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, December 27, 2015

Merry Christmas (Craciun Fericit)

It's been maybe 45 years since I didn't get a Christmas card or email off to my friends and family before Christmas.  Childhood friends like LouAnn Adair,  Anne Bradshaw, Holly and Carolee as well as our family and extended family  along with wonderful friends from home: Paula and Mike, Betty and Jim, David and Terry Wisehart plus Ugandan friends who share one of the craziest and fun experiences of our life.                                            

We hope that you had a very memorable day.  We did as you will see.

We actually found a manger scene off to the side of the Catholic church.  
Bless their hearts, we loved seeing this. Probably the only one in town.

Most of the scenes were commercial as it is at home.

This man was selling a smoked bacon.  It was his mother's recipe from the country.
Probably the best bacon we've ever had.

These are outside shops set up just for the holidays.
Everywhere we go the breads are to die for

Today's temperature was 63 degrees.  Even Phoenix's weather
isn't going to be that warm we noticed.  
How did that happen?
We're loving the blue skies
and jacket weather
These slippers are looking too warm don't you think?

Heavy wool blankets?
Maybe in a week or two.

Christmas morning this piaza was mostly empty
Christmas night it was packed,  we could hardly move around.
Romanians came out in droves to take pictures and enjoy the sights

Christmas lights on the palas.
I think I've been spelling it wrong.

Hadn't noticed this before.  Maybe they just put a light on it.
It is the coat of arms for the owners of the palas.

Here is a write up on the palas.  Turns out it is only just over 200 years old.
Surprised us!

These signs on the back of the coat of arms were in English.
How nice of them.

Christmas eve was spent with the missionaries.
The plan was to deliver goodies to ward members.  
Here we found ourselves in quite a delima.
The street was almost empty but someone parked right 
in front of our garage when we came out to go.  
The neighbors are mad at our landlord for providing us a garage.  
He told us they wanted him to tear it down.
He said they were jealous.
Since we use it I guess they decided to punish us.
This hadn't happened before.
After talking it over we decide that we could lift and shove the back of the car over enough
maybe we could get out.

In the end we shoved the back end of the car over about 2 feet before we
could squeeze through.
What a night with 6 of us squeezed into the small car traveling from one end of the city to the other with our plates of goodies.  We wondered if they thought our gift tasted as
odd as we thought their food did.

This is the typical plate of goodies we received in return for
our caroling.

Christmas morning we had our four missionaries and the two missionaries serving in Bacau.
We provided each with a stocking from Santa.  Items included a jar of Nutella, candy bar, pomegranate, hand carved fork and Romanian Christmas decorations along with peanuts and a talk by Elder Bednar, "Seek learning by Faith"

It was as fun for us to watch them open the gifts
as they were have receiving them.

Elder Swafford wondered where we got the cross between
an onion and an apple.  
He had never seen a pomegranate.

Elder Brown showing him how to open and eat the pomegranate.

They also gave each other gifts that had everyone laughing

Some also got to unwrap gifts from home.

I told them it would make me happy to play the dice game so they
played games for quite a while.

Our Christmas gift to each other was this oil painting by a branch
member of some of our favorite
subjects from Uganda

Vaseli had a hard time getting it to us on the tram.
He said he would get the scratches fixed soon.

Did you know that making your own shredded coconut is easy.  
Especially once you get it open.
We couldn't find coconut anywhere so Elder Brown bought this coconut.
Once he got it open he put it in the oven for maybe 30 minutes on 350.
Once it cooled the coconut came right out of the shell.
He pealed off the outer edge then grated it.  
Tasted delicious.

Here are some random photos.
This is a below ground market.  This time of year they 
sold Christmas trees.  Some were probably 15 feet or more tall

This is the church we live at.  It sits on a corner of Strada Ipsalanti at no. 28.
Our living room looks out of the top left window.

                        We don't use the center doors.  They would open to the front of the chapel.  

Our dear friend Lidia invited us to dinner the day after Christmas.  
Again the meal was delicious.  
We felt so bad when we found out she was alone on Christmas.
Kara would have loved the sushi

Homemade bread fresh from the oven

Sunday morning on our way to Bacau.  We have seen these huge
bird nests on the top of poles.  No idea what kind of bird nests there.

I love Elder Browns new black felt hat.  He is much easier to spot when he wears it.
Sister Wyatt liked it too.
She will be leaving the area Wed with the next transfer.
We also learned we will loose our sisters here in Iasi to be replaced by another set of elders.
So sad, but life goes on.

Happy New Year from Elder & Sister Brown

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Leaving Romania for first time to attend Zone Conference in Moldova.  The Mission President said we could do it all in a day; This meant crossing the boarder both coming and going and going where we'd never been before.  Yes, I was a little worried.

We left Wed. morning just after 5 am.  Sora Cutler and Sora Lunt who went with us spent the night at our house so we didn't have to try and find them in their apartment and waste time leaving.  Most of the trip was done in the dark.

It was just getting light when we got to the boarder.  
This looked like a sign of some sort between the two countries.  
Looking at it now,  maybe it wasn't.

Getting across the boarder only took 30 min.  We were told it could take 3 hours.  
Finding the church once we got to Chisinau (Key-sh-no) took a while and we were so relieved that we got there before the meeting was to start.  
Wait a minute, there is no one here!!!
Sora's think that maybe the zone conference is at the new Service Center just opened.
But none of us knew where that was and now that we're in Moldova our cell phones no longer work.
After praying about what to do we found a dental office where they allowed us to use their phone.  Yes, the conference was at the Service Center and Sora Cooley said she would drive over and let us follow her to the right address.  What a blessing

Forgot my camera.  This is the room I left my phone in.  So glad it was still there when I realized it was missing.  It just made me laugh to take a picture of this corner of the room.  Nothing is 90 degrees and most walls have a slight curve to them.  Putting furniture up to a wall is how you figure that out.  Pretty funny.

Elder Brown sitting by Elder Dyches of the 70.
Moldova has 9 sets of missionaries and three senior couples.  We were the only group from Romania.  The reason we didn't go to Bucharest was because Moldova was only a little over two hours away instead of seven.  Course that didn't include the boarder crossing which took a lot longer coming home.

Moldova has three sets of sisters.  We ate lunch by these lovely ladies.

Our sister missionaries give Romanians the impression 
that all women from Utah are very blond.  
The girls get a kick out of that impression.

This is Sora Black and I'm Sora Brown.  Her mission is about over 
so probably won't see her again.

Elder Dyches was born at the same maternity hospital I was, 
Murray Maternity hospital
Unlike me he also grew up in Murray, Utah.

Over a week ago our oven quit working after a power outage. (our first one)
Turns out the oven needs a surge protector  and
quit working when the power came back on.
Getting someone to fix it was not easy.  The mission owns the oven so the
landlord on the right didn't want to fix it.
In the end he got an electrician to come get it working again.  
So happy as Christmas calls for a lot of baking.

Sora Ivory, the Mission President's wife gave us this cute Romanian manger scene.
We had not seen anything anywhere that depicted the birth of the savior.  Not sure where she found it.
We had hung pictures of our children and Christmas scenes as our display.
So happy to add the following to our Christmas decorations.

Our last Book of Mormon branch activity.  
We had a good turnout but those who stayed to color the small liahona 
to hang on the Christmas tree . . . .

were three dedicated missionaries

Our last beginning English class.  The two ladies on the left are taking the missionary
discussions.  The lady with the purple blouse comes to church regularly.  We 
hope they all sign up to continue learning in January and eventually
take the missionary discussions.

As you may remember we had over 50 begin the course.  Many were not there for the last
class but six received certificates of completion
because they attended at least 6 of the 8 classes.

One of the leading families of the district was celebrating this Sunday as their 
daughter came home for a three week visit.  
She is a student at BYU.
Elder Brown is trying to figure out what message he could take to the family
to help the father see how important it is that he be baptized.

This should be a Christmas message.  I'm thinking this could be.  What was Mary the mother of our Lord Jesus Christ thinking as she approached the birth of her first born and began a trip to Bethlehem.  Elder Nelson's talk impressed me, so I quote parts of it and imagine that we need to be this kind of women as I know that Mary was.
Attacks against the Church, its doctrine, and our way of life are going to increase. Because of this, we need women who have a bedrock understanding of the doctrine of Christ and who will use that understanding to teach and help raise a sin-resistant generation. We need women who can detect deception in all of its forms. We need women who know how to access the power that God makes available to covenant keepers and who express their beliefs with confidence and charity. We need women who have the courage and vision of our Mother Eve.

My dear sisters, nothing is more crucial to your eternal life than your own conversion. It is converted, covenant-keeping women--women like my dear wife Wendy--whose righteous lives will increasingly stand out in a deteriorating world and who will thus be seen as different and distinct in the happiest of ways.

So today I plead with my sisters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to step forward! Take your rightful and needful place in your home, in your community, and in the kingdom of God--more than you ever have before. I plead with you to fulfill President Kimball’s prophecy. And I promise you in the name of Jesus Christ that as you do so, the Holy Ghost will magnify your influence in an unprecedented way!

I bear witness of the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ and of His redeeming, atoning, and sanctifying power. And as one of His Apostles, I thank you, my dear sisters, and bless you to rise to your full stature, to fulfill the measure of your creation, as we walk arm in arm in this sacred work. Together we will help prepare the world for the Second Coming of the Lord. Of this I testify, as your brother, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The new normal.  Only 21 days till it begins to get lighter every day.  Don't see the sun till after 8 am and it sets around 5 pm.  Lots of fog clouds our view of the Palac and cathedrals.

This pretty pink cyclamen gives the living room a little cheer

Speaking of living room, this is our new furniture we ordered three weeks ago.  It finally came.  We also put up the drape to give definition to the attic room and to remind ourselves to duck if you go beyond this barrier.  Natalie gave us the Christmas tree when we were on our mission in
Uganda.  Easy to transport and easy to install.  Doesn't tip over either.

Since we are talking apartment, this is our kitchen cupboard before this week

This is our new kitchen cupboards.  Yea for more storage space to put things.

We also had this fun shelf installed above the kitchen sink.

Monday afternoon we drove the 130 kilometers to Bacou to take Elder Hellewell to
give this man a baptism interview.  Sora Wyatt and Rotsan were overjoyed 
to have a convert

The Smiths will be leaving in a couple weeks for home.
 We will oversee that branch also once they are gone.

As Relief Society Activity counselor I organized the Iasi Branch sisters
to teach the American sisters to make native Romanian food 
for the Christmas party.
Sister Lidia teaching how to make sarmale

I was watching and trying to write down the recipe so we would have it
to make another time.  I found the sisters here do not have
measuring equipment and are basically dump cooks.

Here we are rolling the meat combination in pickled cabbage and grape leaves.  After we rolled them we tucked in the two sides to seal for steaming.

Sister Lidia with a perfectly rolled grape leaf sarmale

After helping make sarmale at the branch kitchen we went as a group to 
the Stoica home to make Romanian potato salad and apple cake, 
a favorite Romanian Christmas dish.
My first bus ride.

The cake was easy, 22 TB of milk, oil, flour & sugar.  Milk and oil level and sugar and flour heaping.  
How easy is that?
Later she added 1 tsp baking soda in lemon juice mixed in with 3 very large eggs.  
I wondered if they were goose eggs they were so big.

Her cake looks so difficult so was interested to see how easy it was to make.
Wow, it was simple.  Just lay pealed and sliced apples on top of the cake batter 
and sprinkle with cinnamon.
The cake rises up between the apples and gives it that difficult to make look.
Such clever cooks.

The potato salad was more like a chicken salad.  Besides chopped chicken breast,
it had cooked then chopped carrots, parsnips and potatoes.  Then she diced pickles and added a quart of canned peas.
The most interesting was watching her make homemade mayonnaise.  Her non member husband stood right next to her taking every dirty dish immediately to the kitchen to wash.  What a team.

Cute shirt one of the students wore to the cooking class

If you want to know if the food turned out and was good?  It was delicious.  In fact Maria told us she would be making another batch for the party and she fed most of it to the hungry people who came to learn how to cook Romanian food.  What a happy bunch.

Sister Genevieve wanted the doughnuts to be fresh so we met again Sat. afternoon before the party.
Another dump cook.  Pretty difficult to follow.  Think I'll do a google search for a good doughnut recipe.  We didn't cut out a doughnut hole.  They were almost round when cooked, all the 
better to add a fun jelly inside.

After the demo the girls took turns cutting out and cooking.

Sister Genevieve gave me an apron to wear.  Afterward, when I gave it back 
she said it was a gift.  Great, I forgot to bring one.

Making trays of food so we can eat family style.  Pres. Pitelon insists that is the way

Relief Society room set up with 40 settings.  We had about 37 attendees

Elder Brown, Lidia and Sora Lunt dishing up the sarmale

Fancy topping on the potato salad dished up so every table of 6 had one.

Elder Brown checking out the reindeer at the mall

Never seen a false ceiling down a piazza before.

Main Christmas Tree on the piazza

Frozen Theme?

Another false ceiling over a block long.


Our english classes are going well.  We're averaging about 20 right now.  So happy when the spiritual thought was on the Book of Mormon Saturday and the father who brings his 5 year old son and 13 year old daughter took one.  Hope that they continue to be interested in learning about the church as they attend english classes.  We will be finished with this set of classes next Sat.

Our Spiritual Thought this week comes from Elder Eyring's talk in this past General Conference.     

     The companionship of the Holy Ghost makes what is good more attractive and temptation less compelling. That alone should be enough to make us determined to qualify for the Spirit to be with us always.     Just as the Holy Ghost strengthens us against evil, He also gives us the power to discern truth from falsehood. The truth that matters most is verified only by revelation from God. Our human reason and the use of our physical senses will not be enough. We live in a time when even the wisest will be hard-pressed to distinguish truth from clever deception.  I bear you my testimony that God the Father lives, that the resurrected Jesus Christ leads His Church, that President Thomas S. Monson holds all the keys of the priesthood, and that revelation through the Holy Ghost guides and sustains The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its humble members.