Monday, June 30, 2014

Change Is Good

Hey guys,

This week I received a new companion like I told you last week. Our first day walking the city together we got caught in a rain storm and got completely soaked to the skin haha. We just laughed it off. A good way to start the transfer haha. This week we are going to be calling all the less active young adults in the branch to try to see if they want to come to an activity or something. There are a ton of names and there are almost no young adults that attend currently, so we have a lot of work to do haha. 
Just returning from a complete pour-down
on the way home from contacting. Got soaked

President Hill goes home today and President Ivory came into the country yesterday and officially reins over the mission now.

I have to talk about the food. So I had the only Domino's in all of Romania (it is theorized) on Tuesday for lunch in Bucharest. It was great to have authentic American Pizza again  because on traditional Romanian pizza's they put just little or no sauce on their pizza with corn and you are expected to eat it with ketchup! (not the bad actually) 

My new companion and the sisters after having dinner
with the Bair's at their apartment.
This week we received another senior couple. They are Elder and Sister Bair. It freaked me out at first because I thought their name was Blair. haha. But they invited us over for Sunday dinner and they are really great people!

Short and sweet this week. Have a great rest of your week!

-Elder Houk  

Last day with Elder Bliss. Saying goodbye to the sister's on the stairs.
My block and the sky. That is all.
Sunrise on the train to Bucharest.
A cross on a mountain.
The Bair's block 
A cat outside their block.

Monday, June 23, 2014

It's That Time Again, Transfers!

Hey Guys,

    So, it's transfers this week and my companion I have is going home, so as we say here in our mission, I just killed my companion. I am getting a new companion who is from Italy on Wednesday. He is still learning English, but when he was in the MTC he didn't even know how to speak English. This is his 15th transfer. Your whole mission consists of 16 transfers (six weeks per transfer)  so my new companion, is also, again nearing the end.

    Today, I went down to Bucharest to let go of my companion and will be staying here until Wednesday, where I will be going, on Wenesday, back to Brasov for another transfer! Pretty unusual to stay in one city for this long, but this is where I have been called, so I'm happy. But if you ever come to Brasov, I can show you everywhere, haha, I know the city very well now, even better than my hometown in Vista! 

    Today we just finished playing paintball and it was such a thrill! I have only been once before, for my seventeenth birthday, and now I get to say that I went on my mission as well!

    This week was a good week. The mission President was passing through Brasov and he bought us all McDonalds. This will be President and Sora Hill's last week in Romania before the Ivory's come in to replace them on the 29th. I will miss The Hill's a lot. They are some of the coolest people I know!

     We had the opportunity to go up to Sibiu this week to go on exchanges with the Zone Leaders and I had the opportunity to teach a Serbian investigator, up there, in English. He doesn't know anything about Christ except what the missionaries have taught him. He didn't quite understand the atonement and we watched an video called "The Mediator." We got to testify to him how Jesus Christ has saved our lives and how the atonement works for us. It was a great experience!
    I hope all of you are soaking in the California weather over there. It is getting pretty hot over here, but still, randomly, just starts raining and then goes back to normal, haha. So we are having some pretty weird weather but it is getting better for the most part.

I love you guys and that's it for the week. I hope you guys have a great one!
Te Iubesc Foarte Mult, (Love You Very Much)
Elder Houk (The Bromanian)

Monday, June 16, 2014

Enduring to the End

Hey Guys,

Sora Ralls dressed like an Elder.
This week was Zone Conference week. Had an interesting event happen when we had to grab a train and travel to Bucharest from Brasov. After we were done teaching English we had to grab a taxi to get to the train station in time to make the train. When we arrived at the taxi station, there was 3 empty taxi cars. And then a taxi pulled up. We asked if he was free, he shook his head no and told us to wait for another one, we asked him when the next one would come and he didn't know. A little while later another taxi pulled up and we asked if he was free, he also said no. We were in a time crunch to get to the train station so we were really confused. Elder Brown tried calling a taxi service and they didn't answer. We tried waving a taxi down and he just sped away. After standing there thoroughly confused, and hoping we make our train, we were able to get through to a taxi service and get there in time to make the train. Thought it was weird that none of the taxi's wanted to take our money. 

This was our last Zone Conference with our current Mission President, President Hill. It was a great Zone Conference and I will definitely miss him and his wife. 

I hope all of you saw the full moon this week. I got some pictures of how it looked over here in Romania.

I thought I'd include another Scripture this week.

Ether 12:27 And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them.

So one day I was talking with my companion about why it feels that even though I am trying my best, it feels that I'm not, or that I can do so much better. Or why I feel bad for the little things, even though, before my mission, when I was (for lack of better words) a less better person, I didn't feel these things. He replied with this scripture: Ether 12:27.

 ​After reading​ it, it really hit me. When I came out here on my mission, I decided that I wanted to make my mission worth it and not just waste these 2 years. Making that decision 

​has ​helped me grow closer to Christ. As I have been trying to read and understand the scriptures​,​ I realized how many things I could change in my life. And by trying to grow to be better, He has shown me my weaknesses and has really shown me how much I really need to improve, unlike before when I simply said, "Well, at least I'm not as bad as those people" or, "In fact, I'm pretty good compared to a lot of people." I've realized that we forget that we aren't trying to be better than other people in the world, but should​ be trying to be more like
​​Christ and be perfect. And when we look at it that way, the hard way,​ the way​ I always avoided looking, we are humbled down to our core and we realize how many things we really do need to change, big or small​. And in these processes of trials we will grow to be, like the scripture said, strong unto them. And I believe this to be the definition of Enduring to the End. It says "enduring" for a reason because it's not going to be easy. But as we become stronger, we feel so much better and peaceful with ourselves and realize that it truly is the better way to live life. So I thought I'd end it with that and I hope you guys have a great week!​

-Elder Houk

Monday, June 9, 2014

There is Beauty All Around

Hey Guys,

Missionary Correlation Meeting outside!
Had a great week this week! Last Monday we were able to have family home evening with a member after our P-Day. It was great! He showed us pictures of when he was first baptized and how the church was back quite a few years ago. 

We also block knocked into an English student the other day, as she was reading the bible. I knocked on the door, not knowing who's door it was. Through the door an older woman said, who is it? I replied that we are missionaries and before I could finish, this lady was overjoyed and opened the door for us to go in. She fed us this apple pie stuff and this ice cream with blackberries, that was to die for haha. We taught her the first lesson and she seems to like our religion, but doesn't want to get baptized into another church because she has already been baptized once into a church already and doesn't want to change.

On Sunday I had the opportunity to bless the bread in Romanian for the first time. It was pretty scary because most of the words are hard to pronounce, but I, some how, managed to get it right the first time, so that was a relief. 

A scripture, that I had found I'd marked previously when I came into the country, has really helped me when times are hard and consider it one of my favorite verses in the bible.
Isaiah 41: 10 Fear thou not; for am with thee: be not dismayed; for am thy God: will strengthen thee; yea, will help thee; yea, will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

I hope all of you have a great week and I love you all!

<3 Elder Houk 

People painting on the outside of a building.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Food, Glorious Food

Hey guys,

So this week I think I will have to rave a little about the food again. A missionary who had served here in Brasov had told us about a place called "Casa Placintelor" that he went to back a year and half ago. After he left, missionaries forgot about the place and no one knew about it. The other day we were able to find it. He claimed they were the best placinte (pies) in Romania, and (even though I've only served in Brasov) I have to agree. Lets just say, my companion and I got 3 in one day. Think funnel cake batter, light and crispy, in a big tortilla form with whatever you want stuffed in the middle. I got "creme caramel, fructe de padure, si cartof" Yes, one of them was even stuffed with mashed potatoes. And imagine fructe de padure as like the filling of a jelly donut. Can't wait to get another one today! haha

This week my companion and I had the opportunity to be fed lunch by a member. The branch mission leader that is. We took a train to his house and we helped him make fresh french fries (potatoes from his garden) and an egg (fresh that morning from the chicken's butt) for each of us. Also, some bread and butter and homemade cherry jelly. It was a really good lunch!

We also met a former missionary, this week, who served here about 10 years ago. We realized how much the mission has really changed! Back then there used to be brutal fights because a gang called the "Noua Dreapta" would always try and attack the missionaries. Luckily that doesn't happen anymore!

So that was my week. I hope you guys have a great week and traiti bun! (live good)
Te Iubesc, (I love you)
Elder Houk

Oh yea, so the thing with the dentistry here is that it's really expensive if you need to have work done on your teeth and need numbing for it. They have the option to do the operation for cheaper without the drugs. So out here if people need to get work done, they either have to endure a ton of pain and get it fixed or just let them rot till they fall out and don't bother them anymore. So it's not uncommon to see many women and men with a ton of teeth missing, especially in the outskirts of Romania. And it's not only expensive for dental work out here, but the dentists suck too. There are horror stories around the mission about missionaries going in for operations on their teeth. Its pretty bad.