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

Monastery



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