Monday, September 29, 2014

New and Interesting Experiences

Hey Guys,

making bread
To start off the week, last week I dug my hands into some dough and made some delicious homemade bread, with the help of Sora Bair, of course. The bread turned out so great I needed to take some selfies with it haha. (I only have half because I gave the other half to my companion.) 
bread selfie 
We also had Zone Conference this week. It was in Ploiesti. President and others gave some great inspiring words to us and then we were on our way back to Brasov. 

Romania Central Zone Conference

The next day we went "La Tara" (Country Side) and helped out a member with some some service. We chopped some wood and organized it into a wall. "They used to walk 12 miles to church every sunday before the senior couple here started picking them up. We got to chop a ton of wood to heat her house and help her cook for the winter. Her name is sister Miron and she lives in a little Gypsie village with her daughter, Emma. Her daughter is just about to go on a mission. They are an awesome family! The town they live in is really cool, too. Its tiny and almost all Gypsies... They all get around with horse drawn carriages. We have to get there and back in this random guy's car that goes back and forth from the countryside to Brasov. He charges 4 lei and took us back to the city."   -excerpt taken from Elder Bateman's letter.  

 Random experience of the week: We were walking to KFC after contacting with the district one day and this man with red hair and a red suit invited us up to his apartment. We went into this alley way where a sign was hanging that said "Tea Spot". After which we went up 3 flights of swirly stairs with rainbows painted on the walls. We then arrived and went into his apartment which was more of a Penthouse. One of the first things I noticed was a big Bob Marley poster and then a bunch of famous paintings. We then noticed that they had a huge treasure chest in their bathroom. I'm not gonna lie, it was pretty cool, but sketchy nonetheless, haha. He was promoting a church of his own. He handed us an encyclopedia named "mic dictionar"(small dictionary) and this thing was like a foot and half tall, haha, it was huge. He told us we could come back and study it whenever we wanted. haha. As we bid our farewells, he dropped a flower, that he had kept in his suit jacket, beneath the Bob Marley poster and casually mentioned that we shouldn't forget to bring flowers for Bob. haha! What an experience, haha.

We climbed up to the Brasov sign today and went down the other side of the mountain. It was a fun time. 

That's it for this week, Love you guys,

Elder Houk 

The weather is already getting cold in Romania. They have had snow in the mountains but not in Brasov yet. With winter coming Elder Houk is already requesting some Christmas jingles.....seriously.

They have been streetboarding and playing music, even in the rain, to promote their English classes.

Sora Bair has taken some photos with some interesting facts.
This is the way they build a home. It is not a quick process! Most of the homes in the villages are out of brick and cement. The trusses are cement as well. When the outside construction is completed, it is covered with what looks like white Styrofoam and then stuccoed over the top of that. These two homes are currently being worked on, but several are at this stage and we have seen no action on them the whole time we've been here. 

They are full swing into the beet harvest. Lyle has been really interested in their digger which is different than what we have in Idaho. They pile all the beets at the front of the field then a front end loader loads them into a truck to be hauled off.

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Game of Life

Hey guys,

I hope you had a great week!

We had the opportunity to meet with some members this week and play a game called "Spoons." Have you heard of it? Apparently its pretty big back in 'Merica. But my comp taught me how to play and we taught the members how to play. If you've ever played this game, you have to focus on two things at once, getting 4 of the same cards and if someone gets 4 cards then they take a spoon in the middle. Once a spoon is taken from the middle everyone then can take the remaining spoons in the middle and there is one less spoons than there are people so whoever doesn't grab a spoon loses. 

So your probably thinking, is there a reason, other than the fact that this game is awesome, for playing this game? Yes, haha. Think about your life. You probably have many important things going on. If you focus too much on the cards in your hand (like I did, in the game), you're gonna miss the fact that someone took the first spoon 2 mins ago and you're the only one still playing. So, in short, it's important to have that balance of focus in your life, because if you just focus too much on that one thing you're gonna lose out on something else that may be just as important or even more important in the long run. 

Now think of this. You have a jar and that jar is your life. Now you have some big rocks that are the most important things in your life: Your Family, The Gospel, Your Job, etc... Then you have some smaller rocks that represent smaller things in your life and then you have the sand, the things that aren't very important. So how can you fit all this stuff in your jar of life? The only way you will be able to put all these things in the jar is by putting in all the big rocks first, then the smaller rocks, and then the sand. Otherwise not everything will be able to fit. So I would like to invite you guys to look at your life and decide what those big rocks are for you and if you are putting them first in your life. And while you're doing that make sure that your putting in "rocks" plural and not just a "rock".

That's it for this week. Love you guys and hope you have an awesome week!
-Elder Houk

Thursday, September 18, 2014

What A Missionary Sees

I wanted to share a letter that Elder Bateman was asked to write to the youth of his ward in Florida about being a missionary. Elder Bateman has been in Romania for 6 weeks and is currently Blair's companion. My hope is that as we read this we can better understand what our missionaries are dealing with daily. I am touched by the strength of this missionary and by his testimony of our Lord Jesus Christ. I know that the people of Romania can only benefit by having our missionaries there.   ~Kim
"Today I want to write a little bit about what it feels like to be a missionary. I hope that through this, you can understand what a missionary sees, hears, and feels and how it differs from a normal person.
If you followed me around for a day, you would see a lot of people, but not a lot of smiles. You would see tons of gypsies begging for money, deformed because of what their parents did to them to make them better beggars. You would see people trying to get by by doing anything they can, like getting meals out of trash cans. Even in the people that are better off, you wouldn’t see real happiness. You would see a lot of anger, mostly directed towards my companion and I. You would see constant rejection and sometimes full days without a single conversation. But let me explain to you what you don’t see. Let me explain to you what a missionary sees. I see God’s children. I see people kept from happiness only because they don’t know where to find it. I see my brothers and sisters who need direction. I see people I love, people I want to see again one day in the presence of God.
Now what would you hear if you followed me around all day. You would hear cursing, mostly at me. You would hear yelling from everywhere, it could be coming from across the street or right in my face. You would hear discrimination, mostly based on my religion. But again, you don’t hear what a missionary hears. I hear evidence of how powerful the adversary can be. I hear voices of anger from good hearts, which simply got influenced by the adversary. I hear evidence that these people need the atonement in their lives.
If you followed me around one day, you might feel sad. You might feel lonely and rejected. That is also not what a missionary feels. I feel hope, not hope defined by baptisms or lessons, but hope that the atonement of Jesus Christ can change lives. Paul once said that “hope is an anchor of the soul.” I have realized that I need to anchor my soul in a firm foundation. The only unchanging thing in this world is Jesus Christ. When I meet other missionaries at district meetings or zone conference, I see the hands of God. I see people doing what I do every day, people doing exactly what they love... I see people that left the people they love most because they love God more.... we are happy.
A mission is a trial, but every trial is just an opportunity to make a choice. As I have done God’s work with my eyes, my ears, and my heart single to his glory, I have learned that there is no such thing as a bad day in the service of our God. As I have anchored my hope in a firm foundation, I have realized what makes this the best 2 years. I have already seen the blessings of this mission in my life and what I want you to know is that, if you go on a mission, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you will be the miracle in other peoples lives. God will bless you, God will help you, and you will be happy every day. Don’t worry if you don’t think you are adequate, because the truth is, nobody is adequate. It is God’s promise that he will make us equal to his work. God doesn’t take away our burdens, he makes us strong enough to carry them ourselves. That is what makes a mission a huge opportunity to learn and grow. We find happiness when we stop looking for it for ourselves, and start looking for it for other people. This mission is a blessing in my life, and I am so grateful for this opportunity to serve."
                                                                                                                                     -Elder Bateman

Monday, September 15, 2014

Attitude of Gratitude

Hey Guys,

So this week I found out if I would be transferring or not. Guess what...Im not! haha Again! haha But I'm happy because I love Brasov. But this is very unusual for a missionary to stay in his first place this long haha. This is my 7th transfer and there are 16 transfers in an Elder's mission. I am also staying with the same companion! 

Let me tell you what my companion did this week haha. So he wanted to make the BEST and BIGGEST breakfast sandwhich ever. Here's what he did: 2 pieces of bread with butter on them, cheese and 3 pieces of bacon on each piece of bread, fried, 3 eggs, 3 pieces of ham, and 2 patties of hashbrowns all cooked in the bacon grease. hahaha Let's just say he wasn't feeling too great after all that. haha But I have to admit, it probably is the best breakfast sandwich you could make!

This week we recieved "Jar Swag." Basically we bought some jars to drink water from. haha Its great! It tastes better and you don't get the plastic cancer chemical thingys, but most importantly...we get to drink out of a jar! I even made some artwork for it!

An old man came up to us while we were walking and asked us advice on what he should do to get his grandkid to play another year of sports. We advised him that maybe talking to his grandson might be a good route or even praying to God about it. He said thanks and was on his way. I think that was one of the more random moments on my mission so far. haha 

Okay, so food. We made homemade chicken pot pie this week and figured out how to make really good homemade popcorn straight from the kerrnel. Even got it to taste like kettle corn. Was pretty great.

This week our investigator really opened up to us and told us his sad life story. We have been trying to help him and referred him to a talk given by Elder Uchdorf called the "Attitude of Gratitude" It really is a great talk and I would invite you guys to check it out too! 

I just want to say that I am gratefull for all you guys and my opportunity to serve a mission! Love you guys and talk to you next week!

-Elder Houk

pastry lab 
A picture for dad?
A cute video by the silly boys

Brasov Philharmonic

Video of Busteni from last week

Monday, September 8, 2014

On Cloud 9

Hey Guys, 

So today we had some fun! We went to Busteni and hiked up to the cross on the mountain. It was such a great experience. When we were up there a cloud even rolled in and right through us. It was pretty dang cool. 

Fun Fact: This week I found that Romania doesn't sell "Get well" cards at all. We had an investigator who was feeling sick and wanted to find a card for her only to find that they don't even exist!

Raziel came to church this week! Which is a pretty big improvement and we had a cool lesson with him after. Juliana said she wants to come back to Cali with me hahahaha. I told her that she doesn't have a passport and then she said, Yea I do! haha So I said that I would be here for two years and she kinda left it alone from there haha. But they are both doing great.
I don't think I mentioned it last week, but I volunteered for a talk in Sacrament last week because I haven't given one yet. And it went really well. I spoke on the Book of Mormon and for 19 mins. haha
I also made Blueberry pancakes this week and yes, it was so delicious it knocked my socks off.
Well that was my week. It was good and I hope that yours was good also. Have a good one this week and I will talk to you next week.
-Elder Houk

Brasov District - Houk, Bateman, Weaver, Brown, Honey, Marcheschi
Senior Couple Bair

Monday, September 1, 2014

Lending A Voice

Hey Guys,

This week was good!! We kept meeting with the people I told you about last week, and they are doing good. 

On Thursday I had the opportunity to do some service for someone, by lending him my voice for a few hours. So we met this guy on the street and he said he needed help with the making of an environment video and he needs an American voice. We took this as a service project and this week we got to meet with him and do it. I spoke for about 3 and a half hours. The guy chose me to do it because, let's face it, I have a beautiful voice, but I digress. haha. This ended up being an interesting experience. At first it was just a normal environment video thing and, you know, the humans are destroying the earth and all that good stuff, but then I got into the middle of his dialog and all of a sudden the line "Hitler was a racist, but I'm not" got thrown in there. And from there it just started going down hill. He wants to reduce the number of people on the earth to 1 billion by limiting only "Beautiful, Athletic, and Healthy" people to procreate and teach everyone else how not to. But anyway, haha, He is going to claim that my voice is his so I guess its all good, haha. He will send me the link, he said, when he finishes it. It might take him up to a year to make it so don't expect it anytime soon haha. We did have a lesson about the restoration with him after and left him with a Book Of Mormon, so maybe he will become an investigator?

But we are having fun here and doing our best to bring people unto Christ. I hope you all have a great week and enjoy Labor Day!

-Elder Houk
The word HOSPICE is spelled in dozens of clay figurines all made by one man.
A possible fundraiser? Blair didn't know.