Sunday, April 6, 2014

Braşov, Romania First Week

January 13, 2014

Hey guys,
   Alright, so there is a lot that went on this week. So, last Monday I got up and left the MTC at 4:30am. Got to the airport and left Salt Lake at 9:30 am, flew to Minneapolis and had a two hour layover and then the plane was delayed like an hour and a half. The flight from Minneapolis to Amsterdam was about 8 or something hours. I arrived in Amsterdam at about 7am the next day.

View from the plane
That was a hard flight cause everyone had a screen in front of them and was watching movies and stuff and then there was us, the missionaries, not watching movies or playing games and watching the plane on the screen in front of us, move a centimeter every half hour haha. But I did have the chance to talk to someone on the plane and give them a pamphlet. I was stoked because I did some missionary work right there and it just felt so natural. Of course because I was speaking in English, but it was awesome none the less. After that, I got on a plane from Amsterdam to Bucharest for about 2 hours. (Europe is awesome, they gave me a hot, ham and cheese sandwich on the plane for our snack, and came around every 20 minutes giving us more stuff like lemon cakes and candy bars and what not). 
Ministry of Transport

   When we got there, everyone got their luggage, luckily, and we met up with the Mission President and his wife and some of the other Elders. We were then driven to a health clinic for us all to get "examined" to see if we were healthy enough to get a visa. She took my blood pressure and height and weight and I was done. (190 centimeters)[6.23 ft. I thought he was taller] After that we signed some papers and went back to the mission home. We ate dinner with the Mission President and his wife and the food was awesome, just saying. Then we got picked up by some other Elders that are called mz naş

In Cismigiu Park where, in 1990, Elder Russell M. Nelson dedicated the land of Romania for teaching the gospel. In email from Sis. Hill she says, "He seemed very happy finally to be in the mission field after his weeks in the MTC. He was surprisingly awake after his long flights"...."We were both pleased with the ease with which he fit in."..." Elder Houk is now with his initial companion, Elder Speyer, in the beautiful mountain city of Brasov."
   We spent the night at their apartment and then the next day we got up and went to the middle of Buch, where Elder Nelson dedicated Romania, and sang some songs and read the dedication. After that we headed to apply for our visas. We went to the Visa office at about 11 am that day and didn't leave until 5:30. We were stuck in a room that whole time, so we played Uno for like 6 hours. After that we headed back to the mission home and met our trainers and found out where we were going. I was chosen to go to Braşov, Romania with Elder Speyer. All the Elders that have been there a while told the other missionaries to beat me up because I got picked to be "born" into the best city of the Mission. So at that point we had to go right away because we had to catch a 3 hour train from Buch to Braşov. An adventure went along with the train ride, but I'm too lazy to write about it haha sorry. But my trainer or my "dad" had never been to this city before either so it's called being "White Washed" into a city. We got off the train and some other Elders picked us up and we have to live with them. It's called a "love shack" if you and your companion live with another companionship. haha. And this apartment isn't meant to hold 4 people. There are two beds and my comp and I sleep head to toe on a pull-out couch. 

Elder Speyer and Elder Houk - Companions in Brasov, Romania

The next day we picked up some groceries from Kaufland (Cough-land) and cleaned our apartment. Then went English contacting. So out here we teach English for free to people. After each lesson we have an optional spiritual message. So we try to get people to come to English because that is where we get most of our investigators. We try to get people to come to English for the first two weeks and then the rest of the 4 weeks we teach the people that come. After we did that for a while, I had my first Şarma. mmmmmmm so goood

Apparently they are the best in this city. It is basically a pita bead tortilla mix thing and they put chicken in it with french fry sauce, cabbage, and then, like Subway, you can put a bunch of other stuff on it like tomatoes or roşii, lettuce or salata, onions or chopa and, yes, you gotta order in Romanian. Kinda scary at first because they ask you other questions and what not, but I got it down now, it goes like this "aş dori şarma mare va rog." Pretty simple. 

   So they don't have donuts here but they have pretzels. And their pretzels are filled with all different kinds of stuff like any kind of berry or chocolate or apple or stuff. Strudal Mele are my fav from the restaurant Gigi's. It's an apple strudel and its 2 lei, basically 65 cents for this strudel thing that would cost like 3 dollars in America. They have such good food here for so cheap, but I digress. 
   The next day we went apartment searching and hopefully we get the one we were looking at soon because well we are in a love shack and we need to get out haha. 
   Okay, so my first Sunday. We have 1 of the 4 chapels here in Braşov out of the whole country. There was about 12 members that came on Sunday and that is a lot compared to other cities apparently. Also eight missionaries - 2 Senior missionaries, 2 Sisters, 4 Elders. That is quite unusual to have so many missionaries. Sometimes it's just a two Elder city and that's normal. So we are pretty lucky here. I greeted everyone and had relatively no idea what they said except for "de unde eşti?" where are you from? But yea, that was a fun experience. 
   After that we got on the bus home and an old lady sat next to me and all the other missionaries were speaking Romanian to some of the kids and this kind old lady thought I spoke Romanian too and asked me a question and I felt so bad because I had no clue what she said and I eventually just had to say "scuzaţi-ma ma limba română este foarte rou [Sorry, my Romanian language is very bad] She looked sad and I was like noooooooooo, I want to talk to you! But I can't. So yea. I really want to just have a convo but I just gotta understand that it will come with time.
   But yea that was what went down this last week. Here's the sentence I say to people I pass by as i give them a card about English (keep in mind I probably spelled all these romanian sentences wrong) "scuzaţi-ma, porftiţ, avem gratuiti în curs de limba engleza, ştiţ limba engleza" Excuse me, here you go, we hold a free course of English, do you know English?
So, in summary, this city is beautiful, the people are super nice, the food is great and cheap, I'm not that cold, and it's pretty dang awesome to be here. Love you guys and thanks for your support, talk to you next week.

-Elder Houk
For us clean is clean! Like it or not?

snazzy new hat
Missionaries in the Brasov District
Elder Speyer, Elder Houk, Sora Bray, Sora Ralls, Elder, Elder Brown 

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