Tuesday, May 28, 2013

May 27, 2013

Bună Dimineaţa,

It has been an incredible week here in Cluj. I am absolutely amazed at the work we have here to do. Sora Modzelewska and I have had a lot of lessons to attend to that every night we just about pass out on our beds. It's truly amazing too because we just run in to people all the time and they are willing to let us in and talk to us and let us teach them. Truly a miracle here. I am just so very grateful that this branch is growing and we are helping them build up the kingdom here. It is absolutely amazing to see.

Sora Modzelewska and I have had some fantastic stories, and events happen this week. On Thursday we had district meeting and our district meeting goes on like always but this time it went a little long. And in comes this lady and sits in on our meeting just in time for the closing prayer. We had no idea who she was, or if it was one of the others investigator, but she came in sat down and just waited. We went up to her afterwards and she looked at us and was like I wanted someone to teach me English. So there Sora Modzelewska and I go and we go into the other room and start teaching her. We like to teach some English and then do like 30 minutes of Gospel Discussion. Which she agreed to. And after we were done with the lesson this sweet Maria looked at us and said,"I don't want you to waste your time with me. And I really like the way you teach me. So please let me pay you." We looked at her and almost jumped out of our seats insisting no no no. Don't pay us! And then we explained that we don't want money. We are Christians. We are good people who want to serve. All we desire is to share our message about Christ and about why we are so happy. We don't want your money. We are happy to do this service. And then we asked if we could just close with a word of prayer. This wonderful woman was so touched that she just started crying. I haven't seen someone in this country be as touched as this woman was at this moment. It was a wonderful moment that was so filled with the spirit, and it was beautiful to see that she could feel it. That this moment of service and charity and the power of our words touched her. Such a tender mercy.

We continued on with teaching Karen this week. Our sweet sweet investigator. Who I just wish I could communicate with. It's so fascinating and irritating to see that after 4ish years of Spanish I don't really remember anything. Anyways our wonderful member Sora Kiss translates for us. We had a wonderful discussion on the Book of Mormon that was purely set on the spirit. We weren't really sure what we were going to talk about when we got there but we just knew that we had to depend on the spirit. We asked her if she was reading the Book of Mormon and if she felt like the things we had talked about were true. She was so uncertain and said she really doesn't think that this church is  for her and just started throwing out a lot of excuses. So we quickly just brought it back to the Book of Mormon where she confessed that she wasn't reading it. But from the chapters we had given her she thought it was good but liked the Bible better. We were just able to bear our testimonies that if she doesn't read the Book of Mormon that she wont know. That what was in her hands was the defining evidence that Joseph Smith was a prophet. We were able to just talk to her and tell her how wonderful and important she is to Heavenly Father, that she can strengthen this relationship with Him, and she can find happiness she has never felt before. It was a BEAUTIFUL moment. It felt like instead of her back tracking and heading the other way she is now turned back around and listening and waiting. Gosh I just love being a missionary :)

Now the title of this email is called the Power of Rain. And now you will know why. After one of lessons with Karen we left our phone at Sora Kiss's house. And well she lives in Floresti which is La Ţară outside of town. And so we had to wake up and head straight there since there are only a few buses that go there every hour. So after the craziness of going there, grabbing our phone, and coming back, waiting for a bus, and seeing about our lessons that day we sat down on a bench just right outside the bus stop. And I'm sitting there just listening to Sora Modzelewska talk about our day and what we need to do and who we need to call. This lady walks by and smiles at us and I smile back and we return to our conversation. The lady turned back around and sat down right by Sora Modzelewska and just starts talking to us. Now my mouth was probably open and my eyes were probably big as saucers because people here don't come up to us and talk to us. They just don't. And they specifically don't come and sit down out of all the benches right by us and are super friendly. So I am honestly already in shock. We start talking to her a little bit, when it starts to rain. I was so mad, and I have never been mad at the rain before I like the rain! But once it started to rain she looks over at us and just said it's starting to rain really bad, stands up and walks away. Ahhh I just felt like we had lost that opportunity. But when she said it was raining hard it was raining hard, no exaggeration here. So we get up and run to one of the blocks behind us just to have some kind of shelter. And what do you know it was her block. And she invited us in. She invited us in to her home and just wanted to talk to us. I didn't understand everything that she had said, but she told us about her life. She told us that a few years ago she had had a stroke in Canada and that she knew that God had saved her life for some reason. That even though a part of her back was paralyzed she had some reason for being here. And of course we are sitting there thinking of course you have a purpose, let's share our message! So we do. We share the message of the restoration and she says that we can come back and she said that she will start to read the Book of Mormon.

Now this is where the power of the rain comes in. I watched as this woman (Anna Marie) comes up to us and sits by us on the bench. And at that exact moment it starts to rain. We just happened to run for cover at her block. Where she had not yet entered. And she let us in. And at that moment we started to talk about the Restoration of the gospel (And I am staring out the window, because I have never seen so much rain in my life) the rain completely stops, the clouds parted, and the sun shine started to beam through the window. There are no coincidences in this work. None. What a testimony builder this was to me, that the Lord has people He wants us to teach. And He prepares these people. And with our faith in Him, He will give unto us mighty miracles.

Our sweet dear Sabina is getting baptized this Saturday! I am so excited and it has been such a sweet experience to teach her. I have loved every moment of meeting with her. From the very first time where she sat down next to us, not really sure what to say or what to do. You could just see this longing she had to be apart of something that just felt like home. She wanted to find this comfort that we know the Gospel can bring in to every persons life. And every time we meet with her. She grows. Her light has changed. She may still be the same person who doesn't like attention, or doesn't like to be around a lot of people. But she is so much happier. Her appearance, the way she holds herself up has changed. I never really understood when people said that they can see the light people have, and how it shines or it dims. I have never understood that. Until now. Because I have seen it. I remember at the begining and at this moment now where she is understanding the principles and applying them to her life. And her light, this essence, feeling, has changed round about her. You can see it. You can see that she feels love and she returns love. :) 

This life is filled with so many beautiful opporunities and experiences that we really don't notice. Or at least I haven't noticed. I can't believe that I have lived most of my life in this gospel, but haven't really used all that I had at my disposal. Or I haven't used all the blessings, opportunities, and experience the gospel gives me. Live FULLY in this gospel. Don't just stick your foot in. Immerse yourself and you will not believe the blessings that come.

I am so grateful and so happy to hear about the things going on back home. I can not tell you how full my heart is to hear that you are being member presents for this wonderful neighbor. And I hope that you will look for more of these opportunities. Don't be afraid to share the gospel. What do you have to loose? And look at what they have to gain. How many people I could have shared the gospel with and I didn't because I was scared. I am super ashamed to say that I was scared to share the gospel. So don't be or do what I did. Just jump in :) It feels absolutely fantastic!

I love you all so much! And I hope that you have a fantastic week!

Sora Stewart


ps. Matthew! I don't know if you have watched this Mormon Message but you need to. It just brought tears to my eyes and I hope it brings tears to your eyes as you reflect on your missionary work that you are doing here and the missionary work you have done :)

Friday, May 24, 2013

Me on the bus. There was some crazy guy singing and playing guitar. It was quite the sight to see.

This is Karen our Spanish speaking investigator and her husband Marin. She is so adorable

One of our new investigators Damaris. She's super adorable!

George, Me, Sora Modzelewska, and Mariana

Hehehehe. She doesn't even know I took this picture of her. Sora Modzelewska cleaning our kitchen.

This is the wonderful couple of gardens that are outside of our balcony. I have named them starting from the left. Farmer Joe, Farmer Bob, and Farmer Billy Bob. Their gardens are turning out beautifully!

May 20, 2013

Hello my loved ones!

Things are great here in Cluj-Napoca, and the work is just blooming. We have a really wonderful district who are just filled with the desire to work, and share the gospel with everyone.

I feel like things are never really normal with the last couple weeks of this transfer, there are just so many changes and so many things going on in general.

Last monday we went to go see Familia Iepure. Who is the branch president here. His wife Weronica is from Poland and so Sora Modzelewska just fits right in. It's really adorable and very cool to see how Sora Modzelewska has just molded into this branch! She keeps telling me that she feels that the Lord was preparing her, her whole mission to come to Cluj and be apart of this branch. I honestly feel that she will die her, I think she really wants to die here actually too. :) Anyways back to Familia Iepure they have the two most adorable kids. Dani and Simi. Super cute little boys and since Weronica is Polish and Mihai is Romanian and they speak English to each other. Weronica speaks polish to the boys and Mihai speaks Romanian to them. They obviously know Romanian best because well we live here in Romania! They understand all of those languages. So we were sitting and talking and Dani comes up to me and says something. And it doesn't sound Romanian and so I listen harder and I felt so dumb he was speaking to me in ENGLISH! "Please Come." He kept saying that over and over and I didn't understand him. Extremely embarrassing. President Iepure was laughing so hard. It was a good moment. :)
I think I told you about our wonderful little couple that we are teaching Mariana and George? Maybe? I'm just going to talk about them again because they are such wonderful blessings that have come into our life. They are pretty open about religions, but they are still orthodox and like thier religion which is totally understandable. We teach them 30 minutes of English and 30 minutes of Gospel discussion and this last time they agreed to come to church! I didn't get my hopes up but as we are walking up to the Villa and I saw their car I may have done a few heel clicks walking up to the front door. They were dressed in Sunday best and the branch just enveloped them with love. It was almost a perfect Sunday. The speakers spoke about what we wanted to teach them and they told us that they really loved împărtăşania. Sunday School not as good. But we still have lessons to teach them and appointments set so we are excited :)
They are such a loving couple who just laugh all the time. They are just so happy which is wonderful to see here. :)
The biggest blessing since I have been here? Sabina. Oh my goodness my heart just rejoices with her. Because I just love her so dearly! She has come to church every week since we have started meeting with her, she has agreed to every commitment, and has kept every commitment. She has read and prayed and has commented in Church. And she just is so humble, so willing to follow the example of Christ. She makes me feel so loved, which is strange since I am supposed to make HER feel loved! Yesterday we were talking and she just wanted to know about my life, and family, and what I like to do. And she must have given me 30 hugs within 10 minutes. And she just kept saying over and over how grateful she was that we were there for her and that I was just the person she needed in her life. Oh my goodness I can't even put it into words how much she made me feel so loved. The most beautiful part to me is when she was talking about my church and then looked at me and said well actually I guess it's my church now too. :) She is so excited to be batized on the 1st and she agreed to have pictures taken since she wouldn't let us take any pictures before. I can not even discribe to you how much I love this woman, and how loving she is, and how willing she is to follow Chist. It's the most beautiful thing I have seen here. :)

We had exchanges this week too. Well sorta. They changed some things out here with mission rules and ways to do things. Before each area would switch with a specific area. Like Cluj switches with Sibiu and Timişoara with Arăd and so forth. Well now we have Sister Trainer Leaders which is what Sora Ewell is in Arăd and so now the STL goes to all the areas she can and has an exchange with the senior companion to help them meet goals and be a better trainer or Senior companion. So Sora Ewell and her companion Sora Deruvo who was in the MTC with me came and we had an exchange. I was with Sora Deruvo and we just had a blast. I really like exchanges because I am forced to have to speak and try my hardest to communicate. And I just immerse myself in the language and with what we are doing. And I was complemented on my Romanian which is still really bad, but Romanians have mercy on me and just love that I am trying to speak in their language and they love that. They appreciate that oh so much. It really is just nice to see that I am progressing little by little in this country. :) Little blessings just matter so much to me.

And I had such a blast serving with my dear friend for that day. :)

I love this gospel. And I love being a missionary more and more each and every day! I love feeling the spirit and I work everyday to just have the spirit be my constant companion. I think that that may be one of my favorite things about being a missionary. Is that I feel the spirit all the time. And it testifies to my investgators and I all the time. It's the most amazing feeling. I can't imagine now how it would feel to not have this constant companion that just feels my life with such great stregth, hope, and happiness. I know that God lives and He loves His children. I see everday how He has prepared His children to accept and be apart of the Gospel. I have no doubt that He knows all of us and He knows His lost sheep. And He still loves them. :) Isn't that beautiful? I'm learning a lot about love lately. And it is beautiful, endless, and everlasting :)
I love you all :)
Sora Stewart

There was also this super cool guy that made this unicycle and was riding it up and down the street in front of the church. Have I mentioned guys wear short shorts.
Our wonderful senior couple. Have I told you how much I just love them?
OH I forgot. I got food poisoning this week. That was not fun. And I'm so grateful for these two because Sora Boyd goes right into mom mode and just took care of me. Since well I couldn't leave the bathroom floor that day. :) We have wonderful angels here ;)
The wonderful sisters in our zone :)
The Elders right before they were about to be taken into the police office :)
Sibiu :)
Sibiu :)
Elders in our sleeper train the next morning.
Super weird I KNOW!
Train Ride from Cluj to Buch
People love to take pictures of us when we face the sun and I can't see a dang thing! haha


May 13, 2013

It's been kind of an odd week because of holidays and all these travels that we have had to do. I feel like the transfer really hasn't started and that we were kinda gypped! We had zone conference in Sibiu. And wow Sibiu is absolutely beautiful. You can see the mountains in the distance and I really miss looking at all the mountains from back home. That is something I never really thought I would miss. Sibiu is a little bit like Cluj where it's a lot of the cobblestone walkways and the old buildings where they are all different colors.
Anyways so Zone Conference we went to Centru to go contacting and well we ran into a little bit of trouble with the Police there where they said that we weren't allowed to pass anything out. Our poor Elders were in the station for about 30 minutes, we didn't know if they were going to be able to come back out! No worries everythings fine, but our big plan of our zone is to storm Western Europe with Books of Mormon. Our zone goal is to pass out 200 books in 6 weeks which is completely do able. We want a Book of Mormon in every home. Wouldn't that beautiful? And people here really see the value of books, much more than they do at home. They always ask us are you honestly giving these away for free? That's their first question not that they don't want to read it, but they are just astonished that we are giving out things for free. It's really beautiful to see how they value certain things.

We also had to travel to Buch this week for my visa. Remember how I said I really liked trains? Well, I'm not a huge fan of them anymore. Especially in the summer they are extremely extremely hot. And Cluj is really far from Buch. But now we are back here and back to work with our investigators!
We had a miracle come into Sora Modzelewska's life and mine or I should say two miracles. We ran in to this lady a few days before the Paşti just to ask and see how they celebrate and what they do and everything. It was a nice conversation and we announced who we were and told her what we teach. And she said she was interested and was really open about religions and would love to meet with us. Well after all the craziness of traveling we were finally able to meet with her and we thought it was just going to be her. But no she brought her wonderful husband. They took us in their car and drove to the church, where they just opened up their whole lives to us. They are such a wonderful family, where they told us how they have had trials with not being able to have kids but know that the Lord wants them to adopt. And so now we have 2 new investigators who are some of the most sincere people I have met here in the country.

A beautiful experience happened yesterday after church as well. Our wonderful investigator Sabina who has a date in 2 weeks and sincerely wants to be baptized we had a discussion about the word of wisdom... which well didn't really go over as well as Sora Modzelewska and I would have hoped it would have. But with the help of the spirit and the wonderful Senior Couple we have here she told us that she would like a blessing to help her with her help and help her with her not wanting to drink coffee. And in the blessing their were some wonderful blessings promised her and I saw as she was super uptight because she didn't really know how blessings worked or how these things happened, and then to see her relax her body and see that she was receiving the things that were being told to her.

It's such a miracle to me to see how the Lord prepares people. To see how He never abandons His children. And that He honestly has the most patience in the world. That everything is in His time, and His time is always the most perfect time. I am constantly reminded about this, because I get impatient, and I want things done now. Or I feel that sometimes the Lord just isn't answering things the way that I want them done. He is a perfect teacher for me.

I really LOVE being a missionary. I am learning so many new things and developing so many attributes that will affect my life forever. No wonder mom is so perfect :)
I love you all,

Sora Stewart

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Well good morning!
First off I would like to say I am super sorry for not writing for the past couple days. Easter is a big thing here. And I mean big. Like bigger then Christmas is in the States. It's super crazy. So everything has been closed for like 4 days here. So on P-day we weren't able to go to the library and write. And then yesterday we traveled to Sibiu for our zone training and well we left at 6 in the morning and didn't get back until 9. It's been a long couple of days.

I'm not even sure exactly where to start with everything because there has been so many changes and so many things going on.
I'm well and safe here in Cluj and with all the excitement with Easter going on it's been really nice to have time in my personal study to study the Saviors life and to look and go over His Atoning Sacrifice. It's been really peaceful and beautiful. Everyone here in Romania is out saying "Hristos a înviat!" and then the reply is  "Adevărat a înviat!" My new companion loves to go over to people and just say it so that way they will respond it's super funny to me, just because she gets all giddy when others say it back. It's been a good time to go contacting with all these people going over to orthodox churches and just sitting outside hearing the preachers. The Churches here all have these speakers on the outside so a lot of people sit on the benches outside while you hear the preachers repeating prayers and singing... I think it sounds like people are moaning. Not many people here are blessed with the gift of song. Which is why I have been asked way to much with Sora Ewell as my companion to sing. WAY TO MUCH!

Anyways this week has just been super super crazy and we have another crazy week ahead of us. Sora Ewell and I had a bunch of lessons ready before she left Cluj. The members really loved her a lot and our investigators so there were some tearful goodbyes. So as we get ready to head to the Gara, which is a story all in it's own, for our 9 hour train ride. And because it was Easter everybody was heading down to Buch so we sat in seats for 9 hours... I was exhausted. Some super interesting news though as we arrived at the Gara and get the luggage to where it needs to go I noticed a missionary who looks so familiar. And I just stared at him until I saw his name tag which said Elder Davis. Turns out we were on the Church History Tour together! Suzy, Jenni, and I would always hang out with him and his cousins. He is the grandson of Brother Bunker back home which is how they ended up going on the Church History Tour. This world is just super small!
Well my wonderful companion Sora Modzelewska. She is from Poland and she is a serious ball of fire. Haha serious she has red hair. She is very serious about the work and she speaks Romanian perfectly. Well at least to me it's perfectly. Every person we come in contact with just tells her how amazing her Romanian is, they are all super impressed. And she speaks super super fast. She is super nice and is just really loving.She is a fighter after all having only been a member for around 3ish 2ish years and then wanting to serve a mission. And you all keep saying that I will have to work on my language skills and that is super true but not for the reasons you all think. She speaks perfect English and actually she only speaks to me in English. She doesn't want to speak to me in Romanian because she wants to work on her English skills. So I have to work 10 times harder now on my Romanian. Anytime I try to speak Romanian to her she responds in English. But she is always willing to help me which is nice.

We basically have a new district here since the only people that stayed were Elder Staheli and myself. And we have the most interesting group of missionaries. A very very blunt, not afraid to speak their mind group. Our district meetings are very interesting if I do say so myself.

Now on to our work here. We have two more baptismal dates and sadly we lost one baptismal date.

Our wonderful Spanish speaker Karen said that she would be baptized. With much much hesitancy, but she is still eager to learn and I hope that we have calmed her nerves. She is just the sweetest person and just has this desire. She's quick to read her scriptures and follow the way that she feels will bring her close to Christ. Also she is just super cute with her husband. As he is the member and she will always just say to us, he needed me in his life because he needs to increase his spirituality. I just adore them. So we will hopefully be having her baptism on June 1st!

We had a miracle come into our lives on our first day back to Cluj. After we had talked to Karen we kept getting calls from President Iepure and other members saying that the Boyds needed to take us to this ladies house. So we went of course and this lady who is just the most gentle person I have ever met said she was ready to change her life. She was a referral from one of our members and had taken one discussion before but just wasn't ready. She told us the things that had happened in her life that made her more interested in hearing what we have to say and she has already accepted a baptism date for the 26th of this month. Her name is Sabina and she is around 35? Maybe. She's come to church and she just loves people. I don't know if I have ever felt so much love from an investigator before. As we leave our lessons for her she grabs my hand and hugs me and just tells me to take care of myself and it just touches my heart. The Lord really prepares His children. I don't understand exactly how He does it, but I know that He does.
We were dropped this week by sweet Nicolette, there were too many conflicting things going on, and I don't think she felt very good about keeping the word of wisdom. Also with Sora Ewell leaving and being replaced by Sora Modzelewska who are completely too different people, was really hard on her.

Also a little blessing in my life are the Boyds. I seriously love them and I don't know what this branch or us would do without them. They do so much for our investigators and they just have this love and sense of humor about them that everyone sees, and people here in Romania love older people. They have this respect for them. Not that they are old. Anyways but that's why my Subject is about is Elder Boyds sits in this chair that rocks way back and just starts being his cowboy self from Wyoming. He's funny I love them.

Another blessing this week is that I was having a hard time. I think with the members as they had said some things about an inactive that just made me furious. Because they just didn't or don't or don't want to understand that they have to love everyone despite the choices they made. And they just didn't want to help. It was a big mess anyways and I was just praying for comfort and praying to just remember how it is in my ward back home if they were out there talking to the in actives in our ward and loving them and wanting to share the gospel and just not being ashamed for who they are as members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And so I was reading in the Liahona when something caught my eye that said this women who lived in Nevada and was traveling to Alaska. Obviously I think of Sister Rather since that's the only person I know and sure enough I look down and see that she wrote the article! And it is about her sharing the gospel on a plane with a lady who had just lost someone she loved. I just started crying because I am so blessed. I am so blessed to have been in a ward so loving and to just have the gospel. It was just that simple answer to my prayer. I can't tell you how blessed we are honestly!!!! And I just want to tell her Sister Rather that I'm so glad she wrote that article and I'm so glad that I read it. It was a true answer to my prayer.

I want to talk a little about Easter since we were allowed to go and see the Midnight Mass on Saturday Evening. What they do or, what they say, is that this fire comes from heaven down to Israel and so these churches go and take the fire and bring it back here and then in the Mass or service or whatever it is the Priest go around lighting candles. And everyone has a bunch of candles. They try to take it home without the flame going out and supposedly you would have good luck. Me being the person I am, I thought it would be really funny blowing candles out. I didn't do it of course! But to me that would be funny :) Anyways we went into the church and it was just dark and they have prayers going on and everyone has these candles and they have these robes on and everyone comes in and kisses this picture of Jesus... They don't clean this picture. It sounds pretty unsanitary to me just FYI! And then all these priest come out and start lighting peoples candles. That was a scary moment there. I don't know if I have had so many open flames by my face, clothes, and hair before. This poor lady in front of me had her hair burned... It was a very beautiful sight though with everyone there in unity to worship Jesus Christ for his Resurrection. Reading scriptures and saying these prayers and songs.

It just made my heart ache though to see how much they could know or could have if they were to accept our message. If we were able to tell them and say you see how beautiful this is our message can give you joy you can not yet comprehend. Where everyday you could wake up and say I know who I am, I know where I'm going, I know why I am here. And it would make you the happiest you could ever be in your life. Because this gospel is real, and it's complete, it's full, and it is true.

I know that it's true. With all my heart and mind I know. Why else in all honestly would I be here in Romania trying to speak this language that just does not make sense to me. I love this Gospel and I love my Savior. I know it's true, I know it's true.

I love you all!
Sora Stewart

OH yeah I chopped off all my hair... :)

The big Orthodox church

Sora Modzelewska and I first day in Cluj.


Some of our elders in our district Easter!

There were so many people there for this thing!