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