Monday, July 29, 2013

Week 19!!

Mom! Dad!
Quick update on my week; It's been pretty sweet! Elder Baielli is a way cool guy; we've got a lot in common, he's a hard worker, and this "get to know you stage" hasn't been awkward at all. Like the beginning of the other transfers, we're spending most of our time English Contacting. We started doing something called bloc knocking. You know how I told you how all the people here are in huge cement buildings built to urbanize everyone during times of communism. So the missionaries here go through and knock all the blocs. but When you're just contacting for English it gets kind of exciting. As soon as they open the door you have to yell "free English!" or else they slam it in your face. They're usually about 10-15 stories tall, you run up the stairs and start at the top, then work your way down. They're super sketch! like the stairways are very rarely illuminated and sometimes I truly feel like I'm in azkaban walking through them. But It's perfect! Because if they were nice blocs they would have air conditioning. If they had air conditioning they wouldn't have the front door propped open and there would be no way for us to get in. It all works out ;)
Going up for transfers is always fun, seeing all the missionaries and spending a day in Buc. We went to a resturant called "care cu bere"..? That's what it sounds like at least.. Hands down, NiCest resturaunt I've ever been in- 4 course meal- soup, salad, steak, and cheese cake. Probably some of the best food I've ever had, and it came to about 8 American Dollars.
Haha, funny story..
So, you all know how great I am at playing the piano, especially when it comes to hymns.. So I never advertise the fact that I play a bit. But at church yesterday they needed someone to play the hymns and elder Montoya volunteered me. Of course I tried! and the best part is; I played the hymn perfectly for the first time!
Just kidding.
So I got up there, cracked my knuckles, and tried to work out some kind of intro to "for the beauty of the earth." we got about half way through the song before I was politely invited to retake my seat.
But hey! that's a whole half a song more than I've ever played at church before! haha
Ooh, before I forget- can I have your pineapple/zuchinii bread recipe?? My body knows it's stuff. I randomly started craving it last week and then I realized "hey, this is probably the time of year when mom starts making all her sweet breads!"
The Powells came down from Brasov to clean out the vila appartment. there's going to be a big singles conference for the church here in Constanta and they're all staying in the apartment I used to live in, so we spent this morning trying to get it presentable(haha, so in English we say "single adult" in Romanian it's "Necăsătorit" so it's "conference for the unmarried"). They're so great. They told someone in charge of this conference that they would get the apartment cleaned out, then they got the news that they had to move to brasov and got caught up in moving. They drove 6 hours yesterday so they could keep their word and get it tidyed up. crazy right?? Then they took us out for lunch and left.
It sounds like both your weeks were crazy! Dad, I can totally relate to that kind of week. We plan so much into a week; then everything falls through, no one wants to meet, then we make it to the end of a day and it's like "what can I say I accomplished today"? Time on the mission moves so weird, because we're always busy, always doing something- but there's always so much more to do and sometimes it's hard to see any progress made.
Were you able to work on the garage at all? Maybe one day it'll sparkle.. I'm glad you got some weeding done at least! Mom, I can't wait to here about your adventures out west!
Love you both so much! I've got letters to send as soon as the new month rolls around and I get money for stamps ;)
Elder Collison
Oh, and this is us on 4th of July (hence the fours)
and the cel mai sick graffiti you'll ever see; it's all over and I love it!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Week 18!

Mom, Dad- Those pictures just made my life! seriously, the one where your faces are swapped just about killed me, I was at the point of a hiccup laugh, muffling my face in a place where you're supposed to be silent. not good! haha, and then the pictures of Gabe and manny were doing pushups were soo cute! thanks for sending those! and the picture of you two together is priceless, and you're both looking really good! 
Transfer Boards!!
I'm staying in Constanța! haha
Elder Cobabe is leaving to become a zone leader in iași, Elder Taylor is going HOME (watch for his friend request, will you?) Then Elder Montoya, Sora Rivera, and Sora Pilatis are all staying here. An Elder Ralph is going to finish Elder Montoya's training, and I'm receiving Elder Baieli! Oh I'm stoked.
Elder Baieli actually nașed me when I first got into the country. (Naș means godfather) Just a missionary term here, basically the guy you stay with the first night, then they take you out contacting the next day while you're waiting for your trainers to get to Bucharest.
Annd. He goes to BYU. In Idaho. He was there last fall. In ALPINE CHALET! how crazy is that?? he doesn't look familiar at all, but it's possible that we walked passed each other every single day. weird right? He's Italian but his English is really good and he's a way cool kid!
Ok, Elder Whitehead is AWESOME. That's so cool! and he's my zone leader now! I'll see him tomorrow for transfers, next week for zone training meeing, and then he'll be here for exchanges sometime later too. That is legit! 
I'm sorry to hear about Aunt Jean. I'm so glad you get to go out west though! now you get to experience all that I experienced and tried to tell you all about! I know that no matter what I say you'll still freak out, but flying is sooooo much safer than driving. as little as you trust even that.. haha. you'll love it though, just picture me next to you- laughing like a crazy man as the plane takes off ;)
Please tell everyone there that I love them! give out my hugs like candy!
This week's been really good. We went up for exchanges with the zone leaders and that took a big chunk of time. I love Buc and it's great to go up there, contact, and just experience a day of the buc life. I don't even know what to compare it too.. I guess evolution is the word I would use, fast paced, changing all the time, so many new ideas and things to do.. i like it ;)
Is it weird that your son has been on a mission longer than the missionaries in your area?? haha, that's weird to me at least. ;) Btw, as far as I've been able to find out so far- 3 transfers in and I'm still the youngest in the mission! haha
Please feed those guys! I haven't been fed once this transfer, I could use a lot of proxy meals..
Hopefully I have a nice long email for you next week with all the updates of transfers, sorry this week's kinda dry!
Love you both so much, thanks for the pics and the stories! Dad, have fun with work and the Fam. Mom, have fun with traveling and seeing MOre fam!
Elder Collison

Monday, July 15, 2013

Week 17!!

Hey Mom and Dad!
I loved your insights and thoughts about your scripture studies! I wrote them down so I could join in during my next study.  I'm already mentally commiting myself to read it EVERy single day when I get back. We need it because without the reminder from the book of Mormon we have absolutely nothing to back up our testimonies. I wish I had appreicated family scripture studies more while I had the chance!
Can you believe we get transfer boards on Friday?? Ive almost been in the country for 3 months! My training officially ends next week and I'm about to start running out of excuses for not knowing Romanian ;)
This week's been a mix of the good and the not so awesome. We had some awesome service oppurtunities and I loved being outside, chopping wood and digging; it felt like home. But it's just kinda weird cause we have NO-one to teach now. It's hard to go contacting for a week and not get a single person even remotely interested. All the numbers we got last week resulted in nothing.
I'm not really discouraged, it's just weird. It's sad to see how many people are unwilling to turn their lives around when the oppurtunity is presented. I guess that's their own problem though! all I've got to do is offer :)
Elder Montoya and I were on exchanges the other day (kinda interesting because we're both so young in the mission) we were heading to the city mall for some lunch and we decided to stop at the book fair to try and find the English-Romanian grammar book we'd been looking for. So we were the only ones under the canopy at the time, and I was walking down one of the aisles and I saw a guy crouching down pointing his big TV camera at me, and I made a face at it before I could stop myself. Then we were in the next aisle in the language section, and the Reporter (Reporteress..?) comes up from behind and starts interveiwing us. I buried my head in my book, and she turns to Elder Montoya and in Romanian she's like "do you like to read?" and he says "uhhhh.. I don't speak Romanian very well" and she's like, "doesn't matter!"and keeps asking him questions that he can't really come up with the answers for. Then she turns to me and asks if I speak any better and I was like "uhh, nope!" then they cut the camera and walked away kind of awkwardly. Super Funny, but that was one of those times when I have to curse my slow wits, because I was kicking myself later for not introducing "my favorite book"while on camera. how cool would that have been??
That's my week right there.. This week we're heading up to Bucharest for exchanges with the zone leaders, hopefully setting up a couple lessons, then contacting. Nothing too exciting :) Today is Elder Taylor's last P-day ever, so we're going to go to the mosque and around the city for a little photo-shoot kinda thing. oh, and paintballing last week? I Rocked! (of course) but it was awesome and I was totally in my zone and I cannot wait to fling some paint at you all once I'm back home ;)
So you know how baking is like, my one allowed solace so I've been doing that in most of my free time. and this week I've been experimenting with sourdough bread! (proud of me dad?) but that's been a lot of fun. I'm trying to make some kind of english muffin thing now.. wish me luck! I also made some plum suc! (Sook?) I guess it's like juice but different. suc is suc. and it's GOOD. ;)
Love you all so much! hope this next week is spectacular!
Elder Collison

Monday, July 8, 2013

Week 16!

My Family!
So we got to go up to Bucharest for zone conference, see president and sister Hill and get all rejuvenated. I learned a lot of cool things, but mostly it was just great to be around so many people who are on the same team when I'm kind of a non-stop outsider here in Constanta, ya know? Our English Classes are going great! This one started out considerably smaller and we were kinda worried, but they've been growing! That doesn't happen a lot, but one of our goals was to make a contagious English class, and we've been spending a lot of time making lessons that people will tell their friends about. and it's working! I actually really like teaching. I don't know if I could ever do it as a profession but I'm having a lot of fun making lesson plans and leading the class, and you know I just naturally like to impart every bit knowledge I have ;) 

This Saturday, I was at a branch contacting activity in the city's center. I was paired up with a member who's preparing to leave on his mission to Germany. I have had THE hardest time just opening my mouth. It's so scary to just stop strangers to talk about such a sensitive subject, even if it's one that I hold close to my heart. But Saturday I decided to just let the barriers go and open my mouth.
At first we just walked around as a companionship, kinda daring each other to go and stop specific people and that kind of thing. But after we warmed up a bit we started branching out more. We stood at opposite ends of the street and started stopping every single group of people that walked through. 
Still SO freaky. I don't know if I'll ever get used to it, but I realized after awhile that I was totally stopping people, explaining the Book of Mormon, and having conversations with people- on my own in a foreign language. and I felt SO good afterwards. I just felt like sharing it with everyone for the rest of the day, and it's really good to see that I'm progressing, even if it's just by tiny bits.
So now that you all think that I'm rocking the language- here's the funny story from yesterday.. So I get up to bear my testimony. We were just about out of time and I wanted to help motivate people to share the Book of Mormon with their friends. So Imagine me, standing up and walking to the front of the room. A smile on my face and probably a little glint of fire in my eyes as I was like "I, am a grateful woman."
Yeah. not that bad, but I was trying to say "I'm grateful for the opportunity" and that's what I thought I said. So when everyone started snickering I kinda panicked, wrapped up my testimony and sat back down. I was just glad to find out I didn't cuss anybody out in Romanian!
Dad, I just started a sourdough starter! I'm going to find a heavy duty jar so I can transfer it around with me and have some homegrown sour dough wherever I go! I'm glad to hear you're baking again! I just made an apple loaf, just by making an applesauce with really course chunks and less water, and then rolled it up in the bread for a danish kind of thing. it was actually really good! That's crazy you got sick from your race- did they feed you afterwards or something?
I'm so excited for the Jonesville branch! and the fact that we just inherited 2 missionaries is pretty sick. We better have a ward by the time I get home! haha
love you all so much! I'll try to send you a pic in a second.. we'll see if it works!
by the way, we're totally going paintballing as a district this afternoon. Do I not have the coolest mission president?
love you!

Elder Collison 

hey! this is the day we were helping out a member with his garden. on the bench I'm sitting with Elder Taylor. He goes home in two weeks! 

This is me and Gabi! we had a massive " book of mormon" set up, with a collage of families on the other side. The sisters and some members were singing hymns and we were contacting in the area.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Week 15!

It's been a really good week, and a lot has happened. Sorry I'm so bad at replying to emails, no pressure-but it's way easier to reply by letter because I actually have more time to do that. I'm loving all the updates through email! just don't expect any profound replies.. ;) oh man, I was laughing so hard reading your email. That would be so scary but that was really funny to read about!
I'll try to answer all your questions Dad ;)

My daily activities change a lot.. we rarely have any lessons, so a regular day goes like this- wake up at 6:30, exercise for 1/2 hour, eat breakfast, shower and get ready for the day. Then at 8 I have an hour of personal study. at 9 Elder cobabe and I have an hour of study together. at 10 I study the language, I generally just read the Cartea lui Mormon- picking out and studying the words I don't know yet and asking about the grammar principles that don't make sense yet. It's actually a really effective way to study. after that we leave the apartment and try to find people. Lunch is a really unfortunate necessity because it takes so long in this particular mission for travel, so going back to the apartment-making and eating lunch- and getting back to city center is almost always a two hour ordeal. then we get back to missionary work. Contacting. visiting members and less actives. We usually get back at 8ish because I'm still in training and we have an extra hour of study. 
As far as P-day activities go, there aren't a lot of cheap things to do here.. Constanta is a really modern touristy town as far as Romania goes, and there are no hikes or castles or anything. The Black sea is really the one draw and we have to avoid that like the plague now.

Elder Cobabe doesn't really like to run, but Elder Montoya runs with me. buuut, they just moved out today into the Powels old apartment so I'm on my own again. I just made a workout routine this morning with Elder Taylor (who is the most ripped man I've seen) So I think I'll be all right. I did it this morning and dAng am I sore ;)
I Have been juggling! I've actually made up quite a few things that I'm quite proud of, and I'm going to start using it for contacting and object lessons, just need to find a connection to the gospel is all.. haha ;) But I can do this one thing where I throw all three at the same time behind my back, catch the lowest one in the front and throw it up, and then catch the other two and start the routine. yeah.. it would probably be better to see it. 

I really liked your insights about missionary work Dad (about Alma and the four sons of Mosiah and about judging who might be ready to hear the gospel.) This mission is really bad about that, cause it's almost necessary for our safety and for the safety of the members. Sometimes drunk men come into the church and cause a lot of harm and there are so many people that are just plain crazy ( you'd never see anything like it in America, they have like- no mental health care here) so I've already become really judgmental and I don't like it. A lot of times I'll see an old woman sitting on a bench, probably crazy and looking really lonely, and I really want to talk to them and just try to strike up a conversation. But I've already been kinda trained against that, it's not good. As I become an older missionary and start having a little more weight in the decision making I want to become like what you described.

So my week! It's been awesome ;)
We got to take a trip out to La țara, which I guess is probably just the Romanian equivalent to 'the country' (literally it means To (directional) Land) We went to visit a family of members out in the middle of nowhere. it was really cool. I can't tell you how much I've missed weeding and gardening in general. Spring hit and I was stuck in nice clothes trying to stay clean. So going out there to work in there gardens was so awesome! we just did some weeding and helped them harvest some onions. It wasn't really the hard work I'd been craving, but it was so good to just be outside, in the dirt- ya know?

Otuesday, we were doing last minute English contacting, and for about 2 hours straight; we didn't have more than 5 minutes without a conversation- it was just eerie. Cause generally people just are not interested at all, but it played out like this; We were on the bus on our way to a lesson, and an old lady sat next to us. She saw our name badges and freaked out. In Romanian Jesus is Spelled Isus. but in Turkish, Isus means donkey. So the orthodox church changed theirs to IIsus. there are a ton of Turks in Constanta because this used to be a part of the ottoman empire, and even today people are immigrating here. So we get at least 3 people a day that totally freak out about that, telling us to change it, or telling us we're evil for worshiping a "different Jesus". anyways, so she freaked out, but then we got into a conversation. We got off the bus, had our lesson, then made our way back to the bus. as we were getting on, she got on from a different door and sat next to us again and our conversation resumed. Nothing came of it for her, but as we were talking, two more guys moved seats to sit closer to us, and i thought they we're going to tell us off. Well, one did tell us off, but the other one, as the lady turned down a book of mormon card, asked if there was any chance he could have it. I was like, "better yet, I've got a book with me, no charge", threw open my jeanta and tossed him a book as he was getting off the bus. It was just kinda cool how we inadvertently contacted that guy. After that we changed buses and we were standing in the aisle because all the seats we full. An old man got on (totally reminded me of Grandpa Boyer but a lot smaller and older). He was barely able to walk, and when the bus took off, he fell. I caught him and brought him to the rail along the side, and that opened up a really awesome conversation and he said he would try to make it to church on Sunday. After we got off at our stop an older lady that had witnessed that stopped us and we talked for a long time. 

It was just really cool. we weren't even directly looking for people during that time, but so many prepared people were all of the sudden placed before us!
Hope your weeks are awesome! 

love ya!

 (Sorry... We can't seem to get the picture any bigger...)