Romanian members bring ancient prophets to life in fireside
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To help new members and investigators better understand the prophets of the Book of Mormon, and to help erase prevalent misconceptions about the Church, missionaries and members in the Bucharest District in Romania presented an evening fireside Oct. 31, titled "Minunata Dimineata," meaning "Marvelous Morning."
"The Romanian talent was unbelievable," said Sister Sandra Turner, a senior missionary who directed the production.
Set in the Panduri Branch meetinghouse, the fireside began with the district president, President Vasile Duro, welcoming the congregation. He was interrupted by a loud knock coming from a side door. Two missionaries appeared as the door opened. They entered with a life-size replica of the Book of Mormon on their backs. After positioning the book near the sacrament table, members of the branch cast as prophets in the Book of Mormon appeared through the front cover that was hinged like a door.
With smoke billowing from around the book, and a violinist creating the screeching sounds of a door opening, Ghipu Aurel Florin appeared as Nephi. He asked if the congregation would like to see what he saw in vision.
Using images from the Church-produced movie, "Testaments," Nephi narrated the scenes detailing the Savior's life.
Since translated material in Romanian is limited, a missionary choir provided background music, while local members Traian Constantin provided piano accompaniment and Nicusor Gheorghe the violin accompaniment. A young man from China studying music in Romania sang "Joseph Smith's First Prayer."
Other prophets appeared one after the other to tell their experiences, including Moroni, played by Ion Dragoi, president of the Mihai Bravu Branch, who makes promises about finding truth.
After depicting the apostasy with music and darkness, Joseph Smith, portrayed by Christian Males, appeared to tell of the Restoration.
Members were able to hear the Book of Mormon depicted in their language and with respect to their customs.
Branch members who portrayed the prophets said they felt a desire to live more like the people they imitated.
Brother Constantin, the pianist, is a recent convert who developed his musical talent at a young age. His talent earned him passage to college. He now teaches music in a Romanian school. He was first attracted to the Church by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and felt to approach missionaries on the street. Shortly after his baptism he was given an assignment to play in the fireside.
Brother Florine, who portrayed Nephi, appeared on the day of the performance looking a bit worn. He told how his brother, who had died, had been buried in an Orthodox funeral that day. Members of his family, who are not members of the Church, were deeply saddened and asked how he could demonstrate such peace in the face of tragedy.
"That evening," Sister Turner said, "Brother Florine bore a testimony more bold than he ever had in rehearsals that left a strong impression and members and their friends."
Members and missionaries reported an increase in interest in the Church following the fireside. Among them was a member who considered herself to be among the first members in Romania. She had become inactive over time, but accepted the invitation from senior missionaries to attend. She brought with her a friend who requested to read the book.
"It was an incredible thing to witness," Sister Turner said of the fireside. "The Lord took over; that's the only way I can explain it."