Monday, December 28, 2015

-officially Moldovan

Saying goodbye to the best people ever  


-Sora Armstrong and Sora Sevghi

-It still hasn't snowed here, so Sora Nichols made it snow in our apartment (:

La multi ani!!!!! Dec 28

Allo everyone, Happy New Year!!

Here in Moldova, people are gearing up for Anul Nou (New Year's) and Russian Christmas on the 7th; the party never really stops!

I found out on Saturday that the next area I will be serving in is the Panduri Branch in Bucuresti, Romania, with Sora Green!!! I could not be more thrilled. We always said in the MTC that we would be companions someday, I guess it was really meant to happen haha. 

The last few days have been absolutely insane, trying to meet with everyone one last time before I leave; still don't think I know how to say goodbye to people, I always end up saying, "I'll find a reason to come back, this isn't the end!" (Hint hint Sarah, we need to go backpacking in Moldova for sure now). I am so grateful for all the incredible people and experiences I've had here in Chisinau, and so excited to fall in love all over again with new people, a new city, and a new country!

Wouldn't be a missionary in the Romania/Moldova Mission without leaving you with the invitation to set some dope goals for 2016!! (Vision+Goals+Plans+Work=Success)

Also attaching an awesome Christmas story President Ivory sent us today: "One year ago on the 1st Sundayof 2016 we heard an amazing testimony by a brother in Panduri. Sister Ivory felt like his story captured the essence of the season and we wanted to share the Fable she has written with you."

Remember that the Christmas spirit is something not only for December (or January if you live in Moldova) but for all year round! I love you all, have a great week!

Cu mult drag,

Sora Rich

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Crăciun fericit!!!!!/ Merry Christmas

Wishing you all the best this Christmas season, love and good vibes from Chisinau, Moldova!

Cu drag,

Sora Rich

P.s. If you haven't had a chance to watch it yet, this video is awesome!
(( And in Romanian too (: ))

Crăciun Fericit!!!!!!!! Dec 21

Allo everyone!

This week has been one of many adventures, I don't even know where to start haha!

Well, Sora Nichols, Sora Armstrong and I are now in a trio, and we are hardcore missing Sora Black who flew home yesterday (shoutout to one of the greatest missionaries ever). With our companionships now combined, we are making an attempt to meet with twice the amount of people this week. Also, I had to move all of my stuff into the other sister's apartment, so I'm living out of my suitcases right now haha. Just temporary craziness until Sora Nichols' and Sora Armstrongs' new companions come up to Chisinau, and I leave here. But what's really cool is that we went over to Sevghi's house last night (one of the YSA who is thinking about submitting her mission papers next summer) and we asked her how she liked going on exchange with Sora Armstrong and Sora  Black a couple weeks ago; she said she loved it, and we got the brilliant idea to ask President Ivory if she could do a mini mission with Sora Armstrong this week. He said yes, so we are working on figuring out all the details. Super dope! It's perfect timing, because she just got out of school, and doesn't have family in the city to spend Christmas with. So she will get to spend Christmas as a missionary!

We are most excited for the people that we met with this week, especially Carina. She came to church yesterday, and is basically already a member. It's so cool to watch her interact with other people in the branch and just share light with everyone. She is amazing, and I'm really going to miss her. But she is definitely getting baptized in the near future!

Yesterday, we had a chance to go visit one of our english students, Cristina. She lives a bit latara, a little town called Romanesti. She is one of the coolest people ever!! She lived on her own starting at age 13, got married at 19, has 2 daughters, and is learning english like a pro. She has had to learn to do a lot of things on her own, but she has the drive to make her life what she wants it to be, and she works very hard to be a good person and a good mom. She started coming to english a few months ago, and took a Book of Mormon when Elder Reed and Kennedy talked about it in their class. She hasn't started reading it yet, but when we talked to her about it yesterday, how it answers all of life's most soul-searching questions, she is excited to start. 

Random side note about our visit with Cristina- she told us about this guy in Romanesti, Mr. Strativ, who gives music, art, and woodcarving lessons to kids in the town, basically for free. He started teaching her daughters to play piano and paint, and he does it without asking for anything in return, but she pays him every week as a thank you. Sora Armstrong thinks there should be a movie made about him, and I agree haha. 

With Christmas right around the corner, I am feeling such an outpouring and love and gratitude for this time to serve. It is the hardest but best time to be a missionary; yeah, we're away from our families for the holidays, but we get to tell people about how they can be with their families not only for the holidays, but for eternity.. how cool is that?? As I have read the christmas story in both the New Testament and Book of Mormon, I have also felt especially close to our Savior, Jesus Christ. "El s-a nascut pentru ca noi sa putem sa ne nastem din nou." (He was born so that we can be born again). I know that that's true, and I feel it every single day out here. I am so grateful for all that he did, all that he is, all that he has shown us we can become. I know that as we focus on how far we've come, and where we have the potential to go, anything is possible. 

I love you all and hope you have the best Christmas yet!

Cu drag,

Sora Rich

Elder Ballard visit

Here is a video:  sharing  of the visit we had with Elder Ballard and the Europe Area President and his wife.  We were very fortunate to have had the chance to host a quick lunch and tour of our new Employment Center before we all went to the Devotional at the church.  I thought you might enjoy seeing this as it is very seldom we get to see so much footage of one of our Apostles visiting countries abroad.  This was part of a 6 day 5 country tour for Elder Ballard (88 years old).  He is remarkably alert and cordial to all he meets, we felt quite at home with him.

We especially enjoyed telling our story directly to Elder Ballard and President Kearon.  It was a wonderful and singular experience.  There is so much to be thankful for as we all serve to help Moldova and its people become more spiritually and temporally self-reliant.  Our love and prayers go out to all this special season.

Best regards,

Elder and Sora Cooley
District Self Reliance Missionaries
Republic of Moldova
Phone: 068.523.123
“Our destiny is not determined by the number of times we stumble, but by the number of times we stand up, dust ourselves off, and stride forward.”

Tis the Season!!!! Dec 7

Allo all!

To the few and faithful that are still reading these emails, it's going to be a short one this week.

First of all, Carina is still doing absolutely fabulous. Sora Armstrong and I had a lesson with her on exchange Friday with Ines Bezede, and Sora Nichols and I just met with her this afternoon. She loved being able to ask Ines questions about her recent baptism, and feeling like she's really not alone in this. We also invited her to start praying about a baptismal date. When we talked to her today, she said that she talked to her parents about her decision to be baptized, and they're not against it at all. They can see the difference that it's made in her life, and how happy it has made her. Carina even shared The Book of Mormon with her grandma, and she read the whole thing! It's so cool to see that all the things she has learned in the last few months have also begun to impact her relationships with her family and friends, and have overall changed her attitude about life. She not only wants to be baptized to start on the path that leads back to Heavenly Father, but also to be an example to all those around her. She is still praying about a specific date, and we are excited to find out what day that is!

I studied a lot this week about the love of God spoken of throughout the scriptures, especially in (1 Nephi 11). I know that all that we want out of this life- happiness, improvement, knowledge, understanding, eternal connections- can all be achieved with love. If we do all that we do with "a love of God and for all men", there isn't much else that matters. When we think less about ourselves, and more about how we can serve better, improve more, understand more deeply.. we LOVE more. And we love the experience more as well. I know that especially during this Christmas season, this is so so important. I hope that as we go throughout this Christmas season, we can keep the spirit of Christmas at the center of all we do!!

Cu mult drag,

Sora Rich



The archaeological and ecclesiastical complex at Orheiul Vechi (‘Old Orhei’), about 20km southeast of the modern city of Orhei (60km northeast of Chişinău), is the country’s most important historical site and a place of stark natural beauty.
Occupying a remote, rocky ridge over the Răut River, the open-air complex includes ruins, fortifications, baths, caves and monasteries, ranging from the earliest days of the Dacian tribes more than 2000 years ago through the Mongol and Tatar invasions of the early Middle Ages and the time of Ştefan cel Mare, and all the way to the modern period.
The most impressive sight is arguably the Cave Monastery, built inside a cliff overlooking the gently meandering river. It’s marked by a small bell tower and a cross standing on the rocks. It was dug by Orthodox monks in the 13th century and remained inhabited until the 18th century. In 1996 a handful of monks returned to this secluded place of worship and are slowly restoring it. You can enter the cave via a brick archway, just below the hill from the bell tower.

"we have never lost a missionary because of hard work" -Elder Ballard Nov 30

Allo everyone!!

In the wake of Elder Ballard visiting, there has been a lot of focus in the mission on the importance of (despite winter being upon us), to continue working hard and seeking to do all we can to make every conversation we have meaningful, and to become "the best teachers in the history of the church". I am continually humbled by the fact that not only am I learning how to teach the gospel in a personally impactful way, I am learning to do so in a foreign language. Literally no way any of this is possible without the Lord's help!

Yesterday was district conference, which means that all four branches in the Republic of Moldova (Chisinau 1 &2, Orhei, and Balti) were in Chisinau. I was especially impressed by President Ivory's talk. The focus of his comments was on a verse in Proverbs, (29:18) which says: 

"Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he."

He counseled that with vision combined with obedience, we will be happy- not only that, but we will continue to see great things, even miracles here.

So excited to write to you about one of the amazing girls we're teaching, Carina. She came to church for the first time in a while yesterday; she has pretty severe scholiosis, and usually has treatments Sunday mornings. But she was able to come yesterday, since they switched the time! She is making big steps to big changes in her life, and it is cool to see the happiness that it has already brought her! 

As we are entering the Christmas season, I encourage you all to check out the Christmas video this year and share it with friends- a simple reminder of the true reason for the season!

Sending best of wishes to all,

Cu mult drag,

Sora Rich
random fridge we found outside our apartment

christmas package arrived!

thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving with all the missionaries in our area

Nov 23

Happy Thanksgiving!!! (6 months down, 1 year to go) Nov 23

Allo everyone!!!!

Looking back on the last six months I've spent in Chisinau, there's a lot to be grateful for. I'll spare you all the details, but especially recently, I've learned a lot from my new companion Sora Nichols. She's served a year already in Romania, and will probably spend the next six months in Chisinau, so I guess we're kind of switching places! 

This past week, we had the huge blessing of having an apostle speak to us; there were over 120 people gathered to hear Elder Ballard and Elder Kearon speak here, and it was absolutely incredible! He challenged the missionaries specifically to 1. Become the best teachers in the history of the church, 2. Don't sleepwalk through your mission, 3. Be a little bolder, and 4. Look for miracles. There is so much power in not only what he said, but the Spirit with which he said it. I know that as we do the things he has asked us to do, we will be blessed!

In addition, we also had the opportunity to see two awesome people get baptized here- Cris and Ines Bizede. They are such solid, wonderful people that are already anxiously sharing the message of the gospel with their families and friends. We will also have another baptism here this Saturday, Sergiu!! So exciting.

No matter where you are or what you're doing this week, find something to be grateful for! There's a saying in Romanian, something to the effect of, "the more grateful you are, and the more you share what you have, the more you will be blessed". I know that that's true. I love you all and hope you have a great week!!!

Cu mult drag,

Sora Rich

Pictures from this week!!!! Nov 2