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

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