way good man who has been in the district presidency for awhile, but just got recently released. The branch here is awesome. They are all super cool and just really easy going. They love to joke around. A lot of it has to do with the senior missionaries who are here. Coolest people. He retired from HP Computers some years ago. He actually signed up to go to Vietnam and tells us stories for days. He's a hoot and a half. Church was good too, I just tried to meet the people I could and make it a good first day. That's basically it though. I'm doing great and excited to be here in Cluj!

Sunday, 8 September 2013

My Six Weeks in Bucharest are Over and a Pink Floyd Concert

Me with a member who just left to go to BYU-I, and Sora Gorzo (far right).  We eat at her house on Sundays.
Austin has been in Romania for a year now--and has been on his mission for 14 months--crazy how time flies!  Here are my questions to him this week:
1) How was your week? 2) Are you staying Bucharest and do you have the same companion or a new one? 3) What was the best thing about last week? 4) Any new investigators or lessons taught?  Well, here it is September already! Last year at this time you were getting really anxious to get out of the MTC and get to Romania---now you've been in the country for almost a year! Do you feel like a native yet haha? Sounds like you speak like a native.

He responded:
Time sure is flying. My six weeks in Bucharest are over! just as we found a new apartment, we are both leaving. I'm going up to Cluj-Napoca, and Elder A. is going to Galati. I'm going to be with one of my good friends in the mission, Elder V. I'm not sure if I told you about him already, but he should be in the group six weeks behind me, but he went home while we were in the MTC, and now he's back out in his 4th transfer. So I'm excited to be with him, we'll get along great. And I don't speak like a native at all. I still mess up all the time. Being fluent and being native are two very different levels. And, I still feel very American. We stick out like sore thumbs here. Everyone knows... haha.

Our week was pretty slow again. It heated up a little and then rained, so it's been more humid than normal. Last week we ate out a few more times than usual, we've been packing and cleaning our apartment to move out and we got lazy. So one time we went out to Ikea and ate there, then the other time, we got a little expensive and had a burger at the Hard Rock. Best burger I've had in over a year. But, like I said, a little spendy, so it'll be awhile before I go back there. We had an investigator at church, he just kind of showed up, so that was cool. He's a nice guy, but he is one of the "eternal" investigators. He's heard every lesson from tons of missionaries, and just doesn't want to move forward.

Patriarch's Palace (Patriarch of the Orthodox Church
It was funny, you know Roger Waters? Lead singer of Pink Floyd? Well he did a show here a few days ago, we didn't go (Obviously, i'm not an apostate missionary), but we walked by, and there were a ton of people there. He did it at a huge like intersection in front of the People's Palace, they just blocked off the roads and built a stage. But we heard him sing "Another Brick in the Wall." So that was cool. We saw him for a split second over the fence too. But that was it, we had to get home after that. I didn't know Pink Floyd had such a big fan base here.

That was about it for the week. I played the piano again. My last time in the branch here. We're leaving to Cluj on Wednesday. I'm actually travelling with Elder Covey, my MTC companion. He's going to be district leader up in Cluj, so that'll be good. So i just realized, my driver's license is gonna expire before I get home, is there anyway I could renew it in case I need to drive here in the mission? I think I have to be there in person, but maybe not. Also, I found out that we can get authentic handmade nativity sets here. There is a man who makes them out of clay, dressed in authentic Romanian attire. He's close to Brasov, so if you would be interested, I could arrange to get one. They cost 100 US dollars, and he prefers it in american dollars. Let me know what you think.
That's about it for today. Next email will be from Cluj-Napoca!

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

A Visit from Utah Friends!

Austin and Elder A.

Ranell, Austin and Elder A.

Ranell, Butch, Austin and Elder A.  Ranell said, "This is the one we took for FaceBook.  So fun!"

On August 20, I received the following text and photos from my friend Ranell Johnson who was traveling in Romania:
"Aneisa: We were able to meet up with Austin and his companion, Elder A.  We had a nice visit over dinner.  They are both doing well.  After visiting with Elder A. we found out that my husband, Butch, knows his father.  Small world! The other small world thing was that Butch thinks he went to high school with Austin's best friend's father, Mike Shepherd.  We are so glad that meeting up with them worked out.  We had a guided tour & we didn't know what time it would end---but, it all worked out."
She goes on to say: "It was the highlight of our day.  He really looked good.  He has a great attitude and a love for the people.  I told him I wanted to give him a hug, but knew it wasn't allowed, because that's what you would want to give him!"
Wow!  What a wonderful gift for a missionary mom!

Here is Austin's update:

Things here are hot still. It's been cooling off a smidge, but not too much. It's cloudy right now, and it was cloudy yesterday. I asked her husband what he does. He is an attorney, but he owns a big law firm and manages the business side of it. He went to law school, but doesn't really practice law. So that's what he does. They are both super nice people. We went to eat at this super popular restaurant in the old part of Bucharest. It's super touristy, but at the same time, it has good prices and it's in this really old building. They bought us dinner, they just said order whatever we wanted. I got chicken cordon bleu with potatoes and cheesecake for dessert.

We didn't teach any lessons this week, and no new investigators either... haha. It's been super hot lately. We had 2 companion exchanges this week as well. One with the other set of elders and one with the zone leaders. So it was kind of a jumbled week that just ended up in contacting most of the time. And yeah, I played the piano again. I'm fastly running out of hymns I can play. And that's from the easy hymn book.. haha. Students at english is a very interesting subject. We had a lot at the beginning, but our medium class only has like 3 or 4. We are in the last week for that though. I think total, we are at about 20, for all 3 classes. Not a whole ton. I'm pretty sure the gift card thing is only in the US. I've never seen one gift card for sale anywhere here. I'd say don't send one, the reason being, that lots of places still don't take credit cards here. They have to pay taxes and report income like that. It's still a huge cash based economy.

Other news is, we found an apartment. Finally. The contract should be signed either tomorrow or today. I haven't called the office yet. We should move in this week though. Just in time for someone to move out, we find out transfers this weekend. No idea if I'll stay or go or what. We'll have to wait and see.

That's about it, happy late birthday! Till next week,

Me in front of the Hard Rock Cafe

Monday, 19 August 2013

I Played the Piano in Sacrament Meeting

As far as this week goes, it was kind of slow. We are still on the apartment hunt. Nothing has come up yet. We'll keep trying though. We just did a lot of contacting this week. Gave away some Book of Mormons too. We had District meeting on Thursday as well. Also, English on Tuesday and Saturday. I played the piano in sacrament meeting on Sunday. From the simplified hymns of course. I can still read music for the most part, but making it play on the piano is a different story. I make tons of mistakes, but it's better than nothing. And no body else can play in the entire branch. Maybe I'll stay here long enough to learn how to play real hymns! haha.

We kind of did a different approach on contacting this week. We went and got a bunch of chalk, and wrote questions on the sidewalk and drew book of mormons and stuff. Kind of breaks the ice for you, because more people just come up and talk to you.

Oh, I'm not sure If I've told you. But there's this lady in the branch here who feeds the missionaries every week. We pay her 10 lei each and she cooks for us. I'm not entirely sold on the food yet. Yesterday was pretty good, but other times, not so good. We had this spinach and cheese soup, wow. That was hard to eat. Anyways. We usually go there with a bunch of other missionaries every sunday after church.

Funny thing of the week. We were crossing the street by the mission office, and I stumbled up the curb, and kinda hit my leg into one of these posts they put every where to keep people from parking on the curb. and, smashed the phone in my pocket. So we had to have the office elders get us a new one. haha. It still worked, but you couldn't see anything on the screen.

Austin likes cars. . .here's a Maserati!

What a great looking bunch!

Monday, 12 August 2013

"It Was an Intense Week, But We Made it Out Happy!"

I don't really need anything right now. Just plugging along. Maybe some hi-chew candy. Or if you could figure out how to send me a chicken sandwich from Chic-Fil-a, that would be great. Or an Apollo Number 10? haha I'm just being ridiculous. The only american restaurants here are Subway and McDonald's for the most part. We also have Pizza Hut (way expensive) and Dominos (also expensive). But believe it or not, we have a Hard Rock Cafe here, and a couple Ruby Tuesdays. But all way too much for a missionary budget. I have eaten at Ruby's a few times, but it's not frequent. Anyways.

Still haven't got in touch with investigators this week. We got a few phone numbers from Book of Mormons we handed out. That was about it. We taught English twice too. Our class is cool, it's mostly just young people. We are in the middle of finding an apartment still. We were supposed to move in to one today, but the owner went behind the real estate agents back and rented it to someone else. Our schedule needs to be flexible, so we've been looking at apartments and meeting with realtors and trying to contact and stuff in between.

This week was pretty interesting. We had 3 seperate people on 3 different occasions tell us we're going to hell and that we're liars, right to our faces. I'll recount for you:
1. We were in on of the biggest parks in Romania, contacting for English. This man comes up to us and wants to know what we preach. Before we get to that, this other lady comes up. She then just starts asking all these loaded questions. Turns out, she was a member of the church for 6 years, and had been to the temple and everything. She told us that we're with the Free Masons. I've never heard that one before. Her reasoning was what happens in the Temple and how they're built. We kept trying to steer that conversation another way. She had a couple friends with her and she started to just get really pokey and rude. I took the bulk of the flak, and one of her friends kinda peeled off and talked to my comp, they actually had a constructive conversation, and this other lady felt it. While I was "occupying, distracting" whatever you wanna call it, the other people who were just out to get us. So that's number one.
2. We had just got on the metro took it one stop, and then this guy gets on. He proceeds to say, "Look at these guys wearing ties on the metro, where are you from?" We said the US and he was speaking English, he was from Chicago. Before I go any further, we are pretty sure he wasn't drunk,. but it seemed like he was impaired some how. We are thinking something along the lines of narcotic drugs, but we're not sure, he may have just been a jerk and a bit peculiar of a person. Anyways, he asks me, "What does having a relationship with Jesus Christ mean?" So I explained my opinion. Then he just said you're wrong. So I asked him. And he said that it's something we need to develop and cherish and grow (which is basically what I said). Then he asked my comp, "What does 'in the name of Jesus Christ mean'?" He told him and said,"nope, wrong, Mormons are smart people, but you two failed me." WHAT. This guy was nuts. We told him that that's not how Jesus did things, and he said, "You're right, but I'm a sinner." OK, aren't we all?? Then he said "I might end up in Hell, and you might very well end up there too, you can't express yourselves." We just told him we're here to help the people and teach them. We had to get off, so we shook his hand and he told us, "Too bad you have to leave, It was just getting fun, I love doing this to people." WOW. Gotta try to love some people, eh? He was rejoicing in telling us we're liars, and that we're wrong.
3. The last experience. After church on Sunday, we were walking out and the other elders said they got invited by a preacher guy on the street to go to his church . Started at 3 and it's 2:30, nothing better to do, sure we'll come with you. We get there, there's guitar music, loud prayers, another Evangelical church. So we thought. The guy that invited us was really cool, he was in prison for years in LA, should have died of AIDS and rotted in prison for the rest of his life, but he gave his life to God, and now is a preacher. He had some crazy stories. Waking up with syringes in his arms not knowing what he shot into himself. Talked about beating people up, stealing, learning how to be a criminal, that sort of thing. Anyways, that's the guy that invited us. Now the other guy, apparently it's his church. He's American and has a bigger family with 4 little kids and one on the way. Our friend did the first part of the sermon, then the younger guy did some. It was pretty standard to start. Then he just started being ridiculous. Telling about putting his hands on people and watching their legs grow in seconds, casting out multiple demons from people. Whew. Needless to say, it was getting a bit uncomfortable, so we got out of there. But, another person from the congregation (I mean 3 other people plus us 4) followed us out and started talking to us. He was cool, and didn't really believe what the guy was teaching. The point is that, we stayed out in the foyer for long enough for the sermon to get over. Then the guy (younger one) comes out and starts talking to us.  It was nice at the first. Then he said (speaking of The BOM) "How can you believe in something that isn't true?"  Then he got hostile and said, "We're here to destroy the Mormon Church, we love you guys and we're gonna destroy you, God Bless." That's a little abbreviated, but he said he's read enough of the Book of Mormon and that it's (His words here) "Scary" that we listen to the promptings of the Holy Ghost and walk by faith. We walked out and were like WHAT?  He passed around a donation bag and right before he did he said the following: 
"Well we were in the service back in the United States, and the church was only bringing in about 200 dollars a month. You can't live there on that, heck, you can't even live here in Romania on that. I pay my ten percent, sometimes more, if God asks us to pay 100 percent, we need to do it. I had a prompting one time to pay 20 percent, didn't even have any money to really pay, but I did it with some hardness of heart, but then I got a check for 1500 dollars. So we need to be generous with our money, time, everything, and God will be generous back. So if you feel so, you can put some money in the bag." CLOSE QUOTE. That sounds like taking money in the name of God, and using to for yourself.  There's a moral for these experiences:
When it comes down to it, every religion is backed in that corner of Faith. Every one has a loop hole that is bridged by faith. Every single religion on the planet. In each of these experiences we just bore testimony, that's the most powerful tool. When we do that, people feel it, and they know, even if they seem like they don't. I prayed for all these people that condemned me and my comp, and I feel better about it. We can love everyone, even if they tell us we're liars. It was an intense week, but we made it out happy.

Thursday, 8 August 2013

"I Might Have to Learn to Play the Piano"

Me in the ruined little castle thing at Cismigiu Garden

1) How are things with your new companion?

Things here are good. Elder A. and I are getting along fine.

2) How many people come to Church there in Bucharest where you are? Do you have chapel or a rented house like in the other areas?
We had about 60 people at church yesterday. Big jump up from what I'm used to, but it's good because we don't really have any responsibilities in the branch. They can handle it all by themselves. We have a chapel here, that the church actually owns, so that's cool. It is right across the street from a metro stop, and has a big grass field with it. I imagine it was probably pretty expensive

3) Have you taught any lessons this week? How is the contacting done there in the bigger city? Is it still English classes and service or what?
We were supposed to have one lesson this week, but he didn't show up. Apparently we have some investigators coming back into town this week, so we're hoping to meet with them after we start English classes.

It's been really hot. We finally went and bought 2 fans on Saturday. Makes a huge difference, but it's still way hot, because our apartment is on the sun side of the building all day long, we're just trying to find a new one as fast as we can, so we can move. It's getting kind of prolonged and it's starting to bother me. I've talked to like 50 realtors in the last 72 hours and none have called me back. We're gonna head to Coldwell Banker today I think. Maybe they can help us speed up the process. We want to move out this week, so we'll see.

For this week, it's been basically English contacting. We had our zone training meeting on Tuesday, and interviews with President and Sister Hill on Wednesday. Our district set a goal to give out 1 Book of Mormon per companionship per day. We're on track so far, so that's cool. It was a slower week, the heat is just nuts.

Leading the music sounds like a good time. Speaking of music. I might have to learn how to play the piano. I can still read music pretty well. There aren't any piano players in the branch, so I played from the Simplified hymns in priesthood, and that might have doomed me to play in sacrament meeting next week. We'll see. I could learn, and I could get permission to practice, i dunno yet though.

As far as sharing the gospel goes. I've learned here that the worst people can do is say no (most of the time). And that's fine. We can't take away other people's agency. If they say no, then that's that. We can't get discouraged. That's my two cents. Just go for it and if she says no, she says no. We're promised that everyone will receive an equal chance to accept the gospel. That means it's different for every person.

The sunset from our apartment.  The sun is right behind Casa Porporului.  "The People's Palace"

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Transferred to Bucharest (Capital of Romania)

1) You're in Bucharest in the southern part of the city, right? How do you get around---by car, walk, tram? 
Well here I am in Bucharest. Biggest city in Romania. Little bit different from what I'm used to, but hopefully it'll grow on me. We live in the southeast part of the city, Bucharest is kind of divided in half by a metro line, and we live on the east side. It also divides the 2 branches here, we are in the Mihai Bravu branch. We live like a 15 minute walk from the chapel and the metro station. It'a pretty big change from anything that I've done here in Romania before. Larger branch, more members, big city. It's cool though. Car, hahahaha. We walk everywhere and use the metro. We'll start using the trams and buses as well this next week. Traffic here is crazy, faster to use the metro usually.

2) How do you like your new companion and what is his name?
My new companion is Elder A. He's from all over but most recently Farmington, he graduated from Davis. He's in his 2nd transfer here in Bucharest. We get along so far, it's been a bit different from my other companions though, we'll be great i'm sure though. Just have to warm up to each other.

3) What is your new apartment like?
As for the apartment, the one we live in now is terrible. We are going to find a new one. The owner is done having missionaries there. He has been renting to the church for the last 6 or 7 years and now he's done. So we're starting the hunt this week. It's not a very good apartment either, I dunno why they kept it for so long. We'll be cleaning and stuff this week to get ready to move. Hopefully we'll find another place that's convenient to the chapel and a metro stop.

4) How many missionaries are in your district and what are your duties as district leader?
We have 8 missionaries in our district, 10 if you count the senior couple. 6 elders and 2 sisters. I just have to do district meeting every week, and report stuff from the zone leaders to the rest of the district. Not too big of a deal.

But, this week went by pretty slow with transfers and moving and stuff. We have just been English contacting for the most part. Apparently there are a few investigators here who are out of town right now, but we're gonna meet with them when they get back. Also, last night this random guy called and said he was an investigator, but his name wasn't in our phone, so we're meeting with him on Wednesday. We have our zone training meeting tomorrow, interviews with Pres. and Sis. H. on Wednesday, and district meeting Thursday. We'll be pretty busy. And it's the hottest time of the year. I sometimes wish I got called to the north pole. But, maybe they'll have a mission there by the time i'm ready to serve as a senior missionary. That's all for today.

"I Think I'll Learn Spanish When I Get Home"

This was from July 22 (We were at Bear Lake that week, so I'm just getting to writing the blog post)

1) Did you get a second meeting with the Orthodox guy from the tramvai, and if so, how did it go?
No, we didn't set up a meeting with the Orthodox guy, we have been busy getting things ready to leave and wrapping up English classes, and going to visit some members with the branch president.

2) Are you staying in Timisoara for another transfer, or are you off to another area?
We got the transfer board, I'm going to be leaving Timisoara, and I'm going to.... yup, you guessed it: Bucharest. I'll be district leader for one of the districts there. I'll be living in the southern part of the city. My new companion will be starting his second transfer, he came in the country with my current companion, Elder R., and his name is Elder A. Word on the street is that he's from Farmington, and graduated from Davis.... We'll see how it works out.... haha I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm pretty easy to get along with I feel like.

3)What's been the best part about your mission so far?
The best part... That's tough. I dunno if there is a specific part that's the best. Ask me again in like 6 months. I've just learned a ton, made friends, talked to lots of people, all those are pretty cool, it's tough to put a finger on one thing.

I thought a letter in Romanian would throw a curve ball. I decided i'm gonna learn Spanish when I get home. I've had some contact with it over here, and I understand a ton of it. I also understand a little Italian, not as much as Spanish though. But not Russian, don't understand a lick, or French, lots of French over here. I figure Spanish will be easy enough to learn, and it will be way more useful back in the states than Romanian will be. I read the blog, lots of it is wrong, oh well, haha.

Well this week we had a lesson. It was with an English student, who started coming to FHE at the church. So we decided to try to set up with him. He accepted and we had a good lesson (in English), too bad I won't be here to continue teaching him, that's Elder R's and his new companion's responsibility. Speaking of him, he is going to get Elder M. for his new comp, my old comp from Sibiu, who left the mission for back surgery a few months ago. He's coming back, and taking my place in Timisoara. So that's cool, a pretty good friend of mine is coming back to the field. We had a visit with a member this week, with the branch president, Elder H. She fed us these beans, almost like chili, but not really, the first two bites were interesting, the middle was pretty good, but I had a little struggle with the last few bites. We brought her a watermelon, and she turned around and gave us each about 1/4 of it. A HUGE piece. The members here are too nice. Speaking of watermelon.... That stuff is EVERYWHERE here, and it's only 1 leu a kilogram, we get one every week, sometimes 2 a week. But we finished off English for the transfer this week, and have been getting everything ready to go. Yesterday, we had a going away dinner with the Hunts, our senior couple missionaries here, we also had a member over to celebrate at the same time. Baked potatoes, chili, bacon, cheddar cheese (a delicacy) the works. It was super good. There were tons of leftovers, so we had lunch at their house today too. But that's about it, just getting ready to go to Bucharest tomorrow night. That's about it!
Oh, and this is the Hunt's mission blog, they put us in there all the time http://thehuntmissionchronicles.blogspot.ro/
Dinner with the branch president and his wife

Monday, 15 July 2013

Letter to Home Written in Romanian!

Most of Austin's letter this week was written in Romanian---funny trick to play on the family huh?  So, using Google I translated what he said.  It's a literal translation, so it's a bit screwy, but you'll get the gist.

1) How did your meeting go with the guy who called you from the pass along card? It went well. He is a curious person who is very Orthodox. Very nice guy. The lesson with him lasted forever, because he kept talking and talking and wouldn't let us talk. Kinda like Lonnie does sometimes. But he did come to church for a bit as well, we're gonna meet with him again this week.
2) Did you burn a shirt for your one year mark? Nope didn't burn a shirt. We got an email a few months ago, that specifically told us not to burn things on milestone dates and such. Apparently some missionaries here were "observed" burning a shirt or something, by some non-members, and they thought it was some Mormon Ritual or something to that effect. So, Pres. said no burning things. It's kind of a ritual, but not that kind of ritual. Anyways. All my shirts are un-charred, It is a shame, I had one non-tailored one that was gonna be a gonner. But not anymore. Instead he baked a cake!
Remember that fun-fetti cake you sent.  Just made it.  Cut it in half, and put a layer of whipped cream in the middle, then frosted the whole thing with that frosting.  Then put even more whipped cream on top of that, and sprinkles.  Happy one year.

3) When is the next transfer? Next transfer is on July 24th. We find out the lowdown on who's going where and stuff this coming Friday.
4) We give $400 to the bishop each month for your mission, how does that get spent---how much do you get a month for food, trains etc.? $400 dollars a month. That is the price that every missionary pays across the world, no matter where (obviously some people come from more humble backgrounds, so the church pays, or the excess money in the fund pays). The idea is that the cheaper countries to live in equal out to make up the slack for the more expensive ones. The church pays all our mission related travel, rent, utilities, and stuff like that. We get 940 lei (about 268 dollars, depending on exchange rates, our money is given in dollars, we have Bank of America cards) to buy groceries, bus passes, the necessities. We sometimes buy things like train tickets and get reimbursed later. Also, especially in the states, their budgets are set to reflect the amounts of times they eat in member's homes. We hardly ever eat in member's homes so our budget is for eating every day every meal on our own. So that's the scoop. 400 dollars is a deal. The church spends way more than that on every missionary every month, for sure.

Scriu in limba Romana, mergi la www.translate.google.com daca ai nevoie de ajutor. :) In saptamana aceasta, am fost atat de ocupati. Pe marti, am avut o schimba de experienta, cu liderii nostri de zona. Am stat cu Elder Knapp o zi, si am lucrat cu el, aici in Timisoara. El este din California de sud, si are acum aproape 1 an si jumatate in misiunea lui. Marti am avut adunarea noastra de district, si am facut chili la pranz. Era o zi placuta, si am facut contactare si slujire. Te voi explica despre intamplarea noastra cu slujire. Mergeam prin o piata, cu multe lucruri de vandut. Si, o furtuna a aparut si a plouat foarte tare, si vantul batea tare de asemenea. Au existat doua fete, vindeau marfa. Una dintre ele statea la acoperis, tinandu-l, ca sa nu fie distrus de catre vantul. Eu si Elder Knapp, le-am ajutat pe ele, si in procesul ajutorului nostru, am devenit foarte umedi, ci stiam ca noi am facut ceva buna pentru altcineva, si totul a fost bine. Noi am stat in magazinul lor, pana s-a oprit ploua. Ele au fost foarte recunoscatoare ca le-am ajutat. (I write in Romanian, go to www.translate.google.com if you need help. :) This week I was so busy. On Tuesday, I had an exchange of experience, our leaders of the area. I stayed with Elder Knapp one day, and worked with him here in Timisoara. He is from Southern California, and has now almost 1 year and a half in his mission. Tuesday we had our district meeting, and I made chili for lunch. It was a nice day, and did outreach and ministry. I will explain about our experiences with the service. I was walking through a market with many things to sell. And, a storm came and it rained very hard, and also flurries. There were two girls, selling merchandise. One of them sat on the roof, holding it, not to be destroyed by wind. Me and Elder Knapp, I helped them in the process of our assistance, we became very wet, but we knew we did something good for someone else, and everything was fine. We stayed in their store until it stopped raining. They were very grateful that we have helped.)

Si, o sa iti spun cum a mers lectia noastra cu omul acela cu care am intalnit in tramvai. Se numeste Ioan. El face o parte in Biserca Ortodoxa, ci el este un om deschis, si ii place sa vorbeasca despre "Domunl Isus Hristos" (am folosit cuvintele pe care le-a folosit el). Noi am stat la casa lui probabil 2 ore. Si el ne-a dat suc si a fost foarte politicos cu noi. Vom stabili o alta data in care putem merge la el ca sa tinem o lectie. (And I'll tell you how it went our lesson with the man that I met in tram. It's called John. He makes some in the Orthodox Church, but he is a open and likes to talk about "Domunl Jesus Christ" (I used the words that he used it). We stayed at his house probably 2:00. And he gave us juice and was very polite to us. We will arrange another time we can go to him as to keep a lesson.) 

Elder Knapp on the left, me looking at the map.  We got lost on our way to that guy from the tramvai's house

De asemenea, am a avut o invitatie de a merge la o familie pentru pranz. Probabil numai al trelia ori in care am fost invitat la casa unui membru. Mancarea acolo a fost foarte buna, am mancat ardei umpluti, si inghetata dupa ala. Colegul meu le-a dat un gand spiritual, aminteste-te ca el numai are cinci saptamani aici, ci el l-a facut foarte bine. Stia limba spaniola inainte misiunea lui, deci el invata limba Romana mai rapid. (I also had an invitation to go to a family lunch. Probably only the Trela ​​times I was invited to the home of a member. The foodthere was very good, we ate stuffed peppers, and ice cream after that one. My colleague gave a spiritual thought, remind yourself that he only has five weeks here, but he did very well. He knew Spanish before his mission, so he quickly learn Romanian.)

Si, ultimul lucru pe care l-am facut in saptamana aceasta, a fost o petrecere. Avem douazeci de ani ca o misune in Romania si Moldova. Deci, ne-am sarbatorit putin. Ne-am uitat la un concert si am avut snacks-uri. Noi am planificat sa avem mai multi oameni acolo, ci, nu a fost asa. Unii membrii au venit, cu niste simpatizati ai surorilor noastre, si unii studenti de la cursurile noastre de limba engleza. (And the last thing I did this week was a party. We have twenty years as a swarm in Romania and Moldova. So we celebrated a little. We looked at a concert and had snacks. We planned to have more people there, but it was not. Some members have come up with some supporters of our sisters, and some students from our English courses.)

That was my week! Hope you all have a good week, we'll talk again soon!

Elder Phelps