Okay, so guess how much God loves me? SO MUCH!!!! I've been thinking that I wish I could go into Sofia for passport work before my birthday so that I could get mail and see if there are any birthday cards for me. And guess what? I'm going in today to tomorrow!!! And then I'll be in little Stara Zagora for my birthday with any mail that has come for me. :) That is how much God loves me, he sent me to Bulgaria for Christmas, and he's sending me my letters for my birthday. I've already got Jessica's card but perhaps there will be more in Sofia.....
Facts and figures for Benjamin. There are 3 zones in Bulgaria and then I guess Turkey is a zone. I am in Zone 2. I have only seen my zone leaders at zone conference. My district leader is Elder Hoi, he's Chinese from Canada, and yeah he's way cool. He loves the work which is awesome. This week we got five lessons with members and five without, which is the mission goal for each week. Sometimes we only get 8 or 9 lessons though. This week we got 120 successfull approaches!!! That's when you talk to someone on the street, teach and testify of a principle, and give them a pamphlet with our address and number on it. 120!! Yeah!!! And, we beat our previous record and got 20 receives this week! Hopefully these numbers will turn into actual lessons and progressing investigators....we'll see. And, the mission had 15 baptisms in January. Yeah!!! Hoot hoot!
Bulgaria has lots of handmade lace things which are pretty cool. I also love these baba socks--socks knit by old Babas and sold on the street on cardboard boxes. I've bought two pairs, and I want to buy more. Bulgaria also has lots of rose oil, chocolate, painted plates, and other random things.
I have two funny stories.
First, in the chapter THE BOOK OF MORMON inthe Bulgarian Preach my Gospel there is this line that is so funny!!! In Bulgarian it says "The Book of Mormon is a trampoline to revelation." Did they translate that right? I don't know.....I really want to use that line in a lesson or on the street though. Ha!
Second, I want to tell you about One-toothed Charlie. We don't know his real name........but he's known as One-toothed Charlie. Because he has one tooth right in the middle of his upper jaw, and I think that's it. But he's got this huge grin! He smiles so big with his one little tooth sticking out! Oh I love him! He's slightly crazy.....but he comes to Church every once and a while. One day Sister Shumway and I saw him on the street and when we saw him we smiled and said "zgravei!!!" And he smiled so big at us!!! He was so happy to see us!!! He had just bought some apples and mandarines and started pulling them out to give them to us. So sweet! This poor man has nothing, is crazy, I don't even know if he has a place to live, but he wanted to share his fruit with us. Oh little Charlie. Next time I see him I am getting a picture with him.
Wednesday is my birthday! Yay! And yeah, I think you should have a party in my honor with me gone. :) Take a moment of silence while the candles on the cake melt away, and think of me. And then eat the cake. Ha ha, that would be awesome. On Wednesday there is district conference so we'll have a little party with baklava for me. Because I LOVE baklava. Oh my gosh it is sooooooo good!!! I eat it all the time. It is my favorite desert in the world. I don't think baklava in America would even be that good, but here it is HEAVENLY!!!! Oh I love it. Then, we have some lessons lined up and hopefully people will show. And then that night we have English class which is always fun. Thank you for your love and thoughts! I'm excited to open my present!
On Sundays Sister Shumway and I teach primary. It is kind of hard and stressful because we have two hours to plan out, not even knowing if any of the kids will come, and we don't have time to plan it well. So usually we end up with an hour of time left and no idea what to do with the kids. So I made some bean bags!!! Well, rice bags. Two of the bags Aunt Annie gave me came in little miniature bags in super cute fabric. I filled them with some rice, and sewed them up to make these perfect little square adorable bean bags that we can play with with the kids. (thank you Aunt Annie!!!) I came up with the idea because I thought, "What would mom do with these kids to keep them quiet and entertained? She would bring bean bags!" So I made some. I always think of what mom would do in the primary class and I've come up with some genius solutions based on what she would do. For example, one day the kids were way loud and screaming and we didn't have anything else for them to do. So I remembered how mom would play button-button-whos-got-the-button with us and I tought them the game. It was perfect! Because its quiet!!! And they loved it. So, thank you mommy, for your wise genius. You've taught me more than you know!
This week I really learned how important it is to be kind to everyone we are around. Because EVERYONE has problems. Most people have huge big problems, bigger than any I've faced. When I first meet people, they seem normal and I don't know what problems they have. But as a missionary I get to know people's deep problems--depression, sin, weaknesses, poverty--because missionaries are the ward council, the visiting teachers, the home teachers, everything. I need to be better at being extra kind to everyone I meet. Because everyone of us is a child of God who can inherit a heavenly throne. That's some really great worth right there! And along with all this divine worth, everyone has tremendous trials and struggles. Its just crazy the problems people have. I don't know how God takes care of us all and doesn't just destroy the earth. But we're here to have joy and the best way to do that is to choose to be kind and cheerful and help other people. I've been losing my patience with some people on the streets and I need to be kinder and more charitable. For example, I got kind of annoyed with this drunk man who talked to us for 40 minutes, wasting our time, telling us that we're stupider than him and we don't know Bulgarian well enough to do our job. Yeah, I got kind of annoyed with him. But I could have been more charitable and I'm working on it. I can always be more charitable.
I love you all!