Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Straveite!!! Happy New Years!!!

Oh, where to start?

So Christmas morning we had "breakfast" at Snegina's apartment. She lives in this tiny apartment with NO heating. It was so cold!!! We sat on her bed together and ate biscuits in a hot drink. The biscuits are like.....hard crackers pretty much. She's so sweet though. Maybe a little crazy. but really sweet and SO TALKATIVE and really loves the Church. But she doesn't really have any friends or family around so it was good to visit with her.

For lunch we went to Mirena's apartment and she had made a delicous meal out of the food we had bought for  her on Christmas eve. We also brought a present of stickers and candy for her kids and they were so cute. When I left her house the little girl, Vili, gave me a kiss on the cheek. It was so sweet!!!

Then for dinner we went to Maria's. She is an angel!!! Her kids don't live around here so she invited 7 missionaries over for dinner. she had the table set all beautifully and then she fed us a SEVEN COURSE DINNER!!!! AHH!!! It was sooo good but I was sooo full. We ate all of it. We thought we were going to burst after course 4, but somehow we made it to the end. She is such a sweetheart, I love her. She was baptized last year and we really are trying to get her to go to the temple to do the temple work for her husband and be sealed with him.

This month Sister Shumway and I have THREE BAPTISMS scheduled!!! Crazy!!! Hopefully they'll all actually happen.

First, there's Andre. He is SO COOL. One of the coolest people I've ever met. He's always been on this spiritual quest to come closer to God and he's really sensitive to spiritual things. When he first met Sister Shumway and her companion on the street he told them they were generators of light. In every lesson I am just blown away with his understanding of things, even though he's only known the missionaries for a month or so. He was so prepared for the message of the gospel. I am so excited for him!!! He's getting baptized on the 9th!!!!! Pray for him if you can because even though he's so ready, he's had to quit smoking this week, so he needs all the strength he can get.

Second there's Xristo. I love Xristo!!! He has so much faith!!! He's an older man with a brustly gray mustache and he's so nice. He brought us chocolate for New Years yesterday. He has tons of questions about God and the gospel, but he has faith that all his questions will be resolved in time. He has great faith and he knows that this is the true church, so he's going to be baptized on the 12th. We still need to teach him all the commandments, though, and I think he'll accept them all. I am so excited for him. He is going to be such a great strength to our branch.

Then there's Raicho. Raicho is the man who was supposed to get baptized in December but backed out. The reasons why he backed out are pretty lame. So we're trying to help him have more faith and charity. I really hope he sticks to his commitment to be baptized this time. I hope we can figure out how to help him in every way we can.

And with these three baptisms and their confirmations and priesthood ordinations we'll double the number of worthy priesthood holders in the branch!!!! Which means that we'll have a bulgarian branch president, a bulgarian bless the sacrament, and a bulgarian passing the sacrament!!! So exciting!!!!

because you see, right now, missionaries pretty much do everything in  Stara Zagora. I don't know what they would do without us. We clean the church, set up church, pick up after Church, call people to remind them about Church, we are the only support system because relief society and priesthood really isn't set up, and we pretty much do everything. there are two callings in the ward right now--branch president and relief society president, but they don't have anything set up and all the other members are afraid of receiving callings. but stara zagora can't be strong and grow until they have callings and start strengthening each other!!!!! we're working on this.

We had a couple other really cool lessons this week!!! We were going door to door in one apartment building wishing people Happy Holidays and giving them the Living Christ. At one door a young man invited us in and so we went into the kitchen where his three friends were ( now my coat smells like smoke). They're all from Iraq and Syria!!!!! And they're all Muslim, so they were asking us (somewhat synically) what we think of Jesus Christ. We told them about Jesus Christ and then I started teaching them the Plan of Salvation. They thought it was really interesting. And one of them really wants to meet with us again to learn more about the Plan of Salvation!!! I'm so excited to meet with him again!!! When we were talking to them, I figured that they probably wouldn't open their hearts to Jesus Christ at the time, but that the Plan of Salvation would be good for them to hear and help them open their hearts to our message. I am so excited to teach them. They would never be able to learn about the Gospel in their homes, but since they're students here, we met them, and now we get to teach them!!! Another miracle, we just happen to have  a Book of Mormon in Arabic in our apartment that we can give him. How crazy is that! Coincidence? I think not!!!! Miracles!!!

There are seriously miracles every day and I love it. I LOVE IT SO MUCH!!! One woman had called us requesting a Book of Mormon so one night we went to look for her apartment, even though we didn't have a map. Somehow, we walked right to her apartment building. It was awesome. But the door to the building was locked. So, we folded our arms in the parking lot and prayed to know what to do next. Within one or two minutes after the prayer, a man and woman came around the building and unlocked the door to go to their apartment. And we found the woman's apartment and she was so awesome!!! She invited us into her house, fed us yummy food in her kitchen, and we taught her the Restoration. She was so sweet. Some Bulgarians are really closed off to the message and don't want to read, don't want to find out, just want to talk and show you why they're right and won't open their hearts an inch. But this woman was so open. She asked us what she needed to do, and we explained that she needed to read and pray. And she wants to meet with us again!!! I hope that she keeps her heart open, that the Book of Mormon touches her soul, and that she continues to grow in faith. She is wonderful.

I am healthy and happy. Sometimes I feel so small here, and it is so tempting to think that I can't do anything or be as good as other missionaries. But I tell myself no! I can do it! I am here because God wants me HERE. And I can do it. I miss family and friends, everyone I love, but I'm trying really hard to not let that get me down. Actually, it just pushes me to want to work harder. I did not leave everyone I love for nothing. I made the sacrifice because I wanted to bring people to Jesus Christ, and by golly I'm going to do it.

I love you all so much. God is so great!!! He is a God of miracles!!! Some people here are so discouraged because they have nothing. NOTHING. They're barely have food to feed their families, and are about to get kicked out of their apartments. But when they tell me of the their troubles I don't cry. I feel like I should feel so sad and cry but I can't!!! All I can see is them dressed in white in the Celestial Kingdom free of all the burdens of life. I know they'll get there someday. And yeah, their life here is hard. But it will only be a moment. God is so good. We need to have faith in Him. I pray all the time for greater faith in Him and in His plan and His timing. I don't think I'll ever have enough faith.

I love you. Happy New Years!!! This is going to be a crazy new year of miracles!!!! I am so excited!!!!!

Sister Stenquist

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