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: Made it to Iasi, safe and etc. in a hurry becauase apt. has no blankets, dishes... nothing. kinda scary but we haven't had to go anywhere by ourselves. Mom, you can ignore the message I left on your cell. sorry for calling at 2 AM but we couldn't find an open internet cafe to do it myself (obviously we found one now). Someday I'll actually write about all the exciting/REALLY SCARY adventures we've had... mine and kristen's bed fell apart.

: Well here I am with actual real time to sit around and be on the internet. It has been very exciting. We got stuck on a train with all our luggage and no idea how/where/when we were going to get off the train. We just went "Iasi?" every stop and found it and Stephan got on the train and said "are you the american girls?... from BYU?" as if we weren't obviously american, all nine of us and our 2 tons of luggage.

Lacra is the girl who shows us what were doing and takes care of us and teaches us Romanian and works at Section 1 with us. She's so awesome. We would be dead by now without her. So far we know how to ride the tram to the other apartment, section one, Piata Unirii, and church, open our apartment door, work the door buzzer, shop at the "non-stop", and take a taxi- but only if someone else tells the driver where to go. Basically, we have no idea what's going on.

Our apartment is REALLY nice, except that our bed fell apart. The landlord came and fixed it today but we're still a little worried. Oh, and it was also unfurnished. It had beds and a couch and a TV and stuff but no blankets or dishes or anything. So we slept the first night in our sheets we brought and froze. We had to buy blankets and everything, and pay all four months rent from our own pockets because BYU hasn't sent Lacra the money yet. We've all sorta figured out how to use the shower, which is under five feet tall, without getting the bathroom too wet. We have no dressers or bookshelves or anything so most of our things are either on the shelves in our wardrobe (in the hallway, where else?) or in piles on the floor.

This hasn't been quite as scary as I expected, except for the lady who yelled at us at the airport when our luggage didn't make it. no scary men or anyone hounding us. The money is one thing to get used to; one dollar= 32,000 lei. So even though everything is really cheap here, it seems like we're spending so much money. I've spent about 7 million lei in two days.

Today Kristen and I were so proud of ourselves... we crossed the street all by ourselves and made it! The streets and sidewalks and basically everything doesn't get the snow cleaned off of it. Not that we know where the crosswalks are or anything. and people just drive whereever, generally a little toward the right of the road, but on the sidewalk or down the middle, on the tram tracks, whatever. I think about 80% of the cars are taxiuri, or more. I'm very glad I don't have to drive here.

more novelties: the snowflakes are really shaped like snowflakes! with little different sides and everything. At least in Utah, the snow is just blobs. It's really cute! Blood orange juice- the yummiest ever! Can't think of anything else but I will soon I'm sure.

: Back at the internet cafe (the non scary one we know how to use). Where else would I be emailing from, I guess. This time I made a list of things to write about so I wouldn't have to try and remember while simultaneously inhaling massive amounts of tobacco smoke. It's not very cold here. Ok, the first few days we were here were FREEZING!!! We all just about had frost bite while waiting for a taxi after getting into Iasi on the train. Today is very very nice actually; the snow is melting and we're only wearing one pair of gloves. But as a general rule, if you bundle up and wear enough layers, it's really not unbearable.

Yesterday we went to the Iasi branch for the first time. It was really great. I thought I wasn't going to understand a single thing but we all were quite surprised. Of course, it was Fast Sunday so we basically knew what everyone was saying and we know basic words like "thank" and "pray/ask" and basic church vocab. so tha! t was very helpful. The elders (there are six) translated sunday school for us, and all of the young women know english so we kind of just did that bilingually. The branch president is giving us callings this week. He is one of the elders.

Speaking of the elders... well one of them told us on the phone that "some of the branch members" were "a little too excited to meet the american girls". Our quote of yesterday was Kristen saying "yeah, the missionaries!" I guess they miss fetele americane but still. We found out that sister missionaries aren't sent here because of us. This would explain why the missionaries called us last night (they've called us every night) and had us come over to this woman's house... we weren't sure what we were supposed to do, but afterwards it seemed a lot like visiting teaching. Especially when they left us there. It was a little scary,

Today we went to Section 1 but they're on a quarant! ine (which has lasted over a month) so we can't start for at least another couple of days. Actually, I'm probably going to working at Section 2. So we went to the spital copii and played with some of the [very wet] babies. It was fun and the babies were cute. The ones in our room didn't even look sick, except that when I put mine down she went right back to rocking and sticking her tongue out. Then we went shopping again. (oh good, I didn't think there were enough people smoking in here *gack*.)

I think we're running off home before the hot water gets turned off. None of us showered this morning because we thought we were going to be working at Section 1. Well, the babies in the hospital can apparently pee all over us just as well.

: Yesterday we went to Spitalul Copii again and changed some diapers. The nurses left us alone after we said "Avem Pampers" (although the mothers followed us around). We searched out babies "fara parints", although we're pretty sure one of the babies we changed had its mother watching over us. We just changed diapers and outfits and cuddled and played with them. The last baby I was with was 1 1/2 years old but had only developed to about 2 or 3 months. It was a really great experience. Most of the babies in the hospital are from the DC, where the other girls still can't work because of the quarantine.

Today was our first day working at Section 2. It was really hard. We were only there for four hours and we're all exhausted. Me, Kristen and Kristin were all in the same room. At first there were only three babies in the playroom but the nurses kept bringing in more babies and pretty soon they were running wild all over the place. I mostly held this one little boy who was shaking. He was crying and in pain and kept losing control of his muscles. I guess he's always like that. Anyway he wanted to look out of the window so I moved the curtain an held him up and he stopped shaking for a little bit. I was totally standing back there crying over him. I just felt bad that he had to be in such a body. *sigh*

Today was our first language lesson. I slept through most of it because we had to get up early to go to Section 2, but I already knew most of the things anyway.

New things we've done by ourselves: Purchased things besides bilete and groceries. Cooked actual meals in our apartment. Lit the oven (I burned off all the hair on my hand; be proud, mommy). New things about Romania: We've seen three snow plows (none of which were being used to plow snow). They just let the snow build up and today they are removing it (into piles) with pickaxes and shovels. Before I left someone asked me what Romanians looked like. I didn't know the answer and I guess I still don't. They look like Americans. What does an American look like? I know lots of Americans but I can't say what they all look like. Romanians, I guess. You know, people.

Oh yeah, we all got our callings last night. We had narrowed it down pretty well and since I was last I already knew what mine was: I'm the "music specialist" (or something), which means I play the keyboard in Sacrament Meeting and "help out" Irina, the girl who leads. I'm not really sure what he wants me to help her with (I think he means beyond leading) but it doesn't sound too difficult. I'm just glad I wasn't called to the Young Women's. I don't want to be a teacher.

: Today we went back to work at Section 2. It was a lot different today. We girls are a little disruptive, so instead of going into the playroom with all of the kids, the nurses brought them out into the hall a few at a time so we could work with them. That sounds as though it should be less stressful but of course we only got the most unmanagable kids. Then we all propped our eyelids open for language again. Lacra gives us language lessons everyday after/between work. It really does come a lot faster when we speak it. And it's realy nice to be able to communicate with the kids, at least somewhat. Lacra is calling in for us tomorrow and we are having a "city tour". I'm not sure what that means, but we realy need a non-Section 2 day (already).

Last night our cold water broke. We were much yucky from working at Section 2, which is also why we hadn't showered before that. We thought (and you'd think) the bathtub would cool off enough to get into after several hours but this was not the case. I wish I didn't get home after working all day and have to make dinner before I can get clean and crawl into bed. Even though we were only working for about 3 hours today there never seems to be any time. Maybe it all gets sucked out of us while waiting for and riding trams. We ride a lot of trams, and it's half an hour from Section 2 to Tatarasi for language lessons.

We're all a little surprised at how quickly we've gotten used to the fact that noone cares what we look like. It's actually kind of sad. Maybe all girls should get this opportunity, to let loose a little and just plain not care. ever. At church we all noticed that although we were the best dressed (only one other woman wore a skirt), our hair was by far the least "done". Barely acceptable levels by normal American standards I would say. =)

The ladies at our non-stop are getting used to us. Since we go shopping every day and there aren't a ton of fetele americane around in our neighborhood it didn't take long. We can communicate with them decently enough and it's kind of fun. Two of my roommates even worked up the courage to figure out how to buy ham. Yeah, we're proud of everything we do by ourselves, I know. (Today Kristen and I got to Section 2 alone).

: Volunteered at the hospital today. We went upstairs and found some adorable "orphan" boys (most orphans in Romania have parents) and played with them for over an hour. It was fun because some of them could talk and they were a little older so we could play puzzles with them and color, use some of the older kid toys we brought. Those were some cute kids! Kristin N. and I had a conversation with one of the nurses. She was very nice. She talked a lot and asked a lot of questions several times until we finally figured out what she said and then gave one-word replies. It's fun to actually be able to communicate with people.

One of the worst things about the hospital is that all of the rooms have windows looking through all of the rooms. So you can see into all the rooms from any room on the side of the floor. On the main floor with the abandoned babies the mothers stand there staring at us the whole time. I hate it! And they ask us for stuff. Luckily there wasn't really anyone else on the floor with the older kids. There are lots of other terrible disgusting things about that hospital that people in America would hate but it's terrific considering what we were expecting.

Today Kristen and I took our very first cab all by ourselves. It wasn't very different from any of our other cabrides. In fact the only difference was that we told the driver where to go: McDonald's. It's really comforting to know that whenever we get lost we can just hop in a cab and say "McDonald's" and they'll take us home for under a dollar. Now we just have to hope they don't build another McDonald's.

Oh yeah. Everything in our house keeps falling apart (the bed, the chair, the doorknobs... it generally takes us about five minutes to lock the front door). Well, our cold water has been turned off three times now, for no apparent reason. They kindly left our hot water on all night (it gets turned off from 10-8) but the toilets don't flush when we don't have cold water. And we can't shower. Our radiators randomly get turned off too, but it happens quite often so I think it might be on purpose.

I am playing the keyboard in church tomorrow, oh the joy. We walked all the way home from the church last night and it took us about an hour. I was sick yesterday too and I have been very tired and "sleeping" a lot. I was in bed for about 13 hours last night but I only slept for like 7. Of course I had to get up at 0000 for dinner (I'm still not sure why it took that long to make dinner). Time goes by very quickly (to relate my last two random comments). We've already been here like more than a week or something. It's practically over already!

Oh yeah. Today a Roma woman (gypsy) stole Emily's bread right from her. The kids were running around us bugging us for money so we bought them bread but that apparently wasn't good enough. I finally yelled "Mergi!" (go!) at the little boy and they went running off to their mother. Brats. There are some street kids in Tatarasi we like, but they leave when we buy them food.

: Another day of work at Section 2. We thought we had the whole routine figured out and then there were all new nurses in there today. We managed to have some fun anyway. We have discovered that carrying a dictionary with us everywhere we go is the best method of learning the language. Some of us went to the hospital this afternoon to play with our older boys. It was really fun. There was a mother and a little girl in our room and she was helping us communicate with the kids. We left the little girl with a toy, even though the mother hadn't asked for anything. We really like floor 7 because the mothers don't ask for stuff or stare at us the whole time. Plus we really like to play with those little boys! They cried when we left =( but we think we left the mother more willing to play with them.

The apparent proprietor of TakeNet (the internet cafe we go to most) laughed at me when I told Melanie, in Romanian, where to sit. He thinks it's hilarious when we try to speak in Romanian. It's kinda fun. It's nice that he's used to us. I don't feel too stupid when he laughs at us.

Today I got two letters at the other apartment. One of them was from Sister Emily and the other one was from Elder Tenney. Needless to say, it was pretty exciting, especially because I got pictures. We also figured out how we got apartment 12's phone bill, because one of my letters was trying to slip down into apartment 14's box.

I can here the guy in charge joking to his friend about telling Melanie to "stai aici."

: We were sent up here with the impression that the cheese here is basically inedible but we have found many varieties of cheese which we all quite like. Most recently, we tried these speadable brinza with different flavors. The smantana (sour cream) is actually pretty good. We have also discovered ciocolata that doesn't taste like cherries, really really yummy sour cream and onion chips and vanilla ice cream that doesn't taste like coconut. All I ate yesterday was junk *bleh*.

Last night all nine of us went out to eat at Little Texas for Kristen's birthday. It's apparently the most American food you can get here. Well, Denny's could have done better. We all agreed that the traditional Romanian food we've eaten so far was better, but maybe in a few months we'll be so desperate for "American" food it won't matter much.

Work at Section 2 is going very well. We have divided up the kids in our filtrul. We are very excited because the nurses are going to tell us what disorders the kids have and then we'll be able to learn how to help them better. We have already seen progress in many of the kids. Marian clapped spontaneously today after I taught him how, and I am going to teach Dumitru how to count.

: I really miss Pasta Roni. Right now I could go for some White Cheddar and Shells with peas. mmmm.

: Today we went and toured Section 1; the other girls finally get to start work on Monday. Kristen and I went and ate at McDonald's last night for the first time since my weekend full of McDonald's eating and airport sleeping a few weeks ago. It tasted like a regular old American McDonald's, which has negative and positive aspects.

: Today Steve took us to Metro, which is this store not too much unlike Costco. They even had a Pizza Hut and we ate there and it tasted like a normal Pizza Hut. I bought lots of groceries for our apartment and some junk food and unusual fruit for myself. Well, it's nothing (the fruit) you couldn't find in a grocery store but not anything I've ever had.

I've done laundry four times already. It's not really that bad, washing everything by hand, at least that's what I say at any point in my life when I'm not wringing my clothes out or nursing my wounds from doing so. However, I don't feel like my clothes ever really get clean, and I'm almost positive their never going to stop smelling like smoke. I will definitely appreciate washing machines more after this adventure. The other day I walked out of my apartment in my nice clean jeans and got on a tram and the lady in front of me kicked me and got slush all over my pants. grr.

Angela and I traded skirts because we both only have one we can wear and we're sick of wearing the same thing every Sunday. Our kids at work all wear the same clothes. Today I commented that Petronella was wearing the famous orange overalls (we called Dumitru "orange-overalls boy" until we figured out his name). There's also a pair of fuzzy penguin pants and the girls switch off wearing the same three red dresses. They layer the kids up like it's not already 85 degrees in there, and they all wear really thick tights, mostly in colors like bright pink. Yes, even the boys. The boys wear shirts with bows and ones that say things like "Baby's first skiing lesson!" so why not pinks tights, I guess.

The people working at Section 1 started today and they get to stay until 1400 which means they get more hours than us and have more to do and me and Kristen have to sit at the other apartment for 2 1/2 hours every day waiting for language class. Yes, we could go home, but it's basically a really complicated waste of time. There isn't anything to do at home either. I wish we could work longer.

: There are lots of street dogs here and most of them are really cute. They're little and they don't make a lot of noise usually. There are some that live in our parking lot, and every chiosc in Tatarasi has a dog sleeping under it. I thought maybe all dogs in Romania were little, except for the ones that are pets that are the dogs you see in books and didn't think really existed in real life.

But they're not. On one side of the church there is a pretty big poufy dog (who also doesn't make much noise) and on the other side, in a huge cage like they have at the zoo, is this humongous thing I was ready to believe was some sort of Romanian lion. Sora Daniella insisted it was a dog though. It's seriously the size of a medium lion! The elders say the proprietor (of our church building) lets it out at night to be a watch dog. Hopefully that doesn't mean during the baptism tonight.

We've discovered another problem with letting the snow pack into ice. Today and yesterday it has been "warm" out (like a super duper extra cold day in Bakersfield, warm). So the ice is melting. So it's really slippery and there are big treacherous puddles everywhere. One of the Section 2 workers was clearing the ice away from the front gate when we left. There really was like a foot of ice there.

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