Monday, December 22, 2014


View from Iulius Mall.
Hey Guys,

This week we put together packages for kids with toys and essential things to give to them this Holiday season and wrapped them up like presents.

Like I said last week, we sang on Saturday in the center of the city. It went really well and we got a little goodie bag with some Romanian snacks in there. There should be a video as well.

Yesterday, Sunday, we received a call in the morning from a member who said he was in town and he couldn't find the church. He picked us up and we showed him where it was. He is a Romanian who went to France for work and was converted about a year ago. He had never attended a church meeting in Romania nor did he even know that the church existed back when he lived here. He was flipping out a bit because it was just so weird for church to be in his language. We had a Christmas themed sacrament meeting and sang some of the songs as a choir. At the end he bore his testimony to everyone. When he sat back down he told me that he has never bore his testimony in church, even in France. He was a really cool dude. 
Merry Christmas from me and Elder Hellewell!

The Branch President also bore testimony about when we were singing on Saturday, he knew that this was the Church of Jesus Christ as he felt (directly translated) the spirit descend upon us and he knew that the audience felt it as well. Great church service. 

For a study I read the story of the birth of Jesus from Luke. Such a great reminder of what this whole season is about. I hope you guys have a great Christmas!!!!

Elder Houk 
Christmas lights!

Sweet park job! Even has antlers.
Setting up the Christmas tree :)
Homemade taquitos
Made some d-lish-ious lemon bars. Reminded me of Grandma Painter and her lemon pies.

Monday, December 15, 2014

He is the Gift

Hey Guys,

I'm sorry for my really short message last week. We got back from visting the salt mines and we were visiting with some members that came up to Cluj from Brasov to visit and we had a dinner appointment with someone that night as well and I lost track of time to make sure I had enough time to email. So I was just a little busy, but let me fill you in on what has been going on. 
Elder Gunsay, Marius and Emanuela from Brasov, and me
So last week, like I said, we went to Turda and visited the salt mines there with the people that came up from Brasov and the Cluj district. It was SUCH a cool and memorable experience! They even have an amusement park in the middle of it. Marius (from Brasov) and I played a few games of ping pong and we all went on a big ferris wheel. It was pretty cool. 

Map of the salt mines

Amusement park inside the salt mines
The next thing that happened was that I took a plane down to Bucharest with Elder McAllister. We were actually the only ones to fly into Bucharest from their cities. Our plane did get delayed though by 2 and a half hours so we were a little late arriving to the trainers meeting with the President, but it's okay because he waited for us anyway because, you know, we're the VIP, right. hahaha 

After that I picked up the new missionary whose name is Elder Hellewell. By now you should know that I'm a loser, so the picture that I sent of him to you guys, is him sitting across from me at the library where we do internet. I'll have to get a better picture with him and I soon. But for now enjoy his smile as he writes to his family. 

Elder Hellewell is from Utah
Anyway, after we were put together we waited for our 10 hour sleeper train to arrive and we hopped on it we were back on our way to Cluj. 

We also had another concert this week at the Cluj church. It is a different concert then the one that we did a little bit ago. This concert has just the Cluj Branch and Cluj Missionaries and one Oradea woman who'll do a solo. We are going to be doing the same concert this week on Saturday as well, but in the center of town, on a stage, and opening for a famous singer named Fuego. So this is our chance to make it BIG! haha.

We have a new investigator. His name is Amin, which is ironic because in Romanian at the end of every prayer you say amin instead of amen. And he actually doesn't speak Romanian, he's from Africa Egypt area. He has some deep questions and definitely has a unique outlook on life, so this is going to be a cool experience. Our other investigator, Doru, is also progressing slowly but surely. He is coming to church every week now which is really awesome! We are looking forward to good things happening in the future! 

I hope all of you have had a great week and hope you have another one, especially with Christmas coming around! 

Elder Gunsay and I found Santa hats and a tree! Merry Christmas!
I think the voltage is too high, even with a converter,
so the lights ended up burning out :(
If you haven't already seen it, the church released a cool video called "He is the Gift" and it's on It a big thing that we are promoting to people over here and I'm sure the missionaries back in Vista are probably doing the same thing, but, you know, check it out if you haven't seen it.

Love you guys!
Elder Houk

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Romanian Christmas Concert

I am so thankful for Facebook! We get to see the Christmas Concert and Blair sing a solo part in the first song. Wonderful Christmas present for our family!

Skip to 2:00 for entrance of missionaries and then 5:15 for Blair's part.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Great Week!

Hey Guys,

So I don't have to much time to write today. This week was great and we had our transfer board this week. 

I found out that I will be having another kid!! I will be training here in Cluj because I am staying here as well! I will also be flying on a plane into Bucharesti from Cluj. Another missionary and I are the only missionaries that are flying down to transfers haha its pretty great! 

I also sang in a concert this week in Oradea and it went great! We had a Zone conference with the President of the mission that day as well and then he came down to Cluj for church. It was a great week!

Love You All,
Elder Houk :)

Not sure what they were doing but they were having fun and being silly. Looks like some things never change. Blair doesn't know I have these. heehee

Monday, December 1, 2014

It's Romania Day!

Hey Guys,

On Thanksgiving we had a big feast with 4 chickens and a ton of other food. It was definitely a "proper" food ratio (Leftovers lasted us 2-3 days later haha) but, of course, the families were missed. 

Thanksgiving Feast!

On Friday, we caught a train at 9:30 am and arrived in Brasov around 5 pm. There was freezing rain going on when we got there. All the plants had a case of ice around them, it was a pretty cool sight! I met back up with the missionary that I trained, Elder Bateman, "My son" ,haha, and we took Rebbeca to the baptism. Elder Bateman, baptized her. It went great and it was such a blessing that I was able to attend and support her! 

Elder Bateman who baptized Rebbeca 
Nice to be in Brasov again!
After the baptism, we hopped back on overnight train to Cluj at 9:30 pm to around 5 am. We then had choir practice and then church. Talked with Doru about prayer and how it can answer his questions. He's a cool guy! 

Food this week, well, I made some German Pancakes and let me tell ya, I made them again just a day later, haha. 

Alright, well, this next weekend is transfer boards again! What!? Yea it went by fast. We go over to Oradea for transfer boards, a Zone Conference and the Christmas Concert. Its gonna be a busy week! Thank you and love you guys!

Elder Houk

Front door of church
Church announcement board
Craciun is here!
Starbucks is world wide!? Gotta grab me a good ole hot chocolate.
Inside the mall

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hey Guys,

First snow!

So we went to Oradea for a day to practice for the Christmas Choir that is going to happen on Dec. 6th. The Choir practice itself lasted 3 hours! The conductor told me that I will be singing a two line solo in a song! What!? Apparently I can sing? I didn't know, haha. Someone said that I would be a good Romanian caroler, hahaha, I dont know what that means, but I'll take it! 

The next day, we are in Cluj now, we played tennis with Doru again and I remembered to take some pictures as well. On Sunday, Doru also came to church again! 

Doru, me, & Elder Gunsay
Clay tennis court in a tent
Then that night, my companion and I made a dish called gnocchi. Its basically potato pasta and, it's Italian. 

We have been also working with a recent convert lately named Dominic. We meet with him almost everyday for short amounts of time. We have began to see a big increase in his testimony, as well as his character. The gospel really does "heal" people.  

I think one of the coolest things that happened was that I found out that the lady, Rebbeca, that my companion and I were teaching in Brasov, is getting baptised this Saturday! The coolest part is that I get to go back down to Brasov, for a day, to see it! I'm excited to see her get baptised and to see everyone back there in Brasov!
Today we are celebrating Thanksgiving and we, the missionaries, are making a big feast! It will be great! Hope all of you have a Happy Thanksgiving and I am certainly thankful for all of you and all the Lord has given me!

Love you all,
Elder Houk

The drawing of the Jesus that I got from the guy whose home we were at for 3 hours awhile back.
Monthly Goals
Homemade Indo board
Look, you can see the roses in the back! It was also made in Romania!
New jacket, with model look :)
Shoes that I got a while ago and never took pictures to show you guys, until now!!
A stadium
This is Tudor. He speaks Romanian better than I do! haha He's the funniest kid.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Week in the Life

Hey Guys,
Elder Houk with new companion Elder Gunsay
I thought I would give you a little day-by-day action here from Cluj, here's how my week went:

Monday: I got a haircut and a new jacket from Pull & Bear! (no picture yet, but coming soon. I need to start taking more pictures.)

Tuesday: We had choir practice in the morning. That's right I will be singing in a Christmas Concert on Dec. 6th. We had our first English class of the Transfer and it went really well. Love the people and they love us! We made some D-lisious Enchiladas for dinner!
Wednesday: Made an Indo Board from scratch! Went to our local "Dedeman" (equivalent to Home depot) and picked up the necessary stuff and boom! Indo Board. We are planning to go contacting with it on the street. That night, went to the Irish Pub and then got our things together and headed to the Gara(station) for an 11 hour overnight train ride to Buchuresti (pronounced "Boo-coo-re-sh-t"). Got a little sick...again. Those dang train rides.

Elder, Elder Gunsay, Elder Bateman, Elder Houk
Thursday: Got into Buchuresti and had to change at the church. We had a mission conference and we were visited by Elder Kearon from the seventy. He is SUCH a cool guy and it was one of the best conferences I have attended! That night we caught a train back to Cluj (pronounced "Clooj") for another 11 hour train. This time with 4 other people in our cabin and my companion. Just think of two tri-bunk beds put into a tiny room and that is what it is.

Friday: Finally got comfortable and then we arrived in Cluj. haha Found a place to print out a big piece of paper (A0 size) and then it was about 2/3 of the way done and then it messed up and we had to go the next day to pick it up. We are printing off a big English advertising poster to contact with in the future.

Saturday: Picked up our big English poster and went to teach English. Had more people there this time and we shared a spiritual thought about prayer. They seemed to really like it. We went out to lunch with an English student named "Doru." We went to this place called La Piadina in Old Cluj. Mmmm best "whatever that stuff is" in town and then even grabbed an "American Donut" after. Later that day we played tennis with him in a big balloon thingy with clay tennis courts in it. Then went home and changed and went to another restaurant for drinks with him. I grabbed some of the best hot chocolate I think I've had and they both got Lemonade. We talked about the Restoration and how the Book of Mormon came to be. He had been reading the Book before, so he knew about it. He said that he would love to continue to learn from us and keep an open heart. We invited him to come to church the next day.

Sunday: Doru came to church! He said that he liked it, as well! We also practiced that morning for Choir and later we had a member lesson with a recent convert named Dominic. He was just baptized a couple months ago.

Monday: Sitting here writing this letter to you!

I'm pretty excited for the future here and I hope you guys are enjoying yourselves back home, as well! Have a great week!

-Elder Houk

Two weeks ago when I posted these pictures Blair hadn't given comments. This week he explained... 

He's driving us on a gypsy cart. Meet some gypsies!
On a gypsy cart!!  yup. 
A theater that is in Cluj.
The light means that a production will be playing that night
On the overnight train, someone gave this book to me to read on the way home.
It's a book about the Orthodox religion and the title means "The words of the Old People"
or (as google translate says) "Elders words"
This is from the Irish Pub. A restaraunt here in Cluj. They got the O'Bama and O'Sama hahaha.
A halfway decent looking omelete that I made on P-Day morn. Tasted pretty good too!