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:)

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 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.


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:

Пазарджик и Пловдив се събраха

На 17ти март сестрите от Обществото за взаимопомощ от Пловдив и Пазарджик
се събраха, за да отбележат 170тата годишнина от основаването ... [Продължение] 

Изборът да бъдем благодарни

Нашият Небесен Отец ни заповядва да бъдем благодарни за всичко (вж. 1 Солунците 5:18) и изисква да отдаваме благодарност за получените благословии (вж. У. и З. 46:32). ... [Продължение] 


На 13 август 2011 г. в Новотел “Пловдив” се състоя тържественото честване по случай 20-годишнината от официалната регистрация на Църквата на Исус Христос на светиите от последните дни в България.... [Продължение ] 

Посещение в БСМ

На 22 юни 2011 г. гост на Българска Софийска Мисия бе д-р Рупен Крикорян, председател на Националния съвет на религиозните ....[Продължение] 

Среща на колеги

а 10.06. 2011 г. в сградата на Българска Софийска Мисия се състоя колегиална среща на президент Геролд Рот с издателя и главен редактор на вестник ... [Продължение]

Wish me good luck.

Its time to start studying baby!!!


So, big news about the age of missionaries, right? Everyone's talking about it on facebook and twitter and the news and all that jazz.


There's something else

that no one else is talking about

but I am even MORE excited about!!!

In the press conference after the Saturday morning session, Elder Holland, when explaining some of the details of the new missionary rules, said that missionaries time in the MTC is going to be decreased by about 1/3!!!!!


If you've talked to me in the past month or so, you've probably heard me complain about having to be restricted to a one-mile radius for THREE months when I could just learn Bulgarian IN BULGARIA instead.

But now, I THINK, I'm not SURE  but I think I'll only be in there for about two months. Hopefully. Fingers crossed. And if that is the case, I am worlds excited. Who knows, I could even be in Bulgaria by Christmas. Wouldn't that be jolly. :) I'd be quite thrilled.

But either way, I will survive. Still, keep your fingers crossed!!! Send me to Bulgaria ASAP!!!!!

Ode to If

You seem offended that I say IF and not WHEN. You're all on my case about it, even the monkey down the street (when there was a monkey, but he seems to have disappeared). The difference between a IF and a WHEN is that the WHEN has an expectation of entitlement attached to it. It typically, inevitably, leads to disappointment in the heart of the sayer. Perhaps children should read more books from India where the magis give up desire and seek to join the river peacefully. Just around the river bend is a fairy tale. I'm talking about the rivers in the fields, living through the cows and shoots. That kind of life doesn't give up hope; its free. I ant to be a weightless bird floating beyond gravity in the blue. I refuse to say WHEN.

However, dearest friend, I maintain my right to accept WHEN it happens (that is, IF it does.....)

Thank you very much.