Monday, December 22, 2014

December 22, 2014

hey guys! I had a really good week, but now i'm thinking I'll wait until Wednesday so I have some fuel.. haha
To answer your questions though- I have been able to teach a couple lessons this week, but nothing really promising. We're working with one guy that wants to get baptized but I don't feel right about it. He's really nice but has got some serious problems and doesn't really grasp what we're trying to tell him. That's totally what I imagine I'd look like if someone asked me about the gospel.. haha, I was realizing the other day how little time I have left to learn Romanian. I was teaching a lesson and could see the drastic difference between when we switched from friendly conversation, to gospel. I've had so many chances to make friends out here and so few chances to teach lessons that I really suffer in that category. kinda sad...

Save some for me! I'm excited to chop wood in the spring. As far as cooking goes, I guess I've been experimenting a bit. My diet has consisted of hummus wraps on lipie (I usual put shredded carrots, tomatoes, and peppers on those) Dahl, which I think I told you about. It's an indian lentil porridge you put over rice. I absolutely love the stuff. I make a lot of curries too, but those are a little pricier so that happens more at the beginning of the month. I made some pretzel bites the other day. oh, and I also made up this grit and kiwi cake a couple days ago. I wasn't expecting much out of it but it turned out really good. have you been able to experiment with anything lately? 

Sorry you guys are sick, especially at Christmas! dang.. 

haha, Isaac's back.. Sorry kid! looks like you'll have to keep him in a salt mine. 

Talk to you guys soon! Sorry this email's a little rushed, I've been trying to write something for caleb this whole time and now I'm trying to speed through things. 

Love you!  

Monday, December 15, 2014

December 15, 2014

Hey there guys! 

I've been down for a lot of the week totally dead, but I'm feeling pretty good today and i think I'm on the mend. I had a pretty bad cough for a while there and I was sure that being sick had made me susceptible to the TB. But It's already getting better, so I think I'm good! I'm getting really homesick spending another Christmas here, I want to spend it with my family! But I have a pretty cool district here and I know we'll have fun. Bucuresti is beautiful again and the lights are incredible. 
I was able to talk with a reprezentative of BYUI the other day and I got things figured out. Since I've already been accepted in the spring semester I just have to register for online classes and pay by the credit hour. If I'm only doing that for one semester I don't even have to enroll as an online student. I also found out which course I need to take as a prerequisite for the math 108. 
Yeah, and if I don't start working until a couple weeks after I get home, then I can spend some quality time with everyone and then get busy once I'm not the novelty item any more and everyone can fall back into routine. I'll start thinking about what I want to do with you guys and we'll talk it out over skype, sound good? You guys have to make a list too though! 
Let me tell you, I am so sad I don't get to see Caleb. I almost want to try and have a lay over in africa to see him. Ivory's let it happen before, but he's a big favorite picker and I'm definitely in no position to ask for a favor. We'll see what happens ;) I want to sit him down so bad though and have a good missionary chat with him. It kills me that he's going to miss my big moments.

Elder Busche's great! He's a really funny guy and likes sports a lot so we're having a really good time. 

On Saturday we had a huge Christmas concert at Panduri. I've missed a lot of the practices so I was worried, but I was the only one that really knew the bass to begin with so I didn't stand out too bad ;) We had a couple guests, like freaking antonia and alex velea! Those are two of the most famous people in Romania and they're my heros. You should look up alex velea's song, "din vina ta." one of my favourites, and I'll translate it for you once I get home. We had some amazing talent among the missionaries too. Makes me wish I had taken guitar more seriously. One of my really good friends, Degraw, sang a cover of amazing grace mixed with a couple other songs that was absolutely unbelievable. If I had recorded that I could listen to it every day without getting bored. 
We went caroling for some of the senior couples that missed the concert. We had a lot of fun with that and came up with a couple fun tunes on the spot that they enjoyed. I love singing at christmas time because it's the one loophole in the social rug that allows public displays of art without an ounce of awkwardness. I can sing at the top of my lungs while walking around the city and it's not as weird as the rest of the year! 

I'm excited to talk to you guys! I might be able to skype you Christmas eve and christmas.. Would that be cool? I'll go to an internet cafe and skype you for a bit the day before christmas, and then the next day the senior couple wants to have us over to skype and to feed us, and we can finish our conversation then and I would be able to see dad. We'll figure out times next monday :) 

Love you guys so much! 

Monday, December 8, 2014

December 8, 2014

Hey Mom and Dad! 

Thank you so much for gathering all that advice up and sharing your thoughts mom. I'll still be thinking and praying about it until it's time to apply for classes and make my mind up, but I'm still really leaning towards staying home for the spring and summer.. I might go stir crazy going from this to that. I think I'll freak out going from romania to america, and honestly going back to a small town really scares me. But I'm not going to be bored. I have so much to do. For one I'm hoping to get in 8 hours a day at the factory. Brother Condon said he's holding my place if I want to just come back and work. I'm hoping to take about 3 internet courses which will take probably 4 hours out of my day. There are a couple other things I'm planning on researching once I get home, just a couple ideas i've had out here.

That's going to take ALL of my time, I'm afraid I won't even have time to be a good brother. I've also developed a couple other things that'll take the rest of the time I'm not spending with you guys.. I feel like I've always been a kinda creative kid, but I didn't start writing down my ideas till I came out here. Now I have a billion notebooks with every idea that comes to my head for stories or music. They look like journals of crazy men, but I'm really excited to sit down with my sara jasmine and try and turn these lyrics into tunes. 

I'm crazy excited to be home and see you guys, but I haven't idealized the idea in my mind. I know it'll be rougher in some ways compared to college, but I don't think me wasting time will be a problem. These are just the thoughts I've been having so you know where I'm coming from.

That story about the christmas tree is incredible! I can't wait to share that one this week with my buddies! 

I'm staying in Buc! and I'm really happy about it. I'm in a really good district, really big but awesome branch, my apartment is legit and actually situated directly on and across the street from the two biggest piatas in Buc. I can buy everything from halva and fruit to bedsheets and rifles (probably). 

A guy named elder Busche is coming down to serve with me. I haven't met him yet but I've heard really good things about him and I think we'll have some fun. I'll have more to report on that next week! Can you believe I'm starting my second to last transfer?? oh, and I'm coming home march 4. I don't have a ticket yet, but that's what it's looking like. If the ticket says something different I I might end up going a little early, but they can't extend the time unless I request it and, yeah.. 

This week's been a little rough cause I've been in bed with the flu. I felt super bad because I've been keeping my comp inside the house for the last couple days of his mission. Luckily laititi and bonner were willing to take turns staying with me so that he could get stuff done and go to church for his last sunday. I'm feeling pretty decent today. I don't have a fever anymore but I'm still really out of it. 

When do you guys want to skype?? I still haven't heard a plan concerning christmas so you might have to give me a couple weeks before I can put down a date. December 26 might be nice because all the WoW junkies'll still be drunk from the celebrations, but we'll figure it out later ;) 

I'm really excited for Christmas though. Bucuresti is amazing in the winter and they go all out on the lights.  

BTW. The whole package thing? Changed my mind. Getting a package from you guys would be sick! haha.  I thought it wouldn't be a big deal since I would be seeing you guys soon, but at the office the other day, I saw I recieved one from you guys and got super excited. Am I supposed to wait until christmas to open that, or did i already allow the puppy inside to suffocate, leaving it in the closet? I didn't mean to sound like a butt asking for money, handwritten and packed goodies always transcend. 

I love you guys so much! I can't wait to talk to you! 

Elder Collison

Monday, December 1, 2014

December 1, 2014

Hey guys!

I've had a really good week, but we didn't get a whole lot done. Elder Whitehead was sick at the beginning of the week, then we had exchanges with the ZLs on Wednesday. That consisted of going out to red dragon (china town of bucuresti) and hitting second hand shops in preperation for the thanksgiving activity the next day. The Red dragon is the large piata of imported goods, so it's where all the asians buy there counter tops, steamers, food, clothes, and everything else you could ever want. I could completely decorate and furnish my house from that single store, and I left with a mental picture of what I want my kitchen to look like.. I also got way too excitied when I found curry spices I'd been looking for. On thursday we had a turkey bowl early in the morning. Missionaries from Craiova, ploiesti, and alexandria had come into buc the night before to celebrate so we had really big teams. I thought the game itself was retarded because it just turned into watching the same three kids trying to relive their highschool days while the rest of us ran up and down the field. But after two hours of that we played a game of tag and I had a chance to redeem myself. We got cleaned up from that, and then went to the church for a huge feast the senior couples had prepared. They prepared nine turkeys and a billion other dishes. I subconciously refilled my plate so many times I was beginning to feel like I was at hogwarts. We had a small talent show, but they had only alloted a half hour for it so not very many people were able to participate. We held a choir practice for our concert at the embassy and then a the dude in charge of designing all the temples came and gave us a special fireside. We'd been contacting people on the streets for this thing for a long time, but I'm really glad none of our contacts showed up because it was kinda weird.. The speaker was a cool guy though. I also just ran into one of my best friends, paul from nigeria- the guy i met in cluj. If I take nothing else from this mission, I've established a hundred friendships that make it worth it. When I saw that guy I literally yelled and sprinted for him. He's going to the states soon for school (leaving about the same time I am) and we're going to try and hang out. 
On Friday we had another exchange with the other elders from our district. We had a bunch of fun cause they're the coolest. I was with elder laititi, a samoan guy I'm super tight with, and we had a good time. 
I went to bed feeling gross and woke up on Sunday with the stomach bug so I didn't go to church. It made for a super boring day, but I was able to work out some lyrics and read. I was feeling alright by that evening and now I'm in tip top shape. 
haha, yeah- my hair's getting long. it's still technically within the rules, right? and I really really want to grow it out long once I return, so i'm hoping I can make it by a couple more months without getting it cut.
That leather coat was just a snake leather, woman's coat I found for 5 lei at a thrift store. I bought for that single picture ;) 
I don't really have plans for christmas yet. It really depends on how cool my next companion is because Whitehead's going home next wednesday. but I'm looking around for some cheap light to dec my apartment out, and I'm going to nab a tree from the delta one of these nights once I get my hands on a hatchet.
Gabey you're so tare cute! I can't wait to see you buddy! Can you guys believe that my last skype call is already coming up and how little time I have left after that? It keeps hitting me how soon that is, and then other days it feels like forever away.
Thanks for all the stories! I love you guys so much!
Elder Collison

Monday, November 24, 2014

November 24, 2014

Hey guys! 

I've had a really good week, but no, my piano playing didn't really go any smoother. I had intended on putting in some good practicing time, but with everything else going on- it didn't really happen and the first time I saw the notes I had to play was in front of 50 people. But I'm definitely better at site reading than I was at home. That's one things I'm getting a lot of practice at! We actually had quite a few lessons this week and were able to visit some members. Sora Gorzo fell and broke her hip a while ago. She's doing great now and is back home, but is still having a hard time getting around, so we took the sacrament to her yesterday and had a really nice visit. Our thanksgiving day is all planned out for us. We going to the church for a feast as a zone, then we're going to have a talent show, and the guy designing the Rome temple is coming for a fireside. We spent a lot of time contacting for that this last week and had a lot of good conversations, talking about temples. 
I had a blast today with my comp and a the other elders. There are a couple man made lakes dug out here in bucuresti that cover hundreds of acres, right in the middle of the city. We found one that was dug out, with the dams and retainers and everything, but never completed. Since then an entire forest has developed there and it's become a huge, accidental wildlife preserve with deer and fox and the occasional gypsy shack. My comp and I went in with a 45 minute head start and got situated. We formed a strategy and cover, and then we waited for the other guys to show up, and then we started hunting them. We stalked them for an hour, but I was caught when I had to climb a tree to get my bearings and bonner stumbled upon me. You know me. After bacau I've been feeling so disoriented and kinda edgy not having my forest/hiking time once or twice a week, but it was really great getting back out there and we had so much fun.
I've been doing really poorly at taking pictures recently. I just uploaded a couple I took in alexandria, but I'll try to do better and get you guys some more!
To answer your question about elder Whitehead- we're getting along great. He's a genius, and is really good at asking random questions to keep a conversation going- something I'm really bad at in general. We're both creative guys with weird ideas, but we think very differently. We spend a lot of time talking about stories we thought up or a hypothesis we're working on. I think I've spent more time with him in conversation in these last couple weeks than with anyone else in my entire mission.
Dad! That is freaky! I can't believe the roads are already february-bad! That's so cool a stranger helped you out like that though. I think that story about gabe saying butthole is the funniest I've ever heard.
I love you guys so much! I'm having fun out here, but as the time gets shorter I'm realizing- man am I excited to see you guys!
Elder Collison

Monday, November 3, 2014

November 3, 2014

My week's been really good! It's been a weird adjustment, as you can imagine, but it's good to have a fresh start and a new city to learn. We have about 5 active members here, and one was sick, so after we all bore our testimonies at church yesterday, there was still time to spare. Alexandria is weird. EVERYone knows us and most people are really nice. There aren't any more people interested than usual, but we have a ton of friends that trust us. I've already hung out with a lot of young guys and we're hanging out with some more today. In any other mission I think I would feel like I'm wasting my time, but just the fact that I might be a positive influence on friends that live in a place with much lower morals than we're used to is enough for me. Plus they're fun and gospel subjects do come up a lot. There's this kid that we're going to see today. He's really cool and I like him a lot. He's going to teach us a bit of Tiganeste, a middle eastern language without a written form that's adapted from the time that they all left who knows where. Nobody really knows anything about it. But it's the spoken gypsy language. I've picked up a couple phrases, but just a majority of the words influenced by Turkish. I don't understand any of the grammar or anything yet. 

I was left with a bunch of stuff to figure out regarding the apartment contract. When I got to Alexandria I learned that there was miscommunication between our landlady and the new financial secretary in the office, and the contract we took to get notarized was never signed. For some reason it was a huge deal to get signed before the first of the month, so before I could even unpack my bags, we were on our way up to Bucuresti once again. We returned with the signatures to Alexandria at 11 Friday morning and tried meeting up with our proprietara, but that's when she decided it would be good for us to know that the institute was closed today, and the rush she had forced us into was all for nothing. We're meeting her at 10 this morning to go and get that stuff finished, and we're hoping she's able to turn our heat on as well, once we're in the position to ask for favors. It's freezing here! 

There's an awesome stadium here I exercise at. We went there as a district the other night and I pounded out a billion laps. I went down to the weight room and it was the coolest thing ever. It was the sketchiest, grungiest place I've ever been to. It was so cool! They had several legitimate dumbbells, but the majority of the room was filled with old tractor parts, rusty transmissions, and improvised machines. They were blasting Soulja boy and other songs from that era, and it was filled with scary men, smelling as Romanian as you can get. I started lifting, when the guy in charge started giving me some trouble (in the north sometimes I can pass as Moldovan, but in the south where everyone's dark, they all know I'm American from the start). I messed around with him for a minute, took him by surprise that I spoke Romanian, and made him laugh and the whole situation changed- we became friends pretty fast, and we're going to start meeting together to exercise and to help him learn English. 

Love you guys so much! 
Have a good day!

Monday, August 11, 2014

August 11, 2014

My little bro is going to freakin' Uganda! I can't believe we get to represent the Collison family in the two coolest missions in the entire world! That is crazy...

Emma was baptized and Isaac was ordained a teacher, insane!

I pulled a lot of money out of the bank this week, but no worries! I had to spend a ton on bills, transportation for my district, and apartment repairs. It looks bad now but it'll all be reimbursed...

I had so much going on this week, but I was so tired every evening I didn't make a single journal entry or recording and everything's been hectic and semi hazy. Several weeks ago a water bill wasn't paid on time and the elders here paid it. A week later a guy came over and turned the water off, offering to forget about the whole thing if they paid him 100 RON, and then referring them to the office again. They went and the people there said the bill was never paid, there was no record of it at all. (We're still trying to get the original receipt from our office so we can fight that.) But for the time being they had to pay it again, and the people there said legally they had to turn the water back on five days from now, but it would probably be longer unless we could slip them some cash. They refused, and I came on the fifth day- to the most uncomfortable apartment I've ever been to. Super messy (understandable because they hadn't been able to wash their dishes, their clothes, or flush.) It's on the ground floor, which I didn't think it would make that big of a difference, but there is absolutely no airflow and it's the most humid place I've ever been, there was mold everywhere and there was water condensing on every wall.
To keep a long story short, it's better now. We decided we weren't going to put up with this anymore so we went down to the office complaining and they're like, wait- you didn't go down to the main office to tell them you want your water turned back on?? That's apparently not what they said the first time. But basically we started the 5 day waiting period again today, after going to the main office and filling out some paper work. So annoying.. I was about ready to freak out this morning, totally done with a bureaucratic system running solely off bribes.

But this week. We cleaned the apartment as well as we could, fought the mold with something called savo (no idea if we have it in the states but it eats the stuff right up) I got the air conditioner working. The remote's been lost for years and the missionaries have always complained about this being the really hot apartment with no ac.. but I took the front cover off and found the manual override button and figured out how to adjust the setting without a teledevice. Then we got permission to get a dehumidifier. Between that, the fan, and the ac, our apartment is quickly becoming one of the nicers. 

Anyways- sorry that's really boring, but that's been my week pretty much.. haha

My district is super cool. We're one of the smallest districts here with just 1 set of both elders and sisters. We're all buds already. Everybody's willing to work hard and try to have a good time while doing it.

I love my companion. I've already served around him when I was in the office, but I feel like we've both grown up even more since then and we're having some fun. He's really good at keeping the conversation going and making everybody feel important.

The branch here is awesome! It's a tad bit bigger than Galati, but we have like- 6 kids here!

I'll try and upload some pics this week, I'm at an internet café right now but I'll upload them when I can get to the branch computer and let it sit there for a couple hours cause it take forever.

Love you guys so much! 

I'm loving it here in Bacau and for as scared/disappointed as I was to come here, I think this is going to be a really good time- I'm already a big fan.


Elder Collison

Monday, August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014

Howdy guys! 

Once again my whole life is thrown up like a bad burrito and I'm moving cities.  Yesterday was kinda the last hoorah as a district. That's definitely the hardest part about being a missionary- Making so many friends, Romanians and missionaries, that I get to know so well and make so many memories with and then I have to leave, not knowing how many of these people I'll ever see again. I'm definitely getting good at new beginnings and making the most of it though. So as a district we made saramale and mamaliga. The saramale takes about 3 hours to cook, so we put it on the stove and then I went upstairs and taught all the Elders here all that I know about MLS, finances, the quirky ins and outs of Romanian documentation, and wished them luck.

My week's been really good here! 
My district's sick right now and we have a decent amount of Harry Potter nerds. Thursday happened to be Harry Potter's birthday and we went all out; it felt like Christmas again. The zone leaders were in town for district meeting (Elder H and Elder M), they're super cool and we had a load of fun. The sisters dressed up like Hogwarts school girls, carved wands for everyone, then made a cake like Hagrid's in the first book. I'll send pics! 

So, where am I going?? I'll be heading for a city called Bacau (B-ah-k-uh-o). It's still in Moldova, like Galati (region, not country) but it's way north with mountains and really old buildings. It's been a struggling branch there for a long time. Elder O (my new companion) is the Branch President right now.

Elder O is pretty cool. He was the office elder right before me and then moved into the same apartment as me for a transfer when Aviatiei was just becoming a district, if you remember any of that from this time last year. I'll be the DL there which will be weird.

That's about it as far as my week goes, I'll try to get some pictures to you guys soon.

I'm dying to hear where Caleb's going!  Being my last chance to guess- My top three guesses outside of the states:
Africa, England, Moldova
Ohio, Florida, California 

Dang I'm excited!

Love you lots!

Elder Collison

Monday, June 30, 2014

June 30, 2014

It's been an interesting week this one.. that's for sure. The work is going as slowly as normal, we've met a couple cool people but after one lesson they kinda drop off the face of the earth. The branch is still running alright- it was kinda stressful yesterday because I'm trying to get things organized. It's absolutely wonderful but that means that all the group presidents were asking impossible or time consuming requests (retrieving unkept records and that kinda thing.) None of them really know how to use the computer or type or anything but they get really frustrated as I try to find my way through MLS.  Anyways- that'll be most of this week! Just organizing things and working on the many projects I was just given... 

A couple days ago I sprained my ankle pretty bad. I was actually pretty sure I had torn some kind of ligament around the ankle bone because it was starting to look so gross. Sora Hill was gonna have me go to Buc if it wasn't showing improvement by today, but it's starting to look ok so I think I'm just going to stay off it for the next couple days and see what happens. I learned a new way of lacing my shoes which gave a lot more ankle support and I'd been doing that for my runs the last couple weeks but I'd been getting horrible shin splints. I finally put it together that the lack of front to back ankle mobility was causing the problem, so Saturday morning I laced them up normal. We were a little late meeting the sisters so we were running to the meeting place so we could start jogging on time. I was jogging on the ledge of the stairs, slipped on some sand, and landed on the stair below with my ankle sideways. I took a couple more strides hoping to shake if off but my ankle would not support me at all and I stumbled. We went back to the apartment and I hobbled around doing the usual morning routine but about an hour later it had doubled in size and turned a gross purple and I couldn't put any weight at all on it. Getting to church was a mess, but I wrapped it up really tight and got there eventually but aside from that I stayed on the couch with my foot elevated, icing it. I woke up this morning and almost all the swelling is gone, there's like an egg size lump in my foot but that's about it. I wrapped it up really tight and threw on some huge boots that were left in my apartment and it's acting like a brace. I'm getting around just fine even if it's a little slow ;) So yes- I'm absolutely fine, but that's been my last three days.. 
Elder W was definitely the guy to get stuck with. He's been really patient and taking care of me like a mother figure.

Aside from that. We got to help out a member and her mom this week for a couple hours. The other Elders had gone over there to paint one of their rooms, then we were invited over for lunch and then asked to stay for a couple hours. They served us one of the best meals I've had in Romania, vegetarian even. We had a turkish soup called yahni, egg mushroom patty things, and fresh salad with homemade vinegar. 
The other elders had painted the ceiling and dripped paint all over the room. Luckily it was a really cheap chalky paint which was scrubable even once dry, but it took us a good three hours to scrub the one floor. They handed us a couple brushes and old t-shirts turned into rags and we scrubbed the skin from our hands. 
I feel like I'm a pretty fit guy- I'm feeling better now than I ever have in my whole life (aside from the whole ankle thing) and the worst part of the project was stepping out of body for a second and seeing a panting teenage boy scrubbing the floor with an 86 year old woman not breaking a sweat. Talk about an awakening.. haha...

One day this week, I think it was Thursday..? We were contacting for English along the faleza. I handed a couple cards to a group walking the opposite direction and a man on the side jumps from his bench and starts shouting, "Don't take cards from these boys! They're devils and trying to trick you into talking about Christ!" The girl pulled her hand back and I was like "we're advertising for free English classes." They all took them and the guy was getting red in the face at this point. He kept yelling as we continued past, I turned around an confronted him. He quieted down a lot and I was like "what's your problem bro? I don't think you know who we are." He was like "do you even know which Christ you're testifying of?" and I replied "The same Christ you in Romania know and love is the one we love and serve." And at that he just kinda spit and started raving again. At this point and he was trying to rally up the groups walking by, it was really weird. And that alone isn't abnormal, If a door isn't slammed in my face then I get this kind of response instead ;) But what happened as I walked away was weird. I complimented a kid on his t-shirt (they wear a lot of american flags here) And his whole group of twenty stopped as they heard the guy yelling and they turned to us like- what exactly aren't we supposed to take from you guys..? So we gave them the cards and in response to the guy yelling "go home to America" they were saying we were welcome here and that the guy was crazy, just trying to help us laugh it off. Then they're like, what does elder mean exactly- I've seen a lot of those name tags around here lately. So I tried explaining it really fast but I was really flustered and we pretty much left it at "we'll talk later!" and we walked away to end the disturbance. It was kind of embarrassing because the moment my adrenaline kicks in I can't speak English let alone Romanian!  :)

Oh, and another positive story this week was what we did on Wednesday. We were all kinda depressed we couldn't go into Buc for transfers so we did our own "transfer day." Basically we ate lunch at a nice chinese restaurant and then went contacting in the really nice park we went to on Monday. Did I tell you about that..? Definitely the classiest park I've been to in my life, but you'll be able to see it all from the pics I sent. We went juggling contacting there! I've been wanting to do it for a while but I decided that Wednesday was the day.. I juggled and drew a crowd while the sisters contacted the families. We got a couple videos but they're all fails. I'll send them just to give you a good feel for the environment. 

That's pretty much my week right there! Oh, we got a new elder here fresh from the MTC. He's pretty cool and he already speaks Romanian really well because his father's Mexican and he knows Spanish.
Love you guys!

Elder Collison

Thursday, June 19, 2014

An Update on Elder Collison! :)

Andrew is currently serving in Galati (pronounced Galats.)

May 19th:

A quick recap of my week:

I went down to transfers to get my new companion and it was great as ever. I got to see a ton of friends I hadn't seen in ages and we all went out to eat at caru' cu bere. I was supposed to stay in Bucuresti for an extra night. There was a training meeting I was supposed to go to as the "acting leader" of the branch for this last week. But by Wednesday afternoon I was already exhausted and stressing out about the branch conference I still had to plan and the list of members I had to call, so I got permission from President H to go back to Galati with my district. 
I finally called President D on Friday for some last minute information and that's where I found out that he had actually planned everything out and there was nothing left for me to do but choose hymns. Hooray!  Haha, lot of stressing for nothing.
Yesterday Brother S was set apart as Branch President and I was sustained as his first counselor and the branch clerk.

May 26th:

My week's been a blur because I've been traveling and doing random stuff. 
We had zone training meeting on Tuesday, so we left Monday afternoon after spending the day cleaning the church and took the four hour train to Lasi. We stayed with the zone leaders who are two really cool people in one group behind me, had some good food and then had one of the sickest- most laid back meetings I've ever been to. I finally know everyone well enough in the mission that I felt like I was just surrounded by friends and we learned a lot from everyone's presentations. I got to smash an old watch as part of a presentation. I forget what the analogy was, but I volunteered as soon as I saw them pulling out the two objects and it was a lot of fun... 

We got back to Galati Tuesday night and we took our p-day on Wednesday. We had planned a picnic and we went and bought all the supplies from Billa while the others finished emailing. It was starting to drizzle at this point, but by the time we left the church for our little hike it was pouring rain. We made it about 20 minutes out and then we decided to set up our picnic under an over pass which basically looked like a homeless mans lair with all the trash littered about the floor. There was beautiful artwork on all the pillars as you can imagine, and we sat on the intense slope supporting the overpass, if you can picture that.. But we made the most of it and had a ton of fun just messing around.
June 2:

We had a lesson yesterday! We met a super cool kid just a couple years older than me. Hands down one of the coolest guys I've ever talked with out here. It was half English lesson, half Gospel, so we bounced back in forth between languages the whole time. It was a little more relaxed than my companion felt comfortable with, but it was so good just making a new friend and explaining what I believe in the same way I would tell a bud back home. He was studying diesel mechanics and his hobbies included hiking and gardening, so naturally we hit it off. I was telling him all about my family and after I finished explaining he was just like-bro, you're so lucky. If I had known he'd grown up without parents kinda raised by his older brothers I wouldn't have gone into such detail. I felt really really bad, but he said he was more compassionate to others by it and he was a stronger person.

I think I've explained most of the members in this area, if you've heard about the new branch president and his family and the mission president, then you've basically heard about the branch. 
There's also Sora B, one of the sweetest ladies I've ever met. I haven't seen her all that often because she's been traveling to Turkey frequently for cancer treatments. I don't know if I mentioned this but I got to go over to her house last week and it was a really cool experience. I've anointed the heads of a lot of members here, but no one has ever asked me to give a blessing up until last week. It was interesting in Romanian, because I definitely had thoughts and impressions that I wasn't able to put into words like I would in English. I did the best I could and I'm just hoping those blessings aren't held back because the middle man was lacking in language. I went there on a Thursday, but she asked for the sacrament again because she would be traveling on Sunday again, and treating every day like her last, she wanted to make sure everything was aligned for her to get to heaven without a hitch. I really admire her for her faith and I'm hoping to visit her again this next week once she gets back to spend just a little more time with her.

They're all really understanding of my callings. They actually really like me, and because I'm the oldest in the mission here I'm kinda the go to guy and it's helping my language skills a lot. 
 We'll see how this goes. As far as my branch clerk calling goes, I'm becoming a pro with the finances and responding to the confused emails from Germany asking why I did things a certain way and replying "I have no idea what I'm doing!"

Sunday, February 9, 2014


Happy February! This week has been a fun one. It really flew by and I don't remember much of what happened, but we had some good moments ;) It's still snowing here, and the way they clear the roads isn't exactly the greatest system, but it helps us find service projects EvErywhere.. So what happens is that this city isn't exactly built for cars. At least, it started out that way. When everyone was forced to move into the cities 40 years ago they didn't really have that problem because no one really had cars. So they built blocks that held thousands of people, and crammed millions into very tight living quarters without any kinda parking system. It worked back then, but now almost every family has a car with no where to put it. Most of the main roads here have an entire lane or two full of parked cars, and it's legal! You can really just stop in the middle of the road, throw on your hazards and everyone will just start driving around you on the tramvai tracks without missing a beat.

Anyways, that's just one of those things that almost seems natural now, but then the snow came and I saw the flaw. When the snow plows moved all the snow, they had to dump it at the bumper of all the cars. In some of the nicer parts of the city, they have dump trucks come in and move it away somewhere, but most the time you just have to dig yourself out of (and throw it on your neighbor's car) through a good 3-5ft of snow.

So a couple days this week, Elder B, Elder K and I walked around the city all bundled up looking for people trying to find their cars underneath the snow. People were so desperate that they actually accepted an act of service every once in a while. That's something I haven't really seen for about a year now..

I'm still healthy here! crazy enough.. I keep waiting for the day I get sick like everyone else around me but it hasn't happened yet. I think living in a household full of kids, cycling through sicknesses without a rest has tricked my immune system into becoming rock solid now that I only have to share the air with two other guys. Either that or the constant 2nd hand tobacco smoke burns it out of me. One or the other ;)

I did hurt my bad thumb though. I was juggling and an elder playfully tried smashing a ball to the ground but smashed my thumb to the ground instead. No biggie, I think it'll be fine in a couple days but it's really swollen right now and I can't really use it yet.. Just lettin' you know so you can prepare to be a digit donor just in case.

Today we're planning on going to Casa Poporului. For real this time! We'll see if it actually happens. I've really been wanting to go even if it's just to say I've been inside. There was just so much sucked out of the Romanians so that this disgustingly huge palace could be built and I imagine it's got the same pained feel as a cemetery for that reason. Ya know?

SO. Now I'm writing just having come back from Casa Poporului. Pretty impressive building.. Geez. It was just too nice. We actually got lucky and got the english tour so we got to meet a lot of foreigners (no americans..) So I got to hear all the specs in a retainable language ;) Millions of square meters of marble and WaY too many chandeliers. Like, almost every room had crystal chandeliers lining the entire outer edge of the ceiling with a 2-5 ton crystal and gold centerpiece. I'll upload some pictures to your drive in a bit, either tonight or tomorrow.
It was really sad, just knowing that people really died of starvation for so many years for this and now it's basically just a museum with the government using about 1% of it.. It was a really cool experience and my mind is still blown. The entire time Elder K and I were just discussing what we would use each room for after we become multi billionaires and purchase the building. I decided it would be kinda cool to have a Rollerblading room next to my imax theater, and I figured it'd be nice to have the occasional picnic in my second ball room.

Security is really tight in there. Metal detectors and everything. So after I already paid for it and was into the second room of security I realized I had my switchblade on me (no worries, it's legal here..). I couldn't just walk out of the building because they would've spazzed (no idea if that's even a real word, I can't find the spelling) and I probably wouldn't have gotten back in. And I didn't want to walk through the detector with a knife very obviously concealed on my body. So I pulled a guard aside and tried to explain that I had a knife on me in a manner as nonthreatening as I could muster. He nodded, took it away and gave me a slip and we didn't have a problem. But it kind freaked me out there for a bit! I was sure it would come off as a threat in Romanian and I would have six guards with tasers on me the next second.

My fur hat is holding up great! I can't tell you how comfortable and warm it is. I don't like cats, ok? But it's like I have a big fat soft cat hugging my head in the most enjoyable sense. Mine is a wild fox that they kinda hunted specially for me. I sent my order in a while ago and the lady had her killer get me one with me in mind ;)

I love you guys a lot!
I hope you have a great week. Have fun with school!

Elder Collison


My Mama and Poppa!

It's been an exciting couple of days over here in Romania. We finally got the snow I've been praying for! And I'm already asking for a recall... It started Friday night and it's been dumping about a foot a day since, and it's drifting really bad. There are so many cars that you could just walk right into because the snow's piled up so high, covering everything. I'm seeing snow plows going by all the time, but the roads are so bad they have to leave about six inches on the road so they don't wreck their plows. So I spent pretty much all day yesterday shoveling and pushing cars out of the snow. I had to get on the roads a couple times too and I got really stuck several times driving on the unplowed back roads. I was with Elder B, Elder K, and the Sisters- leaving Sora G's house. We had gotten in there because we had some speed behind us, but even then we had to lift the car to park it (I'll send you the video) and getting out was a nightmare. We kept trying all the tricks in the book and nothing was working. We were stuck for an hour and I swear, I was pushing with all my might for almost that whole time, just trying to give it an extra horsepower or two ;) I woke up feeling like a broken man this morning. We finally got back to the office, where I then left in my car with my companions. We made it all the way home until we tried to park and the car just couldn't make it. We tried to back out and it went nowhere. So after a half hour of pushing we finally got it back out, we parked at the office again and just walked home. I was SO frozen. My clothes had frozen and melted so many times that I was just soaked to the core. But I curled up under my comforter and slept SO good.

Today I'm going to head out with Elders B and K with some shovels and we're going to find some people trying to dig their ways out of the snow.

More breaking news: I got my fur hat! The assistants came back from Moldova after buying it for me while on exchange. I was kinda skeptical because I wanted it to be perfect and they didn't really know what I wanted, but man- this thing is great! I'm already in love with it. Her name is Jasmine. It's fox fur with a black leather base, and aside from sexy- this thing is WARM! I'll send you some pictures as soon as I get my hands on the rest of the pics from my district.

Aside from this not a whole lot has gone on this week.. Just the same ol same ol!

Anyways, I love you guys so much! I'll try to get you those pictures later on, but I'm going to reply to my sibs right now ;)

Love ya!

Elder Collison

Monday, January 13, 2014


Hey Mom and Dad! 

Everything's definitely calmed down since the fire. It still stinks a bit on the first couple floors, but ours was cleaned really well and it's all back to normal. Either that or I'm used to it.. They said that a computer wasn't plugged in all the way and it started the fire, I don't know if that was proven or if that's all speculation but I'll take whatever they say if it means I don't look like a terrorist. 
My week's been really really long. Another transfer week has passed and I can finally sit back and try to breathe easy. With the holiday season just barely behind us there was just a lot of unnecessary stress. Trying to set up health appointments was a nightmare because everyone was responding with, ah- email us after the new year when we make our schedule, and we're like - You don't understand! just put our names on a sticky note for the 7th of January! And then trying to set up a meeting to notarize our documents wasn't happening at all. We would try to contact different offices and we'd get an automated response telling us to call back on the 7th or 8th. 
Just a bunch of stuff like that was going down and we were stressed out of our minds, but at the last minute this week everything just kinda fell into place and it actually worked out beautiful. At the immigration office on Wednesday I was able to get all ten people registered. I decided though that the immigration office is probably one of my least favorite places in the entire world. Haha, the night before we went there, I seriously had nightmares about the place. People just start becoming animal like after standing in line for seven hours in a stuffy, dirty room with angry workers. I think I unconsciously became racist to four different demographics in there, just so many people pushing me out of line and yelling at me for registering so many people at a time when they don't want us in the country in the first place. It was rough, I can't tell you how angry I got in there. 

But it's over!!


On Saturday we kinda spent the day regaining control over our apartment. After so many late nights and early mornings it had gotten pretty messy without time to take care of our dishes or laundry, you can imagine. So we stocked up on cleaner and light bulbs and got our place looking spiffy again! 
Yesterday we went to Mihai Bravu for church, it was so great to have a meeting in Romanian again. I think that being in the office AND having our services in English has really taken a toll on my Romanian. I'm kinda ready to get out of here and get back to talking to people everyday. After Church I went bloc knocking with Elder B, Elder B, and the Sisters. It felt SO good to get out again, although I hate how bad I am at it after being here for 9 months- I have so little experience on that side of missionary work after spending so much time here. But we went to a bloc that the sisters were trying to find a less active member at and started knocking from floor nine. This building was HUge and the corridors were probably a good 200 meters long. Like usual, most of the responses were either a silent eye in the peephole or an "I'm not interested." But as we were about go down from the 8th floor a 4ft tall lady in her 80s peeked her head out from the very end of the hall and whispered "who are you guys??" holding her broom as a weapon. Naturally, she was orthodox to the core and wanted to die that way. But she was the sweetest, most hilarious old lady I've ever met. We talked to her for about half an hour and we were all just busting up laughing the entire time. Every once in a while we wouldn't understand an expression she used or a joke she made and she would be like " what did I do wrong, why aren't you laughing??" Then we would say something and she would double over (we thought she was dying several times) Then she would roll back up and we'd realize she was just in the process of crackin' up. But she apparently was the most beautiful woman in the entire world But we weren't allowed to tell anybody about it because she didn't want any young men breaking into her house to steal her pictures. Man, I can't even explain it properly- but just talking to a person like that every once in a while just makes ya happy. Then we talked to one guy and I asked if we could share a message with him and he answers with no. But he leaves the door open and we kinda awkwardly ask; " well, is there anything we can help you with??" and he, looking pretty defeated, pulls down his bottom lip and says "I've lost all my teeth, can you give me teeth??" 
Couldn't really help him there.. 

That's crazy how cold it's gotten back home! As much as I'm longing for the snow I'm not jealous of the cold at all.. 

What do kids do for fun?? Is that a general question or what do they do in the snow? I haven't really seen them play in the snow yet so I can't tell you that.. But normally I don't see a whole lot of kids playing outside. There are play grounds around and there are always kids there, but for the most part they stay inside. There aren't exactly front lawns to chill on for the most part. I think video games are a lot bigger of a deal here too and I think the kids spend a lot of time on the computer or tv. Don't ask me why every single person in this country is so dang skinny ;) 

I love you guys! 

Elder Collison

Monday, January 6, 2014


Hey Mom and Dad! 

Last week was kind of a game changer for me, a lot of moments where I had to slow down and think about what I'm doing here and what I could be doing better. Must be all this new years resolution stuff. 
The biggest thing was probably the office fire. I don't want to make it sound like it was a big deal cause it really wasn't, but it brings back the memories of President Coakley's "no coincidences." There were a lot of variables that put the odds on our side and it's easy to say "dang we got lucky!" but I know that's not the case. It's scary to think about what could've happened. There were no smoke alarms going off, we didn't smell or see anything, nobody new we were up there. If we hadn't heard the guard yelling for help into his phone through the window, we probably would've stuck around a lot longer and it might've been harder to get out when we finally realized what was happening. I'm grateful we're being watched over and we all made it out without a scratch. 
It was pretty funny though, the news stories made some pretty dramatic twists to reality. 
"There was an office building incinerated on Pipera Friday, there were three survivors."
"After the inferno, three were saved in the last minute."
and stuff like that.. we got a pretty big laugh out of it. 

haha, K. I don't want to go on too long about this, but I'll give you a clip of my journal entry just in case you want some details. 

At about 10:30 the assistants left and we were just wrapping up the plans so we could get to sleep. I had my earbuds in, but Elder B heard some shouting so he looked out the window to see flames billowing out of the third story.  We hadn’t really noticed the smoke because it’s always so foggy over Bucuresti, it usually looks the same on the seventh story at night. Elder B jumps around and yells “there’s a fire on the side of the building!” I rip my ear buds out and say “there’s a flag??” My first thought was seriously that there was some kind of riot or something. At this point we all kinda look at each other for a moment, then we jump up and grab our bags and jackets and run for the door.  We really had no idea what to do. I ran for the stairs, Elder P ran for the elevator and Elder B ran for the emergency evacuation guide. I got a video of us running out of the office in case we died on the way down, then we took the stairs deciding that it was probably our safest bet. As soon as we got out onto the stairs we could smell it and feel it, but as we started descending the smoke got thick FAST. We couldn’t see or breathe by the time we reached the third floor, but we continued sprinting towards the exit. We made it out safely with nothing more than a cough. When we ran out of the building the guard hustled over to us to make sure we were ok. He was still on the phone with 112, and it was his frantic voice explaining the situation that we had heard through our window seven stories up. We were the only ones in the building when it happened so we just had to testify that we were the last ones out and no one was missing and we were good to go. But we stuck around for an hour and watched it burn. We’re all thoroughly impressed with the sector one fire brigade, they got there plenty fast and they had hoses all over that thing for and an hour before the fire finally started to calm down. At the climax of the action we counted 11 fire truck and probably just as many police cars. We had left our phone upstairs so we ran to the sisters apartment so we could use theirs to start telling people we were ok. They didn’t answer so we ran to the assistants house and woke them up. We called President Hill and got everything all figured out, then we ran back to the fire. Someone there caught wind that we had been in the building and all the sudden we had 6 cameras in our faces and bunch of microphones everywhere as we recounted our story. They took a quick little blip of that for their news story, and my face is totally cut out cause I didn’t say anything, but I can say I made the news! We went back home and got a couple hours of sleep. It was hard cause we were so wound up, and we woke up pretty early the next day to get to the office. To our surprise they let us in, and I’m actually typing this out on my own computer right now. The fire totally damaged the third floor and it looks like they’re just starting to check things out down there, I’m hoping that they checked to see if this building is still structurally sound, but being cement I’m pretty sure we’re safe. 

Today (I'm writing out a little draft on Sunday cause I'll be kicked out of the office early tomorrow for the professional cleaning crew to come in and try to get the smoke smell out.) We had our church service at Aviatiei, and I guess I should fill you in on what's happening next transfer; I'm staying in the office with Elder P and Elder B. My entire district is actually staying the same which I'm happy about cause they're all pretty sick. I'm not assigned to Aviatiei anymore and in fact, I don't really have a branch..? Aviatiei has become a missionary and senior couple group with a faithful Romanian group leader that comes every week, it kinda died.. So the office Elders were told they could go to any branch in Bucuresti they wanted to, so we're just going to bounce around depending on the mood. 
ANyways. Today after church I went to Sora Gorzo's house for lunch. She's the sweetest old lady, and she actually reminds me a lot of Grandma Brant. After that I basically spent the rest of the day contacting with Elder R (one of my good friends out here, an AP that I've been working with for the last couple transfers) We were both just sick of sitting in the office doing busy work and we knew we needed to get out and do something. So we put our office load on our companions and went out with the sisters to talk to people. We were trying to do some survey contacting, which actually turned out to be pretty effective. I was feeling weird about it at first because to me it almost sounded like a way to lie your way into a gospel conversation, but I tried it out and realized that if you do it with the right intentions and the questions you ask are truly to learn about personal beliefs and the general culture of Romania, then it's a worthy practice and I actually got some really cool conversations out of it. We talked to one crazy paint huffer who was saying some really mean stuff but we got a good laugh out of it. For some reason she really wanted to talk to me, and whenever Rodenburg would add something she would whip around and do a gollum "shut up!" in English. She would ask where I'm from and I'd say the states, and she'd answer with "lies! You speak romanian!" She asked why I was here in Romania and I was like "To talk with and help people, ya know?" and shes's like "lies! You're here to steal!" This might be mean, but it gets to the point when you can just laugh at those people and shake it off without a problem when they cuss you out, cause their brains are all cooked out and there's not a whole lot left to worry about. If there's one thing I'll learn here it's that the word of wisdom might be a good idea ;)

Love you so much! Thank you for emailing me.

Elder Collison