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

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