Elder And Sister Brown to the Romania/Moldova Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS

Elder And Sister Brown to the Romania/Moldova Mission of the Church of Jesus Christ of LDS
Elder & Sister Brown to the Romania/Moldova Mission

Sunday, November 29, 2015

This may be our new view for the next few months.  Snow fell Thanksgiving night.  It has turned a little colder and we're bundling up more than ever.  We keep hoping our Arizona blood is thickening up.

Views from the church's 3rd floor window of the first snow.
We're living on the fourth floor.
Some areas of this neighborhood have gypsies living in it and looks 3rd world.
Not the best place for the church.
Their children can be pests and are not allowed in the church because we are told
they are taught to steal.  So sad.

Rand's new look/hat and red nose.

Julie keeps finding more cute hats.  This one
has a matching scarf that really helps keep off the cold.

Rand and I each teach an English class and we had to share the chapel.
Turns out the baptismal font in the back corner is portable.
We took it down so we would be more separation between our classes.

This is the poster we use in our classes.  The students all have
a mini poster they can study from between classes.
Our class is very basic and some of our students
decided to move up to intermediate.
Elder Brown and I each had about 25 students the first class.
The ideal is 6-8.  When we have smaller classes we
get to know the students better.  Better so we
can find ways to introduce the gospel 
to them.  These big classes are
not really what we want.

I snuck our my camera for this shot of our first class.
The kids in the back are facing left where Rand is teaching in the 
little offshoot room where the baptismal font was.

There was this older couple in class named Mikal and Sylvia.  I didn't get a
very good shot of them but they were so cute and trying so hard.  
I hope they come back.

Sat. was the second class.  On Tue. we had asked that half of them come for the 
second hour next time.  So Sat. we only had about 10-12 the first hour.
The second hour it was really raining and no one came.
It will be interesting to see who shows up this coming Tue.

Thanksgiving preparations

Beginning on Wed. the sister missionaries and two of the 
BYU girls came to the church kitchen to make pies.
We made pumpkin pie from Butternut squash.
They also made banana cream, apple and a chocolate
Again the spices come in tiny packages.
Not one bit practical

Hunted till we found a green bean casserole recipe from scratch.
No cream of "anything" soup here.
The only thing we didn't find was the dried onions for the top.
Rand is straining off the canned beans.  Next 
time we'll use frozen.

Crock pot stuffing.  We had to look hard to find sage.
We were so happy when we found it.  We even
found condensed milk.  It comes in 
a bottle.  Who would have
been looking for that?
We had to make our own bread crumbs.  
Bread here is so delicious.  Not sure
why but the bread crumbs took
3 days to dry.  Glad we
started early.

Sister Cutler making roles.

One batch turned out OK.
The other not so OK.
Scary as they had
never made
roles or pies before.
But their mashed potatoes were the best.

Sister Lidia from the branch agreed to do the relish plate
Her platters are works of art.

Sister Stoyka brought an apple dessert.  We hope she'll teach
us how to make it.  Her husband often comes with
her but is not a member.

We got our serving table all set up and the Branch President showed up 
with plastic serving bowls.  He wanted us to dish it all
up and put it on the tables family style.  
A little frustrating but we made it work.
While the members and guests were waiting we had a feather at each place setting for
them to write what they were thankful for and put on our turkey poster.
We have done that at home and it is a real treasure.

BYU girls and our thankfulness turkey

Our only picture of the 24 lb 8 oz turkey we cooked in the tiny oven.  
We finally found a pan it would fit in.  
The oven temperature was very erratic and we were worried. 
We wanted the turkey done correctly so we set our timer to run down
stairs every 20 minutes all day to up or lower the temperature.  
So happy when the turkey finally reached 90 degrees
just a couple hours before dinner time.
Answer to our prayer.  

Yes, I've lost 10 pounds since our arrival her 7 weeks ago.

Two long tables set up in the Relief Society room.  

We planned for 40 and
almost got that many with four investigators.

Our thankful Turkey
Some in English and some in Romanian

Friday we had to recover.  Later in the day we went shopping for a
linen closet we can keep towels and sheets in. 
A good relaxer to figure out how to
put it together.

The intermediate Saturday class 
taught by Sora Cutler and Lunt.
Sora Lunt had some health issues and we were worried they wouldn't get back
from the doctor in time to teach.  
They made it and Sister Lunt is recovering.
We need the missionaries to come to our class the last 10 minutes and give a spiritual thought
and prayer in Romanian.  With two teachers down that wouldn't have happened.

My Favorite Quote this week from our last General Conference was given by Elder
Vern P Stanfill in his talk Choose Light.

When we consider thoughtfully, why would we listen to the faceless, cynical voices of those in the great and spacious buildings of our time and ignore the pleas of those who genuinely love us? These ever-present naysayers prefer to tear down rather than elevate and to ridicule rather than uplift. Their mocking words can burrow into our lives, often through split-second bursts of electronic distortions carefully and deliberately composed to destroy our faith. Is it wise to place our eternal well-being in the hands of strangers? Is it wise to claim enlightenment from those who have no light to give or who may have private agendas hidden from us? These anonymous individuals, if presented to us honestly, would never be given a moment of our time, but because they exploit social media, hidden from scrutiny, they receive undeserved credibility.

Our choice to heed those who mock sacred things will distance us from the saving and life-giving light of the Savior. John recorded: “Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.”  Remember, those who truly love us can help us build our faith.

Hope that you have a great week and the beginning of the Christmas season.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Another week of "firsts"    

First time to shake an apostles hand,  first time to make chocolate chip cookies a fine Danish chocolate bar chopped in chip size pieces for the missionaries and Julie's first time to drive.

This is the train station that Rand drops missionaries off in the middle of the night.
Nice to see it in the day.

Close to the train station.  Rand said quick take that picture and send it to Paula.
So there you go Paula.
Just down the street from here is where our friend Lidia lives in similar apartment as the ones pictured here.  We asked her what it was like living in Iasi under Communism.  She said it was cold and dark.  No lights after dark and in the winter it was cold.  She said there was only hot water for two hours a day.  Umm, is that what we want in America?

Tuesday night was a broadcast of the European 
Leadership, Pres. Kearon and Elder Ballard.  
Members watched on the big TV but because it was
being translated into Romanian we grabbed our computer and
watched in English in the library next door with Elder Hellewell.

Wed. we traveled to Bucharest (Elders call it Buch)
We had a new GPS app on the phone called I-go.
Not very good at using it but when we saw this sight
we knew it worked.  This cow stands outside a restaurant next door to
 the mission office.  Without this landmark 
we may not have known that we were there.

Wed. evening was our first meeting to hear Elder Ballard in person.  
Members, missionaries and investigators were invited.  We spend 1.5 hrs
 traveling 8 km. during computer traffic to get to the meeting.
After already traveling 7 hours from Iasi we were exhausted.
Wouldn't you know, the first half of the meeting was in Romanian.
Wow, we had not thought of that possibility.
So glad when the Kearns and Elder Ballard spoke in English.
They each had a translator for the Romanians.

Travel to our hotel after the meeting was much easier.  
It's going to be very beautiful when they turn on the Christmas lights.

Panduri chapel in Bucharest where our meetings were held.  
It was large and spacious, could almost be a stake center.
Thursday morning we again attended meetings with Elder Ballard 
and each got to personally shake his hand.  Such a thrill

Elder Brown and I on my birthday in front of the Panduri Branch with
the chocolate chip cookies for the missionary dinner

My favorite story Pres. Ballard told was of the famine in Ethiopia in 1984 when  
members of our church contributed $6,000,000 to help alleviate their hunger.
Elder Ballard was asked to be in charge of seeing that the money was used
properly.  He told about finding the one member in Ethiopia and together
they held a sacrament meeting.  After the ordinance was performed
and they had born to each other their testimony Elder Ballard
felt impressed to bless the country that the famine would
 end and that there would be rain.  Shortly after ending 
the prayer they heard a clap of thunder and it 
rained for the next 5 days. A miracle!
Ethiopia was part of the Ugandan mission.  We knew members who were from
there but since PEF was not used there we never traveled to that country.

Elder Chatterton who know serves in Buch shaking hand with Elder Ballard
Elder Ballard is 87 years old.  He was on a European tour and had
already been to a couple countries before coming here.  He left
after this meeting for Greece and then Ireland.  What stamina

The Bauco sister, Wyatt and Rouston shaking hand with Elder Ballard and Elder and sister Kearons.

Elder Ballard was a great teacher with many good ideas for finding
the honest of heart who will help build the kingdom in Romania.
He challenged us to be the greatest teachers too.
Many converts need to be retaught the lessons
then asked if they understand and if not 

Elder Brown and I were praying for a miracle.  I guess we've gotten soft in our old age.
We were weary of sitting almost two days straight and at 3:30 pm Thur it was time to 
head home.  How were we going to survive?  We had Sora Lunt and Cutler with
us and they made it fun.  The last hour they got Rand talking about his hunting
adventures.  I also drove some on this trip.  My first time behind the wheel.
It isn't any different than at home if you're out in the country that is.

Had fun skyping with Andrew, Leslie and Natalie.  What a fun birthday

Saturday was English sign up from 10 am -2pm.  We had over 50 sign up for beginning.
We also have intermediate and advanced classes as well.  They didn't have as
many sign up but they will be plenty full.  The Elders will teach the advanced class and
the Sisters the intermediate.  Elder Brown and I will teach four classes of beginning with 
a program my brother Dennis told us about called "Daily Dose".  They haven't been using it in Iasi right now but others have used it in the past and we found most of the materials in the church library.
You don't have to know Romanian to teach this class so we are excited to learn how to teach
English to non english speakers.
(no picture)

Later that afternoon we held our first Relief Society activity since I was put in as RS activity counselor.  We made the same flowers we made in Uganda by melting the edge of satin fabric   Finding the fabric, beads, clasps and hair clips was so much easier 
in Romania than Uganda. Rand and I did it all ourselves.

The BYU girls all came and took up one table.  They were very creative and made it fun.

My friend Lidia really wanted to make a purple flower like mine

Sister Maria and Geneviva ward members who attended

Claudia our 16 year old investigator was very proud of her creation 

We have a new look in this multicolored flower.

The two on the left are English students who are also investigating 
the church.  Cristina on the right was our first member to visit

Mircica and Doina displaying their creations

Pretty girl who is visiting from USA and helping at an orphanage

This will be a fun week preparing for our Thanksgiving Feast.  The Branch President spent just over 150 lei ($36 dollars) for a 10.8 kilo turnkey (almost 24 lbs).  We hope we can find a pan to cook it in and that it fits in our tiny oven.  I guess we can always cut it in half and cook half in our oven and the other half in the oven down stairs.  

One of our activities during the meal will be to have everyone say what they are thankful for.  Rand and I are really feeling blessed to be here with so many at home praying for us and supporting us in this endeavor.  It is such a privilege to share the Book of Mormon and the restored gospel with these wonderful people.  It has blessed our family immeasurably and know it will bless all who read and come unto Christ.   Happy Thanksgiving to all our friends and family at home.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Cobblestone walkway with Romanian flags on either side in the distance is the center of Iasi.  Traffic is diverted so you can meander among the shops and listen to the music.  Unless it is raining musicians range from guitar, clarinet, flute etc.  It is very nostalgic and we love to take our walks there.  Also many churches are reached from this walkway.  Picture taken from in front of the Palas. (Palace)

Elder Brown standing by king statue in front of palas.  
We haven't found anyone to tell us about the palas
or who the king is.  Hope to find out before leaving.

Monday was transfer day.  We were up at 4 AM to get Elder Chatterton to the air port.  There is an airport in Iasi?  Finding it at 4:30 was a bit tricky but we only made minor turning errors and didn't end up in the lake that Pres. Pitelon warmed us of.  With Elder Chatterton gone Elder Swafford had to hang out with us.  We took full advantage of his knowledge of the language and went to the German store that is similar to Home Depot and the French store that is similar to Walmart.

European Bosch

Good-by dinner with the Sisters and their investigator Claudia in
our attic kitchen.  Our kitchen is only about 2/3 usable.
Unless of course you don't mind banging your head.
10:30 that night we drove Sister Weaver and Kitchen with all
their luggage to the train station.  They had a bunk 
and traveled the night to Bucharest.  We'll miss them so much

Tuesday afternoon was spent with the Smiths, the couple from Bacau.
They brought girls up to go together to their new areas.
Sister Wyatt and Sister Roulston are the Bacau missionaries 
that we will work with when we go down there.

Sora Lunt has her new companion, Sora Cutler from Draper.
She knows Relation Street.
The Smiths will leave next month.
When they are gone we'll travel 130 kilometers
every couple weeks to be with their branch.
Other two girls were just passing through from Moldova.

Posing for pictures.  
When we go walking we wear Brooks tennys.
You're right, not very stylish but oh so comfortable.

Us with the new sister missionaries in Iasi

Elder Brown bought a pomegranate.  
Nice reminder of home but not sure where the store got them in cold Romania

Mission President said we could replace our fridge.  
So happy as it only had one shelf and two makeshift shelves

New fridge before getting the old one out.  Wait we still don't have the old
one out.  Rand is looking to remove it with a hand truck.
Where to get one he has has no idea.  The Elders
suggested we just toss it out the balcony window
The delivery man showed up with fridge and no hand truck.  
Rand couldn't believe it.  Lucky for us he came during
District mission and the elders helped get it up to the fourth floor.
Rand rewarded them with pizza for lunch.

Our bedroom window
The tiny one to the right is the kitchen window. 
The Balcony is on the other side

We were pretty cold and needed hats.  I finally found one 
I like then it warmed up.  Good reason to buy a hat.

Pres Pitelon was having a hard time getting members to clean
the building so Rand and I secretly did it for him.
We didn't get to the first floor but the second and third 
look much better.

Our grey bathroom is so cheery now with the new rugs from Carrefore
I think it is my favorite room
It has a skylight which usually shows white, seldom blue sky
This room is also only 2/3 usable unless you are very short.

Our first trip to Bacau where a new branch president was
sustained.  That will give Elder Smith who has been the branch president 
a month to train him before he & Sister Smith go home.

New members to become friends with.  
There were eight members,  six missionaries  
and the District President, Alin Constantines
Lady on left is a Romanian translator for the church.
She translated my testimony that I was asked to give.

Will have to fill in names as we learn them.

Sister Smith with Sister Roulston & Wyatt 
in front of 100 year old Church in Bacau

Sunday dinner at the Smith's apartment with Pres. Constantines, sister missionaries and us

Same picture with Sora Wyatt trading places with me.

Every where we look are very beautiful churches.

It was a beautiful fall drive home to Iasi which is about 1 hr 50 min. away

Would like to end with my favorite quote from this past general conference.  
Sister Marriott said, "I have struggled to banish the mortal desire to have things my way, 
eventually realizing that my way is oh so lacking, limited, and inferior to the way of 
Jesus Christ.  'His way is the path that leads to happiness in this life and eternal life in the world to come.'  
Can we love Jesus Christ and His way more than we love ourselves and our own agenda?

Elder Brown and I are happy we are serving this mission.  I remember last year at this time as we were getting our mission papers filled out wondering where we would be in a year.  Well here we are and nothing about this mission is something we would have chosen but we see why the Lord sent us here almost every day.  It is my testimony that his way does lead to happiness.