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