Monday, December 29, 2014

Christmas Cookies = Smiling Romanians!

TO START: We have figured out the secret to getting Romanians to smile- give them cookies!  

This week Sora Trebas thought we'd bake a couple dozen cookies and deliver them to our friends around the city!  Welp, we rolled up our sleeves and got baking!  We have about a dozen really good "friends" around the city that we talk to on a daily basis so we thought, let's make their day a little....sweeter!!!!  We have never seen them smile so big!  

While on the metro with all of our cookies we attracted some pretty odd glances (these were more glances of awe than glances of disgust that we commonly get) and it was a great opportunity for us to talk to more people!  

"Hey, we're Americans and this is a tradition that we have there, to bake cookies for our friends"
"Yes these are cookies"
"Yes we made them"
"You want to try one?"
"We used sugar, flour..."
"Yes, Americans do cook"
"We bakes cookies for our friends, is that something weird here?"

Hahaha basically sums up our conversations with people.  

We gave cookies to...almost everyone we chatted with!  

Treebs and I got hungry so we decided to order a pizza.  It was Treebas' turn to order the pizza and I told her that if she was scared to do it in Romanian, she could order in English.  So she orders in English and the delivery man, Addi, is like, "I don't understand you, do you speak Romanian?" OH YES WE DO!  So we were laughing and cracking jokes with this pizza man in Romanian.  So we hang up and I get this thought, "give him a cookie and a pass along card".  So he arrives and gives us our pizza and tells us he will come back up with the change.  

So we run outside to meet him, Addi,  I'm in my pig slippers and my missionary clothes and we hand over a cookie and a card and wish him a "Craciun Fericit!".  And he just gets the biggest smile and says, "You are so happy.  People here aren't.  You are so different and I really want to learn more about what makes you so happy"


TIP: Talking to your friends about the gospel is much easier than trying to talk to strangers about the gospel.  So, make friends as a missionary. You can change their life just by caring about them!

We had Zone Conference this week and I was in charge of decorations for the Panduri chapel.  It was a very inspirational Zone Conference and one of the themes was "Be IN Your Mission".  And I thought- WOAH!  That was our theme for Youth Conference when I was in high school!

So I'm really "IN" my mission.  I'm in it to grow, to learn, to love and serve.  My whole heart and attention is here and I wouldn't have it any other way.  

So I wanted to contact this lady on the metro so I sit by her and noticing all of her shopping bags I say to her in Romanian, "Are you excited for Christmas?"

And she is like, "I don't talk to you" in ENGLISH hahahaha I was just partially sad, partially confused and partially humored.  

Sora Trebas and I were on the metro (shocker) and I see this lady and in my mind I'm like, "I need to talk to her" but I shake it off because I think it's nothing.  But the thought stays and lingers in my mind.  

Then, Sora Trebas leans over and whispers, "Sora Lee, do we need to talk to that woman?"

And I was like, "Yes".  So Trebas goes over there and talks to her and the woman said, "I know who you are, I've seen you both on the metro".  I told her we had Christmas message that we wanted to share with her and she said, "Yes, I will call you, I want to hear it".  

Unfortunately we have not been able to get a hold of her but we are praying and fasting for this woman Alina that we may be able to help her.  

One of security guard friends in the metro comes up to us one night and he is like, "Hey, do you have anything I can read tonight?  I want to learn more about what you believe".  The only thing we had on us at the time was the church magazine the Liahona, conference edition.  So we stood there in the metro and taught a short 5 minute lesson about how we have a living prophet on the earth today and he has 12 apostles just like Christ had.  We told him why we need a prophet and how through a prophet we can learn what the Lord wants us to do.  

And he was like, "Thank you, I'm excited to read this"


One of our ward members got MARRIED!  He is from India and she is Romanian, and they are such a cute couple and speak perfect English.  We were invited to their reception at the church. Sora Trebas sand a beautiful song and I was the unofficial wedding photographer haha.  We just love them!  The wife is not a member and we are going to try to begin teaching her the lessons!

This week we visited our special friends again and had a little Christmas party with them.  Usually, there are only a few of the children's parents are there but at this Christmas party, there were 3 new parents.  When we walked in, their faces were cold towards us.  We continued in our activities.  Laughing, dancing and playing games with our friends.  At the end, we all sit down and one of the mothers gets up, her face had been one of the hardest, and she says, "When you kids walked through the door, something changed in the room.  There was more joy, more happiness..more goodness".  

I wanted to cry.  

We all explained why we are here serving missions and we bore testimonies telling why specifically we chose to be a missionary.  Then, they all asked if there was a day when they could come to church with us...we will be inviting them on Sunday to come.  

"And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God. " -Mosiah 2:17

I just love service!!!!!!

I'm just loving this mission and I am so grateful for Christmas time and how it is a time for everyone to think more about Christ. 

Loving the work, Loving the people and Loving the Lord, 
:) Sora Lee

The best pizza ever- Philadelphia Cream Cheese stuffed crust!

Best form of contacting.

Addi and us!!!!  A smiling Romanian!!!

Alexandra and Catan cutting their cake!

                                       The cute couple!  Canute wanted to hold the bouquet haha!

The buc struggle #exhausted #alldatime

Fratele Paun as Mos Craciun! (Literally Old Man Christmas)

Our lovely ward members (I made them all smile!)

Cute surori (sisters) in the branch!

IDK what this is but some ward member made it and I just love this!!!

Our chapel's Christmas decorations!

Sora Alexandru! :)

Bucarest is pretty . . . 


Check out this door!

Green doors

Careful!  Danger of collapse!  

Even the trash is pretty!

XL mannequin...he has is going on

I bought a huge spoon!!!!

Trebas and her wooden spoon hands!!!!!

I went through the temple one year ago!!!

Traditional Romanian dancing with our special friends!

Betty started to dance!

Gettin' down with Paula and Magda!


Spiraled potatoes!!!

Masks!  Super cool story behind these . . 


Candy galore!

Friday, December 19, 2014

Taxi Drivers and Testimonies

This week was a really good week.  We had a lot of really good conversations with people and we showed some awesome Romanians that we are actually normal people haha.  So-yay!

This week I had this impression that I needed to contact every taxi driver that we received a ride from.  I always will strike up a conversation with the taxi guys because I feel like it is awkward if I don't talk to them but still, I had this impression, "Bear your testimony"!  Well, anyways, I get talking to this one man and he was just so sad about something, you could see it all over his face. Come to find out that he had just lost his job and that now, he drives a taxi.  He doesn't have enough money to buy his own taxi, so he must rent his taxi every day.  He has to give 150 lei back every day to his company in order to pay for his taxi rental.  Whatever else he makes, he can keep, which isn't a lot.  He also opened up about how difficult his divorce was and how he can never see his teenage son.  He teared up and seemed to shut himself off.  We sat in the car for a few moments in silence and I was unsure what I could say to him.  He had already made it clear he wasn't interested in our message, or even us for that matter.  But then, I just opened my mouth and bore my testimony to him. 

"Constantin, I just want you to know that God does love you and he knows your problems.  This life is a time for us to experience difficulties.  Without difficult times, we couldn't  learn from our mistakes, we wouldn't be able to become better people or be able to be closer to Jesus Christ.  Our trials make us need help.  Trials make us need Jesus Christ".

I just sat there like, "Welp, it all came out".

And he smiled and said, "Thank you.  I know God does loves me.  I've always known that but sometimes, I just seem to forget it".  COOL!  

We hopped in another man's taxi and he was just so nice!  We get in and he was like, "So you girls are Mormons" and we were like, "YEP!"  Haha.  He was like, "I really have a lot of respect for what you do, it isn't easy trying to convert people here.  I mean the Orthodox church has been around for thousands of years and yours has only been around like 200 or something"

Man oh man did he set up the Restoration lesson or what.  

So I'm just like, "Well, this church was restored through a prophet 200 years ago, but this was the same church established by Christ thousands of years ago!"  That really seemed to spark his interest.  I got to bear a pretty solid testimony on the priesthood power and true authority.  He really thought all of it was interesting.  And he said he really enjoyed our conversation with him!  Woop!

On Wednesday we met up with Luana and Luca again and prepared a lesson for them.  We are trying to get them to read the scriptures, helping them learn from them and and enjoy them! Before we began, I had this prompting to askLuana if her husband would want to sit in.  She said "Probably not but ask him" .  Well, little Luca yells, "Dad, come in here we are having a lesson!"  And the father actually came in and was an active participant in the lesson!  His face lit up as we asked him questions and as he read from the scriptures.  We have a lot of hope for this family.

On Saturday we also had a huge Christmas Concert.  It was incredible!  We had a ton of people show up and it made me so happy!  My favorite ward members showed up, the Verdeata's, whom I hadn't seen in a long time because SoraVerdeata has been incredibly sick.  Well as I am finishing tying a globe into the Christmas garland I hear, "SORA LEEEEEE!!!!!!!!" And I see the Verdeata's little 5 year old granddaughter running towards me!  She runs into me so hard that I almost fall over! It was a moment that I will never ever forget!  

 I was sick yesterday and I am still feeling a little "bleh" today so I am going to sign off this email for right now.  

Loving the work, Loving the people and Loving the Lord!
:) Sora Lee 

My camera is currently under possession of another missionary so I have no photos to send home this week except one that Sora Trebas sent me. 

Photo 1:  Treebie and I! Our Christmas card comes out next week!  Whoop!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Just Ya Know Embarrassing Myself and What Not . . .

I don't have a lot of time to email today (and English is hard for me) but I just wanted to tell you about 4 cool things from this week.

1.) We went to the US Embassy and sang Christmas carols! We sang a mix of Christmas hymns in English, traditional Romanian Christmas songs, and classic American Christmas songs. It was a really special experience and the spirit was so incredibly strong. I loved watching the look come across everyone's faces as we sand the carols. You could just see the peace pour over them.  I really am so grateful for Christmastime, because it is a time where we can concentrate more fully on the Savior and feel his presence with us more strongly.  

2.)  While ordering a pizza I asked the gu,y  "Aveți un deșert cu scorțișoara?" (I said the "s" sound like a "sh) Instead of "Aveți un desert cu scorțișoara?" (Normal s sound).  

I asked him if he had a cinnamon flavored DESERT.  Not dessert.  

3) Sfântul Nicoli came and visited us this week!  On December 5th, the tradition is that you take your boots, clean 'em up real nice and pretty and stick them outside your door that night, in hopes that Sfântul Nicoli will leave you a treat!  if you are good, you get candy, and if you are bad, you get a bunch of sticks!  Sora Trebas and I woke up with some really fun snacks inside our boots . . . I got a prawn ring (thanks Sora T) and a chocolate Moș Craciun (Santa Claus).  It was a super cute tradition, something I will take back with me in America.  

4.) We went to go visit a less active member and last time we went to see her she gave us a pot filled with ciorba (soup).  She stuck it in a bag and we walked home with it.  So this time, on the way back, we decided , "Hey, let's bring her pot back!"  So we grab it and go, no problem.  Get on the metro and we are getting weird looks left and right, which is normal for us so we think nothing of it. 

Get to her house and when she opens the door we are like, "Hey!  Here is your pot!  The ciorba was so good!" 

And she's like, "What have you done? Where is the bag? "

So I'm like, "Sorry Sora Vaduva, we left it at home, we will bring it back tomorrow!"

And she's like, "No I'm sorry for you!  That is so embarrassing for you!  You carried that empty pot all the way here, you didn't put it in a bag!"

And her whole family just starts busting up and I'm like, "Wait I'm missing something here."

Turns out, it's like really really, REALLY weird to just carry a pot around here.  Like it has to be inside of another bag.  People say that your hands will freeze is you carry around a pot.  It also is a way of saying , "Hey I'm poor because I can't put this pot in a bag"

Sounds super weird but that is really how it is here. 

Lesson learned, put the pot in the bag.  

Still loving the work, loving the people and loving the Lord,
:) Sora Kendall Lee

Photo 1: Our last day of English class with our two cute kids- Razvan and Razvan!
Photo 2: Flashin' our passports on our drive to the Embassy!
Photo 3: We had to buy American snacks while at the Embassy!  Little Debbie Zebra Cakes and Uncrustables!!!!!  Side note: they wrecked my stomach but it was worth it!
Photo 4: Lights in Bucharest!
Photo 5: All us sisters with ANTONIA!!!!  SHe is a huge popstar here and also a less active member and the daughter of our proprietar!
 She sings in the "Wild Horses" song in America and a bunch of Romanian songs here!
Photo 6: Sora and I with our snacks from Sf. Nicoli! Prawns and Macaroons!

Monday, December 1, 2014

This Week: I'm thankful that I didn't die and that I didn't go to jail haha


This week was an incredible week.  We were able to celebrate Thanksgiving with missionaries from the surrounding cities and we really do have so much to be grateful for.  

I have more photos than words to describe this week.  Some experiences are just too difficult to put into words over email. 

This week we had an "English Fast".  Sora Trebas made it a goal to only speak Romanian for 1 week straight.  I lasted 5 days and then had to speak in English because of certain circumstances haha but she was able to do it just perfectly.  I am SO PROUD of her.  It was a very incredible experience.  English is so foreign to us now.  It's hard haha.  

We got CONTROLLED.  So we got on a tramvi (a trolley cart thing) with other sister missionaries after a missionary meeting.  We all get out our cards to pay for our trip.  We all pay, no problem.  Then Controllers get on.  Their job is to make sure that everyone on the tramvi has paid, so no one is getting a free ride- thing is 90% of them are corrupt and pocket the money.  Welp, they walk past everyone else and come straight to us, the Americans and take all of our travel cards away from us.  They pull out their smart phones that can "read" if we had payed for the trip.  Well, their phones said that half of our cards showed that we hadn't paid and they demanded that we pay them 150 lei and give them our passports so they can contact the police.


We did not hand over our passports and we politely asked for our cards back, to show them, wait hey no, we all have money on our cards.  They refused to give them back.  They kept forcing us to pay them the money.  Our patience and sweetness had worn thin, and we were yelling with these controllers. "We paid! We have money!  Try it again! We just bought our cards!"  But they refused.  So then they say, "We're calling the cops"

"Call them!" one of the sister missionaries yell. "We aren't lying!"  

So we all get off the tramvi and we are all furious.  

"This is all fake" one of the sisters was saying, "They are lying, they are corrupt and they will pocket this money.  No one give them anything".  

So we didn't.  

Then, one of the controllers says, "Okay beautiful girls now just pay me 50 lei and I will leave you alone" He steps right in front of my face and lights up his cigarette. He starts being weird to my companion and I just lost it. 

"Leave us alone and stop smoking!  Smoking is not healthy!!!" I told him in Romanian.  

He laughed, got up in my grill and blew his cigarette smoke all in my face.

I did everything in my power to not punch him in his fat face.

And we all just started walking away.  No cops were called. They didn't chase us. They are liars.  Good conquers evil.  


There was this woman on the metro and I had this huge prompting to go to talk to her.  I had been praying for weeks that I could be able to easily recognize the spiritual promptings that I receive and that I may have the courage to act on them.  

I was super sick and coughing up a storm and that was the excuse that I had not to talk to her.  There was an open seat next to her on the metro and it stayed available stop after stop after stop. The spirit kept prompting me to "talk to her, talk to her" and it was just such a strong and overwhelming feeling it brought tears to my eyes.  I knew I had to do it.  

I go down and sit by her and ask her how she is doing.  At first she is like, "Why are you asking me, I don't even know you" and then I said, "I just wanted to ask, to be nice" And she just lit up and said, "Well then, I am good" hahaha!

Turns out she has always been super interested in who we are and what we believe.  I asked her if she had heard about "Mormons".  she said yes.  I asked her what she knew, bracing myself for something negative, unkind or untrue, but instead she says, "You have very beautiful, well-mannered and kind youth".  She gave us her information and we are going to meet up with her this week.  

Now that wouldn't have happened if I had listened to the Holy Ghost and followed his prompting. 

4.) Trebas Making Philippino Friends
While on the metro we saw these two cute ladies, they were laughing and smiling and we just knew at that moment, they were different.  Well they end up coming up to us and asking us for directions (these tags make us looks so officialhaha) and we end up talking to them in ENGLISH. We find out that they are Phillipino and living in Romania because they married Romanians. Sora Trebas' brother served in the Philippines so she rattles off "Merry Christmas!" in Tagalog.  So cute!  
And a bond was formed!

They were super interested in our church and we had he chance to meet with Perlita, one of our cute Phillipino friends this week.  She uses dating websites to tell people about Jesus and the Bible haha.  

She showed us one of her conversations with some guy.  It went like this:

guy: hey u r cute.
Perlita: do u read bible?
guy: yea every day
Perlita: I see u are married. Why u on this site?
guy: I like conversation.
Perlita: You should be loyal to  your wife. She is gift from god. What is your favorite verse?
guy has logged off

We LOVE HER!!!!!

 I almost got hit by a car.  I was about 10 inches away from a car that was going about 70 MPH. While crossing a street (at a blind corner)  I stepped out into the road, I figured it would be a good idea to run fast across the road, which really wasn't a normal thing to do, it wasn't very far until I would hit the side walk. As my feet barely hit the side walk  I hear Sora Trebas yell, "SORA!!!!!!!!!!!" And I hear a car slam on it's breaks. Welp, turned out I was just inches away from this car who had zipped around the corner.  The car sped away and Sora Trebas runs up to me and says, "Sora Lee, I thought for sure you were going to die right in front of my eyes, that car barely missed you."  She held out her hands, "It missed you by this much".  

I know our Heavenly Father loves and watches over all of his children.  I know he protects us and I am grateful he protected me.  

Loving the work, Loving the people and Loving the Lord,
:) Sora Lee

Photo 1: Let the feast begin!
Photo 2: REAL FOOD
Photo 3: Me and Sora Barrera (MTC group) are so thankful for Thanksgiving and food!!!!
Photo 4: Me and Treeb- I "give thanks" for her!
Photo 5: Sora Armstrong, Sora Barrera, Me and Trebas!
Photo 6 : Just all of us missionaries!
Photo 7: "Leebas" in the snow!
Photo 8: Me and Casa PoPo!
Photo 9: I love Romania!!!! Romania has been a country for 555 years this year!
Photo 10: Sick flag photo
Photo 11: Super cute officers-ha
Photo 12: TANKS
Photo 13: Show your Romanian pride- stick a flag on your bike!
Photo 14: Cake fight for "Elder Whitehead's going away party this morning! Elder Laititi hit me square in the face so I got to hit him back!