Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Ice Cream Consumption to be a Problem!

The sisters and I eating Ice Cream. I can see ice cream consumption being a problem this summer. there is ice cream every 20 feet, and it's cheap. and good.

So interesting news first. The transfer board came out, and I'll be leaving Sibiu and the next place I serve in is the city of Pitesti. My new companion was in my MTC group and was my roommate at the MTC. We'll get along fine and have a good time. So that's transfer news. Also, my 3rd companion, is taking a leave to go home and have surgery on his back. Makes me sad to see one of my best friends in the mission leave, but he said he's going to try to be back here by August or September. Hopefully all goes well and he can get back out here, and he's flying Tuesday morning, and we don't get down to Bucharest till about noon on Wednesday so I just get to say bye on the phone. He'll be back though, I'm not too worried. He was pretty convinced on not leaving, but he's since decided otherwise.

Funny thing of the week (a little bit sad too..) We were out at the market (piata) where they sell everything! From Radishes to rabbits, parrots to kiwis. We were looking in the animal section and there was this cage of rabbits on the ground in front of the table. There was this little boy, probably about 2 or 3, looking at the rabbits with a radish in his right hand, kind of pointing at them with his left hand. The rabbits were all up against the cage trying to get the radish, then the kid sticks his finger in the cage, and this rabbit just munches it. He looked at it for a few seconds then just screams. Blood dripping everywhere. Apparently rabbits have sharp teeth. Poor Kid. Anyways.

We had another week of doing the less active finding thing. And we knocked more doors this week than probably any other week in my entire mission so far. Nobody let us in, and there was a crazy guy we ran into as well. We went to the top of a 44 apartment staircase intending to knock them all. First 3 doors didn't answer, fourth door didn't answer, we were in the process of knocking the 5th door of the night, when the fourth one flies open. This skinny old hairy guy with no pants on (he had like a longer tank top thing on that covered his thighs) comes out and asks us what we want. We told him we have a message about families and God, then tells us to leave and that he's gonna give us a message that will make our heads hurt. Not very nice. So we left and continued elsewhere.

Those are the stories for the week. To clarify on the mail thing. Email is probably better now, especially because the mission department changed the rules a few weeks ago. We can email friends too now. I get writers cramp writing snail mail, and stamps are expensive... .haha. And with that new rule, we can email as long as we want on p-day. So that's a way better option. (austin.phelps@myldsmail.net)

That's all for this week,
Elder Phelps
The bees are busy on the cherry trees at the church!

Monday, 22 April 2013

Spring Has Arrived in Romania!

Spring has arrived in Romania

Things are going good. Still no contact with the man who had the baptismal date. We had exchanges with the zone leaders this week, and the sisters had exchanges with the sisters in Cluj-Napoca. So We had a few extra missionaries here in Sibiu for a couple days. We are still working on the map. Had a few visits this week. And yesterday we sent a list of names out of our system. People that have no phone numbers, addresses, nothing. And nobody knows anything about them. So we sent them to their respective countries and to the lost and found file. We talked to some interesting members who are no longer active this week. One experience as follows:

We had the address so we decided to go see if we could talk to this guy about his membership status. We got to his block, and a woman walked in the block at the same time as us and took the elevator up, we took the stairs. We get to the floor his apartment is on, and ask her which apartment is number 16, turns out, her apartment was number 16. Then, we asked if we could talk to her husband. And she asked us if we were from the church, we told her yes. And she kept telling us to "leave him in peace." Trying to explain that we only need to talk to him for 5 minutes, she then told us that we understand Romanian, but we're not understanding what she's telling us. She told us to Remove his name from the list (we need HIS signature to do so), so seeing that the situation wasn't getting any better, we just left. So, we scheduled with the branch president to go back with the paper for him to sign. He went up to the door without us, and came back down, about 5 minutes later. She again refused to let anyone talk to her husband, and took the paper and ripped it up and gave it back. Interesting experience. Needless to say we won't be making anymore visits to that apartment, we are working on a different plan. Anyways. Every day an adventure.

We made a few other visits. One member works as a clown, he's super cool, but is gone all the time with clown appointments (no idea what you call those, shows, jobs? Habar n-am.) So we invited him to FHE and church and he said he'd come if he was around. Another visit, was to this older guy. He was baptized 22 years ago in Germany. He was being taught by the German speaking missionaries, and his children were translating from German into Romanian. So, him and his family got baptized there, and were active for about 8 months, then moved back to Romania and went inactive. Super nice guy, we think he didn't understand what he was doing when he got baptized with his kids translating and all. Since then, he has kids in Italy, Germany, and here. All inactive with no real interest in the church. It was a good visit though.

Just to prove how out of date the system here is, we were looking for a member, and a neighbor to the apartment that he used to live in, informed us he moved to Spain over 10 years ago. Similar situations with others who have moved over 5 years ago, but nothing has been done with the records. It's a big job, even active member records are missing tons of information, marriage dates, locations, spouse/children names, ordination dates. What a mess. haha, it keeps us busy though.

That's basically it for this week, we also did some block knocking, but nothing really came out of it.
 Panorama of Sighisoara from the church on the top of the hill

Covered staircase to the top of the hill
How much is that doggy in the window?

Monday, 15 April 2013

9 Months Out---Time is Flying By!

How is it going with the guy with the baptism date?
First about that guy who was supposed to be baptized. We haven't been
able to get into contact with him for two weeks, but we are still
trying. Other than that, we have been working on something to update
all the records and information in the branch. We went and got a big
map of the city laminated and put dots on it, according to all the
members we have on the list. And we numbered each one and made a key
list to know which number corresponds to which member. We are working
on this to update the information in the system, send records to other
parts of the world as needed, remove names that request it, and bring
people back to church in order to have more people there each Sunday.
It's been hard though, because there have been many changes in
leadership in the branch and members moving. It's like playing a game
of asking people if they know certain people and where they went, when
they went there, and if they have their addresses. So that's what
we've been working on. We've already sent several records to Italy,
Germany, and the lost and found file. So we are going to keep going
with that this week.
When is the next transfer?
The end of the next transfer is May 1, I will most likely be
transferred out of Sibiu. I dunno where i'll go, but it will be good.
We had branch conference with Pres. and Sis. Hill yesterday. 30
people at church. Most I've seen in Sibiu to this day. That was
cool. I translated for Pres. and Sis. Hill for the talks that were in
Romanian, but another person went from their English to Romanian. It
was tough. Understanding, and then spitting it out in English right
after is hard to do. Definitely takes some practice.
You've been out for 9 months now!
Time is flying by really fast. Crazy how that works.

Monday, 8 April 2013

A Visit to Dracula's House!

Elder Phelps had a week of traveling this week. Here's his update:

"We've actually seen some cool birds here the last few weeks, spring
coming and all. Besides the regular pigeons (those are everywhere and
anywhere). We were at a museum a couple weeks ago, it's called Muzeul
Satului which means the museum of the towns. It's a recreation of a
medieval town, with sawmills, windmills, stuff like that, and we saw a
big owl there. I wasn't fast enough with the camera, or I'd send a
picture. Also we rode a train out to a town for p-day today, and we
saw tons of chickens, pheasants, and some falcons/hawks. So that's
pretty cool. Owls are just cool birds.

But for p-day today, we went out to Sighisoara. About a 2 hour train
ride from here in Sibiu. It was pretty cool. It's actually where the
real "Dracula" lived for a while. We went to his house and just
explored the city for the day, and the branch president went with us.
It's a medieval type town, most of it is all old and really cool
looking. We went into some churches there, ate lunch, and just
explored for a few hours.

Me at Dracula's House

The Clock Tower at Sighisoara

This week wasn't too productive. And I'll tell you why. We had zone
conference in Arad. Which is on the far west side of Romania. We are
in the middle. So we left Tuesday morning (There is only 1 train per
day). Then we had conference basically all day on Wednesday, then
after that, we caught the train to Timisoara with the elders who live
there. Then we stayed Wednesday night there in Timisoara with them,
then got on a 7 hour train ride on Thursday morning back to Sibiu. So
that burned up 3 days of the week. We had a few lessons with some
less active members after that and we had English class on Saturday.
We have like 10-15 students, which is pretty good. That was what we
did this week. Also we've watched both morning sessions of
conference, because they started at 7 our time. We are going to watch
another session later tonight I think as well. Loved Pres, Monson's
story about setting the canyon on fire. Hilarious."

Great News---a Baptism is Scheduled!

Austin's Easter Letter from April 1st (though Romania doesn't celebrate Easter until May)---I'm a little pokey with getting this post out.

"Oh and a little clarification on Easter. Easter in Romania is not
until May 5. That's when the Orthodox Church observes it. Not too
sure why, but that's how it is. Our Easter Sunday will be then and
because it's the first Sunday in the month, it will probably just be a
normal fast and testimony meeting.

Some exciting news. We got a referral from the office, a person who
has been living in Italy for the last little while. He was meeting
with the missionaries there, and then got in contact with us here in
Romania. He lives in a city that's about an hour train ride from
Sibiu, but he comes in to Sibiu Monday-Friday for work. So we are
able to meet with him before he leaves the city. We had a lesson with
him, and he said that he was ready to be baptized in Italy, and he
accepted a date of May 5. I probably won't be in Sibiu for that date,
but that's fine. He says he wants to be baptized, but just wants us
to help him make sure he's ready. So we're currently meeting with him
when he has time between trains between Sibiu and his hometown.

We had another meeting in Cluj-Napoca this passed week. So that was
another day of early bus rides. The meeting was good. During the
meeting we did a buch of cross-area exchanges and we all went out
contacting to practice some of the stuff we were talking about in the
meeting. It was cool. And the meeting was kind of dragging at that
point, so we all switched companions for about half an hour and went
out and talked to people. Kind of a cool twist on a sometimes long,
and boring meeting. If there's one thing I've learned, never
underestimate the length of some meetings.... haha."