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Yay, I’m so excited to see you all!

These are my only requests:

Wednesday I’m going to be pretty dead, so although I’ll play nice and tell stories and stuff, I would love to get to bed at a decent hour and continue story-telling Thursday.
Thursday for breakfast I would love some homemade, whole-wheat (or maybe half-and-half, I’ll leave that to you) banana-nut waffles.  I’ve been lamenting the lack of possibility of waffles for months.  And then I want to go to the temple.  And then after that I think that I can function like a normal human being again.

Other than that, whatever goes.

I love you and I can’t wait to see you all again!

This week! Gah!

Brielle

 

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Dear Mama,

Ok, and the rest of the family and various other hangers-on too, I guess.  🙂

You’re right about the weather here being either one extreme or another–we’re back to blazing-hot temperatures at the moment.  It’s been in the hundreds all week long.  Please tell me it’s not quite this hot at home.

I wish that I could have heard you and Julie and the girls perform at church, I’m sure that you did a marvelous job.  I’m glad that I get to hear your and Dad’s solos, at least.  Is anything else interesting going on for Pioneer Day?

Also, a little bird told me that a certain someone has taken over my turf and I no longer have a place to sleep.  Heads are gonna roll, man!  No, don’t worry, I’m just kidding.  It’s really not a big deal because I’m only going to be there for a month and a half and then I’m going off to school.  And after where I’ve lived and have seen as the normal standard of living here, our house is going to seem huge anyway.  I really just need a bed and somewhere to put my clothes for a while.  Heck, just give me a shelf in the basement and I’ll sleep in a tent in the backyard for a month!

I have absolutely no idea what to get for Dad and Jake.  I’m going home with 12 or so elders, so hopefully they’ll have some ideas for me while we hang out in Buc for a couple of days.

As to regrets I have on my mission, um…I regret not sending you novel-length letters every single week, never fail, rain or shine.  Sorry about that…but don’t worry, I’ll have stories upon stories to tell you in a week and a half.  And just to warn you, I probably won’t get email next week, and if I do it will just be five minutes to say, “I’m still alive, I’ll see you on Wednesday.”

Seriously, though, I really don’t regret going on a mission.  I have grown in ways I never expected–and not just spiritually.  Of course I expected my testimony to grow in aspects like prayer and scripture study and being led by the spirit, and they have.  But my testimony has also grown about tithing, and supporting my leaders, and being humble enough to acknowledge to someone when I’ve made a mistake.  I expected a mission to be physically tiring and spiritually trying, and it has been.  But it’s also been absolutely emotionally exhausting at times, which I wasn’t expecting.  Because you really have to put your whole heart and soul into the work and learn to really care about people, even when you don’t want to because you see the negative consequences it’s had for others. Even when your companion comes home sobbing from church because she’s put her heart and soul into helping a certain investigator for the last four months and the investigator absolutely point-blank refuses baptism and won’t give any reason except “I don’t feel like it”.  Even when another companion really loves another investigator who gets all the way to the font, looks at the water, and then says that she doesn’t actually want to be baptized and more than that, she never wants to speak to us again.  Even when one of the investigators that you really cared about–to the point of spending three days trying to find her a wheelchair so she can get to church despite your companion telling you that it’s silly to take too much trouble and arranging for someone to record themselves reading the Book of Mormon because she doesn’t see well enough to read print so fine–later tells off your new companion and insults her heritage and upbringing and later, after you’ve left, refuses to meet with the missionaries any more and then later refuses to even listen to the Book of Mormon anymore.  Yes, it’s been an absolute emotional roller coaster, but do I regret any of it?  No.  I’ve learned what it really means to care about someone–to see them before they’re baptized, and to see them after they’re baptized and the difference that makes in their lives.  And even more than that–to see them work with the missionaries and help advance the work, to see them fulfill their duties and to be a strength to the branch, to see them prepare to go to the temple to partake of all the blessings that are to be had there.  It makes it all worth it, even for just one person.  And where would I be had I not come on a mission?  I’d be farther along in school, it’s true.  But I wouldn’t have grown nearly so much as a person; I wouldn’t have matured as much as I have here.  I would have been just the same person that I was before. [Don’t worry about taking this paragraph out, I haven’t said anything that I wouldn’t say to anyone.]

Well, I’ve spent all of my allotted internet time and then some, so I’m going to leave it at that.  Thanks for all of your motherly advice, and I double-dog dare you to come light my undies on fire.

Love you,

Brielle

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Mom–

Don’t worry, the bird mites were black, not white.

This week was very boring.  Very much day after day of non-stop
contacting, through rain and shine.  The weather has decided to be
cold and rainy and miserable lately, though Sunday was lovely.

As to my homecoming, everything sounds great.  Can the cookies be
Jill’s soft gingersnaps?  I’ve been craving those for literally
months.  She doesn’t have to make them where she’s coming up from
Utah, but from her recipe.

Short email this week because I’m doing some school stuff.

Love you,

Brielle

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Dear Mama,

Happy birthday to you,
You live in a zoo.
You look like a mooonkeeeyyy…
And you smell like one, too! (imagine me going ridiculously high and squeaky on this last bit.)

I sure love you, Mom!  May you live a long happy life with all of your mental facilities intact.

I’m pretty sure the letter that President Lundberg send out is just a form letter and it doesn’t actually apply specifically to my life or mission.  And I would be disappointed if you didn’t add in your two bits along the way.

Um…let’s see…my life is great lately.  It’s been ridiculously hot here–it was over 40 degrees the other day.  Er…over a hundred and four.  It’s been nicer for the last couple of days because it’s been cold and rainy, but it really seems like there’s nothing in between.  It’s either a hundred degrees (and double that on the tramvais) and you sweat and die, or cold and rainy and you wish you would have grabbed your jacket.

Big news for this week: I’ve bought a bike!  It probably wasn’t the wisest purchase, having only a month left, but it was cheap (and it looks it, haha) and we (the four of us in the Arad district) wanted to be able to ride out into the countryside on p-days.  And the public transportation system in this city is pretty awful, so it’s a lot faster to ride bikes everywhere.  I forgot how much I like riding a bike–I should have done this two months ago.  And I may have given myself saddle-sores.

I  can’t wait to go garage-saling, either.  I definitely miss it.  Speaking of, will you keep an eye out for me for solid-color button-down shirts (even lightweight pastel ones, if you can believe it) and pants that are just a bit nicer than jeans but not quite dress-pants?  Like khakis.  If I remember right, I have plenty of jeans at home, but no khakis.  And undershirts like the girls like with sleeves, not just tank-tops.  Sorry to give you a shopping list, but you tend to pick out what I like better than I do.

Something that happened last week that I didn’t have time to tell you about: do you remember the bird I told you about a few weeks ago that we named Darla?  Her eggs hatched!  And we were growing cute little fuzzy baby dove chicks.  And then a couple of horrible nasty trash pigeons came and pushed one of them out of the nest to fall to its death four stories below and pecked the other one on the head until it died.  And Romanians say they’re the same bird.  They’re not–pigeons are evil, and I’ve developed a great dislike for them.  Doves are OK, but noisy.

Also, because we had a dead chick on our windowsill for a couple of days, we developed a horrible infestation of bird mites.  They were everywhere, and it was absolutely disgusting.  I took pictures, but this computer doesn’t want to recognize my card reader so you’ll have to wait to see them.  We permetherin’ed (the really strong bug killer that’s in every missionary apartment) everything, so now we’re good again, but it was nasty while it lasted.

Well, I’m about out of time, so I’m going to leave it at that.

Love you!

Brielle

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Mama

Wow, I can already see Jake-isms affecting your vocabulary.  That was
fast.  🙂

Not a lot of time to write this week, but know that I love you and that I
can’t wait to see you again. Whoever said that you should expect emails to
peter off towards the end of your mission is crazy–I get twice as many
emails now than I did three months ago.

Love you all!

Bri

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Dear Mama and Family,

It’s been quite the week this week.  We’ve been working really hard
with our investigator, Dana, who will be baptized this next Saturday
(on the 21st).  She’s had an incredibly hard life and has gone through
things that I can’t even imagine, but she has an amazing testimony and
an admirable determination to do whatever the Lord wants her to do, no
matter what comes her way.  We told her that now that she’s decided to
be baptized, Satan is going to do everything in his power to stop her
before her date comes.  And boy, is he ever.

So this week Dana found out that her landlord, who she usually pays
for rent twice a month (on the 15th and the 24th) because that’s when
her husband gets paid, wants all of her rent right now, or he’s
kicking her out on the street.  With her 6-year-old son.  She had
until Sunday to find the money.  She doesn’t have a job right now and
has been looking for one for a month, so she can’t ask her employer
for an advance, and her husband asked his employer and they said
absolutely not.  She doesn’t have any living relatives, and her
husband’s relatives don’t like him and won’t help him.  She really had
absolutely nowhere to go.  We talked to her about enduring through
trials, but were feeling entirely powerless.  And we had to tell her
that she needed to come to church on Sunday if she were to be eligible
to be baptized the next Saturday (investigators need to come to church
at least two times before they can be baptized, and she had only been
once).  And she did.  She came to church rather than spending an extra
few hours searching for a place they could stay, even though she
didn’t know if she would even have a home the next day.

And the Lord blessed her for her faith.  On the way home from church
she ran into an aquaintence on the tramvai.  They got talking and the
aquaintence asked Dana where she was working.  Dana told her that she
didn’t have a job, but that she’d been looking for one.  The
aquantence told her, “Well, why didn’t you tell me earlier?  I know of
a place that will be perfect for you!”  So she starts today (Monday)
and they’ll pay her at the end of every day rather than just once a
month.  Also, one of the members of the branch–who doesn’t even
really know Dana, he’s just seen her at church and knows that she’s
getting baptized Saturday–offered to pay half her rent now out of his
own pocket if she would pay him back after her husband gets paid and
they have the money.  Bless his charitable heart, he’s a great man.
So Dana’s in the clear for now, and is super excited for her baptism.

S.Ausen, bless her heart, gets really attached to people and cares
about them so much that their trials stress her out just as much or
more as they would if they were her own.  So she made herself sick
(and ended up puking at an investigator’s house, poor soul) and we’ve
been taking it easy this weekend.  But life is good again and we’re
ready to rock the world.

Dad–you asked me a few months ago something that I learned at home
that’s come in usefull here in the mission field.  I mentioned you
teaching me to fix things, and now I’ve come up with something else.
Thank you so much for teaching me the purpose of guilt and when it is
and is not an appropriate reaction to different situations.  S.Ausen
was absolutely torn up that we live in a nice apartment (it’s decent
by American standards, but by Romanian standards it’s definitely above
average) and that Dana was going to have to sleep on the streets.  She
was getting herself worked up (she’s a little dramatic, bless her
heart, but she’s a good person anyway) and feeling incredibly guilty
and so I told her, “Yes, we live in a nice apartment and Dana isn’t
sure where she’s going to live.  But we are under no circumstances
allowed to even let investigators in our apartment, let alone let them
stay here.  There is absolutely nothing we can do about it, so there
is absolutely no reason to feel guilty that we have a place to stay
and she doesn’t.  We are doing absolutely everything we can to help
her.  Letting her stay his is not only not required of us, it’s
completely forbidden.  Like King Benjamin said in his sermon, it is
not required of those who cannot give to give.  If we could give, we
would.  But we sincerely cannot.  So there is no reason to feel guilt
in this situation.”  She said good for me and that she was happy that
I could be so calm and collected.  She helps me lighten up and reminds
me that it’s ok to be silly sometimes, and I help keep her grounded.

Well, I’m ’bout out of time, so I’m going to end here.

Love you!

Brielle

P.S.  Gage–Little do you know that that’s what I actually look like
now.  Why do you think I haven’t sent any pictures of myself home for
a while?  Don’t worry, I intend to lose it again before I get home.
🙂

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Dear Mama and Family,

Ok, so I’ll talk about some treaba first and get to the fun stuff at
the end.  I won’t be able to call you guys because I’m back in Romania
and we don’t have international calling like I did in Moldova for
Christmas.  And I don’t have the option to skype, either, so you’ll
have to call me.  Our cell phone number here is 0753058823 and the
international calling code for Romania is 004.  If you call me
Saturday, call me at noon your time so it will be 9 pm my time.  If
for some reason that doesn’t work out and I don’t get a call then,
call at 8:30 am your time Sunday morning (you don’t have church until
1 this year, right?) and it will be 5:30 pm Sunday my time.  I think
that’s all you need from my end, and I’m looking forward to hearing
from you!

I’m having a ball in Arad–it’s a beautiful city and my companion and
I are having a blast.  I was a little nervous about serving with
someone that I had already served with–I didn’t want to get tired of
them or anything–but S.Ausen’s such a cutie and she’s a lot of fun,
so there’s no problem there.  Yeah, not a lot of interesting stories
this week, sorry.

Love you all!

Bri

P.S.  Dad–you asked me what my most spiritual experience so far has
been.  I think it was the moment when it was confirmed to me exactly
why I had been called to Romania and not to Mexico or Bolivia or
anywhere else in the world.  It was an amazing feeling.  But it’s
kinda a long story, longer than what I have time to get into right
now, so you’re going to have to wait another three months for more
details. 🙂

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