Sunday, August 11, 2013

Day 31: Bucuresti, Romania

Friday, August 9, 2013

Today's highlights
-Sarmale lessons from Sora Gorzo
-People's Palace
-Cismigiu Park

***Robbie here***

It wasn't a dream! We really are in Romania, the land of Dracula and Gypsies, sarmale and fornetti (legendary Romanian food), babe and mosi (old women and old men)! I forget how fortunate I am that Angie also served in Romania, so she can enjoy this country as much as I can. 

The Romanians pride themselves on their food. They normally cook with cabbage, potatoes, and pork. But the dish that they brag most about is sarmale--cabbage rolls filled with pork, sautéed onions, rice, and spices. They take practically all day to prepare and cook, and since we are staying with the most famous and adored cook by all of the Romanian missionaries, Sora Gorzo, we asked her to teach us how to make them. 

Turns out, it doesn't take tons of skill or crazy techniques to make good sarmale, it just takes time. We chopped, chatted, grilled, and gossiped until lunch time, and that was only for the preparation. The cooking requires boiling and baking. "Just set it, and... (Emily, you know this one) forget it!" Anywho, it was a blast making sarmale with the cutest Romanian grandma you've ever seen. 

Since Angie never served as a missionary in Bucuresti, I thought I would take her to see some of the sights here. We saw the patriarchal church (kind of like the headquarters for the Romanian Orthodox faith). It was very beautiful and, since we had seen mostly Catholic churches up until this point, it was neat to see some differences. The orthodox churches are much smaller but much more numerous. It seems like they are squished into the smallest of gaps between the large communist bloc apartments. 

Next was Casa Poporului (Palace of Parliament, literally translated it is the "House of the People"). In terms of square footage, Casa Poporului is the 2nd biggest building in the world, behind the Pentagon. Angie had never seen it, which is a rare thing for a missionary. It was built under the regime of Nicolae Ceausescu, the last and most infamous communist dictator in Romania. He was one bad dude, power hungry, and paranoid. Not a good combination. He did such horrible things to Romania's economy, morale, and rights that during the tour of this huge building, our tour guide wouldn't ever say his name. She would always refer to Nicolae and Elena (his wife) as "them," "him," and "her." It was almost like "he-who-shall-not-be-named" from Harry Potter. The vast majority of Romanians hate the building because of who it stood for. Anyway, we saw it! And it was big and extravagant outside and inside. 

This is the view from a balcony on the second floor of Casa Poporului. 

Next, we went to a much more positive place, Cismigiu Park. This is the park where Elder Nelson dedicated Romania for the preaching of the gospel. This is a very special spot for all of Romania's missionaries. 

As missionaries, we spend our first day in Cismigiu Park reading the dedicatory prayer at the hill on which Elder Nelson stood. I remember my mission president, president Garth Hansen, telling me that in 2 years, at the end of my mission, I would return to this hill in Cismigiu. I would have the chance to present my mission as a gift to God and that I would ask Him if He accepted my efforts. Wow. Those words stuck with me and motivated me whenever I was lacking the fire I needed. Angie had the same experience. Needless to say, we felt very powerful emotions returning to that hill. We sat there and told mission stories for a couple hours. Listening to Angie tell her stories, I fell even more in love with her. We shared our successes and our failures and it was amazing to learn even more about this incredible woman that I married. Isn't she great, Internet?

That night, we reaped the benefits of our hard labor. We ate freshly made sarmale and dang, were they delicious! With a little bit of sour cream on top, there is nothing better. 

We talked for the rest of the night with Sora Gorzo, Grant Harward, and Morgan Ott (two returned missionaries who came back for career opportunities). Tomorrow is Alexandria!


  1. OHH my gosh Sister Gorzo and sarmale... I"M SO JEALOUS!!!! & I didn't even serve a mission in Romania, I'm just one of the lucky one who got to travel there. Meet the wonderful people and learn a lot. Seeing the pictures makes me miss it so much. I am loving this blog and so glad you guys are working hard, even when tired to keep it up. I am living vicariously through you!

  2. I seriously cannot tell you how happy this post made me. I am so glad you are doing these blog updates!

  3. It's so awesome that you guys are able to visit a place that is so influential in your lives and not only be able to meet the people, but both of you are able to understand them (totally jealous). Makes me want to go back to Hungary, again.