Road Trip & Brushes with Danger (Kinda…)
Let me start this entry out by saying: I’m ok Mom. My hearing is intact, I don’t have any burn marks, and neither my companion nor myself were successfully stoned nor mugged.
Now to explain why the above was necessary to say.
This week I took a trip down to Bucharest on Tuesday with two of the Russian Elders. The train ride down was better than the ride back, as we hit the border in the evening rather than at 3:00am. We played a few games, talked a bit, ate some good on-train food, etc… Also, I got to see some Moldovan countryside before it got too dark. Wish I could visit some of those small villages; they’re pretty.
We pulled into the Bucharest station at 6:00am, being the first to arrive. We got some McDonalds and had breakfast. Later on, the Iasi missionaries showed up. They wanted breakfast, so Elder S and I waited by the luggage while they went to eat at the station’s Subway.
Got to meet my first Gypsy.
So, after walking back and forth a few times a woman comes up to us. The encounter was interesting. She had Elder S give her a page out of his planner and wrote down her address for herself (and put it into her sack). After a bit (we’d been there for a while by then), the Iasi Sisters came back, but the lady didn’t leave. She sang to us (something about Christianity?), insisted that we take her scarf (kept wrapping it around one of the suitcases), oddly stroked our badges with her forefinger, and kept trying to get at our luggage. Eventually an officer came by and took her away, but yeah, interesting to see someone fit that stereotype so fully.
Didn’t do much but stand around that day. We went and got our visas, but nothing notable there. Since we didn’t go to the park where Romania was dedicated as all new missionaries usually do with President and Sister Hill when they arrive, a few missionaries took us there and we read the dedicatory prayer together. Missionaries were in and out of the station all day, so only Elder Ly, Sora S, and I went to the park. It was great to see the missionaries from my MTC group again, made me realize how awesome they are.
I went back up to Moldova that night with Elder L, who’d just finished his 3rd transfer as an AP (he also served 4 transfers as an office Elder earlier in his mission). I stayed with Elder Ly for that day (Elder H was still in Bucharest for leadership training), and I made my first eggs! (Everyone’s got to start somewhere.) However, we got a phone call from President Hill, and I’m actually going to be serving with Elder L for this next transfer.
And here we come to some more fun stories. For English, I’ve been teaching the medium-level course with Elder H. With Elder L, I’m teaching the advanced-level course. The ability of the students differentiates where they go, but in both levels the idea is to just have conversations with them, to get them talking. Usually we prepare discussion topics and end with a spiritual thought. Anyway, after Saturday’s class, we came back to the church to meet someone who wanted to meet with us. After that meeting (which ended up being a private English lesson), we were still in the church, and a member had come to clean. In walks a man I had only heard about. He’s uh, well, not very sane. Elder L gave him a banana and got him to go outside with us. When we got outside, he pointed at Elder L and stated, “God doesn’t like you”. Elder L protested that he had given him a banana (really didn’t make any sense why he wouldn’t have liked him). To reemphasize, he pointed at me, and said, “God likes him” (he pointed back to Elder L) “God doesn’t like you”. Again Elder L protested, but the man might’ve related “banana” to some sort of threat, and he put out an inverted fist and ended up saying, “I kill you”. We gave him a bit of space, and he reached into his pocket (now we made sure to keep walking). Turns out he didn’t have anything, so he picked up a brick lying nearby (was rather comical at this point). He was missing a few fingers on one hand, and I don’t think he was probably sober, so it’s not surprising that he put it down after not too long. Then he crossed the street and walked the other direction.
So yeah, that was fun.
Apparently the next time we went contacting, it was my turn to have a taste of danger (hey, have to follow up having my companion almost get stoned, right?). Sunday services went as usual. Sacrament’s always conducted in Russian, but Sunday School and Priesthood vary based on the speaker. Anyway, we went back and contacted later that day. When we were turning down a street to go back to our apartment for dinner, I got the impression that we should instead go down another street that we had already been down. Having already decided to go up the street we were on, I was resistant to put this out courageously. But I kept being stopped, and kept looking back, and did say something after a minute or two. So we went back over to that street and started to walk down it. We were quickly hailed by a guy sitting down on a bench in front of a shop with a beer. He wasn’t too drunk, just jovial. Anyway, we had a good discussion with him, and while we didn’t get his phone number (apparently he works in the mountains in Russia, and we can’t call?), I did get to give him one of the Mormon.org cards I had been prompted that morning to bring. For some reason, I kept feeling I needed to bring them, not just English class cards. That web-site (while not really developed at all in Romanian) is actually legit in Russian…hmm. There’s my spiritual experience for the week, I guess.
Anyway, while we had been talking to that guy, we kept hearing fireworks go off down the road. We found the source (some 20-ish looking guys with accompanying 10-ish kids in beanies), and after rejecting their 10-Euro offer for one, we kept walking. Well, I guess Elder L heard them lighting it, and did say “watch out”, but I was rather slow to react when one flew over my head and landed at my feet. After a second or two, it went off with a brilliant purple flash and a gigantic BOOM. Luckily, it didn’t actually hit me, would’ve done some damage, was a legit explosion (those guys certainly thought it was funny). Anyway, now I can finally relate to temporarily (’bout half a minute) losing my hearing due to being grenaded. #EragoninBrisingrstatus #Feelingprotected
So, yeah, having some great experiences on my mission, haha.
Probably won’t be as intense next week, though,