|I love this woman!|
|Beautiful handmade tablecloth|
The idea of leaving Arad was kind of fake to me. This has been the only city that I have served in, and it is all I know. It feels like home. We call it Aradsterdam. I just have so many memories here! I have also grown beyond believe in this little city. From making life-long friends, freezing my toes off, knocking on endless doors, avoiding mentally insane people, experiencing the death of a loved one, learning who I really am, how I can become better, and the reality of God's plan for each of us, and the truthfulness of this gospel.
|Sora Lidia and Constantin|
|Sora Muscan, Luca, Sergiu|
|Crazy Luca and me|
One of the biggest epiphanies that happened to me in Aradsterdam is that being a missionary doesn't take away trials or my weaknesses, in fact it enhances them :) BUT THAT IS OK. Because the Lord is chiseling away- bit by bit- shaping me into a better man of God. I am grateful for trials. Wow. That is crazy to say, but I feel like I really understand the purpose of them now.
Joseph Smith said it the best, "I am a rough stone. The sound of the hammer and chisel was never heard on me until the Lord took me in hand. I desire the learning and wisdom of heaven alone." AMEN. When we come to understand that God has a plan for us, and let him into our lives, our struggles and life itself, begins to become a powerful source of growth and improvement.
|Zone Conference in Cluj|
|District Selfie with President Ivory!|
With this in mind, the Lord is pounding at me some more. After a great Zone Conference in Cluj, we took a 6 hour train ride back to Arad, and we ready to have a great last Saturday as companions. We got a call Saturday morning saying that President Ivory needed me in my next area as soon as possible, so I would need to take the next train asap. Where too? A little town just south of Bucharest called Alexandria. If you look it up on google, you won't find anything... because there's not anything there! I'll explain later.
So Elder Wilstead helped me back up my bags... and I realized that I had collected a few items during my stay and ended up having to borrow a suitcase from him... I blame it on the minimal time I had to pack... So we sprinted to the tram station and then to the train station, only to miss the train by 3 minutes. Noooo!! So we looked at our options and the next train that could get us to Bucharest was from Brasov... Well if you know me and if you know Brasov, well we kind of just go together... because MOUNTAINS. So this was just gonna be a cool opportunity!
|Elder Wilstead and I... Bros forever|
Our nine hour train to Brasov was ok, but it was nine hours- that is like going from Yakima to Utah! I had three suitcases and a guitar, and turns out that at midnight the baggage holding place is closed, so we waited in the heater-free train station for 4 hours. A 4 HOUR LAYOVER AND I COULDN'T EVEN SEE THE MOUNTAINS. Well, there was only one thing to do- play the guitar! As I played, I ended up attracting some... ehem... strange... people. Aka a drunk man and a paint-huffing lady that was literally so insane that she would just wail randomly and ask me to play the "cantare" (not even the word for guitar in Romanian... she literally did not have a functioning brain any more). So here I am, not playing the guitar anymore, with a man who wreaks of alcohol to my right, trying to ask my who created God, and an insane lady right in front of me. It was quite the sight, considering we were the only ones making noise in the whole gara! It got so uncomfortable that we picked our stuff up and moved. And then more crazy people came up to us and it was just bad. We were cold, had just eaten microwaved french fries with a chicken-like substance, and still had 2 hours till our train. Woahoo!! Brasov!!! I decided that I am just not going to associate that night with Brasov. Only plus was that I did see the big "Brasov" sign in the hills. That was kinda neat!
|On the way to Buch|
So we finally get onto our train, dump our luggage onto some empty seats next to us, and hit the hay. We woke up right when we got into the gigantic city to find that Bucharest is still covered in snow... looks like I didn't escape winter yet! By that time, we had gotten maybe 4 hours of sleep on the train the whole night, and it was now 6 am. We had to take two separate taxis from the train station to get to the "auto gara" (the greyhound of Romania), and ended up being totally gypped by them and payed a crazy amount. We then took a 1.5 hour bus ride to Alexandria, my new home. The city is literally just run-down communist blocks with a little city square type thing. Let's just say it is the least-desired area to serve in all of Romania. THAT'S OK THOUGH! Because 1) I am going to make it awesome. and 2) I will only be here for hopefully 2 more weeks and then my new companion and I, Elder Forsyth, will be opening up a new area- the Otopeni area- a wealthy suburb just north of Bucharest. We will have a brand new apartment and everything! Let's just say that we will be jumping for joy when that time comes.
|Elder Forsyth and Ditto= Powerhouse!|
We will actually still commute to Alexandria to go to the branch there every Sunday and every Tuesday we will go for English. Lot's of travelling for us! So right when we got to the musty, moldy, grungy apartment (these are all true descriptive words of the current apartment).
So on Sunday we went to church. Guess how many members there are?
A woman in her 40s and a man in his 50s. That's it! Crazy right? I was pretty skeptical about how church would go, but as soon as the members walked in, it just felt like home. The members are strong. They kind of have to be considering they are the only ones! Get this...the branch president lives in Germany! Sacrament meeting ended up being a testimony meeting, and the same lady who talked for 20 minutes at the very end of sacrament meeting taught Sunday School, which ended up going 30 minutes over. Who'd a thought that a branch with two members could go 30 minutes over? Not me! haha Besides that fact that I was so tired, I still really enjoyed hearing the testimonies of these righteous members. It reminded me that the spirit is truly the same, anywhere in the world!
I know I have complained a little, but mainly it just feels uncomfortable to be in a new area, away from a city that I love and people that I hold dear.
BUT I NEED TO GET TO WORK! I know that the Lord needs me here, and I am using this new start to recommit to being an obedient, hard-working, happy missionary. This is gonna be awesome. I have a stellar companion and I know why I am here. That's all I need! Elder Forsyth has been on his mission for 3 months longer than me, so we are both still pretty new. I actually love this because I can feel our fire-we want to be good missionaries, and we want to share the gospel. We also want to get better at this language, so it will be fun to help each other out.
The word's of Paul have been on my mind lately, "I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept my faith". I want to be like Paul. I want to be able to say that I have done everything that I could to truly do the Lord's will, and to help others in their journey as well. That is my drive this week- to simply be a little better each day and humble myself to the will of our Master.
So, that was my week in a nut-shell. I am basically in a whole 'nother world, with a whole 'nother set of trials, but that is ok. I am a rough stone, and the sound of the Lord's hammer and chisel is upon me.
Everyone of you are in the same situation as I am- each day we fight our own fights, and our faith is tested. Remember to keep positive, serve others, and let the Lord hammer and chisel away!
I love you all,