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 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 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

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Someone Actually Called Back from a Pass Along Card!

Today, July 11, is the one year mark of Austin's mission!!  Crazy how time flies.  Here is his update from Monday, July 8, 2013

So, how are things with you?
Howdy all, Things are good here, as usual.

Someone took a picture of the San Diego Temple and posted in on their business window. How funny.

1) What did you find out from the Town Hall about passing out cards? Haven't gone to the town hall, other things on our plate.
2)You burned a tie at 6 months, what do you do at year, burn a shirt? I might burn a shirt, we'll see. But yeah, that's what you burn on a year.
3) What do you do for fun on p-day? P-day, we just usually go to the mall, and look at things we can't afford to buy. sometimes we play basketball. Just walk around and take pictures. nothing too exciting.
4) Do you ever get invited to eat at a member's home? we don't get invited very often. We have an appointment this week though, a lady invited us at church yesterday, but up till now, probably less than 5 times eating at member's houses in my mission.
Other than that, the week was hot, we did some contacting, but nothing really from it. Funny story from yesterday though, we were trying to get home after church ( I do the finances for the branch and we were trying to get to the bank, we had never been there before), we got on the wrong tramvai. This guy asked us who we were and we told him and gave him a Book of Mormon pass along card. Then we got off the tram not 3 minutes later to catch the right one. He actually called us today, and we're gonna meet with him either tomorrow or Wednesday, so that's awesome.
The other highlight was, one night we decided to go out contacting along the river. We ended up talking to these two old guys fishing. I asked them how it was going, and they said just alright. He had a couple like 5 inch long fish in his sack. They were using corn, straight from the cob.and catching carp with it. I'm not much one for carp. but they eat it all the time here in Romania. They asked us where we were from and stuff like that. One guy actually didn't have an arm. he was fishing one armed, and he spoke Russian. Lots of those people here, they were all forced to study Russian during communist times.

But, hopefully we'll get some lessons this week with this guy who called us, and we also have another kind of investigator who is out of town, so we are trying to touch base with him as well.

Me on the tracks near the train station

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

Another Encounter with the Law. . .

So. . .After having surgery on my collar bone for plate and screw placement, now we are finally up to date with the blog, and here is yesterday's news:
My questions to Austin:
1) Are you surviving the heat? It has been a scorcher here---today it's 105
2) What is the coolest site in Timisoara that you've seen so far?
3) Tell me about any lessons you or Elder R. taught this week.

Well, bionic collar bone I guess.
To answer the questions though. As for the heat, it cooled down, it didn't break 80 degrees this week, but its gonna head back up to the high 80s this coming week. So buckle up again after a relaxing. Coolest sight in Timisoara.... The entire city is just old style architecture, the locals tell me that it's all from the Austro-Hungarian Empire. So just the architecture in general is pretty cool. But, we did go inside the Orthodox Cathedral the other day. The one where the revolution started back in 1989. It looked just like the other ones I've been in, bu it's just a more famous, and big one. And as for the last question, we had a lesson scheduled this week, but he called us an hour before and cancelled. And we were at zone conference for 2 days, so we were out of the city. So no lessons this week.

We had an experience this week with the police (again). We were handing out English cards in Centru, actually, we weren't even doing that, we were just sitting on a wall. The cop came up and told me we need to have permission to hand stuff out. I told him we were just resting and we were gonna start walking around again in a few minutes. He said OK fine, but you can't hand stuff out here. We just said OK and kept about our business sitting on the wall. Then, our two new missionaries, got into a discussion with a Pentacostal guy. Elder G. and I were watching from afar. It was getting about that time to leave, so we went over to tell them, and that's when the cops came again. we weren't even handing out anything, just talking to this guy. They wrote up Elder G. and gave him a warning. So, we are gonna go to the town hall and see if it really is illegal. So that's the funny story of the week.

As I said, we were at zone conference in Arad on Thursday and Friday of last week. We stayed in a hotel and had the meeting on Friday, about all day. it was good, the emphasis was making our English classes effective finding tools, and using the Book of Mormon more in our contacting.

We got to have a little fun on Saturday. One of my old friends, Vlad, from Oradea, came down to play laser tag and soccer with us. The reason was, we have a young member here who is thinking about going to EFY in Germany, but he's not gonna know anyone, so he was saying he wasn't gonna go. So, Elder H. (branch president), organized a day for his chaperone (Vlad, from Oradea) to come down, and we all played soccer, got lunch and played laser tag. It was fun, we got to all get together, and I got to hangout with Vlad, haven't seen him since my 3rd transfer. we are super good friends. But anyways, he's going with the people from Romania to Germany as a chaperone at EFY. So that was Saturday.

We watched the Work of Salvation Broadcast at church on Sunday, you should watch that if you haven't super good stuff about missionary work. My wrists hurt. That's all till next week.

Grateful for American Healthcare and Air Conditioning!

Update from June 23, 2013
1) How is your new companion? My new companion is great. We get along awesome so far. We are like the same, we hate the same foods, like the same foods, like the same music, hate the same music. So it's good. I'll tell you a funny story about him further down.

2) Do you like being a trainer? Being a trainer is pretty cool. It's made me realize how much I've actually learned out here, and how freaking fast time flies. I was in the MTC almost a year ago, and my new comp just barely got here. Weird. He speaks the language pretty well because he has a background with some Spanish, so he understands the grammar and stuff. But he still needs a lot of help. he's pretty fearless though and doesn't mind me correcting his Romanian.
3) Anything new with he making any progress? We haven't heard from Florin at all. Which is unfortunate. He was supposed to go to EFY in Germany, but backed out because his mom changed her mind. Still trying to touch base with him though.

This week was, man, HOT. Holy cow. we hit 98 degrees with 56% humidity. I'm on two showers a day, and sometimes a head dunk in cold water at lunch time. We just sweat and sweat. I miss the cold. And snow. I'll take the cold over the hot any day of the week. We only taught one lesson this week, and it was just this crazy old guy who has been investigating the church for like 10 years. We went to his house and he tried to feed us fish, but we can't eat the fish here because it will make us sick, so that was kinda awkward. We just ate the mountains of rice and potatoes he gave us. haha. The fish was actually from Vietnam, and from a good grocery store. So we called the mission president's wife about it, and she said that she would never eat fish from Vietnam, but it would probably be safe. We ended up not eating it. This week, we had a few meetings with other missionaries in our zone. They actually did our zone training meeting here in Timisoara this time, instead of in Arad where they usually do it. So that was good we didn't have to get up super early to catch trains and stuff. and other than that, we've been contacting when the sun goes behind buildings and there's some shade.

So, cool story about my companion. Him and one of the elders from his MTC group, who is also serving here did some contacting together the other day. We were in Centru, and sitting on this wall. There were these 2 girls sitting across the way from us and one of them waved an Elder R. He then proceeds to semi-yell "ce faceti voi" like how are you? to them. They say good, and he's just standing there, petrified. Elder Green (the other elder training here) and I told them to go talk to them. So after standing there a minute, looking quite confused, they went over. We watched our "sons" from afar for about an hour as we handed out English cards. Turns out they were 2 Pentecostal girls. We actually ran into them again today, too funny. The 2 new missionaries carried on a (probably a bit broken) conversation for over an hour. We were proud of them.

So we went to a Romanian Hospital this week as well. We went with the branch president to give a member there a blessing. It was super hot in the room, the place doesn't have a/c. Man I tell you what, healthcare is not like in America that's for sure. We gave her the blessing, my comp did the annointing and I sealed and gave the blessing. She was super thankful, and actually made it to church on Sunday as well.

We were contacting and took a break for a bit one of the days, we went and bought a loaf of bread for 2 lei, and ended up feeding the entire thing to the pigeons. We caught a few as well, that was fun. That's about it for the week.

Feeding the pigeons

Oh yeah, I made root beer with that stuff you sent me, it tasted a little funny. Come to find out, it's root beer concentrate, not extract, so you have to make it different. That's what i get for not reading the directions I suppose. I'm gonna try again this week sometime.
We have zone conference this week in Arad, so that should be fun. Zone conferences are always interesting, sometimes long, but interesting and I try to learn from them too.

Thanks for the package once again. I only have the cake left. Ate everything else already. The only reason I still have the cake is because we didn't have any eggs. It'll be gone this week i'm sure

Be safe, happy, and faithful,
Elder Phelps

Cool Sunset on the river

It's Hot in Romania Also!

So---I broke my clavicle which has slowed my update of the blog.
Here is the update from June 18, 2013:
Me and my new companion, Elder Reed
Broken clavicle eh? I heard a statistic once that the clavicle is the bone in your body that is easiest to break. Interesting, I've had a ton of friends break theirs. Say hello to that sling again, blow off the dust and get comfortable in it I suppose.

This week was kind of slow. We had to go down to Bucharest for transfers. I got a new companion fresh from the MTC. His name is Elder Reed, from Idaho, we get along great so far. We are super similar in tons of ways. But anyways. I have a funny story for the week. We were in the huge mall in Bucharest, and I was looking for a side bag to buy. I go in this store, find the one I like, and buy it. I proceed to walk out of the store, and a few paces outside the door, this girl comes up behind me, and snatches the bag out of my hands. I turned to her and she told me that I stole the bag. I said no, I have the receipt right here. I showed it to her, and she didn't think it was good enough or something like that. I then said, "let's go talk to the guy at the desk who sold it to me" we walk in the store, not 5 steps, she holds up the bag and the receipt to the guy at the counter, and he just gives her the nod. She then turned around, pushed the bag back into my hands, and said sorry (in English) and we left. I was accused of being a thief. Who would have guessed.

Also, I got the package you sent. we were walking into the mission office Wednesday, and the post lady came and handed us the mail for the office. My package slip was in there. So I went to the post office in Bucharest and picked it up. Thanks for the memory card. The hi chews are almost gone and it's only been 3 days....... Appreciate it.

We got back Friday morning, after a long, very hot train ride. The train was basically sold out, so we had 6 people with a billion and a half suitcases in one cabin (i'll attach a picture). It was a long night. But we got in on Friday, got settled in, I taught institute and we called it a night. We were supposed to have a lesson Saturday, but he didn't show up. Sunday was HOT. all the new missionaries bore their testimonies, they speak better than I did right after the MTC. It's supposed to be over 90 every day this week, with humidity. Pray for some thunderstorms. I need the rain back to cool this place down. till next week.
Tower of Suitcases in our cabin on the train