First of all, I apologize for not writing last week. I wanted so badly to write one, as writing these letters really help me clear my thoughts and make me feel more connected to home. However, I had to make a sacrifice due to the time we arrived home from... HIKING. Yep. That's why I wasn't able to write. When Elder Giron and his companion offered to take us a long to a place where I have truly wanted to go since the day I googled Romania... TRANSYLVANIA. If you want to get real technical, it was a couple kilometers south of Sinaia in a little mountain village called Busteni. We headed out bright and early to summit a peak in the Bucegi Mountains, to see Crucea Eroiler. I could talk all day about this, but much more wonderful things happened this week. Hiking is one of my most favorite things on earth, because everything denotes that there is a God. Being in nature is one of the ways where I feel the peaceful presence of the man upstairs. Just look at the pictures and you'll understand why.
|The Ditto pose has made it to Busteni|
|Another world on the top of a canyon thing|
|Can you find the gondola?|
|Can you find the mountain goat?|
|Craziest rock formation... PTPD|
|Good 'ol Cliff provided me the energy. Thanks ma!|
|Gotta do a jump.|
|The trail markers are symbols here in Romania.|
|Heroes Cross - Google it!|
|I'm on top of the world hey!|
|Can you spot the cross?|
|Nap in the misty mountains|
|Romanians love their crosses..|
|So dang beautiful|
|STEEP switchbacks all the way up|
|STOKED to be in the mountains!|
|Strange how this happened... they thought I wanted a picture with them!|
|The bro and I enjoying the view|
|The hiking squad|
|The small mountain village from below... Whewww nelly! A long way down!|
|Behold Mother Nature!|
|Yes there are bears!|
|The end of an incredible Pday|
Where to start... two weeks ago was General Conference. I had the opportunity to watch one session in English, and the rest in Romania. I really enjoyed watching it in this beautiful language, but there is something special about listening to the voice of the speaker and the feelings that they portray! It is a blessing that we know English. I am thankful that English is my native language, but there is also something really special about connecting with another culture in their own language. I was talking on the phone to Fratele Petrescu, the old cute little man in Arad. I always talked with him in English, mainly because I didn't know much Romanian while I was there. This time was different and I felt a new connection with him as we spoke his language. Really interesting how that works! I am thankful that Christ is the Savior of the WHOLE world. His church is for each person in every culture. These special cultural differences define us, yet the principles of the gospel remain the same, and bless everyone who chooses to follow.
|We have been able to help the Radulescu's get an apartment in Bucharest ready for their daughter. She treated us to a homemade lunch!|
|A traditional Romanian meal|
|Elder Giron... my good friend|
So all in all, it was such a treat to listen with my Romanian friends to the words of the leaders of the church. Even though there weren't too many members who came to the church to watch, it was such a special feeling to be joined with them, listening to the voice of the Lord through His servants.
This conference was a very special one, as I felt a greater love and connection to the apostles of the Lord. God's chosen servants do not just give us great words of council and love, but they live these words. They follow the words that the prophet Thomas S. Monson gives to us. This really hit home and made me reflect my own commitment to follow the prophet. I have sadly not read the Book of Mormon every single day in the past fifty years... but I have committed to start NOW. I know that the promises of reading and studying the Book of Mormon are true. I feel the power to resist temptation, to stay true to the faith and receive peace in times of difficulty. How blessed we are to receive guidance from our Heavenly Father through modern day revelation, to help us navigate through this increasingly sketchy world. We need this guidance now more than ever!
|The horse police dudes|
Elder Bontempo and I have felt that we can be more bold as we deliver this glad message that the IS a prophet in our days, and that Heavenly Father still speaks to us today, that miracles still happen and that Jesus Christ has created a path for us to follow. We have found much success doing this, and as a bi-product, the Lord has just given us so many wonderful opportunities to bear testimony and to help many. Yesterday the Lord put three people into our path to help. As I wrote in my journal, it was just so evident that God is our Heavenly Father, and whether you are an old Romanian lady, an American lady that lives in Romania, or a homeless man, God's arms are always reached out, and a lot of the times it is through us. How aware are we of those around us? How often do we judge because of someones external appearance or circumstance?
|Discovering more of Bucharest|
|Homemade Granola... THANKS MOM!!!|
|Our community service this week - Just painting a wall with our awesome vests.|
|Delicious lunch we made using some of the things in my suitcase present - marinated some meat to make a Philly cheese-steak sandwich, added some of the special Sweet Golden Mustard BBQ sauce, Mountain Bar for dessert with a cup of hot cocoa!!|
To close, I will share the story of my new friend Robert, who was the homeless man that I judged last night. We had been block knocking near Piata Romana as a zone, each companionship took their own block and we invited many to come unto Christ. That was where we found Jessica, a nice American lady, who we touched with the spirit. In the end, she did not want to learn more, but that is okay because the spirit was present and that is an experience that she will never forget. As we exited the block, we saw the sisters, and a random homeless man was following them. I immediately started to judge him, and started to walk away. Elder Bontempo is a man who is no respecter of persons. It doesn't even matter if they aren't the least bit interested- he will always take a little time for them. This is something that I am not too good at and something that I am trying to learn from him.
So we eventually walk away and the homeless man somehow finds us and the assistants. I tried to have a little more patience, but could still feel myself judging. That was when this homeless dude's friend came and told him that they just want to tell you about Joseph Smith, he was a grumpy guy, and walked away. I had a prompting to ask him, right before he left, what he knew about Joseph Smith. Somehow that conversation led into his life. And how unhappy he was. He had been a good man, educated for sure, and had a job. He told me he wanted a family and a job- he wanted to find HAPPINESS. When I asked him how he fell to this state, he started to tear up. I shared the Book of Mormon with him and explained how reading, and applying the teaching of the Book of Mormon in my life has helped me find happiness, that it is through following the teaching of Jesus Christ- the path he has set for us- that we can find this happiness. I shared with him Ether .
I felt a love for him that HE can come back to the fold, that hope is not lost for him. I don't know what will come out of this, but he wanted to learn more about the gospel of Jesus Christ, and I am praying that he will come to our church at to meet and learn more.
My wonderful family and friends, we are blessed to have been taught the gospel. We are blessed to understand our true identity as children of a loving Heavenly Father. We are blessed when we keep the commandments of God. We are blessed when we honor Mom and Dad. This life is the time for our labors, and we have GREAT potential. Whatever our circumstances are now, it is never too late to "look up," and let the Redeemer carry our load. I know that He lives, and that His church has been restored back onto the earth.
I love you guys!
|Exchanges with Elder Bird|
|We love Sora Radulescu|