Monday, November 9, 2015

Signing Out

Hey guys! 

So this is it! My last email! My last day in the field! This is all so much to handle. Looking back I see many good times yet, many hard times indeed. These hard times helped me to turn to the Lord like never before.

I love these countries and the people here and will miss them dearly in my heart. I am excited for the new experiences life has yet to bring me. As I travel these next few weeks with my family I am going to cherish the present as well as the great memories that have taken place. My mission wasn't easy, but I believe it was worth it. 

Take the time this week to cherish those around you. Show them your love and care for them, because life, just like a mission goes by in the blink of an eye. Take care everyone and I will see you on the other side! :)

Signing out,
Elder Houk 

Monday, November 2, 2015

I Will Submit Cheerfully

Well, here we go. This is one of my last emails in Romania. Whew! So weird. I'll be honest I haven't been thinking about the end too much. Been trying to focus and stay in it to win it! 

Alright but seriously, things are going good here. We had a great Halloween party and we all came dressed up as missionaries. We had some sarmale and mici with some Romanian cakes and candy. The kids carved some pumpkins and we watched Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Ware Rabbit. A good amount of people came and we all enjoyed each others company. 

We also met up with some Marines who are stationed here in Constanta and came up to Galati for a day. They saw a free English flier and gave us a call. They were some civil officers and we met up and we told them who we were and what we were doing here. They were some cool guys and they want to help us out if they can and, of course, we offered to help them if we could. So he gave us his business card and we gave him a number for the missionaries in Constanta. So that was a cool experience. It was weird to see some other Americans that weren't missionaries though. haha

This week for Language study I studied a talk by Elder Bednar called "Bear up their Burdens with Ease." It's a super cool talk that was from General Conference in April 2014. He talks about how the atonement isn't just for the sins and for the bad things that we need to repair in our lives but it is also to help us in our trails and our daily struggles. Sometimes we pray just to get out of the situation that we are in, but just like in the book of Mosiah when Amulon persecuted Alma and his people, they poured out their hearts to him and the Lord heard them. But instead of making their problem go away and getting them out of the circumstance that they found themselves in, he instead said this: 
Mosiah 24: 14 "And I will also ease the burdens which are put upon your shoulders, that even you cannot feel them upon your backs, even while you are in bondage; and this will I do that ye may stand as witnesses for me hereafter, and that ye may know of a surety that I, the Lord God, do visit my people in their afflictions."15 "And now it came to pass that the burdens which were laid upon Alma and his brethren were made light; yea, the Lord did strengthen them that they could bear up their burdens with ease, and they did submit cheerfully and with patience to all the will of the Lord."

So what​ we learn here is that, sometimes we may not understand why we are in certain situations or what we can learn from them, but if we pour our heart out to God, he will reach out to us. He may not change the things that we want the way we want or make the problem disappear, but he will make the burden light on our backs so that we can endure it even with happiness.
Thanks for staying tuned for my mission updates. You guys are the best. I hope you all have a great week and a happy November! See you guys in December!
​Elder Houk​

Fratele Prada gave Elder Evans his jacket because he looked cold.

Monday, October 26, 2015

The Black Sea, Romania's Coast

Hey Guys,

So this week we met with Rainov and he didn't bring his book to the lesson but had some questions that we answered and the lesson didn't go bad. We took pictures at the end and I am going to get those developed for him. 

Rainov and I
We also went to Buchurest for my last ever zone conference. We then went on exchanges in Constanta with the elders there and I got to see the Black Sea. 

The Constanta District and us
Elder Evans and I at the Black Sea
The search...
The Cazino
We came back to Galati on Thursday night. When we came back, we went to the botanical gardens here in Galati to visit a non-active member who is extremely busy. He is in charge of the gardens here and the zoo and some other business that he mentioned so he just has no time what-so-ever to do anything. But somehow, we just walked into the Gardens and we were able to sit down and talk with him. Our reason for meeting with him was to see if he could lead a tour for our branch of the botanical gardens. He said that he is busy but that he just might be able to do it. So that's exciting. Our hope here is just to build a friendship and trust with this guy so that he knows that we are here to help him out when he needs help.

Thanks for tuning in guys and I hope you have a great week!

Elder Houk

group email continued... wait theres more? yes

SO coming up from Constanta to Galati we actually missed our train! By 2 minutes! Needless to say we were frustrated, but then the lady was like, look over there, that train is going to Bucuresti, if you take that train one stop you will arrive at the same stop before the train that you are suppose to be on and you can catch the right train there. We were amazed and bought the tickets and was able to catch our train. Too crazy. There was also a super nice dude that helped find our other train that we had to connect to that night so that we could get back to Galati. Crazy night. 3 trains later we made it home.
This was the city that we go off at to catch our train
This Sunday we decided that we wanted to go the church a little earlier and get it all cleaned and preped for the members. On the ride over there I noticed that there was a clock in the city with the wrong time. But I just thought, "Well, it is Romania" and didn't think much of it. We arrived at the church and got it all ready to go. With ten minutes to 10 we were wondering why no one has showed up yet. Even the Branch President wasn't there. Then when it was just about ten we were all wondering what was going on and my comp was like is it day-light savings!? We go to the computer and what do you know, it was only 9 oclock! haha the funny thing was is that we thought for sure at least one romanian would have told us about day-lights savings or at least came early by accident, but everyone knew the time! They weren't going to miss out on their extra hour of sleep! no way! haha 
So those were some of the experiences that I had this week. haha hope you enjoyed them!

Elder Houk

The basketball crew

Monday, October 19, 2015

Onward, Christian Soldiers

An old soccer field or as the say "teren de fotbal"
Hey guys! 

So I realized that I left all you guys in the dark about what happened with Cornel. Unfortunately, he has fallen off the face of the earth. Still trying to get a hold of him though, so if anything happens I'll let you guys know. 

This is Fratele Prada
Last Sunday, one of our friends took us to meet his father and his family. It was a cool experience and we got to share with them what we are doing here. 

Later that week we saw our friend's father at the mall and he invited us to go play tennis with him and his sons. We agreed and set up the date. So I got all ready to go and play tennis and stuff and our friend, Radu, picks us up and he's like wow you're dressed like that? Alright. I had some sweat pants on and a jacket and stuff, I mean it was chilly outside, so I didn't know what he meant but I just went with it. He drove us over to the place and we entered the parking lot, with a small building next to it. Then I realized that we are playing Ping Pong. haha They just use the same word for both. So we went in there and it ended up being really fun. His dad and his brother and he are all really good. It ended up being a good time. We hope to meet up with them again soon.

This last week we also met with Rainov. Remember him? He wanted to be baptised by our mission President. Anyway, so our lesson didn't turn out how we were thinking it was going to be at all. It ended with him telling us that he studied the Baptist church for 6 years before joining and that he wants for us and him to go through this Anti-Mormon book together and have us prove that it's a false book and tell him if the claims made in it are true or not. FUN!

So that's a little taste of what's been going on over here. Hope you guys have a great week!


next to the faleza (cliff or waterfront?)
"yeah, that place"

numai 21 zile mai mult!

Monday, October 12, 2015

All That and a Bag of Bones

Hey Guys,

This week we met with a lot of members and my new comp got to meet all the rest of the members in some individual lessons. 

We both decided that we are 2 sacks of bones...sooooooooo, we bought some protein and we are working out to get big! haha. We've only done 2 days and failed the last 2 days but hey, we are gonna be Arnald Swortzneger size! (yeah I spelled his name wrong) 

Other than that it's been raining today, so it's been a lazy p-day. 

We met with someone this week and had a good lesson and we are thinking that she has potential to be interested in learning about how she can grow a closer relationship with her Father in Heaven. 

Thanks guys and love you all.
Elder Houk

The Galati District. We have, from the left, Elders Evans, Dronyk, Me, and Paterson.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Romania Suits Me

Hey Guys,

So this week I spent most of it in Bucharest. I went down Tuesday morning at 4:50. Almost missed that train. Funny story. But I don't really feel like writing all of it right now. haha Sorry. Spent a whole day with one of my past comps and I bought a suit for coming home. It's stretchy and fits like a glove and it was pretty dang cheap because, well its Romania. So I'm pretty stoked! 

Then, on Thursday we had MLC (Mission Leadership Council). It was pretty good. I got my new comp, Elder Evans, and we headed back to Galati. 

This weekend, we set up the TV for Conference and watched it. We get to see the whole conference except for Sunday Afternoon because the way the time works out. The Sunday Morning lines up with Romania live at 7pm here while its 10am in Utah. Pretty cool to know that everyone was watching it with us.

General Conference on a Saturday night watching the Sat morn live. Thats my comp.
A cool quote I jotted down was from Pres. Monson "Faith and Doubt cannot exist together. One will dispel the other." I liked that a lot, because I had made a goal for this last transfer to try my faith with something by praying for a specific thing and then doing everything in my power to receive what I asked for. But I have to remember that if I do my part and the request is a worthy one, there is no reason to doubt, because it will be given and that is a promise. How cool is that? 

My mom wrote me a quote telling me to remember "Don't focus on what you can't do, but what you can do!" and I thought that was funny because I wrote down the same quote. So I better do it! haha

Today for our P-Day, it was our "Deep Clean" day. So we stayed inside all day and just cleaned our apt. Then a Senior Couple came over and checked our stuff. Intense! We passed though....barely. haha 

Now we are going to go get some Mexican food. It's supposedly the best Mexican food in all of Romania that a missionary has found. It's pretty good, but of course nothing compares to the good, hole in the wall, authentic Mexican (American) stuff over in So Cal! 

Alright guys! Love ya and have a good week!


From Hedresdrau Park
Boat...Bateman took this pic
Little circus in Buc
The Borsalino calzone....Heck Yes

Monday, September 28, 2015

Last Transfer!

Hey Guys,

Taken on the train
So this week, we went up to a city called Iasi and my comp and I conducted a Zone training. Which is essentially what it sounds like haha We trained the zone on some specific topics that President Ivory wanted us to include, as well as other missionaries participating doing other things such as teaching the Restoration in under 4 minutes, for example. It was a cool experience. Afterwards we went on exchanges with the Elders there.

Elder Houk & Elder Anderson
conducting a zone training
This last Saturday, Cornel was not baptised. There were some things that maybe just weren't right and it didn't seem like a good day to try and force it together, so once again we are waiting another week. 

Our other friend Rainov, ended up getting his package in the mail this week, so he was happy about that. We will see how things progress with him. 

All and all that was my week. My companion is going back home to Temecula, CA and I am on my last stretch of 6 weeks. I will be staying here in Galati and getting a new comp who's name is Elder Evans.

Sunrise from my Apt
Love you guys and hope you have a great week! Till next time...

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keep On Truckin'

Hey guys,

So this week, again, Cornel pushed his baptism to this week on Saturday. We are going to try and meet with him more this week and figure out if he is scared of something or what's up. But we surely hope that he will come to the waters this weekend. 

This week we just did some typical missionary stuff. Like teaching lessons and teaching English. We found some new friends though. One of our new investigators is a woman named Mihaiela. She was a referral from Sora Stancu, a member here in Galati. We taught her with Sora Stancu and Liviu (her newly baptised son) about the Book of Mormon and what it is. We are planning to go more in depth into the Resto, in the next lesson. She seems to be very promising and sincere at this moment. 

Exchange with Bacau 
(Elder Anderson, Elder Broberg, Elder Myers, and you know who)
Our other new investigator is with an English student named Vasillica. A while ago, we met with him for a personal English lesson and ended up talking about God and if he existed. We couldn't get a clear read on what he was after (English or the gospel or what) until the other day when Elder Paterson and I were on an exchange. We met with him and played some ping-pong and at the end I gave him a personalized copy of the BOM to replace his other one. He was glad that now it would be easier for him to study it. He even asked us if it was possible for him, in the future, to be baptised. We invited him to District conference on Sunday and he came. Unfortunately, he left he left after 15 minutes because he was bored. He's like 16 or 17, and I understand. But I think that's a good start for right now with him.
Sora Marcela
Unfortunately, one of the coolest members here in Galati, (the older lady that we would meet with and she called me Hitler cuz I looked German haha) She passed away this week. That was a really sad time for us because we were able to form such a good relationship with her. But we are going to see her again, and she's not suffering anymore.

Other than that we have got the Branch on a BOM program here as well and we are still trucking along as missionaries in Alma now. And honestly I'm understanding more than I've ever before and I just love the spirit that comes with it. 

Love you guys. Stay strong and have a good week!


Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Is It Friday?

Read the Book of Mormon in 100 days
Hey Guys,

So this week Cornel did not decide to cut his cast off his leg. haha. Let's be honest that would have been pretty crazy. But he will get it off today and so we are hoping for this Friday. haha. We hope this is the actual date.

Things here have cooled down a little along with the weather. This week we focused on meeting with members and inviting them to read the Book of Mormon in a hundred days. I had the opportunity to make this chart for the branch to follow. Turned out pretty good.

Yeah, that about sums it up. Doing the regular missionary work and living! I hope you guys have a good week!

Elder Houk

Selfie with Elder Anderson
Exchanges with Elder Weaver and Elder Jardine who are in Constanta
The train from Buc to Galati
The sunset off the Danube River

Monday, September 7, 2015

Ready, Set....

Hey there guys,

So your probably wondering what happened with Rainov? So Cornel is doing pretty well. We taught him everything this week and we are going to be setting up his Baptism interview this week. On Monday last week, Cornel mentioned that his foot hurt. We were like, are you alright? He's like yeah I'm fine, just gonna take some days off of work. I'll be good. The next day we show up to his house and he's in a cast. We were like oh, hey! Are you alright? He's like, yeah gotta keep this on for a couple weeks, I'll be good. At the end of our lesson we saw him trooping out walking into town. Yesterday, we were talking about his baptism and what he wanted to do since he was in a cast. We could wait a week or... and he's like I'll just get them to cut it off, the date is going to stay on the 12th. hahaha We were like are you sure? I'm still not sure if that's the best idea, but he seemed pretty confident about it. So as far as this week goes, this Saturday, Cornel will be the newest member in the Galati branch! Good for him!
How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings,
that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation;
that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! ~Isaiah 52:7

So Rainov, well we saw him at work the other day and gave us a wave. So he never went down to Bucharest. I also bought him a Bible and a triple for him on in July. But for some reason it hasn't arrived yet. He keeps asking about it, and I told him that I've tried to contact the store to see what's going on and that we are sorry that it hasn't come in yet, but he must think we have something to do with it because he was mad at us that it hasn't arrived and wants us to speak to our mission president about his package and stuff. Of course we explained that he won't be able to do anymore more than we can for him. But he told us that he has taken the package as a sign to him. Meaning, when it arrives, we can start to meet and continue again. So we're giving him some space right now. 

We had our monthly Mission Leadership Training meeting this week down in Buc. It was good. Learned a lot and definitely benefited from it. Our President is pretty awesome.

I haven't talked about food in a while. Something that I've been taking pride in these last few weeks are my special grilled cheese sandwiches. Mmmmm. Nothing like a good homemade meal. haha 

Have a great week!
ELder Houk

Monday, August 31, 2015

Galati News

Hey guys!

Salt Lake Temple
So I gotta tell you. On my way over to emailing, I saw a lady with a purse. You're probably wondering why I told you that. Well it just so happens that that purse had the Salt Lake Temple on it. I mean it was the the main display! I saw Moroni and everything! And yes, I am like 100.23% sure that she is not a member. Here's another fun fact. I've also seen the Salt Lake Temple displayed in the background for a store at the mall, you know, where they put the manikins and stuff to show off the fancy clothing options of the season. Ironically, it's already sweaters and jeans and it's still like 100 degrees out here or 38 degrees as we like to say here in Europe, but I digress. So I think that Romanians just think that these are the cool American castles or something. Apparently, a missionary in the past had told one of the people working at the store that it was a temple for our church and the lady didn't believe him or something happened, I have a bad memory. But the point is, temples are an accessory here! They probably even want to go and visit them, I mean as well they should. Am I right? haha

So I met Romanian Scott this week. I say that because I don't necessarily consider this guy, his name is Marian, my dad away from home or anything but let me explain why he reminds me of my dad. So, we had met with Marian and his son Alin in the past for English and he wanted his son to have a good knowledge of a lot of different religions so we taught him a little about our church and hope to meet with him in the future too. But so back to the why, Marian is really into sports and his son is too. And we were teaching them the English words for slam dunk and point gaurd and all those sporty vocab in English. Sorry I keep getting off track, So there was this thing going on in Galati where you can sign up and play in this basketball streetball thing and some of our other English students invited us to come with them and check it out. So we went and guess who I ran into, Marian and his son. Marian had signed his son up to play in this streetball thing so we got to talking and he was telling me how he is always taking Alin to all these different tournaments and stuff and paying for tennis and basketball and, you know, always just trying to help him get better in his sports and stuff. It was funny cause we were speaking in Romanian and he was like "people call me as they say in English, Mr. Mom" haha.
Coach dad and Blair with one of his home run balls
Vista National Little League 2008
age 12
He goes on to explain that you gotta be there for your son and stuff, just can't go home and watch tv or whatever. And then he's like, oh so it's Alin's turn. So we go over there and watch him and he's giving him comments and stuff. "oh that guy needs to pass more, look at that shot" and all that good stuff. And then he goes over and talks to Alin and we left. And the next day, the event was on again and it's on our way home, so we stopped and watched it for a sec and there he is again. So I go over there and say hi and Alin is about to go shoot some 3's and stuff and we talked more. And then it hit me and I remembered all those good times in the past where I had a ton of tournaments and stuff and I would be waiting for my turn and I would see Dad over there talking it up with someone, like usual hahaha. Oh and this guy Marian, he could talk too, let me tell ya, he probably beats out Dad by a long shot. But anyway, you know, I just felt like, when I was watching Alin, I felt like I was watching myself and I was the guy that my dad was talking to. Because, you know, I would always wonder what my parents would be doing the whole time I'm playing a game and stuff. And you know, I could really just sit back and actually see from a 3rd persons view what my dad did for me and it really just helped me appreciate how much he did for me. And I remembered all those good times and stuff that we did together. So I just gotta say, love ya Dad and thanks. (Don't worry Mom, you have a story too, you just have to wait :) )

So with other news (just imagine a news announcer from SNL), here's the Galati weekly update with Elder Hooouuukkkkkk! Alright, so to start off with Cornel, he's back with a date. This time it's the 12th of September. I do believe that this will be the one. We are close to teaching him everything and the Branch president feels good about him being baptized. Everything seems to be in place and ready, set, go. We'll see what happens next week with him. So stay tuned. 

Alright, on the other hand we have Rainov. Things went... well not that good. He called us up and said, Hey I can get baptized by anyone right? And we said yes. He said, well I want the President to baptize me (meaning the Mission President. President Ivory.) So we were like Okayyyy... we'll give him a call. President says unfortunately, "I'm not going to be in Galati and it would be better for him to be baptized there, but here's what I'll do, he can come down for district conference and I'll confer upon him the Aaronic Priesthood  and he can be a special guest here." We relayed that info to Rainov (this is all over the phone) and Rainov didn't take that very well. He kinda throws a grown up tantrum in a way and we talk to President more and we gave Rainov a verse and tried to explain the situation. We decided to give him a little space for a day or so and then on Sunday he told us he's going down to Buc (where President is) to find our President and talk to him, himself. We let President know what's up and he told us to just let it go and if he finds him he will gladly talk to him and explain the situation. So there's a little cliff hanger to keep you glued to next weeks Romania weekly update with...THE ROMANIAN HULK!

So there it is guys, love you all tons and hope you have a great week!

Monday, August 24, 2015

*Galati of Pranks

Hey Guys!

Setting up the baptismal font. That was a pain! I'll send you a picture later of it set up
So to update you on what's been going on. Unfortunately, our investigator Cornel decided to disappear for a few days and so he wasn't able to get baptized. And interesting enough he showed up to church on Sunday like nothing happened. haha 
That's okay though, we're keeping that positive attitude and hopefully we will continue to meet and work with him. However, an 8 year old boy was baptized here in Galati this last Sunday and is now the newest member of this branch! The baptism was a great learning experience for all of us. Mostly because our branch president was the last baptism here in the Galati branch. The father wasn't able to come to the baptism on time and everything was pretty disorganized in the way it all came out. But let me tell you, even though everything seemed to be going wrong, everyone was still smiling and I'm sure feeling the spirit of the Lord. I'm thankful for this gospel! 

We hope to meet up with our other investigator, Rainov, this week. We will plan his baptism hopefully tonight, and when his work program permits him, we will work toward that date for his baptism. 
Fratele Prada playing my comps ukulele
This week I had the opportunity to prank some fellow district members at a members house. We had eaten before we went over to her house and then she served us some more food, like snacks and some sandwich stuff. Of course we ate that stuff as well because they just won't let you say no. Then the time came when she offered us some of her turkey neck soup and because the newer missionary doesn't know the lang that well I told her that he wanted some even though he really didn't and he was full. And then she asked me if his comp would like some too and I just added him into the mix as well. haha Just doing some older missionary jokes on the the younger guys. Well things just worked out that the newer missionary and his comp ended up eating it because they just really wanted to :) That was fun.

Lovin it out here. Thanks for you support guys and I'll see you soon! Have a great week!


*Galati is pronounced Ga-lots

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Countdown Challenge

Hey Guys,

This last week was a little stressful with a lot of stuff going on but we ended it great with our mission wide conference up in Brasov. We went up to Busteni and climbed a mountain and got to see a water fall as well as stay in a hotel. We had a testimony meeting that next morning and then bussed over from Busteni to Brasov. Where we gathered as a mission to listen to President Ivory and his family speak. The main topic of discussion was the BOM. 

Pres. Ivory (orange shoelaces) getting missionaries ready for hike in the Transylvania Alps

Elders in front of waterfall
Ahh! Friends together again. Elder Bateman, Elder Houk, and Elder Weaver
The Romania/Moldova Mission at Bran Castle in Brasov
We have been challenged to read the BOM in 84 days through an outlined chart that has been provided. This is pretty cool and weird for me at the same time because at the end of the 84 days, I finish my mission. So I will finish the BOM and my mission at the same time. I'm actually pretty dang excited to read the BOM this fast because I think this will be the first book that I will read that didn't take longer than a year! 

Oh yea, so I will be staying here in Galati for another transfer with the same companion as last time. We are planning on having 2 baptisms this week here. One for our investigator Cornel and the other is an 8 year old boy! I also talked to my other investigator Rainov on the way back from Brasov and he expressed to me that he would like me to baptize him into the church as well. So we will have another baptism for him coming soon! 

Thank you guys for being awesome and I hope that you all have a great week! :)

We invite you and your family to join us in our Book of Mormon journey by reading the Book of Mormon every day for 84 days, starting August 19th. 

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The latin means "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"