Romanian Rhapsody
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“Romanian Rhapsody,” New Era, Jan. 2003, 31

Romanian Rhapsody

High on a mountain top in Romania, Latter-day Saint teens draw strength from each other in their largest youth conference ever.

If you flew over the Transylvanian Alps recently, you may have seen a gathering of more than 100 Romanian youth atop a mountain called Cristianul Mare (the Great Christian). At their largest youth conference ever, youth, ages 14 to 18, from all the branches of the Romania Bucharest Mission, drew strength from each other for three days.

The youth were happy to meet other Church members who shared the challenge of being only one among hundreds of people of other faiths in their schools and communities. They also found other things they had in common.

Ioana Ene, 14, of the Victoria Branch, and Amalia Epure, 15, of the Arad Branch, had never met before the conference but became friends almost instantly. Amalia investigated the Church for two years. She wanted very much to be baptized, but initially her parents would not give her permission. Now that she is a member, there are still challenges having a nonmember family. Ioana’s cheerful spirit and kindness helped Amalia to see another side to things. Ioana’s siblings are all members of the Church. The two girls spent a lot of their free time at the conference roaming the woods and talking about their families. They came to the conclusion that all families face challenges, whether they are Latter-day Saints or not.

Besides enjoying the beauty of the Romanian countryside, the young men and women went to workshops, performed in a talent show, danced, played games and sports, and ended their conference with a testimony meeting.

“I know the Lord is looking out for each one of us,” says Petruta Simion, a Mia Maid in the Ploiesti Branch. “He loves us and wants the best for us. Let’s walk tall and give our best every day.”

When the Romanian youth first arrived on Christianul Mare, they arrived as strangers and clustered in the familiar groups from their cities. But by the time they left the Great Christian mountain, there were no boundaries. They were united, spiritually renewed and ready to share their faith with the world.

Photography by Mihaela Stan

It didn’t take long for these teens to form new friendships with youth from other cities and branches.

Located in southeast Europe on the Black Sea, Romania has about 2,000 Saints living among a population of more than 23 million. When you are so few among so many, you really treasure those times together.