Monday, February 28, 2011

Hello from the fronzen missionary-sickle Flavor Elder Ewell

Hello and greetings from a winter frozen land. Well as you can most likely deduce it has been freezing cold here. It has snowed every day this week and the sky is still covered by clouds. Luckily I am set so I am not freezing that much. Even with the best winter coat standing in freezing temperatures all day still get to you. So this week we have been doing a lot of tracting because it is warmer. Tracting is warmer because they don't have individual houses here in the cities they just have giant communistic apartment blocks and the inside the block it is at least above freezing. Anyway I am rambling and you probably want to here about my week.

After writing to you guys we got some chinese food and chilled at the church (literally and figuratively.) When it was time for me and Elder Corless to go out and work we went up to the north-western part of town ,called Storgozia, to tract. We actually had some success we got a return appointment with two 18 year olds who are renting out the apartment for school and an old couple with the family name Lazarovie. Other than that it was a pretty unsuccessful night so around nine o'clock we headed back on home.

Was AMAZING! Okay I might be exaggerating a little but I was so happy. What made me happy is that after our morning studies we were making some phone calls to see if anybody could meet with us. While going through the area book Elder Corless got an impression to call Angelina an investagator of mine and Elder Pattersons who had disiaperd off the face of the earth. She answered. I was so suprised and happy. She was at school and schedualed a meeting with us for the next day and I will leave it at that for the moment and continue on with the rest of the week. After the calls we had language study and lunch. After lunch we met with an investatgator name George. We met at his house and visited for a while. Basicly he is really impressed by the missionaries and like us and our church a lot which is why he comes, but he doesn't think there is any hope for him. Hopefully we can change his mind in the near future. After meeting with him we went and registered me in the city of Pleven. Now Bulgaria knows were I live for at least the next month. After registring we tried to contact a lady named Rusitsa, but she wasn't home. We then tracted some more for the rest of the night until cleaning at the church. When cleaning came we went to the church and after cleaning it was time to go to bed.

After our morning studies we had district meeting. District meeting was fun and my Bulgarian made a huge jump forward today. I don't understand why it happens like this. It is like I am learning and learning and then I a hit a wall of mud and I am stuck trying to swim/dig through it. Then one day it is just gone and it is like my mind is in sprint mode and I am learning 2 to 5 times faster. Anyways at least the wall is gone and my bulgarian is getting better. What helps me a ton is translating. Oh translating bulgarian to english and visa versa helps so much. Anyway back to the day. After district meeting we had lunch with the other elders and we set up a meeting with a potentional investagator named Ivo. After lunch we had language study and tried to contact Rusitsa again but she wasn't home again. We then had a meeting with Mima. The meeting was great and she is so ready for baptizim we just haven't felt like it was the right time yet. After her meeting Angelina was supposed to show but she didn't which bumbed me out. We tried calling her but she didn't answer. We will learn more latter though. After the supposed meeting with Angelina we waited for Ivo but he never showed. We called him and found out that he had not come into pleven because of the weather. So we went tracting and then to bed.

After our morning studies we called Angelina again and she answered, Yay! Aparantly she had to do somthing at school and couldn't make it, but she said she would come to english on saturday. After that we had language study and then met with Zhivko the guy that got a baptizmal date last friday. The meeting went well but midway through somthing set him off and he started talking about his back and how much it hurt and we couldn't stop him. Anyway we did learn that he is a very devote Provoslav (Greek orthadox) which is great if we can turn that devotion towards the right direction. After the meeting with him was had lunch and then went and tried to contact the Lazarovie family but they weren't home. So we went to a meeting with the other elders investagotor who was going to teach us all how to make banitza. For once though she wasn't home so Elder Corless and I tracted a little while up in Storgozia and then came back for english. In English Elder Rowden and I fininshed making the story we had started last time with our class. After english we had dinner and went to bed.

After our morning study we got a phone call from sofia about some law changes in passports. They said that the office elders were going to come up and give some stuff to Elder Corless so he could take care of these changes right away so that they could get him his new lichna carta before his old one expires and he becomes illegal. Don't worry everything is taken care of and Elder Corless won't have to be deported. Any way after this call we caught a bus out to Nickolie and Iveta's house to home teach them. They made us some home made Kufteta (flat meatballs) and mashed potatoes with onion. It was really good and afterwards we taught them a little but had to leave early because we had to meet the office elders. We met up with them at the aftorgara and then while Elder Brown and Corless were taking care of everything I took Elder Bishop on a little tour/contacting excursion were I set up a meeting with Ivo for saturday night. We then met up with Elder Brown and Corless and took the office elders out to eat. After eating we planned for the week and then went to a charaty concert that the potentional investatgator (Eflogie) who is the admistrater of the Pleven orchrastra had invited us too. We were allowed to go because it helps our image in bulgairia. The Concert was fun and there was some good singers and a really good young opera singer and some not so good ones. One of the not so good ones was this old bulgarian star that came out and sang along to a old song of his and he was wearing a white leather with pistacio green fringes suit. Oh it was disgusting but hey it was still fun. After the concert we went home, planed and went to bed.

After our morning studies we had english, and Angelina showed up yea. After our english class were we discussed the holiday coming up in bulgaria called Baba Mart (Grandma March) we were able to talk with her a little. She said she was sick and that it happens every year but that is about it and it seemed like she didn't want to dwell on it. We didn't but she did promise to come to church. After english and talking to Angelina Elder Rowden and I had lunch and then started to organize the pictures in the closet. It took forever but now the closet is completely organized in the church and everything is easy to find. After this we called some people and then waited for the meeting with Ivo. He didn't show at first so we called him and he said he would be a little late. So we waited till around 8(PM) and then called him to find out he had gone home. We then went up had dinner and went to bed.

The first big news was non of the people who had thing to do in church were able to come. So church was basicly missionary run. It was fun and Angelina came and we were able to get a meeting with her for tuesday, so her story will continue next week. I am really happy that we have found her. I have prayed really hard that we would be able to find her and it brings me no end of joy to have been able to have found her again. After church were we had 13 people total (that is including us four missionaries) Elder Corless and I were stuck in the building doing branch work for the next several hours. After the hours of being trapped we called some people and then went out tracting. During tracting we found one jehova witness who was fun to talk to and a guy that was realy sad and actually cried because he had a son die 4 years ago and even though we tried to tell him that he would be able to live with him again he still didn't want to listen because it was all just words. So when he closed the door I left one of our plan of salvation pamphlets in his door and I hope that he gets it and reads it. Other than that it ws pretty uneventfull other than that we were able to meet the Lazarovie family who couldn't meet for long and hadn't been able to meet earlier because the wife had a fever. So we got their phone number so we could call and then finished tracting and went home to bed.

Today (Monday):
Well we did some studing and then cleaned shopped and am now writing. After writing we are going to go by some Martinitsa. They are little braclets of red and white that the bulgarains use to celeberate Baba Mart. Baba Mart begins on Robbies birth day the first of March. On this day all the bulagarians put on their braclets that they have bought and recived. When they see the first stork or flower of spring they then take off their braclets and put them on the nearest fruit tree. I am looking forward to it and if you wan't to know more look it up because that is all I know. I will update you on the holiday next week.

Well that is my week and thank you for all the letters. And HAPPY BIRTHDAY ROBBIE.

Austin James Ewell

Monday, February 21, 2011

Greeting form your Friendly Neibourhood Missionary

Thank you so much for all the letters this week it really brightens up my week not that it isn't super bright already. To just assure any doubters, I do read all of the letters that come and think about them I just do not always have time to reply to all of them. So with out any further delaying lets get on to my week.

 First of all last Tuesday. The reason for this is because as you may recall last tuesday was my previous P-day because of the zone confrence that we had on Monday. So starting with Tuesday. After writting the last letter we had lunch and then I went to get a Euro shirt because they look nicer and that is all there is to it. After shopping we watched a movie (Cloudy with a Chance of Meat Balls) and had dinner. After dinner we went out and worked. The first thing we did was call some reciveds that we had gotten throughout the previous week and then we had to be down in the church for cleaning. After cleaning we went out to the north-western part of town to meet with a guy we had met while street boarding. His family though said no when we came by so with 5 min's tell we had to be back home we went home.

 Now we have the wonderful apportunity of viewing the events of Wensday. Right after our early morning studies we went out and surveyed for a while. It was fun and we were able to talk with a lot of people and even got some reciveds. After doing this for about 3 hours we had lunch and then met with a investagator of ours named George (I am translating the names to their english equivilent for you guys in bulgairian it sounds like this Georgi.) The meeting was fine. With him because he is an old grandpa he likes to talk a lot, so sometimes it feels like a waste of time. We stick in there though and by the end of the lesson something good comes out like this time we were able to commit him to read and pray about the Book of Mormon to see if it is true. After this meeting we had a language study and then met with Mima. Mima was great as always. She had read the booklets we had given her and had made notes in them. For the first half of the lesson we just went over the questions that she had and one of them was about resuriction. We were able to teach her about the plan of salvation because of this and that everybody that had lived on the earth will have and immortal and perfect body. She had trouble accepting that every body would be resuricted and we tried to explain the difference between immortality and Enternal life/happieness which has to be earned. She understood us but still couldn't agree with the resuriction of everyone, but, here is the cool part, she said that if she need to belive she would even though she didn't agree with it now. It is so refreshing to see such a simple and true faith in things that are right like she has. After this wonderful meeting with her we went tracting in the North-western side of town. It wasn't very succesful, no one wanted to listen to us and one of them kicked us out of the apartment complex. It alright though and its normal. I actually find it quite funny that people get so defensive over two 19-21 year old boys just wanting to talk to them. Anyway after tracting for about an hour it was time to head in.

 And now we begin the wonderful day of Thursday. Thursday was fun. After getting morning studies done we decided to have language study and then lunch. After lunch we went and paid for the electricty, got some homework copied for english, and then started to survey. We had two clipboards so while standing on the the same street we both tried to stop people. It was fun and my first time trying to survey all by myself. Not many people stopped to talk with me but I still and some success and it was very beneficial to my language. After surveying we went back and had English class. I had made a box calle "The Fun Box" and then I put severle different subjects inside. For english I had them randomly pick a subject (like "You are stranded on a deserted Island) and then tell me a small story or something about it. The students liked it a lot. After english Elder Rowden and I went on splits and went trackting with little to non success. We came back had dinner and then went to bed.

 Now we have Friday. After our morning studies we planned for the week and then took care of zone fund. We finished around two and then went down to the church and had a meeting with a recent convert named Valintiena. We WERE going to teach her about temples, but she basicly taught us. It was amazing aparently she had read the special temple liahona twice and then during the lesson she basicly recited the whole thing. She knew more about temples and their history than I did and I grew up in the church. I have to admit it now she is a vertifiable geniues. Anyway afte this meetting we had another meeting with two people that travel all around bulgaria for work. The didn't show so we called them and found out that they had to leave for another city that was 50 km away from the nearest missionaries. We told them that we would call them back in a couple of days to see were they were then and then set up a meetting for them with the nearest Elders. After this we went and sent off the Zone fund record and then met with Miroslave out in Opanets. Miroslav was doing great and was wondering why we hadn't come earlier. We told him that we had tried to call but that we couldn't get through. He appoligized because he had got a new phone and had for got to tell us. Other than that the meetting went well and then we had to leave to catch the bus back home. When we got back we tractted for a bit and then went in for dinner and bed. '

Saturday was a lot of fun. First thing after the morning studies was english class. What we did this time was pick out a subject from the "Fun Box" and then together as a class made a story. It was a lot of fun and when it is finished I will post it up on the blog for all to see. After english we had lunch and then a meetting with Tihomir. The meetting was fine but even though Tihomir has a testimony he doesn't want to be baptized becaues it isn't for him, because he is different. He has had a tough life and we are trying to tell him that the gospel is for him. Lets just say it is a work in progress and that I pray for him. After Tihomir we met with a member from Shumen who is good friends with Elder Corless. The meeting was fun and he even agreed to go to a lesson with us. The guy for the lesson nevered showed though because of the bad weather. So we said good bye to the member and then went tracting for a bit. After tracting we came home went to bed and now we begin sunday.

 Sunday was a little disapointing because we only had 11 people at church (including all four of us missionaries) and only three of them were members. The members were outnumbered by the non-members. Anyway church was still really good and uplifting. After church we had to meet a lady that was doing the census for bulgaria. So guess what I am now officialy counted on the Bulgarian Census, YEA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! After she was done we called some people and then went contacting and tracting all day with some success. We came home around eight for dinner and then went to bed. Now we are on today Monday. Yes there is something to say. This morning before coming to write we got a call from an investagator who said he needed to meet with us. So we said yes we would becuase he couldn't meet anyother time and he said it was urgent. We met with him and basicly the hightlites were we gave him a blessing for health and he agreed to be baptized ont he 26th of march. That was a really great lift for the day and probally why my letter is so happy and bubbly.

 That is my week and now I have some annocments. The major annocment is that as of two weeks ago I have lost 37.5 pounds (17 Kg) I am now resting at a comfortable 200.5 pounds (91 Kg.) That is all for this week and that you so much for all the letters and email and please keep sending them and more.


Austin James Ewell

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

It was spring and then I woke up to snow.

This was a fun week and there are a couple of highlites. First though, we have been having spring like weather here for the last week and a half and then I look out side this morning and there was snow on the ground. I was just getting used to the warm weather as well.

 Anyway lets get started with the tally of this week. Last monday we went to the zoo here and to tell the truth it was really sad and to be honest pathetic. Though it was pretty cool and I got to be there when the lions started to roar amongst themselves so that was fun. Elder Corless and I had to then go into Sofia so Elder Corless could do his passport work tomorrow so a 2 and a 1/2 hour bus ride later we are in sofia and rooming with the office elders. Come tuesday morning we go to the mission home around 8:30 were Elder Corless drops me off to spend the day while he goes with the other missionaries who had missionary work. Despite being in the mission home with everybody there I had no one to talk to because they were all busy. So I just grabed the new liahona and read through the whole thing and read some more of jesus the christ. Sounds boring but it was alright I like being in the mission home because it always busy. Elder Corless came back around 2 a clock and then we had to catch a bus to Pleven. We got home around 5:30 and then went to clean the church with Valintinia. We then tried to contact some people and went in for the night.

 Now we have wonderfull Wensday. Wensday was great first we had district meeting which was fun like usual and then we had a meeting with a new Investagator named George (okay in bulgarian it is Georgi (i makes an ee sound) but the english equvilant is George.) He is an old Diyado (grandpa) and likes to talk a lot. We kept the lesson in track though and found out that he already prays. Apparntly when he is lonely he will just start talking to god. It was really cool because when we told him that was prayer he actually teard up a little. He said he would come to church but that he didn't think that any church was true but that we were the closest he has found so that was cool to. After him we had lunch and then language hour than came back down stairs to have a meeting with another new investagator named Mima. She is an english student that always tears up at spiritual thoughts and even came to church. A lot of cool things happened in this meeting so I will try to get them all in. First her only child and daughter had passed away a year ago and to cope with it she started to make poems and that the reason why she always tears up during the spiritual thoughts is that they remind her of the poems she wrote and her daughter. Then a cool story about the book of mormon, we had given her a book of mormon on sunday and she had gone home to try to read it. She didn't really like it that much and was planning on giving it back during this meeting. On wensday though before the meeting she looked at it again and found the pictures inside and reconized that they were some of the same pictures that hang up inside the church building. She had always wanted to know what they were about so she read the scriptures that were given to describe them and then read more and even marked the scriptures with different colors and very neat lines. That is rare for people here, only usually the really strong members do this. To top it all of she told us that she belived it was true because we new and 14 million other members of the church knew. So we told that she could also find out for her self through prayer taught her prayer and she said the closeing prayer and said that she would pray about the book of mormon too. Oh that was a good meeting and I can't do it justice in this letter so sorry I guess you will just have to be a missionary your self to find this kind of happieness and joy.

 After our meeting with here we met with one other guy who is a big conspiriscy therist. The lesson was alright but it was hard to teach him because he would always jump in with a random theroy on about everything we said. We then did some tracting and came back home for dinner and bed.

 Thursday was fun. First thing we did after studies and lunch was go street boarding. I actually got a recived all on my own in bulgarian and the guy said he would read the book of mormon, his name is I think was Geshev (I couldn't hear it all the way.) After street boarding we went and had english which is always fun. We went over the poem "The Master's Touch." It was realy good and spiritual. After english it was time for dinner and then bed. Friday has now begun. First thing we did after studies was go to visit a less-active member named Nikolie. He was the one that had such a hard time getting to church last week. So we visit him and his member mom. They fed us a delicious bean soup and then after the spiritual thought that we gave the mom wanted to play chess. So I played chess with her while Elder Corless talked with Nikolie. I barely won and only because she helped me a little bit. After I finished we still had time before our bus so she played Elder Corless and I talked with Nikolie in english. After the game we went and caught our bus and then when we got back home we had a meetting with a investagator but he was to busy and couldn't show. So instead we planned for the week had language study, dinner, and went to bed.

 Saturday the day befor Sunday. First thing after studies on saturday was english. We tried to teach them how to make a poem but it didn't go overthat well so we will try somthing different next week. After english I went on splits with Elder Brinkerhoff. We tried to survey but it was so windy that nobody was out and all who were wouldn't talk with us. So we came back and Elder Corless and I went to meet with some potentionals to find out that that they only want to hang out. So after this "meeting" we went tracting for the rest of the night. Sunday another huge highlite. First normally we only have around 15 people at church and that is including us missionaries.

 So this Sunday it was branch confrence and so President Roth was coming into pleven with some guests from Sofia. So we had been telling every member, investagator, english student, and hopefull to please come because of this and lets just say our efforts gave forth fruit. To give you the number we had 34 people there! we actually would have ran out of room if even one more person had showed up we were packed in so tight. It was really amazing an so cool. We had investagators there, english students, and a ton of other people. Even everyone that me and Elder Corless had asked came. That is the biggest highlight. Church went great besides this and I hope it really touched the hearts of some of the ones present. After church the Roths checked our apartment for cleanlyness and we passed and then because Elder Corless had a musical number on the Cello that he was doing for Zone confrence on monday we got to ride with them to Sofia. In Sofia President Roth began doing interviews so while Elder Corless found music and practiced I socialized with the other missionaries there for interviews and then we went to the office elders apartment were there was 8 missionaries. It was a riot but still lots of fun.

 Now onto Monday. Monday was a lot of fun and the Zone Confrence was really inspiring and uplifting. It is kind of sad that the First Presidentsy has said that we can only have 4 a year now but I belive they know what they are doing. I don't want to type everything that happened because there was a lot and I am running out of time, but I will say that I left with a greater determination to put forth my complete effort into this work. After the Zone Confrence we cleaned up got some needed supplies and bused back to Pleven. Once home we tracted a little bit and then went to have dinner and bed.

 That was basiclly my week and thank you all for your letters. You may think that your day to day life is boring but it isn't for me because it is different than what I do. It's kind of like how I think that every day is just another day of missionary work, but I know that you guys don't think so. So I am putting forth my best effort to share things that may be common day to me but aren't to you. So please write me letters if you aren't and if you are please write more because even if you did just go to the movies or just work I am interested and tell me what happend at work. If you have a hard time remebering than keep and journal and then when you write me use it to refresh your memory. So please write more I would really aprecciate it even if it is something as mundane as I ate a bowl of cereal today.

Austin James Ewell

Monday, February 7, 2011

Transfers ahhhh!

First thing first and that is to answer your question Grandpa (Ewell.)  There was a Elder Nelson in this mission.  He was my companions tranier and other than that I don't know.  He just got sent home last week.  So he may be the same one or not I didn't get to talk with him and I didn't get to know him that well.  Also Dad Elder Rowden say's his uncle served in the London England from 1985-1987 and his name is Glen Ince.  So we were wondering if you might of known him because I think you served around that time but I am not 100% sure.  

Well onto the week.  First is Monday.  Basicly it was clean, clean, clean, pack, pack, pack, and then write.  In the evening we went to meet with some enternal investagators.  They are really cool and want to be baptized, but they can't because they eventhough they have been together for years but they aren't legaly married because the man (Nickolai) needs to finish the divors work with his other wife before he can marry Albena (the woman.)  That is why they are enternal but they are really cool and I wish they could be baptized.  That was Monday.

 Now onto Tuesday.  More clean, clean, cleaning, and, pack, pack, packing then Elder Patterson caught his bus to Burgas and I was with Elder Corless and Elder Rowden all day while we waited for Elder Brinkerhoff (Elder Rowdens new companion) to come in.  So we moved Elder Corless to my apartment and then just cleaned.  Here comes Wensday. 

 Yea a normal work day.  First thing after the morning studies we had district meetting.  We are startting this cool new way of role playing were we have two teachers, one investagtor, and one observer.  We then start teaching a normal lesson and then any of us (but mainly the observer) can stop it at any time and make a commint and try to improve what is beign taught and how.  So after district meeting we went and ate at Speedy's restruant and then had languge study, weekly planning and familarizing Elder Corless with the area book and then some shopping.  After this we had a meeting but the person never showed so we called him and reschedualed.  We then went to find this potentional investagator but his mom answered the door and wouldn't let us in to teach him.  His name is Tsvetomir and he is deaf which is why his mom answered the door.  We had dinner and now it is Thursday. 

 After studies and lunch we went and met with this super poor gypsy family.  The meeting was alright just really sad because they are really in poverty's hand.  After meeting with them we met with a potential named Silvia.  She is a college student and works at a hair salon.  She is really smart and has a good head on her shoulders but she still gave back the book of mormon after asking some very normal and good questions.  We gave her a Joseph Smith pamphlet and left with plans to get our hair cut there in the near future.  We then had english and in english we taught them the diffrence between passive and active vocie and how to use the to.  It was very enlighting because I knew little about it and now it makes alot of sence.  I guess teaching is the best way of learning.  Elder Rowden and I then planned for English and saturday and we went to bed and friday came.  

First thing we did after studies was plan for the week (next week that is.)  We then went and sent a package to a member in greece.  The package had a coat, her Book of Mormon, and a few treats that she was craving.  After this we tried to meet with this one guy named Dimiter but even though we found his blok (apartment complex (in bulgarian)) the superintendent said that nobody lived there under that name so we tried calling him and got no answer.  We went on our way and started to tract which is always fun especially since half of the Bulgarians will not open the door but speak through it to you.  We had spagettie for dinner and now it is time to talk about saturday. 

 After the morning studies we had english.  Elder Rowden went over the theme song from Arthur with them and then taught them all the different way's we use get.  They espically liked the phrase "Get out!" becuase there is a direct meaning translation for it (Mahai se) and it is fun to say.  I was sitting at the table grading all the homework which was fun.  You will be interested to know mom that they don't have letter grades her the just use the numbers 1-6 to grade.  So it was fun to convert all the scores to the 1-6 way.  After English we had a meeting with Tihomir were he basiclly dropped himself because he doesn't feel like he is ready for baptisim.  He still is coming to church so hopefully we can turn him around.  After that disapoting meeting Elder Corless had to grade some English homework from his class and then we went out and tracted some more.  Now we are onto Sunday.  

After getting ready for church at 10:00am we attended it.  So church was a little hectic in the begining because we had forgoton the bread for sacrament and hadn't noticed it until the sacrament hymn.  So Elder Corless and Brinkerhoff had to run up stairs to get the bread while Elder Rowden and I kept the congregation intertained by singing another hymn.  Other than that church went well and we actually had an english student there that Elder Corless gave a book of mormon to.  After church Elder Corless and Rowden went on splits because President Roth wants them to do a musical number with the cello Elder Corless had been allowed to borrow.  So Elder Brinkerhoff and I went street boarding for the next 4 hours.  It was fun and we actually go 3 recived which is amazing since we couldn't use the table because of the citation we had recived last time.  We finished up around 4:30pm because we both had meetings we had to go to.  Well the meeting Elder Corless and I had fell through so we had dinner and then went tracting some more yea.   That is my week. 

 Now for some more info about Elder Corless.  He is from Los Angelis, was a diver for BYU and plans and hopes to be again, wants to be an accountet, is double jointed (extra stretchy ligaments), has been in country for about a year, and helps me a ton with the language and contacting and teaching.  So I think this transfere is going to be a really fun one and we get along great.  His parents are Tom and Christene.  He has a older sister with a baby due really soon (offcourse she is married,) and an older brother who served in Georgia, Macon mission.  

Some news we have zone confrence on monday next week so P-Day isn't until tuesday.  So don't be sad and worried if a letter doesn't come on monday it will come on Tuesday.

Austin James Ewell