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Archive for April, 2010

Yay, pictures!  There’s one of some random flowers, of Sora Holden taking pictures of random flowers (the first week I was here they had the Symphony of Tulips), traffic in Buc (this happened every time the light changed–there are no left turn lanes, so a bunch of people just crowd in together and then merge to one lane on the other side of the intersection) and me and the other Sister Hansen going to Romania.  Right now in Romania there are two Elder Johnsons, an Elder Jensen, an Elder Fransen, Sora Hansen (me!), a Sora Holden, and a Sora Harward.  Sora Howard just went home, Elder Johnsen will be coming in sometime this transfer, and with the next district coming in we’re getting another Elder Johnson, another Elder Jensen, another Elder Fransen, another Sora Hansen, and a Sora Holman.  Crazy.  We’ll all have to go by nicknames or something.

Mothers’ Day call: The President says it’s easier if I give you our phone number and you call us.  Our number is 0753 058 828, but you’re going to have to add a country code to that.  I don’t know what it is, I’ll see if we can figure it out this week.  We have church from 10:00 to 1:00 our time, which shouldn’t be a problem because that’s still crazy early your time.  What time do you guys have church this year?  Also, what time will Jacob be calling you (or will you be calling him?) Sora Holden needs to know so she can set things up with her parents.

I love you all!

Sora Brielle

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I love you!

And I love hearing from you.  We go to the library to email between 10:00
and 11:00 on Monday morning to email, so in your time that would
be…er…between one and two in the morning Monday morning.  So as long as
you don’t push it too late Sunday night, you should be fine.  🙂

The traffic here in Pitest isn’t as crazy as it is in Buc, thank heavens.
I’m starting to get familiar with where everything is and how to use the
bus system to get there.  We live in a bloc–an apartment building that is
probably seven or eight stories tall–in a group of other blocs that all
look the same.  It’s like a maze.  But I’m starting to figure out how it
works as well.

We teach English here as a service, and at the end of every class we have a
spiritual thought based on one of the Articles of Faith.  This week’s was
#11.  We wanted to teach that we respect everyone’s beliefs and believe in
religious tolerence, but tell them that we have the only church with all
the truth.  I tied it in with math: I wrote a complicated-looking math
problem on the board that required the proper use of the order of
operations to get right.  Then I gave everybody thirty seconds to complete
the problem and told them to call out their answers.  I got all sorts of
things.  Then I tied that in with the gospel–some people try the problem,
but get frustrated halfway through.  Some people have never learned how to
complete the problem.  Some people have learned enough to complete some of
the steps, but not the whole thing.  Some people did the problem easily.
Some people struggled, but with enough effort eventually got it right.
Some people didn’t even attempt it.  It’s the same with the gospel.
Everybody is different here on earth, but that doesn’t mean that the path
to God is different for everybody.  The gospel is the same gospel for
everyone, just like math works the same way for everyone.  Even if you
believe with all your heart that 7*2 is 16 instead of 14, it doesn’t make
it right.

Our apartment is very nice, if small.  Our fridge and stove are tiny–I
didn’t know that they made stoves that small.  But we really don’t need
more than that.  Our utilities work well.  Sometimes we have to threaten
the water heater, but it usually works.

The mission goal is 20 lessons a week, and last week we got 12.  So we
definitely have some room to improve, but I know if we continue to work
hard the people’s hearts will be softened.  Everyone seems very nice and
polite here.  Even the people who shut their doors in our faces aren’t
nasty about it.  We had one guy come up to us and tell us that he sees us
wandering around and telling people about Christ, and that he is really
impressed and admires us.  He says that he tries to do the same thing with
his friends, but his friends are all too timid.  He agreed to meet with us,
but since he’s a young single guy we gave his info to the elders.

What’s up with the volcano?  I heard just a little bit about it from one of
the members who’s big into the Apocolypse.  All I heard was that it was in
Iceland and because of it flights across the Atlantic were canceled and
that it meant that the end of the world is right around the corner. 🙂
How widespread was the damage?  What have been the afterefects?  Are there
a lot of doomsayers about?  I live for information!

Everyone loves to see pictures here, but I only brought the one of us all
making goofy faces.  And yes, I’ve been showing it to everyone I have a
lesson with.  Will you email me some more?  I’ll transfer them to my camera
and then make prints here.

I love you all!

Sora Brielle

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Ah, it has been a great week, I sure hope Tyler Jack’s parents let the
missionaries in, I think that would really help their family, and they are
so ready for it.

That is cool that my Comp Elder Still wrote you, he really is a good guy,
and he always trys hard to impress me, and help make the work go smoother.
The whole santa thing, is that I am not going to deceive to my kids every
Christmas, we were all joking about it, but it sounds like, he took it
seriously.

Work is going great here, I am looking forward to the summer, because there
are a ton more people home in the summers, and last summer was the only
time on my mission that I was able to get the 20 lessons that we are asked
to do in a week. Most people get between 12-15.

Well I have to go, but know that I love you guys, and appreciate all the
prayers, and have the missionaries over for dinner again, or maybe you guys
could have Tyler Jack’s family over for a  family night, or get to know our
neighbors better to the left of our house, in the Christensen’s old house,
I am sure they could use a plate of cookies.

Love Sora Jake

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Dear Jill and Family–

Yeah, I loved your letter!  I love hearing what’s going on in all of your
lives.  Camille’s birthday sounded like it was a ball–I have never heard
of the “Cheetos head” game.  Where on earth did you get the idea for that?

I’m so glad you commented on my “stoked to be here” letter.  Mom and dad
didn’t at all!  I almost thought that they didn’t catch on to scroll down,
but they commented on stuff that I had written later on.  I wrote that
because that’s what we got from Jacob one week–except there wasn’t
anything farther down in his letter.

Anyone who wants to can email me, there aren’t really restrictions on
that.  But I’m only allowed to email family (which definitely includes you
guys) so if someone emails me that I can’t email, I’ll send them a snail
mail letter.  It’s a lot faster that way anyway, because I only get mail
whenever someone decides to make a trip from Buc, where the mission home
is, to Pitest, where I am.  Which is maybe twice a transfer (6 weeks) if
I’m lucky.

I’m sorry to hear that Cody got sick.  Being sick is no fun.  Also,
Cody–what the heck are you doing with a girlfriend?  Just because every
girl on the planet drools over your gorgeous hair doesn’t mean that you
should hook up with one!  If you’re not careful, you’ll end up like the
nasty Romanian couples who spend two and a half hours at a train station
doing nothing but making out and making all of the little old bag ladies
gag.  Blech!  (Yes, this is an actual occurrence.  And according to my
companion, it’s not rare.)

The weather here is very pretty.  It’s been a little windy the past couple
of days, but usually it’s very nice.  Or raining, but I don’t really mind
that.  Our apartment has lots of big windows on…one of the sides.  Now
that I think of it I have no idea which way it faces.  Anyway, consequently
we have lots of light in the morning, and in the afternoon, and in the
middle of the night because of all the streetlights.  I’ve started sleeping
a lot better now that I’ve started using the eye mask I bought for the
plane ride over here.

Camille–congratulations on getting into Girl’s Chorus!  I realize that
you’ve already had your auditions, I want to tell you anyway: the thing
that’s helped me most to overcome my fear (fear’s not exactly the right
word, but it will work) of singing in front of people was something my mom
told me once.  She told me to just pretend I was someone else.  When I
sing, I’m not Brielle anymore, I’m Shawna.  And everyone knows that
Shawna’s not afraid of singing in front of people.  🙂

I think your other questions I’ll answer in the email my family will
forward to you, because they didn’t send me any questions to answer even
though I asked very politely.  Oh, while I think of it, are you puting the
emails I send you on the blog or forwarding them to the fam or anything?
You certainly don’t have to (and if you do, know that you’re welcome to
edit out anything you want), but I try to send you guys different stuff
than I send the fam so you don’t hear it twice, so you get info they
haven’t had.  Also, I love your subject line.  Mom used to send random
subject lines to Jake, but then gave it up after a while because he never
reciprocated.  But I’m more into random stuff than he is, and I love them.

I love you all!

Sora Brielle

P.S. “Are you being kind and tolerant in spite of no one being as wonderful
as you are?” You are so sweet!  I’m trying very hard to be kind and patient
(especially with myself) but haven’t really had a problem with toleration
yet.  Also, thank you for praying for me!  I know the Lord hears your
prayers and I need all the help I can get.

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Dear Hansen Family,

Hello there, I am Elder still serving as your son’s companion in the
Rocklin 1st ward.  I had recently read a little missionary tip about
writing a letter to your companion’s family.  I thought that this would be
a good idea and a good surprise for Elder Hansen.

A quick word on myself, I’m from Reynoldsburg, OH a suburb of Columbus.  I
have been serving for about 6 ½ months now, Rocklin being my 2nd area and
Elder Hansen being my 3rd companion.  I am a lifelong member and some of my
simple pleasures include chocolate, reading books and bringing souls to
ChristJ

Now many words on your son and brother.  I can honestly say that in the
short time I have been out on my mission, your son has been my best
companion.  Elder Hansen must have been born with a part in his hair
because he was made to be a missionary.  He is hardworking, dedicated and
motivated by a sincere desire to serve others and most of all serve the
Lord (hardworking and dedicated aren’t the same thing, are they?)

Your son is also an ardent student of the gospel, always writing notes and
commentaries on a variety of gospel topics, all with the desire to help our
investigators come closer to God (he often wishes that he had more hours in
the day to study) and an effective teacher, always doing his best to
explain the gospel to others simply, but with fervor.  He wants to be here
and he wants to be the best he can be, especially for the Lord.

Mostly I guess I wanted to thank you for raising a son who has been such a
great example to me both in missionary work and in character.  He’s still a
little sore about the whole Santa Claus thing, but he makes it clear
everyday how much he loves you all and how your love and influence as a
family is spread from him to all those we teach and come in contact with
and it really does show.  I know he’s a big boy now, but you all worked to
shape him into the fine missionary he is and to the great man he has
become, for the amazing example he has been to me an example which I really
needed.  I know it was no mistake that I came to be his companion.  I thank
you all so much and you have my prayers and my well wishes.

Sincerely,

Elder Derek Still

P.S.  Have you noticed that your son says perfect a lot?  It’s kind of
funny but a little off when someone tells us they’re Catholic and he
replies with a smile “perfect”!

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Hey family,

Elder Still and I are still trucking along (getting along really well
actually), we are working with quite a few people, and we had three of them
tell us they were going to make it to church, but we haven’t had anyone new
to church in a while. Mrs. Reyes is going to get her daughter involved in
YW activities this Wednesday, so I am way happy about that.

Other then that, not much new here,

I can tell that my last half of my mission is going to go much faster then
the first half, now I am getting comfortable talking to most anyone, even
if they have head phones on, or busy doing something else, which actually
was a hard thing for me to develop, not because it is hard for me to talk
to people, but because I am a people pleaser, and people are much happier
to have us pass them by then to bother them, and they are not shy about
informing us of that, heh, the worst is when you talk to someone a second
time, and totally don’t recognize them.

So I am getting much better at talking to people, and we just got a greenie
in the apartment, and he is totally blown away by “how well we know the
scriptures” which really isn’t all that amazing because we use most of the
same scriptures in our lessons, but we will tell him that later.

Well know that I love you guys, and I know that the church that is set up
on the earth today, the same way Christ set it up before. Hallelujah for a
Prophet!

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Hey Family!                                                                                                   April 9, 2010

So my letters get to you on Monday, eh?  That means by the time you get this, we will have talked on the phone already!  I am looking forward to talking to you so much, I miss you guys but I thankfully haven’t gotten super homesick.  Sora Jay saw her sister at the temple one Sunday and was pretty down that night, but mostly we’ve al been good.  It’s nice that we spend all of our time with the same district – they’ve become like family to me.

When I got the package Dad dropped off, I noticed that the tape was cut and I turned to my companions and said, “Look, they searched it for contraband!”  But I had no idea there was actually food in it until Jill mentioned it in the letter she included with the candy she sent.

I am all healthy again and feeling great, but Sora Jay says that she’s been feeling especially tired the last couple of days and is afraid that we may be coming down with something again.  Hopefully she’ll take a nap while Sora Humphries and I write letters – that’s what she usually does.

Wasn’t General Conference great?  We watched it in the MTC gym.  They pulled the bleachers like they do for Devotional and had thousands of chairs lined up n the ground.  I loved President Eyring’s talk Saturday morning.  He talked about really focusing on Helping children build sure, strong foundations to their testimonies early and when they grow older, if they do stray, to help them and guide them back quickly to the gospel and to righteousness,  He was talking about primary children and youth,  But it occurred to me that his message is equally applicable to new converts.  If we can strengthen them while they are yet young in the gospel, they will be more likely to live it righteously and to hold to the rod for the rest of their lives, And if they do begin to fall away, to help them and support them quickly before they have a change to fall too far.  Apparently in Romania there is a big problem with new converts who o to church for a while, but who then fall back into old habits and fall away.

I liked Elder Cook’s talk in the Priesthood meeting.  He said that a lot of the time we hear people say that they were called to a particular mission because someone there needed to hear the gospel from them.  He said that that does happen, but sometimes a missionary is called to a particular mission not for that reason, but because they needed to serve under a particular mission president.  It’s interesting to see how the Lord works.  Sora Jay knows Chinese (Mandarin) and can both read and speak it decently well.  Sora Humphries knows ASL better than some of the missionaries call to ASL missions when they leave the PTC.  Sora Holman’s family moved to Japan when she was six and she lived there for almost then years and is nearly fluent, and yet they were all called to Romania.  Evidently the Lord has something great for us to do there.

During the Priesthood session, we sister went to a different building and watched the UW Broadcast.  You were right – Elder Uchtdorf’s talk was excellent.  He mentioned that ever language has a specific phrase they use to behind stories, so I asked Sora Peterson what it was in Romanian.  It’s “A fost o data ca nici o data,” which means, “There was a time like never a time.”  Isn’t that gorgeous?

Yay, I’ll be in Romania on Tuesday!  We leave the MTC Monday morning at 5:00 am, so I’ll be getting up super early.  I love it here at the MTC, but I’m ready to leave.  I’m excited to teach and serve the people of Romania.

I love you all!  ~Sora Brielle~

Dear Lexa,

I got your letter today (Thursday – P-Day)!  We have a mailroom next to the bookstore.  It has a lot of little boxes with numbers on them like at a post office.  Each district has a mailbox (mine is #189, which is why it’s part of my address here) and the district leader (which seems to change more often than normal in our district – currently it’s Elder Johnsen) is the only person allowed to retrieve the letters.  He gets letters twice a day – right before lunch and again before dinner – and then passes them out at mealtimes.  If someone sends us a package, the mail people put a piece of paper telling us in our box so which we receive when we all receive our letters.  Then we take the paper to the mailroom and trade it for our package.  The bookstore has envelopes and stamp we can buy if we need them, but I brought lots with me.

Ok, so “senior missionaries” are different from “senior companions.”  Senior companion means pretty much nothing in the MTC, but in the field it means that if anything goes terribly wrong, you are the responsible party.  You also get more say in the day.  Senior missionaries are old people – usually couples, but also just sisters – who come on missions.  They don’t live at the MTC like we young missionaries do.

When we got to the TRC to teach, the people there are volunteers – usually returned missionaries, at least for Romania, but one time we taught a lady who was actually from Romania and was here visiting one of my teachers.  The elders had taught her a few weeks before and said she was a really hard investigator, but we really liked her and I thought she was easy to teach.

I’m glad to hear that the play is progressing – I’m excited to see pictures!  Also, thanks for all of the letters!

~Brielle~

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