|Elder Ditto and Frozen Willows|
I hope that everyone had a magical Christmas and was surrounded by family. My highlight of the week was definitelyyyyyy skyping the fam!!! It was a surreal feeling as I went throughout the day, thinking about how I am actually going to TALK and SEE my family!
|Skyping with family|
I tried to fill Christmas day with things that I would have done on Christmas at home that would help me to not miss the great traditions that we have at home. I made banana pancakes for breakfast, played with the children at the Christmas activity after church, ate lots of junk food, and visited members with Romanian carols! Finally the hour came to skype, and was the best hour ever!!!
|Caroling with the Sisters and Sora Mogos|
|We got a lot of oranges as we caroled!|
|After church on Christmas Day we had a light lunch and played games with the kids|
|Little Kevin Dabbing|
|Elder Giron taking an afternoon Christmas nap|
I later thought about how crazy it is that we only get to skype twice a year. To everyone who thinks it is crazy, well in my opinion they are right! But there is a reason. I went to the Doctrine and Covenants and read over some of the blessings that God gave his chosen disciples and missionaries as they were called to go and serve missions in the eastern countries (love that!!).
|Frozen trees in centru|
|Icy cold tram|
In the early days of the church, these men were called to leave everything behind- even their wife and children- to go and proclaim the fullness of the teachings of Jesus Christ to people all over the world. They did not necessarily know how long they would serve for and all they had was their testimonies, the truest Book on earth (the Book of Mormon), and the strength of the Lord. Gosh, wouldn't this be hard??!! I have often thought to myself if I could really do that. To an extent I am, but I don't have a family of my own, I can write home every week and have the support of other missionaries and many resources to help me along the way.
So, why in the heck would these noble men leave everything behind to share this same message that is still and will be forever shared to God's children around the world? Well, it is actually kind of simple. It is because they know that God's church has been restored to the earth in these last days and their lives have been forever changed because of the blessings they have received from the knowledge of God's plan for them. That's why they went.
So back to "why in the heck can we not skype more than twice a year?" Well, to keep it simple, it's because I know that this church is true, just like why those missionaries left their families for years at a time to proclaim the gospel. I guess that is a little extreme, but that is truly the root to this question, and the root of why I am even on a mission!
As a result of having this testimony, and knowing that I can be with my family forever, made this time to skype with them that much more special! The gospel of Jesus Christ truly brings families together- that is the wonderful thing. I saw evidence of that again as I skyped- seeing the support and the gratitude of my service from every single one of my family members. Yes, I miss them, and yes, some days are just dang hard without them, but knowing that they are supporting me and want me to be here makes it all worth it. All because of our faith in Jesus Christ and the desire to have others have the same joy that we have.
|Bros.. check out my guns!! Jk, ROMANIAN SOCCER JERSEY!!!|
This week before Christmas was so wonderful. It was spent bringing Christmas cheer to everyone that we came in contact with. We caroled till out mouths fell off and visited many members, eating their thoughtfully prepared food. We were treated like kings, and almost felt guilty as these humble members truly give us their very best. In turn, this gives me the desire to be the very best missionary I can be.
|Sausage, Wild Boar, and Masked Potatoes!!!!|
Going along with the food thing, we visited one member in Lipova who had told us we needed to fast before coming to her home. Well, we kind of forgot and had eaten lunch just before. We arrived at her house and she quickly began hauling out the piles of food that she had prepared for us. PILES of mici (some sort of pig sausage), STACKS of meat from a freshly killed wild boar, and GLOBS of mashed potatoes. And she expected Elder Giron, Elder and Sister Days, and I to eat it all. I usually cover for the other missionaries by eating their portions that they don't want (It is disrespectful to not finish all of the food that Romanians prepare for you). The cool part is members really like me because of the fact that I DO eat all of the food and I try to be animated with my "thanks." Anyways, I could not finish this lady's food for us. I tried so hard, but after eating five brownies and then seeing another tray of them being brought out, I knew I met my match! To make it worse, they watch you eat and won't take a bite. We rolled our way back into the car after that hefty meal and were a little shaken up for the rest of the night!
|Pingpong District plus Ioana|
We also went to Cluj-Napoca for Zone Conference and . Lots of traveling, but such a wonderful experience as we got to hear form President and Sister Ivory. I had my first interview with President Ivory and expressed my desire to really become a better missionary teaching and language-wise. He told me that if I did three specific things my language would "explode" . This really impacted me and could feel that this was a promise inspired from heaven. I have been working really hard on doing these three things, all of which are helping me improve my language and teaching abilities. I have faith that this promise will come to pass! I am truly thankful for the care the God has for each one of his children, and know that he wants us to be happy and to progress. Through him, we can do this!
We almost missed our train coming back from Cluj, but thankfully we found found a taxi as we sprinted throughout the city trying to locate one! This is just one big adventure and I love it!
|Alex and I|
|Elder Giron and I on Christmas morning|
I have loved every moment of this Christmas season, and have truly felt the love and reality of the Savior as I have tried to focus my thoughts and efforts on serving others and doing what Christ would do. Thank you all again for you thoughts, prayers, and letters. All of these have given me great strength!
Hope everyone has a wonderful New Year!
|Arad Branch on Christmas Day|