Monday, December 24, 2012

Vesela Koleda!!! Merry Christmas!


Holy cow. I can't believe there is a world outside of Bulgaria. Utah? What? I lived there? How in the world did I have a normal Christmas last year? It's crazy.

I just got back from visiting Marena and her family. Her and her husband are members, and they have a little boy and a little girl. Neither one of them has a job, and they go out all day looking for some kind of work. They live in a little apartment and I think they only have heat in the kids room. They have zero money. They don't have anything to give their kids for Christmas. Plus, Marena is really sick because she stays up all night worrying about her kids and how to get a job. So today we went grocery shopping with Marena and bought some groceries for her. That's all she wanted for Christmas--some food for her family. She has so much faith!!! She loves the Lord so much. She has no doubt of His watchful care, even though her life is so desperate. I wish I could help her in some way. Her dream is to go to the temple in Kiev with her family. When she was talking about it her eyes lit up with joy. This year for Christmas, I want Marena's husband to get a job. That's all I want.

Life is just crazy.

The members here are awesome and hilarious. There were about 10 people at church on Sunday. The members are so sweet. They seem like little kids in some ways. The Branch President is a Bulgarian man who was just put in a couple weeks ago. He's really nice. He has short spiky white hair, and a dark black unibrow. its fantastic. Before him, a missionary was Branch President in Stara Zagora. The branch pretty much depends on the missionaries. I wish there was some way to make the Branch self-dependent, but I think that will just come with time.

The mission president--President Wilstead--is awesome!!! Holy smokes, he is in charge of the Church for two countries--Bulgaria and Turkey. So much responsibility! He is so kind and awesome. It was really fun to be with him and his wife in the mission home the first couple of days.

Tomorrow for Christmas we are caroling at members houses in all of our free time. For lunch we're going to Marena's to be with her family. Then, for dinner, we're going to Maria's house. I've heard she is a fantastic cook so I am excited to go there!!! She is a sweet heart. She was speaking to me in Bulgarian, and I didn't understand very well, so she smiled and patted my cheek like a little kid.

So I'm in Stara Zagora, which is a fairly small city. It has some beautiful European buildings, and then it has some ugly bloks (apartment buildings). Pretty much all of it is really dirty and run down. It could be really beautiful if the buildings would be kept up. The people are friendlier than I expected them to be. Maybe that's because its Christmas. When we stop people in the street, sometimes they just wave their hand and walk on, but quite a few stop and talk with us for a bit.

I've only had a tiny bit of Bulgarian food---I've had bonitsa bread and a gyro. Its ok. Its really greasy. I like it, but I don't love it yet. I'm sure I'll love it the more I eat it. this morning I tried this drink called Boz and it is........disturbing. The flavor isn't so bad, but when you're drinking it it smells like refried beans. I don't want it ever again. The fruit is delicious. And so is the juice. I really like the cheese too. Most of the time Sister Shumway and I eat at our apartment. We'll just make spaghetti really quick, or an egg, or something like that.

They have kugelhopf here!!! I saw a pile of them at the grocery store!!! Crazy!!! They're from germany, because the writing was all in german, but they have them! It made me so happy to find kugelhopf. :)

We have two investigators with baptismal dates and so far I haven't taught either one of them. There was another investigator--Raicho--who was scheduled to be baptized this last Satuday, but Friday we called him and he said he didn't want to get baptized anymore. Satan works so hard on people right before they are baptized! Its so dumb! I think Raicho will come back and be baptized sometime in the future though. Sister Shumway was really disappointed, but I think she is doing better.

Sister Shumway is so awesome!!! She kind of reminds me of Maddie because her heart is so sweet and pure. She's such a hard worker! And she has so much love for Stara Zagora. I am so lucky to have her as a trainer. I love being with her and working with her.

Everyone here notices how happy I am. We were talking with some boys who had just gotten out of school, and they were laughing at me because I was smiling so much. They said, "why are you so happy!!!?!" I told them, "Because I know that God loves me and that I am a missionary of God!" And then I smiled and they laughed some more. I love that smiling is contagious. I am trying to smile at everyone I pass on the street. I smile and say, "vesela koleda!!!" Smiling is sharing the Gospel without words.

We had two lessons with new investigators this week---with Petko and Emil.. Petko is awesome!!! He came from a different city to meet with us, and he brought us this little plant in a plastic cup as a gift. So sweet!!! I love our little plant!!! We taught him about the restoration and he wants to meet again. He is so nice and awesome. Emil is really cool too! He seems so ready to have the Gospel in his life. He feel slike he's ready now to commit to Jesus Christ, and he's excited to learn more about our Church. Its awesome. I think they are absolutely fantastic.

We are so busy. We definitely never are bored. There are too many things to do and not enough time!!! I have never slept so deeply in my life. We get up at 6:30 and then we run around and study and plan until 10:30. Its so crazy.

This is what Christmas means to me this year.
Life is hard. For some people it is way harder than it is for others. There is so much suffering, sadness, and difficulties. But God sent His son Jesus Christ to earth to go through it with us. We are never alone because He came to Earth and atoned for us. Because of Jesus Christ, no matter our circumstances on Earth---no matter if we don't have presents for Christmas, or food to feed our families, or clothes to stay warm---we can return to our Heavenly Father as long as we are good and kind and have faith. Through Jesus Christ all people can have eternal happiness with their families. God has so much good planned for us, we just have to have faith. Faith and hope and charity. I am so grateful for the babe who was born in Bethlehem, who lived to serve others, and died so that I can return to God.

Merry Christmas. :)

Sister Stenquist

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

LAST DAY:)


Hello!!! It's my LAST DAY at the MTC!!!

Its absolutely crazy. I would be more excited about it if I could actually fathom leaving this place. But I can't. I've been brainwashed by the MTC. Me and my Elders always joke: "I keep on dreaming there's like this outside world out there. That's a crazy idea. We all know that there's only the MTC." And my mind is already so full of the rules. The other day my teacher was telling us how after class (which ends at 9:20), he was going to take his wife to the movies. Elder Breeze said, "But, you don't have any time! Bedtime's at 10:30..." Oh how the rules change our minds, ha ha. The good news is, I asked the travel office and they said our visas are here! So unless they lied to us, we're actually leaving together. Elder Breeze and I will be flying together. My Polsky Elders already left this morning and goodbye last night was sad. It was really awesome, though, because I love those Elders a lot and I know they are going to do awesome work in Poland.

I found out this week that mail in Bulgaria sucks. And because of that I only get mail every 2-3 months-at zone conferences. Sad!!!

Funny about Bulgaria I heard this week: My teacher was serving in a small branch and the only piano they had was an electronic keyboard. The pianist wasn't very skilled, and would just use two fingers of each hand to plunk out the hymns. Then, when it came to the Sacrament Meeting hymn, the pianist had the keyboard play one of the pre-recorded percussion beats while he plunked out the sacrament hymn. The effect was something like a beat boxing hymn. The missionaries had a hard time not laughing. And after the meeting they tried to explain to the Branch President that that was inappropriate--the Sacrament hymn is supposed to be....reverent. So, the Branch President's solution was to have the Elders play the piano! Even though neither one of them had played since kindergarten.....so my teacher learned to play the piano! Crazy! I'm assuming this means I'm going to play the piano quite often at Church in Bulgaria.

This week we had an awesome Fireside and Devotional so i will share some thoughts from that. Relief Society yesterday was really awesome too! Sister Dalton from the General Young Women came and spoke to us.
The Gospel teaches of POTENTIAL in this life and the next.
Raise your vision as to who you are!!!
This is the time for GREATNESS.
We don't have to do it all. In fact, sometimes I wonder if we do anything. God does most of it.
Surely the thing God enjoys most about being God is the thrill of being merciful, especially to those who don't expect it and often feel they don't deserve it.
Smiling is preaching the Gospel without words.
I also have two happy quotes about Sister Missionaries that I LOVE.

"The influence of the Young Women of the church, like a sleeping giant, will awaken, arise, and inspire the inhabitants of the Earth as a mighty force of righteousness. Young Women, arise, and take your place in the glorious events that will shape your future and the future of the world. Now is the time!"

"Heavenly Father loves and trusts His precious daughters, and now, as never before, is the time to flood the Earth with their virtue, their strong spirits, and their light. They are worthy and prepared to serve the Lord. They are incredible. And they are changing the world."

So cool!!! I am so excited to be a sister missionary right now!!! Especially when the world is seriously going to be flooded by us!!! And at the same time, I not disappointed at ALL that the change of age happened when I was 21. In fact, I am so grateful that I didn't go on a mission until I was 21. Between 19-21 I got to go to China twice, met the best people in the world, and had so many fun adventures. I wouldn't trade those experiences for anything. God knows what He's doing.

I am so determined to be a good missionary who is completely obedient. As President Brown said yesterday, "You have a short time to do it, and a lifetime to think about it." And really, I have an eternity to think about my mission. So I am going to make it good. I have two goals for my mission. First, to bring hundreds or thousands of people closer to Jesus Christ. Because even if baptisms are few, just seeing me, will make them a little bit closer to speaking to missionaries later in their life. And just smiling and helping people will be bringing people closer to Christ. which is why I am going to "stand as a witness of God at all times and all things and in all places." And on the other spectrum, baptisms may be few, but then those people will have a huge influence! They will have kids, grandkids, they will teach their families, and you never know how much influence that one person will make. Its awesome. My second goal is to have no regrets. I am going to follow the rules. I am going to work hard. I am going to smile every day. I am going to do my absolute best! It would suck to spend the rest of my life knowing I could have done better.

Smile and pray people. Smile and pray.

Love,

Sister Stenquist

















Monday, December 10, 2012

Straveite!!



I have an awkward story for you. Its about an Elder. I'd met him once before, a brief hello, where is your mission, where are you from, goodbye. Then yesterday he came bounding up to me at dinner and started talking to me. It was one of the most awkward converstions of my life. To keep the description short, he had a dorito chip stuck in his throat so he'd stop every other sentence, unable to continue talking (hello, I'm pretty sure this is fate telling you to back off because its not gonna happen...) and he told me a weird story about missionaries' bottoms sweating on their bikes. It was awkward. And it all ended with him getting my address so he can write to me. Yay me. So excited.

I've seen Sister Breanne Naylor a few times!! I saw her her first Sunday and gave her a big hug. ITs cool that we've studied the gospel together from primary to young womens, and now we're in teh MTC together! So cool!

So, I have a problem. I think I speak Bulgarian with a Chinese accent. One of my teachers pointed this out to me after a lesson. I didn't believe him. How could I speak Bulgarian with a Chinese accent?! But then, yesterday, my Branch President had interviews with me and Elder Breeze and in each one he asked us to tell our testimonies in Bulgarian. After I bore my testimony, he said, "You know, its funny, because the language almost sounds like its an asian language." Oh no. And then after Elder Breeze's interview and testimony in Bulgarian he told him, "Yeah, you and Sister Stenquist sound very different the way you speak Bulgarian." So I speak Bulgarian with a Chinese accent. How weird is that. I'm really hoping I'll pick up a good Bulgarian accent once I"m over there.

Which, guess what?!!! I'm going to Bulgaria next Tuesday!!! Hopefully. My visa still isn't here, but everything else is in place. So as long as my visa comes I'll be flying to Bulgaria on Tuesday December 18. I meet at the travel office at 8:00 in the morning to go to the SLC airport. My plane departs at 11:35 from SLC to Chicago, then I fly to London, and then to Sofia. My plane landsin Bulgaria on Wednesday at 1:25 p.m. And please, please pray that my visa will get here in time. I want to go to Bulgaria!!!

This week in class I learned the longest word in Bulgarian. It is непротивопоставяиконститутствателтвуванията. Romanized it would be NEPROTIVOPOSTAVYAIKONCTITOOTSTVATELTVOOVANIYATA. Isn't that a fun word!!! It means "actions not going against the constitution." Whattever that means. I can't believe how long it is though. A lot of Bulgarian words are sooo long! Its so different from Chinese!!!

Speaking of Chinese, I got another present from my Mandarin Missionary friends today!!! They had an extra Book of Mormon that has characters, pinyin, and English, and they gave it to me!! I've always wanted one of those!! And they're about $25 at Deseret Book so it was super wonderful to get one for free! Yay!

My teacher told me that every missionary in Bulgaria finds his/her Baba (grandma, or really old Buglarian lady who takes you under her wing and loves you). So I'm on the hunt to find my baba. She will be my Baba, and she will help me with everything, and I will love her, and she will be mine. I'm on a Baba hunt. This is serious business.

This week was kind of hard because.....I don't really know why, it just was. But I got so many packages and letters it was wonderful!!! I got 5 packages in 8 days!!! Yes!!! I got 2 from mom, one from Jessica, one from Annie, and one from Kris Harvey. I also got a really nice letter from Brother and Sister Larkins which was so nice!!! My Elders tease me so much because of all the love I get from home. What can I say, I just have great family and friends!!! So thank you for all of the food and fun things. Oh my goodness the avacadoes are lovely. I've shared the gingerbread boys with a few select people, and they said they are teh best gingerbread cookies they have ever had. I love my little cookie men!


I am so excited to be a missionary. I still can't get over the fact that I am a missionary! Its crazy!!! I absolutely love it. Sometimes I miss home a ton, but then I remember how many people I am going to love and serve and help in Bulgaria. Yesterday in Relief Society the speaker said--if you think leaving home is hard, just wait till you have to leave your mission!! Talk about heart break!!! So I am super grateful that I am still at the beginning of my mission and I still have so much time to enjoy. Its goingt to fly by and I want to enjoy every moment of it!!!

This week I am going to be studying the Atonement all week in English and Bulgarian and I am super excited about it. I love studying about Christ. It really shows me how much I have to improve on, and makes me feel extremely grateful for the blessings of the Atonement. I am so grateful for Jesus Christ. I love Christmas season because of the wonderful spirit of Christ in the world.

I love you!!!!

Much love,

Sister Stenquist

Monday, December 3, 2012

Narnia Holes and Miracles!!


Dear family!!!

So I should leave to Bulgaria in about 14 days!!! Normally the groups leave on a Tuesday morning but we might leave the 19th, we really don't know. The travel office is kind of annoying because you never know anything that's going on with your stuff. So I have no idea if they have my visa, or when they'll get it. I guess I won't know if they have it until I get to my departing time and show up at the office. Hopefully they'll give me my passport and visa on time. Or, if its like my companion, I'll get a little note in my mail box the night before I think I'm leaving, informing me my visa still isn't here, and then I'll spend a few more weeks at the MTC basically doing nothing. So pray that my visa comes in time.

Bulgarian is fun, I really like it. I'm not very good, but I can feel myself improving. I have a few funny stories about mistakes in Bulgarian though.

The other day in a lesson I was getting annoyed with an investigator because he wasn't reading the Book of Mormon. If you want to know if its true, you HAVE to read it. So I wanted to ask him, "Do you want a testimony?!" And instead I said, "Do you want a family!!!?" We all bursted out laughing after that. They're really close, though. Family (sounding out with the roman alphabet) is semestvo and testimony is svidetelctvo. So they're kind of similar.

In another lesson we were talking about Christ and his life. Elder Breeze said, "After Christ and his apostles killed people...." instead of "After Christ and his apostles died..." So that was bad. I hate to think of the blasphemies that will come out of my mouth just because of my poor brain. I keep on working on it though.

A funny story about a crazy Church member in Bulgaria. So when the missionaries first went to Bulgaria, they baptized a lot of crazy people, because those were the only people willing to listen to the strange religious missionaries from America. So now there's lots of crazy members in Bulgaria. I told you about Mufasa in the clouds telling a man to follow Jesus, right? So this one member, named Ogi, tried to burn the church down by pouring gasoline all over the cement foundation. It didn't work, so thank goodness he's crazy enough for his plans to be flawed.

Two exciting stories!

I found a Narnia hole!! A big one with lots of treasures!!! At the MTC, Narnia holes are magical things. In vents, holes, electrical sockets, etc, missionaries hide treasures like notes, candy, and cookies. There's one narnia hole in my classroom from Greek missionaries in like 1993 or something. And I found a narnia hole in my room! It was in the heat vent. It was filled with chocolate candy bars, oreo cookies, laundry detergent and drier sheets, a huge bag of christmas candy, a huge bag of easter candy, and other random things. It was so exciting!!! However, there were also some problems with the treasures I found in my narnia hole. Most of the food had been there......a while...... And because of the laundry stuff the chocolate tasted like laundry detergent. And that's after the chocolate re-hardened because it was melted from being in the heat vent. So even though my narnia hole had its issues, I was still so excited to find it. I'm trying to send a picture of it so you can see my treasures. Also, as a note, notice my Christmas nightgown I'm wearing?

My second exciting story is that Thursday was a miracle day!!! It was so cool!!! My companion, Sister Nelson (going to the Philipinnes, super cute, from Sandy, studying painting, visa was delayed so she's been with me for the past couple weeks, and she leaves tomorrow morning) was trying once again to find her wallet, which had all of her travel money, driver's license, credit card, etc. She couldn't find it anywhere. She also had lost some fudge that she wanted to give to her teacher. After she looked in all of our room, she asked if we could pray about it. So we kneeled and prayed. After we prayed I asked her if she would have brought her wallet to the temple. She said no. I asked if she would have left it in her last room. She said maybe. So after breakfast we decided to go try and look in her old room. Only our cards don't work there anymore, since we don't live there. But we went anyways. And lo and behold her card actually worked!!! It let us in!!! That wasn't supposed to happen. And when we tried her card the next day it didn't work. Crazy. So we got in the residence and then we found one of the custodial workers. Which is also crazy because I never see them in their office. But she was there and she gave us a key to the room. So we went to the room, Sister Nelson opened a drawer, and there was her wallet!!! Awesome! She opened another drawer and there was the fudge!!! It was awesome. We prayed after, saying thanks, and in the prayer I said, " Thank you so much for helping us find Sister Nelson's fudge...and her wallet." Sister Nelson teased me after that because she said I certainly have my priorities straight about which was more important to find.

After we found the wallet and fudge we declared it to be a day of miracles. And what do you know, but after lunch Sister Nelson found out her district's visas were here! They'd be leaving within the week! Awesome!!! There were also other little happy miracles. And it was awesome. God's hand is certainly working in our lives.

I got to watch the Christmas devotional and I loved it. It was so good!

I am still healthy and still happy. I am trying to work my hardest. I am very blessed because i don't have any health problems, and I have loving friends and family who support me. Missions are so much harder for people without those things. I am so blessed and I feel a weight on my shoulders to work hard because of the blessings I have.

I love you all very much. I hope you have a very happy, wonderful week.

Love,

Sister Stenquist

Monday, November 26, 2012

Hello!! What a Thanksgiving Week!!


Hello!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!!

So for Thanksgiving Devotional Elder Holland and his family came!!! What a dream come true!!! I was ready to be spiritually beaten over the head and humbled to the depths of despair, but he was quite unlike himself. He was still very powerful, but very postitive, loving, and happy. He also had some of his grandchildren play music and bear their testimonies to us which was great. I love Elder Holland!!! He said talked about three things that he was particularly grateful for that day.  The first one was how blessed we are to live right now. He said to NOT TAKE FOR GRANTED that we are born in teh alst and greatest days of Earth. All the ancient prophets knew that their dispensation was going to fail---how depressing!!! So the Lord would show them our day, and the growth of the church, and the missionary work, to buoy their spirits. And holy smokes we have a responsibility to fill since we have the great blessing of living right now

Then we had Thanksgiving lunch which was alright. I would much rather make my own food since the MTC food just ain't that great. I think I've lost some weight because I look smaller and sometimes I don't eat meals because my stomache has no appetite for this food. Which reminds me---Thank you so much for the popcorn and the clementines and the avacado!!! I had the avacado in a salad for dinner and it was by far the BEST thing I've eaten here. The fruit is really bad quality, it gives a lot of people diarrhea, so I avoid it. So the clementines were wonderful!!! And I've thoroughly enjoyed my tin of popcorn. :) Most of the sisters get packages from their moms full of candy---I'm so lucky to be sent good popcorn and yummy clementines and a wonderful avacado. So much better than candy!!! Thank you mommy dearest!!!

In the day on Thanksgiving we compiled thousands of medical and school kits to be sent to Mali, Africa. It was pretty fun because they played music while we assembled them---I got to listen to music!!!! Music isn't allowed on MTC campus---not even the Tabernacle Choir or any Church music. It is so sad. I sing all the time. I always sing in the shower, usually songs from Phantom of the Opera, and other sisters will join in with me. Its jolly good fun. :)

Then in the evening we had a musical program which was fun, and then we watched 17 Miracles which I loved!!! I was sitting next to some elders and they were all sniffling and crying which I thought was so cute. Oh the Elders are so cute.

Speaking of Elders, my 5 Elders keep on teasing me because a lot of the Elders here know me and so I get a lot of "hello's" wherever I go. My Elders also notice how much all the sisters flirt with Elders, and are always watching and analyzing Sisters. How nerve wracking!!! I want them to just mind their own business and stop paying such close attention to the sisters!!! But I guess since there's so few of us sisters, we stand out. At the service project I met a couple of....nice....young Elders who now always go out of their way to say hello to me. They're nice..... But I think I'm going to try avoiding them.......

So this week I have no freaky stories about Bulgaria, but only some awesome stories of the wonderful members there and their miraculous conversion stories.

The man who became the first branch president in Bulgaria first heard of the Church when BYU's dance team performed in Bulgaria. He talked with one of the dancers after and they started mailing each other. The BYU student tried 3-4 times to mail him a Book of Mormon but each time it was confiscated since this was still during the communism under Russia. So finally, the boy sent the Bulgarian man the Book of Mormon 5 PAGES AT A TIME through the mail. Crazy huh!!! And the man later was baptized, and became the first branch president. So cool! I'm going to get to meet him!!!

Pretty much it sounds like all the converts there have crazy amounts of faith and miraculous conversion stories. My teacher said that a few people, when he knocked on their door, thought he literally was an angel. I want to be an angel!!! He also said that sometimes when he was teaching people and they could feel teh Spirit, they'd freak out and kick him out of their house because they thought he was using black magic on them. It's not magic, its the Holy Ghost people. Calm down. So, I'm going to be careful to explain to people how the Spirit works and to STAY CALM. Ha ha, I am so excited to meet the sweet Bulgarian people. I am already so in love with Bulgaria. Send me now!!! Also, my teacher said that a few years ago a Patriarch went to Bulgaria and gave about 100 patriarchal blessings in a week. Wow, that's a lot of work. And what's cool is that out of that 100, ALL twelve tribes of Israel were there. How crazy!!! So by serving in Bulgaria I am literally gathering the lost tribes of Israel. I'm pretty sure that's the coolest thing in the world. God loves His children in BUlgaria so much!!!

I feel so blessed and so grateful to be called to serve in BUlgaria. I slowly have been gaining a greater understanding of how hard it is going to be. Bulgaria is not walk in the park. But it is going to be wonderful!!! And Heavenly Father knows I can do it so I can!!! How amazing is that!!! I get to serve some of the sweetest people in the whole world and invite them to come unto Christ and partake of the glorious blessings of the Gospel. Holy smokes! I am so grateful Heavenly Father lets little girls like me help in the work of saving souls. It really is such a great blessing.

I have come to realize that coming on a mission is the BEST decision I've ever made in my life. Graduation was good, going to BYU was great, going to China was wonderful, living in HEather Cove was a dream come true, but my mission is the BEST thing I could ever have done. I cannot tell you how much I love it or how happy I am that I am here. I know this is where I need to be. I love learning how to teach, I love representing Jesus Christ and serving his people, and I just absolutely love the joyful news of the Gospel. I just feel so much joy and excitement inside my heart all the time that I constantly feel like I'm goign to burst!!! I'm afraid I might arrive in Bulgaria and start prancing, singing, and cart-wheeling in the streets while screaming--"GOD IS SO GREAT!!! HE LOVES YOU SO MUCH!!! COME LEARN ABOUT THE GOSPEL!!!" And then people are going to think I am crazy. And maybe I am, ha ha. But it just makes me so excited!!! I want everyone to have the joy and great blessings that God has waiting for them.

So just a warning, I am already head over heals in love with what I am doing, and its only getting worse, and I can't imagine how bad it'll get once I actually get to Bulgaria, so.....I might never come home. ha  ha. :)
Just kidding, I will for sure come home. Just expect me to be a bit crazy when I get back.

I love my mission! I love my Heavenly Father so much. His heaven wouldn't be happy unless He has us there with Him, and that's why I get to go bring His children to Him.

I love you all so much. I think of you lots, and miss you lots, but I am still so grateful and happy to be here.

Keep on smiling, stay healthy, and pray lots.

Love,
Sister Stenquist

Monday, November 19, 2012

Week....I don't even know what week it is anymore!



Hello!!! I have so many stories to tell you so I am going to write fast!!!

To Grandma--I love you!!! The whole Book of Mormon is translated into Bulgarian, as well as the D&C. Its a realyl good version and I really enjoy reading it.  Also, Bulgarians DO use all 18 tenses in every day talk. So far I've learned 4 I think. So that means that for each verb there is 18x6x2 ways to say each verb, I believe. Yay me. :) Buglarian is definitely a very verbal language, they love their verbs. Also, Grandma, I have a video I want you to watch!!! If you go to mormon.org, look up the video of Pierre. I think it says "Pierre, I am French-Swiss. I am a Mormon" Or somehting like that. The video is in French, and the man and his wife are so cute. I thought of you the whole time I watched it!!! I want you to see it.

To mom-I got the hat you sent! Thank you so much!!!
Jessica- I loved your card!
Ben, I loved your email!
Dad, I always love getting your letters, eveb though they probably make me more homesick than anything else.
Jonathan-are you ever going to write to me? :)

So today my companion and roommates all fly to Croatia and Czech Republic so I have two new missionaries, who are also goign to Czech and Croatia. My new companions are Sister Graham and Sister Sorenson. THey are so sweet, so nice, and so obedient. I am excited to work with them.

I love teaching the Gospel!! This week I finally felt like a missionary as I taught investigators in Bulgarian!!!! Alexander prayed with us and said the Holy Ghost was telling him the Book of Mormon was from God. Heck yes it is!!! And Jivko said that he would be baptized after we taught him about the restoration. Oh my heavens I am so grateful for the Holy Ghost for testifying of truth. I love it so much!

My teachers said that Elder Breeze and I are way aheade in Bulgarian, like, we're at least a week ahead in lessons. Which is wonderful because it means we'll have lots of time to review what we've been learning before we go to Bulgaria!!! Yay for Bulgaria!!!

Now for the funny stories I've heard about Bulgaria.

So, I learned this week that Chrinoval/Trinoval/The nuclear power plant that exploded in Ukraine, is only 400 miles from Sofia, Bulgaria. And all the water in BUlgaria is radioactive, which causes some pretty freaky things in the people, especially the Gypsies because they don't have radiation water filters, they just drink the water in the parks. So I will be using a radiation water filter ALL THE TIME so that I don't grow a beard. You think I'm kidding. I'm not. A lot of the women in Bulgaria are bearded because of the freaky radiation. And lots o people  have other freaky body problems. As you will see in a story I will relate below. So, if I come home from BUlgaria with a beard, or a third eyebrow under my eye (this happened to one of my teachers), or any other sort of freakish growth, just look at it as evidence of my undying love for my Heavenly Father and His Gospel. And please, pray that I won't get a beard.

One of my teacher knocked on a door in Bulgaria and a woman was so excited to see them, she rushed them in and then left the room for a moment. On the bed, which is usually in the main room, there was a fairly small lump under the blanket. They walked up to the bed and saw a normal sized human head on the pillow. The Bulgarian woman came out and uncovered the bed, revealing a body the size of a baby connected to the head. Get the picture? Normal sized head, tiny little body with a tiny neck attaching them together. FREAKY!!!!! The woman wanted help taking care of the messed up woman, but the missionaries couldn't really do much. And I get the idea that I am going to see some really weird things in Bulgaria.

For Thanksgiving this week we have no classes. We have a devotional in the morning and i know who is coming!!!! I can't tell  you, because I promised the security gaurd who told me that I wouldn't tell a soul. But let's just say that I am WORLDS beyond excited and it is going to be THE BEST DAY EVER!!!!!!! Then we have a Thanksgiving dinnner for lunch and do service projects. For dinner we have a sack lunch alone in our rooms. Sad. And then we'll have a musical fireside at night. So, It'll be alright. I think I'll survive. I really want to meet the apostle that is coming. :)

This week I have learned a couple of really important lessons. First, I learned that the MOST IMPORTANT REASON that we pray is to receive blessings. That's what it says in Bible Dictionary. And so often people don't receive blessings that Heavnely Father wants to give them just because they don't have the faith and the willingness to ASK for them. So I have been working to not be afraid to ask for things in my prayers. I've been praying for peopel to be prepared for me to teach. I've been praying for you, my family, and my friends. And I've been praying that through my mission I can help hundreds of people to come unto Christ. Yes, that is a lofty desire. But really, if I helped one person, they could help their friends, and they could  help their children, and in a domino effect hundreds to could come unto Christ. This is my goal.

The other thing I learned is that God works miracles through disasters. We watched a video fo the hurricane on the East Coast and members of the Church serving through Helping Hands to clean up. In the video I felt very strongly that God is so wonderful because he takes disasters and pain and storms, and then works miracles into them. For example, people crucifying Christ was a disaster. That's pretty bad to crucify the Son of God. But because of that disaster, the Atonement was completed and all people can be saved. That's pretty awesome. The pioneers faced all sorts of disasters and pain, yet through the storms God worked His miracles. And I know that weaknesses of my own, pains that I have had, storms in my own life, will be turned into miracles as they help me bring others to Christ. I received a blessing last night and was told that God is preparing people right now in Bulgaria for me to teach--people that only I can touch. And I am grateful for my pains and for my weaknesses, because although they can be destructive, through Christ they can help me connect to people in need in Bulgaria. God really does work miracles.

One more thing!!! shoot time is going! This week I learned that Bulgarians HATE missionaries. Sad! My goal in life has always been to not be hated by anyone. BUt now people are going to automaticaly hate me because I am a missionary. This is why they hate missionaries. After Communism fell in 1991 the church sent misisonaries into Bulgaria. At that same time many cults erupted in Bulgaria. Terrible cults. Like, the boiled people and ate them. and they kidnapped children and sacrificed them. TERRIBLE things. And so, in the minds ofmany Bulgarians, The Church is one of the cults that came to Bulgaria that time. ITs so terrible!!! I am hoping that I can be a good representative of Jesus Christ so that they will see tha tthe Church is GOOD. The Church is a wonderful blessing and it teaches about love and kindness and hope.

I know the Churhc is true. I want to share the Gospel with everyone in the world!!!! I love my Savior. I am grateful for my mission.

Love you all!!

Smile and pray for the blessings of heaven.

Love,

Sister Stenquist

Monday, November 12, 2012


Hello!!!

My scripture is Alma 29: 1 and 10. I like that chapter a whole bunch. Elder Breeze is from Indianapolis Indiana. He really is so nice and I'm lucky to have him in my classes. Some of the other elders would be awkward to have class all day alone with but Elder Breeze is awesome and not awkward. My companion is Sister Burton from Eagle Mountain Utah. She studied Chemical Engineering at BYU before her mission. Its  fun that I'll see her around BYU when I get back!

This week we had a devotional that was so good. The speaker really emphasized the heart, what is in your heart. And I realized that although I was following the rules, I was resisting them with my heart and not fully enveloping myself in the MTC. So I've been working to change my heart. And its really helped!!!! I can feel the spirit more strongly and I enjoy the MTC a whole lot more which is good. I am so sick of the food but oh well. Last night we had mashed potatoes the texture of homemade salt play-dough (too much corn starch added to potato pearls, I think), dry turkey, and cold boiled broccoli. Yummy. I haven't been too hungry this week so some meals I just drink some juice and have a bowl of soup.

Funny story about Bulgaria: MICHAEL THE ARCHANGEL.

So in one of the branches of Bulgaria there is a man nick named Michael the Archangel. One day, when my teacher was sitting in testimony meeting (with only about three other people at church) he heard some blades against the floor. He turned around and there was Michael the Archangel, dressed up as an angel--complete with wings and a halo--rollerblading down the aisle. He went to the pulpit and started commanding all the people to leave the Chruch and follow him. He was starting his own church. Apparently he's quite well known in that branch and by the missionaries because he often tries to come to Church. I hope I get to meet him. :)

Bulgarian is super hard but I do really like it. I keep on writing English words with the Cyrillic alphabet which I guess is a good sign. Here is my simple testimony in Bulgarian:  Аз знам че бок е жив. Аз знам че исус христос е единението ми. Аз знам че бок слуше мояти молитви. Аз обичъм евангелието и церквата на исус христос!!!!

In English, I know that God is real!!! Holy smokes I know it and I love it. I love my Savior so much. He is just so wonderful to me. I know that the Gospel is a plan of HAPPINESS. It is so joyful! I just want to shout to the world and invite everyone to come to Christ!!!! I want to be as happy and as loving as I can be because that is how Christ lived His life and since I am wearing His name on my badge every day, I need to be like Him. I love my savior so much!! And I absolutely love prayer. It is the greatest thing ever.

Since day one I have been dying to speak Chinese and teach the Gospel in Chinese. Often, when I'm teaching lessons, I slip into Chinese and I have to try really hard to speak Bulgarian instead. But I'm more convinced than ever that I need to study Chinese and teach Chinese when I get back. I just absolutely love it and I want to help China in any way that I can. I absolutely love China. I pray so hard that I can help the wonderful Chinese people somehow, someday. But for now I am so excited to go to Bulgaria. I am loving the Bulgarian people more and more each day. I just know I am going to fall in love with all of the people there. And hopefully my love for them will melt down their walls so they'll actually want to talk to me. Bulgaria is awesome.

In all the devotionals the speakers and Mission Presidency always talk about how the Lord is hastening His work and that's why the age was changed. It wasn't to be convenient for Elders and Sisters. Its because the Lord is hastening His work. They also continually remind us that we have got to work HARD because we are going to be training the new missionaries very soon after being in the field. There are as many applications from sisters as there are sisters in the field so the amount of sister missionaries is going to DOUBLE!!! AHHHH!!! So scary because how am I supposed to train someone if I have no idea what I'm doing!!! I think its realy cool, though, because when I felt like I needed to serve a mission in May, I felt like I needed to go NOW. Put my papers in right NOW. Don't wait a single day. And so I didn't, I worked really hard to get my papers in real soon. I really think its because Heavenly Father wanted me to go in the first wave of increased missionaries. I am so glad that He told me to go now and not wait so that I can have all the time at the MTC to learn Bulgarian, get out in the field and get a grasp of the work, and then do what He needs me to do. He just has His hands over all of the work and all of our lives and holy smokes He is amazing. This is His work and I am so grateful to be a part of it.

This week I was made Coordinating Sister of my Branch so I get to be the mother hen to the other sisters. There's only two other sisters right now so its easy cheese. This week we get 20 new elders and no new sisters!! AHH!! I need more sisters!!! I'm really excited to be coordinating sister, though. Also, tomorrow in the devotional I get to give the prayer! Smokes, in front of everyone!!! So if you find the devotional online, you could see my face and hear my prayer, ha ha. Thank heavens I've been praying since I could talk so its not too intiidating.

It is really snowy down here and I love the snow!!! I wear my winter boots all the time. They seriously keep me so warm!!! My first week I was freezing cold all of the time, no matter how many layers I put on. Then I started wearing my boots and I am perfectly warm with just a long sleeved shirt or a cardigan. Thank heavens for my boots. I LOVE them!!!

I love you all so much and I love getting all of your letters. I have gotten more mail than anyone else in my District and all the elders tease me for it, but I love it. :) I love mail!!! I love letters!!! You could even just look up jokes or funny stories and send them to me because they totally make my day. Thank you so much for all of your love and support. You all are the best!!!!

Love you forever and beyond!!! Keep on smiling and being as happy as you possibly can!!!

Sister Stenquist.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

MTC Food, Bulgarian, and LA!!



Hallo my friends!
 
First, business:
The food here is okay. Some meals I love, the  meat usually is dry and tough but oh welll. I eat a lot of salad and their soups are really  yummy. Also, I had ice cream for the first time yesterday. A lovely bowl of vanilla ice cream with hot caramel, hot chocolate fudge, brownies, oreos, and m&ms on top. Yay me. :) My departure date really is December 17. 
 
Alright, stories from this week.
 
So, Bulgarian is hard. Way harder than Chinese. This week I learned how to conjugate verbs in the present tense. I learned how to change adjectives to be masculine or feminine. I learned how to pluralize nouns. I learned that Bulgarian has EIGHTEEN TENSES!!!!! AHHHHH! So right now everything I can say is in the present tense----I pray, you read, I love,  etc. And I have seventeen more tenses to learn. Yay. :) Also, they put the word "the" at the END  of a word. For example, to say "the cat" you'd say "catthe." And to say "the pretty house" you'd say "prettythe house." Its kind of confusing. So I can talk......very.....slowly.......and I make mistakes all the time. But I've taught about 5-6 lessons in Bulgarian. they're al pretty bad. I want to say something like "You should read this book because it will lead you closer to Christ, and give you strength and peace, and really bless your life." And it comes out like "You read this book. Its true. Its good. Its of God. It.......peace........" Its kind of really awkward.
 
I keep on laughing. Today I bursted out laughing in the laundry room and two elders turned to me and said, "no laughing! That's one of the rules!" which is funny because I say that all the time. I mean, the MTC has rules like no skipping, no dancing, no hugs, no gum. Its hard to follow all the rules.
 
The rule I break the most is.....wearing flip flops. And not on purpose either!!! This week I have accidentally worn flip flops 4 TIMES to class or the cafeteria. I just completely don't notice I'm wearing them until I glance at my feet and than I gasp really loud and feel bad. Its just so hard to get used to wear shoes!!! I'm working on it though.
 
Funny story about Bulgaria. So apparently the branches in Buglaria are SUPER small. Like, many of them only have about 5 people--the Branch President, two missionaries, one member, and a crazy member. Because there are tons of crazy members in Bulgaria. My teachers said the first missionaries to Bulgaria just tried to baptize anyone they could and so they baptized a bunch of crazy people, some of whom still come to Church. There was this one testimony meeting amont the five in the Branch and the crazy one got up and bore his testimony.  He said, "I knew I should join your Church, because I had a dream where I saw Mufasa (yes, Mufasa, like the Lion King's Mufasa) in the clouds and he told me to follow Jesus." Yes. I get to spend my mission with a bunch of crazies. :) Look forward to some fun stories. Apparently Bulgaria has lots of gypsies too, and my teachers have told me to just stay away from them. They may act interested, but they're super flaky and manipulative. So just stay away. i'll do that.
 
LA was crazy. It was just Elder Breeze and I all day which was.....odd.....but thank heavens Elder Breeze is nice and mature and not really flirty like some of the other Elders. The Bulgarian consulate was really intimidating bhecause the Bulgarian ladies there were intense. They just didn't seem to have an ounce of happiness or social warmth. We just went there to sign our visa paperwork, so hopefully our visas will come in the mail soon. After the consulate we had time to do whattever we wanted. We asked Edward, our bus driver, to take us to the temple. So he looked it up on his gps and took us to....a monstrous Roman Catholic temple-like structure. We told Edward it wasn't OUR temple, but thank you anyways. Then Edward took us to get some great Chinese food and then back to the airport. I left Edward with a Book of Mormon (one of the ones SIster Brown gave me) and he said he'd read it. Maybe he will, maybe he won't, but I'll never know. Edward was awesome. Then at the SL airport the MTC FORGOT TO PICK US UP!!!! So Elder Breeze and I sat at the airport for a few hours before we finally made it back. I wanted to call home so bad and just have mom or dad or Jessica come get me and take me to the MTC! How awesome would that've been! Oh well.
 
 
That's all for this week.
 
Love you all!!! Make sure to  be very happy so people will see you and the joy the Gospel brings you!!!
 
Sister Stenquist






Monday, October 29, 2012

Hello Everyone!
News from the wonderful Sister Rebecca Stenquist has come! Here is her first email sent from the Provo MTC.  Hope you all enjoy:)


Family!
 
I am here!!!
 
I am alive!!!!
 
I've kept a list of things to write you so here we go.
 
My Bulgarian class is composed of me and Elder Breeze. I am also the only sister in my District. This means that I am a SOLO sister, and have permission to be without a sister as long as there are at least two elders with me. Most of the day I am with my 5 elders in my district. I love them so much! I love my elders!!! They tease me and look after me too. Its teh best! They've nicknamed me "Eyebrows" or "Sister Eyebrows" because I gave them the eyebrows the other day and it looked scandalous. It was funny. And they constantly remind me of it. Its so hard not to hug them though!!! The other four elders are going to Poland and they are so fun. In the classroom Elder Breeze is my companion. We have taught two lessons in Bulgarian by reading our notes off of our notebook. I can pray in Bulgarian, read Bulgarian, introduce myself, and count in Bulgarian. Bulgarian is hard but I am determined to work hard and give it my best. Elder Breeze already took a year of Russian so he's much faster at learning bulgarian than I am but I try not to get frustrated with myself. I'll learn it eventually. I try really hard to stay positive, pray for more faith, and try to laugh as much as possible. It feels very good to just laugh at my Bulgarian during class because it really is pretty funny how terrible my Bulgarian is.
 
My companion is in another branch and a different Zone. She is going to Croatia, is from Utah, has long beautiful hair, loves cats and other fluffy things. She is soooo nice and I love her a lot. My other roommates are going to Czech and they are also really awsesome.
 
So the Bulgarian program is only 9 weeks, not 12. This would schedule me for flying the week fo Christmas. however, the MTC apparently doesn't have missionaries fly that week so our departure date is one week earlier than that--December 17. I'm pretty sure this is the day I'll fly to Bulgaria, unless they messed up the date. Yay for tender mercies!!! And holy smokes i need to learn Bulgarian fast!
 
Tomorrow I fly to LA!!! Its super funny because I think its just going to be Elder Breeze and I flying there. So......I guess we just get to be like a couple companionship, ha ha. We leave at 4, will probably fly at 6, and then we'll have about four hours in LA. Going to the Bulgarian Consulate to pick up visas doesn't take long, so I heard that after that we can ask our driver to take us wherever we want to go. Hee hee hee. :)
 
I have run into so many friends here!!!! My first day Sister Amanda Nordhagen from my BYU ward helped me get my luggage and find my room and everything. it was so good to be helped by a friend! Then I ran into Sister Shaffer, one of my favorite girls in the world, at lunch. I see her occasionally and it totally makes my day! She's been in the MTC twice as long as she was supposed to be because Spain stopped all work in their visa office. I also have seen Sister Rex a few times, who was in my dance class at BYU. Its awesome to know so many people! Also, on Sunday I saw Kevin Jensen in Music and the Spoken Word!!! It was so fun to see him!!! Sister Shaffer and I looked at each other and put our fingers to our cheek like a little tear. Because its sad to be away from awesome friends, but awesome to be at the MTC. How confusing. 
 
The second counselor in my Branch presidency is Elder Melville who grew up on Grandview Hill next to the pink chapel. I wanted to make sure to tell Grandma Guiguitte about that because she might remember his family
 
The MTC is hard but its good. I am learning to like it more and more. The people are absolutely awesome, I love them all so much. I was afraid of getting a companion I wouldn't like and having to be with her all of the time. But instead I got a fantastic compnaion and I'm not often with her because I'm always with my Elders. God is good to me. :)
 
I am so grateful to be here and am so excited to go to Bulgaria. It is a great work that I get to help with. And holy smokes I have a lot of work to do.
 
My Bulgarian teacher told us this story about Bulgaria. He asked one of his good Bulgarian friends what should be done to help Bulgaria. The Bulgarian man said--All the Bulgarians should kill themselves, and then new people could move into the country. That would be the best thing for Bulgaria. --Apparently this is a common thought in Bulgaria. There is just a thick depression over everyone, and everyone in Bulgaria hates Bulgaria and Bulgarians. It's so sad!!! I hope I can show them the source of happiness--Jesus Christ---and bring a bit of joy and happiness into Bulgaria.
 
My teacher also said that there are quite a few Chinese people in Bulgaria, and quite a few Chinese restaurants!!! Score!!!!! I think I know where I'm going to be going and talking to...... :)
 
He also said that Bulgarian food is so fresh and healthy and delicious that most missionaries lost a lot of weight without even trying. He said he ate all he wanted, and lost 15 pounds his first few months, even though he wasn't even doing the excercise in the morning. I am so excited to have good fresh food!!! YAY! However, My teacher also said he got sick when he came back to America because his stomach couldn't digest the food. So that will be unpleasant. maybe I'll just stick to organic food and really healthy food when I come back. Either way, Bulgaria is going to be awesome.
 
To write me, the best way is thorugh Dearelder.com because they'll print off your email and deliver it to me the next day which is way nice. Then I can read your letter throughout the week and just spend all y time emailing you when I get back.
 
I love you all! Mom, your chocolate-covered almonds are saving me. I love them! I am happy and healthy and learning tons. I am also taking my vitamins every day, just for you mommy dearest.
 
One more funny story. Last night Elder Allen spoke to us and he had some missionaries come up to the podium and say one thing they gave up to come on a mission. One Elder said "My girlfriend." All of the hundreds of missionaries in the congregation started whooping and cheering. It was so funny! Then Elder Allen--"Well, I'll say thank you in behalf of whoever she marries while you're gone." He was a super funny, enlightened speaker and I really enjoyed yesterday quite a lot. Then, after our fireside, we got to watch Legacy. it was SO FUNNY because the acting was so bad and so cheesy. Also, all the missionaries would laugh or whoop whenever the one man flirted with or courted themain girl. All these elders are so funny. Holy smokes I love them a lot. They are just delightful. Thank heavens for good elders! :)
 
Love you all!!!
 
Sister Stenquist

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Mountains to Climb


Mountains to Climb--Elder Eyring Spring 2012 General Conference

Mountains in Bulgaria via Pinterest.

When I think of having mountains to climb I think of the pioneers—particularly the Martin Handcart Company. They faced absolutely horrific challenges---death, starvation, frozen limbs. Yet years later, when  the timing and leadership of the company was being criticized in a Sunday School class, a member of that company, Francis Webster, stood up and protested, “We suffered beyond anything you can imagine and died of exposure and starvation, but did you ever hear a survivor of that company utter a word of criticism? Every one of us came through with the absolute knowledge that God lives for we became acquainted with Him in our extremities!...Was I sorry that I chose to come by handcart? No! Neither then nor any minute of my life since. The price we paid to become acquainted with God was a privilege to pay and I am thankful that I was privileged to come in the Martin Handcart Company.”
Trials in life can either be a privileged opportunity or a depressing sinkhole. Today I have three things which can help us not just endure trials, but conquer life’s mountains that are sent to us. These things are 1-having Faith in God; 2-Using the Atonement of Christ; 3-Believing in Ourselves.

Faith in God

I began taking ballet lessons when I was four years old, and it was a huge part of my life. Then, when I was seventeen, I abruptly stopped because I was very frustrated with it. After I quit, I was also frustrated with myself for not only being so bad at ballet, but also for giving up at it. At the time it seemed like a heart-breaking change in my life. One day, I was crying in my room because I missed ballet so much and wanted so badly to be a beautiful dancer. I picked up my scriptures to move them, and out fell this card. I was astonished, because it is a picture of a little girl in her ballet leotard and tights, carefully tying on her ballet shoes. I flipped the card over, and read, “Because I am God’s child, He shows me the way to my dreams.”
This card had been given to me by a primary teacher years before, and yet it managed to fall right in front of me right when I needed it most. I know Heavenly Father sent that card to me to let me know that He loved me. He knew I was sad, but everything was going to be okay because He had a plan. Its like He was saying, “Little Becca, its going to be okay. Just have a little bit of faith, and everything is going to be fine. I’m your Heavnely Father, I love you, and I’m going to take care of you.”
This experience has always been a reminder to me to have a little more faith because I know that Heavenly Father loves me, and that He has a plan for me. He loves to see us smile and laugh, but at the same time, he needs us to become more than what we presently are, and so He allows mountains to climb to enter into our lives. But with His help, our mountains can become our triumphs and we can have eternal joy with our Father. We just need to have faith.

Use the Atonement

            When we have faith in God, our faith will lead us to action. But often our efforts are not enough, and so we need to rely on our Savior Jesus Christ.
            One of my favorite words is grace. In the bible dictionary it says “It is through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.”
           You see, the grace of Christ can save us each day, in each struggle that we have, when our own efforts are not enough. This is why the scriptures say that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do. If we turn our hearts to the Savior and ask for His grace, we can have His strength help us every day of our lives. And when we do this, we will have the strength to truly repent and be born again through Christ. When we use grace we can conquer our trials with hope in the Atonement and Resurrection. And when we are broken, grace can heal our souls.
           I have felt the power of Christ’s atonement in my life. It has healed my heart. It has enabled me to rise above my sins. It has given me the power to change and to be happy. Christ is my joy and my song. My life is so much better when I strive to incorporate Christ’s grace into my daily activity. He is the light and life of the world.

Believe in Ourselves

            This is something I’ve really had to strive to learn—and still too often forget. God gave His beloved Son, Jesus Christ, for the sole reason that He loved us. He made this enormous sacrifice,  felt the pain of watching His son be rejected and crucified, because of His love for His fallen children—us—so that we can be redeemed and live with Him again. God sent His Son because He BELIEVES in us.
            One of my favorite scripture stories is of Moses after he was transfigured and saw a vision of all the works of God. After his transfiguration, he said “Now, for this cause I know that man is nothing, which thing I had never supposed.” Then Satan came and tempted him saying, “Moses, son of man, worship me.” And then “Moses looked upon Satan and said: Who art thou? For behold, I am a son of God, in the similitude of his Only Begotten; and where is thy glory, that I should worship thee?”
            By seeing the great works of God Moses was humbled, and simultaneously he was able to recognize his worth because he had witnessed God’s love for him.
            Humility is not a disavowal of our worth, but rather, it is the sober realization of how much we are valued by God.
            We need to be more humble. We need to recognize our worth. Once we are able to do this, we will be motivated to fill our potential and be able to successfully climb our mountains.  

My Mountains to Climb

The past few months I have been blown away by new mountains I have to climb.  Before May, I thought I was not going to go on a mission. I was studying at BYU to become a Chinese teacher. You see, when I was 12 I took my first Chinese class and fell head over heels in love with China. It was like the gears of my just fell into place and I just love China. And more than anything in the entire world, I want Chinese people to be able to be taught Gospel and participate openly in the Church. This is why I decided to become a Chinese teacher---I figured I could teach young men and young women Chinese so that when someday China is opened to missionary work, there would be some youth who already had experience and a love for China.
Then, I felt urgently that I should go on a mission. I turned in my papers, and waited, so excited to hear where I was going to go. I honestly thought that I would go somewhere Mandarin speaking, or possibly somewhere in Asia where there would no doubt be a great deal of Chinese people. Then I opened my call—Sister Stenquist, you have been called to serve in the Bulgaria, Sofia mission, speaking Bulgarian. I honestly bursted out laughing when I read I was going to Bulgaria. I was so thrilled and shocked.
Later, as it sunk in that I was going to Bulgaria for 18 months, speaking Bulgarian, I realized that this meant I had huge mountains to climb. Not only do I need to go to Bulgaria, learn Bulgarian, and dedicate my whole life to missionary work. Then, when I return from my mission, I will need to piece together my already struggling Chinese and figure out how to pass the rest of my Chinese classes. Ouch. This sounds daunting to me.
Then my mountains got bigger. I went to China for two months to study Chinese. There I realized that I am less fluent than a four-year-old. It dawned on me that it was pretty much possible for me to pass the Chinese test to become a licensed Chinese teacher. So, all of my education and career plans went flying out the window. This has been hard for me to accept and hard for me to figure out what to do with my life.
So currently, I don’t exactly know what I am going to major in when I get back to Bulgaria; nor do I know what I want to do in life. But, I know that I am a daughter of God. I know that He loves me. I know that I am supposed to go Bulgaria and that serving my mission is going to be the most wonderful and difficult thing I’ve ever done. And I have no idea what the future holds for me, but I know that my Savior lives and that He is always there to help me climb my mountains. I know that with my Heavenly Father and with Christ, I can climb any mountain in my life. There is nothing to fear with them by my side. 


I absolutely know that God loves His Children and that Jesus is the Christ.  I know that Joseph Smith restored Christ’s church to this earth and it is this Church. I know that President Monson leads the Church with the correct authority and keys from Christ. And I am so excited to go to Bulgaria and share my testimony with the wonderful people there.

I say these things in the name of our Savior, Jesus Christ, amen.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Golly sweet pickle. I have a problem.

If there is one thing in the world I am worst at it is this:

Goodbye. Moving on. Farewell. Arrivederci. See ya later. Leaving people behind me.

Examples: (And no, these are not exaggerated)

**It took me 5 years (approximately 1,825 days!!!) to get over a boy who I never actually dated......or hung out with.......or ever even had a conversation with......but I really really liked anyway. And it took me 5 years to get over him. Pathetic. (I blame this insanity on the fact that I was a teenager with crazy hormones doing all sorts of terrible things to my mind.)

**The night before two of my roommates moved out was very hard for me. Even though they weren't going very far and we'd still be going to the same college, and they'd be just a few minutes drive away, or a phone call away. Yet I bawled like a baby.

**I started a uncontrollable public cry because my young women's leader was released. (This story is quite funny actually.) All the girls in YW memorized The Living Christ and sang it in front of all of our families. That same day my YW leader had been released. As we were singing, I looked at her, and started crying which gradually escalated to mild hysteria. It was a combination of the spirit and the thought of losing her (mind you, she was staying in the ward, and I would still see her every Sunday.) Unfortunately, my crying started a domino effect until all the girls were crying and no-one was singing. We stopped, collected ourselves, and finished our song.

**I cry every time I watch the last episode of a t.v. show and all the characters say goodbye. I know they're not real, but still, its just so sad.

**I get really emotional/depressed when I finish a good book. Its just so hard to say goodbye to the wonderful characters! I love them!!!

**I keep on crying every time I think of my friends and family and how much I love them. Which means I've cried  A LOT this last couple months.

So, you see, I have a problem. And now my problem has been multiplied by humongous proportions.

WHY THE LOVE?!!! OH THE HUMANITY!!!!!

I do believe that saying goodbye to all my family and friends (even if its "only" for 18 months) is the hardest thing I've ever done. Gosh it stinks!!!

And the even worse part is knowing that once I get to Bulgaria I am going to FALL IN LOVE and eventually be forced to say goodbye to all of that beloved goodness also.

Golly sweet pickle. I have a problem.

This is the closest thing I had to a picture of me crying. I had a hard time saying goodbye to that poor pasta after I dropped it in the sink. Sad day. :(

I try to remember that the fact that I get really upset and emotional about goodbye's is a GOOD thing because it means that I TRULY, DEEPLY, love. Really. Truly. Deeply. And this must be a good thing, right? Love is a good thing, I think?

So if I get teary eyed around you, just know its cause I love you. Or maybe not you, it could be the person next to you. (Just kidding. I most likely do love you). And if some tears fall, just see it as evidence of my everlasting admiration for you. And don't judge. Just slap me (helps me move on), and give me a hug. 

(P.S. In composing this, I realized that I must sound like a bawl-baby. Let it be known that while my emotions often sprinkle out my eyes, I generally do not frequently cry. Which is possibly because I usually don't have many goodbye's to say. I'm not a cry-baby. I'm just a.............occasionally-teary-but-when-it-rains-it-pours kind of girl. Generally, though, I am QUITE emotionally stable and more chipper than the average human bean.) ***I'll give you a sticker if you know what book "human bean" is from!!!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Goals for the Mission

I've decided to make some goals to live by and aspire to while serving my mission. Heaven help me in achieving these goals.

#1: Don't complain.

I am making it a goal to not to complain about anything. Sometimes I say one negative thing, and before you know it I have digressed into a bitter rant that leaves me rather negative. Not good. I am not going to complain on my mission. When it is cold and I am tired and all my lessons just failed miserably and my companion is driving me crazy I am going to bite my tongue, pick up my skirts and keep on working. No complaints.

#2: Don't look back.

This one might be one of the hardest to follow because my life is so full of the most wonderful people and fun adventures I could ever dream of, that looking back is such a temptation! Man, I could just dwell on the past and my family and friends all day long because they're so great. But I don't want to, as that will keep me from living in the present and wholly dedicating my attention to my work. So I'm not going to. I will appreciate mail and contact and be grateful for everything I have been given. But I will not dwell, will not allow myself to be sad. I will look forward with faith.

#3: Forget about myself.

When I interviewed with my bishop he had me recognize that if I served a mission, I would be asked to give up my life to serve. And I agreed to do it. So I am going to do it wholly. Meaning that I will work morning until night to serve with my whole heart, mind, and body. I will not feel bad that I don't have "me" time because a mission is means having absolutely zero "me" time. And I am going to be dedicated to that and be happy with that. Happiness comes from serving others anyways, right?!

#4: Love others with my whole heart.

I feel like this one will be relatively easy for me. I have a tendency to love people and love them real deep. However, sometimes I hesitate to love because I am judgmental, scared of being vulnerable, or I just don't feel like opening up my heart at the moment. I am going to try to throw these dumb antisocial tendencies in the rubbish bin and really strive to wholly, unconditionally, vulnerably open up and love people around me. This means my companions (be they totally weird or completely awesome) and Bulgarians (be they bitter or kind). I am going to go on a loving spree. And its going to be great. :)

#5. I am not going to fear.

Faith and love cast out all fear. And what's a better time to use my faith and love to vanquish fear than on a mission? I will not be afraid of failure because I have faith that my best will be enough. I will not fear people's judgment because God is my judge. I will not fear spiders because I don't think they actually will kill me.....chances are they won't. I will not fear Bulgarian because I have faith I can learn it. I am going to have faith. And when my faith isn't enough, I will pray for more faith. And it'll all be alright.

And those are my goals. Ha, wish me luck.....

And may the force be with you.

Gbleghlmn. Bulgarian.

This is the Church website in Bulgarian:




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http://www.lds.bg/

Wish me good luck.

Its time to start studying baby!!!