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