The seminary and institute program is, for the first time, affecting the lives of Church members in Romania.
Alan and Patricia Dudley, Church Educational System missionaries from Alberta, were sent by the Church to start seminary and institute in the country. Classes began in Bucharest and Ploesti on Sept. 22.Under the supervision of Elder and Sister Dudley, local Church members, who "have strong testimonies, are vibrant and love the youth," are teaching the classes.
As one of 135 countries where the Church Educational System programs are currently operating, the classes in Romania were patterned after seminary and institute programs in Hungary, the Czech Republic, Poland, Russia and Ukraine, said Bruce Lake, CES zone administrator.
The students meet every Saturday and study on their own during the week. Elder Dudley said after the students attended seminary and institute for the first time, they "hung around as if they wanted more. It was wonderful to attend the classes and feel the Spirit," he said.
Brother Lake said the classes in Romania indicate CES is one step closer to its ultimate goal: "We are trying to teach the gospel of Jesus Christ to young people all over the world on a daily basis," he explained.
Brother and Sister Dudley said that students in Romania are embracing the program and the association its brings them with other Church members.
In July, 40 students attended the first-ever seminary activity in the country. The day began with games and ended with a testimony meeting. Many students expressed gratitude for the opportunity to associate together, Sister Dudley said.
"We are amazed at the challenges these people live with everyday and that they are still able to hang on to the gospel," she said.
One young woman who was called to the institute council eagerly accepted the position, telling the Dudleys, "The Church and the gospel are so precious to me that I will do anything in my power to help it grow to bless the lives of the Romanian people."
Another student told Elder Dudley that she would attend institute as long as she could get money for transportation. She lives a long way away, and, as the only member in her home, encounters some opposition.
"Every day here brings some spiritual experiences for us," said Sister Dudley. "We see them happening in the lives of the youth. They are becoming stronger, and as one young woman expressed to me, when I asked if she likes coming out to activities, `Our lives are so hard, when we can come together, and be happy for a little while, it makes it possible to go through the rest of the week.' "