Monday, February 24, 2014

Some investigators, holiday bracelets/dolls, mall, grocery store.

Hey everyone, another week down. It's interesting because I've noticed with the members here in ..., they have started getting more comfortable with me and try to talk to them. When that happens it just makes me think when will I ever learn this language. I've noticed it's easier to pick out words from missionaries speaking Bulgarian than the members because just the way they speak it. We end up just laughing because I can't really say anything.
There is a guy that we met named ... (... - English pronounce). It was really cool. One of our lessons fell through, yea you have to get used to that, and the person that we were going to meet came to us in person instead of calling us saying that he wasn't going to meet with us. That never happens so it felt nice. Anyway, ... was waiting at the church because he was our member that was going to help us with the lesson. We met him at the church and he brought his friend .... We talked and ended up teaching him the first lesson. It was really cool because the way he spoke he was sincere and was really interested. We ended up have 2 lessons in one day unplanned with him. He was having a hard time finding work. My companion promised him that he'll find a job based off keeping some commitments. A week later he left, he was originally from a different city so he returned. He found a job here in .... It's not the highest paying but it's better than nothing. He returned to his hometown to look again one last time, but is going to return in 2 weeks if he doesn't find anything because that is when his other job starts. It was cool how unplanned, and how prepared he was to receive the lesson. He progressed faster than any of our other investigators in the shortest amount of time. I can't wait until he returns. ... is 19ish and ... is 20ish I think. Not to sure, just a note.
Another investigator that we are meeting with is a guy named .... He is from Turkey and is Muslim. When he got older, he's 25ish, he thought that every religion has there own believes and he wants to explore a lot of them. He actually went around asking people about being Christian but to his surprise he got the respond of their Christians but don't really do any Christian beliefs. We found him on the street and he said he didn't speak Bulgarian at all. He's going to college here learning to be a Primary Teacher. He relies on English for school. We gave him a English Book of Mormon and are waiting to get a Turkish Book of Mormon for him but the only to get that Turkish book is by going to Sofia or have someone coming from Sofia to .... That doesn't happen to often so it might be a while. When we have lessons with him, we spend time just reading the Book of Mormon and we explain it simpler because he doesn't know all the English bigger words. It's kind of fun just talking to him. I've had 3 different lessons in English. It's weird because I actually understand unlike normal, and still have a hard time talking because I don't know what to say and also have to think about using big words because the English speakers part of the reason they want to meet is to practice English in a discussion with us.
Every Tuesday we have a English class that we teach for a finding tool. It's weird because the Bulgarians that we are teaching the language is flipped. I know what's going on and they don't. It's just a funny thought.
... is our other investigator. She is originally from Russia, and I'm not sure if she speaks Russian or Bulgarian or kind of both. Either way I can't understand here ha ha. She gets sick often because her health isn't the best. My companion and I only met with her twice because she has been sick. She has a friend that is a member invite her to meet us. It's hard to meet with her but most of the time she comes to scripture reading night and we have a lesson with her after words if she is well enough to come to the scripture reading.
Apparently in March, I don't know if it's technically a holiday, but people give bracelets that are red throughout all of march. If people offer the missionaries or Elders (Sisters can wear a few but not a ton) these bracelets we wear them and then take them off after we're done talking to the person or with the person. It's kind of cool the tradition. Everyone in the street is selling those bracelets and red dolls to. I'll be interesting to see how it works with the March around the corner.
My companion and I went to the mall before emailing. The mall is just like the one in America. My companion said it makes him miss home because he always hung out at the malls. I've never done that but the similarity between America and here is just funny. We got pizza (the slices are huge but thin) and did our grocery shopping there. Yea... I guess the grocery store is a little different being in the mall. It's not the one we usually go to but the only grocery store that we go to is called CBA. I don't know if that is the only chain or if there are other ones. I haven't seen any other grocery stores. The carts (just the CBA in the mall) there made you pay 1 lev coin to get unlocked from the other carts. When your done with it you lock it up and it gives you the 1 lev coin back. It's not electric mechanics for the coin just there has to be a coin or the lock in the spot of a lock the whole time. Love you all, thanks for all of the updates at what is happening at home.
Love стареишина гиин

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Long shot of the Castle/Fort. I really like this photo, especially just zooming into it to look at more detail.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Surviving Bulgaria

First off, Happy Birthday Mom. I can't believe that time is already here. After looking at the date realizing I wouldn't be able to email you until today. 

Anyway missionary work is a lot different than what I have thought. Before, the thought of keeping members strong didn't mean much. That is completely different than what I have thought. There are 2 members that are the same age as me that I love. There name are ... and .... It's really to have lessons with member present with the numbers because they practically come to all of the lessons.

... is spiritually just awesome. He has a little tablet that he actually uses as a phone. He always play church music. "If you could high to Kolab" hymn is a favorite here. It's funny because out of all the hymns that is actually my favorite one. He has some versions of it that sounds really cool because instead of a piano is has a lot of instruments in it.
This last Sunday we had the branch president from a different area come in to do business with us (update on investigators, collect tithing slips, other things but I couldn't understand him :) ) and it's just weird because we don't have a branch president, just a group leader.
Right now I have 3 investigators. One of them actually left town for 2 weeks for work. One of the investigators are actually speaks Russian. I don't know why but I tried to talk to her and yea I basically told her I spoke a tiny Bulgarian and didn't understand the rest. The group got silent and was watching me so it was just funny and emphasizing.
Contacting or Street Teaching, that we like to call it, is interesting. I'm still freaked out to talk to random people, let alone them speaking a different language, because It's just something I've never done. It's getting easier to stop people but I still have a hard time doing it.
The language is coming better. It's definitely testing my patience. There are times were I'll be down but just keeping going. Instead of the first couple days where everything said was just mush, I can recognize a few words when spoken by people. It's frustrating because I can pick a few words but can't put the words together to make sentences. But, I know with time it will come. This last week went by really really fast surprising. Before I know it, hopefully time will pass and I'll know the language :).
One of the things that I liked here is called дюнерл. It's like shredded beef I think and fries with sauce on it. It's really good. My companion is actually a really good cook. He's made banana bread, homemade pizza and a lot more yummy things. I'm trying to learn all I can from him. He is like the dream missionary for me and I hope I can become as good as him.
For the beds in my apartment, it's actually 3 beds. 1 big one and 2 small ones. Only my companion and I live in that apartment. There are 2 other Elders in .... They have a different apartment in a different part of the city. My companion and I cover the northern part of the city and they take the bottom half. The reason why we are in different apartments is because the rules for missionaries in this country is to not really be in groups because we don't want to leave the impression that we are meeting like mafia. Yea, rules are there for a reason. The only time we can technically be with the other companionship is when we meet at the church for meetings/church.
I also wanted to mention how there is a lot of graphety. Sorry I don't know how to spell that word. It's kind of cool to see all of the artwork and some buildings have amazing artwork that is just part of the building. 
It's cool to see all of the photos of Grandma and Grandpa 50th anniversary. It's such a special time. Here in Bulgaria, the majority of people just "live together." There's no point in being married here. It's sad to learn that the culture is like that. Also, there are a lot of lessons that fall through. It's kind of annoying but we always have backup plans. There isn't that much time to waste with the missionary schedule.
So after emailing last week we went to .... Wow it was amazing. I guess you can google it and look up the history. It's pretty interesting. I'm sending some photos. I still don't know why the computer won't show the pictures that I'm sending so hopefully my guesses are right. It's basically a fortress and has a monastery. There are a lot of ruins but there are restoring parts at a time. During the night time they have huge lights lighting it up. It's cool because everything there was made out of stone. The walls, buildings, the roads. It was a really neat thing to experience.
 Also the money is really colorful. The size of the bill is increased when the amount is also increased. The 1 Lev is actually a coin instead of a bill. It feels like monopoly money because it's so colorful and the value of each bill doesn't feel like its worth that much just because it's not American bills and I'm not used to it.
There's also some buildings that are just abandoned. There's a huge building close to where I live and it's under construction. Well.. it was abandoned. It's just a building with walls and nothing in it. It's weird. Another thing that is interesting about here is peoples deaths. They post pictures of them and say when they passed away on doors and garages. Bulgarians also after 5, 10, 20 (for an example of how many years)years after the death of the person they post a picture saying how long ago they died from the present date and do it just for the memory of the person. It's kind of cool how that's the way to keep memory of them.
When we went Tracking, the elevators that we go in don't have a door that closes so you can see the wall moving while going up or down. There are a lot of buildings that are like that. Also the elevators are really small, they can only fit 4 people and that is pushing it.
Life is different. Most of the time I just stand there and I guess look pretty :) ha ha because I have no idea what is being said. Sometimes random people will talk to me and I just give them a blank stare. I actually had one of the members (a grandma) grabbing my face during scripture reading with the members on Tuesday I believe. Yea that was weird.
Another thing is it's really hard to type in Cerillics (don't know how to spell it). The MTC keyboard has every sound in similar spots and here it's completely mixed up. Also if I could get the knowledge of where ancestors came from also that would be good. I feel bad for not knowing but some people asked and I just guessed because I have no idea. Like I said before I should know and feel bad not knowing. I love all of you.
Love Elder Green

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Monday, February 10, 2014

Goodbye America, Hello Bulgaria

Wow.... and to think that it was late July that I got my mission call here, and now I'm really here. My world just changed. Life in Bulgaria is completely different than that of home. It was true when I said that I'm going to be in a society where everything is not understood. Actually it's more like the people and partly the signs. In Sofia (I was there for a day and night) there was a lot of English mixed into the stores and signs. I little bit here in ..., but not nearly as much.

 The members here are so awesome, I love each one of them but still have yet to understand any of them except for one. His name is ... (... how to pronounce it). He's ... years old. There are actually just 10 members here, so it's not a branch or a ward but just called a group. It's humbling to see that here. I respect the fact that they are part of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. It would be hard to have no one in the ward or group.
Bulgaria sure isn't the same as America. The roads are super skinny so half the time we walk in the middle of the street (or that is what if feels like) until a car comes. The roads weren't designed for the traffic of today. Veliko Turnovo is built on a hill also. The mission in this city is known for the many stairs that we go up and down throughout the day. The buildings are built up because there is no space to expand. Some buildings look the same as back home but others looked completely trashed on the outside. It's weird to see. It's also warmer here to, I just remember it was freezing at the MTC in the morning but it's been really warm here, so it's nice as long as I don't have my coat on or have to carry it.
The food here has also been really good. I had a thing called денер (diner how it is pronounce). It's like a soft shell taco. It's hard to explain. Maybe you can look it up on Google. I should have took a picture of it. It was weird shopping for food earlier, I felt like a lost kid and my companion was leading me everywhere. Turns out, when you use plastic bags you have to pay .33 Lev for each bag used. The money here is really colorful here to. The coins are called стотинки (stotEnkE) and are in .01, .02, .05, .10, .20, and 1.00. Lev is 2.00, 5, 10, 20, 50, 100. I'll have to take a picture to show everyone.
The apartment is huge. I thought it was going to be a lot smaller. My companion Elder ... said it's one of the nicest ones in Bulgaria. There's 2 bathrooms (it's just Elder ... and I in the apartment too) a room we don't use, bedroom with 4 beds in it, a kitchen and living room. We have a deck that can see the whole city it feels like. It's amazing.
Elder ... is the best missionary I've ever met. He doesn't hesitate when we're supposed to be doing something. He knows the gospel so well and knows how to say it in a way that is simple. I feel bad because during lessons he goes solo pretty much but I can tell that he doesn't struggle at all. I try to help but now knowing the language really doesn't help. He has lived in South Korea and Germany I think. He recently lived in Arizona too. His family travels a lot based off his dads work. He has also been in Bulgaria for only 5 months. Him and 1 other are training 5 months here. I could never imagine that I could train a missionary here in the country in that amount of time being here. I have to keep telling myself that I'll learn the language because sometimes it feels like I'm never going to learn the language.
Being here as a Bulgarian, it's hard to make a living. The majority of people live day by day. In Sofia there was a man digging through a trash bin. It's sad to see but at the same time there's nothing you can really do. A member yesterday I learned is an orphan. He works at a restaurant that is under construction or something on that line. He's been working but hasn't been paid and can't work at the present moment. We had a lesson with a member and he was there also but was really down. I wish I could have understood him because all I know is based off my companion telling me. We have a lot of lessons with members to help keep them strong in the gospel. They need all the support they can get because it's not easy.
Church here is only 2 hours long, 1 hour for sacrament and another for class. All of the members have class together. I just tried to figure out what the book said that we were reading. It was Principals of the Gospel. It was about Adam and Eve. I didn't get far but class went by really fast because I was focusing on it so much. I also led the music and introduced myself in the little Bulgarian I know. The church is basically the size of kitchen and living room (In American Fork home to get you the idea of the church building size.) It's weird to have home in America compared to my home in the apartments that I live in at the MTC and here in Bulgaria. It sounded weird to me. I guess my definition of home is changing.
The time change is also weird to think about. I haven't really thought of it. Jet lag was really messed up for the first day or 2 here but adjusted because I stood up for a long time on the plane to try to leave according to the schedule here in Bulgaria. I pretty much stood up all night to adjust to sleeping for the night time here. It feels like the MTC with time. It feels like I just got here but the last 6 days makes me feel like I've been here for a month already. Being a missionary, it's the best way to have the definition of time changing just like home to I guess. When it's said that God time is different than ours maybe it's similar feeling. Just a weird thought I guess.
Time here is also in military time, or the majority of digital timers. It's also a difference here in Bulgaria. Also the showers is the whole bathroom. One bathroom has a tub but it's my companions bathroom (which I don't know how that worked out.) My bathroom has a shower head that just showers onto the floor with a drain in the middle of the room.

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Oh and I found a picture advertising gravity which I think is funny. I don't know how to look at the photos on the computers here so I send random ones. The gravity one I actually didn't mean to send ha ha

Monday, February 3, 2014

Day before leaving

Here some photos, today is like a half P-day so I can email a tiny pit. I'm so excited to talk on the phone with the family tomorrow!! By the way, this picture of everyone tags in the zone, was my Idea. Also the temple reflection in the tags is pretty cool

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Us and the teachers. 

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Zone and Companions