Monday, December 30, 2013

12-30-13

Hey Mom and Dad! Holy smokes it sounds like you've had busy week. 

I got to skype my family!
I'm 19 years old! 
My big sister is Married!!!
Dang it's all over my head

I had a lot of highs and lows this week. It was so good seeing you guys and enjoying the Christmas feel again, but I'm kinda ready for this holiday season to be over so I can forget about home and get to work again, know what I mean? I feel like a part of me stayed home when we closed that skype and I'm just now finally getting back into the swing of things. But with that aside, it was AMAzing being able to talk to you guys and seeing how much everyone's grown and that I haven't been forgotten. I can't believe Aubrey Carey is a Carey.. that's so weird to me..
I thought about her all Friday, but it wasn't sad for me like I expected- if change is going to happen, that's the kinda change I want ;)

My Birthday was pretty good! I went to the Hobbit 2 with my district, then we went out for ice cream and pizza. I was bored to death that evening because everyone else had to leave for different appointments and my companions wanted to spend the evening on the computers. So I just juggled for a long time. 

Last night I got fed! By a non-american! haha
I was out contacting with the assistants and Elder Brown and Elder Barclay. I was getting kinda cold cause I had ditched my coat at the office, not really thinking ahead. As we passed the house of one of Barclay's investigators, a couple in there 50's, and he suggested that we ring in and see if they minded company so that we could meet them. We were all kinda curious because of the stories we had heard so we all agreed. Man- these people were crazy in the most entertaining sense. Just very abstract views and a really lighthearted outlook on life. they were SO goofy, we had a bunch of fun there. 
We spent two hours at their house, just listening to their stories, viewing all their scars, admiring all their possessions including his "money making machine" (He's a cobbler so his heavy duty sewing machine is where the dough comes from) It was a lot of fun, but we only meant to stay 10 minutes and every time we stood up they're like "please don't leave yet, sit back down!"
Then the fed us basically all their food. I felt so bad because we had just eaten and we definitely weren't expecting a meal. They kept saying "next time you come for food you should call us first!" and we're like "we didn't come for food we just wanted to meet you for a moment!" But they kept insisting and we at a bunch of the best saramale I've ever had. Then they brought out a dish called piftie.. Basically you take all the meat off a pig, then we boil what's left with garlic and waaaay too much salt and.. eat it. it's basically a thin layer of poor quality meat with about two inches of what looks like translucent white jello on top. We all slurped it down with as straight of faces as we could muster and woke up this morning a little queasy.. but we were able to share a little spiritual thought and I think I can say I had a lesson..? anyways, it was sick ;D

i'm gonna dash now, we're going to go play some soccer at the park izvor. Love you guys so much, thank you so much for that skype call again! 
Good luck with your rejuvenation and stuff!

Elder Collison

Monday, December 23, 2013

12-23-13

Hello my family!! 

I have a bunch of stories from this week, but I think I'm going to keep you waiting until Wednesday, I want to have a story or two to bring to the table ;) 
It's the week of Christmas! I can't believe it! I'll give you the run down of my plans. 
We're going to do a bunch of Caroling up until Christmas. I'm really loving it- I've been going with Elder Barclay and Elder Brown a lot to go caroling with the sisters. My companions refuse so we go on exchanges. (did I tell you I just got another companion? There was a large group of missionaries that left halfway through the transfer so it unevened the number of elders. Now we have elder Brady in the office with us to give us an extra hand) So we're going to do a bunch of that. On Wednesday we're going to come to the office early in our pajamas and open Christmas presents under our beautiful tree. After that we'll be going to the Hills house. We were invited over for lunch and some downtime shenanigans. It sounds like we're going to spend the afternoon there watching the first hobbit (because some members of my district hasn't seen it yet and President Hill is the biggest fan) and we're going to play some board games and stuff. After that I'll just dash back to the office and have a quick little chat WITH MY LOVELY FAMILY-AHHHH! I'm so excited guys ;)

On Thursday we're going to see the second Hobbit at 11ish, then after that is kinda unplanned. I'll make sure we do something crazy though ;) I'm so ready to be 19! not that it really changes anything, but I've been the little runt of college and this mission life for too long! haha, kidding- but it will be nice.. 
I've actually gotta go soon.. I might be able to email more sometime tomorrow..? we're going out as a district right now and then I gave someone permission to use my computer to skype their family tonight. 
Usually I would feel bad but I'm talking to you guys in three days!! will you tell all my siblings I'm sorry for not being able to reply?? sorry! I'll probably be able to get on tomorrow sometime, so if you have any questions or anything or just want to email me more you can!! haha 

Love you lots,

Talk to you soon!

Elder Collison

Monday, December 16, 2013

12/16/13

Hey Mom and Dad and Emma!!
This week hasn't been all too eventful. My highlight was probably our little Christmas concert we threw Saturday night, we had a bunch of fun with that. It was kinda thrown together last minute, but someone came up with a program and a good compilation of songs and all the missionaries in Buc gathered together both Friday night and Saturday morning to practice. I heard some of the senior couples in the audience took a good amount of pictures so I'll try to get my hands on those and send them your way. Honestly, it wasn't a whole lot different from a primary presentation- it was just like the "after we had grown a foot or two" edition. Some people had little clips to read and songs to introduce, and president Hill at one point sang "if I were a rich man". Boy he was he animated! Behind his fake beard and cane I had a hard time remembering it was him. He was dancing and jumping around and yelling. SO funny, I loved it. We're going to give the same presentation at some other Christmas party and at the American Embassy on Thursday. We got a gig at the American Embassy! We're going to go up on stage and sing for all the workers while they're on their lunch break, I'm pretty stoked! 

We don't have any snow yet! It's actually been pretty comfortable here. Remember how we were so concerned about the weather here? Bah. It snowed once, a month ago, and it's just been frost since. It's about as cold as Michigan gets though, not too awful ;) 

This week I had the chance to go on an exchange with Elder Brown in my district. He just got here 2 weeks ago. I got to be his first exchangee. It was really good to get out and talk to people again after lying contactingly dormant for so long. It was exactly the same as it was 3 months ago- 
"Good after noon sir, we're missiona-" 
"NO." 
"Hello madam, can we explain this book to y--" 
"NO." 
But just to try, made me feel like a missionary again.
We ate some English breakfast, which is very quickly becoming my favorite meal. Just picture this; You have four pieces of toast on a plate, then you put on by layers;
Carnati (sausages..? but they're not sausages, they taste totally different)
mushrooms and onions fried up together
Fried eggs
tomatoes
and baked beans
Dang it's good! 

Love you guys bunches! And Emma; I'm so stinkin' proud of you for stickin' with the piano! I always get super nervous when I perform too, but I always feel so good after words and I like being able to share my talents with people. ;) 

Love you!! 

Elder Collison

Monday, December 9, 2013

12-9-13

Hey Mom and Dad! Man those photos and videos are great. Gabey IS HUGE. and Isaac IS HUGE. Oh goodness, Gabriel is making actual human sounds out of his mouth! And Isaac looks so much like Caleb. I was just comparing the family photo I have on my desk and the pictures you sent me and you ALL look so old! Excluding you Mom and Dad, you guys are pretty much the same with a little less mass. haha
Oh yeah.. So let me tell you the story of this Christmas tree..
We were going to Ikea for lunch, right? By this point I had already been talking about stringing my desk with Christmas lights or doing a little something to bring the level of office cheer up a bit and get everybody excited for the Holidays. We got there and there were a ton of christmas trees sitting in the front looking all beautiful and they were so dang cheap! So we ate lunch all considering it, then we stopped in carrefour afterwards to try and find some CD labels for the christmas slideshow. They had Christmas trees there too (we thought they were cheaper at the time until we found out the stand was 90 RON extra) So we were looking around, and the guy selling them was like "they're all 80 RON, except for that huge one in the back!" We all kinda looked at each other then bought the giant one for 120 RON. We got back outside to our car and remembered we were driving an opel corsa which is roughly the size of my big toe. I guess you probably saw from the videos how we crammed it in there, I think those guys in the back are still coughing out pine needles.. I held the top of the tree tightly to the car cause we started hitting signs and stuff, I was sure my arm was going to come off driving through buc like that. haha
But having the tree in the office now and seeing sora bakers reaction made it totally worth it. We were pretty sure they we're going to be totally against it for being impractical, but they paid for most of it and helped us decorate it. We ended up having to cut off about 3 feet to make it fit, but it is now one dang good looking tree. 

Aside from that not a whole lot has happened this week, just the same old stuff. I finished all the invitation applications for the incoming missionaries and now I'm just waiting on passport scans and I can start running around to the various offices in Bucuresti trying to get them legal. A senior couple here just went home early, the sister fell and broke her wrist (this happens to be the one that we just moved into a new apartment 3 weeks ago) So we went over there, got them all packed up on Thursday, and then took them to the airport at 4am the next day. The rough part about that was that we went to bed at 1ish, trying to get things finished for zone conference on Friday, so I wasn't exactly a happy camper for the Christmas party ;) It was fun though. Both Elder Phelps and I forgot to buy ties for the tie exchange, and we told them to stall for just 30 minutes because we were going to run to A Fi to grab some ties. The deal was locked when the zone leader directing it said that we'd never make it there and back in under an hour. So of course we had to try it. So we ran there, picked out two very sexy ties at the first store we stopped at, and made it back in 31 minutes. I spent 35 lei on a tie and I received somebody's scrap found in a closet somewhere. I felt a little cheated.. ;) 
The rest of the conference was really great. I had the hardest time staying awake, but we had fun and everyone really enjoyed the slideshow. President Hill finally announced the name of the incoming Mission President. He's known for the last several months but hasn't been allowed to tell because the guy was waiting until Thanksgiving to tell his family. His name is Clark Ivory, really young guy with a young family. He's actually got a son coming with him that's probably Matthews age. He owns Ivory homes in Utah and it sounds like he has a huge name. 

P-day just flew by! We did office work until about 1300, then we just kinda chilled and walked around Centru Vechi with the district after having lunch at pizza hut. We were all kinda looking for things to buy so we wandered some of the marketplaces but we didn't really find anything. Then we grabbed some boba (it's a asian bubble tea kinda thing? Fruity milk with tapioca and stuff.  I don't know if it's made it big in the states yet but I'm a fan)

We ran into a bunch of Americans today! That was weird.. In pizza hut we met a guy from California who was visiting friends that he met while he was stationed here. Then we were walking downtown and I heard some American English from a group we had just passed. I whipped around and i was like "hold up, where're you guys from??" They were like "The US." So I specified and the first girl to respond said, "Michigan!" so of course I whipped my hand out of my glove and asked her to show me where and she asked if I had ever heard of a city named Jackson. "Of course I have!" Weirdest thing. Just a couple kids from the study abroad program, and we talked for a couple minutes, but being a missionary, people like to keep the conversation short.

I think that's my week right there..
Thank you so much for your email.
Hey, you should have the kids start coming up with questions and stories for our skype chat, I'll be doing the same on this end ;)

Love you so much! Have a good night

Elder Collison

Thursday, December 5, 2013

12-2-13

My Momma and Poppa! 

Fastest and most exhausting week of my life! 
Haha, I'm just going to swamp you with details from my journal, cause a lot happened. Sorry...
Last week was one of the most stressful of my life, I’ve already forgotten most of the less than great stuff but some of those details aren’t the ones I want to remember as part of a mission.
It was transfer week and it started on Tuesday at 1305 when the missionaries' plane touched down. In our ignorance we had scheduled a health appointment at 1400. We executed the exit plan flawlessly and dashed back to Pipera only 3 minutes late for our appointment.
What happened later that evening is lost to me, I know we did a ton of running- oop! Here’s what happened. Elder Ormsby was going to drive to the Sisters apartment to help them move and he needed a second car. I was going to go along with them, when a couple other people bored to death in the office decided they had to go too. So we had to take three cars. As soon as we got off the roof Elder Barclay realized his car didn’t even have enough gas to make it to the sisters which was only 10 minutes away. So we worked our way back through traffic into the gas station. It had just begun snowing and the roads were SLICK right at the point of the usual rush hour. So getting to the sisters took us 45 MINUTES! As soon as we got there we got a call saying they had just finished loading the stuff and we should meet them at the new apartment, so we turned back around and worked our way back into the mess. The rest of the evening was Elder Phelps and I running back and forth everywhere on exchange- from the gara to the mission home, back to the office, then to the store. I love it, I love the feeling of helping other people but I was dead that night. Then Elder Phelps and I finally got back in contact with each other and were able to meet up at the office at 10 and decided to head home so that we could get a little bit of sleep before the big day. We realized we should probably go over the papers one last time to make sure we had everything for the visa process and health insurance. Sure enough- we had forgotten to have the incoming missionaries sign their health insurance cereres for our appointment early the next day. So we set off at 11, waking up every jetlagged missionary in Buc until 2 in the morning. By then the roads were kinda awful and we saw a couple accidents. We crawled in our beds as soon as we got home and enjoyed a couple hours of sleep before we were woken up by our phone. The Chisinau Elders had ditched the sisters in their district at the Gara and neither sister knew their way around Buc de loc. So we went and picked them up at 5:30 and dropped them off at the Aviatiei sister’s apartment. We then had to start the health insurance process down by Aviatorilor. 

That was hilarious, but I’m so glad she gave us such intensely detailed instructions. Everyone else walked in there looking around, not knowing what they were doing and we entered with a swagger and a script, knowing exactly what window to go to. We’re now the second missionaries in the history of this mission (according to Violeta) who had all the documents necessary to apply in the first go.
Wednesday was the big one; Visa applications for the 3 Sisters that had their appointments on Tuesday, and Health appointments afterwards for the rest.
I’ll cut down on the details and just say that there were about three days in a row in there where I was living off three hours of sleep a night and one meal a day. Friday was a recoup day. I slept in until my body felt good again, then I cleaned the apartment that smelled like dirty men and looked like it might have had four living in it at one time. A couple hours later we had our first district meeting, then we went to IKEA for lunch and for what turned into a six hour shopping expedition. My companion wasn’t very happy about that but I sure had a lot of fun just helping the sisters pick out things for their apartment.

So for my Thanksgiving I was at the visa office from 6-12 trying to get everyone applied for. After all the double checking and making sure the documents were in order, we got to the visa office and rejected one of the housing contracts because the landlord had forgotten to sign his part! That was enough to make it invalid and now I've got to go back through and redo 6 weeks worth of documents for two missionaries with the next batch that's coming in next month. 
After we finished up at the visa office we went over to the Bensfields house. That's where we hold church every Sunday, I'm sure I've mentioned the name before.. But we got there and socialized for a bit, but that's when we had to dash to the gara to pick up a sister leaving on her mission. A couple hours later we were able to return and eat some Thanksgiving leftovers at their house, then we continued running people all over the place and helping people move. I was really glad to be busy all day long because I didn't have to think about home too much. We got back really late, and that's when the homesickness hit me and I had to open my Christmas and birthday packages. I only opened the ones you suggested! But just looking at the letters (I didn't read any, I was just looking) was a boost. Man I miss my family, that's where I'm supposed to be at this time of year. But I'm glad to be here too. I'm really glad I'm in a position right now where they actually DO need me right now and I'm constantly busy and I'm not just trying to fill my time with random little things- as bad as that sounds.. 
We also got our first bout of snow this week! It was supposed to be raining all week long, but on Wednesday night it turned into a sleet which slowly evolved into a steady snow, while we were taking our midnight signature runs of course ;) 
I'm am so excited for Christmas! All of the sudden it's cold and there's Christmas music playing everywhere I go. I'm trying really hard to get everyone else excited. I'm planning on have a constant supply of eggnog in the fridge, and I think I have the office staff convinced into buying some christmas lights to cover the office in. haha, it should be fun ;) 
Yesterday was Romania's independence day. I didn't get to see anything because they had church going on during the ceremonies and parades. I was just sitting in church listening to gun shots and explosions all around me and itching to get out of there to see the action. We did get to explore the Arcul de triumf though and I'll send you some pictures of that. It's a really beautiful monument that was open yesterday for a tour. 

I'm grateful for my family! That's what I realized this Thanksgiving. It wasn't my first Thanksgiving without you guys but it was definitely the most lonely, and I guess it makes me appreciate having an eternal group of elites that love me all the more! haha, you guys are great and I'm really happy you were able to have relaxing week with our family. I'm grateful that we were placed in circumstances where we could grow up with and understand the gospel of happiness so that we could learn real joy and grow into something bigger than what we are. I'm grateful for the responsibility we have to share it! We're talking about a win win situation here when we're sharing happiness and increasing our own at the same time.

I love you guys so much! I'll probably send you guys some pictures in a bit, I just wanted to get an email sent off before I go play some soccer. 

Love you!

Elder Collison

Monday, November 25, 2013

11/25/13

Hey Mom!

I had so much going on in this last week- the good and the ugly. I actually kept a record of it too so I can remember a little bit of it!
It's been super crazy here. This is the very beginning of transfers week, and I just finished everything today that needs to be finished, but tomorrow's when the fun starts. Tomorrow I wake up at 4 and pick up a Romanian sister who's leaving to serve a mission in France, and we'll get her to the airport by 6:30. Then we have a staff meeting here at the office (happens every Tuesday) which will be cut early anyways because we have to take several missionaries from the EU to get their Visas (it is a separate process, at a separate office so it's got really random times.) Then we pick up the new missionaries from the airport. They get in at 1:05pm, and we have 3 that have health appointments at two. It's going to be sUch a rush getting those three there on time, but as soon as they're done with that we'll be heading over to the notary to get some documents signed. Man. I'll stop there, but we seriously have every second planned out of every day until Friday so we can't mess anything up too badly. On Thanksgiving we'll be standing in line at the visa office for most of the day. We were planning on having a big lunch with our district at the Bensfields house, some kind of potluck sort of deal. But I wasn't able to get the health appointments lined up on the same day which shifted the whole transfer schedule back a day (a huge source of stress for me in this last week.. haha) So if we finish that at a decent time we'll probably get some Thanksgiving leftovers somewhere and then help all the missionaries get settled into their new apartments. It'll be fun! Really I'm not to bummed about being busy. Even just on a couple leisure days last week I was starting to feel a tad homesick just cause I wasn't moving fast enough, right now I've got enough going on to keep me distracted ;)

The soccer game was AMazing! Greece won- they tied 1-1, but since Greece won their home game 3-1 they were the ones that qualified for the world cup. It was so intense. It was great to see Romania get so patriotic. All the sudden all these people that hated their own people and country and government the day before, bonded together over the mutual hatred of Greece. Unfortunately this just means that they were trying to help their team out. Meaning, throwing pretty impressive explosives at the goalie, setting off flares on the field and shining green lasers on the Greece teams faces whenever they stepped out to kick in the ball. But I had a lot of fun. I really got into it and it was really exciting. Romania actually played really well! They had possession on Greece's side for what seemed like the entire game. They were just unable to make a good shot, but they sure got a lot of soccer balls into the stands! Haha!

On Wednesday I had the chance to go on an exchange, which means I was finally able to drop office work for just a couple hours and do some contacting. We tried to find some people that kinda fell off the face of the earth a while back and talk to people on the street and we got beautifully lost. The thing about Buc is, it's a HUGE city. But it has like legit forests in the middle, abandoned dumps, and little villages and gypsy towns all throughout it that are just completely uncharted. So we went adventure contacting for a day.  It was so good to get out again.  ;)

Love you so much! I hope your week's great!

Love ya!

Elder Collison

Monday, November 18, 2013

11/18/13

Hey Mom and Dad! My week's been pretty good. I don't really remember what I did, I just remember being really stressed and tired.. haha- but I just made a word document I'm going to keep around as a journal while I'm in the office because I've been doing such a bad job at writing in my actual journal.. So maybe my emails will get a little more exciting when I can remember actual stories throughout the week!
  
Today we're going to play some soccer in a park at Izvor, I'm so excited for the exercise. I've been working out and running a lot with Elder Grosu, but I always feel like I have to do more to compensate for the time spent on my butt. 

I just came back from playing some soccer and it was SO sick. I'm really bad at it and I was playing with a bunch of people that actually knew what they were doing so it was kinda funny, but it was a good way to get some exercise and vent some energy. 

Monday, October 28, 2013

10/28/13

On Thursday night the Hills took us out to dinner in honor of my companion who leaves Thursday. SUch good food. We ate at an Italian restaurant and I had some kind of seafood pasta dish- shelled oysters and crab and whole shrimp and calamari. Dang it was good, although I decided while eating clams that I'm not a huge fan of eating 14 bodily systems in a single bite.

I think we really are going to Mogosoaia (mow-go-show-ah-ee-ah) today! And I plan on sending some pictures this evening, although I can't promise anything.. But we're going to head up there and have a picnic and just mess around for a bit. I found out none of the buildings are unlocked on Mondays, but that also means no one's there to give you a hard time and we can just chill outside the palace for a while.

Man, for some reason I can not remember anything about last week! It was packed with just random stuff and none of it's coming back to me. My journal writing has died since I got to the office so now you can see the raw power of my memory alone ;)

Umm.. I saw three Lamborghini's last night! I was sitting on a bench next to bird man (huge statue out side of Parcul Herastrau in the center of a huge round about) waiting for the sisters, and two white, beautiful cars zip on past emitting the most lovely sound. And I jump up yelling in English, "Guys! hey, everybody look!" And then as soon as I sat down a yellow one raced past the other way going stupidly fast.

Hey, you asked for details! Haha

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Week 30!

This last week has been the most crazy and exhausting ever, I'll give ya the rundown from the beginning.. 

So. Wednesday morning- I was doing the dishes before I was supposed to get on my studies. I hear Elder Ealy from the other room as this all plays out; he gets a text from Elder Ormsby (One of the office Elders) saying, "When are you coming in for training?" Elder Ealy asks him what he's talking about and he's like, "Come on, putting it off isn't supposed to change anything!" By this point Elder Ealy is freaking out, thinking he would have to spend his last 6 months in the office. So he calls him and throws the phone at me after a moment, and he's like, "You were told you were the new office Elder, right??" 
So yeah.. That's how I found out. And since then it's been crazy! Here's why.. 

In the office, the term is 6 months and there's a 3 month overlap between each elder for training. Last transfer there were three Elders in the office- Elder Whitehead who was being trained for the office, Elder Ormsby who was the trainer, and Elder Green who is going home halfway through this next transfer. An elder went home early a couple weeks ago and Elder Whitehead had to go take his place, and Elder Ormsby was assigned to organize the Aviatie District (which is evolving this transfer from Buc North) 
That leaves me, the newbie in the office, with a guy that has 5 weeks of experience here and leaves on Halloween..(And then I'll be training a new office elder here.) It's been kinda crazy, I got my two transfers worth of training in about an hour, and I've just been sitting here sinceWednesday reading old documents and bits of instructions that could give me a hint as to what I'm supposed to be doing.
Everyone's been really nice here and putting up with all my questions- and Elder Ormsby will be living just a couple minutes away from the office in the same apartment I'm in now, and President Hill made it clear that I could pull him out of his duties any time I needed help. So I haven't totally been thrown under the bus ;)
I'm in charge of getting the Visa's, Health insurance, and medical appointments figured out for all the recent and incoming missionaries. I'm also in charge of phones, name tags, making pass-along cards; and really any other project no one else has time for.

It's been wEiRd. You know how I always said you would never catch me working in an office or behind a desk? I'm still the same person! It isn't any more appealing now than it was then, but a mission assignment isn't exactly something you turn down. :) I keep jumping up every couple hours or so, "What am I doing!? I need to get to work!" Then it's like, "Hold up. I AM working. This is work now..."

But anyways, it's been fun! Sorry for the mass of details, just wanted to give you a feel for what's going on ;)

We've got a couple of skype investigators; just people that are living in other European countries that don't speak the native tongue or English so they get referred to us. I got to teach a man on Friday in the Czech Republic who was recently baptized and that was super sweet. I finally got to teach a lesson! haha
Yesterday I went church in Mihai Bravu for the first time because that's where the office Elders are supposed to go until Wednesday when we officially become part of the Aviatie district. So it was really cool meeting a bunch of new people and afterwards we went to a sister's house for lunch. She's this old lady that cooks a huge meal for the missionaries every week. She's super goofy and we had so much fun. A while ago missionaries started giving her money for the food to help her out, and now I'm pretty sure she's turned it into a business.. Missionaries bring all the bread and the suc, she makes soup, then everyone pays her 10 lei at the end. Smart, right?? haha  But it was super fun. We had about 10 missionaries there and we ate ciorba and sarmale, then just hung out and sang hymns with her. 

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Week 29!

Hey Mom and Dad!
I actually did get to watch conference! They broadcasted it live at the Mihai Bravu chapel and there were enough English Speakers there that they set up another room for us. So we had about 5 Romanians show up to watch it in the chapel and about 20 missionaries to watch it in a small classroom upstairs ;) I hadn't really thought about the time difference until then. It was so weird to be watching conference when it was pitch black outside, knowing that you guys were watching it in the morning there. So I watched the Saturday morning session at 7pm, Saturday evening at 3pm on Sunday, and then the Sunday Morning Session at 7 on Sunday. So I still have a couple I need to watch, but that'll happen soon enough :) I've gotta say that my favorite talks were from Brother Dube (cause he's just a boss and for some reason that kinda hit home) and president Monson (naturally) But talking about missing his wife and his testimony of eternal families was really powerful.
This has been a week cram packed! I'll just give you a nice little overview :) On Wednesday I was on an exchange with Elder Lybbert, my district leader and I got to teach a lesson for the first time in forever! It's been two transfers of disinterested people so it was so good to teach. Since it's been so long I haven't really been able to track my progress with the language so it was way sweet seeing the leap. It went from my first transfer being able to contribute almost nothing, to this where I was able to understand the entire conversation of philosophical theories and contribute 50 percent. Yeah, I gotta a little cocky over it until contacting again where I finally have to admit "Never mind! I don't speak Romanian.."  ;)
Eugen came down on Tuesday and we spent Wednesday and Thursday with him. He went contacting with us and showed us a lake called "Lacul Muri"; which as far as I understand means "lake; you die!"
We had zone conference on Friday which was great. A lot of changes were made, a lot of new ideas were presented. Because the traditional missionary approach isn't working all that great everyone's trying to think outside the box a little bit. But it really renewed my fire and it was a great preamble to conference.
On Saturday we were able to do a little bit of Vila knocking with the Sisters after English and before conference started. Once you start getting out of the city all of the blocs turn into houses. So we went up to Buc Noi (the place we visited last Monday). Hard to describe, but it's basically like a secluded village tucked away in the middle of a huge city. It felt a lot like Hillsdale except this was where all the rich people lived and it was NICE. It's a lot different than I imagine knocking houses would be like back in the states. All of these Vile are surrounded by huge walls and you can't see into them. So you call into the video intercom and talk to the person from outside the wall, or yell (politely..?) until someone comes out. They can see you but you can't see them, and it's actually kind of awkward. We only had a couple people come out and talk to us and no one really cared. But they were Kind! Instead of hearing "I'm orthodox, stupid!" all day, it was a lot of - "not today sweetie"
New target; Old rich people! haha
Love you!

Elder Collison

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Week 28!

Howdy!

My week's been pretty great! I've been kinda sick (sounds like just the same stuff you've all got) and it's just been nice and rainy. I'm loving it! But I haven't had the chance to buy my winter accessories yet and I'm freezing my digits off.

This whole roofing thing sounds like a crazy process.  But the county fair, on the other hand, is something I can be jealous about, especially since so many of my siblings wasted precious ride time looking at animals. I mean, who does that??

Here's my week starting today and moving backwards-
We did our "3 hours missionary work" this morning instead of this evening like it's usually done. One of the sisters in our district has a birthday today so we're going to have a pizza game night kinda deal and try to make it special. I made a berry cheesecake that I'm kinda proud of; I haven't tried the finished product yet, but I cleaned the bowl out three times with my tongue after making the cream cause it was kinda irresistible. 
I'm going to jump back to Friday really quick- We had a meeting with President Hill on Friday; trying to get a feel for expectations, organize a boundary, hear his plan-that kind of thing. And there he asked us to explore a part of the city in our proselyting area called New Buc because missionaries had never been up there. So that's what we did this morning! Haha, it's only an inch away from where we live on the map of Buc, but it took us about 45 minutes to get there by bus. We then just kinda got a feel for the community; proselyting possibilities and that kind of thing. It is nice up there! I didn't really feel like I was in Romania, it was just like a little secluded city of rich people. 

Church went well yesterday. I'm getting better at conducting and I'm not getting better at translating.. haha
I was asked to translate from English to Romanian which proved to be super hard. President Iacobescu (who lived in America for a while and speaks perfect English) filled in for a lot of it and fed me better words to use because I wasn't moving fast enough. But it was a nice mental stretch ;)

Saturday we had a service project planned. We got a call from a member saying he needed some help with his renovation. We were expecting to go and help him paint or something (and I was in my grubby shorts and a T-shirt on a freezing cold day). We got there and the member throws his winter coat on and tells us to follow him. So we just kinda walk in silence, with him a little ways in front of us down a road - after road, after village, after road - through the park and around the lake. And then we get to this wood shop after about 30-45 minutes, where he buys a big piece of plywood. Then we back track. Picture my companion and I weaving through people in a park, dodging traffic, trying to follow him as he darts across the street, and we're carting around a wall of wood. Man, my forearms hurt.. (guess I can't complain to you roofers, can I? ;D) Then we get back to his place and he's like, "Alright, see you boys Sunday!"
It was kinda funny looking back on it and talking about it with Elder Ealy, but really I'm just grateful for the chance to serve- people don't believe in service projects here! 

Love,

Elder Collison

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Week 27

Hey!
I actually am really enjoying Bucharest. There are so many beautiful parks and it's just an entirely different world all together. Since my last email I've also had the chance to contact in Parcul Tineretului and Cismigiu. Man, they're both just so beautiful. After you contact for a while and you finally break the barrier you just feel happy for no reason.  You can imagine my joy just walking around the gorgeous lake surrounded by willow trees and very European cobblestone bridges. Man. But I am having fun here. I really enjoy searching for less actives because it's really just a big investigation. You finally find the right block and then if no one's home you ask all the neighbors to start piecing the story together. So far everyone we've tried to visit has moved out of the country, but that means we can start cleaning up the huge inactive lists we have.
Last week was a pretty good one! I got to spend all of Saturday at the church and I got to hang with my bud Eugen! We had to practice for the puppet show (I guess I have to explain that.. Something they're trying here is a little puppet show. Just little skits on sanitation, dangers of alcohol and smoking- that kinda thing. The set belongs to the church, and they already have recordings of the skits, so we just have to sit behind the stage and move the mouths and hands. it's kinda cool!) So we practiced for that, then we taught English (which turned out to be really fun.) We basically just translated songs and we have a pretty cool group.) We were going to have sports night just three hours later, so we grabbed some lunch, and then weekly planned at the church. We had sports night at 4 and I got to play some American football for the first time in forever!
I'm so excited for general conference too! I have no idea how it's going to work out here. I would have to stay up all night to watch it live. Most likely I'll just watch it at a member's house or get permission to go to an internet cafe.
My shoulders are actually doing great! I haven't had a problem since I've been here in Buc. I've started working out my upper body again and it's killing me how weak I am!
I love you!
Elder Collison

Monday, September 16, 2013

Week 26

Howdy!
I'm lacking on many awesome stories for this week. It was your run of the mill kinda week with a lot of time just spent contacting.
Hey, I started jogging again though! Meaning, I've done it once and I'm planning on keeping up the routine this week. It's been raining since, but I'm so happy at the idea of anything less than atrophy.

Haha, funny story... kinda.  SO, I've never really translated before. I'm in my fourth transfer and on average this is when you start to understand a little of what's being said around you. So I've definitely gotten to that point, I've been feeling like I'm doing pretty good language wise- but that's still just picking up words here and there and forming an idea, I don't have the full message 100% of the time. But at church yesterday I was asked to translate. Of course I said I'll give it a try so I stood up with the romanian guy I was supposed to be translating for. I stand next to the pulpit and he starts with "I want to talk about my job," which happened to be some sort of avionics technician, making sure planes take off and land correctly. So two sentences in and all the words become foreign to me, as you can imagine. So I'm standing up next to this guy, throwing out English words every once in a while "Return. Rest. Diligence." You can picture it. Better yet, president Hill also decided to come to this group meeting and was sitting right in front of me as I'm basically interrupting the meeting at this point. (Afterwards he stopped me and asked where I was when they went over avionics vocab in the MTC, so apparently he wasn't too disappointed ;D) Man, it's funny now- but standing up there with these High class embassy workers and senior couples expecting something out of you- it was kinda terrifying! But President Iacobescu (the group leader) speaks perfect English and he saved me and we kinda tag teamed the rest of the talk. 
We also almost taught a lesson Saturday. Almost. And then they didn't show up. But that was kind of exciting! The closest I've been in a while.
All the Buc missionaries are going to play some ultimate frisbee at the Mihai Bravu chapel today. I got kind of addicted to it in Constanta when I was playing it every week and I've been having some withdrawals, so I'm kinda stoked!
I'm loving Buc! You know naturally I'm a small town kinda guy. I need my cornfields and trees. But this is kinda exciting; using the underground metro everyday, always surrounded by massive buildings and waaay too many people. There are also a billion places to contact which makes it nice, I will forever be an adventuring and a lost man in this city. The people here so far have been nice and accepting even if they're not really interested, and I've met so many foreigners and members from other countries. 
Love you! 

Elder Collison

Monday, September 9, 2013

Week 25

My first week here's been really good! I'd only heard less than desirable things about Buc before this, just about the people being more in a rush, harder to stop, all the inner city pressure- ya know. but I'm really loving it so far. Like, I went to the park last night and it was amazing. There are several of these parks in Buc, and this is something I could wander in for weeks and not explore it all. They had a huge outdoor theater with hundreds of people just sitting on the grass, a super nice skate park, tons of restaurants, and old rebuilt villages. Maybe we have these in America, but I've seen nothing like it before.
Buc North just had it's first meeting yesterday! The leader there is super legit. He told his conversion story and he is very solid in the Gospel. There were about 20 people there all together, and since there were about an even number of Romanian and English speakers, the whole meeting was translated. The nice part is- the missionaries didn't have to do it! Both President Doru (the district president) and the group leader President Iacobescu speak english really well, so they pretty much tag teamed the whole meeting, translating for each other. Iacobescu would say something in Romanian and Doru would translate it into English, then he would switch to English in the middle of the sentence and Doru would translate it into Romanian.  

Oh, and guess who got to conduct without any knowledge of it? Yeah, they didn't ask me to sit down this time- but I did find out that some people actually dO look at the conductor and sometimes when the conductor's off a beat everyone follows.. So Elder  Baker (the accountant) pulled me aside before I had to conduct the closing hymn and taught me how. Now I know! But it was really funny.. Picture me randomly waving my hand randomly in front of a congregation in a living room, trying to read in a language I'm not perfect with, trying to keep a Romanian choir in tune to a song I didn't know.. woohoo!!

That's my week! my time this transfer is pretty much going to be spent helping out with this, visiting the thousands of less actives and inviting them to the new group, and doing a little contacting. It'll be fun!

Love, Elder Collison


I met Eugen!!



Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Week 24!

So.. I'm starting my 4th transfer in Romania! weird, right? I was just assigned to Bucharest, Panduri- serving with an Elder Ealy. I've never met the guy, but he's really old in the mission and he actually got back from the states last transfer after having his shoulder operated on (Sora Hill said we had the same problem..?) But I've heard he's a pretty cool guy. K, here's the cool part. There have been rumors going around about opening up a Buc North branch for all the Americans here working for the Embassy and for all the English speakers. I get to open it! We're kinda opening up a new area so we're starting from scratch; no area book or anything. I don't have a whole lot of details yet but I'm pretty excited for the adventure.
The reason I wasn't able to email you is because I've been stuck in the apartment since Friday. We got a phone call saying that the proprietar wanted to install a water heater. Even the plumber said it would probably just take a day. all I know is that for the last 3 days we've had guys in our house, drilling through the cement and destroying our apartment. woohoo! So I've done a lot of studies, I've been all packed for the last few days, and I did a whole lot of rocking back in my chair staring at the ceiling yesterday. Our apartment was DeStroyed by dust! it was the nastiest thing. We had no idea what they were doing the first day, so we had tons of dishes drying and lots of food put away but unsealed. we just had to throw out all the food and rewash all the dishes. We woke up the last few mornings feeling like crap cause we're breathing in so much dust, it's just gross all together! 
So that's been really fun. 
Transfer Boards came out at 11 on Friday, but we weren't able to leave our apartment so we filled our own in by phone. Just a little depressing after so much anxiety and expectation ;)
Adventure for the week! 
We went out to a little village, in search of the last address Alin gave us. Super awesome village and it felt JUst like Reading. We even stepped into the "shariffs office" for some help and it was totally something you would see on the Andy Griffeth show. Everyone was super friendly there and were really willing to help. It turned out that the guy we were searching for had moved out of the country a while ago, but it was so relaxing walking down the dusty roads for hours looking for a street no one had ever heard of before. The big city kind of deal might be growing on me just a bit but I'll never get tired of the small town feel.
Love,

Elder Collison

Monday, August 26, 2013

Week 23!

SO. My week.
On monday, Elder Montoya and I caught the 18:15 Auto bus for Bucharest and made our way to the city of joy. (K, I guess that's not really funny to you- but the word bucuresti literally means the city of joy. Haha?) The office Elders then picked us up and took us back to their place with a lot of other kids from Montoya's MTC group. We got to the visa office the next day at 10ish and started the slow process of application. ( I had already done this, so I just had to sit back and wait) Then we found out that the office I needed to receive my visa from opened much later in the day. So after everyone finished their stuff, Montoya and I went on splits with the office Elders so they could accomplish all they needed to that day. It was pretty sweet! Just pretending to work in the Office for a day, riding around Bucharest in Big Blue (Just like our van but a VW and manual transmission) And that day also happened to be when the new russian Elders were coming in (It's a little off from transfers because their still in the MTC for 9 weeks. So I actually got to go to the airport and welcome them into the country! Pretty sweet ;)
Funny story; 
So you kinda know how it is here- sometimes it feels like if someone's not begging you for money, they're probably trying to devise a plan to relieve you of it some other way.. But the other day, we were going to a service project after visiting a family in the branch. As I was getting on the bus a man yells "don't get on that side!' (there are three doors that open on every bus) so I followed him to the middle of the bus and we talked for a minute. I found out later there were a couple smecher gypsy kids back there he wanted the foreigner to avoid. But he turned to me and said "you're chinese, right?" Maybe I had been squinting into the sun? but I just laughed and told him I was a missionary from the US. We talked a little longer but we had to get of the bus soon after that. as we were descending he reaches out and tries to hand us a 10 lei note. Elder Baielli quickly thrusts it back into his hand, and I do the same when he hands it to me. This all happened in a couple seconds while we were stepping off, but he was a dirty, probably very poor old man, so determined to give us money! he was yelling "please, please please!" super funny. I mean. He was probably trying to pay tithing and we just denied him his salvation, but that's not something you see everyday in Romania.. ;)
I'll explain the picture really quick;
So- we have a nice little collection of Book of mormon's in different languages in my apartment. I had been messing around with a german one a couple days ago and I left it on the table.
We were in a rush somewhere, and a lady contacted us, asking what problems we solved or something like that. Of course we jumped all over that. Elder Baielli threw open his book of mormon and with the goofiest expression, turned to me and said "this is in german!" one of those stories where you needed to be there, but I laughed for 10 minutes after we walked away. and then this picture is from when we told the sisters about it, they needed a picture of it ;) 



Oh, and really quick! they do eat meat here! all these tiny shacks in downtown constanta have roosters crowing in them all day long. They eat mostly chicken, but all of their soups are from sheep or beef stomach. I really like it!

 Have I mentioned the cockroaches to you yet?? I guess I've gotten used to them.. our apartment's pretty nice, there are only a couple and you only really see them during middle of the night potty breaks. other apartment- if you walk around the house with the lights off, you're going to step on them. annnnd we have bed bugs. and fleas. but every one here has them so it's super hard to keep the house free of them. I've sprayed several times. No biggie though, I can take it for a couple more years :) 

Love you all so much! Thanks for emailing me! 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Week 22

Hey Mom and Dad!! I'm doing pretty awesome ;)
Man, I'm so excited you guys are all getting into this running. I wish I was part of this getting healthy movement! Everyone seems to be loving it and getting pretty fast. I've been able to play a lot of soccer in the morning for exercise and we play ultimate Frisbee every friday night. Plus I'm walking every day all day and my legs are constantly sore. So I'm really hoping that once I get home I'll be able to jump right in!
The summerset stampede is such an awesome trail! I can't imagine pushing a stroller over all the roots and everything.
Dad! You can run 13 miles! dang that's far.. I'm so proud of my papa!
Just so you know: I read Matthew's email first about Gabriel losing an eye and I believed him and that is not cool!!! 50 lashings I say..
I love you guys! your letters are so legit! I so look forward to mondays and being able to hear about your weeks and your advice and testimonies ;)
My weeks been pretty good, just the same treaba as usual- contacting and English classes. Actually- we almost had a lesson this week! I mean, they bunged us and it didn't happen- but that's the closest we've gotten so far! 
Our branch President Alin gave us a list of names he wanted us to look up. These were tons of people he had files of but had never heard of them, had no idea if they were still alive or around, so He wanted us to try and find these people.
A lot of them lived in the little villages surrounding Constanta, and there was one in particular gypsy he warned us about and recommended all four elders go together. On thursday we all went together, and by then- we were terrified! haha, everyone we talked to- "oh my goodness, do not go there" or "don't carry anything on you, go dressed in rags, don't leave each other's side." We had at least 20 people give us warnings and we were sure we were going to die. But of course by then I was SO curious and ready for the adventure, and it was our duty- so we went. We found the bus that would take us all the way out there and started asking around for directions.
k, so on the bus- we meet Ion and Gabi, the two nicest Romanians I've met. They got on the bus at the same time as us- and they were worried for our safety so they stayed with us for the whole 3 hours we were looking for this person! They had lived in the village all their lives so they basically went door to door with us, asking all their friends and family if they had ever learned the name we were looking for. We found out later that the guy had moved to spain a year earlier, but I am so glad we went there. At one point the rest of the group was up a ways and I was just in the back, talking with Ion. We had an awesome - 30 min. conversation- In Romanian! I love those moments, when I can look back and see that I have learned a bit of the language.. haha, those don't come every day
But it was super cool. We had been so scared and expected a lot of evil, and for that day I was only surrounded by the nicest people- it was way cool.
Today, Elder Montoya and I are going to Bucharest. (The trip didn't work out last week because it turned out that the day we were supposed to get our visa's was some Saint day and it was closed) So our p-day is cut a little short, but we get to go take a 1 day vacation to Buch. Hooray! haha
Love ya!

Elder Collison



Monday, August 12, 2013

Week 21

This week has been great. I really don't know where the time's gone or what I've accomplished. Most of my time is still just spent trying to find people; I'm determined to teach at least one lesson this transfer! English classes are back to the bottom again. we're back down to ├Âur regulars"- just 10 old people that've come for years, and one old guy we blocked knocked into that's very atheist. 
As far as adventures go.. hmm.. haha.
So we're trying to come up with a better way for advertising for English, right? So we come up with a plan to advertise on the buses cause the whole city passes through there in the course of a day. (I think I gave you the story of trying to track down that number..?) So. We went through all the hassle of trying to find that number, (which never worked) Finally got the address, and then friday we went to hunt it down. We finally found the bus by asking around; according to maps and the bus route it didn't exist. after a half hour bus ride way out of the city, we get off where we were told to in the middle of nowhere. The only directions on the paper given to us were "between the beer and oil factories." 
So we're two missionaries, trying to find our way into this beer factory. after a while of waiting and a couple of phone calls made for us, we're told they have no idea what we're talking about. So we tried the oil factory, where they DID know what we were talking about, and directed us just a kilometer down the road to a huge bus garage. We finally get there, explaining our cause to first the security guards, then the main office- assistants- several other offices -then the advertising department, where they directed us to their website.. We'll let the next set of Elders here work with the advertising ;)
That's really all I can think of for my week.. This next week should be pretty awesome though!

This morning we all went down to the Gondola's down at mamaia. just a little capsule that rides on a cable waaaay up in the air for about 15 minutes. It was pretty sweet although all it was was basically a slide show of every unobtainable thing as a missionary (and some things as a disciple of Christ.. mamaia really isn't the place to be this time of the year)
And this week Elder Montoya and I are heading up to Buc to pick up my visa (hopefully. did I tell you they messed up with my visa so I'm now an illegal immigrant? haha, I probably shouldn't put that on the internet..) and start his visa work. So I'm excited for that, it always feels like a vacation, going up to Buc. A nice time to change things up a bit.
Thank you for the updates! Thank you for the Letters!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Week 20

'Ello Mum and Dad! 

My week's been pretty good; a lot of highs and a lot of lows.

I'm craving that 65 degree weather! that's my prime time right there.. It's been about 34 degrees Celsius here. I don't actually know the conversion ratio between the two, but that's what I see on all the advertisement thermometers and stuff. Way too hot for me. Seriously, I've never had such a hot summer and believe it or not, it is sooo much more humid than michigan. I am sweating just buckets each day.
We haven't had the chance to teach anyone together yet. (With new companion.)  I think I've had about 5 lessons since I got in the country. But we're trying to find people to teach every day! Actually last Monday Elder Montoya and I were outside waiting for our companions and a guy contacted us.  He spotted us out as foreigners and we started talking and he asked what made our church different. It's moments like that where I have to try really hard not to appear over excited and I'm like, "Let's talk about a loving Heavenly Father!" 
So all of that is to tell you; it's possible that we'll have a lesson this week after English if he comes.. Hurray..? haha ;)
 
Just so you know-We had interviews on Saturday and those went great, I love seeing the Hills. And I mentioned to Sora Hill that my shoulder's getting worse. (I guess I haven't really mentioned that..? it's just been separating frequently, and i was washing dishes the other day and it was bugging me way too much and I'm like "k, I should probably mention this..") Anyways. So an elder just got back to the mission field this transfer that was sent home to fix the same problem I have. For now we're just going to keep my arm in a sling and I'm just going to try not to use it. It's killing me though! I'm going to come back without a lick of muscle on me. 
Haha, so nothing to worry about- I just figured you'd like to know what's going on with that. 

So my weeks been pretty good, most of our time has been spent English contacting-  Elder Baielli is willing to work with my adventurous spirit so we've had some fun ;) We've gotten lost so many times trying to cut through different areas. But I seriously love it. We tried to get to the gara but we ended up one street over, so we tried to cut through the valley where all the train lines go. As soon as we crossed the line and climbed the stairs we were in an entirely different world. We were in deep woods in some secluded gypsy village, every road was a dead end and we were being followed by a bunch of dogs, and being watched by a bunch of silent people (Which is really weird because any other time I'm in a gypsy side of town all the kids are chasing us down; either trying to hit us, relieve us of some money, or show off their english skills). We eventually just turned back to the main road, but I kinda want to go back there soon and knock all those doors..
The last time we were at the internet cafe, a lady saw us and pulled us aside. She knew we taught English and was wondering if we would be able to come in a couple times and meet with some kids from some organization (to be honest I don't know what..) who all wanted to improve their English. So we got permission to go a couple times and we went on wednesday. it was actually pretty fun! Once we got in the room I wasn't allowed to speak Romanian. I brought my juggling balls along and actually taught them all how to juggle all in English. by the end of it there were actually a couple kids who could do it pretty well- they picked it up a whole lot faster than I did. But the whole thing was kind of a big deal. There were photographers and everything. So once I started showing off my skills they got a bunch of pictures of me juggling with the kids laughing in the background. So I was thinking.. maybe I should drop the whole doctor idea and just be a clown! ;)