Monday, August 26, 2013

The Life and Times of Elder Mayans

Hello Hello Hello!!!                                    8-26-2013

Sorry I’m writing so late today. We ended up wanting to get a few things done so I haven't been able to e-mail. So this week has been filled with a few more interesting things that have happened. First off, I went down to Bucuresti on Wednesday to do some more visa work, which isn’t the funnest thing to do because there is so much traveling but we made the best of it and talked to a few people on the way. I spent the night there, which was the worst night of my life because the apartment I stayed in was the nastiest apartment I have ever been in. I woke up in the morning and have bug bites all over my body. So yeah we went back Thursday night but instead of taking the train back, the assistants wanted to have an exchange with us so we ended up driving up with them. It sounded like a good plan but unfortunately it didn't end up so well. Directions in Romania are a lot harder than I thought so we ended up getting lost on the way. Also, the assistants weren't able to leave until later. So we finally started to see some road signs for Galati and then as we approached the city, we realized that we were on the other side of the river!!! We ended up having to sit in the car and wait until the fairy crossed the river so we could cross. It was definitely an adventure but I don’t want to do it again because it killed me for the next day. I’ll post some pictures from that.

We went to Sora Ionela's house on Friday for some service. She had us help her make some shelves and paint some stuff. At one point, we had her neighbors yelling at us saying that we making to much noise. Then Sora Ionela started yelling at him and told him to mind his own business. Ha-ha Romanians are crazy. There's no one like them. 

Then on Saturday we had English, which I was really looking forward too. It went great and after we taught a little about charity and service. There are a few people who go to different churches but they really enjoy our message and really like us. Edward and Bianca, who I mentioned last week, told us that they wanted to come to church this week. We told them of course we would love to have them. They came an hour late so they went to Sunday school and Sacrament meeting. They were a little confused about a few things but we explained everything so they would understand. At the end of all the meetings, Bianca said, "I like this church". It was really cool so see them enjoy it even though they are still pretty young. Bianca is 13 and Edward is 17. That was definitely the highlight of the week and we will continue to help them out. There is a good chance that I will be transferred in a few weeks but hopefully I can do as much as I can to help Bianca and Edward out. 

Mom since you mentioned that you went to the zoo, I actually went to the zoo in Galati. One of the members in our branch is one of the managers of the zoo so he took us to see it. The zoo doesn't open for another year but some of the animals are there.

That’s about tit for this week. I can’t say it enough how much I love being a missionary. A lot of times it seems easier to just do something else and not work as hard but there is no other feeling than serving others and helping people come unto Christ. I love the people in this country and even though they all come from different backgrounds, they can all benefit from our message and the Church of Jesus Christ. 

It sounds like it was a fun week for you guys too. The beach pictures looks amazing!! Ha-ha 
And Jared's farewell looked like fun. Of course it ended up being a Just Dance party at our house. Ha-ha He will be a great missionary I'm really excited for him. Love you all. 

Elder Mayans

Monday, August 19, 2013

Jacobs Romanian adventure 8-19-2013


Hello again, I know I say this a ton but the weeks feel shorter and shorter. It is crazy to me that there is only 2 weeks left in my second transfer. I forgot to mention in my last e-mail that I got a little food poisoning, not exactly sure what from but I wasn't feeling good last Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. On top of that the summer heat is finally starting to hit more and more so now its super hot. Most of our work is outside so we make the best of it and try to keep cool. This past week I have had some pretty cool things happen. It all started Tuesday morning when we called Andrea, that one girl I mentioned who got in the motorcycle accident, to see if we could meet up with her and teach her a lesson or a spiritual thought or anything. Anyways she never responded to us so later that afternoon Elder Cunningham and I went to McDonald for lunch, which unlike America is a pretty big deal. Usually if you were going to go on a nice date here you go would go to McDonald's because one, its expensive, and two, there are only certain things on the menu like a Big Mac or wraps. It’s really weird. Ha-ha so we were sitting there eating our meal and a worker comes up to us and asks us if we wanted refills on our drinks. We both looked at her super confused and asked what she said again. I’m laughing while I'm writing this because it sounds ridiculous but there is not one place in Romania that would ever give you refills, so we were freaking out. Ha-ha While we were waiting for our drinks, Andrea called us. Elder Cunningham and I both looked up into the air just like in the movie the best two years. Ha-ha it ended up not being as good as we thought it would because she said her boyfriend is apparently jealous and doesn’t want her to talk to us. We though that was kinda weird because he knows us and knows we are good people but that just how some Romanians are. It’s a bummer but we will try to continue to stay in touch with them. 

That evening we had English class, which went absolutely great. I think those classes are one of the most effective things we do. We had a few new students this week and the older ones are consistently coming. I am teaching the Advanced English class this transfer so it’s really nice because more people participate and actually talk. After we took a 5-minute break, we invited everyone to stay if they wanted to hear a spiritual thought. To our surprise, almost every student stayed which was awesome. We planned on actually giving the first lesson of the restoration and talk about the Book Of Mormon so that’s what we did. I haven't had a lot of experiences with teaching lessons yet because we haven't had anyone to teach but I was really excited. We taught in English, which was also a different experience because when I think of teaching and talking about the gospel, I'm always trying to say it in Romanian. It was really nice to be able to speak in English and have people understand me. We taught about a 20-minute lesson and it went well! The spirit was very strong and I felt like we taught it in a way where people were able to understand it. At the end of the lesson, we invited everyone to take and read the introduction and first few pages of the book of Mormon. We had 3 people take copies so we are hoping that they will read so we can talk about it next week with them. Also, one of our students came up to us and was like, I didn't really understand everything that you were saying so we plan to meet with her later this week to teach her. 

On Thursday we had a very slow day because it was Sfânta Maria Holiday. It was a very big deal because she is one of the bigger saints in the Orthodox Church so everyone was celebrating. There was a huge concert down be the river. We passed it on the way back to our apartments and it was insane. There were so many people there and everyone is just going crazy. It is especially hard to do missionary work on those days because everyone is like why aren't you celebrating or they will tell us to party with them. Ha-ha we ended up watching a big firework show on the river that night which was really cool. The very next day I went on an exchange with Elder Ward. It was a very unproductive exchange because we had no success. When there are Holidays here it goes on for two days so nobody was out and all the people we talked to told us to go away. I still learned a lot from Elder Ward. I have a lot of fun with him and he knows what he’s doing. We were talking the other night about BYU Idaho for a little bit because he went there a few years ago. He’s 22 so he’s a little older, but we figured out we lived in the same exact house up in Rexburg! It was so random and I know some of the people he knew up there. Small world.

Now, unfortunately some horrible things also happened this week. So I believe I have mentioned Ozana before. She’s the 13 year old girl who is super mature. She meets up with the elders to talk a lot because she feels comfortable with us and is going through a lot of problems right now. We told her a few weeks ago that she needs to tell her parents that she is meeting with us because we could get in a lot of trouble if they don’t know. Usually we wouldn't keep meeting with someone if all we were doing is talking but it always turns into a religious conversation about God and how He can help her and fix all the things that are going on in her life. Anyways on Saturday we were talking to her about Prophets and Apostles and Joseph Smith. In summary it was basically how without Joseph Smith, we would never have been able to get the Book of Mormon and the Gospel would not be restored. She then told us that the first time she opened the Book of Mormon, it was the happiest moment in her life. We were so happy that she was able to see the difference and recognize the spirit. She left that evening and we started freaking out. We ran to the white board like a bunch of crazy people and started making a list of things we can do to help her. For example- fasting, praying for her, being more obedient, stuff like that. We were all super pumped and then we heard a loud knock at the church door. We went down stairs and it was Ozana and her mother standing there. As soon as we opened the door her mother just started screaming as us saying that we have no permission to talk to her daughter or her family. She said that we are horrible people and that what we are doing is a horrible thing and that we are going to Hell. It was really harsh and it hit Elder Cunningham pretty hard because he’s a little sensitive. It is such a bummer because who knows what will happen in the future. Maybe because of this, Ozana will never come back. Even worse, that family will now have a bad image of the church and will tell everyone she knows about it. Just like I mentioned last week, it’s hard to stand up for what’s right. And all we're doing is teaching about Jesus Christ. It reminds me of all the many hardships the Saints went through when the church was being established. They were spit upon and mocked and  persecuted but then never gave up because they knew of the truth. They knew that no matter what God was with them and would protect them. Even though this week was crazy I am grateful for the experiences I have every day because I know that God is proud and will help us through it. I would not be able to do anything out here if I did not have a strong testimony of my Savior. It would be impossible to stand up for something that I didn't know for myself was true. I love being a missionary and telling people what I know. I love telling people that I am only 19 and I'm not a perfect teacher because it puts me on their level and makes them understand that I'm not perfect but this message is important enough to be shared. 

Yesterday on Sunday we went to the children’s orphanage. It was so much fun and all the kids were really happy that we were there. We brought them juice and some balls to play with. We all played soccer with them in our church clothes. It was really sad to see them all but if felt good to do some service and make them happy. I don’t have any pictures of them because the orphanage doesn’t allow us to take any pictures. We are planning on going back next week and playing with them again. 

I love you all. The Church is true. Thanks again for all your support. 

Elder Mayans

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Jacobs Romanian adventure 8-15-2013

Buna Ziua Buna Ziua Buna Ziua!!!!!            8-15-2013

Another week has gone by and it has definitely been a stressful one. We have talked to so many people on the streets about either English class or religion, or how their day has been. We have stepped back a little on trying to pound the Book of Mormon in their face and telling them about the church. Instead, we have been a lot more casual and just talking to people, letting them know that we are just normal people just like them. Everyone thinks we are J-Dubs (Jehovah Witness) so at least we are clearing that up. Also, we started our English classes back up this week. There are already people then last transfer so that’s a plus. I talked to an older mom who showed up to English class and see seemed really nice. She speaks English pretty well but wants to learn more. She said she was very impressed with the class and said that she will bring her daughter next time. I really hope that turns out because I really want to be able to teach a family. That would be the most amazing thing that could happen right now. On top of English classes, we are also starting a Bible study class. The mission just started doing this about 3 transfers ago so we will see how it goes. At the moment we are a little more hesitant about doing bible classes because there might be some people showing up that just want to Bible bash, but if that’s the case then we can just cancel them.

Last week we had exchanges with our zone leaders. Our zone leaders are decent elders but they are not very good leaders so it is kinda hard to work with them. The exchange went fairly well. Our focus was on contacting in different ways. The only thing was that on our exchange, it was so hot outside that nobody was out and the people who were didn't want to talk. On a side note about that, people in Romania are never outside during the day. Everyone comes out at about 11 o'clock at night and that is the time when we are home asleep.. haha. Even when we are walking home at 9 there are more people at the park then in the daytime.

So we had an experience with a young girl named Andrea this week. We ran into her on the street and apparently Elder Cunningham has talked to her before. She is a super nice girl who is not super religious but is definitely going through a lot of things in her life right now. She has told us that so many things are going on in her life and she doesn't know what to do. On top of that, when we say her on the street she was really messed up. She got into a motorcycle crash with a maxi-taxi about 2 weeks ago so she had scabs all down her arms, a broken jaw, and her mouth was wired shut!!! It was horrible to see but for some reason she always has a smile on her face. On a side note, a maxi-taxi will win against a motorcycle every time. Last Thursday we went to the hospital with her to see her boyfriend. This is the same hospital that i went to the second week i was out here and yes its still as scary as ever. Also its under construction so in the hallways there are people walking around with drills and tools, and doctors walking around with needles. Just another reminder of how grateful I am to live in the states. So a long story short, we saw her boyfriend and it was intense. He had to get back surgery so his whole lower back was all stapled and looked like a Salami.. haha That’s how Romanians would explain it. Anyways, surprisingly he was really happy to get to talk to us because he has heard alot about us. He wanted talk to we talked to him about the History of the church including the restoration and also talked about the Book of Mormon. we then connected it very will back to their accident and how it is a miracle that they didn’t die in this accident. Andrea ended up being 20 meters away after the crash. She literally flew like 60 feet! so were are definitely keeping in contact with them. We have been able to talk about God a little more with her so we feel like she has a potential of talking the lessons. We just want to help them out in any way possible. 

Yesterday was a really rough day at church. A lot of people who have responsibilities and callings didn’t show up. One thing President Hill told us not to do was step in for people when they don’t show up. That sound kinda weird to say because you would think that the missionaries would step in if something wrong happened, but president said we really need to get this branch to be more independent. So for example yesterday the sunday school the teacher didnt show up, so instead of trying to come up with a lesson to teach, we instead said well, since the teacher didn’t show up, we are just going to have to watch General Conference talks. Also last week for FHE the FHE coordinator didn't show up so instead of doing something, we all just sat there and talked. It hard not to do anything but the branch really can't be dependant on the missionaries anymore. 

This week I might have to go back down to Bucherest again for Visa paperwork. Basically all that means is more traveling. I love all of the letter i got this week!!! Tia sent me a bunch of pictures of everyone at the beach on Dads birthday. It looks like a lot of fun. I love pictures!!! Dont worry i won't get homesick, and if I do, I'll get over it. haha I love you guys so much and it sounds like everyone is doing amazing. The Church is true and I love being a missionary. I am having a great time and love sharing it with other people. 

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD!!!!!!!  50 YEARS OLD!!! WOW SO OLD AND SO WISE!!!! I hope you had great birthday. I love you so much. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Jacobs adventures in Romania 8-5-2013

Hello familia mea!!!                                     8-5-2013

Well another week in Romania has gone by so fast. It honestly feels like it has been just a few days since my last e-mail. We have been so busy just running around this week I have been exhausted. On top of that I haven't been sleeping very good for some reason so that is not helping. But everything is absolutely fantastic. Elder Cunningham and I are getting along very well and we are working really hard. So this week we had zone training meeting which to be honest wasn’t very good. The zone leaders didn’t prepare very much and because Galați is so far away, it was a total of 10 hours on a train in one day. Elder Cunningham and I taught a lesson during the zone meeting about finding by faith. It was a really good lesson but actually didn’t really go as planned. We talked a little bit about the importance of having faith with prayer. I know for me when it comes to prayer, there is always room for improvement. Sometimes we don’t realize the miracles that we can have through prayer.

 During our contacting we have been able to talk about the church a lot. A lot of times it works better to say that we are Mormon and are normal people just like you. Ha-ha it sounds a little weird but it works better with the people here. It makes it seem more like a friendly conversation and less of just trying to teach them principles of the gospel. Yesterday for Sunday we had President and Sister Hill with us!!! Every other transfer, President goes around the country and visits all the missionaries and gives them interviews. I love it because I love President and it is really nice to talk to him about things that are happening. Also, the main subject that President talked to the elders in Galați was that even though we haven't seen any success we are doing what we are suppose to do and we are making a difference in this city. He also said at least we have each other. Ha-ha  We had a great Sunday yesterday. I love fast and testimony meeting. I feel like the branch is the strongest during fast and testimony meeting because everyone is together and can feel the spirit. The members here are tough to work with sometimes but they are great people. 

English classes start tomorrow! I am really excited for it because there is always a chance that we could meet a few people who what to know a little bit more about who we are and what we do. We have had a few people call this week asking about the classes so hopefully there will be a few new people. 

It sounds like you guys have had a crazy week. That’s exciting about helping Maichael move. It sounds like it was a little hectic but everything turned out ok. And the story about Sarah! That is legit! I’m so proud of here she is such a good example and that takes guts to stand up for what she believes in. On that subject, six of our missionaries in Bucharest got beat up this week. They are all ok, just a few scratches and bruises but it freaked a few of them out. Galați is scary in some areas but as a missionary I always feel safe. You guys don’t have to worry about me. I love Galați and I love serving a mission. The church is true and I love being a member of it. It gives me so much hope for the people here when I know that God is in control.

Elder Mayans

Side not for the Fam: Actually this letter was kind of just directed at you guys. I am loving it but I feel like I'm repeating myself a lot. I love you and I miss you guys. I am so grateful for all of you and everything you do for me. 

Thanks for everything!!!

So about the people. The people are great but at the same time are not open to talking about the gospel. Everyone we talk to is Orthodox and it’s all about tradition for them. Also a lot of people say that God is not real just energy when we talk about God or Christ. I love the people because they are willing to talk to you and most are friendly but they don’t want anything to do with the church. We have a 13-year-old girl named Osana who has been going to English and also asks a lot of religious questions. It’s really weird because she is very mature and acts like a 20 year old. Anyways we were talking to her and she told us that every one that she knows says horrible things about us and that nobody should ever talk to us. She isn’t interested but she says that we are harmless and feels something different when she’s with us. 

Lets see funny things that have happened this week. I can’t really point out an individual experience but my whole district and I have so much fun together. We are always laughing. Today for P Day we went to a Greek Gyro place which was amazing! Also we watched the best two years!!! Great movie and yes don’t worry we are allowed to watch that. 

My favorite thing about Romania are the cities. It’s just really different from home. There are Trams and maxi taxis everywhere and everyone is walking on the streets. On the weekends there are usually huge dance parties on the streets with DJ and everything. The life style is very different and everyone is a lot more laid back.

 So the fight was during the evening in the middle of the park!! That’s the crazy part is that there are hundreds of people at the parks and nobody stopped them or reacted to it at all. But nobody was seriously injured. It was just a group of drunk guys that pushed a few elders around, one got it in the back of the head and the other got punched in the face. They are all perfectly fine now. President told them to try to stay away from that park ha-ha. That’s probably a good idea. I speak a Romanian like I'm American and I struggle with it but I have no problem talking to people. Sometimes it is hard to express myself but it’s coming. The average missionary will be completely comfortable with the language after 9 months. That’s at least what they say.