Monday, June 30, 2014

Wow... What a week...

I think out of all of the weeks in the mission, this has been one of the most busy, and with some of the biggest things I have seen here in the mission field. This Thursday everyone in Zone 3, there is 3 zones in Bulgaria plus 1 in Turkey for the mission as a whole, went to Varna to help with some of the clean up there. What an experience with actually helping with a natural disaster.

I think when the actual storm took place was around Friday of last week. Let's just say there is still a lot of work that is needed to be done there. The group split in half and I got to be with my MTC group again except for Elder .... I think I've never done so much physical work in one day. I think the only other time I used so much energy in the day is Ragnar, but with Ragnar you don't get that much sleep. Anyway, the group I was with all we did was clean a basement. There was actually a car that got sucked into it, and yes, it's not a grage. It got in by knocking down the wall of the building. The mud when we started was basically an inch below my knees.

We were there for 2 days total, so worked all day saturday with proselyting at 5-9 at night then the same for saturday except the proselyting changed for riding the bus back to .... We dug all day and hit the bottom of the ground at the end of the day the first day, then the 2nd day the height of the mud and water was back to the same level. All of the water came from the seperation of the mud. We had lines of people passing buckets to a huge bucket that trucks would deliver, and people skooping and digging when the water would be to low to scoop. We also helped with a store that well... the basement is completly ruined. Things on the top floor was fine but yea... it was a mess. We did the same thing and my group was really determined and we got a big bucket filled in about a 30 minutes. It was tough work, and my body for sure feels that work the day after each work. It's also been harder to wake up both morning of those working days (physically) because I'm not used to working so hard.

I wonder if we'll have the oppurtunity to travel there again to help. I loved it. It's also sad. Where we were working there were rows of huge trucks taking out dabre (don't know if spelled right) and branches, mud, and I'm pretty sure they were knocking buildings down that were unsalvagable. The main place where we actually took all of our breaks, and yes the only time we took breaks was when we didn't have a bucket filled, used to be a restraunt. It explained why there was a tiled floor on the side of the road. There wasn't any walls at all so you wouldn't be able to notice.

With that cleaning up that happened I had the choice of either going to a baptism, or staying there. Yes... ... got baptized! It's the first baptism that I got to help with, but still didn't go even though I could have. It was hard choice for me and even now it bugs me a little that I missed it but not nearly as much as when the choice was being made. It also didn't help that he got baptized in a river in the town. It would have been really fun to say that the first baptism of a Bulgarian I saw would have been ... in the river. I figured, I'm here serving a mission, when people are baptized that is fantastic. If I could be helping with service in Varna with the disaster or watch the baptism, I felt like I could be more effective in Varna. They could use the help from anyone they could get there hands on. Like I said, it bugs me a little but I'm still happy with the choice.

I don't know if I'll be able to send photos this time because my companion and I switched computers because he wanted to send photos and the one he was using which is the one I'm using now doesn't allow the normal way to send photos. Hopefully that made sense ha ha.

It's also crazy to think that today is the last day of June. Before I know it, the summer time is going to be over. Time flys by as a missionary. The mission is truly short.

The tempeture well is hot. ... is actually known to be the hottest city in Bulgaria and also being the coldest during the winter time. I'm used to the heat but still sometimes have that yuck feeling from working the whole day in it. Also masquitos here are terrible. The city actually have trucks going around every now and then spraying a chemical to help with the misquitos. It totally makes a different. Usually I'll be getting bites then that happens and it'll be a while until I start getting bites again then usually the day after I see one of those trucks. It's kind of interesting.

I want to share my testimony on the Book of Mormon. Wow... I don't even know if I can express it. Before the mission, yea I tried to read a little maybe every few days and then some weeks everyday then back into the bad habits of saying to myself, "I don't like reading anyway." But... know I just don't have enough time to read it. I want to do certain notes and mark in certain ways that will take to much time to do. There was a challenge to finish it today, but unfortunatly that's not happening for me. I switched half way to just reading instead of marking a ton in a Book of Mormon I got at the MTC and also with notes. I got really behind because of that but I'm still close. I'm currently in Mormon 8 right now. I'm hoping to have it done within the next 2 weeks. Also, my desire for wanting to read the other scriptures, Doctorine and Covenants, The Bible, Old and New Testaments, and Pearl of Great Price is actually really strong. I wish I would have been reading on my own during Seminary. Seminary was fantastic but I feel like I didn't contain anything based off my own arrogance. Anyway, it is truly does contain the fullness of this great Gospel.

Anyway I'm running out of time, and sorry I haven't answered all of the questions. I'll try to answer them next week and try to remember. If I never answer certain questions in emails, keep asking and eventually I'll get to them. There was just a lot to write about in this email. I love all of you so very much.

Love Elder Green

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Monday, June 23, 2014

Crazy end of the Week

This week has been a crazy week or at least the last part of it. It was really special we had a mission conference in Sofia with President/Sister Lawrence. President Lawrence is part of the 70. All I can say about what I learned is wow wow and wow. The words of Gathering Israel has completly changed for me. The thought of general things about the Plan of Salvation has also deepened. It was a mind exploding learning experience. We also learned more about the lost 10 tribes and also the tribes of Israel more. When I fill like I have learned so much, I feel like I'm at the tip of the iceberg. The gospel is simple as a whole, but can go so deep where when you learn of the deepness I guess, your perspective of the gospel changes also. Like I said, it was mind blowing. I was in Sofia for 2 nights and a day for that conference also.

Since I have been here, when the summer time came or the transition from cold to hot, it has been raining a ton. I asked my companion, Elder ..., how often it rained here in Ruse, and he said it averaged 1th a week. ... it has rained sometimes 3 times a week for a couple of weeks in a row and even Bulgarians who we talked to during that time said it was a lot more than normal. I did hear about ... having that disaster. We actually got a phone call from President Wilstead, about a day or 2 after getting back from the conference about that. We almost went to ... to go help with the disaster. But... when we called all of the transport places (Bus and Train) we had to leave within 10 minutes when we got the call or in the middle of the night or the morning after. That wasn't conveniant for us to go with those options, so we ended up staying. I think it would have been a day activity if it would have went through, I hope everything is ok in ... now, I'm sure the missionaries are extra busy with that on there hands.

I also learned from talking with my Old Companion, Elder ... at the conference, about how the investigators in ... are doing. The person named ... that was so close to baptism when I was there, actually got his date moved up to being done on this Saturday. It was originally planned for next week. He should be completly ready this time because he learned already about the interview questions from the last time I was there. I'm so excited for him. Also, I may have the oppurtunity to watch the baptism by going back to ... for a day. I would love that to see the baptism and also to see the members again.

Today, we got a text from President Wilstead talking about baptisms for this month. So far the mission goal is 10 for this month and so far this is only 4. It basically explained that anyone that is potential ready to try to aim for them to have a baptism this week. There is a family that was dropped but recently Elder ... and I started teaching again. They have been taught everything and we had a lesson with them that went really well. One of the members of that family may be ready for baptism, and we didn't really consider it before now because of that text. It's something that my companion and I are aiming for, so this weekend is going to be busy. It's an exciting time.

Elder ... and I went on splits again when we came back to town because my companion and Elder ... companion, Elder ... (from Idaho) had interviews with President Wilstead. Interviews happen every few months by the way. It was fun to serve with him again. Also with the conference, I saw my whole MTC group. That is probably the only time that is going to happen in the mission besides when we finally go home. Also, I think I forgot to mention this but Elder ... (very first companion) is training right now. It wasn't originally planned but it changed with the Visas going through that were expected not to go through.

Sounds like it's a busy time at home, or at least doing fun things. I'm happy that Lexie was able to go to Coranna house in Oregon. It was a beutiful place to run in with all of the nature when I went there for Nationals. Also a lot of rain, which is funny because of what I said earlier. Also with Kaylie and Allie fishing with grandpa, always a fun thing. I wouldn't mind doing a little bit of that when I get home. And also hiking in the canyons. Since I got into Bulgaria, I decided I love being in nature and it's not to hard to do that here or at least in ... it wasn't. It's harder with the big city but there are still parks around. Yea... I love ....

I can't believe Luke's farewell is coming up. I have been keeping pretty good contact with Benson. Not to often do we email each other, but when we do it is great. I probably email Blake the most out of all the friends that I do email which I love also.

The new city is a little bit hard because started out with no investigators at all. It felt like when I first got in country in ... , but things are looking really good with what has happened this last week. There are also some members that I'm already good friends with. One of there names is Bro. .... I still have a hard time pronouncing it right in Bulgarian ha ha. I can fake a rolling "R" sound but can't hold it. Maybe eventually I'll get it down ha ha.

For Preperation days, we haven't done to much. I just want to explore but it doesn't sound like there is to much to explore or at least that I don't know of. There are some beutiful places that we always pass by that are beutiful based off structures and architecture of buildings. It's a place called "Center". There are a ton and I mean of ton of people there during the day. I got some pictures during the morning run. Yes, my companion and I run a tiny loop around center each morning. It only takes 10-15 minutes to do so at least it's a little bit of running. I love excercise time in the morning now because of it. Before, I well... didn't like excerising on a mat for a hour.

Anyway, I could go on more but running out of time. I love all of you and hope everything goes well with "normal" life.

Love Elder Green (Yes... I remembered to sign it this time)

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Monday, June 16, 2014

Life in the new city

Hey everyone, it's weird to think that I'm in my 2nd city now and Wow, I didn't realize how small ... is. Instead of being in a small town surronded by forests, I'm in a huge city. There area 4 Elders and 2 Sisters here, so a total of 6 missionaries. Another thing that is kind of exciting is Elder ... (from Finland in my group) is serving here in the same city.

Before, it was originally planned for him to go to another city than ... and his companion. Originally planned they weren't going to be here. The reason why is because it was believed that the new group that just came into country was thought that they would be delayed due to Visa problems. But, it went through ok so that's why the extra 2 missionaries are here. They got a call on Monday night saying they were changing plans on where they were going, and that didn't sound fun to me.

Like I have said ... is a really big city. Also the apartment that I'm staying at is on the 12 floor. I can see Romania from my window and the river that seperates the 2 countries. It's cool to see. My companions name is Elder ... if I didn't mention it. He is super smart in the Bible and just in general. It seems like everyone I'm put with is one of the smarter people in country. I like him, but when I arrived the apartment was a disaster, in my opinion. Ugh... ha ha. I guess I got used to haveing a clean or mostly clean apartment with my past companions. I'm hoping that today we can "get things in order." I guess I got a good habit of being cleaner with general living.

The people that I'm working with right now in ... isn't much. It seems like all of our investigators are ones that live in the other Elders area, so we have to "hand them over" which also includes a family of 4. I've never met them either. Basically my companion said "We're starting over" with Investigators. That made me sad. I loved working with the people back in .... I still pray and hope they'll all progress.

Another thing about my companion is he likes to cook everything in the kitchen and basically controll it. I'm not picky and I'm fine with it but he does cook, well... different things that are ok. I've liked other food that past companionships have made. I've only been here for half a week, so I'll see what happens with regular food I guess.

The church in ... is a branch. The building is a lot bigger than .... There are also 25-30 members. It's also self reliant or can run without missionaries, which ... well... heavily relied on missionaries for everything to run smooth. Church is also 3 hours instead of 2 hours like the other city also. I really liked church, even if I'm still lost in it. I also got to help set some people apart for callings. It was a really neat experience. Another funny thing, 2 of the people that were members I've seen in ... during Sunday. It was good to see them again, and I look forward to getting to know them better.

It's defianitly an adjustment to the city. I don't know where anyone or anything is. Also having it be a "big city" doesn't help, but learning will come in time, but I still don't like being in that feeling of being lost.

Another thing that happened is the other Elders are both new to the city, so they have no idea where anything is. At least I have an experienced companion. Because of that, we went on companion exchanges. I got to serve with Elder ... for a day. That was interesting because both of our Bulgarian language is well... not the best. We actually had a family laugh at us, just because we were struggling. But, if it makes them happy, well, I guess that's good. I have a wonder time serving with him. I loved it, we both kind of just walked around, talking to people to the best of our ability, even had a lesson, and we tried our best. He has only been in town for a day or 2 and for me it was 3 days in town. It was interesting ha ha.

Here some photos of the city from the window of our apartment.

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Monday, June 9, 2014

transfer day

Another week down, and also transfer day is going to be here tomorrow. Guess what... I'm moving. It's crazy to think that I have been here in ...for 4 months already. I'm so excited to go to another city but at the same time I'm super sad to leave the great people in this great city. The city that I'm going to to .... It's the farthest north city opened for missionaries along a big river that separates Bulgaria from Romania. I've heard that I'll be able to see that country from the distance and that the apartment is 12 stories up and is fun. One of the Elders here, Elder ... from Cedar Hills (I think I've mentioned him before and yea he lives close) served in that city in his 2-3 transfer here in Bulgaria I think and it's his favorite city I think.
There is so much going on here, it's hard to leave. It's interesting, there have been weeks that my companion and I struggled with trying to reach our goals for the key indicators but this last week was, well Wow! We have the most lessons this whole transfers, had some of those lessons happen without planning it, and other things.
Right now for my companionship, we have 2 investigators with a date, one for the end of this month and the other for the beginning of the month and we are also teaching 4 others that don't have baptismal dates. I feel like the same thing happened during the last transfer. It's an exciting time, I just hope that the baptisms will go through. The only problem is after the baptismal date, both of investigators are leaving the country. One to England, and the other to France. There are so many people that come and go and that are great people to meet with. It's hard when that happens because I really want to help grow the group here in .... It's still great to meet with those people and hopefully can prepare them for the church in the areas that they are going to.
We recently met with ... girlfriend ..., I don't know if I mentioned it last week or not. She is fantastic and also for church she has been coming and also brought one of her roommates. She is studying in college right now to be a elementary school teacher. She is fantastic. I wish that I could meet with her and ... more. The only thing is she is leaving also on the 20th for a Cello (village) close to Sofia.
Also this Sunday was the best Sunday since I have been here in Bulgaria. We had 4 of our investigators come to church which I've never had that many come before. Also the ... are back. They are a family that is originally from Ireland and live here and are retired because they feel like this is the right place to be. Bro. ... had surgery in Ireland and took some time to recover before returning. We had 17 + a baby at church. I don't think we ever had that much. To become a branch you need 15 people coming consistently for 3 months. It helped having the 4 investigators being there and also another that ... invited. It was such a great experience.
I've learned so much from my companion Elder .... I feel like our strengths and weaknesses are similar, so we've both learned how to overcome some things together. Also, everyone (missionaries) say that Elder ... is the best in the Bulgarian language than any other missionary. Both of the companions I have had in country are so good at the language. I might eventually get there ha ha. I've improved a ton this transfer in my opinion also. I've started to do followup phone calls which I haven't really done before so it's good. Some times I have no idea what the people are saying but practice makes perfect right.

I forgot to mention in the last email about the gardens here in Bulgaria. Basically, if you're lucky to have a very small yard, basically if you even have a yard, it's just a garden. The gardens are small, but some are larger than others and some look actually really nice. The biggest thing here is grape vines. Everyone have them, even for apartment buildings, they somethings have a vine that has grown to every persons balcony. It's crazy. They have structures to make the vines grow above the person, usually for covering the whole area of there little yard. They use the grapes to make RakEya. It's a Bulgarian drink that contains alcohol in it. The yards are usually around this size on average I would say, the area with the gardens. Some are a lot bigger but others are usually that size. I think a lot of farming is done in the Cellos (villages).
Here's another random photo of the sign on the mission home. I went to Sofia again for passport work and got my LEchna Carda. Basically my residential card for a year, then I'll get another or renewal when I'm here for the other half of my mission. It's kind of cool.

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Monday, June 2, 2014

6 months

Wow, I didn't even realize that I have been out for 6 months now. I've been telling people that I have only been out for 3.5 months and that's just saying in country. It's interesting to but the MTC months into the equation and also how this past month or the other half has flown by. Before I know it, I'll be at the year mark. There area a lot of missionaries that will be surprised that it is there "year mark" in country.
This week has been short, but long with a lot of street teaching/tracting. We didn't have a lot of lessons so it makes it longer, but that's just for the day not the week.
A cool thing that I was able to go to was a Europe broadcast with Elder Bednar and other General Authorities. It was held in Russia, which apparently things like that is always held in Russia. Anyway it only happens every couple of years I think, so it was a cool experience. It was a live broadcast and they actually had people in Salt Lake translating while the conference was taking place, so it came from Russia to Salt Lake, then to Bulgaria. It's interesting because that means it traveled basically the whole world before coming to Bulgaria. Everyone in ...(English spelling) went to ... (English spelling) to watch the broadcast which is south ....
It was a super fun experience. When we went there we actually took a train for part of it, then switched to a Bus, then back to the train. Basically the train is the format of the Harry Potter train. There was a hallway on one side and we sat in a room with big seats. Just because of the style of the train it made me happy ha ha.  

This is the last week of the transfers, so we'll see what happens whether or not I'll move. It's crazy that it's already that time again. It feels like I just got a new companion. Usually from what other missionaries have seen in the mission is that people usually move 4-8 months out of there city. I'm going to be in that range so, see what happens. I always get excited for transfers because of the possibility to be able to move cities and explore more. That's all I want to do on P-days.
Right now I currently have 3 investigators. There names are ..., ..., and ...(English spelling) Wow that's funny I never really spelled there names in English and it looks really funny ha ha. Anyway, has a baptism day for July 5because the week after he is moving to England for schooling for the summer and then coming back. actually ... girlfriend and we just barely met here. ... is an older lady that actually feeds us lots of snacks and gives us tea whenever we have a lesson at her house. She is so nice.
I don't know if I mentioned this in my last letter but  my main pair of shoes (I've been wearing the ones from Missionary Mall the whole time) ripped in half side to side. To be honest, they don't bother me unless it's wet outside. When that is the case, at night time when I get home I take out the padding and let it dry out and wear another pair until it dries out. I'm probably going to start switching it each day because I would like to be able to go throughout the whole mission and not have to buy a new pair of shoes or just use the 3 that I have. I may not have a choice if they all get trashed, but will see.
Here is a photo of a guy named ... (English spelling and say "E" in his name for pronunciation) He knows English, Bulgarian of course, and is fluent in Russian. He moved to ... :(, but he was fantastic to work with. He is so cool. His mother is actually Russian also. He has the strongest values and everything that the church has to offer, but his main concern is that he doesn't want to join a church because he doesn't want to have "responsibility". He would help the church so much here but it's hard with that concern. I love him, such a great friend. 

Also here is another photo of me in "Old Town" it's a really cool place in ...also.

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