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

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