Friday, October 28, 2011

Flat Stanley visits Romania!

Our grandson, Tanner, sent his friend Flat Stanley over to see us.  He arrived just in time to go to the Senior Missionary Couple Conference in Brasov. As we were driving through the mountains we saw rows and rows of shops. Stanley wanted to stop but he unfortunately did not have any Romanian money with him.

Roadside shops for tourists seem to be the same everywhere!

The conference was held in the Brasov church building which was conveniently next to the hotel where we all stayed.  Please notice the lovely welcome bags with agendas and bottles of water on the table for each couple.  The conference was wonderful and we were instructed by our new mission president and his wife on the things they would like the senior missionary couples to do to help build the church in Romania and Moldova.

Eating dinner at a historic restaurant in a 500 year old building in Brasov.

We visited the Peles Castle, a beautiful 160 room castle where the King of Romania would stay during the summer.  It took 38 years to complete and included plumbing, electricity, central heating, and a central vacuum system as part of its initial construction.  After World War II it was used as a private retreat for communist leaders and occasionally for gatherings of World leaders, including 2 U.S. presidents.  The King also had a lovely palace in Bucuresti where he stayed in the winter.  It was good to be King!! We are on the left, then the McFaddens, Wolseys, President and Sora Hill, the Kitchens and the Pattons.

Stanley loved the castle!

We also took him to visit Biserica Neagra (the Black Church) which was started in 1385 and took almost 100 years to build.  After a fire in 1689 blackened its walls (that give it its name) it took almost another 100 years to restore. It is the largest gothic church between Vienna and Istanbul. 

The church towers above the rooftops of the surrounding buildings.

Here we are with Stanley in the Brasov town square.  Most of the buildings around the square are several hundred years old

That is the White Tower in the background.  It was finished just a few years before Columbus discovered the New World and is one of several towers around the city that were built for fortification.

When we got home from the conference, Stanley spent a lot of time looking out our kitchen window at Bucuresti.  We explained that it is a city of about 2.5 million people with most of them living in these concrete highrise "blocs."  Bucuresti has the highest population density (number of people per square mile) of any city in Europe.   

He thought it was funny to look out our window in the middle of the city and see a horse and cart clopping along the street among all the taxis, buses, and speeding cars.

Before we sent Stanley back to Tanner we took him across the street to our Church parking lot and took a picture in front of our bloc.  He was a wonderful guest. He ate very little and only spoke when spoken to.  One of the other senior couples said they took a Stanley to Africa on a safari but Tanner is going to need to get his other grandparents to take Stanley there!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Parker Stake Rocks!

Until we received our call last February, we didn't even know there was a church mission in Romania. Within a few days, we discovered we had two returned missionaries in our ward who had served in Romania.  By the time we had Stake conference in March, the conference program listed us and two more missionaries as going to Romania from the Parker Stake.   We are all here in Romania now. 

Elder Staheli is serving in Pitesti.

Elder Cox is serving in Brasov.

Elder Cross is serving in Bucuresti.

Panduri District

While it is always nice to see those from home, we love working with all the young missionaries.  They are hardworking and enthusiastic about their responsibility to preach the gospel.  We are grateful for the help they give us in our calling with the Young Single Adults.  Our activities are always more interesting when they are part of them.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Our First Romanian Snowfall

While returning from a Senior Missionary Couples Conference in the beautiful Transylvania city of Brasov we encountered the first snow of our stay in Romania.  Brasov is located just north of the Carpathian mountains (sometimes called the Transylvania Alps) that separate Transylvania from the rest of Romania. The road over the mountains is a narrow two-lane road with numerous switchbacks. There had been a heavy wet snowfall in the mountains during our last night in Brasov. 

It truly was a winter wonderland that made us think of Christmas (and our Colorado mountains)

There are also a lot of broadleaf trees mixed into the forest that were just coming into full fall colors

Because they are just not designed for heavy snows before the leaves fall, several trees had fallen and at one point the road was down to one lane where someone had cut the downed tree and pulled it to the side enough for cars to get by

It was truly a beautiful mix of fall colors and evergreen trees covered with snow.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Saturday Outing With the Pattons

We have become friends with the Senior Missionary Couple working in the Mission Office.  Because their only available days are Saturday and Sunday and Saturday is our busiest day, we very seldom see each other outside of Church on Sundays.  But last week Institute was cancelled so we joined Elder and Sora Patton in visiting a Romanian historical site.  It is an old Summer palace on a lake just outside Bucharest that has been turned into an art musium. 

Mogosoaia Palace

The back of the palace has steps leading down to a landing on the  lake that is gaurded by stone lions.   

Elder and Sora Wahlquist

Elder and Sora Patton

While we were there, a temporary stage had been set up in front of the palace where various children's stories like "little red riding hood" were being acted out.   

We thought it was funny that Mickey Mouse was also there entertaining the children.