Monday, September 2, 2013

Fall is here!

Fall is here in Sofia and I love it! The air is cooler, the leaves are starting to fall, and school starts in just a few weeks. I am so excited for pumpkin season at the end of October!

Mom requested more about English class. Every Monday night we have English class with three different levels. I teach first level which is so fun! We teach about ten new vocabulary words and help people use them in their own sentences. We ask questions and help them answer them, using the new vocabulary. Then at the end of class we have a spiritual thought and end in prayer. Usually there are about 4-5 people in our class. There's a really cute old man who is so fun to speak English with. They have such a hard time pronouncing the sound TH because there is no such thing in Bulgarian. Every class we go over it, and they still struggle.

On Tuesday this week we had Leadership Training with all the leaders in the mission, with Turkish leadership with us through skype. It was an amazing experience! We got trained by President, Sister Wilstead, and the Assistants about how to be good leaders in the mission. Then we had dinner (Subway sandwiches) and a testimony meeting. It was so uplifting and good. I am really grateful I was able to go!

Wednesday was an off day. I took a bus to Blagoevgrad to pick up Sister Modersitzki (she had been there while I was at training) and then we rode back. This means I didn't get personal or companionship study. Then we took a bus to a member's house to have a lesson, and it was a pure miracle I found her house. SHe lives far away, I had been there once before, and I didn't have her address written down. MIRACLE that we made it there! After that we had to run to pay bills, and run to the train station to pick up a bag Sister Modersitzki had lost. It was a really off day and I was so glad for it to be over.

Stefka is doing amazing. She accepted the law of tithing with so much faith and is still working to quit smoking. She took a bus from Varna at midnight to get to sofia by 7:00 in the morning in order to come to sacrament meeting. Amazing!!! I love her! Every time we teach her by skype I feel like I am standing on holy ground.

Sunny is also progressing so well. She's reading all about Nephi in the Book of Mormon and we're helping her apply the stories to her life. She told her friends about why she wants to be baptized and be a missionary. She is just amazing and I absolutely love her.

Its really fun watching Sister Modersitzki have her first crazy experiences in Bulgaria. For example....yesterday we were sitting at a bus stop when an old crazy beggar walked up to ask for money. She asked us for a few pennies, and I told her we can only help with spiritual things, not with material things or money. She seemed just fine with that, and told Sister Modersitzki how beautiful she is. Sister Modersitzki grinned and said thank you, and took the lady's hand when she reached out. The lady lifted Sister Mod's hand to her mouth and stuck out her tongue to lick it! Sister Mod pulled her hand away just in time and started apologizing for having pulled it away. Ha ha. The funny thing is, to me this didn't seem weird at all. Oh, an old crazy beggar tried to lick you. No big deal. Then I realized how strange this probably seemed to new little Sister Modersitzki. She keeps on looking around at all the displays of public affection (Europeans love celebrating the body and love in public) and just saying, "I just love Bulgaria." ha ha, quirky little Bulgaria, I love you too! What a joy to be in such an interesting place.

Bulgaria is so special and I am so honored to serve here. The people are fantastic and there are so many quirks here. Love it!!!

Much love to all of you. I hope you're also finding lots of opportunities to laugh and enjoy life!
Sister Stenquist

Monday, August 26, 2013

First week training!!

Training is so fun! Everything takes twice as long as usual, so we're always out of time, but that's okay. I am training Sister Ally Moderzitski from Alpine Utah. She's super cute! We have tons of things in common, such as: we both are dancers, we both go to BYU, we both love traveling, we both love camping, we both love chocolate and popcorn, we are both really really happy. We are also different in some ways, and we still get along great. She is so brave and unafraid! First day, after I explained contacting, she just walked right in front of people with arms open and a big smile to try and talk with them. I tell you, she's an unfearing little thing. She's 19 and her older sister is serving in Paris France right now! That's pretty cool. She's doing great with everything and training her is really easy. I pretty much just have to explain things, and she gets it and does it all perfectly.

I got a picture of Dimitrina's baptism in Spain!!!! I am so happy for her! She's always really happy and smiley, but in pictures she looks serious. So in the picture she looks super serious. I think on the inside she's grinning with joy, though, hopefully.

We have three investigators with baptismal dates which is great. Actually, they're our only investigators, but at least they're great ones! Stefka is still working towards her date on September 21 and she is just amazing. Living two hours away is hard, but she has so much faith. Sunny, 13 years old, now has a date for the 21 of September also. Sister Moderzitski committed her to get baptized her first day here! Sunny was going to go to the see with her dad for a couple of weeks and her baptismal date would have to be moved back. BUt she prayed that she could stay and not have to go to the beach. On their way out of the city, her dad asked her what was wrong, and she said she wanted to stay in Sofia, so he drove her back home and then left to the beach without her. Yay! To me, that's amazing that a 13 year old would rather be with missionaries and learn about Christ and do missionary work than go to the beach..... She's great. We also met Marina who has a date for 28 September. She's an adorable young woman who came to English and we met her for the first time. After English, we had a lesson with her, committed her to read the Book of Mormon, and committed her to baptism. It is always so miraculous to me when someone commits to baptism in the first appointment, especially when its your first time meeting them. But it happens! We'll see her tonight again for English and a lesson after.

This is the picture Dimitrina sent me of her baptism in Spain!!! I'm so happy for her!!! Lucy, her granddaughter, is so cute! Oh I love them so much.

I can't think of anything else exciting to tell you. Hopefully I'll have some fun stories to tell you next week.

Much love!
Sister Stenquist

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Transfer Calls! The best of both worlds!!

Transfer calls! Six new sisters are coming in and I get to train one in Sofia! All of the sisters are under age 21! With all the new sisters, there will a sister being trained in every city that has sisters. That's crazy! In Ruse there is a threesome, with a new sister. I'm really excited to train and kind of grateful I'm not in a threesome for a whole transfer. President also asked me to be a sister trainer which is such an amazing opportunity. The other sister trainer is Sister Wild, who is absolutely amazing, so I get to learn and work with her often. Her and I will go around to all the cities to help the sisters. We also get to go to mission counsel which is so exciting and terrifying. I don't want to share my opinions in front of President and all the mission leaders--scary!. I am really grateful for the opportunities I have to serve this next transfer. I'll really have to step it up even more and do everything I know I need to. I mean, I always try to do what is best, but there's still improvement.

I remember when Heavenly Father told me to go on a mission, I knew I had to get everything done and go URGENTLY. I did everything I could to get my call and paperwork done as soon as possible. Then, in the October General Conference, President Monson announced the age changes for missionaries. When he announced it, I felt God telling me that THAT is why He wanted me to urgently get out into the mission field. I felt like He wanted me to be well trained and settled before the new, young sisters came in, so that I could help them. And now, it has all worked out just as God planned! I got out here, I've been trained by really good missionaries, and now I get to help the new sisters coming in. It is so amazing how God orders and organizes everything.

In August eveyone in Bulgaria goes on vacation, usually to the Black Sea, so the city is pretty empty and there's not many people to meet with. I'm really excited for September when University and schools will start. I think the work will pick up and go along faster.

Stefka is progressing and she is just amazing. She took a 2 hour bus to Sofia so she could go to church on Sunday. I think she liked the service, and she is just such a great example of unwavering faith. We wet a baptismal date for September 24 and she's so excited! We asked her why she loved this Church so much, and later she told us the answer is 2 Nephi 28. This chapter talks about apostasy and the works of the devil, in contrast with the ways and church of God. She has a testimony of the restoration and loves Christ so much. She is so amazing!

I gave a talk on Sunday on the Word of Wisdom and I think it went well. I related addiction to Peter walking on the water, and then falling when he lost faith. I know that overcoming addiction is a miracle that requires the power and grace of Jesus Christ. And even when we fall, he reaches out his hand to pick us back up again. I wanted to focus on that because a lot of new converts fall back into smoking, or drinking coffee, and they start to lose hope in themselves. I like testifying of the Savior and His power to save us.

The new missionaries come in on Wednesday! I'm so excited to meet them all! I remember being so terrified when I first got to Bulgaria.

Much love to you all!
Sister Stenquist


Today we went to the mountains to see this little monastery. It was really pretty and felt so good to be in the mountains! I wouldn't mind living at a monastery, they're so pretty! There's a little church there, with gardens, and a big building where they live. It was so peaceful. Until...they started playing popular pop/rock songs on the radio at the monastery. I thought it was funny that the holy priests were listening to that music at the monastery.

Sister Stenquist!

Ups and Downs

Dear family and loved friends,

Dimitrina is in Spain and we've heard from the missionaries there that they've contacted her. Hopefully she'll get baptized on the 31 of August like we planned!

We haven't been able to get a hold of the family from last week but we're still trying to call to talk to them. I still have big hopes for the kids in the future.

We got to have a lesson with Stefka in Montana with Skype! President gave us permission to skype her once a week to teach her. She is so amazing! She had already read all the booklets we gave her, and is reading and loving the Book of Mormon. We talked about the Plan of Salvation, focusing on the Savior's role, and it was wonderful. She has a very touching testimony of the Savior which makes the Spirit so strong when we teach her, even though she's hours away. Its amazing how the Spirit can testify to all of us,  no matter where we are.

We also had a sad/hard lesson with a girl from Turkey named Yeliz. She's a quiet, shy, sweet girl who is interested in religion but has already determinedly decided to reject all religions as a practice. She's read all the Book of Mormon in the past week, but wanted to give it back to us. She told us that she thinks someday God will reveal the true religion and all truth will be combined into one. After she said that, I said, "That's already happened! Don't you remember Joseph Smith!" We encouraged her to pray and ask God but she's already set her heart on rejecting all religion and won't. It was so frustrating! I is so hard when good people have parts of truth, but have hardened their hearts on the fullness. Later in the lesson she said that she doesn't like socializing and has also rejected the idea of having a family. She wants to become a lawyer and just work and be alone all of her life. When she said that I had the saddest feeling inside. I could feel how much potential she has to go out and help others, how much eternal joy comes from a family, and yet she was rejecting these things. I don't understand why people settle for such loneliness and temporary satisfaction instead of searching out the best, eternal things. I told her I was sad for her because she is wasting talents that she could use to help others. I think that shocked her and hopefully opened her mind to reexamining her decisions.

We also got a new investigor named Sunny this week. She's 13 years old, adorable, and her mom is a member. She wants to get baptized and be a missionary in six years. After a lesson, she came with us out contacting. She saw how I was holding my book instead of having it in my bag, so she took hers out with the shiny gold letters outwards so everyone could see she was carrying The Book of Mormon. While we were contacting she was really enthusiastic and would point out people we should go talk to. She's a gem! I'm really excited to teach her!

This week is transfer calls and I'm really excited because there are lots of opportunities to train! There are 6 new sisters coming in this transfer, and 4 the next. This means that within 6 weeks 10/14 sisters will be new little bunnies being trained. Crazy! I would love to train, but we'll see what I'm asked to do. Most likely I'll be staying in Sofia for longer time.

Much love,
Sister Stenquist

Friday, August 9, 2013

Little Children

Hello family!

This week was good and hard. Sometimes its hard to see what I'm accomplishing, but I have to remember that I don't see the whole picture. God wants me here though! I know that!

We continued teaching Dimitrina this week and now she's going to Spain. There goes our one investigator! She's absolutely adorable. She started bringing her granddaughter, Lucy, to our appointments so we got to teach her too. Lucy is so cute, I love her and miss her.

We met a new woman named Stefka who is also amazing. She traveled two hours to come to the apartment because she lives in Montana, Bulgaria, where there are no missionaries. She's been searching for the Church here in Bulgaria for so long and it was really hard for us to contact us. She has such a sincere desire to learn and follow the Savior Jesus Christ.

Last night we taught a family which has been my dream!!! It was challenging and wonderful.  The kids listened with big eyes and occasional smiles. They knew all the Bible stories and were good at participating and answering questions. The mom was pretty quiet, but was listening and contemplating about our message. The dad was completely against the idea of there being anything other than the Bible. He was so hard-hearted and stubborn. Sister Cross was really bold with him because she's good at that. At the end of the lesson we kneeled and prayed. After the prayer, the 10 year old boy Jovi came up to us and asked, "How do I ask God if the Book of Mormon is true?" He had such a cute little sincere desire to know the truth!!! Kids have open hearts! That is why Jesus commands us to be like little children. So we'll trust in God instead of our own understanding, and turn to him with open hearts. When we left the three kids were all  holding a Book of Mormon and smiling. They already have so much faith in Christ, and they were all committed to read the Book of Mormon and pray about it. I hope they join the Church someday.

We'll continue searching for new investigators this week. There's women searching for the truth somewhere in Sofia.

Much love,
Sister Stenquist

Monday, August 5, 2013

Chalking and families

This week was so good, I enjoyed it thoroughly. Working with Sister Cross is really fun because her and I are both really similar. We both like working hard, fashion, art, health, and we get along really well. We've been working out really well in the mornings to be fit and happy. It's great!

We've been trying new ideas to find new people. Too often, we think of finding as just walking on the streets trying to stop people. We're trying to think outside of the box. One thing we did is side walk chalk in parks! IT was so cool! We chalked up different questions of the soul such as, "How can I balance between career and my family?" "How can I keep my family safe from bad influences?" "Why does God allow bad and suffering to happen" and we also chalked the whole plan of salvation in the park. Next to each thing, we left our number. Within a day, four people had called us!!! Just out of curiosity! I think we'll be able tomeet with one of the girls who called us, and I'm really excited. Thinking outside of the box really pays off.

On Monday a woman named Dimitrina came to English and said she wanted to learn more about the Church too. We met with her twice, and she already has a baptismal date. She's Bulgarian but lives in Magala Spain. She said she had looked for the Church in Spain for the past few years, but didn't find it. She goes back to Spain at the end of the week, so we're teaching her all we can while she's here and then sending her to find the missionariesin Spain and get baptized. She is so cool. Within two days she had read the whole introduction and 10 chapters of the Book of Mormon and had written down all her questions. She has a really pure, sweet heart and sincere desire to learn and join the Church.

Last night I got the coolest receive of my mission. It was absolutely amazing and humbling. We got to a light and it barely turned red. I thought, "I bet the timing of the light will help us have the right timing to meet the right people." A minute later a family with three kids (rare for Bulgaria) walked up to the light. The dad turned and looked at us. Then the mom did. Then they both did. So I walked up and said Hi! They asked us if we were Mormons and we said, "Yep!" but this didn't turn them off or scare them which is good. We talked them for about 15 minutes about their family and Christ, and they didn't mind waiting to cross the road. They were sincerely interested in talking to us, and not trying to hurry away like most people do. Their three kids were well-behaved, and watched us with smiles and big eyes. They said they'd love to meet with us again. They live right by our apartment, which is so convenient. They are strong Christians and pray together as a family every day. They're so cool! I am so excited to meet with them! Its an adorable family!!!

There are disappointments every day as people don't keep commitments, don't show up to appointments, or are mean. But I'm really really happy anyways. Sometimes I feel like I'm shining with happiness, and I just bounce around trying to help people. I love it!

That is all for this week. All the best!
Sister Stenquist

Monday, July 29, 2013

Chinese in Sofia!!!

I finally get to email pictures today so I took advantage of it. I want you to see how beautiful Bulgaria is! See the sunflower field! Its blurry, since its taken from the bus, but they are beautiful!!!

I have so many stories about Chinese people this week!!! Hoot!

First, a couple weeks ago Sister Shumway talked to a girl from China in the subway. I tried so hard to tell her I wanted to meet and teach her about Christ, but she was kind of just confuse why I was talking to her. Well, after that, I got a Chinese booklet about the restoration and put them in my purse. A couple days later we were on the escalator going down into the subway, and Sister Cross pointed out that the EXACT SAME GIRL was right in front of us!!!! I tapped her on the shoulder and I gave her the book I had!!! It was so cool! I felt so redeemed for not having anything to share with her the time before.

The next morning, I went back to the supply garage and got 12 booklets in Chinese about different things. I was planning on leaving them in our apartment that night and just taking one with me until I gave it away. Later in the evening, while we were walking down a random little street contacting, a large group of Asian teenagers appeared in front of us!! I grabbed Sister Cross and freaked out, "There's a whole group of Chinese!!!" As we passed I listened to see if they were speaking Chinese, and they were! So I turned to them and started talking to them! Their faces were so shocked as they saw me, this little white girl, speaking to them in Chinese. It was so funny! They're from China, here to see some tourist stuff, and they're Christian! So I gave each one of them (there were 8) a book from the Church. It was so amazing. So cool.

On Saturday night we were walking through a park and I saw two Asian men, (I feel like I'm just stalking all the Asians in Sofia.....) so of course I tried to talk to them. They were from China too! They were both strong Atheists. One of them was really rude to me, yelled at me, and was completely against any idea of religion. The other one was really nice. I told him that I knew if he prayed, he would know there was a God because he would feel God. His eyes got big and he said, "Really?!" "Yeah!" I promised. I gave him a pamphlet in Chinese and I hope he kept it even though his friends were all being rough and rude.

Since Sofia has a lot of foreigners, we have tried a new thing contacting. One of us will take a Bulgarian Book of Mormon, and one of us will take one in a different language. Every time we've done this, we've talked to someone who spoke the different language and were able to give them the Book of Mormon. This week we talked to people from Russia, France, China, Germany, some African countries, and Iraq. I now have booklets in a variety of languages which I keep in my purse. I taught a man from France how to pray last night! Its really cool getting to help everyone from around the world learn more about Christ and His Church.

As for missionary work with Bulgarians....not a whole lot has happened. We are looking for a good strong woman to join the Church and strengthen Branch Sofia becuase right now the Priesthood is stronger than the Relief Society in the Branch. Its strange to me that in Bulgaria all the men are more interested and more spiritual than the women. I always imagined it being the opposite way around.

One cool thing about Bulgaria that I've thought about lately is its relationship with the 12 tribes of Israel. Last year a Patriarch came to Bulgaria and in the 20 blessings every tribe was mentioned. All the lost tribes! President reminded us that we are literally fulfilling the commission to gather the 12 tribes of Israel which is a huge honor and privilege. I know the people here are so special and have such great potential. I think in time the Church here will be enormous. It will just take time.

Lots of love from Bulgaria,
Sister Stenquist

Pippi Longstockings and rats

This week Sister Cross came to Sofia and its been great working with her! She's super cute and we get along really well. Sister Shumway worked with us for a few days as she waited for a new sister from the MTC to arrive, since she's training again. I was scared to work in a three-some, but it was actually wonderful. I learned a lot, and it was really powerful working with Sister Cross and Sister Shumway because they're both really good, strong missionaries.

Now that its summer there are lots of tourists in Sofia. This week I talked to a family from England, a girl from Moldova, a couple from France, a man from Switzerland, and a girl from China!!! I met the girl from China in the subway, and tried so hard to talk to her, but it was like swimming through mud. I basically just told her i was a missionary, I teach about Jesus Christ, and that I wanted to give her a book about Jesus Christ so she could have faith in him. She wasn't really interested, and seemed confused why I wanted to give her a book, but oh well.

I braided my hair the other day into two tails and the Bulgarians' reaction was so funny! Quite a few people told me that I looked just like Pippi Longstocking. I don't know why, but Bulgarians LOVE Pippi. I see the book all over, and everyone associated my braids with her. I asked one man why he loved Pippi and he said, "I don't know, I haven't read the book. I just like her, with her braids, and how she lifted a cow above her head!" It was so funny. I've got to wear braids more often!

One day when I was contacting with Sister Shumway and Sister Cross, Sister Shumway saw a big rat run into a little paper shop. She went to tell the shop worker, who then got edgy and scared. Sister Shumway and I stayed outside of the shop with her while Sister Cross chased the rat around the room. It was really funny. And really gross.

On Saturday my friend Minka in Stara Zagora got baptized so I got to go down for the baptism. It was like returning home to Heaven!!! I walked into the Church and little Elena (15 years old with
curly blonde hair, new member) hit me with a huge hug. We hugged and hugged, both on the bridge of tears. I love her so much! Then I hugged Minka and congratulated her, and she was pretty quiet but happy. Then I went into the congregational hall and there was Baba Vera!! She was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see her! She called out, "Oh, milichka" or, "Oh, little deary!" which is what she always calls me. She said she keeps a picture of me and my card in her room where she can see it. Then there was Hristo!!! My favorite mustachioed man! He bent down with his arms open so I ran up to give him a hug and he lifted me off the floor! Ha ha! I love him so much! I am grateful there is nothing in the rules about hugging friends. It felt like dying and going to heaven. Both Baba Vera and Elena told me I am welcome to live with them in Stara Zagora if I ever want to, so I have two homes there.

Sofia is hard because the Branch runs on its own and without working with the Branch I don't know what to do with myself! I am used to running and organizing and guiding  Stara Zagora. There's just not a lot to do here in Sofia, or rather, not much gets done no matter how I work. Every day our schedule is full with plans and hopes, and often at the end of the day our numbers are all zeros. I know numbers aren't everything, but it sure feels good to see that I've accomplished something when I count up. Oh well, I'll keep working and fighting even if I get 0's.

We did meet a couple cool people this week. One girl we said hi to, turned and stopped us to ask us what we were doing. We said we were missionaries from the Church and it turns out she's lived in Idaho and knew some really nice mormon families. She said she really wanted to learn more! We haven't been able to meet with her yet, but she came to Church on Sunday with her husband which is so miraculous! Principally, getting people to Church is one of the hardest parts but she came before we had even met! I have great hopes for her.

There was another man who we tried to stop, but he said he was busy and kept walking. So I ran to catch up with him and said, "Well, if you don't have any time, please just read this pamphlet about the Plan of Happiness. I know that God loves you!" He took it, said, thanks, and kept on walking. Then an hour later we were talking to another man when the first man came up to talk to us again. He was done with his business, and wanted to talk to us more about our message. He's really cool, successful, kind, with a big heart, and I am so excited to teach him.

I really do know that God lives, He loves us, and He guides us when we follow Him.
Much love from Sofia,
Sister Stenquist

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Dear Family and Friends,

Last Monday we celebrated the 4th of July by going to an American family's house and having hamburgers and hot dogs. I realized I really don't miss American food that much. The two big things I miss are cheese crackers and refried beans. So the family gave me a can of refried beans as I was leaving. :) They were so good!

On the actual 4th we went to a Bulgarian member's house to eat French crepes. I thought that was pretty ironic--eating french crepes with a Bulgarian to celebrate America. It was really fun though! All the  members here are so humble and so giving. Their apartments are falling apart, but they feed us such good food.

I have a funny story about a member. There is a really funny, energetic, enthusiastic member who is just a hoot. On Sunday she came up to Elder Forshee to give him a biography on Thomas Jefferson. She said, "I prayed very hard to know which missionary has a big love for Thomas Jefferson so I could give him this. I received the revelation to give it to you."  Ha Ha, she's fantastic. Maybe a bit eccentric, but a gem.

Transfers! I am staying here in Sofia and Sister Cross is coming here. I'm really excited to work with her! She's a great missionary, and this will be her last transfer, so it will be a sprint to the finish line! I'm excited to work really hard!

On Saturday there was a baptism of the Elder's investigator, and after the baptism I was super happy. I came out of the room and this guy was like, "Whoah, you're shining!" Ha ha, I think he meant I was happy, hopefully. It made me laugh.

This week I learned to be grateful for where I am and what I'm doing. Two women who served here twenty years ago came to visit, and told us how different the Church is now. When they were here Church was basically a club for women, with no priesthood. Missionaries were Branch Presidents and Relief Society Presidents. The missionaries would get thrown in jail all the time so they had to carry toothbrushes around with them! Bulgaria might not be an "easy" mission, but it certainly is advancing. There are lots of things that have caused Bulgaria to be behind in progress (post-communism isn't the richest enviromnent for the Gospel) but its growing. I'm really grateful I don't have to worry about getting thrown in jail or beaten up. I'm so grateful for all the priesthood in Bulgaria. So many men are joining the Church and now all the Branch Presidents are Bulgarian! Its amazing. The members are really growing and learning to run the Church themselves. Its so amazing to have them have their own Church, instead of a Chuch run by missionaries. I am really grateful to be here now.

Budete zhivi i zdravi (May you be happy and healthy)
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, July 8, 2013

A cold week of rain

How funny that Utah is burning hot. Sofia is freezing cold. It has been raining for days straight. Right now there's a bit of sunshine, but a hard wind that's blowing in lots of gray clouds. It feels like February weather, its so strange.

This week we had our Branch party and it was fantastic! The biggest success I could've dreamed of! We planned on about 75 people coming (well, we hoped that many would come, but had some doubts), and planned the food accordingly. We had chips, shopska salad, enchiladas, brownies and ice cream. However, about 120 people came!!! How amazing is that! 120 people at a Branch party in little Bulgaria! It was a miracle. And even more miraculous, the food fed all the people. We hurried making as many plates of food as we could while the Elders delivered them to the people. When they told us everyone had a plate, there were about 5 plates of food left over. I call that a miracle. After eating we moved the chairs to the edge of the room and our amazing African members did some African dancing. Then a young man from Virginia did some dancing/juggling/tricks which were really impressive. Everyone had a really good time. Half an hour after the party, there was a baptism, so a lot of people stayed to see the baptism. It was so good!

I don't think I've told you about the Africans in the branch. There's quite a few African refugees in Sofia and they're joining the Church! Most of them are from the Ivory Coast. They only speak French, a couple speak English, so there's a lot of translating for them. Only a few are baptized, but the Elders are working with quite a few more. They are so nice, so happy, and so faithful. I think it is just so beautiful to see their faith and diligence as African members of the Church in Bulgaria. God really does know where all His children are and how to help them.

We still haven't found any investigators so I suppose God is teaching me patience and diligence. Sometimes I think of Elder's Holland's question, "Do you have the faith to fail?" to remind myself that I need to have the faith to work, even when there are no results and it looks like failure. Just keep swimming, just keep working. Maybe investigators will be found when the sun comes out.

This week is transfer calls and I'm pretty sure I'll be staying here but who knows. I'll let you know next week.

Much love,
Sister Stenquist

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Weather in Bulgaria is as bi-polar as Utah. For a couple days it will be SO HOT AND HUMID and then the next will be cold with thunderstorms. Its awfully strange. Today is cloudy, so I'm carrying around my rain jacket just in case. I want to make sure I never get Bronchitis ever again!

Not a lot happened this week. People in Sofia are a bit less friendly than in Stara Zagora. The Church has been here the longest, so pretty much everyone knows who we are and that we want to talk to them, and they blow us off. I try to smile big and say hi to everyone to show them the light of Christ.

We got a new investigator this week named Katia. She is so nice! She invited us over to her house, fed us homemade pizza, and immediately loved us like her own grandchildren. It amazes me how open hearted some people are. We didn't get to teach her very much, because she talks a LOT, but we'll go back and teach more. She also wants us to teach all of her family. Fine with me!

We are teaching a young man named Efgini who is really cool. He's pretty quiet, but really sincere. He was supposed to get baptized a few weeks ago, but his family is really against the Church and so it didn't happen. Apparently his dad even threatened him with a gun. So, for the time being, we are waiting on baptism. He still comes to Church on Sunday and YSA activities though, which shows me he has a lot of faith.

Another investigator is this beautiful girl named Deia. The Elders used to teach her, and I don't know how they did, since she's so pretty. She's going to college, studying English, really smart, and has been investigating the Church for a year. That's a long time! The missionaries have been trying over and over and over again to get her baptized but she won't budge. We had a good lesson with her, and discovered some of the reasons why she won't commit to baptism. I like finding people's problems so I can find solutions to resolve them. Its like a puzzle, led by the Spirit.

Its wierd, but I often have really spiritual experiences when I'm in the metro system. This week we were sitting on the benches, waiting for the metro, and I was watching all of the people. It is just amazing to me how different and unique each person is. People walk around each other, not talking, barely even noticing each other. But when I observe people I can feel God's love for them and it makes me want to run up and get to know them! I want to give them a hug and teach them to have a personal relationship with Heavenly Father, so that they can light and purpose in life.

It is sad to me that people reject my message without even knowing what it is and how good it is. I feel like most people are running around with their hands over their eyes shouting "no! I don't want to open my eyes! I don't believe in sunshine!" Just open your eyes, have an open heart, and you'll find the beauty of the light!  I always have to remember the eternal perspective, to have love and patience, so that I don't give up. They'll open their eyes with time.

Jesus is the Christ. He has a living prophet on earth today. These are very very good things. I love that I get to work with God for the salvation of His children all day every day. I love it a lot.

Much love,
Sister Stenquist

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

My first week in Sofia

First and very important, I got my package!!! The cheezits made me so happy! I didn't want to share them, but then I thought of what Jesus would do, so I shared my cheezits. They've got the best, most powerful cheezy flavor! Bulgaria just doesn't have crackers like that. I also trimmed my hair, and the cds are great. Thank you! Blagodaria!

Sofia is big and beautiful. I forgot how much I love big cities. The streets are like complicated mazes, the buildings are tall and elegant, and it feels like Europe. I really love it. Plus, the members are amazing. There are a lot of YSA and they're all really strong and excited about missionary work. The Branch had about 90 people at Church on Sunday which is pretty good. I want to help Sofia become a ward. Wouldn't that be amazing!

One other exciting thing is that there is a member from Taiwan! I spoke in Chinese with her and her daughters. It was so hard, like trudging through mud. I can think Chinese in my head okay, but speaking it is difficult. It was fun trying, though. My Bulgarian is WAY better and more natural than Chinese now.

There are also lots of men from Ivory Coast who the Elders are teaching and baptizing which is so cool and exciting. They speak French, but one of them knows English, so he translates. They are so nice and I am so excited that they found the Church in Bulgaria!

Ben mentioned trouble in Turkey and if its affected Bulgaria. I don't really know what's going in the world right now....I know that there are troubles in Turkey, so President's been going there a lot. There have also been lots of protests in Bulgaria but they seem pretty peaceful. I've just seen people blocking the streets, holding Bulgarian flags, and blowing whistles. We avoid them to be safe.

One of the really cool thing about working in Sofia is that I get to work with some of the best missionaries in the mission! The assistants to the president, zone leaders, and district leader are all in our district. I love working with good Elders! They're so amazing and I am so grateful for the way they serve.

One of our goals for the mission right now is to minimize contacting time and focus more on member referral lessons. President Hinckley said there is a better way, and that is through the members. Contacting's been pretty unsuccessfull lately and I think it might be because Heavenly Father is encoruaging us to find people in different ways. I'm really excited about member referral lessons because it strengthens the members as well as being a finding tool. Its really exciting.

Really exciting things are happing in Bulgaria to bring light and hope to all the people. I hear miracle stories every day that just astound me. I know that God really is hastening His work and we've just got to put in our plows and get to work! All of us! I heard the Church is having a worldwide training by the First Presidency on Missionary Work and I am so excited for it! Training for all members on missionary work, by the prophet himself. How incredible is that! The light of the Gospel cannot be stopped and it is lighting the world. I am so happy and excited.

All the best,
Sister Stenquist

p.s. I forgot to tell you I have Bronchitis again. I got a cold a couple weeks ago, went to the doctor on Saturday and found out its Bronchitis. I don't really feel sick at all except that I cough and my lungs hurt a bit. The doctor said I can work like normal as long as I take my antibiotics, which I am faithfully taking (along with my daily vitamins!) In the future I just have to be more careful about staying warm when I work so that I won't get sick anymore. All is well!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Here I come SOFIA!!!

We got transfer calls on Friday and I'm going to SOFIA!!! The capital of Bulgaria!!!! So big!!! Wow. I am super excited and I have a ton of stuff to do. Today is my last day in Stara Zagora so I have plans, and this email will be pretty short. In Sofia my companion will be Sister Turnbow who has been out for a long time and knows French (hurray for France!). The Branch there is huge and the work is really busy so it'll be a big learning experience.

Ha ha, when I told Hristo I was leaving (my beloved mustachioed man who got baptized in January) he said, "You're leaving! Half of Stara Zagora is going to cry when you leave. And it'll be all the men!!!" Ha ha, he is my favorite!!!

The party was great! We had all the members help us with decorations and food and the spiritual thought which was great. We had chili, chips and salsa, apple cake, and peach cake. I pretty  much made all of the food. :) I just love cooking! The chili was a little spicy but the members ate it all which is surprising (Bulgarians don't like spicy food.) We danced to country music which was so enjoyable. I miss dancing! I taught them how to dance like cowboys. After the fun, we went to the Sacrament meeting room where we watched the end of 17 Miracles. Then Brother Denev got up to testify of faith in Christ. His testimony was so powerful, backed up by all of his emotions, and it was really good. At the end Minka said she never wanted to leave the Church, because it feels so good to be there.

Minka has a baptismal date! She's the homeless woman with a mullet. She is awesome. Since we've started teaching her, she's changed. She looks happy. She smiles. She glows! At the end of one of our lessons, she said, "Can I ask a question? Why do I feel goodness in my heart when I read the Book of Mormon?" Ha ha, what a good question! She has a baptismal date for July 13 and I'm so happy for her. She is a sweet heart. She told me her dream is to have a job and her own apartment to live in. I looked in her eyes and told her that she is a daughter of God, and that God has mansions prepared for her in heaven, as long as she lives worthy of it. She smiled, glowing, and said she was going to cry. God is very good to us. Minka is so special. I love her a lot.

I've been thinking a lot about how people have changed as I've taught them and they've developed faith in Christ. Reni, the mom with the sick child, still only has small faith, but she has changed. She smiles more. She is more humble. She prayers with humility and sincerity instead of yelling at God. Her daughter used to have fits of violently rocking and looked very upset and uncomfortable. Now, whenever she comes, she grins and laughs and prays. Its really cute. She is so joyful, it makes all of us laugh and rejoice too.

Baba Vera is also different. When I first met her she was always on the bridge of tears, she was so sad. She lives alone, her daughter died when she was young. She was so lonely and sad. Now, she is so beloved by the Branch and she loves the people there too. Stara Zagora is a little family, and now they have Baba Vera to love. She doesn't cry anymore, except when she talks about me leaving. She's so adorable. She even reads the Book of Mormon in her spare time and continues to pray every day. She came to the Branch party with a bright red cowboy hat and even danced like a cowgirl with us. She's adorable

I am so grateful to have served in Stara Zagora! The members here are amazing and I love them with all my heart. I am sad to leave, but it feels right too. I know I'll love Sofia and there is a ton of work there to do!

Talk to you next week!
Sister Stenquist

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blister on my baby toe

Random fact. I have one blister on my feet, and its on the bottom of my baby toe. It won't ever go away! Its so random. Anyways....

This week we started teaching a woman named Minka. She may or not be homeless, I'm not sure. She's got a great mullet. She always wears some sweat pants and an army camouflage shirt. She seems a little rough around the edges, but she has such a sweet heart. I just smile at her and she grins back like a sunbeam. In our second lesson I invited her to be baptized. She said, "Ok. Tomorrow?" Ha ha!!! We explained that we had to teach her everything first. She read the first six chapters of the Book of Mormon in just a few days, and also came to Church on Sunday which is great! You can't judge a book by its cover. And you never know who will receive the Gospel.

We're also teaching two women named Krasimira and Milena. They are so much fun! Although they still don't read or pray on their own, which we're working on. They are curious and have lots of questions about life and Christ. One of their favorite questions is, "How do I find my Prince?" Ha ha. Don't ask me, I haven't found mine yet!!! Watching the Joseph Smith film with them was really fun. Joseph keeps on asking questions like, "How do I know if I'm saved?" "How do I know what Church is true?" And every time he'd ask one of these questions, Milena would turn to us and say, "Yeah! How do you know?! That's my question!!!" I love the Joseph Smith because its really easy for investigators to relate to and it explains everything so well.

On June 1st was Children's day. The whole glav and park was full of families and children. Each child was carrying around a balloon. It was so fun and chaotic! Unfortunately, noone wanted to listen to us. That morning I had read about the stripling warriors of Heleman and how fearless they were, even though they hadn't ever fought, and their desire to fight for their freedom and God. I thought of them, and said to myself, "I have nothing to fear! I have a great message to share with these families! I need to be like the warriors of Heleman!" And then I went around trying to talk to families. I got rejected a lot. Ha ha. I think I only gave out two pamphlets in a whole hour. But oh well. I tried.

The Priesthood Quorum in Stara Zagora is way bigger than the Relief Society now. There are hardly any women! And all of the women have awful problems. One has depression, but shared the best testimony in Sacrament Meeting. One has cancer, but comes every week to Church and is always working hard to serve in the Church. All of them are really poor. One's mom is about to die, and she's just about the most wonderful member I've ever met. They are all true disciples of Christ even though their lives are stormy.

I am terrified that President Wilstead is going to transfer me to another city. Some sisters will get transferred this week and I don't want to leave! I have so many plans for Stara Zagora! I know and love all of the members and they know and love me too. It terrifies me to think of leaving the Branch in the hands of other missionaries. We'll see. Hopefully I get to stay! I have more work to do here!

Also, this Friday we're having a big party! The theme is Cowboys and Indians because Bulgarians LOVE cowboys and indians. We're getting costumes so people can take pictures as cowboys and indians. I'm going to teach them a country line-dance. We'll eat salsa and apple cake. And then we're going to watch a clip of 17 miracles and talk about having faith through times of trial. All of Stara Zagora is invited! We're inviting a lot of people, but who knows how many will actually show up. I'm way excited though! I love planning parties!

I love you all! Have a fantastic week! Scatter sunshine all along your way,
Sestra Stenquist

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Building up Stara Zagora

This week flew by so fast! I feel like I learned tons which is always a good thing.

We had exchanges with the sister trainers and I got to work with Sister Wild which was so fun! I love her! She's from England, she's older than the other sisters, and she is a FANTASTIC missionary. I want to be just like her.

Sister Wild taught me about what it means to work for real growth on the mission. We're not only here to bring people in, we're also here to make the branch stronger. I've been organizing the primary, finding members to help me teach, planning fun activities, and its been really fun! Zarko prayed for the first time yesterday which I count as success because he's kind of a little rebel. Little Ina, his sister, is an angel. I really want her to grow up in the Church because she would just be such a strength to the Church. There is such an advantage to growing up in the Church because its easier to believe and accept things when you're a kid, rather than have to change your way of thinking when you're older.

I'm also trying to organize Young Women's for Elena, who's 16 and was baptized this spring. I absolutely love Elena and she loves me too which is good. We're going to start having fun activities twice a month so she can invite her friends and we can teach them. I'm really excited. I realized that I really do love teenagers and working with the youth. I'm extremely excited to be a young women's leader someday! Right now I'm kind of primary teacher, young women's teacher, pianist, activities director, visiting teaching coordinator, and missionary. So in the future, any calling is going to be a pinch!

Sister Wild also taught me about consecration of all of our talents and time. We were given everything we have in order to share it with others. It made me realize that my whole life I need to recognize and develop my talents, and then prayerfully use them to bless the lives of others around me. I think we all have lantent talents that are just sitting around when we could be using them to bring more beauty to the world, our families, and the Church.

This week I also realized that I am completely spoiled! I have always had a house, food, and a supportive family. After talking with these people, I feel so awful and spoiled. So many of the members and investigators are hungry with no food, about to get kicked out of their apartments, some don't have electricity, they're literally living on the edge. I wish I could eat half as much and move into a cheaper apartment in order to give the extra money to these starving, poor people! I'm so spoiled! Never in my life am I EVER going to be able to feel sorry for myself. I am extremely blessed and pampered.

It is now HOT in Stara Zagora although there were a couple rain storms this week. I don't know the temperature, I just know that it is pretty hot. We got to go out to selo/village to visit a member baba, and we helped her pick cherries off of her tree which was funny. Ha ha, climbing a ladder in a skirt to pick cherries was not what I was planning on doing, but oh well. We divided up the cherries and brought them to all of our poor friends.

Last Monday we went to a really beautiful cathedral in a little town (Shipka, if you want to look it up) which was amazing. We also climbed a mountain to go to an enormous deteriorating structure that was a communist headquarters. Its called Busluzhba. We went in, and it is enormous! It looks like a big space ship, and the inside is full of mosaics. It was really creepy and cool. We went with 6 Elders and they crack me up, they're so funny.

And that's all the news from this week. There is so much work to do and so we just keep on taking baby steps. The Church here is going to grow! Everyone here might think that we're a cult right now but its going to grow! I have hope of there being a stake in Stara Zagora someday. Someday......

Love you!
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, May 20, 2013

I love Stara Zagora so much!

This week I have just been loving Stara Zagora! Yes, the work here is hard. But the city is adorable. I'v never worked in another city, but having Sister Bingham come from other cities helped me to appreciate the uniqueness of Stara Zagora. For example, Sister Bingham is blown away by how small it is, and how many trees there are! There are trees lining all the streets and it gives us nice shade. Its really pretty. Stara Zagora is pretty small and has more of a town feeling than the bigger cities. I love it. :) Everyone kind of knows each other here and the people are nicer (for the most part) to missionaries than other cities. I'm happy to still be here. I love my little Stara Zagora.

I also found out that Stara Zagora is known for its crazy people! Ha ha! There are quite a few crazies here. There's a crazy woman who goes on the glav and screams,"ISKAM BANITSA!!!!! DAI MI EDIN LEV ZA BANICHKA!!!! AHHHHHH!!!" or in English, "I WANT BREAD!!!! GIVE ME A DOLLAR FOR SOME BREAD!!!!!" And then she cries really loud. Sometimes she's carrying around a Bulgarian flag (how patriotic of her!), and I heard she used to carry around a plastic machine gun.

I found a lost, crazy member this week. I saw a large woman talking to herself in a mousy voice, and realized that it was Snezhina. Oh Snezhy. She's special. Then later in the week I saw her again, talking to herself and cracking herself up. At least she's happy.

There's also quite a few crazy guys who just lean against the wall, staring into space, holding out cups for money. I heard a missionary put some change in his cup once, and coffee plopped out. Awkward.

Another unique thing about Bulgaria in general is the stray dogs and cats. There are dogs and cats all over, just wandering around. They're completely harmless, which surprises me. They mind their own business and they're kind of fun to have around.

We got a really cool new investigator this week and I like her a lot. She's sane (always a good quality), curious about the Gospel, she listens, AND, she brought her friend to learn too! So now we're teaching both of them and they're really neat.

We also taught a new woman named Christina Vampilla. She's unique. She has bleached blonde hair,  is really tall, wears heaving platform black boots, and is a designer/artist. She gifted us some necklaces that she made which was really nice of her (mine has a big metal spike on it). Her boyfriend apparently looks like a vampire. She's unique.

And that's a little about dear little Stara Zagora. Its such a special little place. :) I love it!

Chao for now!
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, May 13, 2013

Rejection!!! Yay!!! I love getting rejected!!!

Ha ha, the theme of this week is probably rejection. We got rejected a lot. The good thing is, I know my message is true, I know that God loves these people, so I just try to kill them with kindness when they're unkind to me. Sometimes people yell at me, tell me I'm brainwashed, or are really unkind, and I just say a pray for them in my head, smile, wish them a good day and walk away. Oh Bulgarians. 

Interestingly, the most kind people seem to be the Muslims and Atheists. They usually talk to us, listen, ask questions, even though they aren't interested to be taught. A lot of Christians are so stuck to the Pravoslav Church and all of its traditions that they aren't very nice to us. I smile and say hi to everyone. 

We were taking a bus from Varna to Stara Zagora and a woman was staring at me. I said, "Hello! Where are you traveling to?" And then she started yelling at me in English about how they don't need our religion and we need to leave Bulgaria. It was kind of awkward because we were surrounded by people waiting for the same bus. Later, on the bus, a man asked us how our Church was different and we explained the restoration and Book of Mormon to him. He was very nice to us and we talked to him for quite a while. A woman sitting in front of us turned around and said, "You two are God's people, aren't you? It is so great that you are here to help people and to serve Jesus Christ! I believe in Christ and so does my son. I'm really glad you're here helping people." The funny thing is, the not-so-nice woman was sitting close by so she heard all of our conversations with the nice people. 

So even though there are some mean people, and a lot of people don't want to listen, there are also a lot of nice people, and some few miracles ready to accept the Gospel!

I know I can't be discouraged or feel bad for myself when I am rejected. Christ himself, the Savior of the world, was rejected by his own people! His own apostle sold him for some money. And the people who do listen and receive the blessings of the Gospel are so precious and miraculous that they are worth every effort to find. I am so honored to know all the wonderful members and hear their testimonies. They are like diamonds!

I love you all and hope you are all happy no matter what hard things you have this week. 

Sister Stenquist

Monday, May 6, 2013

Happy Easter! Chestit Velik Den!

It was Easter yesterday! Happy Easter!!!

Some members brought some colored hard boiled eggs to Church to share with everyone. Instead of hiding eggs and finding them, they each hold an egg and bump the tops together. Whoever's doesn't crack gets luck for the next year. The first egg that challenged me, I conquered. Yeah, that's luck for a whole year! The next one cracked my egg, though, so I don't know if it reversed the luck. We also got lots of cookies from members that they make for Easter. They're called Korabi and they're kind of like sugar cookies. For dinner we went to an investigators house where we had lamb. Everyone eats lamb for Easter, and they cook up a whole lamb to eat. Reni gave me lots of meat, mostly the meat pieces of the spinal chord and ribs. She gave Sister Bingham an eyeball, some lungs, and other weird stuff, so I was very happy with what I was given to eat. The rice had liver in it which isn't my favorite but I thought the pieces were mushrooms until the very end, so I really didn't even notice. It was really a memorable Easter.

Since it was Easter missionary work was really hard this week. A lot of people are out of town in Selo---country villages. No one answered their phones for lessons, there weren't very many people on the street to talk to, so I kind of felt like I was just wandering around the city a lot of the time. One day we contacted 9 hours! That's the most I've contacted in one day. My feet hurt so bad! I've gotten a few blisters this week, but oh well. I just remind myself that I'm doing it for God, and even if it accomplishes nothing, I'm showing my love for Him.

Today is Saint Georgiov Day!!! He's the St. George who killed the dragon. A lot of stores are closed for the holiday. Everyone was really excited for this holiday. There's a statue of St. George and the dragon one of the parks by our house and I think its funny that Bulgarians love St. George so much.

Sister Bingham is here now! It is kind of shocking because she is OPPOSITE  of Sister Shumway. I think Heavenly Father is just trying to teach me a lot, to send me the two opposite extremes of missionary work to work with. Sister Bingham is really nice and happy and I enjoy being around her. I keep on feeling like we're not working hard enough, though, even though I know we are working. There is just so much work to do and I feel guilty if I'm ever not working! Ah!

One exciting bit of news is that we have 4-5 families we want to meet with this week! I've been trying to talk to families and its frustrating because you can bet 99% they will reject you. But you do it anyway, just to try. And this week we found some interested families we can meet with! I'm super excited and hope I set up appointments with them! It just goes to show that you have to show your faith, even through a bunch of failure, until you receive a miracle after the trial of your faith.

Happy Easter and Happy St. Georgiev Day!
Mnogo Obich,
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, April 22, 2013

Last week of transfer 2

This Saturday we'll get transfer calls! I am so excited. I need a change and I am praying so hard to be put where I need to be and who I need to be with.

This Saturday the Elders had another miracle baptism. He's young, nice, has a job, and really fun. And now he's the newest member of Stara Zagora Branch! Its really exciting to see all these people come in and strengthen Stara Zagora. For the baptism we made brownies, lemon bars, and bunny buns (little bunny breads with orange glaze. They're sooo good! I made up the recipe after Sister Shumway described them to me). Then for Sunday I made apple cake for our luncheon. I LOVE baking. It is such a joy.

The highlight of the week was probably learning how to make musaka from Maria. Maria is a wonderful woman who loves to cook. She's fed us several times (including the seven course dinner on Christmas). She taught us how to make one of Bulgaria's most popular dish--musaka. Its potatoes, onions, meat, and tomatoes cooked together with an eggy layer on top. Its so delicious! You eat it with a good dollop of sour yogurt on top. I'm going to make it for you when I get home! Plus, since Maria is a trained cook, she taught us some tricks of the trade in cooking and chopping which were fun to learn. I love Maria so much. She hugs us tight, and then wiggles back and forth as she squeezes. She's adorable. She also taught us how to dance the Hora, a traditional Bulgarian dance.

Elena, who's sixteen, is starting personal progress which is fun! We went over to her apartment to start it with her. She's so amazing! She's been baptized a few weeks, and is the only youth in the branch. She's already sharing the gospel with her friends though. She really loves the gospel and is so sweet. I love her too!

We watched the two Saturday sessions of General Conference at church yesterday and I understood more than I thought I would. It was so good, I loved listening to their talks. The music was also really beautiful. Next Sunday we'll watch the Sunday sessions.

Missionary work wasn't too exciting this week. We dropped a lot of investigators because they're not progressing. We found some cool new investigators though, so I'm excited to meet with them some more. Its all just a big long continuous funnel of contacting and searching, finding, teaching, and baptizing. Each phase gets smaller and smaller, which means lots of time contacting and searching. Its a miracle anyone ever progresses or gets baptized! But miracles happen every day, especially in Bulgaria.

Happy spring,
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, April 15, 2013

I am so exhausted! Sister Shumway and I are beat. I don't feel like we're working any harder, except that I am more tired and our numbers are bigger. I don't really know what's going on. The Lord's blessing us though.

There was another baptism in Stara Zagora on Saturday and there's another one on Friday! Both of these young men (in their twenties/early thirties) were taught by the Elders. We are baptizing so many men in Stara Zagora! The man who got baptized is really cool, because his grandma is a member in Stara Zagora. She shared the Gosopel with him and gave him as a receive to the Elders to contact. And now he's baptized! It was adorable to see Baba Zhechka and how proud of her grandson she was. Maybe they'll go to the temple together in a year. That would be wonderful!

We had Branch Conference yesterday which was wonderful and an answer to prayers. My whole goal for Stara Zagora is to have callings! For the past few months the only calling has been Branch President. The Branch President doesn't want to call anyone to any responsibility. I guess this is a popular problem with the Church in Bulgaria, and President Wilstead (Mission President) and all the missionaries are getting really exhausted by it. At Branch Conference we got some callings! We now have counselors to the Branch President, a Clerk, Elder's Quorum President, and a Relief Society President. Now we just have to get some teachers! Right now the missionaries do everything and its exhausting. Not because we don't like helping---we love serving people---but we know that by helping this much we're just crippling the faith of the members. They need to learn by faith, to serve each other, and to have their own Church run by Bulgarians! In President Wilstead's talk he talked about the importance of working and serving in the Church. He said, "If you are sitting in the congregation listening, and you don't have a calling, you aren't living up to your baptismal covenant." Wow! Bam! He's so bold and blunt! I loved it! That's exactly what the members needed to hear. I am hoping they follow the counsel of the President and ask for/accept callings.

Remember how at the MTC I told you that Bulgarian women have mustaches and beards? Well, its pretty true. There are quite a few babas with mustaches (nicely trimmed and groomed), goutees, or hair coming off the tip of their nose. Its so funny. I want to get a picture of a mustachioed baba! I am grateful for my beardless face. The other funny thing that Bulgarian women do is dye their hair weird colors. None of them want gray/white hair, so they dye it. However, they dye it blueish, reddish, or purplish. Its so unnatural. Some of them have bright blue hair. Its ridiculous.

Easter isn't until May 6th. I have no idea what Bulgarians do for it, except they probably go to the Pravoslav Churches to light a candle. Candles are the big thing at the churches here. You go to a cathedral, pay for a candle, and go light it inside. And if you do that on the holidays, you're a good Christian. Lots of people, when I ask them how they follow Christ, they say, "I go to the Church on holidays." The Pravoslav Church has a million holidays, though, so I guess that could be going to the Church quite a lot. I swear, every other week is another holiday of a different saint. The Pravoslav Churches are pretty, but they're really dark. They have lots of paintings of starving saints and somber Christs staring down at you. Their Churches are called Temples which makes it complicated when we tell people about temples. We have to explain that Temples are different than the Pravoslav Temples.

We have a lot of friends who we meet with, but I am getting frustrated with all of them because they're not progressing. They would progress if they would just read and pray, but they "don't have the time too." To me, this shows that they don't have the desire to follow Christ. If you don't have five minutes to read one page of the Book of Mormon, how are you going to have enough faith to keep your baptismal covenant, keep the commandments, and inherit the Celestial Kingdom? I know there are people who are ready to commit to Christ, though, and I just need to find them. There are tons of miracles happening all over Bulgaria. In Sofia there was a man who in his spare time would read conference articles on, before he had even met the missionaries. He was baptized within a couple weeks of meeting the missionaries and quit his job so he would have more time to serve in the Church (he found another job which left room for him to serve). He's a miracle! That is so much faith! The elect are here and we just have to find them and take care of them.

Next Sunday we'll listen to 4 hours of Conference in Bulgarian. I'm assuming I will understand 5% of it, so I'm excited to get the Liahona with the articles.

My Bulgarian is coming along. I think its easier to teach in Bulgarian than in English, which is a good sign. When I teach in English, (a lot of young people know English well) I end up just going into Bulgarian. There's still a lot more to learn--vocabulary and grammar--but I'm slowly learning.

Transfers are in two weeks and I'm nervous to found out where I'll be/who I'll be with. Its exciting but scary! I might stay in Stara Zagora, but I could also go to a new city. Exciting!

The gelati is out on the glav now! There are lots of little gelati stands and I am pretty excited for it.

Wishing you a happy week of Spring!
Sestra Stenquist

Monday, April 8, 2013

So much work to do!

 Zdravei family and friends!!!

Last week we did so much work which means we have even more work to do this coming week. Bulgaria, and Stara Zagora, are just exploding! Its incredible! I don't know why I'm so lucky to be here right now! We had 18 lessons, and got 17 receives of people interested. This might not sound like much, but for Bulgaria that's pretty big. I know its not because of Sister Shumway or I, its just because God is great and He's bringing His children to us.

For example, one day we walked out of the Church to get some bread to eat, and talked to two young men within two minutes. Both of them were interested and we met with them yesterday. That's two receives in only a couple minutes! Incredible!

For some reason, Sister Shumway and I typically only teach men, while the Elders teach a larger number of women. Ha ha, I think its really funny that we're teaching all these awesome men. Its amazing because priesthood is what Bulgaria needs! I'm excited to help the priesthood power grow in Bulgaria. Blagoi, who was baptized last week, received the Aaronic Priesthood on Sunday! It was fantastic!

We have four investigators with baptismal dates and they're all really amazing. Violetka has pretty much stopped smoking and will get baptized on the 27 of April with Yordan. Yordan is a funny man. Sometimes the way he looks at me creeps me out, but most of the time he's really cool. Goodness, he's interesting. He has a lot of faith and is really looking forward to being baptized. Reni, has a baptismal date for the end of May. She's the sister of Blagoi (who was baptized last week), and her daughter has Rett Syndrome. I'm so excited for Blagoi's sister to get baptized!!! Eternal families! Reni is so strong and her faith is growing so much as she reads the Book of Mormon and prays. The other investigator with a date Nikolai, a really awesome man in his late 20s. He has to quit smoking, (he used to smoke 30 cigarettes a day!) so it might take him a while to be ready. All of these people are really amazing and I'm so grateful to know them!

This week I learned how amazing the Holy Ghost is!!! We were in a first lesson with two young gypsy men. Neither of them went to Church, but they had some faith in Christ. As we were talking, they kept on being enlightened and sharing truths! Without us teaching them first! The spirit was there in the lesson teaching them. When we showed a picture of Christ being baptized by John the Baptist, Mladen said, "I just realized something I never knew before! We have to be baptized before we receive the Holy Ghost, because baptism prepares us for the Holy Ghost." What a profound truth to come out of his mouth! Ivan, the other one, asked us, "What is this warm feeling I have in my chest?" Sister Shumway explained that it was the Holy Ghost. He got a little teary eyed, and said he didn't realize he would feel it that fast. It was truly amazing. I know that God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, do EVERYTHING in missionary work. I really just walk around, having no idea what's really going on, trying to help God. God leads us to people, Christ gives them the power to change, and the Holy Ghost teaches them truth. I just get to work and learn from God; its so incredible.

There is so much work to be done to share the Gospel. I have an invitation to everyone who reads this email. I invite you to share some light--a talk, a scripture, your testimony, or any material about Christ--with someone who needs it this week. If you pray about it, and exercise your faith, God will lead you to someone who needs that light. You'll bless them, and God will bless you both! Best of luck!

I love you all! Happy Spring!
Sestra Stenquist

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Happy Easter to you!

Happy Easter to you! Bulgaria doesn't have Easter for another month, but it was fun to hear about your Easter celebrations!

This week I felt like I didn't work at all and then at the end of the week our numbers were huge. We had 14 lessons, and got a lot of receives from people. We even met a few families who want to meet with us! I've heard that you get what you work for, and I'm working for families. I try hard to talk to every family we run into and we've been tracting a lot to find families. Its terrifying but really exciting!

The most exciting thing about this week was that Stara Zagora had two baptisms! Blagoi, one of my favorite men in the world, got baptized, as well as a 15 year old girl. Blagoi was so ready. I can't imagine anyone being more prepared than he was. The baptisms went smoothly and this time I didn't even cough. For the baptisms Sister Shumway and I made lemon bars, homemade brownies, chocolate-chip cookies, and apple cake. The apple cake was so delicious! I love baking and sharing it with everyone. I am so happy for Blagoi!

At Church yesterday I got the hiccups which is something I have been dreading! My hiccups are so loud and disruptive! It was awful. Sister Zoya came up to me at Church and said, "Sister Stenquist, when you were at my house on Wednesday you took something." At first I was confused because I wasn't sure if I was hearing her right. "You took something from my house. Don't you lie to me." I was really confused and worried and asked her what it was, "You know, you took it. You need to give it back to me." What?! Then she started laughing. She said that to get me scared so that I would stop hiccuping. And it worked! I stopped. She said its the best Bulgarian medicine for hiccups. It was so funny and I'm so glad that she was just joking!

Its really hard to help people progress to baptism. It seems like people either come all ready and gung-ho, like they're pre-packaged. Otherwise, they just flounder until we eventually drop them. We invite, invite, invite, invite, and its exasperating when people don't do what they need to. I've learned that we just need to obey! No ifs ands or buts! We just need to obey, trusting in God, and then we'll see the blessings evidenced in our lives afterwards. God always blesses us when we obey, and when we don't we're only denying ourselves the blessings of heaven. This is so clearly seen as a missionary because everything depends on people obeying and keeping commitments. When they do, they progress and their faith grows and they are so happy! When they don't nothing happens. Their lives stay the same, because they don't do anything to change it. It is sad to invite people to partake of God's blessings and hear them say that they can't, they won't, its too hard. With one sister, who is extremely poor, we had a lesson about tithing. We explained how it opens up the windows of heaven and I felt so strongly that God has so many blessings waiting to pour out on her, but can't do it until she follows this one law! But she thinks its impossible for her to do, and won't do it. Everyone comes up with their own exceptions to at least one law. We think, "With God everything is possible except this law in my life. I can't do it and therefore don't have to." Everyone just needs to stand up and obey to receive the blessings of heaven.

I'm so glad you all had a wonderful time celebrating Easter. I'm really excited to celebrate it here. Its so exciting and joyful to celebrate the Resurrected Christ!

Vsichko Hybavo, everything beautiful,

Sestra Stenquist

Monday, March 25, 2013

I saw a stork!!!

I have been so excited all week long to tell you that I saw a stork this week!!! It was the coolest thing ever! I was on a bus to Plovdiv and there, on top of a Church dome, was a stork nest with two storks in it! The nest was huge! And the storks were so cool!!!! I even got a picture of it. It totally made my week.

I'm still coughing but I think I'm getting better. I slept last night which was wonderful! Most nights I cough from 1:00-5:00 and it makes me really tired. I'm excited to be getting better and coughing less.

I've decided I really like missionary work. I thought that talking to strangers about Christ, being rejected all day long, and testifying to strangers would be really hard and exhausting. I guess its hard, and sometimes it feels exhausting, but most of the time I'm just really happy. I don't mind getting rejected most of the time. It just means they're not ready yet. And its an incredible feeling to share the Gospel with all of God's children! I love it!

Yesterday at church Sister Elena gave a talk and in it she said, "Are the Apostles and missionaries today less important than the Christ's twelve apostles? No! They are just as important." When she said that I got a wave of shock realizing that I have such a huge responsibility! I'm supposed to be as powerful as the twelve apostles?! I don't feel like I'm a very powerful teacher. I just go and work, try and follow the Spirit, and trust that God is doing all of the rest.

Speaking of Christ's Apostles, I have some interesting Bulgarian history for you (which I learned from a member here and I'm assuming he's correct). The Apostle Paul taught in Bulgaria and started a Christian Church in a city further north in Bulgaria. That is so amazing!!! Then, one of Paul's students came to Stara Zagora and established one of the first Christian Churches in all of Bulgaria!!! In little Stara Zagora!!! I wish it was still standing so I could see it. Bulgaria has a rich history of Christianity. One day we were walking down the street and we ran into a Roman ampitheater. It was so incredible!!! Unfortunately, I found out later that that ampitheater was where they used to kill Christians. I'm so glad that they don't do that to us anymore..... I can't complain about my mission being hard since I don't have to worry about being killed. Its incredible to learn about Bulgarian history and realize that I'm teaching the Gospel right where an apostle of Christ taught it. Those are some pretty big footsteps to follow in.

Yesterday at Church no one came to teach Sunday School so guess who taught? Me! In Bulgarian!!! It was crazy. I was so nervous that I kept on tripping over my words but it ended up being okay. I talk much better when I'm with people on the streets or in their apartments. Its a lot harder for me to speak Bulgarian when I'm in front of lots of people staring at me. I knew that the lesson wouldn't be very good---goodness gracious, its coming from my poor Bulgarian---but I just said a prayer and said, "Heavenly Father, I'll do what I can. I know you'll take care of the rest."

I have a funny story about Bulgarian for you. Some little kids were showing me their sticker books and there was a page with lots of elephant stickers. I wanted to say "I love elephants!!!" but instead I enthusiastically said, "I love shelters!!!!" The boy looked at me weird, and I bursted out laughing when I realized what I said. You see, shelter is podslon (literally means under elephant) and elephant is slon. So I got a little confused. It happens all the time.

The trees are blooming and it is so lovely to walk past them. All the blooming trees have martenitzis tied to them which is adorable. I am so grateful to Heavenly Father for this beautiful earth! Not only did he prepare everything for our salvation through the atonement of Christ, but He gave us a beautiful world, beautiful families, and wonderful experiences, to enjoy along the way.

I love you! I hope you're enjoying all the blooming flowers.
Chao! Vsichko Hubavo! (everything beautiful!)

Sestra Stenquist

Monday, March 18, 2013

Happy Spring!

So, I'm sick again which stinks. I've got this awful cough that's dry
and hard and I cough all day long. This means that we haven't been
working very much because its way cold outside and I don't want to get
worse!!! I've been praying and praying to get better so I can serve
more! All my friends here are praying for me to get better and two
members took me to their doctors (who each had a different analysis
and gave me different medicines).

I have some funny food stories for you to hear.  First, you can't
imagine the amount of oil Bulgarians put on their food!!!! Especially
their vegetables! They say that if you eat vegetables without oil
they'll hurt your stomach. They cut up a nice cucumber, and then pour
like a cup of oil on top. Its so much!!! All their rice is smothered
in oil too. They have the biggest containers of oil at the store and I
bet they go through it in a week. Oh Bulgarians.

Second, the other day I had some eggs with cheese and yogurt. Have you
ever had yogurt on your eggs? It was pretty darn good. The yogurt was
plain, sour milk, no sugar, so its kind of more like sour cream. Its
so good. They put it on eggs, potatoes, meat, cake, or mix it with
water to have a watery yogurt drink. I love the yogurt here, its so

After the eggs Baba Maria fed us pasta with a sweet sugary sauce on
it! I've never had dessert pasta before! It reminded me of elf when he
puts syrup on his spaghetti. It was seriously spaghetti with sugar. I
laughed so hard. It wasn't bad, either.

We taught Violetka about the word of wisdom so her date is moved back
to April now and she's working on quitting smoking.

We had some lessons with some gypsys and those are always interesting.
They agree with everything, just nod and agree with everything you're
saying ( are they even listening?) and then tell you all these crazy
stories about miracles and faith. There's lots of gypsys and they're
fun. Principally, I try to avoid teaching them because I've only heard
unsuccessful things about them. They live in their own section of the
city, and most of them don't work. A lot of them sweep the streets as
jobs. A lot of them walk around looking for cardboard and bottles in
garbage cans. I always see people digging through the garbage bins as
I walk down the street.

This week I read a lot of the October General Conference talks and
they are so good! I love them! When I read them I was reminded so
strongly of God's love for me. I really do have a relationship with
Him and I love Him so much! As I have studied the scriptures the past
couple weeks it stood out to me that happiness is being near to God.
That is happiness. We cannot be truly happy, have a fullness of joy,
until we return to Him. That's why we have to do all we can here to be
ready and worthy to live with Him again. And in the meantime, He's
given us the Holy Ghost to help us and we can feel His love for us
ever day! He is so good to us! I love it so much.

Hopefully next week I'll be all better when I write to you.
I love you!!! Happy Spring!!!

Sister Stenquist

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Miracles every day.

This week was so good!!! Missions are so darn cool.

Our apartment is an orange blok right off the glav, built pretty recently. The kitchen is really new and modern. Sister Shumway's bedroom walls are purple, mine are a lime green, and our kitchen/living room area has pink and fire truck red walls. Its very colorful. Our kitchen has an oven, microwave, washing machine, and we wash our dishes. We have two bathrooms, one with just a toilet and one with a shower.

The kids here are so cute!!! From what I can tell, most of the families with kids are the families who actually have money. We always see moms walking around with really fancy baby carriages that look modern and high-tech. Yeah, the people with the money have the babies. We live right by an elementary school and its fun to see the kids running around. Most families with kids don't want to talk to us, but we keep on trying.

This week we had some really awesome lessons. We met with Violetka at her house (the woman with a baptismal date who we stopped on the street last week). We taught her and her mom about the commandments to pray and read scriptures. Violetka is so cool because she feels the spirit so strongly. When we're talking, sometimes she'll just grab her heart and grin. She's so awesome. While we were talking she gave us about a pound of cheese EACH to eat, plus sausage and bread. I never thought I would eat as much as I did, but the cheese was SO GOOD!!! I love sirene. Its kind of like a mix of feta cheese and mozzarella. Its so yummy!!! I ate almost my whole plate....... As we were living she gave us a CHICKEN. A fat frozen chicken. And she gave it to us with some cheese. WE GOT A CHICKEN?!!! It was so funny and random. She gave it to us because it was Woman's Day, and apparently its a tradition to eat a chicken on woman's day and she had an extra, so she gave it to us. I don't even know how to cook an entire chicken......

I also had the most intense law of chastity lesson of my life. One of the good things about Bulgarians is that they're really blunt and open and they don't feel awkward about things like chastity. In fact, they're probably a little too open about it. Luckily I don't understand a lot of what people say when they're talking about their sins. Anyway, the lesson was way intense because our investigator kept on saying, "I can't." "I'm too weak." "I have faith in Christ but not in myself." And I got so mad! Hopefully with righteous anger...... But I stopped him and I said, "YES YOU CAN. It doesn't matter what YOU can do, with Christ you CAN do it. That's all that matters. If you turn to Christ you can do it." I hate hearing people's complaints as they give up on themselves! Anyways, hopefully he will keep his commitment and continue progressing. We love him a whole lot and he is really awesome. He's just got to turn his faith into action.

Blagoi came back from visiting his family in Varna! I missed him so much! He's the nicest man, going to be baptized on the 30 of March, and I don't think people come more prepared for the Gospel than he did. He LOVES the Church and the Gospel and Christ so much. With all of his heart. And, what is impressive, is that he is so passionate about it that he is sharing it with his whole family!!! He introduced us to his brother-in-law, (who according to Blagoi is also ready to learn the Gospel and be baptized) and his wife and daughter. I have never had an experience like I did at their house. You can never know what we do here as missionaries. Their daughter is 28 and has Rett Syndrome. The parents are so wonderful because while many people in Bulgaria would abandon their daughter because of finances, they love her and care for her. And entire one of their pensions goes to buying just diapers for her. Can you imagine? Half of your income for your daughter's diapers. Unfortunately, no doctor in Bulgaria knows very much about Rett Syndrome or how to help it and so the family is helpless to help their daughter. The past two weeks she's been violently convulsing and they don't know why or what medicine to get to help her. We sang to her hymns and primary songs and while we sang her muscles relaxed and she didn't convulse. When she did convulse I would hold her hand or try to steady her, rub her back and arms to bring her some comfort. Poor girl. I just wanted to heal her! Her mom has a hard time believing in Christ so we are going to help her find faith in Christ. Also, we're going to help them call England for information on how to help her and go to their house and sing to their daughter once a week. It was just a crazy experience to be sitting on the bed with this poor sick girl, singing "Abide with me, Tis Eventide," while seeing the pain and struggle she is going through. I am so grateful to be here as a representative of Christ, to spread peace that is only in the Gospel.

Missionary work is intense. I have never been so aware of the problems that each person has in their life. All of us are so fallen, and so dependent on Christ. I just want to help everyone come to Christ and have peace. I am grateful that I have peace in Christ, because if I didn't, seeing all of these sad lives would break me. But with Christ we can peace, and hope, because everything will be okay. It might not be now, but it will be.

Also, I realized this week how much I want to stay in Stara Zagora forever. Not because of itself, but because of the people here. I don't know how I am ever going to be able to say goodbye to Hristo and Blagoi and Maria and Andrei and Raicho and all of my friends here. They are amazing. They have so much faith. And they love me so much! They take care of me and pray for me and help us however they can. Even when they don't have much money, they send us away with apples, cheese, chickens, prayers and love. I'm pretty sure I should just stay in Stara Zagora my whole mission. I'd be okay with that. :)

I am so glad that spring is coming out at home! I love you and pray for you!

Love, Sister Stenquist

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hurray for Spring!

I have so much more to tell you this week than last week! Huzzah!

I got to work this week! Yay! I'm out of the apartment. I still cough, sometimes a lot, but my energy is back! I actually skipped down the street a couple days ago! Oh man, before I was dragging behind Sister Shumway because I was just so tired. But now that my body's healing I feel much better.

I got some mail this week from Conner (CONGRATULATIONS!!! I'm so excited for you!!!!! Thank you for the letter!!!), Kelsi, Beth, and Pappy. Someone, please tell Pappy, I actually understood his letter this time! And I have to say, it was one of the sweetest most awesome letters I've ever received. Thank you for the mail!!! I'm still waiting on your card, mom, and I'll let you know when I get it.

This week I figured out that I need to tell you more about Bulgaria. So I will try to tell you a bit about how awesome and funny it is.

Some of the architecture is really cool and European, but most of that is all really run down and crumbling. Most of the buildings are more modern, communist, boring buildings. There's lots and lots of apartment bloks everywhere and they're pretty dull and ugly. In every city there's a glav where all the people walk around, you can buy popcorn, there's little vendors, and there's no cars allowed on the street. This is where most missionaries do their contacting. I don't like contacting on the glav because I feel like people are less likely to stop and listen to me. I like contacting on the side streets because people stop more often.  There's less people on the side streets but they're more receptive.

This week had two holidays! March 1st is Baba Marta Day, which means Grandma March. They wear martenitsas--little red and white bracelets or little dolls that they put on their clothes-- and I guess its to celebrate spring. Its a really old holiday and you're supposed to wear your martenitsas until you see a stork, and then you tie the martenitsa onto the nearest blooming tree. I think its so cute. :) I bought some martenitsa dolls and I think they're adorable. Some investigators and English students gave us martenitsas which was so cute of them.

The other holiday was March 3rd--Bulgarian Independence Day from the Turkish yoke. I don't really know how Bulgarians celebrate this. Yesterday they celebrated it with lots of riots in every city. Apparently (I don't read newspapers, we only hear from members and investigators) the Bulgarian prime minister resigned so the government (which doesn't have much power anyway, most things are run by the mafia) doesn't have leadership. So, the past couple weeks there have been lots of riots. I haven't seen any, but some of our investigators and member friends have been going to them. Its kind of exciting.

Bulgarians are pretty nice, I think. I guess Stara Zagora is nicer than most places in Bulgaria, which is why a lot of missionaries are trained here. Most people are very  nice to us. If they don't want to listen, they just say "thank you" and walk on. Sometimes, pretty often, people will stop when we ask, "Can we share a message with you?" and they'll say, "Speak/ Tell me." Out of the people who actually stop and talk to us, quite a few give us their numbers to learn more. Whether or not they show up for their lesson is another thing, but at least they're nice. I think a lot of people are curious and interested, they just don't care enough to actually take the time and effort to come and learn.

There's tons of people without jobs and without money which is really sad. Somehow they manage to survive. Its really cheap and fast to eat out so we do that fairly often. This week I had my first Bulgarian pizza. It was soooooo good! I don't know why, but it just hit the spot and how every day I just want to eat pizza! They have a thick garlic sauce that you can put on top of the pizza. Actually, most Bulgarians put ketchup and mayonnaise on top of their pizza. I just put the garlic sauce.

When we were contacting on the street this week some CRAZY things happened!!! One day, within one hour, three people cried as they talked to us about Christ. They were telling us how hard their lives are, no job, sick family, no money, but they love Christ so much and trust in him a great deal. I realized just how cool it is that as a messenger of Christ I get to talk to complete strangers about the most personal, spiritual things in their lives. It is just amazing to talk to people,  hear about their faith, and share with them the truths of the Gospel. So cool!

We had some way cool lessons this week! I have to tell you about this one because it was SO AMAZING. We went to the glav to meet a man who had made an appointment with us but he didn't show up. We headed back to the Church to finish cleaning. As we were walking on the sidewalk, both Sister Shumway and I randomly stopped in front of this lady and said "hi." "I want to read that book," she said. "The Book of Mormon?" "Yeah, I had that book ten years ago but my friend took it. I want to read it." We asked her if she had time right then to come to the Church and get one and she agreed. We sat down with her to explain it a bit and read the promise in Moroni 10. When we were explaining what we do as missionaries we brought up baptism, how its for remission of sins, and her eyes kind of lit up. She said she felt "light" as she was talking to us (hello, the spirit!!!) which reminded Sister Shumway of some verses in Mosiah 18 where the people enter the waters of Mormon to be baptized. We read some verses about the desires of our hearts to serve and follow Christ. The last verse said something like, "When the people heard these things they clapped their hands for joy because this was the desire of their hearts." She looked up at us and said, "This is my desire!" So we set a baptismal date and got her address so we can go visit her again. WHAT!??? When does that happen?! Never!!!! Holy smokes, it was the coolest thing EVER!!!!! The whole time Sister Shumway and I were just grinning, with confused eyebrows, and laughing. What in the world just happened! How did we know to talk to that woman? We didn't, but somehow we did because God wanted us to. Man oh man, we'll see what happens with her!

I will think of other things about Bulgaria to write to you next time. Do you have any curiosities about Bulgaria?

I love you! Thanks for your love!! Keep smiling--it shares the Gospel without words!!!

Sister Stenquist