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!
This week has been one of many adventures, I don't even know where to start haha!
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!
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!
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.
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.
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!
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.
Elder and Sora Cooley
District Self Reliance Missionaries
Republic of Moldova
Phone: 068.523.123 www.lds.org
“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
To the few and faithful that are still reading these emails, it's going to be a short one this week.
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!
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!!
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.
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.
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!
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."
counseled that with vision combined with obedience, we will be happy-
not only that, but we will continue to see great things, even miracles
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,
random fridge we found outside our apartment
christmas package arrived!
Thanksgiving with all the missionaries in our area
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!
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.
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!!!