Grandma Chubby's Stuff

I hope you enjoy my postings. My husband and I are serving a mission in Romania and have had some wonderful adventures. Each of us have experiences in our life that make us different from that time forth. These experiences have done that for us.

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Location: Bucharest, Romania

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bucharest lights up!

The Christmas spirit is strong in Bucharest this year! At least it is if Christmas lights are any indication! In the center of the city is the biggest Christmas tree in all of Europe! The tree has 1.2 million lights on it and is rather breath-taking to look at! The people look like little ants around the bottom of it! I tried to take a few photos and am sharing them here but they do not do justice to the tower-of-Babel like tree!

Our daughter, Nikki and her husband Bart Hiner came to be with us for the Christmas week! It was a real treat and so fun to have some family after the last few Christmases alone! Well, I really can't say "alone" as we have our missionary family with us all the time and we love them as though they are our own!
As a final thought, Christmas in Romania is very special to missionaries. We are truly living the spirit of Christmas. Our missionaries are giving the gift of Christ and bringing hope and light into the lives of many who have lived with sorrow. They are changing hearts and burdens are becoming lighter. The gospel of Jesus Christ is what Christmas is all about and it is a joy for us to experience this in Romania.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007


We received this letter today and thought it most appropriate to share with you as a special, Christmas Day message...

"President – For our weekly report to you I have copied the email we sent out to friends/family this morning. We are so very grateful to be here serving under your leadership and with you and Sora Ashby!"

"It is early Sunday morning and I wanted to get this out while we have a minute or two. It is beginning to look a lot like Christmas! Our apartment is decorated with a small crèche we finally found to buy and an 18” Christmas tree. I downloaded a bunch of Christmas songs from the Internet and we have been playing those on Joyce’s i-pod. And we will be doing Christmas things today and tomorrow – including going with the young missionaries caroling to less active members and investigators. And having the missionaries over to our apartment Christmas Eve for a program – we will likely put on some variation of the program our family does every Christmas Eve. We have had an eventful week – again. I think I will not recap it here this time, but instead relate one experience that we had this past week."

"It is cold here. Very cold. At least for us. Morning temperatures are in the teens and sometimes it doesn’t get any higher than mid 20’s during the day. That may not seem too cold to some of you. But when you are walking 3 – 5 miles a day in it, it is pretty cold! Last Tuesday morning as I got out of my shower, Joyce called me over to the window overlooking the garbage area (We are on the 7th floor of our apartment building). And there sat a little woman in rags by a fire she had made from the paper and cardboard she found in the garbage bins. The temperature was in the teens and my heart was broken. I decided I was going to break a mission rule – to not give to the beggars who are plentiful here. I guess technically, she wasn’t begging – just sitting by her little fire trying to keep from freezing to death. I dressed quickly and took some garbage with me to throw in the bin. And then walked over to this woman and handed her three 10 lei bills – about $12. That is many times what is normally given. She just looked at it as if she couldn’t believe it. Joyce was watching as I walked away and she said the woman just kept looking at me and crossing herself. As I took the elevator up to our apartment I began to think about the surprise gift that we had received last night when I discovered large insurance commissions had been deposited into our account – hundreds of times more than what I had given to this woman! In relationship to that, I had given her nothing. And as I came into our lovely apartment with its warmth and furnishings and food and kitchen range and oven and refrigerator and bathroom and hot and cold running water and bedroom and comfortable bed and me dressed in my warm overcoat and waterproof shoes I just broke down and wept. And wept. This woman and all of the countless ones like her here in Romania and throughout the world are, like me, a child of God. My brother and my sister. And for whatever reason, they have nothing of this world’s goods. Often times not even enough to survive. And me . . . ! And I was overwhelmed with the feeling that I had no right whatsoever to take or use more of the bounties of this earth than what is sufficient for my needs. And that everything I have ever been given or will be given belongs to the Lord and I have, by covenant, the responsibility to use it as He would use it if He were where I am, doing what I am doing. And I was saddened by how inadequately at times I have done this. I want to do better. And with His grace, I will."

"The great equalizer, of course, is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Our time here on this earth is so very fleeting. To know who we are and to be striving to become who we are capable of becoming through the Savior’s grace is all that ever counts. The warm coats and the comfortable bed and the bank accounts and the fires made out of paper and cardboard from the trash bins will all pass away. And all that will be left is who we have become -- a result of who we have wanted to become. It is the gospel of Jesus Christ that makes sense of all of this. And without it, there is nothing."

"Jesus Christ lives. His gospel, with its declaration of our eternal nature and divine potential, has been restored. And we are so very, very blessed to represent Him in carrying this truth that means everything to these extraordinary Romanian people. We thank God for this privilege."

"We love you and pray for you and are so very grateful for your friendship. Have a wonderful Christmas."


Elder Steve &
Sora Joyce Hanson

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Brasov and Bucharest Zone Christmas Party

Our last party was held on December 19th and it was a big group! We had 65-70 people there. The games were great and the skits were amazing. We couldn’t believe the talents our missionaries have. The only bad part was that we had planned on 65 people for lunch and then made food for at least 80 but, we ran out! The last three or four elders didn’t get much food! Rosie helped us with our meal and she was devastated. I think she finally realizes what BIG eaters our elders can be! I won’t tell you who got the skimpy meals but even at that they were happy and made do with bread, salad and fruits. The following pictures give you an idea of the people who attended and the fun they had.

Elder Bryson, on the left, arrived in Romania with his wife the night before this party to start their mission in Romania They thought it was pretty cool we would have a big party just for them! Ummmm! ..... We decided to let them think positive thoughts!
Elder Valentine and Sora Davison get into the Christmas spirit!

Below are a few clips from our skits....again, none are complete but this will give you an idea of the talented missionaries in our mission!

Dom Dom …. Romanian Christmas Carol –

Ploiest District skit –

Elder Bringhurst and Elder Grant sing about a girlfriend

Friday, December 21, 2007

Rom-Est Zone party in Moldova

After our missionary party in Arad we traveled to Chisinau, Moldova for the Rom-Est zone party. This was a little smaller group as it consisted of only one zone. We did it this way so Elder Kozlenko, our Russian missionary, could attend one of the parties. Unfortunately, his Romanian visa has expired and if he goes back to Russia to renew it he will probably be stuck there for about three months. For some reason it is difficult to get a Romanian visa from Russia. Fortunately, he was able to spend his first few transfers in Romania and from that point on he will finish his mission in Moldova. Of course that's where we need him anyway! His Russian language is very important in Moldova.

Our morning was full of games and everyone had a great time! Later, we enjoyed music, skits and or course, presents!
Just for fun, here is a clip from one of our skits....Elder Johnson (from Bacau) gets very animated telling about the day he had to attack a pair of badgers....self defense of course!

The Grand Prize puzzle, put-it-together-fastest, winners!
You would think they would get tired of the "tie" game but the elders love it.
The good-looking Rom Est zone!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

My birthday...and I have to tell you about it!

My birthday was awesome. John and I were in Moldova for the Christmas zone conference party and on Saturday the 15th it snowed a foot deep! On my birthday—Sunday, the 16th---we drove to northern Moldova to our other little Branch in that country. We both spoke in Sacrament meeting. I have never been to Orhei so it was a real treat for me. The drive was gorgeous and the people there were wonderful. We had 23 people in attendance (counting the 7 missionaries with us). All but two of the members were women. We love Moldova and the people there.

This is a photo of the Branch building. The church is renting the bottom floor for our meetings.

Here are the members who attended church today, including the Boyles, who are the other couple missionary with us. (The elders with us were taking the pictures!)

On the way home John bought me a beautiful piece of stitchery. Argentine, who is one of our members, helps his Aunt sell them. She sews them and spends every day doing this fine work. It is called "Petel Point" and the stitches are very, very tiny. She also makes her patterns from pictures she sees and this picture is of the pioneers---probably in winter quarters. John and I both loved it. It will be a treasure for us.

We got home to Bucharest about 10:00 PM found it had snowed as far south as our home. It’s not very deep but, we haven’t had snow in Bucharest for two years now so it was a treat for us! We love the seasons. And yes, it IS beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
The “backyard” or “garden” as they call it here, of our home on the morning of the 17th! (And yes, we do live in an apartment---more like a condo. Actually, we are lucky to have any yard at all! Most people don't.)
One more photo….

This is my favorite picture I took in Chisinau, Moldova. This baby was sound asleep as her parents were pulling her through the snow. In the winter people pull groceries, children, pets and everything else on these little sleds…..everywhere they go!
One last thing....many of our missionaries know Tatiana from Orhei. She is a very faithful, wonderful girl who has severe Scoliosis. She had an operation in 2003 where they put a metal rod in her back and it has since broken. I took a little video of her so those of you who know her can see her again. We are still praying to find a doctor who will operate on her as she is not expected to live past 30 without the operation. Just so you know, most doctors don't expect her to survive the surgery and that is their hesitancy. Tatiana is always in pain but is always smiling and does everything she can to help run their little branch. She is amazing and is truly one of Heavenly Father's angels.
By the way, I made her speak in English and she was very timid about that! She is trying to learn English and is doing very well but shy about speaking in our language.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Missionary Christmas Parties in the Transilvania and Occidentala Zones

A favorite time in December is when we get to spend one of the days, of our two-day zone conference, celebrating Christmas and enjoying each others company. Our missionaries work very hard all year and this activity is a special treat for all of us. We usually start by playing games all morning and then have a special lunch around noon time. After that we have a Christmas program with Christmas music and missionary skits. The missionaries don't have much time to put their skits together and it is amazing what they come up with in a short time. Some are really good and some leave us all scratching our heads! But no matter, we love them all! We then had our famous gift exchange game where the elders exchanged ties and the sisters traded scarves. Afterwards we ended the day with a spiritual thought and the movie, "The Nativity". The photos below are of the party we held for the Transilvania and Occidentala Zones (the cities of Oradea, Cluj, Arad, Timisoara and Deva). We had a wonderful time and hope you will be able to see it in these snapshots. The videos are just clips of the skits as I couldn't download the whole skits. But maybe you will see someone you know and be able to feel the fun, the joy and the love we have in our mission.

Winners of our games! District leaders Elders Rose, Sumbot, Kirk, Haddock and Flannary
The Cluj skit:

The Oradea Skit: Bill and Ted (or is it Elders Miles and Letham??) Excellent Missionary Adventures!
Sora Betham is a "bush"! Bill and Ted peek through the branches!
Chew-baca visits our "missionaries"!
And then, NSync teaches this District how to do Street Boarding!

Sora Popa, our mini-missionary, gets the spirit of Christmas!

The Timisoara Skit: After returning home from his mission, Elder Flannary does as President Ashby tells him to and goes on a date! He teaches her how to make Shoarma's!
(Note: the arms belong to the people behind them)

The Deva District's skit explained how they celebrate "Festus", not Christmas, in Canada!
The Arad District did a take-off of the cartoon "Boundin". They really gave the real cartoon a run for its money!

The gifts were a big hit and as usual, the elders "fought" for their favorite tie!

Sora's Betham, Peterson and Nettesheim show off their new scarves!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Christmas Story

The following is an experience from Sora Griffith in Moldova. She and her companion, Sora Rappleye had the opportunity of accompanying the Jacobs (our Humanitarian couple in Moldova) to a village in the northern part of the country to deliver much needed supplies. Sora Griffith wrote home and told her mom about this experience. Her mom shared it with a friend who then told a story about a little girl adopted from a village in Moldova. The story is simple but very touching and exemplifies the meaning of Christmas. By permission of Sora Griffith we share it with you:

Hi, all,

I just got my email from my daughter this morning, and she had an experience that had me blubbering. She is serving in the Romania Bucharest Mission, and is serving right now in the tiny country of Moldova, just east of Romania. Their primary language is Russian, but the Romanian language is also spoken. I wanted to share my daughter's experience with all of you. Anyone who has participated in preparing humanitarian packages will appreciate this:

"On Wednesday we went to the far north of Moldova with the Jacobs,
who are Humanitarian Aid missionaries. Basically I think that we were there to be the "Face" of the church. To smile and to talk to people because the Jacobs don't know Romanian and we do. We left our apartment at about 5:30 a.m. and headed up to Edineti first. It is pretty far north in Moldova and it was already freezing in Chisinau, snowing and really windy. But I will tell you something, I have lived in Rexburg, and I have NEVER, NEVER been so cold in my life. It was so cold it hurt to be outside. We met with the representatives of about 6 different charity organizations that the church was donating packages too.
It was so sweet because we had packages of blankets and hygiene kits from wards and stakes back at home. I'm sure that it was from some relief society or young women's group in Kansas or something and they will never know how we feel!

lt is in the middle of a small town giving these blankets and kits to
charity organizations from villages in north of Moldova. They were
from little tiny villages where they are so underdeveloped there
isn't even the possibility of heating because there are no gas lines.
No plumbing. NO money. Seriously, in circumstances nobody in Paso
Robles could even understand. It was outside near the place where they
were storing the boxes of goods, and then we watched them pack the
boxes of stuff into old beat up vans and trucks. I got all teary eyed
when they started explaining who these things were going to be going
to. You can't imagine how big of a difference these things make, and
how GRATEFUL, and HUMBLE these people are. The leaders of the
organizations are just as poor and humble as the people they are
donating to. They just have big hearts and want to help. I was
grateful to see everything that I did. There are really so many less
fortunate than me, and also what the church does all over the world with Humanitarian aid. People just don't know what buying 10 things of toothpaste at the store and dropping it off at the church does for some child 1/2 way across the world. But from now on, I am going to tell them because I KNOW. We make a difference!"

Kathy Griffith (mom of Sora Griffith)

Subject: Re: Romania/Moldova experience

Dear Kathy,

A great letter from your daughter, what an experience for her. We happen to have a family in our stake who adopted a girl from Moldova a little over two years ago. After the mother abandoned her the grandfather didn't want to put her in an orphanage, but because of his poverty he also knew it would be a struggle to raise her finacially and if something should happen to him she would end up in an orphanage anyway. He dearly loved his beautiful little granddaughter and wanted her to have a better life so he decided to try and have her adopted by a family in a 'more developed nation'. In the meantime the wife of the 'adopting' family had been having promtings (even though her children were almost raised) that they should adopt a child from an 'Eastern Block' Country. They had many discouraging experiences through-out the process, but kept feeling the promptings to continue. Three days after the little girl's grandfather submitted the papers they were contacted by the adoption agency and two weeks later were on a plane to Moldova.

Last night our stake put on a beautiful Christmas program in conjunction with our Nativity Festival. As part of the program the little girl from Moldova rang a bell as the 'angel Annya' during a narration of 'Annya and the Silver Bell' afterwards the choir director had her come forward with her American family and shared her real life story. She stood there beaming, dressed in white and surrounded by her new family as she was greeted by thunderous applause.

Now after hearing you daughter's letter it gives me a greater understanding of the Grandfather's sacrifice. Thanks for sharing - I think at this time of year we need to be reminded of how much we do have and how much more we need to share.

Cara Svedi

Santa Rosa CA