The Church membership in Romania is small but growing. By last count, it is approximately 2300 members. In a population of 23 million, that is less than 0.01%. In contrast, 86.8% are Orthodox. We have our work cut out for us. If you ask a Romanian on the street what he believes, he will say he is Orthodox and he believes in Jesus. Beyond that, most know very little about their religion and very few actually go to church. When they open their hearts to the message of the restored gospel, they are elated and wonder where the Church has been all their lives. We need more trumpets here!
President Lundberg, our Mission President, has challenged the missionaries to stretch themselves by teaching at least 20 lessons a week and ultimately bringing to baptism 200 in 2010. This is huge since our baptisms in 2009 didn't quite reach 100. President and Sora Lundberg are so full of faith that they completely believe we are due this miracle. So far, baptisms for 2010 are at 19 with 19 more dates set. We are in the middle of a miracle and we love it!
President Lundberg also shared with us another miracle. He said that through the inspired efforts of parents of one of our missionaries, the Romanian ambassador to the United States paid a visit to Utah a couple of weeks ago. He and his wife visited BYU, the University of Utah, Temple Square, Welfare Square and the Family History Center. They were very touched by the spirit they felt during their visit and were so impressed with all that they experienced. The ambassador indicated that he would work to open the way for members to research family history information in Romania. It would indeed be a miracle if his visit ultimately resulted in the Church being able to gain access to the vital records in Romania.
Denny is on the District Council (High Council) and as such, has speaking assignments in the area. Here we are in front of a villa which is where church is held in the city of Alexandria.
We attended the baptism of Emil, one of our newest members. He met the missionaries in Cyprus 10 years ago. He couldn't speak Greek and didn't speak English well enough to be taught by the missionaries. The missionaries did give him a Book of Mormon, which he read before returning to Romania. Three weeks ago he noticed two clean-cut missionaries and remembered the tags of the two Elders in Cyprus. He said he sprinted across a plaza to reach them and breathlessly asked to be baptized. Emil will be a great strength to the Church in Bucharest. His son is a Priest in the Orthodox church and has been very supportive of his father's decision to join the Church. President Lundberg said in our last mission email, "It's almost daily we hear of instances of people approaching the missionaries and wanting to know more."
On the same Saturday, we traveled across the city to attend the baptism of DeDe and Beatrice, a mother and daughter who also were so excited to hear the Gospel.
And finally, because we are humanitarian missionaries and mostly because WE ARE CHRISTIAN, we "Because we have been given much..." gave away this wheelchair box to a family living through the winter in this van. We were on our way to the dumpster by the church and thought they could use our "gift". We saw a toddler playing inside earlier but when we knocked on the "door" no one answered so we can't report on their jubilation!