Well you guys will never guess where I am emailing from- Bucharest! That's right- I have been called to serve as a Zone Leader over the Bucharest Zone with my new colleague, Elder Bontempo. Yup, this was quite the shock for Elder Krieger and I and at first an unpleasant one. Let me being you guys up to speed.
This was by far the most productive week that Elder Krieger and I had. We taught many lessons, met tons of new people, taught lots of English courses, planned a branch party, learned a lot, and most importantly, helped many souls come closer to the Savior, Jesus Christ.
|My bro and I|
|My Craiova friends (a mix of the two members from the branch and also English class families)|
|Cristian, Liviu, and Leonard were masters on the grill|
The focus of our week was helping Mirela be prepared for baptism. She had committed to keeping the Word of Wisdom, but we knew it would be difficult! Elder Krieger and I decided to do something special for her each day of the week, to show her our love and support for her. One day we made banana bread, another day we gave her a picture of us for her salon, ate dinner with her, etc. I have really come to love this woman and she has a special place in my heart. We continued to teach her, and she was just absorbing all of the commandments that we taught her.
|Elder Krieger refining his baking skills|
|Banana Bread... my fav!|
As we met with Mirela Minunata, we had some really amazing experiences with her friends as well- they SAW the light that not only we have but also the light that was so new and radiant in Mirela!
I loved sharing with her friends and colleges why we would ever leave our families for two years. They all gained a great respect for "Mirela's boys."
As I reflected on how funny it is that six adults could be so curious and awestruck at two 18 year-old boys, I realized why this is. They were attracted to LIGHT. So many people have told me over the past couple of months that I have a light and I didn't quite understand why. I realized that day, that it is because of the gift of the Holy Ghost- a gift that is promised to all who are baptized in the true church of God. I received the gift of the Holy Ghost almost 11 years ago and have felt his presence many, many times in my life. Then it hit me- the gift of the Holy Ghost is truly one of the greatest gifts that God could give me in this life because it brings me JOY and helps others feel this JOY when they are around me. Mirela has recognized this and that is why she is so diligent in keeping the commandments of God- so she can qualify for this blessing!
Remember when I promised that I would cut my hair if Mirela didn't receive blessings for keeping the commandments with faith? As expected, I STILL HAVE MY HAIR! We prayed so hard for Mirela this week, but we weren't the only ones who had faith. HER faith began to spring up out of the ground. She had experiences where she RECOGNIZED that God actually listens to her prayers, and that he loves her! It has been absolutely incredible to see this woman who started with little faith at all, to being ready to make the covenant of baptism with her Father in Heaven. This is a miracle. She will be baptized !!!
Mirela was by far the center of our week, but we balanced our time with many other activities. One day, as Elder Krieger and I were contacting, we came across an old lady who expressed interest in learning more about our church. I am no respecter of persons, so we made an appointment with her that afternoon! When we returned, this old lady was talking with another grandma. We were introduced to her, and the old grandma left. A second later, we were surrounded by two muscle building dudes who asked us why in the heck we believe in God. It caught me off guard! I did my best to explain the nature of our Heavenly Father but they kept arguing. Soon they tried to get a "pretty girl" into the conversation and it was obvious that they were only here to create raucous. I asked them if they had a desire to maybe find out if God existed and they said "No" and took off after the pretty ladies... it reminded me that where there is good, there are also people trying to destroy the good. The old lady then asked me what the first proof is that God exists... I thought about it and replied. She then said, "breathing!" Wow. I needed to hear that. It made me reflect on the simplicity of life and the gifts that God grants us even in every moment- life!
Our branch party was also incredible. We had two families come and a couple of our friends [note from mom: I think the extra families are from their English class they teach]! Best party I have ever been to in Romania. Everyone was enjoying themselves, asking questions about the church, we all looked at pictures of my family on Facebook, played soccer, etc. Yup, Craiova is my home!
|I am still bad at fotball, but I am getting better!|
|Sebi... my favorite English student|
|Ping Pong Masters|
|Get ready for some domination bros!!|
And then... I got a phone call morning... no more Criaova. Elder Krieger and I honestly could not believe it and we were really taken back. We had been having so much success and amazing experiences; Mirela needed us more than ever and she was to be baptized that very ! Although it was so sad, I remembered why I am here and what my purpose is here in Romania. "Not my will, but the Lords" I am about HIS errand and that is a marvelous work and a wonder. The Lord needs me in Bucharest for some reason and I need to have the faith to find out. Elder Krieger brought a quote back to our remembrance: "What is the one thing you can give God? Your agency!" It is my duty and pleasure to go forward with a broken heart and contrite spirit, something that the Lord had been preparing me for all along.
Elder Krieger and I had the most incredible six weeks together and I would have loved another six but we have no regrets and our paths had been led every step of the way. It is safe to say that I found another brother, someone who I will be friends with for the rest of my life. Elder Krieger and I learned heaps together and now it's time to magnify what we have learned with others.
Thankfully, I will be returning to Craiova to baptize Mirela Minunata and she will begin her new journey as she continues to learn and strengthen her testimony of the restored gospel and God's plan for her. I have been blessed with so many wonderful experiences, all of which I will hold dear to my heart forever. The relationships that I have developed are worth more than any material thing I could ever own!
|Familia Radulescu [note from mom: I think this is the Branch President and his wife?]|
The Lord is truly shaping me into a man of God and I cannot wait to see how he will refine me as I find more of His children that are ready to come to know him at a greater level.
I am so glad for so much support back at home- your prayers and thoughts have truly blessed me so much!
All my love,
|Always dreaming about the mountains|
|We are crazy!|