Christ is powerful enough to create an inward change

Hey everyone!

Thank you all for your birthday wishes from last week! I’m sorry I can’t reply to everyone but time is so short for us on the computer it feels like.

We had a busy and great week as usual. 🙂 Last Monday we went out with Sora Nelson, one of the senior sisters who works in the mission office. We basically had a girls day out, going to lunch, and then shopping. It was a lot of fun and we had fun with her. I love getting to know all the senior couples here – we are so blessed in this mission with awesome senior couples.

We had Zone Training Meeting this week and as the STLs, we and the ZLs were in charge of the day. We had a 2 1/2 hour presentation after lunch that we needed to prepare, so we spent some time on Tuesday working on that and discussing our ideas with President. Later that night we had a lesson with a 10-year-old member here in Panduri, Olivia. We’re going to be working on singing lessons with her. Her brother’s baptism was this Saturday so we prepared a song for her to sing with me at the baptism. It was really cool to talk about our talents and our gifts and how God intended for us to use them to bless the lives of others. She was scared to sing in front of everyone but I think recognizing that she could bring the Spirit when she sang helped.

Wednesday was full of lessons which made me really happy. That’s been a hard thing about Bucuresti – it feels a lot harder to teach as often here as we did in Brasov. There’s a whole lot more travel that takes up a lot of time. So having as many lessons as we did on Wednesday made me super excited. My favorite lessons were the ones with Lorica, who just got baptized last Saturday, and with Tensi. Tensi is 15 years old and just got baptized a few months ago. She’s the coolest!! Lorica just continues to astound and amaze me with her whole-hearted faith and commitment to the Gospel. We watched the Restoration film with Lorica and talked about the ways we feel the Spirit and with Tensi we talked about the Gospel of Jesus Christ and how we “endure to the end.” During both lessons, what I loved the most is that they both were teaching us. I love to see that.

Thursday we helped the elders build a sign for our huge English class sign. They bought wood, and nails and everything and built a frame for it. When I say we helped, I think my best contribution was hammering in a single nail. It took me a little while…but I was super proud that I did it! We practiced some of the songs we were going to perform for contacting on Friday night, then had a meeting as a district with Sora Ivory about English. We are trying to double or triple our English numbers and just get a lot more people coming to English. We talked about how the classes should go and logistical things as well. Hopefully it goes well!! We met with Olivia again for a lesson and to practice, and then went to dinner at the Critchlows’ house. The Critchlows’ are an American family living here who work for the U.S. embassy. So where they live just feels like America. Super weird. But awesome!! We had a really fun dinner with her and her friend Lauren whom she had invited.

Friday was Zone Training. We had an early start and got to the chapel around 8:30 to prepare. The whole thing was SO GOOD. I love zone meetings. I always come away having learned and felt so much. Our presentation was all about just being real with people. Sometimes we as missionaries get into this funk of being “robotic” or something like that. And it turns people off. And when we tell them we’re from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, they immediately don’t trust us at all. People don’t trust organizations anymore, but they trust individuals. Our presentation was to help missionaries understand how to tell their own personal stories, to relate the Gospel and how it has changed their lives in a real way with people. It was cool. After Zone Training ended, Lorica showed up at the church unexpectedly. She was shaken and told us that there had been a death in her immediate family. She looked like she wanted to cry but what she did do amazed me. She receives a certain amount of money every month from the government to live on, and it’s hardly anything. She had just received it that day. The first thing she did after telling us about this death, is reach into her purse and pull out a tithing slip. She wanted to pay her tithing. Not only did she pay her tithing but she wanted to donate to the missionary fund! I wanted to cry. The faith that she has!!! She told us that she knew that by doing this she would be blessed. It was a huge example to me and made me want to be so much better in being diligent in all things. That night we went as a zone to contact in a park in a huge piata in Buc. We had our big English sign and we were singing and talking with lots of people. It was freezing because of the wind but it was so much fun!

Saturday we had the baptism of Andre Lachimov, Olivia’s younger brother. It was so fun to see all their family and the members that had come out to support him. Olivia and I sang and she did so well!! She was still super nervous but it was good for her to hear all the praise that came from everyone. We had an awesome lesson with Mariana, another recent convert, after the baptism. She is SO COOL. She is very intellectual and wise – she reminds me a lot of you mom! We had a really good discussion about following the prophet and what that means for us exactly.

Sunday was good! We taught the lesson in Relief Society at the last minute which was kind of scary but it went well. We had a lesson scheduled with a woman named Adriana in the afternoon so after church we went to take a bus to her house. Well, we took the bus the wrong way on accident and did a complete circle back to where we started before then going in the right direction. We had a good laugh about that. When we got to her house she came out to find us and was so happy to see us! She is such a happy person, I love it. She brought us to her house and we were introduced to her husband Gigi. They both just seem like hilarious people. She had a whole big meal prepared for us which we weren’t expecting. There was soup, peas, chicken, and then this awesome dessert that is kind of like Romanian cream of wheat, with walnuts in it. So so good. We were stuffed. What was even more cool though, was that they both are super interested in religion and in the gospel. We were able to talk about so much with them and none of it was taken lightly, or tossed aside. We’re excited to go back and see them again and see how they progress.

This week has been an interesting one for me. I’m definitely being stretched and pulled out of my comfort zone, in many ways. And a lot of them are ways I was not expecting. There were a lot of different things that inspired me and helped me this week, so here are a few.

– See what you’re worth and then own what you’re worth

– Christ is powerful enough to create an inward change; He changes our human nature.

– We are changed as far as we are willing to change.

– When we are converted, we realize who we really are.

– Isaiah 43:1-2,4

But now thus saith the Lord that created thee, O (insert name), and he that formed thee, O (insert name), Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine.

When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.

Fear not: for I am with thee: …

– Psalm 73: 26

My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion forever.

I love you all! I love doing this work – seeing others change their lives brings me such happiness and I love these people so much!!

Sora Marcheschi

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In Bucuresti!

Hey, hey, hey!

How are you guys?? This week was fantastic! I am now living in Bucuresti and am loving it. It’s a huge city which feels like home for me. Lots going on, people everywhere, taking the metro, it’s awesome. Feels like Boston again just like times 5. My new companion, Sora Tanner, is AMAZING. We are having so much fun and doing so much work. Buc has so many people and we have met lots of awesome friends already. It’s crazy!!! I love it!!!

Saying goodbye to everyone in Brasov was difficult but as much as we all cried, I was left with a peace in my heart that I would definitely see them all again. I can’t wait for that day. 🙂

Saying goodbye to Teo in Brasov

Saying goodbye to Teo in Brasov

3.9.15 Saying goodbye to Teo 3 3.9.15 Saying goodbye to Teo

Adalin and Cesar in Feldioara

Adalin and Cesar in Feldioara

Mihai at church with Elder Oldham photo bombing

Mihai at church with Elder Oldham photo bombing

Saying goodbye to Elder Bair in Brasov

Saying goodbye to Elder Bair in Brasov

It’s been such a crazy week but I just have a few highlights I want to share.

I turned 22!!! And we had a baptism that day!!! WOOO. Best birthday ever. The night before, we got all the stuff to make pazookies and we made a huge one! The sisters from Sibiu, Sora Johnson and Sora Cox were here with us on some business in Buc, which was so fun! They all sang happy birthday to me and then we had our huge cookie with ice cream.

My birthday eve with Sora Tanner and Sora Johnson (Tanner is on the left)

My birthday eve with Sora Tanner and Sora Johnson (Tanner is on the left)

The next day on my actual birthday we were busy with the baptism of Lorica. Even though I’d just met this woman, I just love her! She is so sweet, funny, and full of faith. Her baptism was wonderful. I sang with Elder Cloward which went well and was fun to do.

Everyone with Lorica (in the middle with the scarf) at her baptism

Everyone with Lorica (in the middle with the scarf) at her baptism

We had lessons after that and then met up with some friends we had met the night before when we were trying to hail a cab. They tried to take us to do hookah, thinking that we’d think it was so cool…we had to dodge out of that one quick. It was pretty funny. But they had lots of questions and we had some great gospel conversations. They ordered me cake in secret and then sang to me. I read all your letters, family, and I cried!! I felt so loved and close to you guys, even though we have the entire Atlantic between us. Plus lots of countries and states. It was really special. Thanks. 🙂

That’s pretty much it for this week. I am loving this new city and am so excited to love all these new people to love and serve. Sora Tanner and I are gonna do amazing things this transfer and I can’t wait!

Best quote from my personal studies this week: “We best serve our Father in Heaven by righteously influencing others and serving them.” – Elder Richard G. Scott

I love you all!!! Have a wonderful week. 🙂 Stay safe, read your scriptures, and don’t ever forget to pray!

Love from Bucuresti,

Sora Marcheschi

Christ’s invitation is open to all

Hello!!

I’m going to Bucuresti!! After a beautiful, life-changing 7 months in Brasov, I’m moving to the capital city of Romania. I can’t wait! It’ll be a lot different but I definitely am excited for the challenges that are going to come.

This week was a great last week in Brasov, although I was sick for a little bit Sunday and Monday.

Tuesday we had a lesson with cute Constantina, although she was still sick. That woman is hilarious. I swear I’m pretty sure we’ve heard more about bodily functions since we’ve started teaching her than ever before from a Romanian. We had a good lesson with her but sadly she’s still having a hard time leaving her traditional orthodox roots. We went to Feldioara afterwards and taught the Plan of Salvation to a sweet 9-year-old named Larisa. Her mom works every Sunday so she comes in to Brasov on the bus by herself to get to church! We are so proud of her and I just love to hear her talk ‘cause she has the sweetest little lisp and just smiles so big and hugs us a ton.

We visited the Pavel family next and wow. We had a powerful lesson with their daughter Simona. She has been struggling to say “yes” to a baptismal date for a long time, since before I even arrived in Brasov, and I think this lesson was a good turning point for her. I loved being able to testify to her of the difference in the way we feel and have the Holy Ghost with us after baptism and the sweet and innumerable blessings that come as we show our Heavenly Father our willingness to follow Him and try to be better. The Spirit was so strong and although still hesitant in her words to say “yes,” I could see in her eyes that she wants to be baptized and wanted to say “yes.” We found out later that someone had told her that she was not worthy to be baptized, which was heartbreaking. Once we talk with her about that, I’m sure that she will be baptized soon!

That night we had another great FHE with the members and some other investigators and English students. We played chubby bunny and me and Ema, a member here, set the record with 7 marshmallows in our mouths. Hold your applause please. 🙂

Wednesday our entire zone went together to the Peles castle in Sinaia. Even though I’d already been, it was fun to all be together. Some of the sisters in Ploiesti came home with us for an exchange the next day.

I went with Sora Armstrong and we had a typical missionary day where our lessons fell through, it was pouring rain, and we walked all over the city. I loved it! 🙂 We had a lot of fun, contacting and trying to visit some less active members in Brasov. That night after they left, we went to a sweet man’s named Nicolae. He is the elders’ investigator but he’s in our beginner English class. He had invited us over for sarmale that he made himself! It was the funniest night. He sure can talk a whole lot but his grandson is even funnier. He’s 9 years old and has 17 girlfriends. We sat for about 10 minutes while he tried to remember all of their names. hahaha I was dying laughing. Then for another 10 minutes he tells us this whole story about how his girlfriends almost found out about each other. He ended the story saying that he was so lucky and that he really needed to be more careful. 9 years old! And this kid is not cocky or anything either, he’s super sincere and a really good kid. He always wears this little sweater vest and tie to church and to English and is just classy. Such a crack up. We loved it.

Friday the two best parts of our day were our lesson with Maria, a new investigator, and of course our lesson with Carmen and Teo.

So Maria. Maria is a 50-something-year-old beginner English student. She has wonderful Romanian red hair and a half set of dentures. She’s great. Our 30/30 started off well, but about halfway through teaching English, we spend 20 minutes just listening to her try and make the “th” sound. I’m not even joking it was 20 minutes of us just trying to get her to stop repeating it. Just when she would get the sound right and we would tell her how great it was, she would mess up and start all over. It was hysterical and we both had to try so hard to not laugh.

That night at Carmen’s we shared the talk “Mountains to Climb” by President Henry B. Eyring. Not only is the talk so so beautiful and inspiring, but the Mormon message video that was made after it is amazing. Teo wanted to watch it with us, so we thankfully had one with Romanian subtitles. Before, when we were reading the talk and discussing it, Teo was anxious and bored and wanted to play games with us. But watching the video was different. She got real quiet, and still. That video always makes me cry because I feel the Spirit so strongly, but what I didn’t expect was for Teo to cry as well. We finish the video and she was in tears. She loved how she felt. She loved what the stories were and what she learned. She wanted to just watch it again so she could feel what she felt again. It was so so cool to see this amazing child learn and feel the Spirit and recognize it. I loved it. It made me cry even more. She looked up at me with her big, blue eyes and we both realized that this was one of the last times we would be together in Brasov. We started to cry more and just sit by each other. It was an emotional night for me, realizing that out of everyone in Brasov it was this family, these two wonderful women that are two of my best friends that I would miss the most. They have made their way into my heart in a way that a lot of people don’t and I’m sure that they’re going to stay there. They have blessed my life in multiple ways and I just hope that I have blessed theirs even a fraction as much.

Saturday we had our last English class and it was so fun! We made a mad lib of The Little Mermaid story and our students loved it. After that we had a Primary activity and then a baby shower for a woman in the branch. It was so cute to watch all these young moms together and to see how excited they got over a bottle haha. We loved it. That night our lessons got switched around, but we went to visit Violeta. When I first got to Brasov, no one had visited Violeta in 2 years. She never came to church and she wasn’t very sure if she wanted to come. Now, Violeta is coming weekly with her two sons (and occasionally her husband), and is preparing to go to the temple! I am so so proud of her and love her with all my heart! We had a wonderful lesson with them. When we left she told me she was so sorry that I wasn’t hers. It seemed to me like the sweetest thing anyone has ever told me.

Sunday was fast and testimony meeting. I was grateful to have one last chance to bear my testimony here and to tell everyone how much I love them and how grateful I am for them. I went up to the pulpit with our young investigator Cristina B. She comes every week without her parents. Her father is inactive and her mother is not a member but she comes every week without exception. As we were standing there together (we always go together so we’re not scared 🙂 ), her father AND her mother walk in! I was so shocked I stopped and completely forgot what I was saying. The look on Cristina’s face was pure joy! She bore her testimony after me and it was awesome! Her dad got up after her and then bore his! It was just one surprise after another, as you can all see by how many exclamation points I’m using! Violeta had told me that she wanted to bear her testimony too, but Fratele Jenica got up to bear his and then close the meeting. I knew he would take up the remaining time cause he always talks for about 20 minutes so I quickly stood up behind Violeta (I had no idea what I was doing but I just knew I had to try something!) and said “Wait! Can she bear her testimony too? Please!!?? Just five minutes!” Hahaha I couldn’t believe myself. I’m sure everyone thought I was nuts, but she just HAD to get up there. Fratele Jenica is awesome so of course he let her, and her testimony was just beautiful. Full of faith and gratitude. Her husband lost his job three days ago, but here she was full of gratitude for the Lord and all her blessings, with a huge smile on her face and just a few tears in her eyes. I was so proud of her and so incredibly happy. The rest of the day was a blur as I started packing. We had our last supper with everyone at the Bairs’ and it was sad ‘cause three of us are leaving. I’m going to Bucuresti, Sora Ruiz is going to Pitesti, and Elder Hokkanen is going home to Finland. We had a great time together and then we had two more lessons that night.

Today has been an errand day, running around, getting things done. I love this city and I will miss it so much. Just like the wonderful people, Brasov itself has made its way into my heart. The architecture, the mountains, the air, the beautiful leaves in the fall. Everything is just perfectly the way it should be here and I love that. Brasov will always feel like home to me, no matter where I go.

This week I really studied and fell in love with Alma chapter 5. It’s amazing! I love how Alma says that the Lord changes our hearts (Alma 5:7) and that Christ’s invitation is open to all men, that his arms of mercy are open to us all (Alma 5:33-34). Later in Alma 8 I loved how we can learn that we always have “great cause to rejoice” when we are trying to be faithful in keeping the commandments (Alma 8:15) even if we still have struggles, disappointments, and hard times on the way. I also loved and really needed to be reminded that the Lord is “…quick to hear the cries of his people and to answer their prayers” (Alma 9:26). That is a beautiful fact about the Lord, and it brought me a lot of comfort this week.

I love being a missionary. It is the best thing in the entire world, besides maybe being a mom but I’m biased because I have the best mom in the entire world. I love loving these people and trying my hardest to give them everything I have. It’s a true fact of life that when we are serving others with a willing heart, we are the most happy. I love you all!!! You are a great strength and I love your testimonies. Thank you for them. 🙂

Love, love, love,

Sora Marcheschi