Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A New Companion and My First Experience at a Romanian Hospital

Family and Friends(: 

I first off just want to say thank you for all of your prayers and support - not only for me but for all of the missionaries - they make more of a difference than you know(: Love you all!

This week has been a crazy fast one - and so many unexpected and crazy things have been happening with not a lot of time - including email time today haha. So I guess I'll just share my highlight of the week. 

I also found out that I will be staying here in Constanta for another transfer - but I will be serving with Sora Koth who has been serving up in Moldova for the past little while. She seems super incredible - and I am so excited for these next six weeks or more that we will get to share together(: 

So this past week - all four of the sisters here in Constanta have had the chance to go and serve a great investigator friend of ours named Grace from the Philippines. She however, was not in the best of circumstances. She has a giant tumor on the right side of her neck and its been there for quite some time - and her employer or boss (she nannies a little Romanian girl) didn't want to ever give her time off for Grace to get her surgery. Anyways there were a lot of complications and a lot of debate - but grace finally was checked into a hospital - but that hospital. I can't even describe it. To be honest it seemed like a mix of prison, World War 2, and a horror movie all combined into one. Needless to say I am SO grateful for the hospitals that we have back home - 

Anyways - Grace asked that we come visit her - and so while there in the hospital, we found her and found that she had two other roommates. We felt impressed to share our favorite book of mormon verses with her - and why they were important to us - and you could truly feel that spirit SO strong(: I then felt the slight impression that we should sing for her - and so after singing some primary songs and hymns - Grace just opened up and began to sob. She said that we were her only visitors - and that she was so terrified for the surgery that was the next day - and how she was so scared for the price and the sanitation - but how she felt just peace when we sang and when we read from "that book." 

It is so cool how that Spirit is so prominent - and how that light that comes from it can shine so bright and touch peoples hearts who you least expect it. The two roommates in graces room - both asked for "that book" - and we have an appointment with one of them next week(: 

That light - the light of the gospel - can change so many lives if we are worthy of it and if we have that desire to share it(: It can bring so might joy - happiness - and well, LIGHT(: Into peoples lives, and hearts(: So I challenge you this week to share some of your light - to find someone who really needs a friend - to reach out and serve - and before you know it - your light will touch someone who you least expect, but who needs it more than ever(: Heavenly Father totally knows his children - He knows you(: I promise(: And he loves you! 

And I do too(: haha have a great week!

Sora Armstrong 

(At the hospital with Grace) 

Monday, September 21, 2015

Zone Training, Music...and a Romanian Grill!

Family and Friends!

Well to start off, we had a amazing zone training in Bucharest on Wednesday - and we were able to hear about how we can be better missionaries in regards to finding new people and contacting strategies and such. So as we were brainstorming for ideas - the idea of music, as well as the encouragement from many other sister missionaries and president - worked. I bought a guitar. hahaha sorry mom(;

It has actually been really awesome though - and I have really come to see how incredible the power of music is in missionary work and in bringing the Spirit quickly and powerfully. Sora Trebas also has one and so us four were able to go around to a lot of the members and less actives  homes this week, and sing and share a thought from the Book of Mormon to get them pumped about reading it before Christmas as a branch(: And it worked! We received a lot of commitments and promises that people would participate - and I know that it will truly make a difference not only in their individual lives, but also in the branch as a whole.

We also this week got to get together with a lot of the people from the US army base that is here in Constanta - and we had a "Romanian Grill;" Full of mici, arde and pults, mamaliga, goat cheese, covrig, chicken, and watermelon! Not only did I get to learn how to grill - that was quite an adventure - but we also got to have SALSA! haha it was such a treat! The people on the base have an american WalMart type thing, and so when they brought salsa for everyone to share - I think about half of us passed out haha we were so excited(: But what was so cool about meeting with all these people from the base, is that we got to do a different type of missionary work. 

We all went around and shared our experiences with the Book of Mormon and how it has blessed and changed all of our lives - and it was incredible to see the different stories and the different principles of doctrine or testimony that changed each of our lives! The church is so different in the states - but so similar as well. So personal and unique to each of us(: Its awesome(: 

Have an incredible week! and we will see next week if I am staying here in Constanta or if I am headed out somewhere else(: 

Love you guys!

Sora Armstrong

(Eating yummy Covrig in Bucharest)

(Old Bucharest)

(Me and my new guitar)

(Celebrating Sora Armstrong's and Sora Trebas's 'one year mark' with fun drinks)

Monday, September 14, 2015

Who Knew?? Constanta: The Bible Belt of Europe

My amazing family and friends!(:

This week has been quite the week of Learning! and so I guess I'll jump right into it(:

Monday we were able to meet with a new investigator named "RaraČ™" who is a good friend of one of the members in our branch. Apparently he had been meeting with the missionaries before - five years ago actually - but then started to go deep into drugs and started to hang around some not so good people - and ended up dropping out of the discussions. However, the past few weeks he has been coming to church all on his own and has been completely clean of drugs for years. We asked if he wanted to have the discussions again and he agreed - and we then had a powerful lesson with him on Tuesday. He is SO cool! We asked him what he remembered about the Book of Mormon - and he immediately brought up the Tree of Life. He just went on and on about how he wanted to get there - but how he wanted to know for a sure fact that this was true and it was what he needed to do at this time. You could really tell how important this gospel was for him - and that even though it would require a change - he was more than willing. We are meeting with him again this next week and are SO excited to see what is in store. 

I also had my first lesson of bible bashing this week haha. Not quite what we expected or had planned haha. We were in a lesson with Mercy - a Nigerian who had just gotten back from the Germany temple a few days earlier after doing baptisms for her mom who had passed away. She was BEAMING and GLOWING! I had never seen her so happy - it was so so cool to see that power and spirit and peace that comes from the blessing of this gospel and of temples(: We were in the middle of talking to her about it - and then her friend "Tubo" came in and was like "Let's talk about God" and....things started off great! We were all like YES God loves us and we all love his Son and his Atonement and the Bible! But heres the thing....these Nigerians know the Bible inside and out like you wouldn't believe. Constanta is like the Bible Belt of Europe because they can just throw out verses and principles and prophets like nobody's business. It's quite impressive actually but also insanely frustrating haha. Anyways - he proceeded to talk and question and interrogate us about the law of the tithe - but it was actually Mercy that started to bible bash him back and so Sora Armstrong and I just kinda sat there in a confused state haha. It was so curious to see that the Spirit that we had all had - was gone the minute there was contention. We ended up just bearing our testimonies and inviting him to pray - but I believe I walked away with a much bigger lesson that day.

This past week I have come to realize that desire is key. The desire to change, to grow, to progress, to learn, to become - it all comes from your heart and from YOU! No one can make you change who you are or who you want to be, we all have that free agency to decide. He will not force us. I've seen that especially this week. It could be so easy to go through life and get discouraged and lose that desire to stop doing the little things that help us draw closer to our Heavenly Father - to stop reading the Book of Mormon and stop praying. It to be honest - can be discouraging as a missionary - to have 10 lessons fall through, or sunflower seeds spit on you on the street. But I can testify that if we use that free agency that we have to grow and progress to become better - we will see God work mighty miracles through us and in our lives. I've seen it - and I can promise you that if you have that desire to grow and to continue to press forward with the little things - with that desire - Heavenly Father is going to bless and change and mold us to become the best people that we can become - and help us to reach our divine, eternal potential(: 

I love you all and I hope you have a week full of fun and miracles! 
Keep being Rockstars!!(:

Sora Armstrong

(Usually how our comp pics go haha)

(All the Soras in Constanta with 3 members from the US Army Base)

(This is an Orthodox church that we recieved permission to go into - people call it "Biserica de lemb" or Church of the Lamb.)

Monday, September 7, 2015

Sora Kendrick, Cups, and a ROCKSTAR Branch!

What an amazing week once again! It amazes me how fast it flies by - 

This week we have really been trying to push the Book of Mormon and involve our Less Actives as much as we can. We have a less active named Sora Ducea - who is about 60 and is quite the talker(: I once had a conversation with her for about 45 minutes - and I said a total of two words haha. Anyways - she never comes to church, and is having some Law of Chastity and Word of Wisdom problems - but she knows the Book of Mormon inside and out. She has such a deep special love for that Book - us missionaries feel like it is the KEY to get her coming back to the gospel . So we invited her to our branch Book of Mormon activity - and SHE CAME! It was actually just her...and the other sisters investigator who came....the rest of our branch was no where to be found haha - BUT it actually turned out SO SO good!!! 

Sora Ducea kept telling me how I much I look like Anna Kendrick (movie star from Pitch Perfect) - and proceeds to call me by the name of "Sora Kendrick." and so she asked for all of us missionaries to teach her the "cup song." (Also from Pitch Perfect).  It was hilarious. She would try to get SO into it - but would end up throwing her cup up in the air and saying "Am Terminat" basically "I am SO done." But then she would try again haha. We then had an incredible time discussing the Book of Mormon with her - and invited her to church the next morning - and SHE CAME! and not only that...She BORE HER TESTIMONY!! ABOUT THE BOOK OF MORMON! She ended up talking for a good 15-20 minutes about it and the branch president finally had to tell her to sit down - haha but we are SO proud of her and we are hoping that she will continue to read and make the Book of Mormon a priority in her life(: 

Our fast and testimony meeting this week was SO special; probably one of the most spiritual times on my mission. Liviu - our recent convert - shared his testimony about how this gospel has changed his life and Fratele Vitel - another less active - shared about how much he loves the principles about the gospel and how he has felt so much JOY from the Book of Mormon. SO COOL!! Our branch here in Constanta consists of about 28 people - including us 6 missionaries. They are SO committed to the change and joy this gospel can bring - they are basically a tight little family! And they are all so different which makes it even more special! We have people from Nigeria in our branch who are here for school, we have Moldovans, we have people from the Philippians, we have Americans from a US military base not to far away, and we have our Romanians! And everyone of them is so special and they each have their own hard things and their own ways of how they have come to develop that relationship that they have with their Heavenly Father. 

Theres a scripture in Jacob 5 - the chapter about the Lord of the Vineyard - that is so special and I feel relates to this branch here in Constanta, but also relates to you and me. It talks about how sometimes the Lord cuts us down, moves us, molds and shapes us, until we produce good fruit. It talks about how we have the power to BECOME! The power to become all that He wants us to be and what joy that can bring! But what I love about that chapter more than anything else is that in verse 72 its says "And the Lord labored also with them." 

He DOES NOT expect us to do it alone. If we want to change - if we want to grow and become better and produce good fruit and do our best - we can do it WITH him. and THROUGH him and His grace. 

I have seen that here in every single one of these members - as well as in my own life. We don't have to do it alone. We don't have to become better all by ourselves. Instead we can choose to labor and do all we can - and the Lord will be there right beside us - laboring with us - to help us become better.

I love you guys! And I hope that you'll all have a great week!(:

Sora Armstrong

We got to go to the top of his "block" this week (Fratele Vitel)