Wednesday, July 29, 2015

"POFTITI"ing in the Park

WOW what a Week!(: It has been truly amazing though!

There have been so many different highlights of the week - I don't even know where to begin!(: We are emailing on Wednesday this week because on Monday we had the chance to travel to Bucharest for our Zone Conference! It was so awesome! Bucharest is SO massive and is really interesting to see because about half of the city has GORGEOUS buildings (usually the government buildings ) and then the other half is cement block looking buildings. There are communist statues everywhere which is kinda sad, but the city has a feel of New York, Chicago, and London all mixed together...but is about 10 times more poor. It was still an amazing experience though and Zone Conference was wonderful!

So a lot of you have been asking for some fun facts about Romania - so I will certainly try my best because I'm still learning as well haha(: If you happen to come to the lovely land of Romania it is important to know:

1. If you are buying flowers and they are NOT for you, HOLD THEM DOWN when you are carrying them. Its super strange and I am not exactly sure about the reason behind it all...but if you see someone on the street who has flowers that are face up - its for them. But if they are upside down - they are for someone else. 

2. There are gypsy's EVERYWHERE. But what is so cool is that there are indeed some really cool gypsies who wont take your whole wallet - just the cash! Hahaha oh man. It is apparently so common for this to happen to missionaries - so I have heard this advice many a time. Another interesting fact about gypsies and Romanians in general is that there is no such thing as a "middle class" here. They are either super poor, or super wealthy. Kinda sad, but truth. 

3. Covrigs. Amazing. Always.

4. Humidity. All. The. Time.......

5. Never ever ever set your bag on the ground, or kneel on the ground...they will yell at you and tell you that you are now cursed and will never have kids. Not exactly sure why...but oh well. 

6. They also NEVER turn on the A/C. They say that the breeze will make you sick - so windows and A/C are not an option - ever! haha

Anyways, I'll come up with some more facts, but another AMAZING fact is that Alesea SET A DATE !!! Thank you thank you for all of your prayers - she has set a date for August 27th, and is so excited, and certain, and determined!  She is super excited to be baptized and take that next step! It will certainly be incredible!(:
Another amazing experience that I had this week was on Friday with Sora Green. Sora Green is also serving in Constanta, and was in my MTC group. She is seriously a ROCKSTAR! So some things happened on Friday where it was just me and Sora Green and her trainer and an STL, and so while me and Sora Green were  practicing Romanian, the two suggested that we go off contacting....
Now think about this...
Two 19 year old girls...who can barely speak this language.....who barely know the city....were sent off to go find a park.  IT WAS SO AWESOME!!!! AH, I cant even express to you how real the gift of tongues is and how real the Holy Ghost is! If you are ready to work, and if you are prepared to work, God will place opportunities for you in your path!

So me and Sora Green found a park, and we were walking around "Poftiti"ing people (which is basically giving out flyers with our phone number and a spiritual thought on the card) and we were having no real success. After about an hour though, we saw a cute 50 year old lady pushing a stroller who looked like she was in a hurry. However we both had the feeling that we needed to talk to her so we ran over there and said "POFTITI!" but, she didn't stop - BUT she DID take the card!

Then we hear, "No no I can't take this" and we both whip back around and the lady says "No no I don't speak Romanian." It took Sora Green and I a little bit of time to register that she wasn't speaking Romanian, but when it clicked we both lit up and were like "HEY! Neither do we!!(: " haha it was similar to the moment in the Best Two Years movie. 

She is SO awesome and immediately opened up. We got her number, she wanted our names for Facebook, I gave her an awesome English pass along card (Thank you again Sister Burgon!!(:  )  and then Sora Green had a copy of an English Book of Mormon so we gave it to her! Her name is Grace and she is a nanny here in Romania from the Philippines. She told us she has a daughter our age, and wanted to know why were are here, so we set up a return appointment! This all happened in like 5 minutes! 

How cool huh? It is so amazing how Heavenly Father puts the people who are prepared and ready to hear about the gospel, and who need a friend in our path! I am so grateful for this gospel and for the goodness, light, and happiness this gospel can bring!

I hope you all have amazing weeks!(: Thank you for your examples and for all you do! 

Te iubesc!

Sora Armstrong

(We have about 9 kittens that are always outside our apartment or "block door." They are SUPER cute, but I refuse to touch them - as you call tell from this pic....haha). 

(Although Constanta is hot and humid, is Glorious!!! - and cue the David Archuleta song). 

(This place used to be an old casino. It is HUGE and AMAZING and GORGEOUS!)

(Zone Conference in Bucharest) 

Monday, July 20, 2015

All About the Heart!

Hello there friends and family(: I hope that you have each had an incredible week and that all has been well!
This week has been crazy! Really different, difficult, amazing, and full of opportunities.
I am still adjusting to the wonderful life here in Romania, and language wise it has been very difficult. Yet, the people here are INCREDIBLE and when they open up their hearts to you, it is honestly one of the COOLEST things ever!

The language is coming along slowly, yet surely! THEY ALL TALK SO FAST! Oh my goodness its crazy haha. They have told me many times that I look like I'm from Romania"  so they assume I understand, so usually I just smile and nod - it works right?(: 

Sometimes though it can be hard when I can't participate in lessons because I don't understand what they're saying, or what someone says to me on the bus....apparently I got invited to Dubai the other week by a older gentleman, but that's why I have my AWESOME companion Sora Armstrong - because she has been here for about 9 months and she speaks like a champ! She truly teaches with boldness and power which is something that these people in Romania need to hear!
Earlier this week we had an incredible finding opportunity. We teach a wonderful girl named Alesea at her bar/snack shack on the beach, and she is SO close to setting a baptismal date. We are hoping to commit her by this Thursday when we go to visit be sure to keep her in your prayers! 

Anyway, we were teaching her about the Plan of Salvation, when a guy saw our Books of Mormon and our name tags and said, "What is your message for me?" He sat right down and begin to tell us all about why he is Orthodox and why he believes in God - and asked why we believed in some guy named Mormon....
It led into an incredible discussion with both him and Alesea about the Restoration and about how Christ's SAME church is on the earth again!! She bore her testimony and ROCKED it, and this guy totally understood the Restoration, the Apostasy, and the Priesthood and why they are important in his life and everyone's lives. We weren't able to get his phone number because he was just visiting from Brasov and didn't have his number memorized, but we told him to look up the church when he got back, and we gave him a Restoration pamphlet with our phone number!

HOW COOL RIGHT? It is so incredible to me how God truly prepares a way - for all of us! He prepares our hearts in the right time, in the right place, and in the right circumstances so that we can draw closer to Him in EVERY WAY that we can! But going along with that is that we have to have that DESIRE. We cannot change, we cannot progress, we cannot become BETTER if we do not have that desire to draw closer to Christ and our Father in Heaven! But, what is so cool is that once we have that DESIRE, and once we PREPARE our hearts for the Lord, He directs and leads and blesses and loves us in ways and opportunities we cannot comprehend! That is my challenge for you this week!(:
I love you all and I hope you have  an INCREDIBLE week! Eat some snow cones for me!(: `


Sora Armstrong

Buna from the BOBOACE!

Salut Family and Friends!(:

I AM FINALLY HERE! Me, my luggage, all the surori and elders, we all made it safely... to ROMANIA....AHH OH MY HECK I AM IN ROMANIA HAHA ITS AWESOME! #hanice #MVPtravelleader 

What a week! It has seriously flown by and has been so amazing! President Ivory is seriously a rockstar and his wife was so so sweet! I can already tell what an amazing mission this is going to be with these awesome leaders!

My companions name is...drum roll...SORA ARMSTRONG! hahaha how funny right? When Pres Ivory was announcing companionships - he saved us for very last and everyone was dying of laughter haha. People have been trying to find out how to tell the difference between us.... some of the names that have been proposed are "armstrong1 and armstrong2" "armstrong the elder and armstrong the younger" "aarmstrong and barmstrong" "Louie and Neil"  "armstrong squared" haha I am welcome to any new ideas or votes as our district has not yet been decided on what we should be called yet(: She is super awesome though, she's almost 20, from California, and has been out for almost 10 months! 

We are in the lovely city of Constanta, where the humidity is a "blast" and the sea is SO close! The members are amazing! We have about 20, but each one is so solid and they were so kind when they welcomed me - the new "boboace" - which means the baby duck haha AKA the greenie. 
I don't have too much time - but here is something that is so incredible that happened this week!

The area of Constanta is incredible - but one of the things I find most incredible about this area are the people. The members are amazing, and they have that desire to be a member of the church, and to constantly work at becoming better. That is something that is SO inspiring to me! They truly value their callings, their relationships with other members, and their relationship with God. For example earlier this week I met an recent convert named Alexandru. Hes about 33 and was baptized two weeks ago.  We were really trying to push the importance of receiving the Priesthood - but he seemed really hesitant. He really opened up and explained all of the concerns that he had about taking on the responsibility of being a worthy priesthood holder. Sora Armstrong and I encouraged him to seek for guidance from the Lord, to read from the Book of Mormon - and that if he did - he would know what path he needed to take. We left the lesson praying that he would accept and act on our challenge - and that because he said he didn't feel he was ready this week to receive the priesthood - that we would challenge him to receive it the following week. HOWEVER - what happened next was truly incredible because three days later as we were sitting in church on Sunday, President Oltanu *the branch president announced that Alexandru was receiving it right after sacrament! Oh I was so excited!!! He looked so happy and recognized that yes, responsibility comes from having the priesthood, but great blessings come as well! Personally I learned and was humbled from this experience as well - because I learned that it is ALWAYS the Spirit that does work and changes the hearts that we cannot. The real conversion comes not from the 1 hour we spend with the individual, it comes from the 23 other hours in the day where it is them, and God. We as missionaries are not part of their line between them and God, we simply aid and serve and invite them to Come unto Christ - and it is up to them to follow the commitments, to continue to have that desire - and then God comes to make up the rest!

I hope that you all have an incredible week - and I will for sure email more next week once I figure out how to work this Romanian keyboard hahaha(:

I love you all!

This is the view from our apartment window - the black sea....#hanice (: SO awesome!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

It's the FINAL COUNTDOWN (In the MTC....)

IT IS FINALLY HERE!!!!!!!! The last week here at the MTC!!! Oh what a joyous mixed amount of emotions haha(: We received our flight plans, and we are apparently heading to New Jersey, then to Austria, and then to Romania(: HOW COOL IS THAT? Granted that we won't have much time to even see Austria or New Jersey - but now I will be able to say that I've been there haha(: 

I was also assigned travel leader - and found out a few days later that I have been on more plane rides than all 11 of us combined ha ha ha - some have never even been on a plane before so the 24+ hours of travel that we'll have will be kinda rough - but we'll all try to be positive about it!(: Cause the point is....WE ARE GOING TO ROMANIA IN LESS THAN A WEEK!!!! Ah I'm freakin out!(: 

So this week was a fun one! We have all been eating in the gym instead of the cafeteria because the main building was closed for the new mission president seminar - where all of the Quorum of the 12 and 1st Presidency attended. THEY WERE ALL LITERALLY A WALL AWAY! So all week we were joking about plans to break in haha(: However, all jokes aside, it really was an amazingly cool experience and the Spirit throughout the MTC was extra strong! 

We didn't see any of them until when we were coming back from the temple walk on wouldn't let us cross the street. Then the next thing we see is a big black SUV pull out, with the window rolled down....and there is President Uchdorf! Smiling and waving as fast as he could ha ha ha #soawesome and then right behind the SUV - a silver Audi. Yes Yes, it was the prophet. The window was so hard to see through - but we all saw a small, short wave! I was FREAKIN out haha the prophet, yes THEE Thomas S Monson - WAVED TO US! #superawesome Apparently He has not been doing to well though - and has been in a wheelchair the past few weeks so be sure to keep him in your prayers - he truly is a rockstar!!(: 

Also, since the Provo temple is closed - we were super sad that we weren't going to go inside again for 17 months. But then later in the week, we got a note that we were assigned to go and CLEAN the temple this Wednesday morning - and I can honestly say - it was one of the COOLEST experiences I've ever had! The sisters were in charge of taking apart the chandeliers in the sealing rooms, polishing each INDIVIDUAL crystal, and then resembling them. The temple worker told us that the biggest chandelier they have has over 5000 crystals - and it took them 2 days to clean. #dedication ha ha. 

It was so awesome because it just shows how incredible the temple is and what a blessing it is to be there. Not only does it bring peace and joy - but it also REPRESENTS peace and joy and LIGHT! I challenge you to read Thomas S. Monson's last conference address from April - and then GO to the temple and soak in that light!(: It is truly something special that I am going to miss dearly - but I cannot wait to return and feel that again!

I hope you all have an incredible week - Te iubesc!

Sora Armstrong